Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Whole Tooth

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Why no Saturday morning post today, Lynne?

Well, there’s a couple of reasons. Some are kind of personal, but the main reason is that I have had a horrible toothache since last night. I’ve never had a toothache like this before. It sucks balls. I’ve been experimenting with pain relief all day, OTC drugs, heat, cold. Ibuprofen and a hot compress seems to be the best so far.

Fortunately, I have a dental appointment Monday anyway, so if I can hang on that long, I should be able to find out what the hell is wrong. I may go up to emerg tonight if I can’t get to sleep, though. I hate sitting in emerg, because of course, it’s triaged, and I suspect rotten toothache is probably a pretty low priority when people have more serious problems, so it’s probably a long wait.

I remember once I had Thing One up at emerg, when he was just a little guy. He was in his jammies, and I’d brought a book of Thomas the Tank Engine stories that he particularly liked, to read to him while we waited. We curled up in the waiting room. Across from us, there was an inmate from the correctional centre, handcuffed, with an officer on either side. I realized partway into a story that he was listening to the story, too.

See? Read your kids more stories. It’ll keep them out of jail.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

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“How old are you?”

“What grade are you in?”

“Where are you going with those scissors?”

“What do you need apple butter and a syringe FOR?”

Remember alllllll those questions grownups used to ask you when you were a kid? Some of them were easy. “I’m seven.” “Grade two.” “What scissors?” “Surgery.”

The one I always dreaded was “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, because I didn’t have a clue. I knew what I DIDN’T want to be. Nurse, mommy, teacher, secretary, ballerina. Nope, nope, nope. Those were different days for women and girls. It’s not like today, when a girl is encouraged to be whatever the hell she wants to be. I thought those were my options, and since I didn’t want to be ANY of those things (although the idea of teaching was something I flirted with later on), I saw my future as being a very blank page indeed. I wanted to be a land surveyor for a while, because they had some neat looking equipment and got to play outside a lot. I wanted to be Captain Kirk. I wanted to be a dingo.

Also, I was a KID. I didn’t know what I was good at yet. I liked to draw pictures. I liked to sing. I liked to write stories. I still like doing all of those things, but I’m not particularly good at any of them, and I certainly could never make a living at them. I’ve sung in chamber choirs, at dive bars, and friends’ weddings. I’ve been a pretty good Garfunkel by times over the years, but I’m no Simon. I draw silly little marginalia and cartoons. I often can still explain things better by drawing them than I can by trying to describe them. I write a modestly popular blog. I have a degree in theatre (yes, I know, “whoop-dee-doo, Lynne” but it is a fact), but I’ve never made a living at it.

My parents were teachers, and although the idea of having long stretches of time off over the summer was appealing, the idea of spending an entire day with a roomful of children was not. I thought about social work, but my father told me I had better straighten out my own problems before I did THAT. Hey, guess what, Dad? I’m still screwed up!

I did wind up being a mommy, which kind of surprised me. According to my kids, I was pretty good at it, too. But I never felt that it was my primary identity.

Anything involving mathematics or science was out. Big Bird does not do math. Although, I like lab coats. Lab coats are cool. I wish I could wear a lab coat to work.

And so, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a good job, which I love. I feel like I make a contribution to society, and that’s important to me. I still sing, draw and write – you’re reading this, aren’t you? I’m okay with how it all turned out. I’m a lot of things. I just don’t get paid for them.

Working It Out

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I think I’ve probably babbled about this before, but I’m going to babble again.  Look out.

For years, I worked in a really poisonous work environment.  Suspicion, petty jealousy and gossip were rampant.  I had only one trusted co-worker, and every once in a while I would just go into her office and sit and say “Shhh…I’m hiding”, just to get away. I used to put in earplugs, turn out my light, and lie down and take a nap on my lunch hour, just to get away from it.  I was constantly looking over my shoulder and pulling daggers out of my back.  Every morning I’d wake up wondering if I could possibly call in sick.

