Not so super

The longer you are away the harder it is to come back. But here I am. I offer no promise of quality writing or even linear thought. It’s been 11 days since I have posted and I miss it.

11 days ago I had a good day. I haven’t had one since. Hard to imagine, but my good day consisted of my going in for my bi-weekly lab work. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy going there. I spend over an hour in an infusion center surrounded by some very sick people. I like to think, as I await the results of my labs and a determination is made whether I need a shot or a bag of iron or hemoglobin, that I make some of the nurses smile during my brief stay. I know that I had a pretty big smile on because my lovely Lilliputian Lisa was there. I haven’t seen her since the day I composed a post in her honor entitled Smitten.

Apparently, she doesn’t normally work Friday’s but when the infusion center door opened. there she was. 4 foot 10 of pure sexy awesomeness. And I think she was happy to see me also. We exchanged pleasantries as I dutifully followed her to a seat. I reminded myself to behave. Yes, I am newly divorced but she is married and there is a man-code. She took my BP. It was higher than Willie Nelson. I was reminded of the last time she took it. I had joked that if she walked away it would go down. But I behaved and didn’t do it again. She then said “maybe it’s me?” and gave me a coy smile. I told her that I was being good, she needed to as well. She smiled again and walked away. That’s it, I thought to myself, gloves are off. When she came back I pulled a gem out of my quiver of pick-up lines and said: Are you familiar with Confucius?

“Of course”, she replied.

“My favorite quote by him is ‘He who wants hot nurse must first be patient’.” I could almost hear her underwear falling off.

That was the highlight of my day. I couldn’t get an infusion because of my high BP, a very concerning problem, and she escorted me to the door. I joked with her that she should swap her shift again because I would be there in 2 weeks. She didn’t say no so that’s a sign I guess. To what end I don’t know, all I do know is that she was flirting with me, something that NEVER happens to me and I’ll fucking take it.

I’ve been sick since. My BP is out of control, I am on several new meds and nothing is working. I’ve basically been housebound since. I have missed work, only gone out when I had to and even then I had to force myself. I managed to pull off serving an Easter Breakfast for the die-hards who attended the sunrise service and after 2 hours I was exhausted. I used to be able to work 15 hour days in a kitchen and that 2 hours almost killed me. I went home, napped and went down to MA so see the family for Easter. When I got home I was cooked. I haven’t been out since.

The headaches, the pounding in my head like a John Bonham drum solo, the dizziness, the not-so-patiently-waiting for the new meds to start working is taking a terrible toll. I need to sleep just one night. I hope that night is tonight, I really can’t take much more of this. Old Superman can’t save the day until he remembers how to fly again.

thanks for tolerating my rant. Peace

 

Country music

I was watching a show the other night that mentioned the 80’s urban legend about playing music backwards. Supposedly some weird things would happen. I was intrigued.

I’ve been listening to a lot of country music lately so I gave it a shot and played a country album backwards.

I’ll be damned if I didn’t get my house back, my job back, my dog back…

A second chance at a first impression

I spend more than any one man’s fair share of time in Doctor’s offices, Labs, and Pharmacies. It’s a part of my life that I’ve had to embrace. In my endless travels of maze-like offices, antiseptic hallways, hack-and cough centers that double as waiting rooms and backed up pharmacy counters I deal with a lot of people.

I have spent years working in restaurants, retail and customer service and have answered a lot of phones with some angry people just waiting to tear into me. I learned early and often that there is only one way to conduct yourself in order to get any results, and that is to be nice. That’s it. It serves 2 purposes. It is the right thing to do (if you give half a shit about society in general), and when someone is expecting a fight it throws them off when you go the other way. I know for a fact that a receptionist, lab technician, Pharmacy Tech, or cashier are fully expecting customer’s to escalate all of the time. People seem to think that it is acceptable to raise their voice, argue and even belittle those whose job it is to serve them, bad attitude and all.  As a person, as well as an employee, they just don’t need it.

Since I’ve moved up here I have escalated my campaign of self-improvement. My high blood-pressure, coupled with a lifestyle I couldn’t keep up with was making me sick,  anxious, quick to temper, and impatient. It was a struggle to be patient and understanding as I struggled with insurance coverages. prescriptions, PCP’s, referrals and all of the small details associated with losing your family and moving in with your mother with only the shit that would fit in a 2013 Honda Civic. As my health, and consequently, my attitude improved over time it became easier to be the man I wanted to be. In short, it is nicer up here from the air to the people. Customer service, on the other hand, is a problem. There are plenty of workers but the skills aren’t there. Still, I resolved to be nice. And if I couldn’t be nice…apologize.

