Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Schedules, String Cheese, and EmmA's Homework

I keep a calendar. It's where all the upcoming important things and events and places I need to be and also the people I am responsible for need to be when they need to be there live. Usually on Sunday afternoons I sit at the dining table and fill in and review what's coming up for the week.

I don't do this because I am an organized person. I do this because the inside of my brain looks like a "worst of" episode of Hoarders they haven't even dreamed of yet. Also see previous post re: how my brains are LITERALLY spilling out of my skull so there is that.

I also don't do this to establish an alibi, unless my dental appointment will clear me of suspicion of murder, in which case go ahead and ask me.

If you have ever tried to make social plans with me, I have likely told you to check with The Hubs because he's in charge of our social calendar. That is true. He inherited the gene from his mother wherein he can tell you where we are going for 4th of July for the next five years straight.

My brain is filled to capacity with other things, and thanks to scoring a 14/14 on this Greenwich University test I know it's also filled with the faces of everyone I've ever looked at, which explains why I randomly point out people in grocery stores and bore my spouse to literal death with stories like hey there's the guy that did such and such ten years ago and in exchange he looks at me like he is calculating the amount of insurance money he could get if he killed me in my sleep so he never has to hear another story like this and he can't decide if it's worth it. (Also spoiler: NOT MUCH!!)

In the end he decides not to because he needs me to use my skills to tell him who an actor is or what other movie we saw him in because we can't enjoy entertaining things until I tell him and I couldn't very well tell him if I was dead.

I keep a calendar to remind myself of the what-and-who-goes-where because with all the faces in my head and also all the other useless trivia IN THE WORLD lodged there ( hey Mandy, you wanna know why that horse has ribbons braided into its tail?) and also the knowledge required to do my actual day job that they pay me money to do, this being able to remember normal things business is my shortcoming. Like on Friday, TB stayed home with Dad-Dad with a fever and I was at work at 9:30 midway through a meeting before it occurred to me I'd forgotten to call the school and tell them.

What's that you ask? Why did not Dad-Dad whom he was staying home with call the school? Unsure. Dad-Dad would probably say he does not know the school's telephone number. I do not know of all the things that occupy Dad-Dad's brain hoard, but I think the corner where there could be room to store the telephone number for the school is occupied by the fine print of the Dairy Queen buy-one-get-one-free coupons, which up until he had to go and ruin it for everyone, there didn't USED TO HAVE TO BE an exclusion for ice cream cakes on.

Who knows whether this will ever improve? In all this, I'm arming my kids to be more self sufficient.

I sent TB to school on Monday with a Costco-sized package of string cheese in an insulated bag in his backpack. I heard him tell EVERY SINGLE kid at the bus stop, "Guess what I have in my backpack! STRING CHEESE!". I made a mental note to email his teacher about it.

And then I forgot.

Later in the day, I emailed her:

"I *hope hope hope* he told you he has string cheese in his backpack before it got warm."

She answered back:

"He was responsible. He told me as soon as he got to the classroom."

Today, I asked him to please give Ella back her free-draw picture that had accidentally come home in his folder. He asked how I knew it was hers. I knew because Ella's mom had given me back one of TB's papers that had gone home with her by mistake. I also knew it was THIS Ella and not a different Ella because we'd chuckled over both our kids stubbornly making capital As not in the beginning of their names.

I knew when I saw -EllA- across the top it was hers.

Could I have given it to Ella's mom myself? Yeah. We both go to the bus stop in the mornings. But this was a chance for him to see that someone made a mistake (their mailboxes are next to each other), fix that mistake even though it was not HIS mistake, and to give back a thing that didn't belong to him. Things like that take practice when it's a little insignificant thing like a free-draw so that when it's a big thing like someone's valued personal property, the decision comes like muscle memory to do what's right.

It's one thing to preach theory to someone and hope they do it when the time comes, but it's a gift when you have a chance to practice.

