Anyone out there who thinks that government employees are overpaid, lazy people who can’t get a job in the private sector, think again. Most of us have been employed in the private sector at one time or another. Many of us will return to the private sector again at some point in the future. That’s where I’ll be once again when I can no longer take the stress of being a government employee. While I can only speak for myself, I am in this job, because I want to make a difference. I believe in what I do, and that means something to me. I’ve been in jobs before where I was nothing but a corporate drone. Now I’m in the trenches, and most of the time I like that. Although, all too often the people I am fighting for perceive me as an enemy or “one of the bad guys.” Continue Reading »
I don’t even know what to write about. All I know is that it helps me to write.
I’m traveling again, and I am lonely. This is a trip that I’ve taken too many times. I am at the state capitol for a legislative forum. While I know that this is important, I also know that I have more important things going on locally. More immediate issues require my attention. I have brought staff along with me on this trip so that I can hole up in my hotel room and work from my laptop. I wish that I could have stayed home, but the bureaucracy I am part of requires that I attend this forum. I tried my best to delay my appearance for an additional day, but that same bureaucracy won’t allow my staff members to drive an official car. I could have asked them to take one of their personal vehicles, but I just couldn’t. Even though they would have been reimbursed, it didn’t feel right to ask. So I drove the official car. It feels like I am their mother chauffeuring them on a field trip. They are excited, and I’m happy to see that at least. Continue Reading »
Milwaukee. It’s been a very busy few days since my last post. One son is packed off to school. It was a good trip, a good day. Luke was so darn happy to be back at school and to see his roommates again. They are such a great group of boys. Ah, but they couldn’t wait to get rid of the parents! Just watching them made me happy for the future of this world. Youth, dreams, ambition, kindness, laughter. It is such a good feeling to see my son in a place that fits him well and with people that he so obviously likes. This year there is something new at Marquette for Luke. His girlfriend is a student there this year as well. She’s in the same dorm two floors down. I wonder how he feels about this. I wonder how they will handle it. Luke enjoyed a year of freedom on campus. It will certainly be a period of adjustment for them both, and I am staying OUT OF IT. We enjoyed the afternoon in Milwaukee. The bustle of the campus was exhilarating. It was impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of the day. We enjoyed a lunch with Luke and his girlfriend before heading out on our trip to Chicago.
T and I in Chicago. How long had it been since he and I were anywhere alone and together? Surprisingly, (even to me!) I have decided not to share very much about our night and day alone. I’m not sure why I don’t feel the need or desire to write about it in detail. Maybe the details aren’t really clear in my own mind yet. I will say this, though. There was nothing at all wrong with our time alone. It was full of friendship, gentleness, conversation, and caring. I felt SAFE and cared for, which is something I have not felt in a very long time.
Brush with Fame. T and I were heading towards Michigan Avenue and to the beautiful little park/garden where I have spent many hours crying. Moments earlier, I had decided to stop into a deli and buy a lobster salad sandwich. (This detour is an important detail!) It was delicious, luscious lobster on a croissant, and I was munching big mouthfuls of pleasure as we walked along. We stood waiting for the light to change so that we could cross. As we stood waiting, a guy was working the crowd trying to get money. He had a good spiel. Either give him a dollar or according to him, you would be required to skip across the street. Mostly, everyone was ignoring him. When the light changed, he led the way skipping across the street. One guy, the guy next to me, started skipping along behind him. It made me smile. It was a little round short guy. His wife was laughing by his side. Something was strangely familiar about them. It was Danny DeVito with his wife, Rhea Perlman. Seriously!! I grabbed T by the back of the shirt and gestured wildly. I think for a moment he thought I was choking on the lobster salad. T wasn’t certain, so he followed them right into the art museum. I sat there under one of my favorite lions waiting for him to come back outside. He was grinning from ear to ear. It really, really was them. If I hadn’t stopped for my lobster salad, we would never have had our brush with fame. Ah….good follows good!