Nice was easy for me. Understanding was manageable. I wasn’t exempt from being aggravated.

Last week I was in the middle of a three-way, not the good kind, between myself, my Dr’s office and my Insurance company. I was in need of a dosage increase on one of my meds. Getting ahead of it, I called my pharmacy to make sure it was approved because I would burn through the current 30-day supply quickly and then be without. It wasn’t approved, I was told to come in on Monday (it was Friday at the time) and it will be all set. Stupidly, I didn’t call first and drove the 25 miles to the pharmacy. I had planned it perfectly, I could pick up 4 (of my oh so many) prescriptions at once. I wouldn’t be that lucky.

After driving through snowy, frost-heaved roads, a packed and crazy parking lot, and a long line at the pharmacy I was called. I obediently toed the line, recited my full name, DOB, marital status, confirmed that I was indeed circumcised (maybe I just volunteered that information) and properly insured. 3 were ready, the one that I was almost out of was still not approved.

I was incensed. I asked the young girl at the counter if she could check for me to see if it may be a mistake. She assured me that it wasn’t. Now, in hindsight, this is where the situation went in the wrong direction. The place was busy, there was a line behind me and she was the only one on the counter. She was stressed and couldn’t handle it. But I pressed her and she blurted out “that’s what my screen says, what else can I tell you?”

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I tried to explain to her that I was in need of that particular one and didn’t want to make another trip. She said again that it’s not ready. Would I like to take the other 3 prescriptions now? And then she made the critical mistake of rolling her eyes and looking behind me to the next person in line. I became annoyed and said,

“Excuse me, but you’re not listening to me. What are you going to do to help me get this resolved?”. She then informed me that the note in the system said: “See pharmacist for instructions”. I told her, as non-snarkily as I could, that such information would have been helpful in the beginning. I shuffled down the counter to meet the Pharmacist, the man behind the curtain. With a 5 minute call, the pharmacist had made the insurance company understand and approve. I was on my way.

I felt bad on the way to the car. While I could give a bunch of reasons why she was wrong and perhaps rude, I was supposed to be bigger and better than that. I could hear my 18-year-old son in my head saying “Well, so much for the kinder, gentler you, Dad”. He had remarked months ago that he liked the “new me”. He wouldn’t have been pleased with his Dad there. But, But, But..I was frustrated blah blah…too much driving blah blah…I need I need blah blah. It doesn’t matter, it’s all bullshit I could have done better.

The whole ordeal had slipped my mind until I went back today to pick up 2 more prescriptions (heaven forbid they could all be filled at one time). As I walked to the counter and toed the line again I saw the same young lady standing before me. If she recognized me she didn’t show it. We smoothly completed the transaction and I was about to leave when a little voice in my head said Superman do the right thing here. I turned back to the counter, apologized gently to the woman approaching the counter.

“Excuse me, but last time I was here I was less than nice to you. I feel bad, I was fighting with the insurance company and I took it out on you” I said.

“Oh, I don’t take that stuff seriously” she replied.

“Well,” I replied, “it doesn’t make it ok. I want to apologize to you.”

Her face visibly brightened, “Thank you so much for that, it really means a lot.”

I smiled at her and excused myself. As I walked to my car it occurred to me that I hadn’t been that rude to her. She had some part in it also. But then along came that little voice again.

It doesn’t matter jackass, It was the right thing to do.

What’s in a name?

A young Native American boy respectfully approached his Grandfather, a tribal elder and politely asked, “Grandpa, none of the children in my school have names like we do. Can you tell me how we Native Americans choose our names?”

“Sure”, his Grandfather replied and gestured for him to sit down. “We name our children after a significant event that occurred at the time of…ummmm…conception”. He looked for a reaction from the young boy, saw none and continued. “When I was conceived, my mother and father saw a large hawk flying overhead so they named me Flying Hawk”.

The boy was intrigued so he continued.

When your mother was conceived, I had seen a very large deer run by that day so we named her Running Deer. Do you understand or should I go on?”

“No, I think I understand. Thank you Grandpa”.

“No problem Broken Rubber, you run along now”.

the agonizing bystander

The hardest thing for a parent to do is to sick back and watch their children struggle. For all of the struggles that my family as a whole has endured my children have emerged relatively unscathed.

As a young parent, I stayed awake at night hoping that my children would never struggle in school, with bullying, or addiction or any other gremlin that would rob them of their happiness. I have known so many kids, my peers, and even their children, who were promising and well-adjusted kids until they crossed paths with that one force that eventually led to them dropping out, giving up or worse. It is a subject that I am well versed in.

