Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pulled Back

I've noticed that I've really sort of stepped out of the shadow of cancer. I don't think about it much. I'm busy and active. I don't know when it happened, but it did. I'm glad, because I did not know if I would ever get past all that: Thinking about it. Wondering if the cancer was going to come back. A self consciousness remains about how I look, but I've always been self conscious about how I look, so I'm not all that sure that I can blame that one on cancer.

This is breast cancer awareness month, and my inbox is heavy with requests from businesses who want me to post a link on my blog to their various 'pink ribbon' campaigns. Some of them are downright exploitive, in my mind. Others, well, maybe not so much, but since I'm not, for instance, a NASCAR fan, I would feel kind of stupid posting a link for their initiative. I'm sure there are fans out there who have dealt with this, and will post their link with a lot of enthusiasm and hype, and that is what it deserves. It's a nice little plan to charge five dollars a person to post the names of people who have dealt with breast cancer, and the car will be raced for the month of October. The money will be donated.

In addition to those reminders, I've written next week's column. It's about October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, a brief summation of having life interrupted by breast cancer, but then slowly finding yourself being drawn once again into the current of life.

When I was done with that, I worked a little on those presentations. I've got three of them, each one with an alloted talk time of one hour and 45 minutes. I'm a blabber, don't get me wrong, but man. That's a lot of talking. I went through a few more blog posts.

I also did an interview with another blogger. Her sister died of breast cancer, and she is 'spotlighting' bloggers who have dealt with the issue. Her aim was to remind women of the importance of regular exams.

All this looking back.

You know, for a time, I could not see past the next chemo or the next radiation, and then I went through the phase where I could not see past the next scan or the next test, and now, finally, I'm so busy that I just don't think about these things anymore. Truth be told, the regular appointments make me a little impatient. My complaints are dutifully noted. "Tired?" "Yes." "Rate it." I try to rate it, but there is no scale on the wall, so basically, I'm pulling a number out of my hat. "Pain." "Yes." "Where?" And I list my pains. "Rate the pain," and again, I pull a number out of that hat. It is not addressed really, and I suppose that there is nothing that can be done, not really, but if nothing can be done, what's the point of the visits? To pop in and say hello? To see if I suddenly come up with some symptom that's going to cause the person writing in my record to stop, look at me, and say, "Whoa. We need to look into this." I'm tired. I'm tired when I wake up in the morning. I drink my coffee and I go on with my day. I'm in pain, but I ignore it, or take a naproxin if it's really bad, and go on with my day. How about if I just simply give them a call if something changes? Like if, for instance, I suddenly stop feeling tired, or the bone pain magically goes away? So yeah, I suppose that I'm not really patient about these appointments. I don't see the point to them. I always come out of there feeling a little foolish, like a hypochondriac.

You know what happened while I was wandering around those old blog posts? Yep. I scared myself. Stephanie had a post about prognosis, and add that to all of the looking back I did, I got scared. I wasted an afternoon looking at my old reports. I even went into an online service that offered to calculate your chances of recurrence. I typed in 'aneuploid'. I typed in 'high grade'. I typed in 3.2 cm. Those words are the ones which make me nervous. Those are things that make my odds different, but how much different? I don't know, and suddenly I NEEDED to know. So I typed and typed, answering question after question after question. At the end, I was given 11 reports to read that supposedly applied to me, but in reading through a couple of them, I didn't see how they provided any sort of prognosis at all, and that is what I was there for.

In disgust, I got off the computer. I was disgusted with myself, primarily, I suppose. After all this time of not thinking about cancer, there I was, obsessed. Had to know. I was fearful. Thinking things like, "If I die, I'll have wasted all that money on college." (Seriously. Who in the world thinks things like that? Besides me, I mean. *rolls eyes*) I wasted an entire afternoon, and I went around last night, quiet and pensive. When we went to bed, Tim saw the pile of medical records on my side of the bed. "Why did you have all of that out?" And I tried to explain, but I just ended up feeling foolish, and I wanted to cry. He listened. "You can't think like that," he said, but gently. Patiently. I answered, "I know, but somehow, just reading back on those days. I'd forgotten how scary it was, and suddenly, I was scared all over again." He assured me that college was not a waste of money. I put my records back into the drawer, and closed it, and climbed into bed beside him. He turned off the light and he held me close. Blessedly, I felt it once more: The pull of life's current. It swept me out of that dark, cold place, the place where the water eddied, and carried me around in little circles. I was once again picked up by the life's currents, back to a place where, once more, I began to move on downstream. It was warm, and I floated comfortably.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Post in Which I Do Not Mention the Unmentionable.

Tim's a pretty laid back character, and he seldom has any objections to what I write about. He doesn't want me to write about this though, and out of respect for him, I will not.

Many breast cancer 'patients' take medication following chemo and radiation. These drugs come with a myriad of side effects. Bone pain is one of them, and it has been a challenge to me.

But there is another one that affects not only me, but my husband as well. This side effect has been a difficult adjustment for us, and for our marriage. What I have lost interest in, well, my husband has not. Reading about this, I am surprised to find that the overwhelming majority of women seem to believe that if the woman has lost interest, well, her partner must simply do without, or be labeled as 'insensitive'.

*blink*

I don't believe that.

Number 1) I appreciate that my husband still sees me as a desirable woman, even if I don't feel like a desirable woman.
Number 2) Marriage is a partnership. My feelings are never more important than his feelings.
Number 3) I'm expecting that in three years and seven months (but who's counting) things will go back to the way it's always been.

In the meantime, I accomodate. Willingly. I do not feel degraded, nor do I feel that my husband is insensitive. I guess you can call us 'a purpose driven marriage'. Our story has always begun with 'It is not about me.'

Your thoughts?

Tim? I didn't write about it. Well. Not much anyway.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fitting

As we move into autumn, it's getting daylight later and later. Right now the rain is pattering on the roof. It is too warm to fire up the woodstove, but the propane heater ticks beside me. Everything is so warm and cozy that I am having a hard time motivating.

I bought one of those wheeled book bags. I've been toting everything in multiple bags and a back pack because I have so many books. It was getting hard to be organized.

You know what I love best about school? Just talking to people. Remember Mr. Ammo on his Wrist guy? His real name is Bill. He's got a keen sharp intelligence to him. He had to debate prostitution. The bad thing is that he had to be prepared to argue pro AND con, because he didn't know which side he was going to be assigned. He said, "Can I ask you a question?" and we had quite an interesting discussion on it. I like that. I like being a part of things. I am a smart woman. I have always known this, but it's always been a bit of a nuisance. Sometimes it seems like I do not 'fit' anywhere. A couple Thursdays ago, when I was sick and missed a day? Students came up and said, "We missed you. Class was boring without you." These may sound like little things, the fact that a student asks my opinion, or that other students might miss my presence in the classroom. Or that a teacher waits for me to gather my stuff and we walk out together talking. But it feels like a big deal. It makes me feel like, for the first time in my life, I fit where I am. Perfectly. I fit at school. I fit at my job. I fit at home with my husband. I fit. It's a very nice feeling.

I've been asked to do three presentations for the teachers of our county. So I worked a little bit on that over the weekend. I was asked to speak on breast cancer/wellness The two year anniversary of the discovery of that lump passed on Sunday. It was a strange day. You can't help but look back. At the same time, writing about the experiences seemed strange, like I was writing about something that happened to someone else. I am a humorist, primarily, but those early days of breast cancer, going back and re-reading some of my posts ~ well, there really wasn't an awful lot of funny stuff going on. I remember looking at the possibility of death. I knew someone who had just died from breast cancer, so that made the possibility very real to me. I remember crying a lot, and hating myself for crying, but I couldn't stop. And then the tears stopped. That's all. Life goes on. So I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and went on living.

