Monthly Archives: February 2018

Bananas

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Bananas

Sweet Geezus the bananas are out of control…AGAIN. Those pesky peels are showing up everywhere. Real damage is being done, people are dying slipping on those damn peels. Even the schools are not safe. Teachers who went into their chosen field to educate and enrich the lives of their students have to carve out time to teach students what to do in the event of a banana peel emergency. And an emergency is bound to happen, they always do. We’ve already had a handful of banana peel incidents this year and it’s only February.

Great minds have been debating this banana peel issue for decades and still no solution for the problem. Some people say that all bananas should be removed from circulation. Others argue for more restrictive banana rights. Others say “hey leave my bananas alone, our founding fathers fought so I could have a right to my bananas.” Maybe some people can’t handle the power of the banana, maybe not everyone needs one. Perhaps there should be a consistent test to determine if someone is within the right frame of mind to carry a banana?

We could make public places safer to avoid unwanted banana entry. Schools should probably be built more like prisons to keep the bad bananas out. That makes sense right? Really high fences – 20 feet high with barbed wire, a few guards at the entrance a banana pat down on the way in, maybe a retinal scan, we have the technology. Sure schools are going bankrupt paying for pension funds and a push to redistribute property taxes. Put all that aside for a moment…I’m sure Congress will loosen up the purse strings so we can keep our bananas AND make schools safer. We do after all value the safety and well being of our children as well as a free and accessible public school system.

There is a lot of speculation as to why the banana problem exists: poor family values, antidepressants, a lack of love & God, mental illness, video games, the pro-banana board which spends gobs of money keeping bananas accessible. At one point Australia had a banana problem and they just said “turn in your f*cking bananas.” Apparently that’s working for them. That couldn’t possibly work here. The UK, Japan and Germany also have a low tolerance for bananas. Shocking as that is, those countries have fewer banana fatalities than we experience in the USA. What could it be? We need our bananas we aren’t like those other countries.

I don’t know what the answer is…I mean I guess you just have to say a prayer and hope your kids don’t slip on any peels when you send them to school. That seems to be working out just swell…as long as it isn’t your kid slipping on the peel.

 

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Ethel

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Ethel

I was inspired to start writing a book a few weeks ago, I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s like falling in love or making a new best friend…you want to pour all of your time and energy into it. Of course this doesn’t happen without a little slippage in other areas. There are still just 24 hours in a day, the creative Gods can’t give you more. This turns you into a criminal as you steal time from other parts of  your life.

Time communicating with loved ones gets curtailed, the laundry and dirty dishes pile up and you resent any intrusions. Even the dog gets annoying with her whining about whatever dog woes she’s experiencing. Sorry Fluffy, I don’t have time to deal with your existential crisis right now…5 more pages and I’ll rub your belly. She just grunted at me as she plopped her large dog body onto her bed next to my desk.

It’s been a roller coaster these past few weeks. The peaks of creative spontaneity hammered down by the crushing blows of self doubt. Self doubt is the monster that lives in your head and tells you how terrible you are at everything. My self doubt has migrated from a tap on my shoulder to a hand around my throat and she’s squeezing pretty hard. I keep shaking her off and she comes back over an over again like the protagonist in a bad horror movie.

I went to a writer conference last August and attended a session on self doubt. The facilitator was Danny Gregory and he spoke about his book – Shut Your Monkey. https://dannygregorysblog.com/category/books/shut-your-monkey/ – Instead of a monkey, my take away from that day was to envision my self doubt as an elderly prairie dog named Ethel.

Ethel usually dons granny glasses and a knitted sweater vest. Sometimes she’s cute but lately she’s gotten more critical and suddenly she’s wearing a hockey mask and carrying a long sharp knife like Jason from Friday the 13th. She’s starting to scare me. I’d love to draw her for you but as Ethel as already reminded me several times today, I can’t draw for shit.

The worst part about this recent internal war is that I feel like I’m taking innocent people with me along for the ride. I have an illustrator that I’m working with and a handful of friends that are giving me feedback on my progress. Self doubt was bad enough when it was a solo act, now it feels indulgent. I mean it’s bad enough to spend time frivolously writing the hours away, now you want people to read it and comment. And dear Gawd that poor illustrator, she has a family and clients that pay her…real money.

Ethel: You can’t do this to people. It’s bad enough you waste your own time on this “hobby”. Now you are dragging your friends into this nonsense.

Me: Shut up Ethel you aren’t helping.

Ethel: It’s not like you’re even writing anything meaningful. Humor, who are you to write humor. What makes you think…..

….and that’s when I put a stick of Acme dynamite up Ethel’s ass and blew her up Wylie Coyote style.

 

 

 

Dementia

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Dementia

Dementia is a beast. I have a client that I visit a couple of times a week, she has moderate dementia. I’ve been visiting her and her husband for almost a year and we’ve gotten very close. She’s a bit feisty and I like to tap into that side of her personality, she seems happy there.

