Monday, February 12, 2018

My Whine For the Day

I've been sick a long time. A REALLY long time.  Months. I noticed I wasn't feeling well the first part October last year, but Nat was getting married. You can't be sick when your daughter is getting married. It's a Mom Rule. So I pretended I wasn't sick. And Nat got married. And I got pneumonia.

Last time I had pneumonia it was awful. I was also better after about three weeks. Six weeks after I was diagnosed this time, I was still incredibly ill and nothing seemed to be helping. And my choirs had several performances during this time, so I was not taking time off to rest. It was grueling and not helpful in the healing scheme of things.

I finally felt better about a week before Christmas. And then I got sick again. Some stupid virus. My hope was that it would visit an leave. It is now February. If that virus left, another moved in right away. I've been sick without a break. And I'm starting to feel very tired, very depress, and completely unable to do things that are usually easy for me.

This is unusual. I'm used to feeling powerful and capable. I like to start new things. I enjoy keeping my house clean. I love to cook.

Not so now.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm nothing like the person most people know. I just want to rest. My house attests to this, as does my diet. It's been awhile since I made a real meal. Which isn't to say I haven't bought ingredients. I have grand plans to make something healthy and delicious. Then I come home from work and think about pizza.

Work... that's another story.

There is a reason I do not have a music ed degree. I love to teach. I do not love to teach in the public school system. So why am I doing it?

1. I needed a job.
2. They needed a teacher.
3. They agreed to pay me a tolerable salary.
4. I didn't know I would get sick.

Every day is horribly difficult. It's one thing to deal with illness when you're alone. When you're in charge of a million students, it's a completely different story. I seriously hate getting up in the morning. I've never said that before. But I've never had a job I hated before.

I love the kids. I adore them. But circumstances are not great for teaching them right now. And I don't want to. I just want to get better.

The end.

Monday, January 22, 2018

8-Minutes Memoir: Cease and Desist

That's actually not the prompt. But I'm shifting gears. I want a different focus for my posts. I like the idea of having a topic given to me, and I like the idea of limiting the time, so I'm still taking prompts from an outside source. I'm bumping the writing time allowed to 10 minutes.

Today: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

I actually don't know the answer to this, so there may be some groping going on as I try to figure it out. I love getting up in the morning before anyone else and having quiet time. I'll browse websites. Sometimes I'll pay bills or write email, but most of the time, I just do whatever I want to. It's nice to not feel that I have to do anything in that moment, and that if I do, I'll be disturbing those who want to sleep, so it's fine for me to quietly do nothing.

I love buying flowers for other people. When my budget allows it, I'll find excuses to send them to people. If you're my child or someone I love, flowers are standard birthday presents. Alex got a dozen white roses this month because those are his favorite.

I love being alone. There's something wonderful about just being in one's own company. I attribute this need to years of practicing for hours. I learned to concentrate and immerse myself in the music I was learning. I also got very used to not being with other people for hours at a time. And I like having time to myself even when I have nothing planned.

I love cooking with coconut milk. Dairy if mostly off-limits to me, so cream sauces and cheeses and all those goodies other people swoon over don't appeal to me. Or rather, I know if I eat them, I'll be sick for far too long, and I hate being sick. So any appeal that might initially present itself is quickly nipped in the bud. Coconut provides creamy sauces and is a vehicle for many different spices and herbs. I use it far too often to be healthy. Sometimes I substitute the coconut cream for the milk which means I doubled the calories and fat and negated any possible nutrition in the foods. It's worth it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

8-Minute Memoir: Games

I've always loved them. As a child, I just wanted to learn how to play. I loved the colors, the tactile sensation. Winning didn't seem to matter and rules were fluid in my head. Much of the time, I was thinking about ways to change the rules in order to make the challenge greater or include new ways to play. As I grew older, winning, of course, was important, but I always felt slightly disappointed when I did. It meant the game was over; we were finished playing.

As an adult, I realized that I could learn a great deal about people by observing how they played games. I would often throw the game simply to provide me means to observe how my opponent would react to winning. This was often the case when playing online Scrabble with a person I could not see. I'd play three times, lose each time, and learn how my game partner thought and reacted. I would also learn their strategies which made it easy to beat them in subsequent games. Needless to say, I have few continuous Scrabble partners. Danny, alone, continues to play with me. For him, the game is less about winning and more about finding words on his tray.

I have two children similar to me in that they love creating and bending the rules. I have one child who hates it. To him, changing the rules means the game is no longer fair or fun. I once put together two Monopoly boards and invited my children to a game of double Monopoly. It was played, loosely, in the same way that the REAL game was played, but, of course, there were two sets of property, lots of money and houses/hotels, and four dice. In addition, I randomly announced "gifts" (because I was the banker) and distributed money whenever the whim took me.

Alex and Natalie thought the game delightful. Within 15 minutes, Chris had pronounced the game "stupid" and refused to play. This might be because I had just proclaimed a new rule because I was not only the banker, but the rule maker. Regardless, the random nature of the game left him frustrated and angry. He was so upset that we never again played Double Monopoly. Which is not to say I stopped making up rules and games. I was just more structured about it. After all, the point was to play with my kids, not make them unhappy.