I think about my life pre-cancer. I think about it now. Holy cats, people. I never imagined that my life would change so dramatically in just two years. In fact, there was a period of time when I couldn't even imagine life after cancer. But here I am.

Here I am.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Somebody Loves Some Bunny

I was at the Tractor Supply opening up cases of suet. It's on sale 12 for $10, so it's been flying out the door like crazy. Can barely keep up with it. In any case, I'm working away. A woman comes up and asks me about a rabbit cage. Is it the only one we have? I see that the metal slide out tray has been banged in and bent. It turns out that it is the only one we have, but I tell them that the manager said that they could have it for $25. and point out that the metal tray is made of tin and could be straightened out easily with some pliers.

About then, their daughter, maybe 9 years old, begins to take a fit. She's crying because she does not want that small cage for her bunny. Her parents try to debate it, but she's adamant. She wants a bigger cage. Mentally, I'm rooting for the kid. Until I hear that this bunny is a bunny who lives in the lap of luxury. He is house broken and has the run of the house. He only goes in a cage when no one is home, for his own safety, rabbits being real chewers. Additionally, he has a second larger cage. This one is merely the one that will be in the little girl's room, the cage that he will use at night to sleep in. This cage is probably 2' by 3'.

So I look at this little girl, so emotionally overwrought, and I tell her that she has a very good heart, and that I love to see someone who takes good care of her animals. But I also point out that in the wild, rabbits go into very enclosed burrows to sleep, that it makes them feel secure and safe from predators, that this is their nature. The little girl takes this in very seriously. I tell her, "You know, you can test that yourself. Put a box in his cage and watch. And I will bet you that when he is put in his cage, he chooses to go into it, into an even smaller space to sleep. It is a protective instinct that many small animals have." I then told them to think it over, and I'd go back to my suet, and to just stop by and let me know if they didn't want the cage so that I could put it back up on the shelf.

Before too long, the three of them came by carrying the cage. They had decided to take it after all, and I carried it up to the register for them while they finished shopping. I was on the register when they came up with the rest of their purchases, and the little girl looked much happier. "Do you want a box for our experiment?" I asked, and with an excited smile she said yes. So I grabbed one from the stock room, and when I gave it to her, I said, "You come back and let me know how this experiment works out for you, okay?" and the little scientist went out the door with her box.

I miss having kids.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Work

I really like working at Tractor Supply. The people are great and fun to work with. Last night we were working hard, and very close to making bonus. So very close. I said, "Can we keep the store open a little late?" and the manager said, "Oh, yeah. We're staying open." We did it. We made bonus. It was a great moment to stand out in front of the store high fiving each other. I like the camaraderie there a lot.

I like the customers too. An older guy came in today. He wore a shirt emblazoned with 'bad ass'. He looked like a pretty rough character. He was in to buy some welding supplies for his neighbor. He talked about how much he respected that neighbor, paralyzed from the chest down, but a worker, out using a log splitter to split his wood, and welding. Said the guy had changed his own oil that morning. The man shook his head in amazement. I said, "You know, you don't see many like that these days," and the guy said, "You're right." He seemed loathe to go. Visited a little, still holding his bag. Out of the blue, he said, "I'm having an awful time. I had to have my dog put to sleep yesterday, and I can't be in my house right now. Everything reminds me that my dog isn't there." Right away, I thought of my Buck. "It's a hard thing," I said. "Even when it's the right thing, it's still awfully hard." And much to my surprise, his eyes got red, and two fat tears trickled down his bearded face. "I told my wife, I just got to be away from the house for a little bit." I commiserated with him, and because I'm a sap, I got all teary eyed for him too. A couple guys came up and he left, quickly. Probably embarrassed to be seen in public with tears in his eyes. The two new customers looked at me surprised as I quickly wiped my own eyes. I said, "Gees. I'm crying over somebody else's dog. Aren't I the biggest mess?" I shot them a look. "You're not going to make me cry, are you?" and they laughed. Business went on as normal, but later, when things quieted down again, I thought how nice it is to know that there are tenderhearted people in this world. I think we need more of them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Can't I Remember to Title my Posts?

My blog has been sort of left to its own devices lately. I've been very busy with school. I've been doing a lot of writing, a whole lot of writing. I've actually begun to get a bit 'ahead' on my writing assignments. A six page report for OT. A six page report for English Comp all in the same week. A history project, with power point presentation. Trying to keep up with my regular writing assignments. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to stay on top of my reading and other things. I've got so many books this time around. Sometimes, when I lay in bed at night, my mind spinning around with all that I've got to do, I find myself getting scared. It's impossible, I think. I can't keep up. But on the heels of that, I find myself realizing that I am. I've adopted the motto, 'Keep your head down and work like crazy.'

I love my classes, and let me tell you something that I have discovered. I was sitting in class early on, and I listened to the teachers telling us about what occupational therapy is. Isn't that funny? I had a vague idea, but the reason that I chose this class is because my friend Mary pointed out that they were always advertising for occupational therapists in the paper. I began to look, and she was right. I noticed that most of these places offered money for your continuing education credits, and I liked the idea that I could go on taking classes part time, and be reimbursed. So I signed up for Occupational Therapy, because I wanted a good steady job with benefits. There you have it. That's why I am where I am.

In any case, in the beginning of the classes, as I said, we heard a lot about what it is to be an occupational therapist. As I listened, I was amazed to realize that I've done occupational therapy. I didn't realize it, but I have. I lived in Michigan in the late eighties and the first half of the nineties, and I took care of a gentleman. His name was Mike. He'd had a stroke. He was a naturalist, and a chemist, and a golfer, a father, a husband, and a social person, but this stroke had been a bad one, and he was left sitting alone in his house looking out the window at his birds. He was thin and pale, but all around him there were pictures of him tanned and healthy. On his boat. Skiing. In the woods. At his cottage. (He lived next door to Roger Tory Peterson, can you imagine?) I've never met such a wealthy man who was so poor. Really. His wife was mortified at his incontinence and the fact that he could not control his saliva. She would not eat with him. She actually was rarely home, in fact. I developed an ear for Mike's speaking, and we began to talk. A lot. I'm a blabber. Turned out, so was he. And once he began to talk, I began to figure out what he wanted, what he needed. We began to do things. Once he talked longingly of just watching lightning bugs. He lived in town where there were none, and he missed it. So one night, I loaded him up in the car, and we went to a field and sat there in the dark eating our ice cream cones and watching the fireflies. Once Mike spoke about how he loved fresh trout, and so I brought a fresh trout in. With its head still attached. He scaled it and breaded it, and I cooked it, and we laughed so hard that night. I'd never cooked something that looked back at me. When I first put the pan on the store, it seemed that its mouth moved a little, and it startled me so much that I leapt back with a shriek, dropping the spatula. Those years with Mike were so rewarding. His successes were my own, watching a lonely man come back to life was a wonderfully rewarding period in my life. To find that what I'd been doing was actually what I was being trained for now was a shock to me. I found myself getting tearful, even, although I think/hope that no one noticed. All I could think was this: "I can do this. I can be good at this. I will have a job I love." I was so filled with gratitude to be where I was, and mindful that my feet had been set on this path long before I knew where I was headed. How very blessed am I!

