About five years ago, I received an email from a woman. She was someone I knew through work, but not very well. I still remember the date: January 2, 2008. In her email, she told me about a New Year’s resolution that she had made. She wanted to reach out to the people in her life that she admired and wanted to get to know them on a more personal level. It seemed that I was part of that resolution. She and I knew each other professionally. We were often in meetings together. Oftentimes, she and I were the only women in attendance. Her resolution was to reach out to women like me, women she knew in a professional sense, but wanted to get to know on a more personal level. I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback. Why did she want to know me? What was this all about? I remember briefly wondering if she was going to try to sell me something. Pampered Chef? Candles? I hated those kind of “parties” where women got together and then were forced out of politeness to purchase something that they didn’t want or need. Continue Reading »
I had some bad news today. My laptop is dead. That’s it. They said that it can’t be fixed. Time to get a new one. So for now, I am still delegated to this computer with the sticky keyboard located in a room off of the kitchen. My blogging is going to suffer! Continue Reading »
On Thursday, T and I are leaving on a trip. We’ll be gone for five nights. FIVE NIGHTS…without kids. I was thinking about that tonight, and I realized that this will be the first time since 1988 that T and I have been alone for this long. FIVE NIGHTS. Oh, we have taken trips here and there. We went to Vegas for our 25th wedding anniversary, but that was not a good time in our marriage. We flew in, spent three awkward days trying to stay busy and not argue, and we flew back home. We’ve taken trips to move kids or visit kids, but we haven’t taken a trip simply by ourselves since 1988. Continue Reading »
Thankfully, I have been able to string together a few days at work that have been rewarding, productive, and enjoyable. Although I didn’t get home to stay for the night until after 10:30, I did sneak out for a few hours late this afternoon to spend some time with the family. The next few days are going to be full, and I am trying to take it in stride. It is what it is, and all I can do is hold on tight and make the most of it. We are in the midst of our summer season at work, and that means we are hosting ten concerts throughout the summer. So far, the weather has been wonderful. The volunteers have been happy, and the concert-goers have had a good time. It’s our fifth season with the summer concerts, and although it takes time and means extra work, we have gotten things down to a science. Continue Reading »
If Hell is a hot place, then sign me up. The past couple of weeks have been miserable on so many levels. Hell, right here on Earth. Underlying all of it has been COLD. I haven’t been able to warm up. I have been taking hot baths and drinking tons of coffee. I’ve made pot after pot of hot, nourishing soup. I dress in layers and huddle under blankets when I am home. Nothing I do seems to warm me up completely.
Mom is still hanging in there. She is failing, but it is a slow process. We have begun hospice care, and she seems to love the extra attention. She isn’t in any pain. Something hovers around the corners of the room, though, and it chills me. She is often confused, and she has lost her hearing. Visits are brief and quiet. I spend more time talking on the phone talking to the legion of healthcare providers than I do to my mother at this point. Of course, life does not stop while we wait for death. Four kids, work, my own physical needs, all of these things keep inserting themselves into the mix.
Last weekend T and I took Luke and his girlfriend back to school in Milwaukee. I couldn’t/wouldn’t commit to going along until practically the last moment. Mom was stable, and T insisted that I come along. Luke wanted to show us the house where he would be moving at the end of the semester. He had been looking forward to the four of us hanging out together on his turf. It meant a lot to our son. I knew that, so I went along.
I had been doing a pretty good job of concealing (denying!) the fact that I was sick. I had too many things that needed my attention. My mom was dying, for God sakes! What did I have to complain about? I pushed through it and collapsed at the end of each day. The trip to Milwaukee took things over the top.
It was bitterly cold when we left that morning. I got chilled and couldn’t seem to shake it. (uh….a fever tends to do that!) We moved the kids back into their dorms, T and I checked into our hotel, and we all headed out for dinner. By the time we finally settled back into our room, I was shaking with cold. I took a hot bath, but I still shivered. By the time I crawled into the bed, T was concerned. He wrapped me in his arms and held me close to warm me up. Eventually, I stopped shivering, but my sleep was fitful.
