Not going gently into that good night

https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/18/jusjojan-daily-prompt-january-18th-2018/

I found a part-time job that I can work without affecting my disability claim. It’s manageable, 2 days a week, no stress and it’s something I love.

I got up at 6 today, my new Thursday routine. I leave early and drive down to MA, about 2 1/2 hours of driving, work Thursday and stay at my buddy Jim’s place Thursday night and drive home after work on Friday. It’s been fun so far.

I came down at 6:20 to find my mother in the kitchen. She can’t just sleep in, she needs to see me off with our ritual morning coffee. “You’re looking chipper this morning, don’t tell me you slept well?” (I never do). I admitted that I did feel good. I was tired from a lack of sleep but I was excited. Excited is a look and feel I haven’t worn in a while.

I bid my mom adieu, stepped out into the arctic blast, started the sled, topped off my washer fluid and I was off. I adjusted my seat, charged my phone and adjusted my rear view mirror. I caught a glimpse of my homely mug in the process and instead of my usual grimace, I smiled. I realized at that moment that Mom was right. I was feeling chipper. I’m feeling like the old me. In short,

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For those of you that have read my posts before, you have seen that I have struggled with some significant obstacles. I have openly lamented that I don’t have the fight that I used to. My readers will also know that the “Superman” thing is not a glorified ego or a magnified self-image, it is a character trait. I have always wanted to fix everything, have always acted bulletproof and my refusal to let my illness slow me down was the cape to my illness, aka my Lex Luthor. I have been called Superman as an insult by my wife who thought I was in denial. I have been called Superman by a few lovelies who received a good “Rogering” late in the evening to get another one early in the morning before work (man I wish those days) but most importantly I’ve been called Superman by those who knew I was sick but couldn’t tell. Simply put, I refused to be a sick person.

After this past summer, it’s been harder not to be that sick person. I have been symptomatic in so many ways it became like a game show. “What do we have today behind curtain number 1 Johnny? Ooooh tooo bad it’s swollen legs. No walking for you today!” The next day it’s Gout, Ooooh too bad!” Just one thing after another after another, eventually I hung up my cape.

Even my wife, who I perhaps unfairly, consider to be my ultimate detractor had told me that I had to get the “Old me” back. To get the fight back. It wasn’t there. But lately, I think less about feeling lousy and look forward more to feeling good. I wake up and set goals, I tell my Drs. what I can do, not let them tell me what I can’t. I am thinking about the future, regardless of how long it is, not dwelling on today. I am defining the situation before it defines me. I am not the sick guy until the day after they bury me.

I like this feeling. I’m not just raging against the dying of the light. I’m starting a goddamn revolt.

Every man dies. But not every man lives…

 

 

 

 

 

on Communication

I fondly remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a young boy, watching her do her letters. She was extremely structured and she always made sure to make time for the highlight of her day, the mail. When she heard the stuttering engine of the mail truck driving away she would hurry to the mailbox, eagerly hoping for a letter from a relative in California or a friend from High School. More often than not, she would get one. She would then sit down at the little round table in her tiny kitchen, with a steaming cup of tea and excitedly read her mail. She loved to relay to me the adventures of this uncle or aunt or friend or friend of a friend and give me the backstory. I didn’t know any of these people but it was nice to listen to her stories. She would then break out her stationary box, select the proper letter and matching envelope and write a response. That response would be in her mailbox that night, with the flag raised for the mailman to pick up the next day. On average it would take 8-10 days to get a response. This was the way she communicated, if she couldn’t see them in person then it was a letter. She hated the phone. She liked letters, and cards, she could keep them and reread them at a later date. When she died I recovered thousands of letters in her attic. Along with hundreds of letters from my grandfather to her when he was in the Pacific during WWII.

To look back on this now, it is a fond memory but seems as technologically advanced as loading a wooden ship with mail and then sitting in the Widow’s Walk waiting to see sails on the horizon. I can’t imagine the patience it required, but I can relate to the excitement when it arrived.

