I’m not crazy, you’re crazy

Ever read those “My Guardian Angel” stories in magazines?   The ones where someone asks for a sign from a departed loved one and lo and behold they start finding shiny dimes everywhere, birds serenade their every move and butterflies flit about their heads in weird synchronized formation?  Have you ever asked for a sign?   Or thought you had gotten an unsolicited one?  I can remember seeing a huge black and white butterfly the day Comet passed. I had never seen one quite like it before or since.  I’m sure it was a weird coincidence though, because if he was able to come back it would mostly likely be something a little more chaotic than a butterfly.  Probably a chupacabra or something.

I was sitting on the deck yesterday thinking about my husband and sister and other family members who passed in the summer. I looked at the butterfly bush  we planted as a memorial and said out loud “where is my damn sign?” and then went back to my book.   A little later I was scouting around the house and deck looking for my little indoor cat who had decided to make a break for it when I let the dog out.  I passed a large honeysuckle bush below my living room window and noticed a wind chime was missing.   I have a lot of them in the trees around the house but I had just bought this one and hung it where I would see it every day.  It had a wine cork, silver feather and some plastic yellow bead for weight.   I liked having it close to the window because it had nice tone.. not too loud.  I looked everywhere and started to feel a little put out that someone would take it, then a little nervous. I don’t exactly live on the street and this was pretty close to my back door.  I even looked in all the other trees where I might hang wind chimes just in case I had taken up sleep walking and nocturnal redecorating. It was nowhere.  This morning when I went out to get my morning paper I did another scan. Nothing.  When I was passing by a lilac bush on the way back to the house  it. was. right. there.  Hanging in plain sight, over a large planter I had watered the night before.  It was hanging from a branch just out of my reach. I can see it from several vantage points, both inside and out.   It would be hard to miss.   So why couldn’t I see it yesterday and how did it get there?    Oh, and the yellow bead?  It’s a butterfly.  I had never noticed.

Every time things settle down there is always that one person who has to reintroduce chaos and unease into the mix and just on cue, this week of all weeks, it’s looking like another shit storm on the horizon. I am feeling unsettled and unnerved.  Maybe I moved the damned wind chime and can’t remember, or the guy mowing the lawn got tired of hitting his head.  Or maybe it is a sign that I’m not alone in this.

Either way, it made me laugh out loud there in my driveway at 7:30 a.m. in my nightgown with a windbreaker over it and a serious case of bed head.  Like the neighbors don’t already wonder…..

 

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Here’s your sign.

I decided to take a year off from my annual Pinktober “pink is a color not a cure” rant and talk politics. However, my givashit is broken again.   I was going to complain about the overabundance of political signage marring the beautiful landscape of a New England autumn, but apparently my givashit is not the only one broken.  I have counted three signs on my country road just weeks before a Presidential election. Three.  All for Trump. Not one Clinton sign. Now, before Trump fans start crowing, let me repeat. THREE signs for Trump on miles and miles of country road that is usually loaded with signs.  I started taking note of the lack of commitment in other parts of my community as well and I’m struck by how few people are proclaiming loyalty to either candidate this year.   Now, if you go by Facebook and Twitter, people have very strong opinions. Either that or we’ve all been hacked.  In person, you get a wary shrug and a haunted “we’re all fucked anyway, what does it matter?” look.  On one hand we have a rich, white, misogynistic, anti immigrant pig. On the other hand we have a rich, white, establishment politician married to a misogynistic pig.  Whoever wins is bringing so much baggage I’m not sure there is enough room at the White House for all of it.   I want to be With Her, because I am a life long Democrat.   I will probably vote for her because the alternative scares the bejeesuz out of me but I can’t say I’m ready to post signs and bumper stickers all over my property proclaiming my commitment to a Clinton/Kaine ticket.  Of course, I blame the GOP for this.  Seventeen candidates and this is the choice you give us?  Pull yourselves together. It used to be fun to beat you at the polls. Now it’s just embarrassing.  We are about to make history by electing the first woman for President and it already feels pretty anti-climatic. Disappointing really.  Hardly a fair fight at all. Wait.  You did that on purpose, didn’t you? Well played, GOP, well played…

Oh. I promised you a sign, didn’t I?