The next morning, hours from home, I was still freezing. I tried to ignore it. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and make the drive back home and to the hospital to check on my mom. I jumped into the shower, and I don’t really know what happened. Suddenly T was there. I had passed out. My first thoughts were disappointment in myself. How could I be sick? I had too many things to do! I had too many people depending on me. I couldn’t be sick now. Not now.
I saw the doctor on Sunday when we returned. Of course I didn’t listen to his advice. Take it easy? Uh huh. No. My mother was dying. I couldn’t take it easy right now. I was planning a meeting later in the week in Chicago, an important meeting. Very. “Taking it easy” was not possible at this time. Thanks anyway.
I visited my mom, unpacked, did laundry, ironed, and went to work on Monday. By Tuesday, I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. I tried. Believe me, I tried. At 6:30 a.m., I dragged myself into the bathroom to get ready for work. I sat in the chair by the counter and laid my head down for a moment. I thought it would be a moment, but I fell asleep in the bathroom before I was even able to begin getting ready for work. That was it. I was toast. I had to admit it. I was sick. I spent the day sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping some more.
I was back at work the next day. By now, everyone was looking at me like I scared them. I must look like hell! “Why are you here? Go home!” I couldn’t. I had meetings all day in preparation for the trip to Chicago on Thursday. I had to meet with the hospice staff in my mom’s room later that afternoon. I had too many things going on and too many people depending on me to go home and be sick. I pushed through. I kept going.
On Thursday, I huddled in my seat on the train to Chicago. I froze the entire time, wearing my layers of clothes, wrapped in my scarf and coat. At the hotel, I begged for some coffee from the front desk. A kind woman brought coffee and cream to my room. I sat on the heating unit, looked out the window, and drank my coffee while I warmed my feet. I looked down at the people below. Everyone was scurrying to get where they were going. The wind was biting and bitter. I could feel it sweeping into the cracks around the window far above the people I was watching. I had hoped to see my son while I was in Chicago, but he had been given tickets to a concert. I told him to go. I insisted on it, and then I sat in my room crying because I was so cold…and now alone, too. I had come to the city hours earlier than the others so I could see Andrew. Now I had four hours to sit there freezing and alone until I met them for dinner. Once again, I hated Chicago. The city felt impersonal and uncaring. I was just a speck, a cold, lonely speck. Pathetic. I really, really hate feeling sorry for myself, but I was doing a stellar job of it!
The dinner was work. Schmoozing is work. I had to be ON. We all had to be ON. It was OK, though. The whole dance of egos was interesting to observe. I soaked it all in. The parrying and the posturing amused me. Several people attending the dinner had obviously spent a good deal of time in the bar before they arrived, so things were interesting from the word go. Once again, I was glad that this is my job, but not my LIFE. While some people live and breathe this kind of thing, I have my secret. In my heart, I am a country girl. At the end of all of this, I will be smack dab in the middle of a cornfield, safe and sound, with my ego checked at the door. The reality of my life, mom, wife, daughter, hillbilly at heart, keeps me grounded. I was amused as I watched the dance of self-importance at the table.
I was up at 5:30 this morning to get ready for the meeting. I was excited and the adrenaline was flowing. This was it! This was an important step in a development project that I have been a part of for several years. The results of this project will have a significant and lasting impact on the entire region. I was/am thrilled to be able to be a part of this process. The Willis Tower (forever the Sears Tower to me) is where we held the meeting. As I stood in the lobby, I remembered a time years ago, when Luke was 3 years old. He had broken his leg months earlier, and the treat that kept him going was knowing that once his cast was off, we would take him to the Sears Tower. That day, years ago, had been a victory for him. Now, years later, I was humbled once again. As I stood in the lobby, mentally preparing to make my presentation, I took a deep breath. The Sears Tower! I was giving a presentation in the SEARS TOWER today! Well, look at this little country girl! I squeezed my eyes shut and soaked in the thrill of that moment. People strode purposefully past me. Everyone seemed to have somewhere to go. Everyone seemed confident. I was a part of that! REALLY?? Me??? Yet again, I felt amazed by the journey of my life. The meeting was amazing. All of the planning and hard work paid off. More meetings are set for next week, and our project is not only on track, but it is gaining momentum. I am so very proud (and lucky) to be able to play a small part in this project.