Last week we were walking in the hallway (“airing out” as we call it) when I had a brilliant, awful idea. The residents put a lot of thought into the decor around their front doors. Wreaths, plaques, photos and other seasonal tchotchkes line the narrow shelves that flank the apartment doors. I suggested that we switch a few of the wreaths around and watch to see what the residents would do. She thought it was the best idea ever. Of course we didn’t do it, we only dream of being that rotten, but it made her laugh.

She turned 80 this past weekend. My friend celebrated with her extended family and she sounded happy when I called her. I was surprised she picked up the phone. She is very picky about which calls she takes and I didn’t think she would recognize my name on the Caller ID. I suspect her family urged her to answer.

That’s the awful part about dementia. You forget – people, places, names, events….where the bathroom is, what’s a brush, how to read. My friend still recognizes that my face is a friendly one and she enjoys our time together. She just can’t connect all the dots.

Today she asked me if I liked any boys. I told her I still liked my husband, she chuckled. She asked again a few minutes later and I simply said “not really.” I never press a person with dementia or try to explain complicated situations. I’ll distract them to try to calm them but I avoid correction. Any change gets her antsy. It could be a different pill container or a blue cup instead of a red one, change is hard.

Last week I was straightening up the apartment and I noticed a pat of butter in a dose cup. The kind of cup that cradles the lid of cough medicine. There sitting on the bathroom vanity was a pat of butter in a dose cup. That’s what dementia looks like. You try to make sense of it but it in the end rational thought does not prevail. You just find the logic where you can and hope to ease the stress and anxiety with some laughs along the way.

My friend wrote a note to me on Tuesday. She wrote in on a napkin, her way of making me promise I would be back soon. This is what she wrote:

 

“I will come

on Friday.

Hurry Up or Else!

Keep this.

Love, Helen”

 

 

My Seat at the Table

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My Seat at the Table

Yesterday I took 7 girls to the mall. My daughter recently turned 13 and that was her birthday wish. She actually wanted to bring one more girl but we ran out of seats. I try to keep my mouth shut whenever I drive a carload of kids. You can get some good intel if you’re quiet. My problem is I want to sing along to the songs on the radio. Car karaoke is one of my favorite pastimes and I’m quite passionate about it. I lose all restraint if something by Queen, Journey or Pat Benatar graces the waves. I get a lot of side eye from my daughter who rides shotgun on these excursions.

The mall is a solid 40 minute drive away so I got to hear a few things. At one point they were discussing whether they want to have boys or girls later in life. There were mixed views, most stated that girls would bring a lot more drama than boys. I felt a little sad over that and realized this is a message they are receiving from all of us. I also recognized that indeed there is more drama in my daughter’s life then my son’s. He also is less apt to discuss his social issues with me (perhaps a classic closed off male?). So there were two stereotypes tapping me on the shoulder. Try harder mom.

Last year when I did a similar trip to the mall, I trailed behind letting the girls lead the way. This time I was asked to sit in the food court. I agreed to that as long as there were consistent texts and they met me at an agreed upon time. They had an hour and a half off the leash. I got texts from my daughter letting me know which stores they were in. Then something awkward happened.

While I was doing time in the food court, I was texting a good friend telling her my daughter wanted to get a second piercing in her ears and how I told her to ask her dad if it was OK. I also mentioned that I had never been more certain of a “no”. That text was meant for a friend but I accidentally sent it to my daughter. I got a hmmmm….response on that and I’m sure that will boomerang it’s way back to me. She forgets things all the time (gym uniform, socks, hats) this is something she will remember. I didn’t say anything bad just gave away that I talk to friends about this stuff and she gathered some intel of her own for how I attend to some parental issues. Quid pro quo.

Eventually we made our way to dinner at a chain restaurant. They seated us at a table that would have been considered Al fresco if we weren’t still indoors. The table was outside of the main seating area and in a corridor with a low metal fence creating a boundary between diners and shoppers. The girls looked at the kids menu and the regular menu and they all settled on some variation of pizza from the kids side. I didn’t ask them to order from there they just did it on their own. This is a considerate group.

At one point they asked for crayons to use on the kids menus and that was a pleasant surprise. A bunch of 12 and 13 year old girls comfortable enough with their friends to still be kids. I know that will change in the months to come so I soaked it in. At one point they realized our table could be seen from the security monitor that is displayed near the mall entrance so frantic waving ensued.

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They also spent time making pretend promos for shows that exist only in their imaginations. They tried duplicating the Disney promos where the promoter draws a heart. Then a sad discussion about the end of the K.C. Undercover show. Everyone at the table is a huge Zendaya fan. I was happy to have some understanding of the topic. I suspect at some point in the near future I won’t have any idea what they’re talking about or I simply won’t be at the table. For now, I’m keeping my seat.