Tales of a Nearly 49 Year Old Nothing

Listen to me! Think what it is like to have most of your life ahead and be told you are obsolete! Think what it is like to feel attraction, desire, affection toward others, to want to tell them about yourself, to feel that assumption on which self-respect is based, that you are worth something, that if you like someone, surely he will be pleased to know that. To be, in other words, still a living woman, and to be told that everyday, that you are not a person, but a joke. Well, I am a bitter joke. I am bitter, and frustrated, and wasted, but don’t you pretend as you look at me, 43, fat, and looking exactly my age, that I am not as alive as you are, and that I do not suffer from the category into which you are forcing me. Zoe Moss-It Hurts to be Alive and Obsolete: The Ageing Woman

In the conference room, I sat in a chair without arms to accommodate my hips and ass made too large from stress eating. The food I put in my mouth seems to be the only control I have these days. I hate that I have no control, hence the reason I’m sitting in a sterile conference room on a Monday morning, with the HR Manager and my team lead. I was feeling confident about the performance improvement plan that I’d been on for the last sixty days, as my job performance and accuracy had been increasing. That was until they began to speak. I was told that I’d failed it and would be removed from my position immediately. It had been decided by the team lead and her supervisor that there was no way I could continue the momentum of my accuracy rate of 97%. I also wasn’t approving at least 30 reports a day, so they were going to immediately move me another position.

The HR Manager slid a sheet of paper in front of me and ask that we read through it together. This was difficult for me as I was in tears, and trying to digest all of what was being discussed. In summary, the settlement agreement would allow me to stay long enough to be eligible for full retirement from the U, but I could not be hired into the my current placement  ever again. Here I was, almost 49, single, fat, no higher education, a recovering addict, mother of grown children and grandmother, being told, bitch, you got to go!

They sent me home to read the agreement and consult with a lawyer before I signed it. I did that, but I also thought about how I’d gotten here. Part of the reason I was here was because I was an addict that had ruined my work reputation while I was trying to kill myself with drinking and other self destructive behaviors. I also had shown too much of my personality while at my new job. I laughed too loud, I joked too much, and I was too friendly. I didn’t focus enough on the work at hand, and that caused my managers to look at me negatively. I was scrutinized every time I made a mistake, but I owned the errors.

The next day I went back to work. I went back to my old desk and packed up my crap. I was smart when I moved to my new location and didn’t place too many personal items on my desk. I swear, I instinctively knew that I shouldn’t get too comfortable. And I never was…

I was told by the team lead and her manager that I would make the announcement to my colleagues that I was moving. And I did, with a smile on my face and positive lilt to my voice. But, if they could have seen inside of my body while I spoke to them, they would have seen a maze of jangled nerves, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and racing thoughts skittering around a brain in early recovery from alcoholism.

I took my medicine though, and I walked my chair and box of belongings down to the first floor.

My former supervisor handed me off to my new supervisor. The new supervisor greeted me with such positivity and warmth, I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry. I kept my head down to hide the tears, and went about the task of setting up my new work space. I put up a couple of photos of my grandson, but now that I’ve been in the job a few weeks, I’ve removed them. I’ve decided to keep my work space neutral. To keep the desk space clear of clutter, and to keep focused on learning my new job.

I’ve learned that I’m expendable, because of my personal and work history, and my age. I’m obsolete. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve bore children and raised them. I’ve worked at the U since I was 20 and I’ve worn out my welcome at nearly 49. I’ve nowhere to go from here. I guess what I should say is, I don’t know where to go. I’m so unsure of myself and I wallow in anxiety and depression everyday. I’m not young, but I am not old. I am not book smart but I am not dumb. However, because of previous errors in my life, I will always viewed as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough. Never enough.

My daughter has told me to buck up and deal with it, but my tender heart continues to be crushed with sadness and fear, every time I try to look into the future. Because honestly, I see no future for me. Tell me, wouldn’t you be scared if that’s what you saw when you looked ahead, was nothing?

