Monthly Archives: December 2017

Six Blankets

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Six Blankets

I’m fighting a quiet battle within myself. Some might call it depression, I hesitate to use a label. A sad awareness is wrapping itself around me like a blanket which I keep shrugging off. It’s the state of the world and the sad stories that swirl around me like a thin fog that clings low toward the ground. I’m able to go about my day and do what needs to be done with the added presence of my unwelcome shadow.

Yesterday I went to a luncheon for hospice volunteers. I’ve been a hospice volunteer for a decade. I provide respite for caregivers of terminally ill people. I know that sounds depressing in itself….honestly, it’s rewarding work. After the lunch volunteers are asked to take blankets to patients on hospice. The blankets are crocheted by generous, kind souls that enjoy their craft. I volunteered to deliver six blankets to patients that share my zip code.

Each blanket is paired with an index card with pertinent information about the intended recipient. Name, address, phone number and helpful hints like the neighborhood name or the patients age. It’s recommended that you call the families first to see if they want to accept the blanket.

I made 6 calls and I got mixed results. Mindful with each call that this family is suffering on some level. It is impossibly hard to watch someone you love die before your eyes. It’s also an incredible gift to have some notice about the situation. Words can be spoken that otherwise might be left unsaid. I try to approach each communication with a blend of compassion and lightheartedness. I don’t want to add to the melancholy nor do I want to be overly cheerful, it’s a balancing act.

First Blanket – I left a message explaining that I had a crocheted blanket as a gift from hospice and left my phone number. I haven’t heard back which isn’t unexpected, they have a lot going on.

Second Blanket – I spoke with someone on the phone and they said sure drop it off.  I headed over after I picked my kids up from school. After ringing the doorbell, I  was told to come in. This is common. People are so busy caring for a terminal person they often leave the door unlocked for scheduled deliveries, home health aids or visitors. I handed the blanket to the caregiver and smiled and waved to the patient as I let myself out.

Third Blanket – My kids are still in the car, these are local deliveries. This was a house I was familiar with having just sat with the patient last week. They had a screened in porch so I left the blanket nestled on a chair and let myself out. I spoke with the caregiver later that evening and he thanked me for the blanket.

Fourth Blanket – Someone answered the phone when I called and gave a reluctant OK to the blanket. I don’t know if I spoke to the patient or a family member. The property was stunning with an Old World European curb appeal. This was a house with multiple doors which happens quite often. I chose a door which had a wreath on it, it was not answered. I channeled my inner MacGyver and fastened the blanket to the wreath with little more than stubborn determination. I took the kids home after this, our third, delivery.

Fifth Blanket – I spoke with the patient’s daughter on the phone. She sounded tense on the phone and promised to call me later. She left me a long voicemail this morning. She apologized for being curt on the phone (she wasn’t) and went on to say how hard it was to speak at work and what it’s like having a father on hospice. She was unsure if the blanket would be a welcome addition and I felt bad for adding to her burdens. She was a jumble of emotions and I’m still thinking of the best way to follow up.

Sixth Blanket – This was actually the first call I made and it gutted me. A composed gentleman answered the call and very graciously declined the blanket. He stated that the patient (perhaps his wife?) got one at chemo and there is just so much stuff around the house. I can vouch for the stuff – every hospice patient has a table full of items to keep them as comfortable as possible. Pain medications, body lotion, mouth wash, adult diapers, towels, wipes and an assortment of personal items. Things that would normally be kept in a bathroom or bedroom migrate to the kitchen or dinning room table. Most patients reside in a hospital bed in the living room of their home for convenience and to avoid isolation.

Prior to making the call, I put the address in my GPS. Then it dawned on me that this patient is half a mile from my home. The proximity was unsettling, more disturbing was the age, 58. That is young. I can count the difference in our age on my fingers. My mind takes this information and then I wonder if we have crossed paths. Does she have children? Do we shop at the same stores? Have I encountered this person at some point in our day-to-day lives? This patient, the one whom I will likely never meet…..she’ll stay with me. I’ll think of her when I drive past her house and I will say a silent prayer for her and her loved ones.

This is the shroud I wear from time to time. The memories of visits that I’ve had with patients that have passed. Thoughts of neighbors that I don’t know personally and yet I have some intimate knowledge of their situation. It’s profound and sad and somehow complete. This is the circle of life, a common path we are all on despite our attempts to deny it.

