Lucky Me. Day 4

I have had a lovely day, continuing to settle into my new house, followed by dinner with some friends.  I love the weekends.

I have my fourth question for this period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It’s a good question.  Have you, by chance, been thinking of how you would answer these questions?

Question: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?


 

I was listening to NPR one morning when a story came on about how there were rapes taking place in many villages in India when the women and young girls went outside to use the bathroom.  The lack of any means of more hygienic way to use the bathroom was putting them at risk.  Click on the image below to read the transcript or to listen to the original broadcast.

Women shout slogans during a protest against the gang rape and hanging of two teenage girls. Beyond highlighting the rampant sexual violence in India, the crimes are drawing attention to a glaring and fundamental problem across the country that threatens women’s safety: the lack of toilets.

I was appalled by the story.  I was not naive enough to think that the rest of the world all had nice, indoor plumbing, with power flush and low flow toilets.  But it had never occurred to me that females were put at risk because of the absence of these items that I take for granted everyday.  These necessities that I expect to just be there.

When I first heard the broadcast on that June morning, I had a moment of clarity about how truly fortunate I was to live where I do and to be born into the socioeconomic level that I was.  I have problems, I have stresses, I see things around me that drive me crazy.  But I do not experience anything like this.

I have thought of this story many, many times since I first heard it.  When I have had bad days, I remind myself that I am a lucky female.

The Box — Day 3

Another day, another question in my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection, aka faux Rosh Hashanah.  The first two questions invoked some strong emotions as I answered the questions.  But, I suppose it wouldn’t lead to true reflection if the questions were soft ball questions.  Asking things like, “Where do you like to eat lunch?” doesn’t really make you think….or maybe it does if you have strong feelings about lunch, lunch foods, lunch habits, and / or lunch places.  I don’t, so the questions that the website 10Q sends are more in line with my expectations.

Question:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?


 

It took me awhile to think of an answer for this question because my first inclination was to try to think of milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, etc. that took place this past year.  I couldn’t think of any that I would consider a major milestone.  But it was the 5th anniversary of my father’s death this year, and I relive that milestone each year.

My father’s death marked a major shift in the lives of my family, especially my father’s side of the family.  And while there has been healing, there will never be full recovery.

When I moved into my new house, I also moved a box of files that I brought home with me from Mexico, where my father had been living when he unexpectedly passed away.  Since the time of his death, this box has been sitting in closets, or workshops, or man caves.  Since we closed his estate last year, I had started to finally go through the box and decide what could be shredded and what needed to be saved.  After I moved, it was a project that I took on one weekend.

I only wish that my dad’s box looked so well. A trip from Mexico meant that it was very beat up.

I had looked through this box of files many, many times after my dad first died in an effort to find answers about his health and about his finances.  I knew that the box was a duke’s mixture of items — all the information on the house that he was in the process of buying when he died to a list of the #1 songs on the Billboard chart in 1965.  A single file folder could be a lot of nothing, or it could be full of valuable information.

I hadn’t gone through that box in a couple of years until this year.  And the simple act of cleaning out the box and sorting through his files had a deep impact on me.  I laughed out loud at some of the items that I found, like his application to his 50th high school reunion that took place a couple of months after he died.  On his application, he was asked to answer the question “What have you been doing the last 50 years?”  His response “Living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Yep.  And he answered the question “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” by saying “Being the best at living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Double yep.

I also felt incredibly sad as I found record of some of the times that he struggled, trying to make ends meet, and sometimes finding it hard to do.

Revisiting this box and its items, without the overwhelming grief that accompanied my first forays into its confines immediately after his death, allowed me to feel like I had spent the weekend communing in some small way with my dad.  That is a major happening, whichever way you look at it.

My 2nd Day of Reflection

I’m continuing to borrow a small piece of tradition during the Jewish New Year of 10 days of reflection and self-evaluation between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  I hope that I don’t offend any Jewish people in taking this small piece of a tradition out of the greater context of the holiday and the meanings behind the overall traditions.

My question from the 10Q website today to help provoke thought was:

Question 2.  Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?


