Monday, December 21, 2015

When "happy" doesn't belong in front of "holidays" for you. It's ok, really.

There are some people (and I think of my Mom when I say this, because she's an awesome Christmas nut), who are abundantly happy, excited, joyful, cherubic and celebratory the moment a sniff in the air of the impending holidays comes around. They will start singing Christmas songs the moment Thanksgiving dinner is polished off, the turkey limp and sad in the middle of the table. The tree may even be up BEFORE Thanksgiving! (Here's lookin' at YOU Mom)....

But what if the moment the commercials start and the music shows up, there you are in Target, perusing the houseware section YET AGAIN when you just came in for a box of Tampax.... and a pang of dread punches you in the gut? What if awful things have happened to you during the holiday season and no matter how far you've come, what you've accomplished or how long it's been, the holidays just....SUCK for you?

For me, chilly air and the breaking out of decorations reminds me of lying face down on my bedroom floor for two days, crying and vomiting my innards until I couldn't move.
Carrying a hardy little embryo in my belly while I could barely eat and my hair started falling out from pure depression. Anxiety that was so debilitating I made medication errors at work in the emergency room because I literally could. not. function. And nobody knew a thing, they probably just figured it was my turn for a spin on the crazy train.

From Thanksgiving to New Years, almost every single awful thing that has ever happened in my life, happened in those five flipping weeks. My grandmother died December 11th, in front of me at age five. My grandfather died November 21st, in front of me, at age 13.

My other grandfather, God bless his funny, sarcastic self, was thoughtful enough to pass away in the summer. He must have known it may have put his eldest grandchild over the edge.

Almost every single time I was not the ex's primary love interest (like what I did there?), I found out in this same time period. It got to be like, a big "screw you" to you, holidays. You are terrible.

Christmas for years as a burgeoning adult was a massive financial strain because I was raised on big Christmases and BY GOD IN MY MIND THAT HAD TO CONTINUE, I DIDN'T NEED THAT LOBE OF MY LIVER ANYWAY. (Five ER night shifts in a row don't exactly make you a pleasant human to be around--when you were around--either).


And now, here I am with this blessed, blessed life. My husband is the most gracious gift I could have ever imagined, my children are healthy, happy and just plain awesome little goobers, my job is one I could do forever, I love it that much. My parents are retired and happy and live close by, I have the best in-laws anyone could ever want, I have JESUS, for heaven's sake and am in love with my God, and He with me.....(even when I say a sampling of words found on George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words in my blog posts, I'll bet! Yay, God!)

and yet!

And yet I have not shaken the anxiety that creeps up from somewhere visceral and takes over erupting in all-over chills, the lack of enthusiasm and bitter sadness I fight, the overwhelming stress that punches me at random moments.

I can walk in a Walmart and maybe the set up of that Walmart reminds me of the one that I was shopping in when (insert tragic event here) was going on, or like the one across the street from the cemetery my grandparents are buried in, and I'm back there emotionally.

Or the air is just the right temperature--cold enough to make me remember a conversation where I was told to talk a mistress out of an abortion (Dude--I was totally living a Lifetime Movie ya'll--) while I stood in my yard, shivering violently and staring at the blinking Christmas lights of my neighbors, in my pajamas, so my son wouldn't hear me. Wondering if that was what other Moms were doing that particular night. My guess--probably not.

And although I would certainly go through it all again to know the present joy, as I've said many times, it is damn hard to snuff out the leftovers of being shaken a bit.

And so I let it be. I might cry a minute over the struggle to rebuild my self-confidence that got blown to bits. I'll say thank you to God for dismantling a lonely existence to rebuild it into something I thought I'd never have. Or revisit the day my Nana died and recall that I had fought with her and yelled at her in my five year old voice (though I told her I loved her and kissed her goodbye).  And so I sit in my car and grieve her again, 34 years later.

It's my holiday experience, I'll do what I want.

And then, I think of all of the Christmases that have been so joy-filled and wonderful; the majority of my life, and how that started again last year, the happy out-edging the anxiety for the first time in a long time. I was able to start sitting in quiet moments looking at the lit tree again, like when I was little, and let my mind take inventory of an already adventurous and full life.

For some of us, the holidays will always have an undercurrent of not awesome. Some of you are alone, and miss the days of family Christmases years ago. You chalk it up to just another day. Some of you are surrounded by people and feel isolated and alone, maybe bearing some hurt from the past. Some people are with big families but it's not all sunshine and rainbows and you leave there feeling small and unimportant because Aunt Bonnie said something shitty again.

(This is where celebrating Festivus comes in quite handy---break out the pole and prepare to unleash in the Airing of Grievances portion).

So all I can say is, YOU AREN'T ALONE IN IT! If you have to call it "just another day" or "just another season", then so BE it!

Take inventory of your blessings, donate blankets to homeless people. Love people (not the shitty ones--just do that from afar with a long, sharply fashioned stick if you must--you know, a little poke and say "well, glad you didn't die even though I think you often are a terrible person") and focus on the Reason for the Season, Mr. Jesus Himself, who isn't ever going to let us down, even when we're super mad and blaming Him for the stuff that was never even His fault. Grieve if you need to. Punch the Hallmark Channel and it's sappy stories in the face.  Or ignore the holidays and everyone else and get tanked on Stella wine while wearing no pants and binge-watching Friends (but don't you dare fricking drive). Whatever you have to do to persevere.