I want to feel vibrant and alive again. I want to feel stable. I want to feel hope again! To sparkle. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what to do or where to begin this process.

Actually, I think I’ll start here. I pray that this is my future, and I pray that I find my way home…

 

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8 Units, 8 Women, 8 Different Stories

#1 lives across the hall from me. She has long dark hair, a kind smile and piercings in her bottom lip. She tries to have an edgy attitude but I can tell there is a sweetness to her by the way she interacts with Eddie the Wonder Pup. She doesn’t mind him jumping on her and kissing her face. She even opens her apartment door from time to time just so we can chat and she can give rubs to my little puppy. #1 is a graduate student, and her hours are strange. She may go to class during the middle of the day, but then I may not see her for 2-3 days at a time. I know she isn’t home, and I always wonders where she wanders to. Does she have a secret life of a stripper? Is she a spy? Does she turn tricks to pay for school? Or is she a drug dealer? I know she smokes herb from time to time, because I can smell the pungent aroma of it as I head downstairs to pick up my mail, or head out for the evening. She’s an odd one, but ultimately quiet and a good person to have living across from me.

#3 lives next door to number #1. She’s an older lady that has inhabited the same space for 20 years. I talk to her when she’s doing laundry or lumbering up and down the stairs with her arms full of packages. Even in my injured state, I do my best to help her fetch and carry. I even deliver her packages that the USPS worker finds too hard to bring up one flight of stairs to her doorway. #3 still ventures out everyday to work even though she’s near to 70 years old and can’t walk without the use of a cane. She told me she’s about to retire because driving to and from work last year nearly wrecked her mentally. I empathize with her, telling her it’s time to be done and enjoy herself. Maybe go somewhere warm during the cold months. She says she doesn’t know what she’ll do but she’s tired of the drive to work on those cold and slippery mornings. I worry that I’ll end up like her. Alone, and living in an apartment on the second floor….

I’m in #5, and you already know about me.

#7 belongs to a young blonde woman of Russian descent. She is tall, thin and beautiful. When she speaks in her thick accent I become mesmerized. It’s hard to believe she’s not only beautiful but smart too. I adore the fact that she is so friendly and that she doesn’t mind Eddie jumping on her when she is dressed for work or a night out. She works at the University but I’m not sure where. All I know is she does some kind of meeting planning for a large school. I’ve seen her come home from an event almost dead on her feet and she still looks ravishing. I carry her parcels to her door too. I know she’s young and able to do it on her own, but I’m the one that’s always outside, so I might as well help. There are days when I don’t see her and there are times when she doesn’t come home. I try not to worry, but I’m a mother so it’s what I do. I’m guessing there’s a boyfriend that she stays with. At least that’s what I’m hoping for her anyway.

#2 below me is a young single woman. She was blonde with long hair, but now she’s dark haired and looks a bit like P!nk. Most of her evenings are spent at home with her two Chihuahas. They are hysterical to watch as they play and fight with each other. She tries to be stern with them, but they don’t seem to care. There are nights when she has parties, but she’s not too bad about the noise. The music always gets turned down around 11 pm. I can often hear the laughter of her party guests and it makes me think about when I had friends living in the same complex. We’d spend weekend nights playing cards, drinking beer and goofing off. The only thing that bothers me is the way her friends let the damn entrance door slam as they enter or leave. Yep, I’m becoming that kind of an old woman. Now get off my lawn!

#4 across from #2 is an odd duck. She’s blonde and looks cheery, but she’s never around much to really get to know her. I swear her work hours are 3:00 pm to 3:00 am. I met her on her way in one morning as I was taking Eddie out. He jumped up to greet her and she was so happy to see him. She played with him and let him give her kisses on the hands. It had been a year since I’d moved in and I swear that was the first time I’d talked to her. But she really wasn’t talking to me, she was talking to the dog. I looked like hell since Eddie had roused me from sleep by pulling at my hair. I told her I had to get him outside before he peed on her shoes. She laughed and let herself into her apartment. That was over a month ago and I haven’t seen her since, though I have seen signs of life at her place.