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Sorry.. couldn’t resist.  Here’s a mini rant. No cancer is fun, pretty,  whimsical or easy. Simply put, it sucks. It’s hard, painful and scary as hell.  Bedecking yourself in pink ribbons is not going to make a bit of difference in the outcome of your treatment. It will, however, make many corporations very rich.  Ask yourself how much of those dollars are going into cancer research. Think before you pink.  That is all.

Anniversaries, loss and new beginnings…

I am approaching the dreaded block of time in June and July that drives home all I have lost.  June 1st would have been our 31st wedding anniversary, June 6 is the 3rd anniversary of his death and July 10th the 4th anniversary of my sister’s death.  My “cancerversary” is not until November when I will be 5 years cancer free.  My doctors tell me the clock actually started ticking after I finished treatment and I don’t get the official “cured” for some time yet.   I believe that I was cancer free when I left the OR.  All the rest was just insurance. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

This year has brought more losses, not through death, but in some ways more painful and certainly personal.   It’s also brought some amazing and positive changes.  I have a new career working with the homeless community, helping them to achieve permanent, stable housing. It is the most frustrating and rewarding work I have ever done and I love every minute of it.  I still have my business, volunteer work, family and good friends to keep me busy and grounded, not to mention my animals.  Comet has survived two bouts of cancer and will be 14 soon.  He has a new pep in his step. Clover is nearly 10 and lame with bad hips.  She struggles to walk but is content laying in a sunny spot or just hanging with me. Sage, my stolen rescue kitty is still entertaining and loving.

I am approaching my formerly referred to “helliversary” with a lighter heart than I have the past few years.   I have set those who have passed, and those who have chosen to remove themselves from my life, free with love and gratitude.

I am also grateful for my readership who has seen me through cancer, highs and lows, loss and more loss and appreciated my cynical and often irreverent view on it all.   Seeing the humor in things is much easier and a lot less messy than opening a vein and blogging about it all is certainly a lot cheaper than therapy.   wellallhaveastory

Unfriended, cut loose, removed, blocked and other ridiculous social media crap

Let me just start by saying I am 53 years old. I have had cancer, lost my only sibling, lost my husband, raised a family, started a business (or two) been a daughter, wife, mother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend and sibling.  I have had real life friendships that cooled over time. Friendships that can go months or years with no contact and pick right up where they left off.  Relationships with relatives that I rarely see but think about often.  I even have “cyber” friendships with women that I will probably never meet in person  but who mean the world to me. In other words, I think I have some grip on appropriate societal behavior. Never have I ever experienced anything so stupid as Facebook friendships.  First of all.. who really “knows” 4728 people? Why are you collecting friends? Is it a contest?  Secondly, show of hands.. who pays attention to who “likes” or comments on your posts?   And for the love of God who, other than a 12 year old who shouldn’t be on FB to begin with, would cut a friend loose simply because they didn’t participate enough in the admiration of their dozens of daily posts?  Is this normal? Am I too old to “get it”?

I am not saying the above actually happened to me *cough.. it totally did* because then I’d have to admit that I have been a participant in the whole social media circus and clearly I am above all of that.

Or maybe I’m not.  Since I am only friends with people I actually know, with the exception of 1 or 2 people who probably friended me accidentally, I would hope it would be obvious that my lack of response to things like your political/religious posts would indicate that I probably think you’re insane but I love you too much to say so.    If I don’t “like” the 27th cute kitty picture you’ve posted in the last 2 hours it’s because a) my eyes are bleeding from all the cuteness or b) I’m afraid to encourage you.  If you post pictures of your adorable baby daily, no matter how much I enjoy them, I’m not going to gush over each and every picture.  If it would make you feel better I will try to gush once and maybe post “ditto” once or twice, then my admiration of your progeny should be implied.  Don’t care what you had for dinner and not afraid to admit that.

Please don’t keep announcing that  you’ve found yourself.  How the hell do you keep losing yourself?  Where do you go?   Do you need help with keeping track of your comings and goings? I’m not offering. Just wondering.