Several hours later when we stepped outside, the snow had begun. It was beautiful, yet daunting. This was not going to make the trip home an easy one. I had train tickets for late in the afternoon. By the time my train arrived, it would be dark, and I had an hour’s drive to make it back home. I cancelled my train reservations, and accepted a ride home with a co-worker who had driven to the city. Once we got on the road, I wondered if I had made a mistake. It was a white-knuckled four hour drive in the snow. We saw one accident after another and had a few near-misses ourselves. All the while, I was freezing.
I’m home now. It’s pitch dark outside. No city lights here. The wind howling up from the fields is the only sound I hear. I’ve been snuggled under a blanket ever since I got home. I took a much-needed nap, and I am finally beginning to warm up. There are many things I should be doing tonight, but none of them will get done. Tonight I am taking care of more important things with a dose of Great-Grandma’s blanket and a warm, cozy house in the country.
Today was a long day, and I am surprised to find myself writing a blog post. I didn’t get home from work until after 9:30. It was a draining day, and on top of that, I haven’t been feeling well. All I wanted to do was sit down and relax for a while before going to bed, but the words were brewing and bubbling up inside of me, so here I am, writing again.
As I sat here quietly trying to unwind, my head was replaying moments from my busy day. It was a strange day that seemed to take place like scenes from a play. Scene I: a morning phone call. Scene II: a quiet, contemplative drive to work. Scene III: a meeting with mega-rich hoteliers. On and on, my day went from one scene to the next. The only player that was constant was me. I walked out on the stage never knowing what I was going to get. Everyone else seemed to know their lines, but not me. Maybe I was feeling a bit scattered because I didn’t feel well. I felt like I was a step behind. I felt uncertain and unsure.
As I sat here tonight replaying the scenes, I thought about the interactions I had today with such a wide variety of people. My work day ended by giving a presentation to a large group of business owners and residents at a public meeting. Each scene of my day had a different tone, and I thought about that as I sat on the couch trying to relax. Moments can go well, or they can be fraught with difficulty. It can go either way. So much is dependent on the people involved. Kindness seems to be the key element. The addition or the lack of kindness can tip a situation in one direction or the other. Continue Reading »
I am exhausted. I don’t remember the last time I went to bed at a normal time. I don’t remember what it was like to sleep through the night or to feel rested. Tonight, I’m just feeling cruddy and worn out.
I’m not sure when things will ever settle down and feel right in my world again. I try so hard to keep a good attitude. I have been trying hard to place value on the things that are good and true in my life, but every time I turn around, LIFE is waiting right there to slap me in the face.
Work is exhausting me. The more staff I have, the more I delegate, the more responsibilities and duties are piled up around me. Shit. I am just so tired of having to maintain professionalism. I want to slump back in my chair or crawl under my desk and take a nap. Hey, or read a good book. I remember when I used to enjoy reading. I used to read over 300 books each year. I kept a spreadsheet of author, title, date read, and my opinion of the book. I used to write pre-publication reviews for a major publishing house in exchange for free books. Oh, how I looked forward to each new shipment of books! Did I really used to be that woman? I would say I miss her, but I don’t. She made a huge mess of my life and left me to dig my way out of it all.
I spent the day juggling. I have issues. I have a job to do. My mom is still in the hospital and not doing well. Yesterday, her doctors did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. There were problems. A blockage was found. Today Mom had an ultrasound and a CAT scan followed by a biopsy. It was not good news. She has ovarian cancer.
I received this news once I was already home from work, after visiting the hospital. I pulled into a driveway full of cars. My kids’ cars, T’s car, and my kids’ friends’ cars. Oh, lucky me! Everyone was going to be here for dinner. After a day like today, I had to feed 9 people. I actually took my plate of food out to the patio to eat. The kitchen was crowded, and I just wanted to be alone. Once the dinner mess was cleaned up, I went upstairs to call my mom to see how she was feeling. That’s when I got the news. I stood there alone. T was on a bike ride. The kids were all settled in. Some were in the living room watching a movie. Others were in the TV room playing video games. I had made sure that their evening was going to be nice. T was out enjoying the warm summer night. There I stood, alone with my bad news. Really? Who gives a shit?