And remember that January is just around the corner and everyone can stop acting like wackjobs (or their tapered-down version anyway) for 10 blissful months. We'll get through it.

Make your Merry!!! Whatever it looks like! I'm totally there to high-five whatever it is (just don't kill anyone and also say no to drugs).

We're all in this together, and in the wise words of one Mrs. Ellen Griswold:

Love and Blessings, no matter what.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Diary of a MAD, MAD Blonde Woman.

Five days ago, in the sardine-packed Ferry building in San Francisco, I came across someone's phone in the stall of the ladies restroom. Knowing that someone was either panicking--or was about to-- when they discovered their phone was gone, I asked everyone in the crowded room if that was their phone. I then asked the lady who was in a conversation in Spanish if she could ask the room in Spanish if it was anyone's phone. No one answered, so I took the phone out to the coffee kiosk next to the restroom and was turning the phone in when a harried lady walked up to me.
"Oh, you found it! Thank you for turning it in!", she said, a look of complete relief flashing across her face.

I understood. These days, the phone is the equivalent of an entire purse, file cabinet, CD collection, relationship journal (with everyone we know) and photo album all rolled into one. Some people may not like it, but our phones are IMPORTANT to us.

Mine has the candid pictures of my wedding. Like the way my husband looked at me from the altar as I came down the aisle. The photo of my son and I displaying our matching Chuck Taylors at the reception.

The ones from my honeymoon, us in our matching newlywed shirts, pictures from restaurants whose names I've forgotten if not for the pictures.

Pictures from our latest weekend trip, which haven't even been uploaded yet. Candids of our kids that we haven't posted. A text conversation over a year long between my husband and I--a journal of our entire wedding planning and first year of marriage. "I love you" texts from my Mom. My current grocery list. A list of the things I have in my mind to write about. My kindle. My fantasy football team.

What ISN'T on our phones anymore?

I was victim of a theft AND injustice this week. I, for some reason, am walking around suspicious of everyone around me, regardless of where I am, who they are or what they look like. AND I DON'T LIKE THAT FEELING.

Three days ago, my son and I went to run some errands. We went to Hobby Lobby and had to go to the grocery store, and (I thought) luckily, there was a store next door.

Don't you hate when you have that little teeny voice in your mind (sometimes I consider it God giving me a little heads-up) that throws out a little something and you consider it for a moment, then shove it aside and continue on?
That happened. "You don't really like this particular store, you used to live over here, just go the extra few blocks to the one you like." Nope.

Part way through shopping I took a bathroom break. I set my phone on a little shelf in the bathroom and promptly forgot it there. It hadn't been two minutes of being back out shopping when I realized it, because of course my grocery list is on it.
I went back to the bathroom. It wasn't there. I didn't quite panic yet, because MOST HUMAN BEINGS are decent and it was probably sitting sadly on the Customer Service desk waiting for me.

I checked.
I went back to the bathroom.
I retraced my entire line through the store, thinking maybe I dropped it, but knowing I didn't, because I have a photographic memory and pictured myself setting it on the stupid bathroom shelf.
Back to customer service.
Still no.
Out to the truck to see if I left it there and was just crazy.
Back to the bathroom.
Every checkstand.
Customer service to try calling it.
It rang, and eventually went to voicemail.

THEN I knew it was stolen.

Right then I got mad as HELL because something I've worked hard for was TAKEN.
I have an iPhone 6, that was gifted to me by my husband. It's not cheap, but we're not lazy.
We work. We EARNED what we have. Every. Single. Bit of it.

I also got shaky because so much of my personal, private life is in that phone. Whomever took it had to see my background photo.

The lady at the customer service counter took my information and felt bad because I was clearly upset. Finally, dejectedly, I called my husband.

Within seconds of explaining what happened, he said, "Let's hang up, I'm going to do the locator several times. Walk around the store and see if you hear it. If you don't I'm locking it and whoever took it will never be able to use it or sell it."

I had COMPLETELY forgotten about that capability.

We hung up and he started setting off the locator. My son and I wandered the store, listening astutely, ready to pounce. Finally, after walking behind the checkstands, my son announces, "I hear it Mom! It's over there!" and points to the "paid" side of the checkstands, close to the front door. At that point, I heard it too. Unmistakable.

It led me straight to the cart of a woman whose eyes looked surprised and as though she was in a hurry to leave the store. Her kid, around 8 years old, stood there holding a phone that wasn't mine. I went directly up to the woman and said, "You have my phone."
Her son interrupts me and says, "No, it's THIS phone and I'm playing a game that makes that noise."
Now MY son jumps in. "You're LYING, Samsung's don't even MAKE that noise."
I said to the woman, "GIVE me my phone." She says, "I don't have it, I don't know what you're talking about."
Meanwhile, my phone is STILL making the super loud "pinging" noise that Apple has lovingly designed.
A woman working in the store, presumably a manager, who KNEW I was looking for my phone, interjects from nearby and says, "Ma'am, that is HER cart, you need to step away from her things."
I looked at her like she had three heads. "SHE HAS MY PHONE, CAN YOU NOT HEAR THAT?"