 

While I may inwardly preen, it is actually hard to say out loud “I am proud of myself”. It’s not that I don’t do things for which I am proud — it’s that it feels boastful to say it out loud. I think that it’s a female thing. Or maybe it’s just me. Regardless, it’s not often that I say, “I did this, and I rocked it, and I’m proud of myself.”

But I will now.

I’m proud of the way that I handled finding out and then being in the hospital with my pulmonary embolism. Or my clotty clot clot, as I call it. For many days, I was scared, and tired, and in pain. And when I could finally stop being scared and was out of pain, I was just tired, and bored, and uncomfortable.  It was a bad 6 days and 5 nights.

I could have had a major pity party, feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t. I could have been grumpy and cranky, but I wasn’t.

You have very little control of anything when you are in the hospital. You eat when they bring you food. You take a shower when the nurses unhook you from all the machines long enough to take a shower. You sleep when they leave you alone long enough to actually sleep. You get information about your health when they are ready to give you information, and not one minute early.

I had control of exactly one thing — my reaction to the situation. My reaction could have been days spent in anger, frustration and crankiness. Or it could have been days spent with patience, calmness and laughter where I could find it.

I am proud that I chose the laughter.

My Jewish Experiment: Day One

I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, and the hosts mentioned that today was the first day of Rosh Hashanah.  One of the traditions of this very holy time is that Jews use the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to reflect on the year and spend time in self-evaluation and reflection.

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From Wikipedia, Definition of Rosh Hashanah

The segment went on to talk about how some Jews were blending their beliefs into the modern world by using technology during this ten day period, using a site called 10Q.  You can sign up for this website and each day for the 10 days get a thought provoking question in your inbox.  You answer it and submit.  At the end of the 10 days, your answers “go away” until next year during Rosh Hashanah.  Then you get your answers from the previous year (to help show how your life has progressed over the year), plus another 10 questions to answer for the current year.

This year has been a memorable, significant year in my life.  I have had a life-threatening illness, the dissolution of my marriage, and some fundamental challenges to the things that I believe.

If there was ever a time to reflect and complete self-evaluation, this is it.  And I liked the idea of tackling it, one question at a time, one day at a time.

So, here goes day one:

Question:  Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?


Wow!  Just go for broke, right out of the gate…

I have had several significant experiences this year.

1. I developed a pulmonary embolism and could have died
2. My husband asked me for a divorce
3. I bought a new house and began to rebuild a residence

The one that I would pick to discuss is buying a house and rebuilding my safe haven.

I am an introvert that is surrounded by people all day, so having a haven, a place to be still and to recharge my batteries is critical to my well being. After it became evident that my marriage was going to end, there was a time that we still shared a house. This might have been some of the most stressful time in my life because I lost having a safe zone. My house became a tension filled and unwelcoming, so finding a place to make safe again was so important.

I am slowly doing this with the purchase of a house. And I have felt every emotion possible in the months since. There is no way to describe how I feel without talking about almost all emotions.  Joy when the fence went in, keeping my dog safe. Anxiety and aggravation during the whole loan process. Loneliness during that first night on my own in the house. Relief when all the kitchen boxes were finally unpacked. Pissed off because I have to do this to begin with. Excited because it’s mine, mine, mine to do with whatever I want. Proud when the new color turned out just right. Worried that I am making decisions based on emotion, not rational thought. On, and on, and on.

Mostly, though, I am grateful. Grateful that I have a support system. Grateful that I am learning how to ask for help and to recognize that people find joy in helping.  Grateful that I am not alone, even during this time when I should feel the most alone.

I would never have chosen the circumstances that led me to rebuilding my safe haven — but I am a better person for knowing that I have all these wonderful people in my life.

A rose by any other name is called my old lady

Matt and I had a conversation about rednecks last night and it eventually went something like this:

matt:  We need to be careful what we say about rednecks because we live among a bunch of them.

me:  I’m not saying anything bad because we have a bunch of them in our families.

(pause)

me:  But I don’t consider you a redneck.

matt:  You don’t?

me:  Why should I?

matt:  I like to ride four-wheelers, and that’s something rednecks do.

me:  Yeah.  But you like to drink import beer.

matt:  But I also like Budweiser.  And that’s a redneck beer.

me:  You don’t hunt.

matt:  True.

me:  You’re not a redneck.