And My Mother. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Luke’s dorm next to a huge pile of stuff. T had gone to park the car. Luke had gone to find a wheeled cart. I was alone when my phone rang. It was the hospital. My mom had been admitted. It was the same, continuing problem. She was stable and resting comfortably. I stood there for a moment and weighed it all out. What should I do? What was required of me? It didn’t take long. Today I was a mother before I was a daughter. Today my job was to be there for my son, not to be running back to the side of my mother. The nurse had said she was fine. There was nothing I could do. There was no imminent danger. Should we skip the trip to Chicago? Should I rush back home to see my mom and “do the right thing?” No, this time with T was important, too. We had both been looking forward to relaxing for a day. We needed a break from the stress of our lives. Rushing back to my mother’s side would only add a little bit more stress and accomplish nothing at all. The next morning, I received another call from the hospital. I was immediately scared. I feared the worst. What if she had died while I was out having a night on the town?? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. She had a nurse call me to make sure that I knew she was in the hospital. She had thought I would come rushing back home. I asked the nurse if I was needed. “Oh, no!! She is doing fine. She just needed to be rehydrated. She’ll be out in a day or so.”
As T and I drove home, I gave my mother a call. I wondered if I should call her cell phone or try to find the number for the hospital. I didn’t think she must have her cell phone with her. Otherwise, why was she having hospital staff call me? T said to give her cell a try, “You know how your mother is. She will have wanted to get maximum mileage out of this.” So I called her cell, and guess what? She answered it!! She DID have her cell phone with her! I was shocked. She was doing fine, and I told her that we would be there to visit on Sunday. She was upset that we hadn’t cut our trip short since she was in the hospital. I remained calm and cheerful. I told her that I had considered coming back, but the hospital had assured me that she was in good hands. There was no need. There was nothing I could do.
Today, with a half-million things that I needed to do, I went to visit my mother. I stopped and bought a card and a plant before heading over to the hospital. She was doing fine. She’ll be released in a day or two. Andrew and T went along with me. We had so many errands to run on this one day off before we move Andrew to Chicago. We had to buy bedding, household supplies, and groceries. After leaving the hospital, we started shopping and checking things off of our long list. We were in the first store for about ten minutes when my phone rang. It was my mother. “You need to come back. I need you to run over to my apartment. I need you to pick up a few things for me.”
I was in shock. We had just been there. Why hadn’t she told me while I had been there? Her apartment building is attached by a corridor to the hospital! We could have walked over there in less than five minutes. Now we were a twenty minute drive away. What did she need? Instead of continuing my complaints I’ll just say that she needed nothing important. Once again, I was firm. I told her that I couldn’t come back today. We had too many things to do. I reminded her that Andrew was moving in four days. T and I have to work all week. We had to accomplish what we could today. I told her that I would try to make time to stop by tomorrow during my lunch hour. Ugh….
Changes and Discoveries. What I am beginning to discover is that I am pretty easy to jerk around. I give too much. I forgive too easily. Too many people want too many things from me. When I don’t do things exactly the way those around me expect, then people are mad at me. I feel like a pawn in too many lives. The girls were mad because their father and I spent the night in Chicago and didn’t take them along (even though we left money for pizza and they had a fun night.) Andrew was mad that I was cleaning last night, because he wanted to watch something on TV with me. As soon as we walked in the door from our mini-trip, I went about unpacking, cleaning, and doing laundry. T played slots online.
I could feel the cloak of stress fall all around me within the first hour of being home. I called T upstairs and tried to explain it to him. I told him all that I was feeling, and I asked him, “Who takes care of me? Who really cares about me?” It seems like everyone around me wants something from me. They want me to take care of them. They want me to make them feel good. Most of the time, I feel inadequate. There are too many of them, and only one of me. I come up short every time. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I give, no matter what I do, it is never enough. No one is ever satisfied, and most of all, I am drowning in all of it. I am sinking quickly.