Then, her checker, says to me rudely, "That is HER PHONE, Ma'am, it's been making that noise the whole time in line. Please leave her alone."

It is at that point, I was ready to punch someone. I had been stolen from, and now, the only blonde girl present, store staff and thief included, was being treated as though I was the one in the WRONG, interrupting this poor woman's shopping trip. As though I had singled her out. Why? Was I approaching her because she and I look different?


FYI, I would have been ALL OVER a little cotton ball-haired old lady trying to make off with MY STUFF. I. DO NOT. PLAY.

What to do next flashed through my mind, because this woman was about to be out of the store. I was either going to make her give it back, not knowing if she was in any way armed, or I was going to just let her go.

All I knew was, IF she was armed, SHE WASN'T THE ONLY ONE.


She again says, "I DON'T HAVE IT", and, with that, I grabbed her purse. She immediately grabbed it back, and at that moment I decided I was calling the police, until, she slowly unzipped it, as the pinging noise got louder, and produced MY PHONE. She handed it to me, and said "I THOUGHT IT WAS MINE."


She pushed by me and said nothing else, no "I'm sorry", no nothing. No one was saying ANYTHING.

For good measure, you know I followed her outside and made sure she saw me scribbling down her license plate. She wouldn't make eye contact.

I was furious. FOR SO MANY REASONS.

I felt violated! I felt that gross feeling that comes from having something personal being intruded, that shaky feeling from an angry confrontation, from being lied to, from being made to feel like I was the one doing something wrong.

By the time I finished my shopping, and was approached by the same manager who told the crazy white girl to step away from a thief's things, being told "I'm glad you found your phone..." (no apologies)....I was DONE. FRUSTRATED. I told her, "I didn't FIND my phone. I RECOVERED it. No thanks to any of you. I will be letting your upper management know how you treat people who are victimized in your store." And then, handing a copy of the license plate and a vehicle description to the security guard, I informed him, "You might want to keep this. Clearly you have a thief shopping at your store."

On the way home, I fumed.

You know why? This woman saw my phone. I'm sure she saw my picture. She made a choice, to steal from another Mom, because I had seen her throughout the store and she SAW ME looking for my phone with my son. She didn't care. She was an opportunist who thought she could capitalize on something, I HAVE WORKED FOR.

I was treated like I was the privileged girl harassing someone.

I was taught to respect people, their possessions. I was taught to be honest. I was taught to work my ass off for what I wanted, that nothing was handed to you without working for it. It's how I live my life, and though I have plenty of flaws, I try to live according to these standards.

So the iPhone 6 I have?  I was busy working 13-15 hour nights in an emergency room treating everyone from a Super Bowl performer to psychiatric homeless people I had to chase through parking lots to pay for it. Missing nights with my husband and kids.

That nursing school that I went to? I found a program who would pay for my classes if I gave the hospital two years. At the time, I had a newborn baby, a fulltime nightshift job at a psychiatric group home in Phoenix, and commuted four hours to get to class and be away from my new baby for two and a half days a week. I worked my ASS off in nursing school, and finished at the top.

At Christmas during nursing school, my only car broke down. I was making $10/hr two days a week working as a nursing extern while I was in school, and had to figure it out and/or borrow from my parents to get my car fixed so I could get to work.

I didn't get scholarships to college. I got good enough grades and a mountain of school loans to get through. I have had a job since I was 14.

I have had weeks, when working full time as a nurse, homeschooling my kids and helping run a church, that I was down to my last $60, which stretched for groceries AND gas for the week.

As a kid, I was EXPECTED to get good grades, got grounded for C's and was expected to clean and cook simply to help out. No allowance! We had what we needed and, based on merit only, a lot of what we wanted. I was told "no" plenty,  I was rewarded for doing right, and spanked when being a jerkface. Because I had ACTUAL PARENTS, willing to do what was necessary to not raise an entitled phone-stealing derelict.

Everything I have, everything my husband and I have, the way we live, has been born of our work ethic. We don't expect anyone to swoop in and save us, give things to us. We are not entitled to what anyone else has earned and you know what? THAT WOMAN WAS NOT ENTITLED TO WHAT I HAVE WORKED FOR AND EVERYONE ELSE NEEDED TO MIND THEIR BUSINESS.

So, yes. I'm mad. I'm mad as hell.

Especially because I'm walking around paranoid now. That every person, everywhere I go, is going to grab my purse or jump me at the gas station. I'm having dreams of being held at gunpoint. I HATE that feeling. Over a simple theft and confrontation! WHY?

But I'm not going to play victim. I still choose to believe that people are inherently good, or at least good-intentioned. I choose to respect people, help people, love people. Nothing is going to change that.

I still would have turned that lady's phone in in San Francisco. And I will always expect people to be decent until they prove me wrong. Most of all, thanks be to God for helping me refrain from throat punching that woman in the store.

Because she totally deserved it.


Friday, August 14, 2015

The Manifesto of the Mom with a Son.

Out in public, I can spot them immediately. In the ER, the moment they are in the door, I can diagnose them. There they are, 20-40 something female, doughy, curled on the gurney like they need their last rites read. Probably clad in sunglasses. Some deer-in-headlights male in the seat beside them, probably rubbing their back. She looks up at the male, and says, "You're not doing it right." She tells me "I'm allergic to everything except Dilaudid. I have a history of chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease, depression, anxiety, polycystic ovary disease, chronic abdominal pain, nine c-sections, intractable vomiting, migraines, scoliosis, halitosis, mononucleosis and I might have tuberculosis. I've had a cough for three years."