(silence)

me:  You know, I have heard you call me “my old lady.”  That’s rednecky.  I wish you didn’t call me that.

matt:  You don’t like that?  I hear that all that time.  That’s how guys refer to their wives.

me:  They don’t just say “my wife”?  Like “My wife wants me to come home?” instead of “My old lady wants me to come home?”

matt:  Yes, but there is no bad meaning behind it.  They don’t mean it with any disrespect.

(silence)

me:  I guess it’s more important what you say about “your old lady” than the fact that you call me ” my old lady.”

matt:  Exactly.

(pause)

me:  Like, “Hey, my old lady has taught me how to love again!”

matt:  I have never said that.

me:  Well, maybe you should.

matt:  Could you write it down so I could say it correctly?

I so dislike it when I hear people talking badly about their spouses.  I am surprised, actually, by how often I hear it happen.  I overhear it in the elevator, standing in line in the cafeteria, as part of the chit-chat that takes place before a meeting starts.  You know what I’m talking about:  “My husband is driving me crazy.  He never helps me with the kids.  I have to do everything by myself.  He’s awful.”  Or “My wife is bitching me out about buying a new car.  It’s always something with her.  Buy this.  Buy that.  It never stops.”  I have heard each of these statements more than once from people.  And worse.

I had a co-worker once that used to call his wife the “fun Nazi”.  I always used to think to myself that I would hate to be his wife and find out that he was using such a derogatory term to describe me.  I would have to call foul.

from: quotes-lover.com

Here’s some unsolicited advice.  Speak nicely about your spouse — it only calls into question your judgment in marrying them when you don’t.  Matt can call me his old lady all day long, but I know he doesn’t say anything bad about me when he does.  And my old man is pretty special, too.

Hipster dude.

So, I was listening to NPR the other morning when they did a quick segment on how there is a growing business of beard transplants.  Yes, beard transplants.  The act of taking hair from somewhere else from the body and relocating it to the face is increasing.  Here is a picture of it:

All I could think:  it is one thing to take hair from another part of your body and put it on top of your head.  A completely different thing to take hair not meant for your face and put it near your mouth.

And then all I could think about was this Saturday Night Live skit:

Bosley Hair Transplant  (click)Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 8.11.58 PM

And I say, “Ewww.”  Being a hipster just isn’t worth it.

Don’t Break the Number One Rule

Matt and I went out to eat for breakfast on Sunday morning.  On the drive home, I started to comment on the work that some local/state/federal agency has completed over the last several weeks.

me:  Wow, they have really trimmed the trees way back from the power lines.

Matt:  Well, I guess they want to make sure that limbs don’t fall on the lines in ice or snow storms.

[silence]

me:  You know, if you were to go back in time, you would really miss seeing the power lines running down the side of the roads.  They are such a part of the landscape.

Matt:  Power lines didn’t exist back then, so no one would miss them.

me:  No, if you went back in the time before power lines, you would notice that they there gone and it would seem weird.

Matt:  No, it wouldn’t seem weird because you wouldn’t know that you were missing them.

me: (throwing him a incredulously look that he missed since he was driving) No, like if you got in a time machine from this time and went back in time like the movie, you would really notice that there weren’t any power lines.

Matt:  Yeah, that’s what you would be noticing.

me:  Well, you would.  Maybe not first thing.  But you would.

Matt:  Ok, so you and I go back in time and –

me:  Well, it wouldn’t be you and me.  It would be scientists and such.

Matt:  Why wouldn’t it be you and me?

me:  Why would it be you and me?

Matt:  Why wouldn’t it be you and me?

me:  Like a giant wormhole with the time-space continuum thingees is just going to open up for us?

Matt:  Yes.

me:  Don’t you think that will happen for someone that is like actually working with wormholes and studying that stuff?

Matt:  Let’s just assume it’s us.

me:  Why would I go back?  I have nothing to offer the people of the past.  I’m not a scientist or a doctor.  I can’t offer the people of the past something that will make their lives better.

