Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Because I have to say something

I have opened this page at least 4 times today, and have looked at the blankness without writing anything. I still don't think I have the right words, but Kelly's eloquence convinced me that I must try.

I first wrote about the death of Trayvon Martin March 2012--before George Zimmerman was arrested. My main feeling at that time was disappointment. I am still disappointed, but it is more than that.

I truly don't know where to start. The plan is to throw words at the page and sort them out later. Since I share this blog with the Cistern, she can help me with the sorting.

Since I have so many more questions than answers, perhaps I will start throwing them out there:

Why have so many (white) people been so quick to doubt that race was a factor in this case?

Why did I believe for a moment that a jury of 6 people in Sanford, Florida who didn't have an opinion of the case would be people who would be concerned with justice?

Do people really believe that "Not guilty" is the same as "Good job, dude!"?

Why have so many people been so certain that the most commonly seen photo of Trayvon Martin must have been taken long before he was killed? Is it so ingrained in our culture to be afraid of black young men that his smiling, innocent face had to be inaccurate?

Just to be clear, this is the last known photograph of Trayvon (unless you want to count the autopsy photos) nine days before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman:

My heart hurts. It hurts because a 17 year old young man was senselessly killed. It hurts because this case has brought to the forefront again how little white people understand what it means to be black in America today. Is it better than it was? Yes. Is it anything close to what it needs to be? No fucking way.

I think back to when I was a 16 year old girl. I put myself in the shoes of Rachel Jenteal. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I had been the one on the phone with Trayvon during the initial minutes of his encounter with George Zimmerman, MY testimony would have been golden...simply because I had the luxury of being born white.

The notion that one can kill an unarmed teenager, claim he feared for his own safety, make conflicting statements that don't agree with the undisputed facts, be found "not guilty," and have people celebrate the verdict makes me physically sick.

I don't know what to say. I am indignant. I am outraged by the comments I have read by ignorant and/or hateful people.

I do not have children, but I am very involved in the lives of my 13 yo niece and 9 yo nephew. I actually enjoy the "hard conversations." I am so terribly sad that the hardest conversations I will ever have with them pale in comparison with the conversations I would be obligated to have with them if they were black.

I knew this wasn't going to be a pretty post--in content or in form. I think it is even more scattered than I anticipated. But it is a start.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On Turning 48

Today is my 48th birthday. That number gets noticed in my family. And not in a good way.

In some ways, it has taken on a somewhat dark significance. Mother died suddenly at the age 48. She appeared healthy, but there was a silent aneurysm that ruptured and killed her. Four other family members also died at this age--two from very similar causes. The doctors agreed that her siblings, my brother and sister and I, and our cousins should all get tested for signs of a same condition. We all have done this.

Mother was the oldest of 6 kids. The remaining five all passed their 49th birthday with much celebration.

I am the oldest of my generation, and of course, my mother's daughter. There is a certain oddness of "catching up" to her. I would be completely lying if I said that this birthday has arrived without significant thoughts. Some of those thoughts have been a bit dark--particularly during the worst days of my depression. I remember thinking at times that I might not even make it this far. I had a cardiac scare about 2 years ago and spent two nights in the hospital being poked, prodded, and tested. I passed everything with flying colors.

However, the past few months, I have come to view this day and all the days that follow as an opportunity. I have the gift of time. Perhaps it is premature to think that I will live longer than Mother did. I still have a couple of months before I actually "pass" her. My hospice work shows me every day that nothing can be taken for granted.

What I do know is this: I have today. I am committed to seeing this Number 48 as an opportunity rather than a dark cloud. I will not squander my days.

I will appreciate the moments.

I will live and love and laugh.

I will seek the things that bring me joy.

I will do all I can to enjoy every single thing.

I will act foolishly without fear of what others think.

I will enjoy music, art and other things that move me.

I will continue to be the weird aunt/cousin/friend.

I will let the people in my life know how much they mean to me. Old friends, family, new friends, and friends I have yet to meet.

I will dance in the rain.

I will love unconditionally--even if it hurts sometimes.

I will put my heart and soul into my work and be ever so grateful that I have found the work that I am supposed to do.

