Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial happy an appropriate word for this holiday? We are commemorating all those that have lost their lives fighting for our country. For millions of families, this is not a happy day.

Many years ago, I worked as a server in a small local restaurant associated with the Holiday Inn in Iowa City. Holidays and weekends are meaningless when you work food service so on this particular Memorial Day, I was serving breakfast and lunch to the few people in our hotel and I met, Wayne. Wayne was a homeless drifter thumbing for rides down I80. He was also a Vietnam Veteran who saw the front lines, came back to America suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was vilified and crucified for his service during this hugely unpopular war. On Memorial Day 1989, Wayne drifted into Iowa City, Iowa and found his way to breakfast in our restaurant after spending a night panhandling. Wayne's behavior was erratic. He stuffed his pockets with buffet food, refused to sit at a table, and wandered in and out to purposefully harass guests and workers in the Hotel. At one point, Wayne went outside and relieved himself in the bushes outside in full view of all restaurant patrons. Then came back in and sat at his table demanding more coffee. I was Wayne's server that day and in his coherent moments, he talked to me about Vietnam with a pained expression on his face. "This is Memorial Day" he said. Then louder he repeated it. The few diners turned around to look at Wayne who by this time, had climbed onto his chair and started screaming at the top of his lungs, "DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW WHAT MEMORIAL DAY IS!!?? ANYONE?" (Our Manager left the restaurant quietly to get security) Pointing to each guest he repeated "Do you know what Memorial Day is? How bout you or you?" Guests looked away. One women looked terrified. At the top of his lungs Wayne shouted "MEMORIAL DAY IS WHEN WE WENT TO WAR, GOT BLASTED AWAY, AND NO ONE GAVE A SHIT!"
At this time, security entered and led Wayne away. He was still yelling as he was led out the door. The diners sat in stunned silence and we workers could just stand and stare.
I think of Wayne every Memorial Day. I wonder how many like Wayne are out there. Soldiers who saw Hell and came home to careless indifference to what they sacrificed. Provided these soldiers survived the war but inside Wayne was just as dead as those who didn't. Let us never forget the magnitude of this sacrifice. America is not perfect but our country is something to be proud of and we must never forget all those people like Wayne who were willing to lay their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Thank you, Wayne for your service. Though you may have felt forgotten in 1989, I have not forgotten you and I never will.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today, is my last official day on the payroll. Tomorrow, I file for unemployment. Many people have asked me how I feel about it. Truth is, I don't know. Sometimes, I feel empowered. Sometimes, I feel a little down. Last night, I typed up my official goodbye. To some, I sent a personal note and noticed I was getting a bit weepy as I typed on. I remember the feeling I had on my first day on April 5, 1995. Fifteen years later, there are no words that exist that can describe the feelings on this last day. As I said goodbye to my co-workers this morning, I was getting ready for a job interview. After I closed out my email, I made plans to get together with CNA friends this Saturday. At 5pm, after my exit interview this afternoon, I will print out the Waiver form to send priority mail to the benefits center first thing tomorrow morning. Then, I will mix myself a Pina Colada and quietly move to AT&T history. I'm leaving with little fanfare and quietly closing the door.

This week, has been filled with the good and the bad. My appliance usurpation has not finished as my dishwasher joined the ranks of non-functional household appliances the other day. Frustrated! VERY FRUSTRATED!! After I cursed the darn thing out, I logged onto the computer and visited several of my friends blogs. Five sets of parents that I know of are facing the loss of their child soon and here I am worrying about losing a dumb dishwasher and a job.. To quote my late friend, Charlie, "You never know how good it can be till you've found out for yourself how bad it can get".
Life AIN'T bad....and you're right Sue G. "Man Plans. God Laughs."
He's been laughing a whole heck of a lot.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The first day of....