There was a huge organizational restructuring a few years ago.  I still don’t know what criteria they used to decide who would be kept on and who would be let go.  Many people lost their jobs.  My friend and I were the only ones out of our office kept on.  There were people with more experience than I let go, and people with less.  Older workers, younger workers, highly educated people and highschool grads, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

Whatever yardstick the Powers That Be used in their decision making process, it worked.  I find now that throughout the entire organization, there’s a more collaborative atmosphere, a higher level of dedication to our mandate, and just … nicer people, if that makes any sense.  Kinder, gentler people.  People who are truly respectful of our clientele, and are seriously dedicated to serving their needs.

You may recall a post I did a while ago about “Monsters”.  That matter is still ongoing, still haunting me.  It came to a head for me when I was visiting my brother a few weeks ago.  My beloved little nephew leaped into my lap for some hugs, and I could barely touch him.

That’s when I decided:  The Monster has to go.

I approached my Area Director and explained the situation to her, that this client had gotten inside my head, and was affecting my relationship with my family, and that I had a mental block about the file and didn’t feel like I was handling it effectively or fairly.  This is the first time in fourteen years I have ever made a request to be relieved of a file, and I wasn’t sure how it would go over.

In the old regime, the response would have been “suck it up”, and co-workers would have been saying “hey, better you than me”.  Really.  I am not kidding.

This is not the old regime.  She listened to my concerns, agreed with my position, and suggested I e-mail the Administrator.  I did so, and the response was “I totally understand.  I will handle it.  Thanks.”

So, over the past couple of years, I have finally become what I’ve always wanted to be – one of those enviable cats who really loves their work.  I’m surrounded by cooperation, collaboration, dedication, respect and even occasionally, laughter.  My coworkers are a fantastic group of people, every single one of them.  It is a pleasure to come to work every day.

This is how work is SUPPOSED to be.

Namaste, colleagues.  You are the greatest.

Retreat

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A year and a half ago, I was removed from the world for three months while I recovered from surgery.  Oh, I had family and friends helping me out, preparing meals, nursing me, doing laundry and housework and keeping me company.  Leesa was invaluable to me during that time.  Everyone needs a completely trusted friend, and she is a friend indeed.  My sons were there for me too, and while Thing Two was at school during the day, Thing One (who was living in town at the time) was there every day for a few hours, with healing love and energy.  My ex-boyfriend came on weekends.  The VON was there daily to do the gross wound-y things.  Friends and colleagues (sometimes in the same person) came by once in a while to cheer things up.

We had Christmas in my room that year.  Sharon brought me a  funny little tree, and the stockings were hung off the dresser, with care.  Thing One got into the wine and cooked his first turkey, with a little remote direction from me, and pulled off a wonderful meal.

But for all that, when you’re in an invalid state, you spend a great many hours alone.  After I got off the really  heavy , brain-fogging painkillers and decided that daytime TV really was too stupid for words, I had a lot of time to think.  I spent a lot of time sifting through my priorities, resetting my moral compass, and evaluating my relationships.  That time alone really did change my life.

I regained more than my health during that time.   I ended a toxic relationship as a result of that time of clarity.   I forged stronger relationships with family.  I reestablished bonds with people who matter, and severed bonds with people who don’t.   I reestablished my relationship with myself, and regained a measure of respect for what and who I am.

I have been left with some problems as a result.  I hit menopause like a brick wall.  I have a horrific scar, which draws oblique stares in the gym changeroom.  I still need surgery to repair an 8″ split in my abdominal muscle, and no amount of exercise will ever totally repair my abdominal damage.  That’s okay.  I’ve borne two amazing children who are now amazing young men.  I’ve survived fibroid tumours and endometriosis.  I will never be taken by ovarian cancer like my mother was.  I’ve rebuilt my body since that time, regained my strength, mobility and endurance, and entered into an amazing journey of striving to be my very best and strongest self, physically and mentally.  I’ve come to a new place of respect and self-esteem in my relationships.

I wonder where I would be now had I not had that time of retreat and reflection.

Boy Wonder

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My niece and nephews are especially dear to me;  they’re all unique and wonderful little people.  I’m so happy that over the past year I’ve gotten to spend so much time with them, and to learn so much about them and from them.  They can restore my faith in the goodness of humanity at times when I’ve pretty much given up.