Death is the one universal truth. We will all die, each one of us. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, who you voted for, what country you’re from or what you believe in. Death doesn’t discriminate it comes for everyone. Everyone. So don’t be petty, hateful, hold grudges or act out of spite. It’s just a short ride on this spinning globe and then, who knows what’s next. I plan to use my time wisely with compassion, humor and then more compassion because that’s what we need. And somehow, by sharing these thoughts, my foggy companion has faded away.

 

 

 

 

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Feeling Frosty (not the Snowman)

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Feeling Frosty (not the Snowman)

My cynicism is at code red. Yesterday I hit a new low (or high?) on the cynicism scale. My brother posted a video of a guy saving a drowned puppy and my first thought was, looks staged. It was posted by Unilad if you feel inclined to look for it. I’m not proud of my response, it was honest though. I followed it up with my favorite GIF:

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And the kid who got bullied – Keaton Jones – where to begin? I can’t watch the video. I know what’s on there, I have kids in Middle School. This past October I had serious thoughts of sending my husband out on Halloween dressed as Sponge Bob to beat the crap out of an 8th grader who’s been a jerk to my kid. We didn’t do it, it was just therapeutic visualization. The fact is that kid needs to get his ass kicked. There isn’t a member of the school district faculty who would not agree with that “off the record”. Which leads me to one of my all time favorite movie fight scenes:

 

As for Keaton, now his mother is getting questioned about alleged racist posts and fake fundraising. I’m over here like, “eh, not surprised.” I hope Keaton gets the upper hand at lunch. Middle School is a cesspool of vicious kids, hormones, bad decisions and some poor fashion choices. It always has been.

I also visited one of my favorite blogs yesterday – Redneck Latte Ravings – http://www.rednecklatte.com/

He had a post which included two versions of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Check it out –

 

I used to hear this song and think, cute. Now in light of recent headlines and my own personal experiences….I watch the video and I find Ricardo Montalban a bit aggressive and creepy. The funny version featuring Betty Garrett and Red Skeleton doesn’t feel right either.

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It’s all just a little too much right now. I need a time out.

No Good Deed…

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No Good Deed…

“What happens in the barn – stays in the barn.” So the bad karaoke and overtly sexual dancing with another district mom shouldn’t come back to haunt me. Except that everyone in this Wonder Bread town has a smartphone. Well at least we raised some money “for the children”.

Planning an event is a solid pain in the ass. People suck, even the well-meaning helpers can be a drag when they get on board at the last minute. A do-gooder can instantly transform into a ne’er do-well if the timing is off.

Sheila lets me know the night before the event that she wants to donate a scarf to the silent auction. She also wants a ticket to the event that’s been sold out for weeks. Sure Sheila, we’re like besties (we rarely speak). The donation had a high-end price tag, but was likely made by a malnourished 11-year old Chinese factory worker.

Via Facebook Messenger she describes her donation, requests plastic wrap, and starts to tell me that her father is driving her to get her car because (enough already Sheila), just give me the address so I can pick it up.

I finally get the address Saturday morning. I drive there after a rigorous cardio class. Let me just mention that I sweat like a teen boy on a South African track team so I’m a bit of a mess when I get there. I’m in urgent need of a shower and I do not want to socialize.

A driveway that is the stuff of nightmares greets me. It’s anorexic and is flanked with rock walls that ache to destroy my car. I put that thought on the back burner as I run in to grab the donation in all its plastic-wrapped glory.

Her daughter meets me at the open door and skips off to tell her mother I’m here. “Oh I can just grab it if she’s busy.” This was my lame attempt at getting out of there fast. “I’ll be down in a minute” a voice floats down from above. Sheila appears 5 awkward minutes later.

It took me a bit to realize what was happening, probably because I had four hours worth of things to do in a two-hour window. I was going through my mental checklist when Sheila started pitching for the multi-level marketing company that drapes her in ugly overpriced scarves. She’s describing the snob appeal of the brand while I’m standing in sweaty gym clothes I purchased at Target and Marshalls. My entire outfit including my sneakers cost less than that fucking scarf.

“You meet so many interesting people,” Sheila drawls as I instantly flashback to Bugs Bunny giving Gossamer a manicure. “I’m sure you do”, I reply as my eyes begin to glaze.

 

My brain shuts off whenever I come in contact with cults. Fight or flight kicked in, I picked up the basket and made a beeline for the door. I got to my car only to realize I would scratch the shit out of it if I attempted to back up.

Paint job be damned, I needed to get out. I started the car with Sheila still going through her spiel from her front door “If I sell $400. worth by midnight I get entered into a contest for a trip to England!” as I feverishly try and back up my car.