I will keep an eye out for and relish every chance I have to be joyous and to bring joy to others.

I believe that I do these things now, but I am committed to being ever so much more purposeful in doing them going forward. I do this because it is right. I will do this to honor my wonderful, creative, beautiful and crazy Mother.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Never, But Today

Yes, I did. I did tell my sister that I was never going to blog again. I meant it, too. I have had very little energy for doing things beyond the bare minimum. And honestly, if you come look at my kitchen, you will see that I have redefined "the bare minimum" to a shocking new low. That's fine, really; I can live with a certain level of slovenliness. Honestly, I think that the mess isn't as bad as it has been, it's just getting on my nerves. I guess that's a good thing.

Here is where I tell you that this post has some language issues. If you are offended by the f-bomb, you might want to quit now. I think I use it twice. Maybe 3 times. You have been warned.

So what brings me back? I'm so glad you asked. Today is World Suicide Awareness Day. It has been a long time since I have been suicidal, but I still battle depression. I use the war metaphor advisedly. I battle that mother-fucker. Sometimes depression battles me, gives me a sucker punch to the gut and while I am gasping for air and squeezing out a few tears, it boxes my ears and pulls on my hair, twists my arm around my back and plunges me face first into the floor. I lie there for a while. The floor is a nice place to be when you are depressed.

Except I pulled up all of the carpets (as in a very dear friend pulled them up, and I watched) so at SOME point, I get a crick in my neck. At some point, the world comes in, and I might as well get up and do something. Getting up from that floor is quite often the hardest thing I do.

Most of this is figurative. I very rarely actually do a face plant on the floor. Usually when I am depressed, I am able to go to work. I am able to parent (sort of). I'm not very good company, and I think that has cost me some good friendships along the way, because it's hard to be a very good friend when you are figuratively face down on the floor. (True story: when I was in college, people used to say that I had a black cloud of despair over my head. These were my friends. I don't know if they knew I knew they said that, because it was only repeated to me, not said to my face. But they were right.)

What helps me is to figure out one thing. What ONE thing can I do today that will make me feel less of a waste of oxygen? What ONE thing can I do that I can point to and say, "See that there? I did that." The point of my one thing is that it has to be completely within my reach. None of this exceeding my grasp or what's a heaven for crapola. Nope. My one thing can be putting in a load of laundry. Unloading the dishwasher. SOMETHING that will take my downward death spiral of negativity and put the brakes on.

Every day, I try to find my one thing. Every day, I try to find something else to be grateful for. Because the thing is, that mother fucker depression? She's a lying whore. She will tell you that you can't. But trust me, you can. You just have to do whatever it is one manageable thing at a time. And if you should think to yourself that the one manageable thing is harming yourself, please don't.

In the United States, the suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. When I just googled it, I got 3 more local ones. There are bloggers out there who want to help you. The Bloggess speaks out about depression, and recently someone posted a comment to her blog they were suicidal. Within minutes there were messages of love and support. You matter. I promise you do.

Friday, September 7, 2012


The word in the title is this week's writing prompt for a kickass group of women singer songwriters. You can find them on Facebook or on their youtube channel. Fourteen women. One song a week. 52 weeks. You really should go meet them now. The group of women are varied in age, style, and geographical location...but linked by love of song and the community spirit. I am so very much looking forward to seeing and hearing what they do in the upcoming year.

I had thought I might try to jump start my blogging (AGAIN) by using the weekly prompts. I didn't really think that the first one would be quite so timely.

I resigned from my job today. It hadn't been very much fun for a while, and things became unbearable over the past 10 days. The reasons aren't much fun to rehash, so I will refrain from doing so. However, it leaves me at loose ends (AGAIN) as far as what I want to be when I grow up.

There are a number of jobs that I think are more than jobs. Jobs that help define (to greater or lesser extent) who a person is. I don't just work as a nurse. I am a nurse. I was out with a co-worker some months back, and we were introduced to someone. In the usual way of small talk, we were asked, "What do you do?" I answered, "I'm a nurse." I indicated towards my friend and said, "She is a creative, free spirit, but she pays the bills by working in the administrative side of our practice." I didn't even know which words were going to come out of my mouth, but I knew that introducing her as "whatever-her-actual-job-title-was" would have been incorrect.