I'm not quite sure.
Yesterday, I took the last final of the Semester and received my longed for A in Anatomy. WOOHOO! After my Anatomy final, I came home, poured myself a glass of red and celebrated by doing nothing except enjoying the wonderful glass of cheap red wine and a movie. I relished the wonderful feeling of having nothing pressing to do for about 2 hours. Today, I looked at my wreck of a house and asked myself, where do I even start. Piles of laundry are stacked up in every room, under every piece of furniture and yes, even hidden under the stairs. But because this is my life and nothing goes very smoothly in it, my washing machine died this morning. The timing just could not be better. With a broken stove to match it and impending unemployment less than a week away, I once again will have to put buying a new stove on hold and buy the new washing machine instead. One of these days, I will have a functional stove and not a decoration sitting in my kitchen. My crock pot, toaster oven and microwave have served me well. Perhaps they can hold up a little while longer. I made my way to Walmart to buy cleaning supplies. Tomorrow, after I do my morning job search, I'll begin on removing dirt and putting it back outside. This will be no easy feat. As a matter of fact, my house could probably be a great episode for "How Clean is Your House." I welcome those two British ladies to try and make this disaster look habitable again. Three weeks ago, I yanked the cable from the computer monitor and told the kids that Facebook is defunct until they actually finish a chore. Yep, three weeks ago I told them that. They still don't have their cable back. They are all of the sudden really interested in writing papers and doing homework....on my computer. Considering my son hasn't handed in an assignment in his Law and Government class YET this quarter.....
So, tomorrow will be the first day of getting a chore finished, the first day seeing my floors again after 8 months, the first day of unfettered free time that really isn't free until after I remove dust, dirt, fingerprints, old food, cat hair (LOTS OF THAT) and bacteria that probably thought it had a permanent home from my house. Then we'll take it from there. Monday, school starts up again but class is for two hours in the morning. Then what?

Monday, May 17, 2010

I took my Anatomy final tonight. When I came home, I had no idea what to do with myself. Without my book, I feel so naked. That book traveled with me to Atlanta, Iowa City, Walmart, Dr's waiting rooms, and church and as it's been a constant companion, it feels like I just spurned a lover and am moving on to the next one in one week. I'm waiting on the final grade. I need at least an 80% but hopefully better and I keep my A. Tomorrow, I will take my Biology final but my instructor said if I wanted to stay home, stay home. There are 600 points possible in the class. I have 606 now without the final. BUT, I am taking the final. No matter what happens, I still have the A but I want the knowledge. The whole purpose of the class was to help me on the NLN. Though some of the material overlaps with what I studied in Anatomy, much of this last unit did not and it is a good overview for the entrance exam for Nursing school which I will be taking on July 22.

Today, I was hired to do a temporary project for a large grocery store chain. As the end of my career at AT&T is coming to an end and I have received no job offers from the company or anywhere else YET, I have time to do some 2 or 3 audits a week on the store's customer service in the various stores around the Chicago area. The schedules are flexible, it pays $11 an hour, reimburses me for mileage and I can take Em with me if I want to. Sounded like a winner. I can work up to 25 hours a week without affecting unemployment. As I usually work 18-20 at the Mart, the additional 6 hours won't interfere and if by chance I have to take a weekend day off, I can make it up here. The project will last 3-6 months. I'll keep looking for a job in the meantime and even if I do land something full time, I can schedule this around it.
This is relatively short tonight. I've been hibernating and trying to get this class finished. Physiology in the Fall will be my next textbook ball and chain. I want an A there too!

PS: Clinic visit this past week was fine. All blood counts are good and my BP is excellent.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

To all my mommy friends. Our work is just never done!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

May 5 is an anniversary of one of the most life changing events in my 42 years. It was the day I heard the words "You have Sarcoma." It is a close second to the words "You have a son."
Four years. As I'm in my 40's, four years is a drop in the bucket but it seems like a lifetime ago that I was living a life free of it, without Dr's, scans, MRI's, and Scanxiety. My cancer journey has been bumpier than some, and smoother than others. But the impact is the same and anyone who has ever heard the words the first time, can tell you the date and the time and how it was said and can describe the gut wrenching feelings that transpired afterwards. It feels like a blow to the stomach. We are paralyzed for a moment, then as the wind returns we say "I'll fight! and I'll WIN." The journey starts out about I but the further we go down that path, the more we come to understand that the journey is about "WE". No cancer patient can do it alone. Cancer is a disease that not only affects the patient but the family and the friends. Some old friendships are lost. Some old friendships get stronger. New friends are made.
Where do I want to be in another 4 years? Cancer free and a nurse. That is the goal. But I have problems dealing with any event that is further out than a month and sometimes that is too long. Life can change in a second.

You can't tell when strange things with meaning
will happen. I'm [still] here writing it down
just the way it was. "You don't have to
prove anything," my mother said. "Just be ready
for what God sends .............William Stafford