Maybe he gets it. Maybe not. We’ll see…
I’m back from my trip to Springfield and the State Fair. All in all, I probably walked twenty miles while I was gone. My organization was part of a display for our state government’s booth. Of course, we had to park about two miles away from the building where we would be working. There was no way we could carry our display materials, so we made the half-hour jaunt and then begged someone for a golf cart to carry our stuff to the building. It was inconsiderate and half-assed planning by the state gov. Ha! Just what I was expecting. Par for the course.
Maybe it was my bad attitude, but I just didn’t enjoy much of anything about the trip. I wanted to be home. Now that I’m home, I don’t want to be here very much, either. I guess you could say that I am frustrated on all levels right now. I’m being pulled in so many directions simultaneously. No one thinks that I’m doing enough for them. Everyone needs something from me. No one is giving a damn thing back in return.
T was mad at me from the moment I got back home from this trip. He had wanted me to drive back on Friday night. That would have meant that I wouldn’t have gotten home until around 10:00 p.m., so I decided to stay the extra night and catch up on my sleep. I knew that if I returned home Friday night, I would unpack, do laundry, straighten up the house, etc., and I would be worn out. I went to bed early on Friday night (in my hotel room) and headed home on Saturday morning. Guess what? It was all waiting for me. They all survived. Still, he’s not happy with me for not doing things his way.
Today was spent on laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, changing sheets, and visiting my mother. She’s not happy with me, either. Other people have company everyday. Other people get to go out and do things with their family. Other people take their mother out for Sunday brunch. Ugh….I wish I could be other people! I need to be more than one person! I reminded my mom that other people have more than ONE child to do things for them. Other people’s children may not be trying to raise four kids and work full time.
One bit of good news, but it is overwhelming me at the present moment. Andrew was accepted into the school in Chicago. Now we have to find a place for him to live by September 1. I’m so excited for him, but I have no idea how to begin looking for an apartment from 190 miles away. I don’t know the first damn step to take. I feel like a helpless hillbilly. To top it all off, T isn’t being very helpful with this, either. I will probably have to take some time off from work later this week and head to the city with Andrew.
Lola and Emily start back to school on Tuesday. They have asked if I’m going to take the “first day” off work so I can take Lola to class and hear all about their days when they come home that afternoon. Impossible, but I am going to try to sneak of couple of hours in the morning so that I can take Lola to Third Grade.
Luke wonders when I can take him shopping to buy what he needs to go back to school in Milwaukee. He returns on August 26. Wonder how he’s going to get back to school???
Tomorrow I have a board meeting. Tuesday I am speaking at Kiwanis during my lunch hour and at City Council in the evening.
I need a haircut.
I’m worn out and unhappy. I wish I had a clone and the real me could crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head.
During my lunch break today, I called a friend. I needed to hear a friendly voice. I was feeling sad and stressed out. I needed to talk to someone who cared. Basically, I needed a friend. Instead of keeping those feelings bottled up inside, I called someone I knew would understand. We talked about many things, but eventually we discussed what depression feels like. She had written in her own blog a description that I had found terrifyingly beautiful, accurate, and true. She wrote that depression is “like some thick, wet, blue, velvet cloak trying to smother the life out of your heart….” I understood. I have been feeling the weight of my own depression these past few days, and had been describing it in my own mind. Maybe that’s part of the process, the trying to understand and interpret that crushing, muddled feeling.
Her description is a whole lot prettier than my own. I told her that my depression feels like cotton. My mouth, nose, face, every part of me, feels like it is stuffed with cotton batting. I am unable to make facial expressions. If someone were to ask me to smile, my brain could not tell my face what to do. That must be where the “cotton” feeling comes in. I feel like a rag doll. I have a face, but it is blank. Fighting for expression, fighting to act like a human and not a stuffed inanimate object, is exhausting.