Those moments felt so damn lonely. I’m an only child. While I have never been terribly close to my mother, she is my mother. Dad is gone. I have no siblings still living. My children, while they would be sad to lose Grandma, are not close to her. It will not be a huge blow to them. Their lives will go on as always. T won’t care. In fact, it will be a burden lifted from his life. No more dealing with all of the issues that have been plaguing us since my father’s death. So, I am alone in this, at least in these moments. This does not touch anyone in this entire world in the way it touches me. I am the daughter. Soon, I will have no more parents. Soon, I will have no family to fall back on, just the family that falls back on me.
Tomorrow will come….tomorrow. I have to work. I will be emceeing a concert tomorrow night. I HAVE TO BE THERE. No matter what goes on in my life or in my heart, there are so many things that I HAVE TO DO. How will I juggle all that I HAVE to do?
Even now, I want to sleep. I just want to pull the covers up and sink into blackness. I can’t. There are guests in my house. T is watching TV on our bed, so I don’t have a place to sleep. Andrew is still out, and I can’t settle in for the night until I know he is home safely. There is laundry to be done. I need to vacuum.
Yeah, I am in a shitty, complaining mood. I just want the trauma, drama, and pain in my life to end. I want to run away from my life. I want to run away from being ME. BEING ME SUCKS.
My hearts is tender. It is battered and bruised today. Well, my heart has been battered and bruised for quite a while. It’s a good heart. It wants to be happy and filled with joy. In fact, my poor little heart jumps at the chance to believe in happiness. My heart leaps when it thinks good things are about to happen. It wants to believe the best in other people. It wants to trust. It wants to believe in the innate kindness and goodness in the other hearts it encounters in this life.
No matter how much the rest of me experiences, my heart remains so very innocent and vulnerable. My heart is in charge here. My heart guides me and reacts to my experiences in life. Sometimes that is wonderful. As I said, my heart it sweet. My heart is what enables me to see the wonder of the world. My heart is what helps me see the beauty of nature. Where my brain sees a dog, my heart sees a friend. My brain sees a shedding cat, but my heart reminds me of the times that shedding furball roams around the house crying out “Ma! Ma!” until he finds me. My brain sees the filthy homeless man who wanders around near my office each day on his bike packed with his earthly belongings, but my heart wonders at his story. My heart is what makes me go out of my way to say hello to him each day. My heart is happy when my hello brings a smile to this mentally ill man’s face. My heart does a good job of helping me see the wonderous, miraculous, good in the world Even at this very moment, my brain is smelling brownies fresh from the oven, but my heart is making me love T for knowing that my day was rough and chocolate would help.
That’s one reason I love my job so much. I can use my brain to make a difference, however small, in the world. That makes my heart happy. It’s frustrating though sometimes. Sometimes making a difference means that the bad guy gets riled up. The fight against injustice isn’t easy. Think about it. If injustice exists, then that means that someone, or many, are having a good old time getting away with unjust behavior. Who wouldn’t be happy to be the guy on top? Who wouldn’t be happy to be able to get away with whatever they wanted and have the folks around them turn a blind eye? Yeah, that kind of person who is going along just fine with their life of unethical behavior isn’t very happy when Pollyanna comes waltzing in and saying “Hey! That’s not fair! Yes, those rules DO apply to YOU. No, you are NOT able to twist and turn those rules to suit yourself as you see fit.” No, the bad guys don’t like that at all. Bad guys don’t like truth and fairness..not if it mean that truth and fairness is also applied to them.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a letter that had been sent to City Hall full of criticism and complaints about me. Oh, how that hurt my heart! Why would someone take the time to do something so rude and cruel? It wasn’t the words that hurt so much as it was the image in my mind of someone actually taking the time, taking time out of their life and their day, to try to hurt me ON PURPOSE. That particular incident has escalated. The more I thought about that letter, the greater my concern grew. The letter contained out and out lies. If I didn’t have the respect and support of my co-workers, if that letter had been taken seriously, it could have seriously damaged my career. Losing my career would have an impact on me AND my family. Why would anyone want to hurt my family? It scared me to think of the ripple effect that such a letter could have caused in my life.