“How exciting!” I reply, while frantically turning my wheel in alternating opposite directions with 6-inch bouts of progress with steering that can only be described as desperate. I was starting to sweat as Sheila drones on endlessly about how the owner of the company is just like us – “She just turned fifty, lives on an island, adopted twelve kids and travels on a private jet”. So similar, I think to myself, except I’m not fifty, bitch.

“Oh let me back up for you – no one else can back out of here,” Sheila suggests. “OK” I reluctantly agree.

Sheila backs up my car, which has an interior that resembles a contender for a Superfund site. At this point, I don’t care if Sheila knows I’m a car slob, I just want to leave.

“Bye Sheila thanks for the basket and for backing me out. See you tonight” I smile and wave. Then I notice a newly lit dashboard indicator and it takes every ounce of restraint not to say “WTAF” out loud.

Sheila wasn’t the only donor to give me a hard time. A non-donor who pretended to be a donor also harassed me. Stay with me, this one is special.

I got into a Facebook fight with a local guy who sells jams. I know it sounds ridiculous but this guy has been caustic since day one. A few months ago we had a vendor event. I was doing promotions on Facebook for it when I get a “why wasn’t I invited” in the comments from this guy. I never heard his name before but I responded politely, gave him the details and he joined the event. He donated a total of $3 to the non-profit. He only donated that because someone donated their change in front of me.

I let it go. I liked his jam related posts and we have some mutual local business friends that collaborate with him. Great, I support local businesses. Then in August things went off the rails. He posted a question, I answered. Things spiraled from there.

I logged off and went to bed and soon after, he started a shit storm on my personal Facebook page. Some of my friends defended me and took screen shots of the whole sordid affair. Most of the offensive comments were deleted by the next morning. Just some traces of a rough night with people messaging me the details. Several acquaintances were demanding a boycott of his business. I held them off. Then I unfriended him from my personal account because I don’t need the drama.

A month later he’s at it again. This time he makes comments on the non-profit Facebook page that I manage, stating he wants to donate to the auction. He posts his desire to donate publicly but doesn’t respond to private messages. He then comments on other pages, acting like he wanted to help but I was unresponsive. Total asshole.

Here’s the funny part – my husband loves this fucking jam. The one he likes reminds him of childhood summers spent in Italy. How can I deprive him of that? I can’t. But I don’t want to order this stuff online and have Jam Man see my name on the order – he’ll probably poison the jar. And I definitely do not want him to have my home address.

So in an ironic twist, filed under things you do for love, I am driving all over three towns looking for this stupid jam. I bought another variety at one store a few days ago and my husband gave it the thumbs down. I go back two days later to search for the beloved flavor and they don’t have it. Damn it.

This morning my husband sends me a text “good jam” – meaning please get me the stuff that reminds me of childhood summers spent in Italy. My first response was “You’re on your own dude, Jam Man was at it again yesterday.” Then I found it at a local business. So yes I bought the stupid jam because I love my husband more than I dislike the Jam Man. And in a final twist that can only be described as insulting….my husband thought the latest batch was just “meh”. No good deed goes unpunished.

 

You’re Bleaching Whaaaat?

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You’re Bleaching Whaaaat?

Anal bleach, this exists people. Let me back up (wink) and explain. The hubs and I went to a party last night. A majority of the party was a group of friends known as the car guys and their wives. The car guys met through their love of cars and somehow, despite this seemingly shallow connection, have sowed deep rooted friendships. For a handful of years we have socialized  – parties, annual beach getaways, vacations and weddings. It’s an interesting group of friends, the book writes itself.

Last night’s party is one of the group’s traditions. There is always an “adult” gift exchange, some variation of the white elephant. I always aim for funny with potential for mildly offensive, it’s my comfort zone. I brought a “People of Walmart” desk calendar, who wouldn’t love that! I also brought a book with stickers for adulting.