Friday, January 12, 2018

8-Minute Memoir: Little Things

1. Having the silverware on the correct sides of the plate.
2. Going barefoot.
3. Lying in the grass.
4. Watching bugs.
5. Feeling the wind on my face.
6. Walking into my bedroom when the bed is made.
7. Soap and shampoo that smell amazing.
8. Sunshine coming through my windows.
9. Clean sheets.
10. Clean floors.
11. The individual scents and colors of dinner ingredients and the ways that they combine to make a new scent.
12. A safe hug.
13. Giggling with my kids.
14. Sitting close to someone I love.
15. Singing.
16. Practicing the piano or the violin or the oboe or any musical instrument at all.
17. Reading books.
18. Re-reading books.
19. Typing.
20. Creating something with my hands.
21. Phone calls/hearing the voice of someone I love but cannot be with.
22. Spider webs.
23. New leaves on trees in the spring.
24. The smell of rain.
25. Autumn.
26. The first snow of winter.
27. Fine quality chocolate.
28. The tiny, crispy marshmallows that come in hot chocolate packets.
29. New socks.
30. Down blankets.
31. My own pillow.
32. Sleeping next to Aaron every night.
33. Flowers.
34. Learning something new.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

8-Minute Memoir: Adventure

My father made the mundane seem adventurous. I remember, as a very small child, loving it when he was home to help with chores. He often traveled, so this was rare, but he would challenge us to contests and tell stories about highly unlikely things each stray sock, toy, or leftover piece of trash had experienced. It made the drudgery seem like an amazing game.

My father took us places. They weren't exotic or far away, but nearby places took on new luster when we told us about them. We explored our neighborhood, nearby towns and cities, and any mountains or wilderness we could drive to and still arrive home for supper.

My father loved amusement parks. I suppose I still love amusement parks because of him. And hiking, he loved hiking. We would walk all day in the mountains, discovering hidden meadows and waterfalls and caves. Each year in the winter, he would tell us where we would be exploring when the snow was gone. The anticipation was as delicious as the experience.

And then we noticed the adventures began to be less rugged, less frequent. My father seemed to be resting a lot more. And at night, sometimes I would hear him whimpering or moaning. My father was sick. Very sick.

Post-polio syndrome took him away from me. He's still alive, but adventures are not something he can do anymore. They increase the constant, daily pain he lives with. They assure him of days in bed and difficulty eating. They are nothing for him to look forward to.

Still, when I visit, he reminds me. Remember when we visited the cowboy museums in Montana? Or when we went to see the Grand Canyon, but didn't arrive until dark, so we saw it, but not really? Or the walk in the mountain meadow covered in butterflies? Or that time we forded the river  to go fishing and I stepped in a sinkhole and he had to pull me back up by my hair? Or the berry picking day when I found the bear?

I remember, Dad. I remember.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

8-Minute Memoir: Billboards

I don't really have anything to say about this. On another morning I might. But around 8 p.m. last night I drove Alex to the ER because he'd had a severe headache and been vomiting for three hours. His solution was to keep taking showers. After shower four, I put him in the car and said we were going. He was very upset.

At the ER they gave him an IV (which was why he was not willing to go in the first place). But that's all. We waited two and a half hours before seeing a doctor, and he only came because I kept going to the nurses station and whining that my son's pain was increasing, and could he please get some help. After the doctor visited with Alex, he finally got some medication.

Intravenous meds work almost instantly, so we were ready to leave within minutes. Did we get to leave? No, we did not.

Aaron went to the nurses station at midnight to ask if Alex might be discharged. They said they'd be right there. Nothing happened.

At 1:00, Alex suggested he could, perhaps, remove his own IV and we could just leave. At this point he was very thirsty and hungry, not to mention tired beyond belief (as were Aaron and I), and we all had to be at work within the next six hours.

I finally went back to the nurse's station and said, "It's after 1:30. We still have to drive home. We're very sleepy and would like to be able to not end up back here because we were too tried to drive home safely. And all of us have work in the morning, so we'd really like to get some sleep. We were told Alex would be discharged over an hour ago. At this point, it sort of feels like you're just keeping us here so he can be charged more money than is necessary."

Alex was discharged within 10 minutes. I should have been nasty at them sooner because we didn't get home until after 2:30 (had to stop for food and gas on the way home), and I'm so tired. Three hours of sleep is not enough. But Alex feels better. Sort of. No headache, anyway. Aaron took the day off. Lucky!

Monday, January 8, 2018

8-Minute Memoir: I Don't Remember

This one is difficult because I don't really think about not remembering things. I have a very good memory unless it's trauma-blocked. However, I do remember, when I was in my mid-20s, my sister, Kathy, would often say, "Do you remember when..." and then continue with a story of which I had no recollection. I would wait until she was finished, then say, "No. I don't remember that." For a long time I just thought the blank spots in my memory were things that were unimportant. I understand now that those existed because, however benign they might be, they were linked, somehow, to things that caused me distress when I remembered them.

There was a time when I sought to recover many of the memories. This was triggered by the discovery of a box filled with items that belonged to me, things I collected as a youth. There were letters and photos and mementos, but I was very upset by the box because I didn't have any memory of saving the items, and some of them came from people I didn't remember corresponding with. I sorted through the box, becoming more and more agitated. It was clear the people knew me well. Why didn't I remember them?

In addition to the box, my yearbooks from high school were nearby. The anxiety increased as I read notes from friends citing events I did not recollect. To make matters worse, some of those notes were posted near photos of me participating in the events. There were some trophies and awards I didn't remember winning and stories and poems by me that felt as if I was reading them for the first time.

In the end, I packed everything back into the box, drove to a nearby rest area, and threw it all away. I remember my mother being very upset that I would do such a thing. To me, it felt like the only way regain equilibrium in my life. Driving away from the boxes and books felt like salvation. I knew where I was going. There were no gaps in my current life. The past could stay in the past.