Matt:  That’s great.  Because you can’t break the number one rule which is that you can’t alter the future.

me:  That’s the number one rule?

Matt:  Yes.

me:  According to who?

Matt:  Everybody knows that.

me:  More number one than love thy neighbor?

Matt:  Well, you’re being silly.

And apparently I’m useless enough that I couldn’t alter the course of the future.  Even if I tried.

Hospital

Missed me?  Well, I was in the hospital recently for 6 days and 5 nights.

After I heard the words (the scariest words that I have ever heard) “You have a blood clot in your lung” and after the trip in the ambulance to the hospital, the learning experience about our health care system began.  And here are some of the things that I learned:

  • In a panic, don’t overstate your weight by 100 lbs because it may affect your meds dosage
  • Leave modesty at the door  — they’ve seen it a million times
  • Until you’re “in the system”, do not expect to be fed.  Quarters and vending machines are life’s sustenance
  • Looking for your next stop?  Look no further than the paper that is delivered every morning.

photo-44

  • Don’t suspect a porno movie when you hear someone yelling in another room “Swallow it!  Swallow it!”.  It’s just a nurse trying to get a patient to take their medicine.
  • Expect food when it’s delivered to you, not at the same time every day.  Expect some feelings of intense hunger.
  • Eat peas even when you hate peas.  See learning above.
  • No one cares how you smell but you

Now, I could comment on how the doctors and nurses treated me, how I never saw the same therapist or laboratory person twice, how out of the loop of their own care a patient feels, or how isolating a trip to the hospital can be.  But I purposefully chose to concentrate on the positive and the ridiculous during my stay.  (And besides, there are plenty of well researched, cited and professionally written articles and books on our health care system without me trying to act like an expert.  All I can write about is my stay.)

The positive and the ridiculous helped me keep my calm.  Helped me to combat the fear that came to me along with the understanding that I could have died.  I have had another moment in my life in which I will now begin to measure events:  things that happened before my embolism and things that happened after my embolism.  I have a feeling that I may be one of those schmucks that decides to live life a little differently as a result.

Here’s the best part:  I have a wonderful memento of my stay.  It’s the most expensive piece of jewelry I’ve ever owned:

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Matt and I are estimating that it will cost $50K.  Luckily, we don’t have to pay “retail” since we have insurance.  I want to buy a bedazzling machine and bling it up.  I think I can dress it up or down.

Finally, in the spirit of not taking myself to seriously, here’s a conversation Matt and I had at breakfast this morning.  We were talking about his cold and how he was feeling better today than yesterday.

matt:  Freaking hospital.  That’s where I got this cold.

me:  Well, at least you can’t catch a clot.

(pause)

me:  Even though I can throw one!!

(major laughing on my part)

matt:  Much funnier in your head than said out loud.

Two thousand zero zero party over whoops out of time

Another holiday season is coming to an end.  I’ve been listening to NPR in the car, and there have been several “Best of 2013”, “Most Interesting of 2013”, “Most Polarizing of 2013”, etc. lists going around.  I’m ambivalent about all those lists.  I hardly ever agree with the choices because I see events through a different lens than the authors of the lists, but I enjoy the reminders of the events that have taken place in just 365 short days.  It’s surprising how much can happen in just a year.

But what’s been on my mind lately hasn’t been recent memories–it has been more distant memories, specifically those of my teenage years.  Two things have prompted teenage reminiscing:  my mom just got her first smart phone and my uncle found a copy of an old VHS tape of my dance recital from 1986.

I am excited that my mom got a smart phone.  Now we can text, we can Facetime, she can try all these new apps.  The phone paid for itself when she got to see my nieces and nephew on Facetime all the way across the country on Christmas Eve.  Awesome.

And as my mom was asking me all these questions about her smart phone (as she was talking to me from her “land line”, as we call her home phone), I started to think about not having a home phone anymore.  Matt and I don’t have a home phone, we each have mobile phones.  You want to reach me, you call me.  Want Matt, call his number.  When I was growing up, however, you called a person’s house and you got whomever answered the phone.  It was a crap shoot.  And for a long time during my growing up years, an answering machine was nonexistent.  No one home?  Call back later, chump.