This little heartbreaker is especially dear.  He’s the youngest, and very likely the last, and he will never be this little again.  When I’m visiting, I’m often the first one up in the morning, enjoying the quiet wee hours with my knitting or a book.   Philly is usually up next, and without saying a single word, leaps up into my lap for a good long cuddle.  According to mum and dad, he’s always like this in the mornings, and loves a little closeness with a trusted grownup to start his day.

He’s a whirlwind the rest of the day, bossy, opinionated; bright and sparkly; curious and full of wonder.  He’s just everything a five year old should be, and he has the best parents a kid could ever ask for to guide him.  He’s surrounded by love and music and total chaos.

A few months ago, I gave him his birthday gift and somehow managed to drop the pen I signed the card with into the bag.  He was totally thrilled with the light-up lightsabre bubble wand, but even more so with the pen.  “WOW!  My very own pen!”  Yeah, nothing says Auntie Lynne loves you like a chewed-up half-empty ballpoint, buddy.

He’s quick to laughter, and quick to rages and tears.  Life is still brand-new, and he’s delighted by everything around him.  Typical kid, he never walks when he could run, never talks when he could shout or sing.  He’s the only one in the whole family who can dance.  He’s everywhere, all the time, a hundred miles an hour.

But first thing in the morning, a few times a year, he’s my lifeline.

“Dad,” he said to my brother once.  “I’m having a GREAT life.”  I know he makes mine better.

The Flesh is Willing

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Today in my brain:

Cannibalism.

Remember that movie about the plane crash, where they ended up eating the dead to survive?

What’s wrong with that, anyway?  Here’s a promise from me to you:  if I’m dead, and you’re hungry enough to want to eat my carcass, you hereby have my permission to go for it.  I’m not using it anymore.  It’s not “me”, per se,  at that point, it’s meat.

There’s a taboo against eating human flesh, I think we can all agree on that.  But there’s also a long history of ingesting others in order to memorialize them or to ingest admirable qualities that they had;  it’s a culture of respect and remembrance.

There’s just some weird creepy cannibalism out there too, I know.  I’m not advocating killing other people in order to eat them, or farming or hunting humans.  I’m just saying:  after death, it’s just a body.

What actually brought this on was a combination of watching too many reruns of  Survivorman and my typical response to hunger, which is generally “I could gnaw my own arm off “.  That got me thinking:  Could I actually gnaw my own arm off?  Presuming that one had the means to prevent oneself from bleeding to death, could eating your own limbs actually prevent you from starving to death until help came?

Discuss amongst yourselves.  I think I’m going to go have a bowl of cereal.

Leonard Knows Best

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So.  I actually went out with someone.  Someone from a dating site on the internet.  The first one I’ve found that I actually wanted to meet in person. Well, that’s not quite true, the second one.  The first one turned out to be just starting a relationship, so that just didn’t pan out.  No problem, I get that.  From what I gather, it’s going quite well for him – so, it can be done!  I just have crummy timing.

We met for coffee.  I’m not going to say a lot about it, because it’s private, and I don’t know where it’s going, if anywhere.  But it was okay.  I didn’t die.  I felt good.  I don’t know if he’s Mister Right,  I don’t know him well enough yet.  But he wasn’t Mister Run-Screaming, or Mister Not-in-a-Million years.  It was good.  We talked for a couple of hours (without TOO many awkward silences) like grownups, and parted if not friends, then at least as pleasant new acquaintances.  It was a good experience.  We had a lot in common.

It can be done.  There are people out there.

I just wonder, though…I feel better right now than I have in a long time.  Whether that new mindset is a result of being single and feeling unfettered, or whether it’s a result of lifestyle improvements, or some combination of the two, I don’t know.

I always feel judged in a relationship.  Like I have to maintain a certain standard of appearance, like I have to be constantly entertaining.  Like I have to report to a higher-up about my behaviour.  Mostly, though, I feel like I’m not being my truest self, because there are bits I really have to protect others from.  I’m rather enjoying being accountable only to myself.  I hold myself to high standards;  I also know when I need to cut myself some slack.

Maybe I just need to be in a relationship with ME.  I know what I like.  😉

Leonard Cohen often knows best, I think.

Namaste