In any case, I've got to get going. A lot to do today, but there is some exciting stuff going on at other people's blogs. Bill had a very exciting post on the bears of Cross Island. Tim and I enjoyed it greatly. Whitestone had an interesting post about pelicans. I never would have thought of them migrating through Iowa of all places. Bush Babe had emus, even managing to capture a picture of the very rare four legged two headed emu. Novel Woman cracked me up with her latest video spoof. I never saw the movie 'The American', but movies about assassins aren't my cup of tea, but it looks like 'The Canadian' would be a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get out of my Face, Facebook.

I've been reluctantly dragged in to Facebook because it's the only way to keep up with the relatives scattered from here to kingdom-come. It's a nice way to keep up with friends that I don't often get to see. So, I check in regularly, but I can't say that I'm enamored with the whole thing. It's a means to an end, I suppose. That's all.

A couple days ago, my friend Alan put up a comment. He said that he's learned a great deal from watching Bugs Bunny. Another fellow commented that his favorite was The Road Runner. I made a comment to the effect that he'd learned from that, too. Unless he was currently dangling from the jaws of a coyote. Guy flipped a gasket. Felt that he'd been 'slammed'. "Uh. No," I messaged back. "I don't believe in that. It was meant as a joke, sorry for any offense." I guess that's what happens though. You don't know who's on line. You don't know how your comments will be taken. I guess that is the thing that makes me uncomfortable with facebook, all the strangers lurking about. If I don't actually 'know' the person who's requesting to be my friend, I don't accept the friend request. It makes me feel a little guilty, but hey. It's how I roll.

I've recently had the 'opportunity' to watch facebook wielded as a weapon. An acquaintance sent me a friend request some time ago, and I agreed to it. Tim worked with her husband, I knew her from church. We both know her in-laws. Always visited with her a little when we saw her at the Walmart. Now the marriage is over. Or at least headed that way. She's posted some pretty shocking pictures of herself on line. I'd call them soft porn, to be frank. A recent posting stunned me. She's getting bored with the subject of Ted Bundy, and was looking for the name of another killer/rapist from Canada. The most recent conversation hinted at a very good and intimate time with "____". Immediately, Mr. _______ posted, using his own name and saying how fine it had all been. His ex-girlfriend commented, hurt and angry. He taunted her with the relationship. My 'facebook friend' thought it funny. It made me sick, to read it, the gloating and the rage and the hurt right there in my face. It was mean, like the popular kids in high school.

I was trying to think why. Maybe it's because Tim and I had our own hard time earlier in the year. We're okay. In fact, probably better than we've ever been. It wasn't easy. It required a lot of talking. The thing is, though, even when things were at their worst, we didn't hate each other. Our concern was almost always for the other person. Our hearts were breaking. The only thing that we knew is that neither of us wanted to divorce, but despite that, we seemed to be in a place where that was the only answer. It was devastating. The idea that one or the other of us would have gone on line to be critical of our spouses, or to flaunt our new intimacies in front of them, or to inflict pain on others, well. It was unthinkable. I knew that Tim was hurting, and I would not have wanted to make it worse. I'm pretty sure he felt the same way.

I don't know. Maybe I'm old. All I know is that really, I'm rethinking the whole facebook thing lately.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Patience. (Not Mine)

Today was one big rush. I headed out the door early to give myself extra time to study in the library. The test went well, I think, unless I goofed something up. Then I headed down for the library to write my paper for tomorrow's English comp. I don't know. It was on euthenasia. MLA referencing is a pain in the hind end. Everyone else in the class seems to be familiar with it. I have no experience with it, none that I remember anyhow. And if I did, it was well before the time of the internet referencing. But the paper is done. I was racing the clock, and finished up at 3:30. I snatched the papers from the printer and sprinted to my car. I had to be to work by 4.

Driving at 35 mph (the posted speed limit) through the residential area of Buffalo Rd., some idiot tailgated me, swinging out as if to pass (in a no passing lane) over and over again. I pulled over, he flew past me at well over the speed limit and, I am ashamed to admit it, but I flipped him off. What does God do with people like me? Really? And I was ashamed of myself even as I watched him begin to tailgate the next vehicle in front of him, making his own impatient gestures at that person.

As I burst through the front doors of the store with one minute to spare, Jessie said, "Jees. You're always here 15 minutes early. "Yeah, I know," I said, rushing past the register to the back of the store. Mark and Bob and Dave were talking with Gary, who I don't really know. He's back to work after 12 weeks off, for a broken ankle. Mark said, "Wow. You made it. Have you met Gary?" and I said, "Briefly. Not trying to be rude, but really, I have to pee." And I went tearing past them.

You know, there's a father, a farmer, who comes into the store, and he generally has a little boy with him, and this little boy stutters something awful, but I am struck always at how patient this dad is. He never gets flustered or impatient. The little boy is a chatterbox, and the father will be visiting with someone, and the little boy will be trying to say something, and the father will listen carefully and then answer him, and then go on with his own conversation. Once there was a problem at the register, and he waited patiently as it got sorted out. When his turn finally came, I thanked him for his patience, and he drawled, "Aw, I just don't see getting upset about stuff. It's not worth it." I watched him tonight, and I think what I always think when I see him: what a rare thing patience is in the world. And it seems such a shame that it should be. I think again of the impatient driver, and my own impatient response, and I clearly see my own faults.

Doubting Debby

In English Comp, right next to me sits 'Techno Kid'. On the other side of him is Ammo on His Wrist guy. Now Techno Kid is thin, intense, long haired, kind of looks like Shaggy on Scooby Doo. He attends college for computer graphics (is that a degree?) I don't know. He wants to design computer games.

So anyway, I was at the library yesterday, trying to get all this information around for a historical overview of the evolution of Occupational Therapy. My group's era is 1917 to 1929. We're looking for the societal, legislative, and medical advances of the times. I was getting frustrated because everything that I typed in led to 127 million hits. "Train at Home for a Rewarding Career" "Become an Occupational Therapist" "Earn Good Money!" I was starting to grit my teeth a bit. I talked to a librarian, and she showed me one lone reference book sitting on the shelf. The History of Occupational Therapy.

It was time for English Comp, so I walked from the library across campus to class. The classroom was empty, but there was a message on our board. "Go to Library, Love, Mrs. Braun." (Is that not the cutest thing? I wanted to take a picture of it, but didn't have time. I had to walk back across campus to where I'd just come from.) I headed down the stairs thinking, 'Gosh. I was sure that she said we were meeting in the classroom first and heading to the library. Unless that's my Thursday class. We're also going to the library. Maybe we're suppose to meet in class first. I know somebody is meeting in the classroom first....' and at the bottom of the stairs, I see Techno Kid standing at the door with a pained, oh-how-stupid-I-am look on his face. I laughed. "I did the same thing," I said, and he held the door for me and we headed for the library.

On the way over, I asked him about the assignment. He has not begun it either. Like my own essay, his is also in the thinking stage. I've got two essays, two opposing views. I'm supposed to research and take another stand. I know what I want to say. The topic is euthanasia. I've got four articles to bolster my point of view. I just have not had the time to sit down and write the darn thing. Anyway, Techno Kid says, "The last time I took this class..." I looked at him amazed. "Why are you taking it again?" I figured that I would hear something about "I knew that I could get a better grade," or something like that. This is a smart kid. He looked at me and said, "I failed this class. This is my fourth time of taking it," and while my mind is spinning on ahead thinking 'dyslexia' or 'learning disability' and wondering how I could help, the kid tells me, "I don't like to do homework. I'm already a couple journals and one newspaper essay behind." I didn't even know what to say. I wonder why he is in college. I mean, someone is paying for it. If he's not, his parents are, and if I were his mother, I'd be suggesting that he take a break from school, get a job, and think about what he wanted to do with his life. If he chose to ignore me, well, he'd be paying for college out of his own pocket. I don't waste money. Four times!