How do teenage girls do it these days?  For me, the home phone was the key to maintaining hope. My mom wouldn’t let me or my sister call boys — “if they like you, they will call you.  Ladies don’t call boys.” — so we had to rely on the boys to make the first telephonic move.

I didn’t have a lot (count any) boyfriends in my teen years, but had lots of crushes and wanted desperately for my crushes to call me on the phone.  Thank goodness I grew up before smart phones because I totally relied on the “he must have called while I was gone” excuse.  The “he has a sister that is always on the phone so he can’t use it to call me” rationale.  The ever-popular “he’s not at home to call me” logic.

I was the teenage princess of denial, but I had the perfect tool to feed my delusion with the home phone, sans caller ID and voice mail, stuck to the wall somewhere in the house, totally not mobile.

I feel sorry for teenagers these days.  There’s no way to create an illusion of “I missed his call” anymore.  There are no more “missed calls” — the number and time and date of every call that came in is captured until deleted.  There’s no way to call his house and hang up when he answers and not get busted anymore (I don’t think, but I don’t know all the rules).  Everyone’s number and name (and sometimes their picture) pops up when they call you. 

The only thing that you can’t hide is the fact that when they don’t call, you know that they don’t call.  So sad.  I’m sorry, all you teenagers.  Technology’s not looking so great now, huh?

Then there was THE dance recital.  My uncle found the VHS tape and I sent it off for conversion to DVD.  Loved watching us dance to what we thought at the time was the greatest dance ever choreographed.  A little sad to have another delusion exposed.

For your enjoyment, here’s a loop of me (in the middle), shaking it like I was 16.  Hard to believe that I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends, right?

lionm

I’m failing, and I will get up

I am failing.  At least I feel like I am failing, so the end result is the same.  Stress and anxiety.

The good news is that I feel like I am failing in my professional life, not my personal life.  Plus, I am aware that I am failing.  I have had some instances in the past where I thought I was doing a good job, but those around me didn’t.  I would rather be “in the know” on this topic and not surprised at the end.

Feeling like a failure is no fun.  It really sucks, actually.  My confidence is tested, I question my judgement about most everything, my nerves are stretched, and I may, just may, have a small touch of paranoia.  (Now, I’ll be concerned that you all are talking about me behind my back after reading this post.  Hmmm….maybe should rethink posting this.)

While I am not enjoying this interlude, I am not fearful of it.  Some of the most important milestones and turning points in my life have happened as a result of a failure.

I have recently heard a lot of people around me say things like, “I refuse to fail” or “I will do anything to keep from failing” or the old standby “Failure is not an option” and I think “That’s unrealistic.”  And it’s a lost opportunity to grow.

I have learned more from my past failures than from any of my successes.  No lie.  As painful as they were when I was going through them, I know that I am a better person because of those failures.

I used to interview up to around 100 people per year for a training program.  One of my favorite questions to ask was “Tell me about a time when things didn’t go the way that you planned.”  A very open-ended question.  Most of the candidates that I interviewed were just out of college, looking for their first “real” job, so I heard lots of stories about group projects that weren’t smooth, or summer jobs that weren’t all that were promised and so forth.  I was interested in hearing how their project had gone awry and how they tried to mitigate, but I was always most interested and impressed by those who ended the answer by then saying, “And what that experience taught me was…..”  Yes, I used to think, someone who learned from adversity.

So, I’m in a super-sucky place right now.  I wonder what I’ll learn.  I’m really looking for a bright side here, and learning is it.  Smile at me, people, when you see me walking by, and just know–my brain cells are expanding from all the learning going on.

________________________________________________

Completely and totally changing topics, I mentioned in my last post that I was going to start spicing up my tweets.

Did It.  By Accident.

My friend, Nikki, and I had dinner last night and we discussed how we didn’t understand all the selfies girls took these days where they were pooching out their lips, like duck lips.  So, today I tweeted Nikki a selfie of me doing the duck lip thing:

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Then I quickly had to tweet:

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I hate when I get my “d”s and “f”s confused.  It causes all kinds of issues.  Eh, in this case, however, it was probably ok either way.