When I was in 5th grade I was given a double promotion because I was breezing through my curriculum. My mother resisted the idea, fearing that such a leap would put me with kids much older and larger than me. I liked the idea and I entered a new school, we called it Junior High where I’m from. I was immediately the target of every asshole in the school. I was called names, slammed into lockers and my books were constantly knocked to the floor.
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Within the first full year of 6th grade, my grades plummeted. I was called “stupid” so many times I started to believe it. My parents, God bless them, didn’t pick up on the signs and I didn’t mention it. They were too busy focusing on the trainwreck that was my sister, who we had just adopted at 7, and all of the drama she could provide that the Nuns didn’t prepare us for. Long story short, my interest in school faded and I was a C student until it was too late to make a difference that any college would care about. Fortunately, I was a decent artist and got into college by means of my portfolio.

My oldest 3 children had a few scraps on the playground but nothing life-altering. They were taught that if hit, to hit back. They did and bullying was not an issue. Academically, they were solid and to my knowledge never had a taste for alcohol or drugs. My youngest, however, had to deal with some mean girls at an early age.

She began to come home from 3rd grade crying. Some of her classmates called her “the poor kid” and made fun of her clothes. One even went so far as to say “your father must not have a job”. I was particularly incensed at that one considering that I spent a lot of money I didn’t have so that she wouldn’t get a shitty crack like that.
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So we went the diplomatic route. We met with the teacher who could offer no help except to say that she knew it was happening but not in front of her. We knew the parents, all were wealthy high-profile families in town. Not particularly concerned about our own popularity my wife and I went to the Principal and asked for a meeting with them. It was granted and we all got in a room together, at which time all parents denied that their sweet little cupcakes would ever do such a thing. So I stood up and said:

“OK, I’ll make it easy for all the fathers in this room. If my fucking daughter comes home in tears one more fucking time I’m coming to your house. And then you’re going to cry”.

We were asked to leave. But it only took 2 school days to realize that it worked. Still, I will never forget the helpless feeling up to that point watching my little girl going through such a thing. It was heart-wrenching to see her cry because of heartless, cruel children. I was so very relieved that it never happened again.

I flashed back to those days last night. My little girl, now 16 has hada terrible patch of dry skin around her eyes. Red and swollen it really is concerning, She went to the Dermatologist yesterday and fortunately made a diagnosis and provided a treatment. But the caveat is no make-up. My daughter loves her make-up and to her knowledge, none of the kids in her new school have ever seen her without it. She told me she would have to go au natural for a week and her eyes, no joke, looked like a raccoon. With our shared hatred of the mean girls, I felt bad for her. Kids can still be cruel.

In addition, she was dealing with a mean teacher who refused to meet with her and explain why she had rejected a thesis topic, leaving her in a frustrated panic last night. That was something I could help her with. I told her to stand up for herself to the teacher and explain that she needs an alternative idea or an explanation otherwise she would go to the Dean of Academic Affairs. She kept refusing to do it until I finally convinced her to face her fears (she was afraid of this nasty teacher) or she would fail the assignment.

This may not all sound like much but I was on the phone with her for 2 hours last night and she went to bed very upset. I didn’t sleep well. I wanted to snap my fingers and make her rash go away, I wanted to storm into her classroom on a white horse and vanquish her enemy but I couldn’t.

She texted me at 3 to tell me that her face had almost cleared up overnight with just one dose of medication and that she gave her teacher the riot act and she now has a new topic and an extension. It worked out. I’m proud of her.

The world can have all the fun it wants with me. Just don’t fuck with my kids.

the other shoe

If you have been following me recently you will know that I have been doing some part-time work for a friend. It has been an overall good experience for me. In addition to having a little bit of money to play with it has also given my ego, in particular, that section that controls not feeling like a useless piece of shit, a boost. I would like to say that it has been an awesome experience but there a few downsides. For starters, it is 2 1/2 to 3 hours away depending on traffic. It is not without expense, it is at least a tank of gas plus food for 2 days which cuts into the overall “worthwhile” of it. It also requires that I stay with my friend who works there also for up to 2 nights a week. He and his wife are the ones who offered it in the first place, making this even possible and claim they enjoy the company but I feel like a burden. That’s the way I’m wired. I’m not paranoid, but I know that when I watch football and the players are in a huddle…yeah they’re talking about me.
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I also haven’t gotten too excited because let’s face it, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I fully expected a wrinkle and it came the week before last.

As I was leaving on Thursday I checked in with my friend and boss to let him know that I was leaving for the week. He turned to me and asked me to close his office door. Here we go, I thought, the other shoe.