#6 now she looks like a cute little munchkin. She’s all of 5 feet tall, blonde, cute and her hair is cut in the perfect bob. Her boyfriend has moved in and they seem happy. She told me that he’s an amateur golfer and decided to live in Florida for the winter so he can practice. I felt bad for her, here she is in a new relationship and while his job is on hiatus he goes away for four months. I want to tell her he’s a douche canoe, but I know it’s not my place to. Her dog and mine love to play so we get them together when we have time. Her little guy loves the cold and Eddie loves him so he braves the cold with his tiny feet so that they can play. #6 and I laugh at the way the two dogs go at it. They snarl, bark and jump on one another and have the best time. I can’t wait till spring so the four of us can walk together.

#8 she’s a bit of a recluse. We’ve never said two words to each other. I’ve never seen her in the hallway either. I know that she has long dark hair and she smokes herb incessantly. For some reason she uses her sliding glass door to enter and exit her apartment, but I’m not sure why. The mat outside her apartment door is dirty and I do everything I can to keep Eddie from walking on it, but it’s not like his feet aren’t already dirty. For God’s sake he’s a freaking dog! There have been times that I take Eddie out back to walk him, and #8 watches me from her sliding glass window. I try to give her my best smile and if he poops, I clean it up. I want to hold the bag up and yell, ‘see, I’m cleaning up after my dog!’ I wish I knew her story, besides the one where she smokes pot in the dark and watches me while I wait for my dog to poop.

8 units, 8 women, and 8 different stories. Each of us at different stages of our lives. Each of us different, but maybe, ultimately the same.

Communion, Forgiveness and Recovery

home.communion

This do in remembrance of Me

Last Sunday, I held the small piece of bread in my left hand, and the tiny plastic glass of ‘wine’ in my right. The pastor recited a prayer, and with my eyes closed, I recalled the last time I’d taken communion. It was at Linda’s funeral, in a Catholic church. No, I’m not Catholic, but I am a rebel. Therefore I’ll be damned if anyone will tell me whether or not I can partake of the body and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. I grinned at the memory while I chewed and drank. I had to stay seated during communion because my newly mended right ankle was achy and stiff.

The pastor spoke of finding joy in our nearness to God. That happiness is fleeting, but joy is everlasting. As the lesson continued, I began to do my daily ankle exercises. I pointed my right toes as far forward as I could and held them there for ten seconds. I released the stretch and pulled my toes up toward the sky as far as I could. I held the stretch for another ten seconds, repeating each stretch 15 times. Then came the side to side stretches. The sermon progressed and I placed my right foot back on the floor. It didn’t ache nearly as much as it did before I stretched the Achilles tendon six ways from Sunday.

A particular bible verse struck a raw emotional nerve and I began to cry. Don’t ask me what it was about, because I can’t recall it. All I know is it had something to do with paying for indiscretions and mistakes. That once we are forgiven by God, we must learn to forgive ourselves. As I wiped my eyes, Laura asked if I was all right, and I assured her I was. That I was better than all right. That I was forgiven.

After the sermon ended, we made our way to the back of the church. My ankle was stiff as I began to walk, but I noticed that I no longer had any pain. The familiar ache had disappeared! A smile spread across my face and was lit by the morning sun. I walked with almost an entirely normal gait. I felt free for the first time since March 11, 2014. I. Was. Free!

It’s Wednesday night and the pain has not returned. I’ve had a few twinges here and there, but that’s because I had a very intense physical therapy session on Tuesday afternoon. On March 12, 2014 after 5.5 hours or reconstructive surgery on my right ankle, my life changed. I know it will never be the same, but I am assured with God’s grace and love I have recovered.

 

Living a Full Life

TIDE-640x288

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.
C. JoyBell C.