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We have lost that in today’s lightning fast world. This is obviously good and bad. It is good because we need to get certain information quickly and efficiently. But with regards to interpersonal communication, we have lost the excitement and have zero patience. In all of the rush to “shoot a text. fire off an email. Leave me a voicemail, Facebook me, Inbox me, Face-time or Snap Chat each other we have created a culture of immediate gratification. We call it “Ghosting” if someone doesn’t respond immediately as if there is malice or wrongdoing behind it. We misread intentions and tones behind texts which lead to massive misunderstandings and try to express complex emotions with emoji’s. In addition, and perhaps most tragic, is that in all of the abbreviations and cutesy shortcuts we take we’ve lost the ability to actually talk to each other. We are killing our language. It is perhaps fortuitous that our President speaks at a 4th-grade level and in short sentences. Many of us can’t understand a higher level and if we can we lack the attention span and patience to comprehend it.

I fear for those who never learn the complexities and benefits of language skills. Of eye contact. Of the handshake. I cringe for the job applicant that is unable to properly state his worthiness because of a lack of language skills, the knowledge of body language and posture. Things that someone who spends time talking to actual people, not screens, would know about.

My Grandmother read a letter 3 times before she took pen to paper. Her response required careful contemplation. (https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/16/jusjojan-daily-prompt-january-16th-2018/) To not be misread or misunderstood meant as much to her on paper as it did if they were in front of her in her cozy kitchen, at her small table, drinking tea and eating Lorna Doone’s.

At this moment I have 1,129 unread emails in my inbox. I just heard my phone ping repeatedly so I likely have some texts. I hope that there is something in there that will motivate me to make a cup of tea, sit and really contemplate the contents, inspire me to share it with my family, print it out and store it in the attic for enjoyment at a later date. It really is doubtful. I swear, the farther we advance the farther we fall behind.

MLK day tribute

jjj-2018

A message from Dr. King

 

I had a dream

with the world I shared it

that we’d embrace our difference

not run scared of it

please explain it to me

I have nothing but time

how ending the lives of each other

honors the memory of mine

I fought without fists

anger or spite

I called for equality and love

not to spill into the streets and fight

I reached out in peace

extended my hand

hoping to set an example

that would ring throughout the land

yet still we fight

we hate and we label

to see beyond the color of skin

we seem hopelessly unable

I left this earth 50 years ago

but I still watch from above

as my dream remains just that

in the absence of brotherly love

Come together as one

hatred is cowardice

labeling a man by his skin

does not do him justice

it’s never too late

to right this wrong

may we walk and live hand in hand

that will be my victory song

https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/15/jusjojan-daily-prompt-january-15th-2018/

 

 

 

 

 

A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do

“Hey, I need to talk to you, it’s important. Got a minute?” It was Jay, one of my best customers. Normally a pretty light-hearted guy, he sounded pretty serious.

“Sure, what’s up. Everything OK with the account?” I asked

“Yeah, we’re great. You’re great. Your rep Tracy…not so much.” Tracy, my renegade sales rep from Hell. My Achilles heel, the Red-headed Satan, the turd in my punch bowl. What did she do now? I composed myself and asked what happened with Tracy.

“She just gave me a lengthy seminar on how to beat you out of fees and get a better deal. I feel dirty. You treat me great and my account isn’t in danger. Why did she do that?” He proceeded to tell me how my sales rep, working an account that I brought with me, given to her to maintain it and paid her on it when she didn’t really earn it, had decided to “boost” the account by undermining me and offering him a “better deal” which he didn’t need, didn’t ask for and she wasn’t authorized to offer. I listened intently as he wrapped it up and asked me to see that she never goes into his store again. I agreed and let him get off of the phone. I was beside myself.

Tracy was always a problem. When this auction had recruited me they were interested in my book of business, my proven ability to grow sales and to lead their sales team. What they did not tell me, until my first day, that I was chiefly responsible for reigning in a “renegade” employee who had been dancing on the brink of insubordination for years but they did not have enough to fire her. Tracy. So it was up to me to control her or find a way to cleanly get rid of her. Of course, the Superman in me wanted to save the day so I tried working with her. I was her manager, she would answer to me, but I would give her every opportunity to present her ideas.

