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.

Why I’m the better man than you.

And “you” know who you are. I’ve known you since I was 18, my husband since he was 5. You were in my wedding. We have many friends in common. When my husband died I heard nothing from you. Nada. Nor did his children, the oldest, btw, who you knew since birth. You were still stinging, apparently, from a class reunion during which he mentioned your high school nickname. A nickname that everyone knew. He may have gone overboard with a riff worthy of Robin Williams – may he rest in peace – (and believe me, he heard about it when we got home), but you and I both know he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was mortified that you were hurt and tried over and over to make amends. You, on the other hand, have always been on the spiteful side. As anyone who has ever worked for or dated you can attest.

A few months ago I was helping my good friend with her catering business and I happened to work the Chamber luncheon. You walked in, took one look at me, and walked away. I was the invisible help. Whatever.

Tonight you tried to ignore me again and it worked until you were on your way past us a second time and my mom spoke up. You couldn’t ignore her. Then, you looked me in the face, feigned surprise and said “oh yeah. Sue”. Really? wtf was that? oh yeah? STILL not a mention of my loss, no inquiry of the children, my mother in law? me? You did see fit to share that you are “happy” and “actually had a good round of golf today”, to which I did not reply “fuck you”. So. I am the better man.

What are the odds?

I’ve never been much of a gambler, other than the occasional scratch or powerball ticket.  No interest in casinos.. all the lights and smoke and noise .. bah. I used to joke that I used up all my luck in high school anyway.  I don’t put a lot of faith in karma, fate, etc etc. Life is just what is.  Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it sucks but it’s the same for all of us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about odds lately though.  For instance.. what were the odds that my sister would die while I was undergoing cancer treatment? Probably not that high, but she did.  Afterwards I kept after my husband that we needed to update our wills, put our affairs in order “because you never know”.  But really, what were the odds it would happen twice in one family?  Apparently pretty  high since he died less than a year after she did.

What were the odds that a lump that was not there in the morning and actually clearly visible in the evening could be anything but a cyst?  It was cancer.  What were the odds it could happen again?  Greater than I thought.  Yes, cancer has struck my house again. This time it’s my dog.

Comet

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Comet came to us 11 years ago as the result of a bet with a 13 year old soccer player and her extremely warped coaches.  My daughter played on a travel team in a defensive role. Not really in a position to score.  She had been asking for a dog. Clearly we were not dog people. We were cat people.  Dogs were expensive and smelly and just a lot of work in general.   On our way to a tournament one weekend I said if she scored she could have a dog.  She didn’t believe me. Her father backed me up.  What were the odds she’d score?  They got significantly higher when she told her teammates and coaches about our bet.  Early on in the game we noticed a disturbing trend.  The whole team was feeding her the ball.  She not only scored, she got a hat trick.  We were the only parents not cheering. Actually there may have been some unsportsmanlike language from the vicinity of our canvas seats on the side line.

Well a bet is a bet and a promise is a promise, so I went to the local humane society with my list of conditions.  From my daughter the dog had to be black and white (like a soccer ball).  My husband wanted a male and it had to be at least a year old, no puppy.  I said it had to have blue eyes.  The odds of finding a dog that fit all that criteria were pretty low, right?  First trip to the shelter, 3rd cage to the right in the big dogs room there he was, bouncing up and down like a demented Tigger on crack.   Shit.  Wait, but what’s this? Oh.. he’s been adopted. Too bad.  Feeling certain it would never happen I told the staff to let me know if his adoption fell through and no, thank you. I don’t want to look at the other dogs. He’s the only one that I was interested in.  Two days later I got a call.  His new owner had returned him.  Sigh

So I went and got him and I’d like to say it was a perfect match and he was a great dog.  He was a dick. From day one.  The first thing he did was take a dump on my bedroom floor. Then he decided the recliner would work very nicely as his command central.  He would run away constantly. You’d see him hauling ass up the road, down by the river, running victory laps around the house. I started lying when neighbors would call to report a sighting. I’d tell them it couldn’t be my dog. My dog was right here.  There were times he was so bad I would cry because I didn’t think we could keep him but I knew he wasn’t likely to be given too many more chances.  I understood we were the third attempt.  On the advice of the staff at the humane society I bought a crate. I felt bad putting a full grown dog in a crate but after a while  he got used to it and would put himself in time out.  He hung out with me in my office. He was starting to grow on me.