A few years ago I went through a major weight loss transformation and I became addicted to working out. I found that it didn’t bring the world to my feet and it most certainly didn’t bring me happiness. Sure, I liked the looks I got from men and women. I loved the highs of working out. But I was still looking for something to make me complete.

Since my injury, I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been able to move much. I hated being sedentary. It felt like prison. I ate a lot, but found that it didn’t bring me happiness. It didn’t stave off the desperation I felt, and the extreme loneliness. I’ve been trying my very best not to beat myself about it. I won’t.

I have begun eating healthier and the weight is coming off. I place my feet in gym shoes and set about walking the sidewalks of my apartment complex at least five times a day. I’m building stamina so that I can walk to the bus stop to get myself back to work in early August. Physical therapy is grueling but worth it.

I’ve decided I will not become addicted to food or the gym again. I will not worry about every piece of food that goes into my mouth. I will be mindful of my eating, but I will not beat myself up about having a piece of cake. A full life for me means walking outside in the fresh air, biting into a ripe nectarine, or watching my dog carry a stick that’s bigger than him. Yes, that’s a full life.

Two Days Til Touch Down

Pushing Forward

‘You look so pretty’, I told Lo as she walked up the stairs.

‘You do too’, she replied. ‘Why are you wearing a dress?’

‘Because none of my shorts fit.’

‘They will again, ya dork.’

I gave her a tiny smile while I put the brakes on my chair and lifted it over the threshold of my apartment door. I have to admit, I feel pretty bad ass when I do that. Who knew I’d be able to lift a wheelchair while standing on one leg? I stood at the top of the stairs as Lo walked past me and took my chair down the stairs. I laughed as she banged the damn thing down every step. She laughed as I hopped on one leg down those same steps. I’m sure my neighbors hate all the noise I make. When I run into The Old Lady that lives beside me, she often gives me the stink eye for absolutely no reason. Bitch! I digress.

Lo waited for me at the bottom of the steps. I hopped and fell into the chair.

‘I’m so damn sick of this shit!’

‘Think about how I feel’,  Lo exclaimed. ‘I have to carry that damn chair of yours everywhere.’

We laughed as I hopped yet again and maneuvered into the passenger seat of her car. As we traveled to Saline, we caught up on the events of the night before. She went to visit a mutual friend of ours and I hung out with Bette. I tried not to cry while she told me of her happiness. I sat next to her and smiled, but behind my sunglasses the tears flowed.

‘I often think it would be easier on everyone if I died in the accident.’

‘Nae, God saved you for a reason.’

‘What is that reason though?!’

I for reasons I can not fathom think it would have been easier if I’d died. My family and friends would have grieved, and I wouldn’t have felt any more pain or loneliness. I would have stopped incessantly crying, or the constant wishing for things that are never going to come to me.

‘Lo, I feel so broken.’

‘Honey, we are all broken, in our own way.’

‘At least you have the prospect of someone to love you.’

God saved you in that accident. He hasn’t shown you the reason you were saved, because you’re not open to Him.

Our conversation died when her phone rang. I sat with my hands crossed in my lap and tried to compose myself. Rolling down the window, I let the fresh air dry my tears. I inhaled the scent of summer and freedom. All of a sudden, I was slammed with the urge to tuck and roll out of Lo’s car and find a pool to jump into. Wheelchair and advisement from my surgeon be damned! How I’ve missed my rebel spirit.

Before grocery shopping we met T at Cancun for lunch. I was so glad I’d done my hair and makeup. I felt pretty, even though I was sitting in a chair, and had gained so much weight while I’ve been recuperating. T’s daughter joined us and Lo and I made sure to talk about inappropriate things while we we ate. Sex was often the topic. T admonished us more than once, which seemed to make Lo and I act even more lewd. T’s daughter didn’t seem to mind, though she did blush a time or two. The young woman was so fair complected, I bet one could see her red glow from a mile away. She had a gentle but guarded smile, and all I wanted to do was hug her.