So, what does a nurse who isn't working do? I suppose looking for a job is priority number one. I will begin that process again over the weekend. It has now been two years since I returned to Atlanta from Houston. There has been little of that two years when I felt that the job I was doing was what I was meant to do. I'm really struggling with that. I know that I will land on my feet. I know I can get another j.o.b. I'm more frustrated about the fact that I'm not doing what I am supposed to be doing. I keep finding things that aren't quite right...for one reason or another.

I'm really, really patient when it comes to waiting in lines and sitting in traffic...this patience as I find the right spot for me to be the wonderful nurse that I know that I am is quite a bit more difficult to manage...but I will get there. In the meantime, if anyone has any patience to spare, I'm accepting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Going green and getting clean!

Why, no, I did NOT fall off the face of the earth.

Life has been quite crazy lately, and my Cistern replied, "Never," when asked when she was going to post again, so there's that.

It is nice to have a paycheck, but this work thing isn't all it's cracked up to be. I love my staff. I love being around patients. However, the day to day administrivia is a bit overwhelming. I am working hard, doing what I can do to make the lives of the patients and the people who are taking care of them as good as I possibly can.

However, you don't want my reasons for being gone, you want me to say something! (At least I hope you do.)

I have been trying more and more to be kind to the environment. The old Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and the like. I have been interested in the "greener" products that are available, but the price is often much higher to the good old stuff with the chemicals of names unpronounceable.

My cousin Caitlin and her boyfriend Mike are living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The link is to her blog that describes how they are living. I have no intention of going to that extreme, but it got me thinking.

A few months ago, I made a batch of homemade laundry detergent. I have cobbled together a recipe from several different sites. I have done easily 100+ loads of laundry with this concoction--and never once missed the store brands. It costs approximately 3 cents per load compared to more than 30 cents a load for the average large-sized container of the popular brands.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Start with a 5 gallon bucket (available at the hardware store)

1 bar of soap, shaved into small pieces or grated
1/2 cup washing soda--it is available near the laundry detergents at Publix, but you may have to look a bit for it
1 cup borax--also in the laundry aisle, usually easier to find than the washing powder.
essential oils (optional)--be sure to use body friendly oils; the ones for aromatherapy may not be good for your skin

1. Heat 4 cups of water to just shy of boiling.

2. Add the grated soap. Stir until it is melted. Fels Naptha is very popular and might be best if you have tough stains. I live alone, do not hike or garden, do not do anything that results in grass stains, etc. I use unscented glycerine soap. I am thinking of trying a Dr. Bronner's soap in my next batch.

3. Move the soapy solution to your bucket. Add 3 gallons of hot water.

4. Mix in 1 cup of washing soda.

5. Mix in 1/2 cup borax.

6. Add several drops of the essential oil of your choice. (optional)

7. Add 3 gallons of hot water.

8. Stir periodically as the mixture cools. Let cool overnight. You will end up with a gelatinous gooey stuff. Use 1 cup per load of laundry.

I found this wonderful picture to help remember the ratios of cups to pints to quarts to gallons at Maybe I won't have to look it up every single time I make it any more.

Fabric Softener

Mix together in a squirt bottle:
2 cups white vinegar
3 teaspoons essential oil

~Some people add a small amount before the rinse cycle of the washing machine.
~Others have rags or washcloths they use only as "dryer sheets." They spray 10-15 spritzes onto said cloths and toss them in.
~My choice is to spritz directly onto the wet clothes. Very few loads don't have at least one pair of socks, one t-shirt, or old pajamas that wouldn't be worse for wear if there were some lingering effect from the spray. (Several loads in, I can't tell which items I have sprayed.)

I have also started using baking soda and vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner, I have made homemade cleaners for the bathroom and the kitchen. I have made air freshener out of vodka and essential oil. I am thrilled to be able to choose my own scents. I am the queen diva fan of citrus, and it has been harder and harder to find lately.