 This woman probably has some serious issues or was NEVER EVER EVER told NO as a child. She was taught the world revolves around her, that everything should fall in line with whatever makes her happy at the moment, which is subject to change on a whim and expected to be adapted to. Taught that males are evil and not to be trusted and that she is to reign and rule in every area of her life. CELEBRATE FEMINISM!!

Then reality sets in.

She realizes that she doesn't have special privilege in the grand scheme of things. She doesn't deal with this well and becomes a manipulative Crazy with numerous vague illnesses and unfortunately runs around with an undiagnosed personality disorder. She, therefore, seeks out a male that will bow to her, and not in the unconditional love way, but he is forced, emotionally abused and manipulated into submission to keep her tiny little environment running exactly as she wishes.
Which means it will be a hot mess.
This unsuspecting male will cater to her until he's nothing but a burned-out, henpecked shell of long ago surrendered masculinity.
She's got an unearned superiority complex; ie: just because she engaged in a roll in the hay and later brought forth a human, no differently than the rest of we vagina carrying members have, she is entitled to special privilege.


And I see her Every. Single. Day. in my line of work. Granted I KNOW there's plenty of deadbeat men out there. But it should also be looked at by how many of them were FORCED OUT and wronged by this kind of woman. Men can be awful, yes. We as women can make some really stupid STUPID decisions in picking mates, but we also have the ability to singlehandedly destroy the psyche of unsuspecting good men. "Feminine wiles" are not just an old wives tale. We as a gender are master manipulators and have to soul search to keep that in check. My issue is of concern for my son's future. He just turned 12 and I fear him getting sucked into the trap of a woman or a girl like this. A girl who will shred the carefully constructed confidence and the tender heart of this boy who deserves every good thing, including a future wife that will respect his masculinity, recognize the fragility of the male heart and serve him as he serves her.

All we hear about or see are "Rules for Dating My Daughter", or memes of fathers holding shotguns.

Today, it's not the stereotypically ravenous boys we need to watch out for.

Girls are aggressive. They're inflated with self-importance. The "self-esteem" movement has spilled over into a superiority complex. The music they partake in perpetuates it. I recently heard the new Britney Spears song, "Pretty Girls". It is, in simplicity, about using pretty looks to own and or destroy males.

You can betcha', wherever the girls go, boys follow. We be keeping them up on their toes, They can laugh, but they don't get the jokes. Just you watch, they're so predictable! All around the world, pretty girls. Wipe the floor with all the boys, Pour the drinks, bring the noise. We're just so pretty! All around the world, pretty girls. Jump the line, to the front, Do what we like, get what we want. 
We're just so pretty!

What have we done to our boys? The rough-and-tumble, sports loving, dirty fingernailed, stinky, sweaty, messy-room ones, the ones that don't have a care in the world far longer than their female counterparts. I have daughters, and I believe in teaching mutual respect. My son is taught not to hit girls (or people in general), but shouldn't girls be held equally accountable? Boys become physically stronger, girls become emotional experts. We as parents should be purposeful in our calling out of emotional manipulation and abuse by girls before they become destructive women. To teach them the reality of how impactful and distracting they can be when they choose to exploit their physical attributes to gain attention. They should be taught the differences of perception, how boys and men are much more sensitive to visual stimuli and if they REALLY wanted to be taken seriously and not seen as objects, then STOP PUTTING IT OUT THERE.

We need to be teaching them what true femininity, not distorted feminism, is.

So I'M WATCHING THE FUTURE GIRLS IN MY SON'S LIFE LIKE A HAWK. It's unfortunate for the ones that will be these type of girls and future women. They'll be subject to my skeptical eye. Mama sees all. And Mama has rules.


Rule One: My son is not a toy to be manipulated, abused, discarded or mistreated. I cannot explain the hellfire you will be subject to should you decide to engage in this behavior because you have unresolved issues. If you do, you are NOT the right girl for him, and you will be informed in advance of a serious relationship developing. In other words, "Out my house!"

Rule Two: You will not lie to me. I may be approximately 40 and have some worn tread on my tires, but I am a master at reading manipulators. As a side note, I enjoy target practice, lifting weights and boxing. You will have one chance to tell the truth. If I ask you what you're doing, where you're going, ONE CHANCE. Do not try me. I'll be waiting at the front door for your inaugural arrival.

Rule Three: Do NOT be the one to coerce my son into sexual activity. If you do, you will be subjected to an hour long class on the perils of STD's, complete with graphic slideshow of every abscess, discharge, boil, chancre, growth and foulness I can dredge up. And a glimpse as to what hell will be like for you, Jezebel. Whenever you're around him, you will be subject to the "pinch a penny" rule. That penny stays pinched between your knees, or all bets are off and you're crying mascara rivulets all the way home. And if he says...


Rule Four: If you speak foul language to him or send him photos of any pictures of ANYTHING OTHER THAN YOUR FACE, you are banned. Get vulgar, get booted. And I will forward any and all photographs of you to your father or whatever stand-in is in your life. Good luck in your career on the pole.