“You’re getting expensive,” he said. “I want to help you out but I really don’t have it in the budget right now”. He looked upset, I knew that he was genuinely conflicted. I never actually considered this to be any more than a “we’ll see how long it lasts” scenario I played it cool. But inside I was a little miffed. I wanted to explain what I’ve been working on, the contribution I’ve made and the slew of compliments his CFO has given me. But I stopped myself.  Instead, I told him that I would only be available on Monday the following (last) week. I politely told him that if he doesn’t need me, just tell me and I’ll be ok. We left it that we would talk about it Monday. I managed to successfully leave his office without reverting to the old me.

The old me would have been reactionary, upset, filled with a sense of dread and lament wrong decisions made…both real and imaginary. That was when I was a slave to a -paycheck, in fear of harming my family, forced to “suck-it-up” for the benefit of others. I’m not that guy anymore because I don’t have that situation anymore. The new me doesn’t need the job, I just like the job. By choice or otherwise, I am now in a position where I can choose what I do for money and if it doesn’t work out I will find something. The bar is set pretty low but I it is oddly liberating.

I am also blazing a new trail in that I am using my knowledge of reading people. I know that Ben is happy with what I’ve been doing and he likes having me around. I know him enough to know that he can get creative if he wants in how he compensates me.

It also occurred to me that my work has and will speak for itself. I know, not think, that I have found a niche and have worked on an area of his business, with some solid success, that he didn’t even know he needed. He knows it now. So last Monday morning, early, I called him and told him that I wouldn’t be in. 6 hours of driving for 1 day was just silly. He understood. I sat back this week to see what would develop.

As of Friday morning, I had received 3 emails from the CFO and 2 texts from Ben asking me when I was available to come in this coming week. I simply responded Why, do you need me?

It seems he does.

Job and pride both intact, I think I like how the new me handled this one.

 

 

boycott

I have found that the less time I spend on Facebook the happier I am. With the exception of animal videos and inspirational memes, there is not much on there that interests me anymore.

I used to love FB. I reconnected with friends from High School, made new friends through pages dedicated to my illness, found a group of mountain bikers that became real, genuine friends and I really do enjoy just knowing what people are up to. It makes me feel close to them. But in our hopelessly divided world, all of that is outweighed by the negativity and outright hostility we are showing towards each other as we continue to shout in Caps, defend our positions and flatly refuse to accept the viewpoints of those who don’t think as we do. When a tragedy strikes, it is a thousand times worse.

I don’t know if it was school or at home but I know I was taught by someone that we don’t have to agree with each other. That it is ok, even encouraged to have a different view than another, but always respect their right to feel the way they do. It is a human, dare I say American ideal. As Americans we pride ourselves on the origin of our great nation; the escape from political and religious oppression, the notion of governing ourselves and creating a document that can be amended in the event that society evolves and something the drafters of that document never anticipated arises. We shout from the rooftops that you can do and say anything you want in this great land of ours because we are free! Respect and intelligent discourse will always prevail.

Not anymore.

We are no longer the land of the free and the brave. We are now the land of the loud and closedminded. We don’t listen when others speak, instead, we are merely planning our next sentence. How can you learn anything if you don’t listen to another voice? If someone disagrees with us we get angry and hurl insults at them instead of debating them intelligently and calmly. To make matters worse, we have the attention span of a gnat. Instead of researching things and formulating an informed viewpoint, we believe everything we hear and see online.

I love the saying everyone is “entitled to their opinion”. Sorry, you are not. An opinion is formulated and arrived at by study, life experience, intelligence, and wisdom. To say that global warming is real, for example, there are actual statistics on both sides of the issue that can be used to support your “opinion” and a proper debate could then ensure. To say that it is the fault of aliens dressed as Joan Cusack trying to kill penguins because they hate Tuxedos is just a stupid statement. And there are plenty of those.
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But even if you do postulate nonsense or common sense, the vitriol towards others, only strengthened by “keyboard balls” is making me sick. The hatred being spewed back and forth as tragedies strike and everyone digs in for battle armed with a sling full of arrows of “Idiot”, “moron”, “shithead” and “snowflake” to be shot at anyone who has the nerve to not think like them is sickening.

I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care if you think guns shoot by themselves. I don’t care if you think the earth is flat. I don’t care that you think the president is responsible for an earthquake in Peru. Say something intelligent and be accepting of others or just put the keyboard down. Going on FB now just makes me sad and angry. There is some good content left but so much hatred.

I almost wish that grammatical and spelling errors, duck-faced selfies by women who are way too old to be doing them, vague posts fishing for sympathy or gratification and pictures of ugly feet on the beach were the only aggravating thing about FB. From now on, FB is something to scroll while I poop. A fitting finale for this post. Too bad I don’t have the poop emoji…