For a while, it worked well. She seemed to accept me and followed my direction. As a hands-on manager we would speak several times per day and before long she was calling me with the results of a sales call or for advice. We butted heads a little bit but I was helping her make money. I threw her a few accounts to maintain. They were free money for her. I had brought the accounts with me but I didn’t have time to work on them. It made sense. Then I caught her in her first lie.

After the sale one day she submitted her commission report. I saw that she was submitting to be paid on an account that I knew for a fact she had not earned. This customer had called me the previous Monday asking to do business with me. So I asked her for some backup; notes in the system, the nature of the conversation in which he committed business, his name, and title. She could provide none of it. I drew a line through it on her sheet and warned her to never try that again. She stormed out. It was on. I wrote her up the next day. At this company, three offenses for the same thing and you are out.

I would get her one more time for the same type of infraction. She was so greedy her judgment was compromised. Customers began to complain to me about her, her inability to take no for an answer, her constant visits and phone calls and her poor service. I spent more time with her, to try to help her, to make her see what she was doing wrong. She pushed me away. She was losing customers and the ones she did keep she squeezed for more. Enter Jay, remember Jay?

Jay was the 3rd generation owner of a small Chevy dealer in Central Massachusetts. His family had never used auctions. I visited Jay often, convinced him to try it, took great care of his needs and he became a regular. When I left that auction for another, his business followed me. He was a loyal customer, a solid account, and a friend. What would motivate her, knowing this story because I told her, to take it upon herself and undermine me? Her offer of lower fees was negligible, he was getting a great deal and had no problem with us making a small margin. He was also an old-fashioned guy, he couldn’t understand how my employee would do such a thing. It was a very big deal. It was also the third strike. I wrote her up again.

The next morning I called her to review her game plan but she didn’t answer. When I walked in I saw her in the GM’s office. She made eye contact through the window then looked away. She was in there for a while. I knew something was up but I waited. Not long after, I was summoned to the GM’s office. She was nowhere to be seen. The GM and AGM asked me to sit down.

I was told that Tracy had called corporate HR and filed a harassment claim against mejjj-2018. Professional Harassment. By writing her up, completely by the book I might add, she claimed that I had created a hostile work environment for her. I asked my managers if they read my report. They had. I asked them if they remembered hiring me to do just that…control or get rid of her? They had. I slumped in my chair, exasperated, and asked what is happening.

They were not as committed to the task at hand as I was. I did my job, I cleaned up the department and made everything equitable and honest. And they were bowing down to her. She had demanded that she does not have to interact with me at all, that I was to have no input on her performance. I vehemently objected. I’m her manager, how is that supposed to work? They were firm in their chickenshit resolve, I was given an ultimatum (#JusJoJan)https://lindaghill.com/2017/12/27/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2018-rules/. Accept those terms or resign, turn in my company phone, laptop and car and I will get 6 months salary.

“You mean hush money right?”

“Don’t be like that” said my manager

“You know this is bullshit right?” He tried to keep a stern look, but I knew he agreed.

“We’ll give you an hour to decide.”

“I’ve already decided. Shove your phone, laptop, and car up her ass because I won’t work like that. You may have lost your balls but mine work just fine. I’m going to clean out my office. Which one of you is driving me home?” I walked out.

In many ways, I made a big mistake that day. I would struggle financially for a while and my wife was less than pleased. She didn’t share my righteous indignation and didn’t recognize how hard it is to look wrong in the face every day. It wasn’t about pride. I took a stand. For better or for worse I did what I felt was right.

It took her ten more years, but Tracy was finally caught stealing and was fired. They actually asked me to come back. They even admitted that I was railroaded. I told them that I was not interested in working for people that failed to support me when I needed them the most.