At Wally World, Lo brought around scooter for me to shop with. I drove the thing like a pro. I didn’t have my brace on and was constantly hoping other shoppers didn’t think I was using it because I was too fat to walk. I have no idea why I gave a shit what perfect strangers thought of me driving around in a Walmart scooter, but I did. I made sure to smile at the people that stared at me. Often, I balanced on one foot to grab items from a high shelf. Lo may have to drive me, but I did my very best to be independent when shopping.

After checking out, Lo took me home. I waited while she took my groceries up to my apartment and placed them on the table. Her car radio blared because we needed to hear how the Tigers game would end. While Martinez struck the ball with his bat, I raised my face to the sun and breathed in my last bit of summer and freedom for the day. The Tigers won while she wheeled me to my door. She dragged my wheelchair up the stairs, and I went up the steps on my butt. I slid into my chair like Lieutenant Dan and lifted that damn chair over the threshold on one leg. My BFF and I hugged and said our goodbyes.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the last time I would be lifting my chair over the metal molding in my apartment doorway. It was the last time Lo Lo would have to drag my chair up and down the stairs. It was the last time I would have to take my wheelchair on a shopping excursion. It was the last time she’d have to push me around in my chair while I stubbornly tried to push it myself.

Two days till touch down…I hope I find out why God saved me on that snowy night in March…Maybe it’s something as simple smelling the aroma of summer and freedom…Maybe it’s for something greater…Maybe it’s to experience the joy of becoming a grandmother…Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Five Days Til Touch Down

Woman Walking on Tracks

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

How can it be that I get a buzz from regular Tylenol?
That was the first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes this morning. I was lying in bed with a pillow wedged between my legs to keep my post-surgery ankle from rubbing against my healthy one. Cinders, the devil kitty was lying next to me and she gave me a low growl as I stroked between her ears. My middle-aged body creaked as I stretched and shifted my weight to sit on the side of the bed. Cinders yipped and snipped at me as she bounded her fat self out of her side of the bed. I tightened my core and stood up on one leg. With practiced finesse I turned my entire body around and seated myself in my old friend, a metal wheelchair.
I went through my ritual of morning self-care. Dammit but I sure do love a shower. Leaning against the wall, I stand on one foot and let the hot water run down my entire body. It’s the closest I get to having a lover touch me. You don’t know how much you need the touch of another human until you are incapacitated with an injury and have no prospects. My left leg began to shake so I sat in my shower chair. I washed my face, shaved my legs and washed my hair. Cinders peered around the side of the shower curtain and mewed. I flung water at her and she ran away like her ass was on fire. My laughter echoed on the ceramic tiles. Afterward, I dried off and with my walker hopped back to my wheelchair.
I drank coffee.
Used my bone stimulator.
Did some banking.
Sat and waited to go to physical therapy.
That’s the story of my life these days.
Hurry the fuck up…
And wait….
I’m sick of only being able to wear one damn shoe at a time.
30 minutes of cardio left me sweating like a whore in church, but dammit I felt good! Amelia and I worked my right ankle and foot so hard. I was proud of the fact that we increased the reps of the work out and the size of the ball on the BAPS board. Amelia rewarded my efforts with a massage. We took measurements and found that my Range of Motion had greatly improved in the last month.
Look at me, I can point my toes!
Does that hurt?
Nope, but I’m sure it will later.
She and I said our goodbyes and good weekends. I won’t see her until Thursday of next week. I hope to be walking when I do….Wearing my gym shoes….And pushing my walker.
Tom my usual cab driver, picked me up and whisked me back to my apartment. To my cage, and my perch. Icing my ankle, I zoned out and watched crappy t.v. Cinders the devil kitty, snuggled around the top of my head.
I called Mom.
Shared texts with friends.
Took meds.
Fell asleep.
Tonight, I celebrate that I have five days left in this cage. I’ve learned why the caged bird sings. He sings of freedom. I miss being a biped. I miss going wherever in the hell I want. I miss doing whatever in the hell I want.
I’m finished.
My foot’s on fire.
I laughed while I watched National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.
My Dad looks like Chevy Chase.
I miss John Candy.
And I’m happy I didn’t cry today.
In a private message exchange Red and I chatted about our days. As our convo wound down he asked me, where are you going to walk first? Right the fuck out of my surgeon’s office, I quipped.
I’m spent. Goodnight Moon and goodnight Word Press. This Sparkly Bird has had it!