Rule Five: My son has been raised to never hit a female. Do. Not. Hit. Him. If this occurs, clearly you are granting permission for his Mom to take matters into her own hands.

Rule Six: You are to date ONLY HIM, if you sign this contract after rigorous inspection. He is very soft hearted, so I would advise you, do NOT make him cry.

Rule Seven: Do NOT make him feel bad for loving sports. Our family is a sports family. This is how he and I have bonded through the years and how we communicate and spend time together. If you don't know about it, LEARN ABOUT IT. Don't expect him to give up what he loves because you're whiny and want to control him.

Rule Eight: Know how to cook. My son knows how to cook and he's not going to do it all the time. If your mother didn't teach you how to do more than load a microwave, this is not my problem. Go seek the boy who doesn't know any better.

Rule Nine: Until there is a ring on my son's finger, his nuclear family comes first. He may WANT to spend time with you, but I'm raising a boy to become a family man (you should thank me NOW) and he will be taught appropriate priorities. Family events trump make out nights on your parent's couch.

Rule Ten: You will not date him for what you can get from him. He may treat on the first date because he is taught to be a gentleman, but you will be expected to contribute. You want feminism, you've got it sister.

This is a binding contract. Should you agree with all of the above terms and be found acceptable under these conditions,  please sign, date, and submit to blood tests, an STD panel and confirmation of implanted birth control. Thank you for your interest in my son. We may be in contact.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

33 Signs You Were An Early 90's High School Girl

  1. You smelled like Exclamation and your boyfriend smelled like Drakkar.
  2. You wore overalls. With one shoulder strap. Over a sweater.
  3. You thought your new perm and your curled, teased and Rave level 4 bangs were hot.
  4. Janet Jackson made you realize your female power when you saw her video for "If". And you started doing 5000 crunches a day. It lasted two days.
  5. You bought your first CD. And player.
  6. You were rad if you had a mounted Discman in your car that had a cassette adapter and skipped when you hit bumps- but you didn't let it spoil your game while listening to Duran Duran.
  7. You had a gigantic bow on every formal and semi formal dress you wore to any fancy dance. Ever.
  8. Your hair was in a banana clip for prom.
  9. You had Marky Mark in his underwear plastered to your wall.
  10. Your Z Cavaricci jeans were acid washed and had a zipper on the ankle.
  11. You wore guess jeans with the tight rolled up cuff together with your Keds.
  12. You learned that wearing onesie bodysuits, while stylish, gave you self-induced atomic wedgies.
  13. You had a phone you could see through.
  14. And you would stare at it waiting for "his" call and threatened anyone who touched any phone in the house with certain death. If your grandmother called, you knew you were screwed.
  15. Because, scrunchies.
  16. You were the Today Sponge generation and felt lost when they were discontinued.
  17. You figured out how to spell "hello" on your pager and your friend was impressed. You were the first texters.
  18. You read Sassy magazine.
  19. You didn't have the Internet in your house, and frankly, you didn't care, because you weren't entirely sure what it was or what it did, only that Al Gore had invented it.
  20. Your Google was an encyclopedia and a card catalog. You weren't sure who Dewey Decimal was, but you knew you didn't care for his system.
  21. Your parents couldn't text you at all and couldn't call you unless you happened to be at your
    friends house, where you said you would be (but usually weren't). You only hoped your friends mom was one of the "cool" ones that would cover for you if your parents called and you were actually making out with your boyfriend somewhere.
  22. When your boyfriend gave you a mix tape with "I Wanna Sex You Up" and "Baby Got Back", you had to hide it from your parents and listen under the covers with your Walkman.
  23. A school dance was never complete without both a Def Leppard and a Richard Marx song.
  24. You got detention for passing notes.
  25. Some gross guy used your Hypercolor shirt as an excuse to touch you.
  26. And when he told you he had a crush on you, your response was "As if!"
  27. "End Of The Road " by Boys II Men was your breakup song. Every time.
  28. You bought a Joey Lawrence album.
  29. Your best friend vowed if you were ever raped, she would go on a crime spree with you and drive you both off a cliff.
  30. You just wanted your boyfriend to meet you at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day.
  31. You wanted to be Kelly Taylor and attend West Beverly and date Dylan. And Brandon. And then Dylan. And have Steve as your ex.
  32. You took your Caboodles to slumber parties.
You practically grew up with Kevin Arnold and hoped you would become someone's Winnie Cooper. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

When You Cause A 2319.

 So a month ago I jumped right off the crazy train called the Emergency Room. If I had one more patient attempt to bite, grab, insult, slap or manipulate me I was going to lose my shit.

Like, really lose my shit.

I missed my kids. I missed evenings with my husband. I missed sleep. I missed the feeling of looking forward to work. I missed not being afraid that I was unwillingly about to put in a 14 or 15 hour day that consisted of maybe a bathroom run or two, but most likely would lack the 30 minutes that I am legally entitled to, to gather my shit, refuel and feel less, I don't know STABBY before I went out to see another patient. I MISSED FEELING HUMAN.

It took a desperate trip to a primary doctor (which I previously, of course, did not have) to discuss the constant headaches, fatigue and insomnia that were plaguing me to get me to realize:



So I decided to do something about it. I'm moving forward in my nursing career, and doctorate is now the operative word. That's all well and good, but in the meantime, this chick needed a change of scenery.