In closing, if you are reading this and take offense, please feel free to cut me loose.  Who knows? It might just spawn a blog post in your honor.   1b89f36b80dc76b01707ec06745d1145

 

 

Am I supposed to be impressed that you don’t suck at your job?

What is it with all the begging for kudos by companies and individuals alike?    Can’t I reasonably expect to receive an item I purchase on line to arrive intact and in the specified amount of time, as described?   Do I really need to send you a virtual gold star if you  manage to  Forrest Gump your way into a “positive” experience for your customer?    Can’t I expect courteous service (with or without a smile.. I really don’t care about your dental situation) with food prepared as advertised if I am eating at your establishment?  If I’m shopping in your brick and mortar (it’s true! people still do that!) and I don’t trip over a body in the aisle, need a GPS to find the cat food or have to guide the cashier through the transaction I feel like it was a good experience. Mainly because the bar has been so ridiculously lowered.  However, if you insist on handing me a survey on the way out I may feel the need to be honest in my review.   Why do you keep setting yourself up?

My personal favorites are the hospital surveys. If you are going through prolonged treatment such as chemo or radiation, dialysis or any number of things,  you are seen frequently and in multiple departments.   At one point I was at the cancer center weekly and then daily for several weeks. I could paper the Sistine Chapel with the questionnaires I received asking for my opinion of the various departments and I weep at the loss of trees.  I never, ever filled one of them out.  Because, believe me, if I had a problem it wouldn’t have been reported anonymously through a standardized survey.

I have been a seller of on line goods for over ten years and I learned very early on not to ask for feedback after the fact.   Yet the platforms I sell on do this automatically, encouraging your buyers to find fault… “did it arrive on time?”, “don’t forget our awesome buyer protection”.. so yes I include a blurb in my template that I will strive to give you a 5 star experience,  you know to kind of plant the seed because you are going to leave feedback anyway. But I would prefer you skipped the feedback. If you purchase and pay for an item and I ship it as promised and never hear back from you (unless you are back to purchase again) I’m good.  I don’t need a cookie or a pat on the head. Your money satisfaction is praise enough.

This trend of needing constant praise starts in early childhood and there has always been a place for it to a point. Children thrive on positive reinforcement.  But for some reason it started to be watered down a generation or so ago and now continues long into adulthood. I don’t think we should be getting trophies just for showing up in life.  Perfect attendance? Congratulations. You’re healthy.   You didn’t shit your pants in the meeting? Here’s a cookie.

How about we all do our jobs, act like decent human beings and try being nice to one another?  You know. Like we all should have learned in Kindergarten.   And for the love of God stop asking for constant feedback.  Just. Do. Your. Job.

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#CSINestle

So last week I was nearly killed eating a creamy basil chicken and tortellini Lean Cuisine.  I was munching away and bit into what felt like gristle.. first thought.. “gross!”  second thought.. “huh.. it is real chicken”  and then I tasted blood.  I had a tiny little cut on the inside of my cheek from what turned out to be a shard of chicken bone. I cleaned off said death instrument, took pictures for evidence and threw away the remainder of the meal then took to social media.  Having elicited no sympathy or offers to represent me in a million dollar lawsuit, I sent Lean Cuisine a private message through FB. I got a response with a phone number to call and case number.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I called the number and spoke to a nice lady who offered the prerequisite number of “poor baby’s” and 3 free Lean Cuisines.  Clearly they are trying to finish me off before I go (more) public.  I declined the meals and was offered 12.00 instead.  I sputtered “don’t you even care that I bit into a BONE?”  “Of course we at Nestle (parent company of LC) care!  You’re okay aren’t you ? (dammit.. I should have taken bloody cheek selfie) We are sending an email requesting pictures and a collection kit along with the 12.00 settlement.”   I got the check and collection kit in the mail yesterday. It consisted of a manilla envelope, prepaid postage and plastic baggie.   I was hoping for something a little more official seeming.  Like, I don’t know.. plastic gloves, tamper free sample holder thingie..    Specimen collection kit, indeed  #csiNestle

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I just want to say, if I’m going to go in a food related incident it will be after a fantastic lobster and steak meal involving several vodka tonics.   To be done in by a 3.00 freezer meal with no one but the resident, completely unsympathetic, animals as witness is just too horrible to consider.