After a time we couldn’t imagine not having him in our family. For the cost of some kibble, chew bones and a comfortable bed he has been a constant source of amusement.  He is terrified of cats, thunder, fireworks and the sounds of gunfire. He has a fondness for UPS brown. He barks like he wants to rip your throat out when you drive into my dooryard, but if you come in the house, invited or not, you are  his best friend and he will offer to show you where the best snacks are kept. He loves to ride in the car, even though 99% of his car rides end at the vet’s or kennel.  He has never put the two together.  If you put an item of clothing on him, he freezes and will not move until you take it off.  He doesn’t run away   anymore, but if he finds himself loose he will do one quick lap around the house and then throw himself at the door to be let back in.  When my husband died, he gave up his comfy bed and started sleeping across my bedroom doorway. He seemed to sense I needed him there.  My new bedtime routine is to move his bed from it’s usual spot in my office to outside my bedroom.  We sleep in a row with my little dog, Clover,  in her spot near the bed.

Comet’s tumor was found much like mine.  Not there one day and hard to ignore the next.  My long time veterinary clinic would not see him though I begged. I was leaving for Texas in a few days and he was to be boarded. While I understand a lump is not an emergency, I am a cancer survivor.  We don’t ignore lumps.  When I returned from Texas I made an appointment with a new clinic and they have been wonderful.  Sure this was just a fatty tumor, they biopsied it and got concerning results.  Surgery revealed a much larger mass than suspected and they could not get it all without causing muscle and nerve damage.   Pathology report came in yesterday and it is, indeed, cancer.  Good news, it is not the kind that metastasizes normally. Bad news, they did not get it all so it will likely grow back.  I’m taking a wait and see approach and for the moment he is doing great.  He had his stitches out today and carried on like they were killing him. Such a drama king.

While history tells me the odds are not usually in my favor, they have been in his and I’m betting on him to be around for a few years to come.

How am I doing?

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I’ve had a few messages lately from people who only know me through this blog.  I’ve been MIA.  I guess when you start a blog because of a diagnosis like cancer and then disappear people wonder. I know I do and I’m always happy to see posts from the bloggers I follow. I have been reading regularly and commenting a bit, just haven’t had a lot to say, so here goes.

On the cancer front, as far as I know I’m still cancer free. I’ll know more after my upcoming 6 month check, but I don’t anticipate any bad news. I feel pretty good.

As for the rest of my life let’s see. I took a job, hated it, quit and decided to spend my time and cash building up my little business. That’s going really well and keeping me busy.  The downside (and reason I took the aforementioned hated job) is the isolation of working at home. I’ve done it for years but didn’t live alone as well.  I’m a self admitted home body so I’ve made an effort to get out more.  Weekly dinner and drinks with friends. Biweekly breakfast with another friend. Spending time with each of my parents and my husband’s mother each week and as much time with my girls as they can spare. I’ve made two trips to Texas . I’ve joined a group dedicated to helping teen mothers make a good start in life and I belong to another group of ladies who fund raise for local charities.  Both fun groups with a lot of really nice ladies.  I look forward to the meetings. I help a friend out occasionally with her catering business.  Keeping busy.

On the home front, I have been having a lot of work done on the house. I don’t feel the need to move as much as I did at first, but I doubt I will be here forever and why only fix it up to sell? I want to enjoy the results while I’m here.  I will admit this winter nearly did me in. I felt tested every damn day for one reason or another (me and every one else, huh?)  You would think I’d be happy to see summer but there are too many upcoming anniversaries and I would be happy to sleep through until Fall.  June 1st would have been our 29th wedding anniversary, June 6th is the one year anniversary of his death. July 10th is the 2nd anniversary of my sister’s death but I never marked the first in any significant way.I was still reeling from losing my husband.    I will officially be through all the “firsts” though.  I’ll let you know if that makes it any easier.

My mom and I were buying flowers the other day. I loaded up on baskets and flats. We were chatting back and forth and talking about what we should get for the cemetery. She picked something for my sister and I picked something for my husband. And it felt normal, which made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.

I’ve been slipped the senior discount a few times.  I see the double takes and the questioning looks and I silently dare them to ask. One kid was all of 17 and when I said “don’t be fooled by the hair” he laughed and I was happy to pay full price. When they don’t ask and give me the discount I say nothing.  One woman asked me the other day and it was the first time I was offended. She was at least my age and had about a half inch of gray roots showing.  I wanted to ask if she thought that bad dye job was fooling anyone. I’m not giving in and dying my hair but I think I will let it grow long and wild.  I’m hoping for the aging hippie look. I’ll probably end up with more of a crone vibe.

This post is all over the place, much like my mind these days. Sorry.

How am I doing? I’m doing well, finding my footing.  Thanks for asking. How are you doing?