What am I doing now?

I have lost my mind. Because I have officially infiltrated a secret society. It's a place that few know any details of, including nurses. People wear funny clothes and hats and disappear behind doors with GIANT INTRIGUING YET TERRIFYING LETTERING ON THEM THREATENING IMMINENT DISMEMBERMENT IN THE EVENT THAT YOU CROSS THAT THRESHOLD.

I used to peek glances in this forbidden land, and gaze longingly and jealously at those strangely dressed puffy-hat people who would return to their street clothes and sashay on out of the hospital mid-afternoon to engage in life.


I am excited to report I am an official OPERATING ROOM CIRCULATOR NURSE.


I'm in a 12-week intensive program to learn how to be a circulator.

How's it going?

So, I know nothing. Zero.

Ten years of Emergency/Trauma/Critical Care nursing, and I am trying to learn my ABC's all over again.

But I'm in. I'M IN!! They take two new applicants a year for the Periop Program and I am blessed to be one of them. One day one of the program, our educator told me point blank:

"You know why you were one of the ones chosen? Because with your experience and judging by your personality in the interview, we don't believe you'll take any crap from the surgeons."

Oh, honey. NAILED IT.

But oh, is it a steep learning curve.

I've spent one week in orientation.

Two weeks learning instruments, sterile processing, pulling all of the supplies and equipment for the various cases.

Now I'm smack dab in two weeks of scrubbing in with the scrub techs, who are extremely knowledgable., get right up in there and assist.

After that, seven weeks of hands on with a preceptor.


Neither did I.

This means, that day one of scrubbing, my cohort and I were sent BACK OUT TO THE SINKS approximately NINE COMBINED TIMES to re-scrub because we just contaminated ourselves by blinking or some shit.

I'm serious.

I scrubbed in and of course that's when my eye itched.

Like a normal person, I rubbed it.


I've had to learn how to glove the surgeons which sounds SIMPLE, no?


The first five times the damn things look like this,


And there's some guy in a turban the color of raspberry jello looking at me like, "Are you effing serious with this?"
So far I have held an intestine, helped close two bellies and a scrotum, and can testify that I have never looked more ridiculous than I did today, because there were lasers in the room and of course with lasers present I needed more than just the hospital scrubs, mask, face shield, puffy hat, sterile gloves, sterile gown, shoe covers and a 20lb. lead apron (yes, ALL. AT. ONCE.). I got to wear special laser glasses, which weighed approximately seventy-four pounds (if the bride of my nose were to estimate) which, and I do NOT exaggerate, made me look EXACTLY LIKE THIS:
And, might I add, that was my exact expression as I observed the procedure in the cysto room with a friendly urologist who was more than happy to have me assist in his case. Turns out, urologists are particularly pleasant people, for people who have to look at a smorgasbord of "Urethras of the northwest valley", douse themselves in urine and are balls-deep (yep-intended)  in requests for Cialis refills every freaking day.
I spent the better portion of the late morning playing a strange and very tiny version of the claw game with the urologist who would yell out, "Great catch!" when I accurately deployed the little basket at the end of the little grabber scope thingy (whose name of course I've already forgotten) and successfully nabbed another kidney stone to pull out.

Yep, I was THAT stoked.

Except for the part where we did it for 2 1/2 hours straight, me wearing every single item named above as the laser glasses pulverized the bridge of my nose and kept sliding down....but could I touch them to push them up?


Did I?

Of course.

Degarb. Deglasses. De-EVERYTHING. Decontaminate. Call in another 2319!! like above and start all over again.

But my excitement over my profession has returned. I feel a return of my compassion for the patients who are put to sleep and entrust themselves to our care. A profound responsibility to make sure they wake up and hopefully feel better than they did before. They won't remember me at all, they only are aware of our presence for the moments it takes to ask them their pre-op questions and get them situated on the O.R. table so they can be put to sleep. But I get to stand in the gap for them and for that I'm grateful.


At least I have that going for me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Elephant in the Room