This is a bit of a rub because I was actively brainstorming this idea a few years ago. I got sick of sewing (OK my father in law sewed…but still, annoying AF) badges on my daughter’s brownie sash. Throughout the process (basically, when I had to safety pin badges on 3 minutes before an event, because, that’s what I do) I would think, damn there should be adult badges. But badges are such assholes with their need to be sewn on and they are kind of a commitment. Badges are the tattoo of the sewing world. No, I thought to myself, stickers would be better – cheaper, less hassle. Wouldn’t you know, someone else thought it was a good idea and bippity, boppity, boop – –

So back to the party. The hubs and I brought two gifts – the People of Walmart desk calendar and the adult sticker book. Oh and the party had a plaid theme. Most of the guys looked like lumber jack wannabes with some variation of red & black checkered shirts. The ladies hit Victoria’s Secret hard and got the same pattern in PJs. I wore normal clothes with a plaid scarf because I’m a chicken shit. I tired to find something plaid, I really did. I ordered a plaid skirt from Amazon and honestly, when I looked at it, I heard the sound of bagpipes in my mind and I didn’t want to look like this –

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The sad part of is I didn’t even win the “Least Festive” category (oh yes there are contests too). Some bitch in a pink sweater dress won. I can’t even win at losing….hey wait, I think that means I did win at losing. Screw you pink dress lady, I’m a bigger loser than you. I feel better now.

Back to the gift exchange. It was some variation of a white elephant except there was a board and you had to pull instructions from it…like find a brunette and exchange gifts. This was confusing to me because I have highlights, am I blonde, brunette, I don’t freakin’ know anymore, the bleach has gotten to me. So I went up to some lady who looked like Velma Dinkley with much better hair and exchanged gifts. Did I mention that I did this out of turn and it was completely inappropriate? Oh and I’m the sober one at these events which makes it all the more laughable.

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I slithered back into the kitchen after that awkward moment and Chrissy (one of the car guy wives) says “keep that bag, don’t let them get it.” So I basically hid in the kitchen area with a few of the guests, protecting my gift like a momma bear with her cub. At the end of the exchange we all opened our gifts. Chrissy gifted us with “marital aids” which would have been the highlight gift of the evening if this didn’t show up – one of the other wives went home with this. It was placed in a really cute bottle holder, dressed like Santa. It looked innocent enough, sigh.Picture 1 of 1

Folks I didn’t know products like this existed. I’m not a prude. I’ve had a Brazilian Wax or two in my day but (butt) really, I don’t even want to go to the trouble of whitening my teeth. Reminds me of a movie I saw recently (hysterical, BTW)-

 

So this was our kickoff to a month of parties. This one will be tough to top.

#MattLauer #TaxReform #Russia #Pocahontas – because I need traffic, damn it.

Life Hacks for Surviving the Holidays

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Life Hacks for Surviving the Holidays

Geezus it’s barely December and I’m already feeling the anxiety swell. So many events, gifts, decorating, cooking, cleaning and our family calendar is exploding. Trying to take a deep cleansing breath to prepare myself for the madness. Here are some things I may or may not do to get through the next month.

Refuse to get offended. That’s right, I won’t get offended over much of anything. Parties I don’t get invited to (phew I needed a night off), gifts I don’t get and people that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. I think you need to tuck your privilege in if you get insulted by a salutation that doesn’t start with “Hey @sshole”, just my opinion.

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I will not force traditions. Traditions are great, until they aren’t. I make seven fishes for Christmas Eve. It’s a nod to my Mother in law who passed away in 2007. I am not Italian by birth so I was excited to embrace this as something my kids will reflect on later in life (thankfully they like fish). That one is a keeper. Seeing some variation of “A Christmas Carole” or the “Nutcracker” every year is repetitive and expensive so we gave it up.

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Speaking of traditions….maybe you are one of the millions who has that Elf on the Shelf creature living rent free in your home. Sick of moving it? We watched this in mid November, oddly enough the kids have lost interest in Dash.

Just say “No.” No is indeed a complete sentence which does not require further explanation. You really don’t have to go to every event that crosses your path. Or scale back if you are so inclined. I go to a cookie throw down each December. It’s a great time and people that bake need to bring 10 dozen cookies. It’s a fun competition and I still attend the party I just don’t bake 10 dozen cookies to cross the threshold. The hostess has cleverly turned this into a charitable event by encouraging non-bakers to donate to a local Ronald McDonald House. Everyone wins and there are still cookies.

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Back up gifts. This one has saved me a thousand times. Have some back up gifts on hand, already wrapped and ready to go. I keep extra gift cards, bottles of wine and a few generic toys and books on the ready in case it’s needed. It doesn’t have to be expensive just something to ease that awkward moment when someone  hands you an unexpected gift.

 

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Meditate. This always invokes an image of the Dalai Lama sitting crossed legged, breathing in exaggerated “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahs”. Sure that works but it isn’t the only way to meditate.

According to Psychology Today – Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.

Yesterday, I worked on a 1,000 piece puzzle. It calms me and clears my head. Your meditation can be anything – walking, knitting, exercise – as long as it takes your full concentration and shushes your brain.

Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope it’s great!