On the up side, the class we had for English Comp was taught by Jennifer, the daughter of one of my fellow Sunday school teachers, and the class was all about how to use the different search engines to find topics from books and periodicals and other libraries, etc. I was so glad for it, because heaven knows, it will help me considerably for this history project. And at the end of the class, everyone filed out. We had been given some research homework, and I made up my mind to get it done before leaving. I don't need one more thing to do on my 'things to do list'. So I sat in the darkened classroom and completed my homework. Techno Kid was there too. He finished before I did. I mean, really, this fellow is bright enough.

I have a test today, and I've got to get moving. I have a lot of stuff to do. Two major writing projects. I worry about today's test. It just seems like there is so much ahead of me that I start to worry. How am I going to get it all done? I don't think I can get it all done. But everyone who has gone through this class before me got it all done. So I take a deep breath and try to feel confident that I will get it all done too. Last night, headed for bed, I said to Tim, "I wonder how long it will take before I get over the feeling that I'm on the verge of catastrophic failure?" I'm doing well, as far as I can tell, so far, but this fear of failure is very real. And I find myself wondering where all this self doubt comes from.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Picture Perfect

Here's a news flash for you. I hate having my picture taken. Hate it. We're having a new church directory made and they wanted everyone to show up to get their picture taken for it.

Did I mention about hating having my picture taken?

So then, I couldn't make the appointment for the picture until I knew what my work schedule was, and then when I found out what my work schedule was, I forgot to call the secretary and see what appointment times were open, and well, *sigh* long story short, Tim and I were showing up for our picture taking at 9:20 PM, after I got off work. After I got out of school. As I was coming down with a cold, and my face hurt, and my eyes were puffy and well... you get the picture, right? (Pun entirely intended.)

So anyhow, we get our picture taken, and then we have to sit and wait to pick our pose. (Pose, not Nose) It wasn't all bad, because we got to visit with the church secretary, and she's funny as a hoot. Also glamorous and has never taken a bad picture in her life, I imagine, but I'm not jealous (much). I love Karen despite her movie star looks.

So we're finally called up there, and I say to that man, in a very matter of fact way, "So you can give us the short version, because we're not buying any pictures. We'll just pick the photo for the directory and be on our way." He says that he needs to give us the schpiel anyway. So I sit myself down and snuffle to myself (really, colds make me snottier than usual), and I'm kind of listening, while not listening at all. Tim is much better at looking interested when he's not interested than I am at looking interested when I'm not interested. But then, surprisingly, I got interested, when the man tells us that there is a 'finish' that they offer that will remove the lines and blemishes. It will remove the bags under your eyes. It will whiten your teeth. It will even make you look thinner. He showed pictures, and I have to say, the people looked like younger versions of themselves. In fact, if you were a person coming down with a pretty bad cold, feeling a little...oh, I don't know...snarky?...well, you might find yourself wondering "What the heck?" I mean, do people think that if they get this picture, someone will look at their wrinkled pudgy blemished face with the bags under their eyes and the wrinkles on their necks and say, 'Hm. They must be having a bad day, because that picture, well...by gosh, a picture does not lie, and they sure do look fine in that picture...'

Okay. I don't like my pictures. I just don't. Never have. But the idea of paying someone to make my picture not look like me, well, that's bizarre isn't it? What is the point of that? Somebody want to explain that? I would much rather have someone look at my picture and say, "Man, Debby was sure having a bad day!" then to hear "Who does she think she's fooling?"

Waiting patiently for your words of wisdom.

*tick* *tick* *tick*

Well, back to my studying.

The Most Boring Blog Post Ever.

Gosh. Not much to report here.

Paper due today. (check)

Test tomorrow.

Paper due Thursday.

(Can't wait until Friday.)

Might have a couple kids coming home on the weekend.

Got asked to do a presentation for our school district's "Professional Day". How nice is that?

My cold has finally 'decamped'. The pleasure of breathing through your nose is vastly underrated.

Freight day at the store, last night. You just put your head down and work like crazy. Ike said, "Man, you're on fire tonight." I was. I'm getting to know where everything goes, and if I don't know, I can figure it out.

Was 'talking' on line, to a friend. He said, "BRB. I got a bear at the window." It made both Tim and I laugh. Life in the woods.

Looks like our television was a one night deal. That was interesting. I wonder what happened.

Is it my imagination, or is this just the most boring blog post ever?

It's not my imagination?

Oh.

Let me get ready for school.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nature's Most Perfect Decongestant....

....jalepeno peppers. Dosage? Lots of 'em. Eat them until your nose and eyes are running freely. Man. I do feel better. I can breathe through my nose again. My face does not feel too heavy for the front of my head.

So....anyone got any suggestions for the chest congestion?

Note to Self

Find another cough suppressant. One that does not make me jangly and keep me up all night.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tonight We Watched Television. For a Minute.

We haven't had television reception since the great switch to digital last year. We get PBS, but that's it. We thought about it, but concluded that we did not watch TV enough to warrant getting satellite, and cable is not available back here in the woods.

I came home tonight and Tim was sprawled on the couch watching a football game. I'm kind of slow on the uptake, and I've got this rotten cold, so it didn't connect at first, but eventually it came to me. "Wait," I said. "What happened? Why are we getting network television." "I dunno," he said. "This game is a blowout. Let's see what else we get." And there was some movie channel. A movie was beginning. Some sneaky looking guy walked through a dark house past a bunch of butcher knives in a rack on a wall. Then some long legged guy in bell bottoms with long hair walked into his house. There were feathers all over. He looked startled and then raced up a spiral stair case while dramatic music played. He flung open the door and his eyes went wide with horror...and then Tim switched the television off. "Well," I said, "Now, we'll never know what he saw in that room when he opened the door." And Tim said, "I don't care."

Maybe tomorrow, we'll still have television. Maybe tomorrow there will be more than crap on. Maybe tomorrow I'll be over this stinking cold. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Worlds Apart

The story today is sweet. Two teenaged boys came into the store with their parents. One was tall and gangly and red haired, with a thin face and high cheekbones. His brother was tall too, but his gait was awkward and shambling. When they came to the register, I saw that the dark haired boy was mentally challenged, profoundly so. This was a farm family, and they paid for their purchases. The mother called her husband over to look at a heating stove, and the two teenagers were left at the counter. One boy stood slack jawed and staring vacantly, his shirt front stained with his supper. I looked at him, and I realized that he would have been beautiful if not for the accident of his chromosomes, and because I am a mother, there was a rush of maternal feelings for a child not my own. The red-haired brother pushed the cart forward and turned to his brother. In a tone of the most exquisite tenderness, he said to his brother, "Come on, it's time to go." And his brother looked at him, startled almost, and began to follow him in his odd gait. The love in that small scene touched my heart.

Today, also, a young girl came in with her father. She got a pair of barn boots. Because I am a horrible blabber, I said, "Well, now you're ready to go to work!" in a joking kind of voice. This teenager looked square at me and said, "I don't work. If I did work, it would be because I chose to, not because somebody bought me a pair of boots and told me to do it." She snatched her boots off the counter, and marched off. I looked, shocked, at the father. He looked back at me. "Little Miss Attitude," he said, and I think he was embarrassed.