I purposely tried hot yoga today. I say purposely because after a chat with my sister in law, I realized that this is not something that some people would willingly subject themselves to. Specifically, she stated that she will never pay money to go feel like her electricity was shut off in August. I am used to hanging out in the gym the last couple of years. I have become hooked (though in some weeks "less hooked") on the process of strength and endurance training (ala a sort of Crossfit style, but I am completely sold on the concept that MY gym does it RIGHT and wouldn't associate with Crossfit--akin to the annoying cousin who KIND OF looks like you but isn't nearly as cool). Why, NO, it's NOT because my brother is one of the trainers. *Rabbit trail* Anyway, I tried Hot Yoga. I have been walking around a knotted up ball of stress for a good six or seven weeks now. Every life change possible has occurred in a few months time, and today it didn't feel like lifting was going to have the effect of quieting my mind. So I looked in to it. And was terrified. I'm NOT a fan of heat. I hate hate hate Arizona from late May to oh, Novemberish. But I needed something that was going to, although royally suck for a good hour, make me feel like I could have a normal non-spaz thought for a few minutes. So I showed up. I walked in the room and was hit with a punch in the face of pure hellfire with some tropic pre-hurricane weather thrown in. Ok. Cool. Breathe.
But then the same. old. feeling. hit me, the one that has prevailed in nearly every situation in my life. I was the elephant in the room. I wasn't there in yoga pants and a sports bra, because I consider others. If you have seen the preview for the new Pitch Perfect, where Fat Amy answers the door, mid-adjustment, and says "Sorry about my boobs, I was jumping", that's about the way it goes. One downward dog in a sports bra and I'm face planting while desperately tucking the girls back in. The leftovers from two pregnancies exclude me from yoga pants. Nope, not one of the chickies who snap back to anorexic glory in 47 hours. So I'm there in an appropriately draped workout shirt and some sort-of-but-not-really-capri sweats. Yeah. The ONLY one. Still, not giving up. Not throwing in the towel....yet. I still feel the same way walking into my gym. I have been *pretty* consistently there for two years. I have seen changes I didn't think possible and dammit, crossed the finish line of Tough Mudder last year. But still....the repetitive tapes in my mind remain. "Everyone is probably looking at you like you'll never make it through this." "No one wants to see you work out, it's not cute." "You can't run as fast/do a pullup/do as many pushups/run the stairs as quickly as everyone else. You'll be the lone one struggling to the finish line." I had no faith that I would get through this Hot Yoga crap today. But true to form and being by nature a contrarian, I told myself to shut up and at least try. IT. WAS. ROUGH. Ten minutes it though, I was an absolute rock star. And by rock star I mean
Mascara running (NOBODY BOTHERED TO WARN ME NOT TO WEAR MAKEUP, NOT THAT I WOULD HAVE LISTENED ANYWAY)...., hair stuck to my face, definitely taking on a disheveled "I've given up" look that I've discovered I can rock like a boss.
But I noticed something part way through the class. I was doing all of the poses, managed to not quit and not need breaks. I was mortified by arms-overhead poses where my baby stretch marks were debuted in all their glory and would quickly readjust, but whatever. I realized that my consistency over the last couple of years has made me physically strong. I am stronger now than I was at 22. I am healthier. I am happier. I could truly punch someone in the face and make it hurt. I can flip a tire and I can balance on one leg in some weird pose with my hands on the ground and not fall over because I have done balance training. It seems ridiculous that at 39 I am just coming to a place of self acceptance, though there are so many days where it's a struggle. Scrutinizing everything in the mirror. Being acutely aware at every moment of every angle of my body. It's full of curves and imperfections, some that can't ever be resolved in a gym. There are years upon years of feelings of worthlessness and body shame because of circumstances that happened at early, impressionable ages. I remember being the elephant in the room on the swim team from age 7. I remember being the elephant in the room as a cheerleader and vicious comments about the size of my legs in my cheer skirt. I may have been a cheerleader but I was the least skinny one. I remember being the elephant in the room when certain people in high school made the "moo" sound as I walked down the hall. I was no more than 140 pounds at the time. I remember being the elephant in the room at every birthday party or celebration. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I remember being the elephant in the room when told, at one point, as I rode in the car at seven months pregnant, that I was not a "hot wife". I remember feeling like the elephant when I learned of multiple affairs. IT HAD TO BE ME, RIGHT? Not the character flaw that precedes people who behave this way. I remember feeling like the elephant in dealing with psychiatric patients who have no filter and will spit every bit of their rage and contempt at you, most commonly picking on your physical attributes, whatever they may be. Those are the situations and words that stick, that become replaying tapes in your head for years until you meet them head on and figure out that that is why you react how you do in some situations. As my husband spoke in church this week, look back over your life and discover what the running themes are. What circumstances have shaped who you are now, who are the characters that contributed, and how do you get to a place of acceptance? How do you change the running theme, the word that has defined you and change it to the TRUTH? I truly believe looking to how God sees you and the treatment you receive by those who love you well is where you start. Realize that you are more than what has happened or what other people have labeled you. Even though it sounds cliché, go on who your heart and soul are, at the very core. I'm never going to be comfortable in a bikini. Or even shorts for that matter, which I haven't worn since the early 90's. I'll never be the fastest runner, I may never be able to do a damn pull-up (which quite honestly drives me absolutely crazy). I'm learning to accept what I see, while continuing to work on what I want to change. To be healthy and live long. To be attractive for the ridiculously cute husband I have (whose opinion, I have discovered, is the ONLY one that matters in this regard). It has helped immensely to dig into my story and figure out what the root causes of my adult reactions have been. I'm not going to lie, catching the way my husband looks at me and some of the words that he has said to me have reset the things in the past that I didn't think could be undone. Reading his list of "likes" he made when he was single, so he could remember who HE was, still makes me smile when I see the words "I like blondes". So I'll keep going to the gym. Definitely do more hot yoga. Keep hiking challenging mountains. Smile and say thank you when my husband says "You're HOT/beautiful/gorgeous/incredible" in his southern way. Love and accept being loved unconditionally. Figure out what God wanted me to learn through it all and how I can use it for Him. Be in the moment. Love my five kids, and, like last night, lead them in the cha-cha slide in the kitchen, including the hops, and just say "to hell with it" and jump away like Fat Amy. Adjust accordingly. I may always feel like the elephant in the room, but it's all in how you interpret it. An elephant will also kick your ass.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Open Letter To People That Have Been Through S**t.