Next on my list to try are the following: bath bombs, body scrubs, face masks, bath salts (not the kind on the news) and lip balms.

Have you found any great ideas or recipes for things like this? Any interest in trying these, or am I just a hippy freak?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fabulous show Saturday

I really should be doing laundry and getting ready to go to the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in two days. However, Saturday’s show at Eddie’s Attic deserves a few words.

Peyton Tochterman opened the evening with a fabulous set. I have enjoyed his music in the past, but I think this set was my favorite yet. Last year at Woodyfest, his was the only CD I purchased (I had said I wasn’t going to buy any, but such is the life of a music junkie). His stories were both funny and moving. He recently spent a couple of weeks in Afghanistan playing for the troops. He told us about one show where several women entered the show wearing burkas but removed them after entering (permitted due to the fact that it was a Western show). After one song Peyton noticed that the women were all crying. He later asked somebody why they were crying (he figured it wasn’t his brilliant lyrics as women didn’t understand English). The answer was that they had NEVER seen live music before. The set included a very much fun 3 day old song about loving a woman who loves horses . Peyton was incredibly patient with my nephew James who was chatting him up before the show. Peyton offered James a CD, but James said, “I think I should wait until after you play, so I can decide if I really am interested.” He is a practical child. He did get a CD after the show.

Rebecca Loebe was fabulous and wonderful as always. In great spirits and excellent voice.I got to hear a few songs I had never heard before including 10,000 Days, Awakening by Kate Chopin, and Call Me Baby. Highlights included seeing my nephew playing air drums to “Redneck Karaoke Bar,” among other songs. James loved it when Will Robertson used the upright bass for percussion. James also did a perfect imitation of the RCA dog when Will started playing the melodica. My (nearly) 12 year old niece, Anne, read her book at the table until it was hurting my eyes. She then went out to the merch table and annoyed Tommy K until she finished her book. I was very entertained to hear Anne sing along with Becca’s version of “Stronger” (original by Kanye).

As I have mentioned before, my Poppa plays the trumpet quite well. He and Becca were in New Orleans at the same time, and he accompanied her on a song. She graciously asked him to do the same for this show. It was great fun, and I know I am biased, but the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it just as much.
His comment was this, “Unless someone steps forth to dispute my claim, I am claiming to be the only musician who has shared the stage with Maria Callas and Rebecca Loebe. Maria was in 1958 in Birmingham, and Rebecca was last night at Eddie’s. Similarities: Both superior artists and delightful entertainers. Contrasts: Maria more vibrato and operatic pitch compared to Rebecca’s PURE intonation. Maria’s boyfriend was probably richer (bet she didn’t drive). I doubt Rebecca has dated any guy named Aristotle. But, who knows? Plus, Maria didn’t write her own material and sefl-accompany. Just sayin’.”

This could certainly use some proofreading, but I’m going to leave it as is. Cause if I don’t get packing soon, I will be in hysterics tomorrow. Bottom line is this: if you have the chance to see Rebecca or Peyton—be sure to take advantage.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. Oscar Wilde

Management is nothing more than motivating other people.
Lee Iacocca

Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.
Mark Twain

Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life.
Marc Chagall

By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.
Robert Frost

Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
Albert Camus

So, tomorrow is the day. Four months of unemployment ends at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I am returning to the hospital where "I grew up." I worked in medical records while I was in high a nursing student I worked to get experience with patients (I was severely underpaid at this particular endeavor). I worked there when I was 22 years old and had no idea what insanity I would encounter over my 25 years as a nurse. They laid me off last June, and tomorrow I return...within a week to the day. I will be working under the same supervisor who was my boss when I was young, terrified, and skinny. This go around I am older, less terrified, and less skinny.

I will be supervising more people than I ever have before. I know I am good with people. I learned from one of the best managers ever. If I can be as fair, honest and deal with problems in as straightforward a manner as he does, it will all be just fine.

See also: Oakley is not going to be happy about this "Margaret leaves the house every day for hours" situation. As soon as the paychecks start arriving, I will be looking for a dog companion. Of course, she will just cower in the crate the first 37 times said dog companion arrives.

What are the things you liked the most about previous managers? how about the worst qualities?