I can't help but compare those two teenagers, the red haired boy and little Miss Attitude. The only thing that they had in common was their ages.

The good news is that I think that this cold is finally winding down. I'm as glad for that as I can be, but I do have to say, I would have preferred that the thing did not begin to break up while I was running a register at work.

It is Brianna's birthday today, and as I worked, I prayed that she have a good day. When I got home, I called her, and it sounded like she did. We talked about baby names. If it is a girl, they are considering my middle name. I snuffled some more, but it wasn't just the cold.

I'm headed to bed with a good healthy dose of nightime cold medicine. Hopefully, I'll feel better in the morning. Lordy. Don't think I can feel any worse.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This morning, I slept in. I was so tired yesterday that I actually got nauseous getting ready for school. As I tried to ignore it, it simply got worse, so finally, I went back to bed, hopeful that if I layed down, I'd feel better in a few minutes. Instead, I fell soundly asleep until after 10. I putzed around the house half heartedly for the rest of the day, feeling guilty about not being at school, taking frequent breaks and finally, another nap. I made simple french bread pizza for supper, and finally, Tim and I went to church for a Bible study on Daniel. I was a little dismayed to find out that this is going to be a study on the prophesy of Daniel. It is designed to show us all, that no matter what, God's in charge. I believe that He is. I also believe that God and I have a deal. For the last couple years, I've been thinking alot about 'end times'. Mine, but hey, end times are end times, right? My take on it is that the number of days, well, that's God's business. How I spend those days, well that's MY business. I try hard to spend those days being a good person, kind, and helpful. Praying for others. Putting God in charge of my life. But I really have no interest in trying to decipher prophesy. I mostly don't like those prophetic interpretations presented as fact. We don't know. That's the truth of it. We do not know. We can guess what it means, but when those guesses are being presented as fact, well, it makes me nervous. Very nervous. So, now I'm in a Bible study that I'm probably going to want to back out of. I haven't talked to Tim on it. I was so tired sitting there that I nearly fell asleep listening to Pastor Dave talk. When we got home, I went to bed, at 8:30 at night, to read a little (Blood Done Sign My Name - an interesting account of the Civil Rights Movement in a small southern town through the eyes of a preacher's son.) I immersed myself in the thunder of the past even as I averted my eyes, earlier, from the dire storm warnings in our future. I fell asleep once more listening to the comforting sound of rain on the roof, and the sound of far off thunder.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today at the Tractor Supply

So today's story is pretty funny actually. I was at the Tractor Supply and a young man came in. I saw him casting quick looks around, so I walked over and said, "Can I help you?" and he said, "I'm looking for summer shirts. Don't you have a summer shirts on sale?" "Yes," I said, 'but they were all marked down in August, so we don't have a lot of them left at this point. What we've got, though, is right here," and I led him to the clearance rack. He found some shirts and came up with three of them and a wallet. He said, "Man, I hate that I missed that sale. I really need summer shirts," and I said, "Well, next year, just remember to get here in August." His smile flashed white in his black beard. "I won't be here," he said, triumphantly. "Really?" I said, ringing up his stuff. "Where are you headed? Down south where it is warm?" "I'll say!" he exclaimed. "I'm headed for Australia!" I stopped what I was doing to stare at him. "Really? Where?" and he said, "Toowoomba," and it seemed that he liked the way it rolled off his tongue. "In Queensland," I said, and it was his turn to stare. "That's right," he said. "West of Brisbane, working for a harvesting company." The Big Smoke. He looked quite interested. "Have you been there?" he said. "Nope," I said. "But I've got friends there," and I thought about BB and Jeanie, and their lovely mother Anonymous. After he left, I vacuumed, thinking, just the tiniest bit enviously of this young man's adventure, but mostly thinking this...that one day, the Granite Glen gals might be traveling down the bitumen headed for one place or another, and they will pass a young man running a combine, a young man with dark hair and a black beard. They might not give him a second glance, nor he, them. And they will never realize the tie that connects them all from the other side of the world.

The internet makes the world a very small place. Cozy even.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Debby and her Wonderful, Awesome, Not Bad, Very Good Day

One of my favorite children's books of all time is 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.' The little boy's refrain through each mishap of his awful day is, "I wanna move to Australia." It makes me laugh every time that I read it, right up to the final line, "...and my mother said, 'Some days are like that...even in Australia.' " Today, I had the opposite of Alexander's day. So we shall call this 'Debby and the Wonderful, Awesome, Not Bad, Very Good Day'.

Last Thursday, we handed in our first essay in English Composition. It was an argument. I picked two opposing essays, neither of which I thought was completely accurate, and then I took a position in the middle, and provided facts to back that thinking up. The thing was that I wrote it early on, and had nothing to do but 'tweak' it. Unfortunately, I waited until the last minute to tweak it. And by the time I got around to the tweaking, well, I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all. I thought that it ended weakly. My view hadn't changed at all, but reading back over the instructions, I saw that I was supposed to pick one essay to disagree with, not two. However, I had no time to rewrite the entire paper, so I put the finishing touches on it, and fretted. I wondered if I would lose points for not following directions. And that weak ending. I tried to strengthen it, but really, it needed a complete overhaul. I printed it out, and I was unhappy. We got it back in class today. I got an A. What a relief.

Another thing that made me smile was Bill, the young man who argued with me in class. That post became a column. That column generated interest, from local teachers even to a department head at the college who used it as part of a discussion on classroom civility. You know, I was nervous about putting that out there, because this is a very conservative area, and I figured that my stance on the mosque would outrage people. It didn't though. Quite the opposite. Every e-mail I got was positive and affirmed the basic idea of it: that we all need to learn to listen. So that part was kind of nice. But anyway, I got to class early today, and I was reading a book. There was a light tap on my shoulder. "Hey, Debby!" and it was Bill, with a big smile on his face. He held up his arm, the one with the ammo on the black leather bracelet. He had been recognized. Someone saw his bracelet, and asked him if he was the fellow from the story. "I'm famous!" he laughed, and I laughed with him. It felt good to be a part of that class. We got into a discussion about video games, and I leaned over to Techno Boy who sits between Bill and I. "Of course they're bad. Look what they've done to you!" and Techno Boy laughed and screwed up his face at me.

I was nervous about the test today in Medical Specialties. The first test in any class is worrisome, until you 'figure out' the teacher. But for all my fretting, I'm pretty sure that I got an A on it though. It seemed easy enough, unless I've done something foolish. (And sometimes that happens...)

Mostly though, what I loved about today is that when I went to my classes, I was greeted by the other students. I greeted them too. I felt like I belonged, like I was a part of it.

So that was my wonderful, awesome, not bad, very good day. And you know what? I really hope that most days are like this one, no matter where you are...even in Australia!

G'Day, mates!