Last week, when I received a funny text picture from a friend I see infrequently, I replied. “Thanks, that made me smile. In fact, I laughed out loud.” He responded that he was glad and that I needed to smile more often. He said that I’m pretty when I smile. I felt embarrassed. I knew just what he was referring to. We had seen each other at a conference in May. I could see that he felt I had changed. I was not the same person I had been just a few short months ago. I was sick. I didn’t laugh or smile like I once did. I wasn’t any fun. I was the expressionless rag doll, and that made me feel ashamed of myself.
Talking to my friend today helped me tremendously. Our conversation went from serious to silly from moment to moment. We are two people struggling with loss, fear, pain, and depression, but we are also able to laugh. God, I find strength in that. There are good people in this world, and I am learning to reach out to them. I am learning to accept help when it is right there for the taking.
I’m not sure why I have so often been faced with loss in my life. Actually, I try not to think about it too much. I do know that I have had way more than my fair share of bad luck and loss. It would be staggering if I were to write it all down. On the other hand, I have had so many wonderful blessings, too. The one thing I have learned as I have been faced with adversity in my life is that there is an OTHER SIDE. Climb that hill, keep putting one foot in front of the other, trudge through the crap that life throws your way. There IS an OTHER SIDE. Right now, though, that other side seems so very far away.
Of course, I am feeling bogged down. There is so much on my plate right now, and not much of it is good. That’s when the depression kicks in. It’s almost impossible to fight off when life is throwing buckets of crap my way. I feel myself sinking under, and I’m tipping my head up to try to catch a breath of air. I need to BREATHE, but there does not seem to be a place of comfort. I’m trying to trudge along and get to the other side of this. I want to get to the BETTER SIDE. I’m trying. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but it feels like I am fighting a pretty strong wind.
As I drove home from work tonight, like always, I listened to my iPod. The song “Drink Me” by Anna Nalick came on my player. Drink me. That made me think. The words of the song made me think. “Drink me, baby. Slowly, I’ll disappear… I’ll get smaller with every swallow.” Wow. That is how I feel. Little sips of me have been taken. Just a little bit at a time. A little here. A little there. My glass, which was once full, is now almost empty.
I allowed it to happen. “Here, take a little bit more. Is there anything else you want or need? Is there anything else I can do for you? I am strong. I will bear the weight. Here, have a little bit more.” I gave too much. I emptied out my own glass.
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.
Well, we’re all getting older. Sometimes I look in the mirror, and it doesn’t compute. Who in the hell is that old woman staring back at me? I bet Meg Ryan thought the same thing when/if she ever saw the picture on the right. I feel her pain.
I ran a few errands during my lunch hour. As I stood in the checkout line, I saw that horrible picture of Meg on a magazine cover. Sheesh…thank God no one puts my non-makeup pictures anywhere for the entire world to study. At least I have that one small thing to be thankful for.
There were other makeup-less celebrities on the cover, too. Kirstie Ally, but everyone knows she’s a train wreck. J Lo, who in my opinion looked good, healthy, and natural without makeup. But Meg? Well, that one almost broke my heart. I’ve always loved Meg Ryan. She and I are close the same age. Now look at us! Oh, Meg….what has happened to us???
It has been a long, exhausting week. There has barely been time to catch my breath. I worked last weekend, and headed to a conference in Springfield on Monday. I was happily greeted when I returned home. In fact, everyone was so happy to see me that I had to make dinner for 8 people that evening. 🙂 Actually, that was OK. I was happy to have the house and table full, but I’m wearing out now.
Luke is home from Marquette for the summer. T drove up to Milwaukee yesterday, bringing back our son and piles of laundry. Last night there were 10 of us for dinner. Thankfully, it was a lovely evening, and T and I took our plates of food out to the patio.
After everyone headed off in different directions, T and I cleaned up the kitchen and retired with drinks in hand to the patio once again. Before long, Emily had joined us. Then Lola had something “important” that brought her outside from her bed. Just as the girls wandered back inside, Luke and Shannon returned from their walk. They sat talking with us for a while, then headed in to watch a movie. As we sat there “relaxing” for almost an hour, we were able to be alone for approximately five minutes.
Thank God It’s Friday. Just in time for the grade school carnival tonight….