After all, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

 

he’s back

I’ve been away

but now I’m back

doin’ what I do

don’t give me no flack

I may act nice

hell, I really am

but know the difference

between kindness and weakness

A low profile I may keep

A good distance as well

but backed into a corner

I’ll make your life hell

I know what is what

and who knows who

aggravate and abuse me

you will never outlast me

my resolve is steady

my eyes on the prize

heaven forbid

if you underestimate me

https://lindaghill.com/2017/12/27/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2018-rules/

 

 

same root, very different outcome

humiliationHumiliation describes a strong feeling of embarrassment or mortification — like that time in sixth grade when your mother wiped your face and called you “honey bunny” in front of all your friends. Humiliation comes from the Latin word humiliare, which means “to humble.”
Am I the only one that finds it interesting how humble could evolve into the exact opposite?
A person in possession of humility recognizes their place in the world, does not overstate their existence, displays a modicum of reverence for those around and is prone to acceptance. This person, ideally, would be a total failure if he lowered himself to the point in which he deliberately embarrassed another person. It’s an almost perfect metaphor for the decline of modern society. The only flaw is that most people don’t display humility. A significant amount of people, much to my chagrin, are actually capable of great cruelty.
I was inspired to delve into this moral distinction by a post from a dear friend who is grappling with some powerful emotions, brought on by a handicapped parking spot and the chaos that ensued. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73254859/posts/1731630483
She was brought into a discussion in which a person with a Handicap placard on their car was confronted by an angry note on her car. You don’t look sick, save a space for someone who needs it (or something to that effect). This brought out so many questions for her. It is a big issue for her, she has an invisible illness, a handicap placard, and a high likelihood that it will happen to her someday.
Why can’t people mind their business?
Is it ok for a 9 yr old to verbally defend the parent?
Do people even understand invisible illness?
Why do people feel compelled to lash out?
Is it acceptable to respond emotionally, with possible profanity?
And perhaps most important…how would a genuinely good person handle it?
What impressed me about this post is that, of all of the important issues brought to the surface, her biggest concern was that she, if in this situation would react the right way. What is the moral high ground here? I have some thoughts on this.
If someone were to leave such a note on my car, I would be frustrated at the anonymous, passive-aggressive nature of it. If someone were to call me out personally as I stepped out of my car, in my nice reserved parking space, having the balls to walk “normally” I may have a different reaction. I would like to think that I would gracefully respond along the lines of “I don’t have to have an IV bag to have this spot”. But I may also respond with a firm “mind your own fucking business”. One is more acceptable than the other but the second one is not wrong, it’s just not productive.
The bottom line is that it’s not your journey, it’s the attackers. You can’t think for them, you can’t make them think at all and you can’t control their own lack of control when they speak. I go back to my original question, how does humility evolve into humiliation? It doesn’t. Humble people, who make up a small but significant portion of the population wouldn’t attack an easy target. Most people are not prone to humility, but instead are quick to speak while slow to think; ignorant, as in uneducated, about invisible illness; and too free to offer up unwanted opinions. Their ability to humiliate another is truly alarming. This is only a microcosm of society in general.
I told my friend much of what I have said here. That there are no easy answers, that in the end, it is up to other people to learn how to interact with the rest of the world. We can’t change the behavior but we can control how we react to them. I don’t think I helped her much. After all, she knew the answer. Telling someone off isn’t going to do anything to stop the problem. Not saying anything is like swallowing a bitter pill. What do you do?
My father always said of fighting “If you punch an asshole in the mouth, you may feel better but he’s still an asshole”. That is an unfortunate reality. To walk away is harder, especially when you have been victimized and marginalized. A strong person can do it but could not be faulted for lashing out. It doesn’t feel good no matter how you handle it.
So we go back to the other person’s journey. What makes people offer up unsolicited, hurtful opinions? A lack of empathy? A lack of knowledge? Poor upbringing?
D) All of the above.
People are mean, looking for a way to make themselves feel better about themselves, finding their voice by silencing another’s. The only way to change this is to be better. My friend started and ended with that. As a good person, she sought the means to deal with a bad person. Therein lies the answer. Slowly, one person at a time, answer bad with the good, negative with positive and eventually you will enact real change.
If we heed “be kind, for everyone you find is fighting a hard journey”, and follow Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world” we will see change. I don’t know how many generations it will take but it will happen.

My favorite addiction

jjj-2018

 

 

I wake up craving you

I want you tall

I like you hot

I want to take you orally

black is awesome

your Brazilian is my favorite

you warm me

wake me

I tremble without you

strangers meet over you

I get a headache without you

I can’t get enough of you

but if I try

I can’t sleep

You are coffee and I fucking love you

https://lindaghill.com/2017/12/27/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2018-rules/