Because when my boys grow up, I want them to know how to do the right thing, especially when it affects other people. As they're getting older, I'm realizing that as much as things like grades are important to me, how they treat others is importanter. So far, I think they're doing okay, but we've had A LOT of chitty-chats along the way, especially lately.

Yes, about Kavanaugh, too. Especially about that.

When TB got off the bus today, I asked him whether he had a fun day, and whether he gave Ella back her paper. He said yes and yes, but that he waited until they got all the way to school to give it to her. I was irritated.

"Why didn't you give it to her on the bus?"

"Because it was raining, mom. I didn't want her to have a tricky zipper on her backpack on the bus and not be able to zip it up and it would get all wet and rainy. I waited until we were inside at school in case she needed a grown up to help with her zipper after she put it away."

I'm going to forget things again. A lot of things. I will forget and get lost in the minutiae of times and dates and appointments and the things I need to write down because I cannot seem to make them stick like post-its on my brain.

I will remember that today, TB was my favorite.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Key Are What?

Hey hi.

I've been absent a while.

The words aren't coming very easily these days. If I'm honest, they haven't for a while. I'd gotten used to the idea that they had to sit and steep for a long time. Edits were part of the deal.

I'm going to try to make this short, you can go down the Google rabbit hole for the rest.

In preparation for a referral to a migraine specialist, my primary ordered an MRI.

It showed a Type 1 Arnold Chiari Malformation.

Long story short, part of my brain is squishing through the hole that my spinal cord is supposed to enjoy unfettered exclusive real estate on and it restricts the flow of spinal fluid in and out of the brain.


Even grosser? The fix for it. Which is why I baby-step tippy toed around telling Hubs about it because I didn't want him to freak out. But then he Google machined it and now the cat's out of the bag and I'm probably going to end up with a super sexxxy haircut one day. Maybe.

And as soon as I realized what it was and the havoc it wreaks on your body, the last oh...I don't know...all of my entire life came suddenly into sharp focus. All of the things and the instances where I knew something was wrong but I didn't stand up for myself. I'm kicking myself for letting this go for so long that now my question is: can they do something about it now, and will I know whatever it is to feel normal?

For as long as I can remember these are the things that I've thought were "normal" or were explained away:

The baseline constant feeling of having just stepped off a tilt-a-whirl.

The always dilated pupils which were especially fun all the times I was accused of being on drugs which was especially fun because I have literally never done drugs ever.

My childhood dentist who said "her mouth is too small for her teeth, so I'm going to just start pulling a bunch of them out until they fit." [THIS MAYBE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A CLUE THAT MY SKULL WAS ALSO TOO SMALL FOR MY BRAIN HELLO]

Thinking I keep pulling my neck muscles every morning like I am trapped inside the body of an 80 year old. Then blaming myself for not eating enough vitamins or doing enough yoga.

That time in 5th grade that I blacked out for no reason in the gym and Sarah Cameron caught me and kept me from busting my teeth out and Mr. Bruce walked me home and my mom said I was probably just sad because my grandpa died.

Other girls: "look at my cute headband." Me: "get it off me before I vomit".

Crying for no reason. Or because I yawned wrong.

So sleepy.

That lump in my throat I blamed on things like my feelings.

All the activity-a-thons for various entities I was involved with, including an overly ambitious youth group bike ride some combination of from and/or to Hells Gate and the church, where one and/or both of The Studer Boys graciously stayed back and pedaled circles around me with their 9 foot long legs while I likely begged them to go on ahead and leave me there to die.

That time I blacked out for no reason when I worked at JC Penney (because I had my head tilted way back getting something off a high rack with a pole/hook) and the customer thought I was dead and I went to the doctor because you better not be pregnant and no I wasn't but my blood pressure was wow super low so my doctor said hey you're young just eat more salt and you'll be fine so I got to do fun things like eat pickles and peanuts at every special occasion where someone thought I might be getting nervous and clammy.