Six Days Till Touch Down

Feet in Puddles

 

Yesterday, Amelia wrapped her fingers around the arch of my right foot and began to gently massage the tiny bones beneath its surface. She tugged and stretched the atrophied ligaments and tendons too. I could feel the bones cracking and every once in awhile we heard a popping sound. They surprised us both, but I told her not to worry, she was not causing me any pain. More and more tension was eased as she worked her way down to my heel. I closed my eyes and laced my fingers behind my head. Shifting in her seat, Amelia began to move my foot outward and down. She told me I had to reeducate the signals of my brain.

The signals in my brain have become numb, and I feel like a drone. I’ve numbed my brain and body with food, mundane television and an addiction to Facebook. I’d hoped to write a book while I was off on medical. It didn’t happen. Instead, I wallowed in ice cream and fast food delivery. I’ve gained weight while being sedentary. Food didn’t make feel any better. It didn’t fill my soul.

I think in abstract instead of full sentences. Thoughts and ideas start, then stop. They become dead ends and hide somewhere in the synapses of my brain. Romance. Love. Anger. Doubts. Pain in the ankle. Pain in the heart. Thoughts muddled. Scarred soul along with the ankle. Loneliness. Independence. Faith. Fear. Prayers.

I worried about being dependent on pain meds so I weaned myself from them as quickly as I could. Tylenol does the job when taken regularly. The bones have healed, and so have the incisions. The original trauma site continues to heal, from the inside out. I ingest supplements for hair, skin and nails in hopes that it will heal more quickly. I’m tired of being reminded of my stupidity, and the fact that my body and car were totaled. That my insurance was canceled. That I have no idea when and if I will be able to walk normally again. Whether or not I will be able to drive again. Or how the hell I’m going to buy a car or insurance anyway.

I worry about my weight and the fact that none of my clothes fit. Will my newly knitted bones be able to hold up my fatness. Will I be loved or held again. Will I have a partner in crime and in life. Will I have to fight to find love, while I fight to regain my body again.  Or will only creepy old dudes find me attractive. Will I be able to point my toes normally.

Will all of this damn work be for naught. Will the Talus bone die. Will the ankle be fused and my recovery start all over again? Where are my high heels?

It’s raining right now and all I want to do is run out into it. I want to run away. I want to smell worms and springtime. I want to be myself again. A free spirit, effervescent, sparkly and unafraid of tomorrow. I want to bear weight and walk into the deluge outside my window. To feel it drench my skin and wash my soul clean. I want to live unencumbered by weight, a walker, or a limp.

Life is to be lived. Not by sitting on my couch and staring out the door wall, but by participating in it. The rainstorm has left puddles that I’d love to splash in. Ah, to feel the rain and grit cover my calves would be heaven.

Heaven, I tell you!

A Train Whistled in the Distance

“Accidents are not accidents but precise arrivals at the wrong right time.”
Dejan Stojanovic

Tonight, I turned off my television. There was no music emanating from my radio or computer. No videos played to distract me. Instead, I read a book by Chuck Palahniuk on how to write. My a/c clicked on from time to time, but for the most part my world was silent. As I read an essay, I was bombarded by the sound of a train whistle in the distance. From my second story apartment, I swear I could feel the vibration of the train cars as they glided across the tracks.