Pressure

There's a young man came into the store. "Do you have any canning supplies left?" he said, in a hopeless kind of way. I totally get that. We've been sold out of the lids for probably 2-3 weeks now. Just a few cases of jars left. A couple canners, the old Ball type. A pressure canner. Not a lot of stuff. But most everyone is sold out of supplies at this point. So I showed him where what's left is, and he looked the stuff over. Right away, though, he knelt down to look at the pressure canner. It's been marked down, but not enough. He said, "My wife would like to make spaghetti sauce, but we don't have a pressure canner. We were going to freeze it." Perfectly sensible way to do it, and we talked about that. In the talking, I could tell that money was tight for this young couple, but I could also tell that they were a pretty resourceful pair. That's something that you don't see a lot of today. He works second shift, but he spoke proudly of his wife teaching herself to can the produce from their garden while he was at work, after she got home from work herself. "Listen," I said, "I've got an old pressure canner you can have. It works fine. I canned when the kids were all home, but now, I just don't have time for it. If you would like it, I'd be glad for you to have it." He was quick to say, "Oh, no, I couldn't do that," and he was embarrassed to be taking. That's another thing you don't see a lot of these days. I looked at him and said, "When someone gives you something, you should just say, 'thanks'," and I grinned at him. You could see him thinking on it, and you could also see that he really wanted it. "I honestly don't use it anymore," I repeated. And he finally said, "Well, then, thanks!"

That little exchange made me feel really good. Seeing a young couple starting out in these hard times being practical and sensible and hard working, well, that made me feel good too. Giving that canner made me feel as if I was handing down something really important, something that most young people aren't interested in knowing. That made me feel best of all.

Well. Big test today. Sitting here having coffee with you folks is not getting me out this door.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Close One

I'm feeling decidedly crappy, but, hey, after scaring the bejeebers out of myself, 'decidedly crappy' I can handle. I came downstairs this morning and I was (say it with me, people) tired. I was so flipping exhausted that I could hardly wait to get through packing Tim's lunch so that I could make my coffee. I wrapped his two sandwiches (cajun turkey breast, swiss cheese, lettuce, ketchup on nine grain bread). I put in his goodies (an apple, fruitsnacks, peach cup, and a chocolate cupcake). I put in his frozen water bottle and his one can of pepsi and his second can of caffeine free pepsi, for his afternoon break.

Then I turned to my coffee pot. It was dismantled. I didn't remember doing that, but I do remember washing the things yesterday. I unloaded the dish strainer, putting the thing back together, but the metal perforated cup was missing. Somehow, I'd managed to dump it in the trash while emptying my grounds. I couldn't imagine myself doing such a thing, but it was the only possible answer, and so I heaved a sigh and went out to bring in the garbage bag. Tim asked what I was doing, and I explained, more than a little peeved at myself. "I honestly don't even remember ripping the thing apart yesterday," I said, with the frustrated tone that only a woman deprived of caffeine could manage. And Tim said, "Well, when you were getting ready for church, I ripped it apart. I wanted to see how many watts the thing uses." (It's hell being married to Professor Potter, let me tell you. And no, I'm not talking about wizards. The reference is pre-wizard, going back to the day of flying cars and a little girl named Jem, the boy named Jeremy. Professor Potter was their inventer father. Name that book. late edit: it turns out that the professor was named Professor Potts, not 'Potter' Still though, name that book.) In any case, I looked up at Tim, still digging through the garbage. I had one thought. It didn't matter what the watt usage was of this particular appliance. I need my coffee. Ergo, the pot stays right where it is. But very carefully, I said to Tim, "So when you were dumping the grounds, do you remember what you did with the little metal cup?" He looked at me blankly. "What little metal cup?" I pointed to the piece on the counter. "The metal cup that fits inside of that. It has holes in the bottom and the coffee runs through it..." and he said, "I didn't see it." At the same time, I did see it, and triumphantly pulled it out of the trash.

Tim doesn't get it, but had this been the morning after garbage pick-up, this day would have become 'the day that would live in infamy'. Sort of.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Post Traumatic Stress

I have been so dragging tired this past week. School has seemed too big to handle, so much stuff coming from so many different directions. I think that I'm getting the hang of it, but still, it's a little overwhelming and I'm. Just. So. Tired. I've been trying to study for a test on Tuesday, but it is hard because I wake up in the morning exhausted. I drink coffee and slog through the day...exhausted. This morning, getting ready for church, I felt so tired that I allowed myself to think it: 'I'd better make an appointment to be seen. This is NOT normal.' I got through church, and visited with friends during the chicken and biscuit dinner that I had no appetite for. Tim and I went grocery shopping. I actually started to feel light headed and woozy, like I might just have to sit down for a minute in the middle of Aldi's. It felt good to come home, and get things put away. I sat down to study, but it was so hard to stay focused. My head began to ache. I began to get a feverish 'swimmy' sort of feeling. Something was definately wrong, and, to my own shame, I began to feel those little prickles of fear. I found myself wondering, "What about those bruises all over your legs?" "What about those aching bones?" and even "What if the weight loss thing has nothing to do with your good habits?" On and on. Even though I pride myself on being a practical and logical sort of gal, well, this afternoon, I wasn't I am embarrassed to say. I kept my fears to myself, not even mentioning them to Tim, but inside, I was quietly, plainly scared.

I've never been so relieved to begin sneezing in all my born days. I'm coming down with a cold. I feel pretty darn foolish, and am grateful that I kept my fears to myself (until now, anyhow...)

I'm taking aspirin and putting my feverish self to bed. Catch all you good people on the rebound.

Nothing

Yesterday, I worked, and I worked hard. I like to work hard. Although if I'd have known that I'd be working that hard, I wouldn't have worn a sweatshirt. The cool damp has been a real problem for my bones, and I try to avoid getting cold. It makes me miserable. My sweatshirt was just a wee bit too hot once I got going, hauling pallets out using the pallet jack. Climbing up and down ladders pulling stock from the upper shelves, moving bags of chicken feed or corn or lime. Stuff like that. I was coming around the corner with the ladder when I heard two managers talking. "That Debby, you give her something to do, and she's ON it." Nice to overhear a nice comment about yourself. It got me to thinking on the power of positive gossip.

I came home and studied for a test. When I went to bed, I was tired. It began to rain, and I lay there, next to Tim, warm and drowsy, listening to the rain pattering on the roof. There was a bright flash of lightning and when the thunder came, it rumbled on and on and on, reverberating from one end of the sky to the other. I lay in bed listening to it, watching the sky sporatically flash, followed by the thunder that rolled on for ever and ever, and I thought about my day, and the days before this day, and the days to come in the arms of a husband snoring gently. I prayed for five kids grown and gone...and at some point, I fell asleep.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stories

I was pondering over the whole Henry W thing, rereading the e-mail exchange. In hindsight, I was pretty shocked to see that I clearly volunteered for this. But I did. As soon as I realized that the story might not be told, I was raising my hand (virtually speaking) and saying, "Then I will do it." I suppose that part of this is selfishness. I considered it such a story, right away, that I couldn't imagine that it would not be told. The idea of telling Henry that his story wasn't important was something that I couldn't bring myself to do. But, still, after all it was all said and done, I was sitting in the dust saying, "What happened there...."

The fact is, Henry has a remarkable remarkable story. I tell stories. So I will tell another one, just bigger than I usually see bumbling along in my normal life. Instead of describing what I see, what I think, I will be describing Henry. I will be describing what he saw, what he thinks. First person, third person. That's all. I received some very good advice from a reporter, so good I printed it out. Henry's speaking is assisted, and so formulating answers takes a while, so I'm working on a list of questions, which he will answer via e-mail. He's a very good writer himself, which also makes my job a lot, lot easier. I will have to take pictures which will be a challenge for me (BB ~ I neeeeeeeeeeed you sistah!) but I will figure a way.

Like 'The Little Engine That Could', I have gone from abject terror to breaking it down into steps. 'I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...' What provides the steam for my little engine in this case is my steadfast conviction that this is a story which deserves its telling.