15 Reasons Writing a Blog Makes you an Asshole

Last week I jumped on the 15 Random Things About Me blogwagon.  That was fun and I learned some things about many of the bloggers I follow.  Hence the blatant theft of the idea/title.

Today I had a light bulb moment when I was put out with someone and thought darkly “Don’t you KNOW I have a blog?”  I may or may not have offered him some free social media publicity if things were not resolved in my favor.   I thought it was just possible having a blog was making me kind of …. well… an asshole.

About a month ago I was in a snit because someone who should have been the mature person in the conversation, ie. not me, because he held a position of authority out sarcasmed me.  How DARE you, sir? Keep it up and you’ll be in the next blog.

I have blogged about things that bother me with little regard to the person I’m raking over the coals, though I do thinly disguise their identity.

I have taken Walmart, the Susan Komen Foundation, the clerk at the monument store, my doctors and the hospital where I was treated to task just to name a few.   With the exception of Walmart, I never would have said all the things I did in person, given the chance.   It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen (and be an asshole).

I know that’s not 15 things and if you are keeping count, who’s the asshole now?

On a more serious note, two weeks or so ago I had a moment of feeling sorry for myself at the tail end of a block of time I like to refer to as my personal 6 weeks of helliversary.. June 1 through July 10.  The blog post was entitled “My Reality” . I unlinked the post from FB. I  didn’t want my family and friends reading it and feeling guilty. I just really needed to vent.  A good friend did read it (honestly..I was shocked.. I thought family/friends only read this blog when I shoved it down their throats on FB) and commented in a private group.  I got a lot of support and several supportive comments here on the blog as well. But after a good night sleep I felt really uncomfortable.  I realized if I didn’t want the people I loved reading it, I shouldn’t be putting it out there so I deleted it.  I do want to acknowledge the bloggers that offered support.  I read your words and you made me cry. Nice job 😉

How has writing a blog changed how you present yourself to the world?  Does knowing anyone can read your words make you choose them more carefully or do you care if you offend?  Do you feel a responsibility to your readers to be authentic even if that means being an asshole occasionally?

Dear Walmart employees

I have been a long time supporter of your quest for a living wage. I have been outraged on your behalf when I hear that many of you have to depend on food stamps to feed your own families or have your hours cut so you work just below the threshold for benefits.  I’ve tried not supporting Walmart but if everyone boycotted you would be out of a job completely, wouldn’t you?  It’s not your fault the corporation you work for drove nearly every small business out of my small town, so I try not to take it out on you when I have no choice but to shop your aisles for the many things I need.  Now that I am no longer shopping for a family, however, I try to keep my visits down to about once a month.  Twice if I don’t plan well.  Today I stocked up on pet supplies, a few personal items, some frozen food etc.  I could find no freezer bags so when I arrived at the cash register I asked the young lady for one.  I got a blank stare.  I repeated it more slowly.   She said she didn’t have any.  I said I needed one, could she please check with the other cashiers.  Again.. blank stare.  I sighed and told her not to ring in any of the frozen stuff until she checked because I wouldn’t take it.  Finally she got a bag.  Okay.. we’re in business.  I reminded her twice to ring in the dog food and litter in the cart. She insisted she had. I didn’t want her to get in trouble so I insisted she check. She hadn’t.  She did.  All is right in the world. Until she totaled my order. It was 124.31.  I handed her 140.31 in cash and she told me I owed her 4.00.  Huh? I said no.. you owe me 16.00.  OH!  she understood. She keyed in 120.00 instead of 140.00  No problem said I.. just ring in the additional 20.00 and we’re in business.  Ummm no.. she wanted to void the order and start over.   For a cash transaction.  At this point the people in line behind me were becoming a little restless. I tried to explain to her what to do to no avail. So I asked her to call a manager. She did.  Ten minutes later the manager was still standing about 12 feet away chatting with two other employees. I marched over and asked her if she could tear herself away to help the poor little clerk who seemed unable to understand basic math. She came over, assessed the situation and said with a straight face “yeah.. we have to void this out and start over” .   What.the.fuck.  I told them  I wasn’t willing to stand there while they redid the whole transaction and they just stared at me.  I said to give me back my cash, upended my reusable bags into the wagon and walked out.   I won’t be back.  If you believe you are worth more than minimum wage (and I believe you are!) then don’t be a dumbass. Take a little pride in your job.  Don’t make a customer ask for something four times before you act. And for God’s sake if you are the manager, don’t watch a customer walk out on a 125.00 order because you are too stupid and/or stubborn to override a fairly simple error. And train the damned help before you unleash them on the public.