Instantly, the hair stood up on the nape of my neck, and I became acutely aware that the train whistle I heard was crossing the tracks where my accident took place on March 12, 2014. I could feel the cold from that night, and when I exhaled I swore I could see my breath. My heart raced and I could feel everything from that night. The impact of the crash and my body being thrown all over the car. My foot slipping off the brake that I’d jammed to the floor to keep from running into the back of a bus. The delicate skin around my ankle bone sliced open and laid bare to the bone. How helpless I felt, and broken.

The blood trickled down my face from the cut on my forehead. The skin on my left arm burned because of the powder from the deployed airbags. I was bruised and my right hand was laid open with a cut that required stitches. My head hit the windshield and I blacked out. I was almost dizzy with excitement when I came to, and then slid into the welcoming abyss of shock.

I screamed to anyone that could hear, ‘GET ME OUT!’

I was acutely aware of my surroundings as I touched the windshield where a hank of my hair had been pulled out. I think I even told one of the rescue workers to look at it. I’m sure they thought I was crazy. I remembered asking the bus driver if he and the passengers were all right. I don’t even think I was wearing a coat.  I smelled blood, powder, burning rubber, and adrenaline. My vision went yellow and green, but I had no idea why.

In one coherent moment, I texted Roger that I’d been in an accident. I was so damn cold. The ambulance drivers had to pull me out of my car. Or maybe it was the fire department, I’m not sure. I begged for pain meds and for someone to miraculously fix my foot. I thought for sure I’d torn the damn thing off. The pain was so bad, and recovery so slow that I sometimes wished I had.

Train whistles used to make me smile. They reminded me of when Mom would send Sis and me on the Amtrak to go visit our grandparents in Battle Creek every summer. I hope I find serenity again, from that train whistle in the distance, and  the clack, clack, clack of the metal wheels on polished tracks.

 

Sliding Glass Window Oberservations From A Grenade

Yesterday I watched from my sliding glass window, five young men wearing the same color suit. Four of them wore ties folded in Windsor knots. One of them wore a slick bow tie. There was a sixth man. A photographer wearing khakis, took candid shots of them as they changed from gym to dress shoes, straightened each others ties and goofed off, like young men do. My guess was, they were the groom and attendants for a wedding. Or maybe they were an a cappella group. Who knows?

My apartment complex is set back in a wooded area, so the photographer took them behind the building to get more shots. They left their gym shoes and back packs resting on the hoods of their vehicles. Their doors were left wide open. When they returned, they grabbed all their crap and jammed themselves into their vehicles. They and the khaki panted photographer headed off to parts unknown. I was excited to observe them as they smile radiantly and wore the same color suits. Four of them with ties folded in Windsor knots. The other, maybe the groom, wearing a slick bow tie.

Often, my observational posts begin on my personal Facebook page. An idea hits me and I have to write it down. I’m sure it drives many of my friends crazy because my posts can get a little lengthy. Whatever, then take me out of your news feed! On second thought, please don’t, because I want you to read my observations. Looking at my window is about the only place I can draw inspiration right now.  I’ve kinda been stuck in my apartment for 70 days.

My focus waned and I didn’t write much more till I arrived home from My Trivia last night. At 1:00 a.m I began writing a lengthy email to a friend, when the following quote popped into my Sparkly little head:

 I wanted to know that he would be okay if I did. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of the people I loved.–John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I wrote to my friend, I am a goddamn grenade.

I realized that in my married life and when I was raising my kids, I was a grenade. I was a malevolent force that ruined everything in my path. I was an F5 tornado or category 5 hurricane. And I was hell bent on self destructing. The self destruction included being a horrible drunk, a slow suicide with food and conversing with men that I had no business talking to.

I don’t want to be a grenade, anymore.

My ultimate goal is to try to find peace within my stormy, passionate and romantic heart. My ultimate goal is to not judge others and somehow rise above the transgressions of my past. I’ve sought forgiveness from God. I can’t go back and change anything. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not even looking for forgiveness from Roger Darling, Meggie or Adam Boy. All I can do is keep my mouth shut, my mind clear and try to be happy.