I guess the story from Tractor Supply is this: I was waiting on a couple. The woman looked like someone I knew, but I was confused. It couldn't be her, because she was not with the man that she should have been with. I thought to myself, "Well, Patty must have a sister..." These are friends of Tim's, from when he was a kid, and I didn't know them all that well myself, so I wasn't surprised about the case of mistaken identity. But then the man she was with asked about Tim, and I stopped to gape. It WAS Patty, and she WAS with the man she should have been with. Doug's lost so much weight that I did not even recognize him. "Is it rude to ask how much you've lost?" I asked, and he grinned. "I've lost more than 145 pounds." "Gees, Doug. You look like a whole 'nuther person." To which he responded, "Or maybe just half of another person." Wow. Just wow. They both laughed at my shock, and we had a good little visit, rushed as it was.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Weigh In, Thoughts about Nothing

I'm still losing weight. Not a full pound this week, but the scales are still headed the right way. It's been cold and rainy and so I had to pull out warmer shirts from the back of the closet, things that I hadn't looked at since last winter. It was nice to find myself putting on a shirt that I couldn't wear last winter.

I am tired. Just beat. It might be because with the cold and damp came the aching bones. With a vengeance. Don't know. I talked to a friend who was complaining about the same thing. She's my age, doesn't take tamoxifen. Does this simply happen as you get older? Have I been blaming the tamoxifen for something that simply and coincidently began at the same time? That was an interesting thought.

I think that I'm starting to get with the program for school. A lot of writing though, and I'll be working to put together a power point, and...well... gees. If I start thinking too far ahead, I just make myself nervous. Takes a deep breath. Well. That's what I'm up to today.

Mrs. Spit has a column plagiarized. I went over to Mommy Outnumbered to compare the two columns. Word for word, except that Mrs. Spit's was dated first. Turns out that all of 'Mommy's' blog posts were swiped from other blogs. Now why would a person do that? What was she looking for? Attention? Pity? When you read her profile, well, she sounds a little freaky, talking about when she gets an overwhelming urge to be around blood, she goes to play in the ER. (She claims to be an ER nurse). Bizarre attitude. I find myself hoping that she's NOT an ER nurse. Can you imagine being cared for by a nurse who's watching everything with a sick fascination, having the time of her life? Ew. Maybe she's just a compulsive liar. Terribly lonely. A longing to be someone. Is Katie Pearson even a real person? We don't know. Her blog will be taken down and we'll probably never know the rest of that story. I guess that I'm nosy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Henry W

Remember Henry W? I lobbied for a reporter to do a story on him. I lobbied hard, because really, Henry's story is such a testimony to the human spirit. I lobbied so well that it was suggested that I do the story because I am so passionate about the topic. *blink* Dang. Did not see that coming.

The thing is, I write about little stuff. I write extensively about little stories that amuse but, in the grand scheme of things, don't matter to anybody but me. Henry's story is important. Really important. It really deserves a professional. Not me.

I've gone and scared myself spitless.

Richard

I do meet the most interesting people. Today, on the way home from class, I stopped at the Russell spring to get five gallons of spring water for the water cooler at work. I'm the logical one to get it since I pass by the Russell spring 6 out of 7 days a week (minimum). So I pulled in and it was raining, a cold mist. There was an elderly man there, along with his wife. He was filling up a bunch of five gallon jugs and was embarrassed to be holding me up. He offered to let me fill my jug, but I said, "It's cold and it's miserable, and you were here first. You go on ahead. The spring hasn't run dry in all the years I've known it, so I imagine that there will be plenty of water there when you are done." Seeing his Florida license plate, I also commented, "We're a pretty laid back bunch here. You hardly ever hear of anyone getting killed in a water dispute at the Russell Spring." Which made him laugh, and hard, too.

He chatted a little, and his wife made a disparaging comment about his talking. Placidly, I said, "Oh, heck. You don't know me. I can carry on a conversation with a stump. I am a blabber." She rolled her eyes and jerked her thumb at her husband. "Him, too," she said, and she said it like it was not a good thing. Another fellow pulled up, and, wouldn't you know? He turned out to be a blabber too. The three of us blabbed on, and, outnumbered, the guy's wife said, "I'm going to wait in the van," and so she did.

Now, believe it or not, Richard was a roller skating champion, and had competed on the international level. "I'm 79," he said. "I had a stroke a few years ago. The kind of stuff that I did, well, it was just dangerous. I wouldn't dare try it again." And he told us how he was mostly recovered, but really, his coordination and balance was not what it was, and he didn't expect that it ever would be again. "So," he said, with a big grin, "I took up square dancing. It's the only way I know that you can grab all the ladies you want, and nobody gets mad." Pretty funny guy, and we talked easily as I helped him carry the big containers of water to his van as mine filled.

"Hey," he said, as he headed for the driver's side of his vehicle and I walked back to my five gallon jug at the spring. "We're headed over to have lunch at the Chinese buffet, if you want to come along." I shook my head. "I can't. I've got a paper to finish up and I've got some studying to do, and supper to make. I've got to go to work tonight."

And with that, we parted ways, waving. His wife waved too.

I gotta ask. How many times do you run into a international roller skater in the middle of the woods of podunk Pennsylvania?

And yeah. I had a camera in my purse. I did not take a picture, and I am ashamed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tempus Fugits.

Today, in about an hour, Dylan will officially turn 24. It just seems strange to me to think about it. 24 years. In just 10 days, Brianna will be 29.

How the heck is that even possible? Tempus is fugiting at an incredible rate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dumb

Today was sort of an aggravating day. I spent a lot of time on homework this weekend, and I confidently walked into class this morning, to immediately discover that we had an assignment that I did not do. It had been assigned in class. We had been instructed to write down the assignment. I did so. But our assignments are posted on a computer site called 'Angel'. I did all the assignments on Angel, read the readings, etc. What I did not do is refer back to my scheduling book to make sure there were no additional things to be done. Didn't even enter my mind. It is all so confusing, and it was mortifying to look at my scheduler there and see it plainly written. 'Research play, handout in red note book'. To top it off, we had a quiz on the assignment that I had not done. I felt very, very stupid. Valuable life lesson learned.

Anyway, we had our class. Followed by the lab. By the end of it, I was tired, and discouraged. My normal low self esteem had me really wondering if it were possible that I would ever be organized enough for this class. I was closing my books and gathering things all together when a woman walked in the door, came directly up to me and said, "Are you Debby?" I was so astonished that I gaped for few moments before managing to say, cautiously, "Um. Depends. Is this Debby in some sort of trouble?" Turns out she's head of a department (I'm so flabberghasted that I can't remember her title exactly, although I do remember her name, because she went to highschool with Tim and graduated with him). She read my last column. It was the story of my English class, the story of the young man who wears ammo on his wrist, about listening, about finding common ground. She wants to use it in one of her classes, and asked my permission to do so.

I gaped foolishly some more. "Sure," I said. "It's public. Go ahead." And she talked to my teacher about the fact that she had a published author in her classroom. Surprisingly, my teacher knew this too.

I wonder when I'll quit feeling dumb. I wonder if I ever will.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quiet Day

After a pleasant weekend, I spent my holiday Monday at the computer. I wrote a column which came quickly and easily. I then researched and wrote a five page argument on teenage drinking. The paper is due Thursday. Just having such a big project out of the way so early in the week makes me breathe a lot more easily. I made a special supper for Tim and made extra so that he had leftovers for supper tomorrow night, since I have to work. I read him the latest column and though he said nothing more than, "That's very nice," I could tell it pleased him. Since it was about marriage, about taking things for granted, I felt like it needed his approval and I was glad to have it. That's it really. I'm prepared for the week, and being prepared for the week makes me feel confident within myself.