That time I blacked out for no reason during a preop Q/A session before a laparoscopic cleanout of the endometriosis crime scene in my abdomen when I couldn't hear the nurse's question over the ringing in my ears so I turned my head wrong, and they did an EEG but that was normal and my mom said oh this has happened before she's probably just nervous!

That time pre-labor that my blood pressure crashed after the epidural when I laid flat on my back.

Every time I lay flat and I start to see stars. Or when Jason throws his leg over mine and presses down on my legs and I freak out because I can't breathe.

Every time one block feels like five miles. If it's hot? I get stupid. Quickly.

I've always had the upper body strength of a wet noodle.

My hands and feet go numb but hey I'm probably just not active enough for good circulation!

Falling down! Tripping over nothing. Misjudging distances. Stairssssss. Oh God. The stairs.

So now I wait. I'm waiting because that's what we do when you're in line to see a specialist who specializes in special problems. But it's not an emergency, and I know now I've had this forever. And honestly, who here is surprised that my brains are literally too big to fit inside my skull?

I'd like to get some answers soon, though. It's been a month now and that feels like a long, long time to wait to make a plan. Although I guess now I know why none of the migraine meds that I've tried over the past 20 years have worked. Shout out to those who've been patient with me in the past when I know this has shown its face, when it's robbed me of my energy or my words or seemingly my personality. And to those who've known about this and who've said they'd do whatever, whenever. You guys are the best. Who knew such an invisible thing could be so clear if someone just knew where to look?

Humans are so weird.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tattle Tits

You can call me Tattle Tits.

Last year I witnessed an incident at a retailer that ended in an ambulance call and left me with a gut feeling that someone might lie about it.

I don't even know why I felt like that. Something was just off. The reaction wasn't what I expected.

Other people saw it, someone else called for the ambulance, there were surveillance cameras.

Still, I stopped by later that day when the hubbub died down and asked to talk to the on-site contact for loss prevention. I could tell he wasn't quite sure what he was doing, so I jotted down a quick statement with elements I knew were important. I wrote down my name and telephone number.

Today, I got a call from their corporate loss prevention division. The claim is something wildly different than the facts. They found my name and knew from the first written narrative scribbled sideways on a scrap that the statement on the claim wasn't adding up.

Here's the kicker. Those cameras? They only SOMETIMES work. They didn't that day.


Why had I even been paying that much attention?

Am I a five-alarm stalker?

Only kind of.

It was July. Go ahead and look up what the weather was like or I'll save you the trip to the Googlemachine because it was HOT AS BALLS.

This lady had on layers and by layers I mean like A COAT and gloves and I noticed this because she had those gloves up on the handle of an empty cart she was pushing into the store from the parking lot and I was like, "how unfortunate, maybe she has eczema or something but Jesus that sucks because it's so freaking HOT she is going to have a heat strooooooOMG what is happening????"

Because I watched as her feet STOPPED MOVING like, you know how when you're walking but you have to sneeze but you don't want to pee your pants? No? Just me? Anyway. Like that. Just stopped. But the top part of her body KEPT ROLLING with the cart.

She twisted around, never letting go of the cart until she was on the ground and the cart was partially on top of her. I thought this lady just dropped dead in front of me but honestly I wasn't that surprised because I was JUST thinking she was going to roast to death.

I can see this happening even now in my head because I was walking behind her in that way that one does where you kind of give a person room so they don't think you're being a crowdy asshole, but when I saw her start to twist and fall, I threw my purse to try to catch her which of course didn't work because I'm too slow but fortunately since my purse wasn't zipped I did manage to dump the contents all over the front entryway.

Her husband hadn't noticed.

"Um, hello? HELLOOOOOO!!! Um, your, uh...wife? She fell."

"Oh yeah. She does that."

He stood there with his hands in his pockets while I held her head off the concrete while she wailed because it was her bad leg that apparently already had a hip replacement. Two other women who'd been behind me called for the ambulance. They stayed and conveyed the information to the ambulance crew and I left to finish my errands.

