Tuesday, December 27, 2016


     It feels like someone well-known dies every other day lately, and although I'm sad for the losses in general and for the families that they've left behind, most of the time I move on quickly. We've had a lot of sadness in our house this year, so it's hard to muster up more than a moment of silence or two.  I have a friend who mentioned the other day that we all die one day, and we shouldn't spend too much time berating 2016 or bemoaning each death.  He said this year isn't any more cursed than the next, and we should save our energy for the loss of our friends and family who personally affect us.
     I was riding that thought train until Carrie Fisher died today.
     Actor, author, screenwriter, public speaker, mental health advocate, mother, daughter.  You can go to her website http://carriefisher.com/ or to wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_Fisher or to any number of other sites to see a more thorough understanding of her achievements and life than I can do justice.  She was brilliant and funny and original and brash and honest, traits to be admired and cultivated. She was so much more than one iconic role, but that's how I was introduced to her.  I was five years old when my parents took me and my siblings to the drive-in movie theater to see Star Wars. Here was this Princess who was so much more than that. She could fire a blaster and defend herself, was tortured and wouldn't give up the secrets, saw her planet destroyed and didn't drop to the ground, drove the rebellion forward and planned the battle. She was feisty and determined, resilient. I loved her.
     In the next two movies, my love grew for Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher.  The actor showed us her character's vulnerability and her tenacity.  I think that when you're a younger sci-fi geek woman, you probably imagine whether or not you could pull off her Return of the Jedi metal bikini look. When you get a little older, you realize that the real power was not in her looking good in that bikini, but in her being able to jump behind Jabba the Hut and strangle him to death with the chain at her own throat.  Sure she looked fantastic, but it was meant to demean. She had become a slave and toy. Being neither, when the moment was right, Leia corrected the situation.  In The Force Awakens, now General Leia Organa continues to lead the cause. 14 years younger than Harrison Ford, I think they had to make Carrie look older not only so he wouldn't look as old, but so you could feel how exhausting this life was for her.
     I respected Carrie Fisher's work, her writing, her sense of humor, her struggles with addiction and her mental health issues, and her determination to share and advocate for others around those topics.  She made me want to be an actor, to be a better writer and to be funnier. I will miss her a great deal.  I can't help feeling like everyone's trying to get off the boat that is 2016.    

Monday, December 12, 2016


     In my last two shifts at work, I have:

  • plunged the employee men's room toilet. We have one man and one men's toilet. He wanted me to call in maintenance, but I knew that could take 24 hours.  And since the last time this happened, he used the women's toilet and promptly plugged that one, I figured I was really helping myself.
  • knelt beside a 75 year old woman and offered my condolences on the loss of her 50 year old son. I told her she had done a wonderful job as a mother, that he was a good man, a joy to help. We cried together.
  • had to explain to several theoretical grown-ups that they shouldn't give their debit card numbers out over the phone to people they didn't know and why that was a problem.
  • had to explain to another theoretical grown-up that just because they had a lot of money that didn't mean they would get to be seen in front of people who were already waiting.
  • had an extremely challenging client lose her shit with me over the phone about a mistake that only she could have made in her online banking, but she swears somebody "there" did this to me.  And what will make it all better, pray tell? A letter of apology.  And what did I write? A letter of apology.
  • had multiple clients of various ages, orientations, races and of both sexes tell me they were concerned for our country and worried for their future/children/grandchildren.
  • been asked if I wanted to be adopted, by an older woman.
  • been asked if I was married, by an older woman.
  • had a man scoff when one of my associates assured him in front of me that I was really the manager.
  • received several nice compliments that I will not elaborate on lest I lose my humility.
  • and all the other mundane stuff that I'm supposed to do at work, coupled with the stresses of short staffing, aggressive goals and little to no time off.

     My mother used to get migraines well into her 40's.  Horrible, evil migraines where her vision would go black on the edges to a pinprick of sight. She would go into her room, turn off the lights, lay there and beg us to be quiet.  Due to her heart condition, she had long before eliminated caffeine as that exacerbated her atrial fibrillation, so there was no respite there.  She figured out over time that certain foods triggered the migraines and made them much worse.  She never could afford to see a doctor about it, so she just lived with them until they thankfully started to diminish in her 50's, probably aided by hormonal changes, as well.
     I feel like I've had a low level headache for the past decade, and over the last 2 years they've gotten more profound.  I think it's in part due to the bouncing back and forth emotionally between the extremes.  Sadness one minute, angst the next, outrage, worry, joy all jumbling together and fraying the edges of the enclosure in my brain that keep the headaches in check, until boom ... I'm driving to Dunkin Donuts at 8pm to get a large coffee and a little fresh air.  I'm sure there are other better ways to deal - more Tylenol, even more water, sex, meditation, massage - but I went for the quick fix again.  I think the preponderance of headaches are a modern day dilemma, made worse by a couple centuries of industrialized society, pollution and associated life stresses.  I'm sure that the Vikings got headaches. They either drank them away, basked in the slaughter of their enemies to reduce stress or died.  That was it.  Do you know what one of the most popular headache relief choices was 2500 years ago - coming back into fashion in the 1600's - trepanning.  Don't know what that is?  Look it up.  I guarantee you've thought about it without even knowing the word for it the last time you had a really bad headache.  Next time, I'm going to spend more time considering the whole bathing in the blood of my enemies thing.          

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Greener Grass

     I was raised with the concept that whenever you thought you had received a bad lot in life, you were supposed to remember that there was always someone else who had it much worse then you. Upset that you have a stomach ache ... there are kids who are way sicker than you.  Bothered that you got one present for your birthday ... some kids get none.  This can play out a million other ways.  The problem with this thinking is that if you're a particular kind of child, like say me, you think you don't have a right to complain about anything. After all how bad can your situation be if there's a starving child in a far off land?  You're not dying, after all.  (Interesting side note: And yet every mysterious bump was checked to see if it had a symmetrical bump on the other side of your body, the lay person's way of checking for cancer. Every extended headache was a potential brain tumor.  It was this agony of the potential major unknown illness that you shouldn't complain about. But I digress.)
     I still struggle with discussing my issues, even with those who love me, because there's always somebody who has it worse than me.  I'd much rather you know about the fantastic parts in my life, like something the babies have done, than prattle on about back pain or how much this election has depressed me.  This is not healthy, I know, but sometimes when you're trying to be the light you don't want to dampen it.
     I was given a gift today when I met a woman with such an indomitable spirit, that I still can't grasp how she was upright and functioning. She came in to see if she could cash a small check in order to buy a Christmas present for each of her two grandchildren. While we chatted, she told me that she needed a month's worth of transaction history to see if she could get her subsidized rent reduced for the month.  She has custody of her grandchildren, and her ex son-in-law is over a month behind in his child support payments.  She needs all the help she can get since her husband died two months ago.  The hospital she works at was recently bought out by another hospital, and they were laying off all the employees with more than 25 years. They hadn't gotten to her yet, but at 34 years of service, she knows the layoff is due any minute. And it doesn't matter that it's one month before Christmas. She smiled throughout the whole story, and when we were able to cash that check she fairly giggled, hopping from one foot to the other. She was ecstatic that she could buy each grandchild the one present they wanted. The oldest is headed off to college next year, and she still trying to figure out how she's going to put him through school.  She told me that she's hoping his other grandparents will help, but if not, she'll find a way.
     I'm pretty sure my mouth was agape throughout the whole story.  I told her she had an amazing spirit. She shrugged me off and told me I should meet the kids.