Families

It's been a relaxing sort of weekend. I've worked, but I enjoyed myself. I guess the story of the day would be this: I watched a local lawyer and her husband walk through the store. As usual, she did not walk with him, but ahead of him, giving the impression that she was not with anyone at all. She seemed irritable and short with him when they came to the register. Their son stood off to the side as his mother harangued the husband, who had pulled out his debit card. She complained that she did not want him to use that card, that she was sick and tired of paying his bills. She pulled a wad of money out of her purse to pay for the transaction, complaining the entire time. He stood there looking at me with an embarrassed sort of half smile on his face. After paying me, she thrust money into his hands, complaining still. I stood there with their change, $5.01 to be precise, and she was complaining at him still, not noticing. The man extended his hand, and so I gave him that change, which served to anger her all the more, and I felt as if I'd done wrong. She sailed out of the store in front of him and her son. I'm sure it was not a pleasant ride home. I felt sorry for them all. I'm not sure what the man does for a living, but I've met him before. He is quiet. Seems like a sensible person, practical. This is a family who lives extremely comfortably. Yet for all that they have, what stands out the most is what they do NOT have. And can you imagine anything worse than being trapped in an unhappy marriage to a lawyer who handles divorces? Oy.

After work, Tim picked me up, and we went to a bonfire, and we visited, and I spent a large portion of the night sitting in a lawn chair with a little boy on my lap, a tired boy who was talking a lot simply to keep himself awake, I think. His head leaned into my shoulder as he talked about school and karate, and how smart he was and how strong he was, and I agreed with him again and again, laughing to myself. We talked about chicken nuggets and what we like to dip them in, and although I have not had a chicken nugget in years, I remembered that I liked them with sweet and sour sauce. He helpfully explained to me that he could do my homework for me, because he was quite good at homework. He wouldn't charge me anything for this service, and I volunteered to buy him ice cream for his help. This interested him. What if he did my homework every night? Pausing to think this over carefully, I said, "Well, I guess that I'd have to take you out for ice cream every night then. Considering this, he felt it fair enough. We grew quiet as I leaned my head back to watch the sparks spinning up into the black starry sky. "Do you suppose," I asked him, "that stars are just the sparks from all the campfires that there ever were? That maybe the sparks just went up to the sky and stayed there? Maybe that is why there are so many stars." His scientific little boy mind decided quickly that this could not be so. He's in second grade after all.

My children are all grown up, and I'd didn't realize how much I missed these things until last night, as I sat in the cool night next to a huge bonfire, savoring the feel of a little boy's head against my cheek, listening to a small child's view of the world.

Friday, September 3, 2010

INFJ

The class was required to do an abbreviated Myers Brigg Type Indicator test. It's part of 'self awareness', which is the first step in 'therapeutic use of self'. I don't know how much stock I take in this sort of thing, but hey, I do what I'm supposed to do, so I did the test, which did not take long. It returned the results, listing me as INFJ, which means Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judgement.

I read:

"INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.
INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type
."

Reading that this type accounts for only 1-3 percent of the population, I mused to myself 'Is that why I've felt like a wierdo for most of my life?' Like I said, I don't know how much stock I put into stuff like this, but it is interesting to consider the possibilities. Yesterday, I went to class, and the teacher had put together the class' results. I looked at the paper and was amazed to see that 29% of the class was INFJ. It was a bit of a shock, and I immediately wondered, 'Is this why I have this feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be?' Like I said, it is interesting to consider the possibilities.

At my locker, dragging out all my books to go home, I was talking to a couple of people from my class. One of them, in her forties, said, "It is so strange. I told my husband, "I don't know what it is, but I feel that I am right where I am supposed to be, doing what I was meant to do all of my life." Hearing my own words coming out of someone else's mouth struck me speechless (just for a couple moments. Come on. You know me...) but that dumbstruck silence was enough time for the other woman to say, shocked, "I've been feeling the same way..." and I finally found my words to say, "Me, too," and we looked at each other, the three of us, and knew that it was a beginning.

PS: I was excited to come home and find my first e-mail from Henry W. I had asked him the first of my hundred questions: You said that you were 15 when you made your first choice. What was the choice that you made? And his answer came: my very first choice I made was while living at Willowbrook when I was 15. We were made to wear jump suits like prison inmates - then when I turned 15, I made the choice to wear t-shirts and blue jeans that were hand-me-downs or donated. It felt really good to feel and look "normal".

I thought about that for a while. I remember my own children picking out their clothes almost as soon as they could open their dresser drawers. I thought about that, about not being given even a choice as simple as that until you were 15. I was moved.

Henry also expressed how glad he was for my e-mail, and that he loved questions. I smiled as I read that, and hit reply. I asked him my next question.

PPS: It's official. I have crossed that 20 pound mark. I am very close to the 21 pound mark. Yay! Oh yay!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anniversaries

I'm busy. Lots of reading, lots of writing, lots of trying to figure out what I've already got done and what needs to be done. Mostly I feel like I'm just trying to keep up. But I love my classes. I love the classroom dynamics of the OT classes. You see the same people over and over again, and you begin to form friendships. I like that part, but you know, I also like interacting with the people in my other classes, the ones that I don't see so often. The hearty friendly farm boy who sits across the aisle from me in Life Span Development. Marty who sits beside me. The techno kid from English Comp. The fiercely intelligent young man who sits at the end of my row. We often find ourselves staring across our differences to respect each other, and that is always kind of cool when that happens.

So I'm reading and studying and trying to stay on top of it all. Enjoying myself. Enjoying my job. It's kind of interesting when people come in and stare at me. "I know you," they say, in a musing way. I look back at their unfamiliar faces and I say, "I don't know. I'm Debby H......," and their eyes will widen. They do know me. They read my column. Some of them read this blog. It amazes me, the cross section of people who are followers. I expect women followers, but there's a lot of guys out there who are regular readers too. It's nice. It really is.

Towards autumn, I always find myself thinking back. September is the month that I found my cancer. I read some of my old blog posts. Two years ago, at this time, life was completely normal. I babbled on, completely unaware, and then on September 26th, I found a lump, and life veered off on this big wide detour. I read through a few of the posts, and, you know, it almost seems unreal, as if it happened to somebody else, yet when I turned the page on the calendar to September just a couple days ago, right away, my eyes sought out the 26th. It's on a Sunday this year. I'm glad that I'll begin the day in church. Just seems right somehow. Mostly what I think is this. I think of the fifty September 26ths that meant nothing at all, not until THAT September 26th. Out of all of the September 26ths, only one of them has made such a powerful impact on my life. I think about that sometimes. September 8th was just September 8th, until my son was born on it. And September 12th was just September 12th, until it became Mike's birthday. September 18th was just September 18th, until the day that my Brianna was born. September 11th was just September 11th, until...well...and September 26th was just September 26th until 2008. You see where I'm going with this, right? It occurs to me that unwittingly, every year, we live the day that we will die. The day means nothing. Not yet.

What does it all mean? Heck. I don't know. I think it means that I'd better finish off my coffee and get moving. I've got a busy day in front of me. No time to for my mind to be wandering today. And, you know, that's probably a real good thing.