Later I'd just gotten a bad feeling about it. I mean, I felt for the woman. I still do. I believe she was legitimately injured. I have no idea how it ended up for her. But I also got such a weird snarky vibe from the husband, or whoever was with her, that I felt like someone probably needed to say something, in case the camera hadn't picked up the right angle. Or something was blocked.

And today, I got that call. They're being sued. The claim is that she tripped over an object due to the store's negligence. They said my statement was key in this. That they'd gotten him to admit that he didn't see it because I specifically said he did not see it happen.

I got an education I didn't want in logging objective observations as a victim. I felt awful for those witnesses who got dragged in to speak to the things they'd seen and heard. It opened my eyes to just how beneficial it is as an outsider with no connection to a case to be willing to speak up and attest to what you've seen, sometimes boring details you encounter in your everyday life can make or break a criminal or civil case.

Fixers, speak up. Don't ever assume that there are cameras rolling everywhere. Don't duck out and say you don't want to be involved. Sometimes it's hard to find someone to report things to when something is chaotic. Wait until it dies down, then go back and leave your name and number and a short statement.

Be a tattle tit.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Don't Look Back - (But Totally Look Back)

Not my office. Mine is in a dungeon. With much more clutter.

As I turned the lights off in my office for the last time in 2017 on Friday, after everyone else was already gone and an eerie hush crept through the building, I felt great. Not because I sifted through and tossed most of the multiple piles of post-it notes and outdated materials while I'd been waiting on a report with more data than my computer was prepared to handle on the last working day of the year.

Not because my desk was a fresh blank slate (minus all the coffee rings I'd collected since the last scrub down).

Not because I'd made the deadline on things like expense reports and time cards.

This year I spent my December 29th compiling some unsolicited summary documents, outlining major accomplishments that accumulated during the year, projects that were borne out of weekly meetings and eating the elephant one bite at a time. I'd pushed a lot of stuff forward at what felt like a snail's pace, and the groups I belong to had done a lot too, but asking what exactly those things were required a 12 month archaeological dig to articulate.

There's still SO MUCH WORK that I'm stressed out about having left unresolved for the year. So why do this? Why not just keep pressing forward, leaving yesterday in the dust?


By sitting down and pulling together a highlight reel for the smaller team, for our peers, and for our leaders, we can see the tangible results and the larger effects on quality, efficiency, and growth as a group.

It was no different than sitting down to write the letter that accompanied my family Christmas card, really. The audience and contents were different, but both exercises gave me a chance to reflect on the year behind so that the year ahead had perspective and purpose.

But why me? Why not someone else? If this wasn't a mandatory assigned task, why put myself through that?

To remember why I started.

There's no better time than a fresh year to ask yourself why you got into this business in the first place, what brought you here, and what drives you to return every day. If you find yourself out of love with what you're doing, it might drive you to set your sights in a new direction. If you find yourself compelled to continue, it's a chance to recommit to your cause and look for new ways to do it even better.

I like what I do. I'm good at it. I get paid authentic paper money to do it (j/k I have direct deposit). It affords me a chance to make other people's lives better.

That's what it's all about, right?

So as you sit today with your fresh new planners, preparing your next week's worth of clean food bento boxes and filling gallon jugs with all the hydration you can handle and dusting off your jazzercise wardrobe, remember to take time to recognize what you did last year. Even if it feels like it was just a dumpster fire.

Write down what you did, but more importantly, what impact it had. Did you improve a process? Did your team reach a noteworthy goal? Demonstrate that. Doing so will have a ripple effect - you'll be prepared for performance evaluations to talk about how you didn't just show up on time every day, but that you also positively contributed to the bottom line. By reminding yourself of these important metrics, you may find it less daunting to put pants on tomorrow as we all head back to the grind.

Can't get started? Ask for help. Find someone you trust, your people who you'd go to for an assist if you were refreshing your resume. Some people find it hard to toot their own horn, so practicing this on a committee or team effort is sometimes much easier.

That was the case for me, anyway.

May 2018 bring satisfaction in your professional life, and may you find balance and perspective between it and your home life.