What if this guy continued to cause problems for me? Could this crazy person cause so much trouble that I was no longer an asset? Would I become a liability? What if he was relentless? What if it was easier to get rid of me than to deal with this nutcase? OK….yeah. I was becoming obsessed, which is really nothing new. 🙂 I spoke to my boss about my concerns. Once again, I can’t say enough good about this man who is my boss. We were friends before I ever took this position, and I can’t imagine anyone I would rather work with. There is such a bond of trust between us. Someday I will write an entire blog entry about our history together. He is my friend, and I can’t imagine a time or a thing that could ever change that. He and I have shared significant, life-changing years of our lives together. When I met him, he was a man married twenty-plus years with a small child. Now…he is a gay man in a committed relationship. His strength in dealing with and facing major honesty and changes in his life continue to inspired and impress me.
He listened to me, and he understood my concerns. We consulted with the legal department, which really accomplished nothing, but did calm my fears that I would be hung out to dry. While my fears of personal career damage have been calmed, my fears of personal safety have increased. I knew that this person had a history of run-ins and confrontations, but now that I know even more, it is unsettling. There are three current restraining orders outstanding, countless cases of legal action and false accusations. Last weekend, a fast food worker was attacked by this man. Charges are pending. The list goes on and on. The more I learn, the more confused I am about WHY this person is able to skate so close to the edges of the law and still manage to walk free.
Today I had lunch with two victims of his harassment. They had not known each other prior to their common problems. The issues he has with them are unrelated. They both carry mace. They wanted my help. What can be done to protect us from his “legal” abuse? He has done nothing illegal yet, or nothing that can be proven. Even as I write this, I am worried. What if he reads this? But why would he? How could he? I write, because this is MY blog, and I refuse to be afraid. I will not alter my life due to this. I don’t like bad guys. I have plenty of reasons not to like bad guys. I don’t like people who think they can live blamelessly as they hurt those around them. I have reasons to dislike that, too.
Yes, I will get involved. I will help. Once again, I find myself among strong women. Together, we are strong. More than once, it was said, “It feels so good to know it’s not just me. I feels so good to know that I am not alone in this.” Bad guys don’t stand chance when strong women stand united.
Today I was reminded of so many other times when my heart has hurt over selfish, thoughtless, ugly meanness. I remembered the first time I when I really knew that my heart was tender. It was two days after my dad died. Never before had I felt so alone in the world. I had lost the greatest love I had ever known in my life. I had lost my safety net. I was raw with pain. I was driving to work that morning. My dad was not yet laid to rest. The funeral was the next day, but I was driving in to my office for an hour or so. It was bitterly cold. Although the traffic here is never really bad, it was rush hour. I was on the expressway at the busiest overpass. Some cars were entering. Some were trying to exit. Cars jockeyed for position. Ahead of me, a car signaled to change lanes in order to exit. Instead of letting the car change lanes, the car in front of me purposely sped up and then slowed down simply to make sure that his fellow motorist would not be able to exit as he had intended. As I watched it happening, I began to sob. My heart was so hurt. My recent losses were so fresh and painful. My heart could take no more, and the pain overflowed.
I remember how that senseless cruelty hurt me on that day. When I pulled into the parking lot that morning, I had laid my head against the steering wheel as the knowledge of man’s inhumanity to man washed over me. Why? Why do human beings have this horrible capacity of cruelty inside of them? That day, I cried for the man who had not been able to take the exit. Where had he been going? What if he was going to visit a loved one in the hospital? What if, like me, he was hurting from a great loss? Why is it so much easier sometimes to hurt people than to be kind? Shouldn’t the desire to allow the guy to change lanes outweigh the desire to fuck up his morning? I don’t understand such behavior. Thankfully, I don’t understand. Hopefully, I never will.