In the past I would have stood there silently fuming while my whole order was redone and my ice cream melted. I would have smiled at the young lady and told her not to worry.  In restaurants when someone else (mom) makes a fuss I usually overcompensate by saying how good everything is or leaving an extra big tip. Life is short, why ruin someone’s day over something so inconsequential, right?  But you know what? Life is short. This I know better than most. Stop wasting my fucking time. images

Fifty Shades of Grey

So my mother wants me to go see this with her.  Yes. You read that right. My mother.  I have no interest in the movie. I had no interest in the books. I’m not a prude, exactly. I just don’t like bad literature. Life is short and there is plenty to read without feeling the need to read something just because everyone else is.   Hearing it described as porn for middle aged women did  nothing to pique my interest.  Actually I had never heard of the series at all until my mother told me about it.  Her friend had recommended it.  She was sharing this bit of information as we were in the elevator on our way to chemo.  And her description of this literary masterpiece continued through the usual 30 minute wait, my blood draw, nurses visit and 4 hour chemo treatment with a short respite while my doctor was talking to me.  She got more and more animated in her defense of this book series (though I had said nothing beyond I wasn’t interested in reading it) until she was throwing around words like “erotic” with wild abandon. Keep in mind there is only a modicum of privacy in the chemo room in the form of curtains. Curtains which are made of ordinary material, not sound proof foam or titanium steel, and she was not using her inside voice.  I couldn’t help but notice the television sets on either side of me kept getting louder and louder and soon the words “come on down” “erotica” and “you are not the baby daddy” were becoming all jumbled in my head.  I couldn’t run away at this point because I was tethered to an infusion pump.  Blissfully the massive dose of Benadryl started to take effect and I was just on the edge of consciousness when the massive dose of steroids kicked in and I sat up with a start.  Now I was wide awake but too tired to defend myself against the onslaught of a bad literary review. Fuck.  Soon a nurse who was passing by heard my mother’s one sided conversation about Fifty Shades and poked her head in the curtain to announce she was reading it too and OH EM GEE isn’t it GOOD?.  Note to self: make sure this nurse is never in charge of pumping poison through the small opening in your chest.. her judgment is suspect.   At the end of my treatment she bade us a cheerful goodbye and gleefully told me she would be thinking of me when she read 50 Shades that night. I deadpanned..”Please don’t”.

My mother has tried to get me to read the books a few more times and will vehemently defend them, even in the absence of any criticism.   So. Fast forward to the movie opening.  She is determined we are going. I am determined to jump off the George Carter bridge to keep that from happening.

Actually I read recently that people are going to show up in “fetish wear”. She has no idea this is a possibility. I may take her just for the comedic material it would provide.   I’m also planning to tell my 84 year old father who loves WWII movies that this is about 40s Germany and promises lots of action.  Why not?  Doesn’t hurt to keep my ticket to hell updated.

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A note for my postal carrier.

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“If Killer and Cujo are out, I am home. In the time it takes to leave a note that you cannot deliver a package because ‘dogs were outside’, if you simply pulled in and beeped your horn I would come out and relieve you of it. Otherwise, the dogs cannot reach the front door or the garage, where you could toss the package from the comfort of your vehicle as I have seen you do in the past.”

Now I’m sure today’s inability to deliver a package has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I complained Monday when my carrier failed to grab a scheduled pick up and had to come back at the end of shift to get it. The dogs are tied in the back of the house. Yes, they bark. They are dogs. That’s what dogs do. And now I have to complain AGAIN and everyone who knows me knows how much I hate that.

*the part of Killer was played by Comet, a 12 year old border collie mix.
*the part of Cujo was played by Clover, a nervous 7 year old miniature aussie.