I wish for the three I’ve hurt the most to be happy, because I don’t want to be a goddamn grenade, anymore.

I talked to my mother today and I asked her when I should stop saying I’m sorry for all the havoc I wreaked? Her response was as soon as put down the bucket of guilt I continued to carry around. I may never be completely forgiven by my children or the man I shared 24 years of my life with, but I’m going to put down that bucket. I’m sure there will be times in my life that I will pick it up again. There will always be a part of me that knows that I fucked everything up.

I’m also acutely aware that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life because of what I’ve done. I have to be okay with that.  I have to realize that there is no such thing as unconditional love, except for the love we give our children. On this journey to myself, I’ve discovered I am a child of God. I am a sinner, but even sinners need to forgive themselves.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me…

He watches over Meggie and Adam.

And I know, He watches over Roger Darling.

 

Our Only Constant is Change

I attended a training session on how to make myself marketable for a new job venture at the university that I’ve worked at for the last 25 years. Basically, the ‘instructor’ wanted me to market myself as a product. Like a gym shoe made by Nike. A car for Motor Company. Or  a new formula type of soda made by Coca Cola. I was shocked. Here I am, a human, being told to liken myself to an object. As you all know, that’s not me. I am very flawed individual. I’ve  shared that fact with all of you on many, many occasions.

One of the things they told us to do was change our privacy settings on Facebook. Basically hide who and what we really are. In my mind, I stomped my feet like the insolent child I am, and adamantly opposed doing so. It didn’t matter that no one in the room knew of my rebellion. I did, and that was all that mattered. I’m an author, and I have to write. I want my words read. And felt. And shared. So the setting stayed public.

At our break, I met a fellow employee that I had corresponded with over email and the phone. We hugged and laughed. And talked way too loud. We were then shushed by the ‘instructor’. I nearly lost my ever loving mind. I wanted to say ‘fuck you’, I’m talking to a human being and I don’t have to take your shit. My colleague and I stared at each other in disbelief. She shrugged her shoulders. Everything was changing around us. How we ‘marketed’ ourselves. Our jobs. Our lives. Even the interview process was going to be sterilized for us.

In retaliation to the shushing, I hugged my colleague again. Once seated, I jokingly told the ‘instructor’ we were colleagues that had never met. She looked at me coolly and said, ‘isn’t that nice.’ No smile. No warmth. Barely an acknowledgement that we were all going through incredible changes. She was a consultant and clearly didn’t give a shit. All she was focused on was getting through the workbook that we were working on.

I sat through the rest of the ‘workshop’. At the end, I silently left the conference room. Never looked up at the ‘instructor. I just kept my head down and walked out. And vowed that I would not attend another ‘class’. I did jump through the hoops of the resume and interview process. I waited patiently to find out if I’d been promoted. I guess 25 years of experience and supervising employees for 15 years results in a lateral move. I wouldn’t be supervising anyone. I couldn’t believe it! After a week of knowing my fate, I’m still struggling with the decision they made.

Now, I’m on extended sick leave until at least the middle of June. A major car accident and lengthy recovery reminded me that impulsiveness is a very, very bad thing. I know I have a job when I return. I’ll be back at my beloved faculty and staff at the SSW. For how long, I’m unsure. I’ve rediscovered yet again, that change is the only constant in our lives.

If I have to move to a new location that’s fine. It’s closer to where I live. I’ll walk to work.  I can’t wait to see my colleague from the ‘workshop’ we attended. I’ll give her tons of hugs, and talk too loud. You see, these folks at my new place of employment have no idea what they’re in for when I finally settle in. No idea at all. I’m a leader, not a follower. I have big plans, and they don’t include sitting in a cubicle till I retire. I’ll do it, for the pay.

But my heart, ah yes, my heart, it will be living for another place altogether. It will be in the country on a blanket spread out in the backyard. French Bulldog lying in my lap. Pen and notebook in my hand. Flowers in my hair. And dirty bare feet. Yep, that’s where my heart will be….

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