It's the ending of a year, sayanara to 2014! So many of us look forward to a new year because we have a sense of starting over....of having a re-do for the things that we didn't quite get to in the previous year. A time for reflection and planning for change. But are you able to truly let go of last year? Are there things that you drag with you like tedious heavy suitcases that are wearing you down, but you insist on over packing and lugging around anyway? Are there traumatic things you experienced, life lessons you learned, spiritual awakenings that changed you on a heart level? You have an obligation. You have an obligation to those who have experienced or are about to experience what you did. Who need to hear what you have learned, how you got through something, and for God's sake, how to LET IT GO. If it involves someone else, or someone who wronged you, it's ok. It's ok to tell your story because the truth, the authentic make-you-cringe truth is sometimes the only way someone else is able to grasp onto the start of healing, deeply wounded and desperate to move on to a life that makes sense again. So do it! Tell it! It's your story, and as the wickedly sharp and funny Ann LaMott says, YOU OWN EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU. TELL YOUR STORIES. IF PEOPLE WANTED YOU TO WRITE WARMLY ABOUT THEM, THEY SHOULD HAVE BEHAVED BETTER. I have had the opportunity to talk to others that have been through what I have, because I was willing to share on a small scale what happened. Close friends know, and a family member of a friend came to me when they were experiencing the same and said, "How did you handle this? What did you do?" No, we don't all have the answers. But we are beacons of hope to others in that we are SURVIVORS. It may have felt that we were going to die, but we DIDN'T. We can't stay stuck, folks. We can't carry around anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, sadness. It does us no good and it surely doesn't hurt the one who caused it. And we HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO believe that, like GOD HIMSELF says, that EVERYTHING....YES together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. If we have even a mustard seed of faith that God has our back, then we can rest in knowing that EVERY SINGLE THING will eventually work together for our GOOD. I went through the anxiety. The gut-wrenching uneasiness and pain of not knowing what my life was. And I'll tell you what, there were so many family and friends that walked through it with me and were there for me, for which I am so grateful for, BUT the ones that helped jump-start my healing? Those are the ones that said "I've been exactly where you are. I understand how that feels. No, you're not crazy. Yes, it DOES get better." They were my LIFELINES. It helped me to see that on the other side of this season was a return of JOY. Some days it didn't seem possible, but the stories I heard got me through. It took a year. It took ups and downs like I couldn't imagine, but I DID IT. I did the work to learn and grow from it instead of wallowing in it. It didn't define me. And now? I can handle A LOT. Very little throws me anymore. I'm thankful for that. And somewhere along the way, when I placed my heart back in the hands of God, he released me to love. He released me to allow someone else to love me, and to have the ability to trust implicitly. I'm not carrying nonsense into the beautiful, honest, open and real relationship he has blessed me with. The past has no place in the future, or in the present. It belongs dead in the past, with only the better understanding of life, love, myself and the very character of God coming with me. Recently I caught a teaching by Rob Bell that was on tv. Chill OUT, Christian legalists. Yep, Rob Bell speaks to a place in me where the "Oh, just give it all to Jesus and everything will be roses" Christians couldn't touch. Sorry. Sorry I'm not sorry. If you're unwilling to carry on with me because I've mentioned a (gasp!) liberal in Anne LaMott or (gasp!) a controversial pastor/teacher in Rob Bell, it's cool. I will still love ya. Something maybe mainstream church should look in to. ("Oh my word, she said THAT too!") I am thankful to be a part of a faith community now that speaks to authenticity, realness, growth, and becoming who God created you to be. It's a refreshing break from Christianity-as-usual. Anyway, point being, tell your story. Love people through their mess. Don't judge them; WALK with them. One of the most offensive things I experienced going through a divorce was a message from a former church member who chided me for making a joke about the absurdity of my situation, of easing some of the discomfort of MY STORY with humor (it's how I do). Until you've literally sat in the street on a 35 degree night in your pajamas for hours wondering if the person supposed to be home by now is dead on a road somewhere, (he wasn't), I ask you to understand someone's story and walk through with them before rebuking their coping mechanism. So, do it! Don't be afraid. What are we if not our stories? What else do we have to leave behind, besides the one-to-two generation evaporating memories of our children and grandchildren? What we know, what we learned. Per Rob Bell: "If you want to take part in the reconciliation of all things, you HAVE TO NAME IT. Sometimes the problem is, especially when it comes to abuse or betrayal, and especially if it's an abuse or betrayal by somebody close to you or a family member, is we gloss over how hellish and awful it was. You will only move to a place of healing and wholeness, when you are ready to say what it actually was. It was awful. It was evil. It was degrading. It was violating. But it only begins when you are ruthlessly honest about how awful it was. That's where the healing starts. And then there's this thing that happens as you name it. You own it. __________ happened. It is a part of your history. It belongs to you. The really beautiful things happens when you have gone through a particular kind of suffering and then you see somebody else who is going through that and you say to them, 'Me too." Carrying that backpack around makes you weary until you open it up and take a look in there; you see there is food in there. There is water in there. You discover you have things in there that other people need for their journey. You went through this hellish thing and you meet someone else going through it, and you say to them "I went through that and I'm still here. And then the thing that was weighing you down becomes the vessel through which God's healing love flows through you to somebody else." Give what you have. Your story is LIFE.