Revelations

Nothing takes back words.  Revelation.  Nothing takes back words.  Delivery is an important component.  I have always known delivery is the majority of the message perceived.  So delivery is what I’ve been working on.  Yelling.  I have a temper.  It’s short, the fuse burns quickly.  I don’t need to go into why I yell.  I’ve done that before. What I want to do is tell the truth.  I want to hold myself accountable for the message and not just the delivery.

Tell me, does a sharp word cut deeper with a louder more commanding volume or with a hushed tone slithered through gritted teeth?

If I am truly to devote myself to loving my family and those around me the message must change.  It doesn’t matter the volume.  I suppose that is where the battle toward winning the war against yelling must begin.  For me.

I suppose the easiest target for this modus operandi is my partner.  He has promised to love me, to protect me, to care for me and, most importantly, not to leave me.  He has promised not to leave me.  I know he never will.  That is why he gets it the worse.  It’s that unconditional devotion he has sworn to me and that I have sworn to him that prevents me from holding my tongue for a moment to think before I talk.  My children, they get it from me too.  It is characteristic of me.  It’s become so ingrained in my behavior that harsh words, delivered with a blow of volume or a sting of a glare and a quick quiet lash of my rolling tongue, have become second nature to me.  They know it too.  They sometimes tread lightly around me.  If I’m in a “mood”.  It’s not right.  It’s painful that my 18 month old is already learning this of me.  I wonder if he can tell the difference anymore between a shout in concern or a loud complaint of annoyance.  Will my children take my words and disregard them because they don’t think they come from a place of love or will they have a “respectful fear” of me if I continue on this path. I don’t think I like either.

Then the violent icy gritty wave of truth hits me.  Words spoken softly, piercing my heart and beating me to the ground in submission day after day, is why I left my first husband.  I was married at nineteen.  Looking back, what was I thinking?  I wanted to grow up.  I didn’t go to college. I didn’t have a decent job holding me.  I had him though.  He showed me what seemed like love…I gave him what I thought love was.  After 6 months of matrimony he delivered well-placed dialogue in moments that should have been nice, sweet, loving moments.  At the dinner table after I’d made a yummy meal he’d look at me and smile and say “ You know I don’t love you right?”  In bed before I’d drift off to sleep I would start to say the three words and he would generally interrupt me and say something to the effect of “No you don’t, this isn’t love”.  A song would come on the radio, namely any Dido song, and the sad slow words would pour into the car and he would look at me and say “ Some day this song will be about us…” I never replied. What does a teenager say to this sort of mockery of love.  I had no clue.  I endured it for six months.  In that time I made nice picnic lunches, cleaned the house, tried to make love to him, anything I could to pull him back to me.  Then I couldn’t take it any more.  I asked him for a divorce.  To let me go.  And do you know what he did….He cried and cried and asked why, what he’d done.  He fell to his knees and pulled on my shirt begging me not to walk out the door.  This is what I had wanted for the past six months.  To feel wanted and to feel loved.  Now I was getting it as my bags were packed in my car and tears streaming down my face as I dragged a clinging grown man out the door who had been pushing me away daily.  He never thought I would leave he said.

I divorced him.  I made him divorce me actually and on the day of our divorce he said “I’ll see you later, I guess.” I looked up at him in the glare of the sun and said “No…you never will.” And that was truth.

Years later I met my partner.  I met him and I knew it.  He treats me like I’m a princess, as Alanis Morissette says.  He loves me and he’s gentle and he would never say a mean word to me unprovoked.  But I do. I provoke him all of the time.  Might he some day leave me if I continue on like this?  Like I left the heart batterer?  I don’t think so.  I don’t question his devoutness.  But neither did the heart batterer think that of me.

My sharp tongue and hot head habits have turned me to hypocrisy.  Today is the fourth day that I have not yelled since I started this challenge to not yell fifteen days ago.  However, it is only day one since I have said a harsh word in a quiet voice. Which might be worse.

Nothing takes back words.  Revelation.  Nothing takes back words.  Regardless of the delivery.

Red Alert!

Valentine’s day is coming. That’s right the country’s sweethearts will all get together and make you sick. They will feed each other fondue over candlelight and buy each other teddy bears later to be lost in the back of a closet or set on top a bookshelf to collect dust.  These tokens of affection are sweet and we love it. What of you that have been burned though? The haters who shrug it off as a Halmark Holiday…..

I was of the “I hate Valentine’s Day” population up until 2011 when Mr. Right and I tied the good ole fashioned knot. Oh yes..he is so Mr. Right. He hits the spot with each gift and each touch and every word. I will get back to him later in the post though. What I thought I’d share with you now are the variety of lessons I’ve learned from admirers over the years and how they’ve made me the best wife ever.

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Valentine’s Day Every Year until about 1999, Lesson: The one and only – I love my father. He is my inspiration to reaching my unattainable goals. I was, up until last year, his only daughter. He had a love for me like he has no other. That man made me feel special for many reasons and every year he’d get me a little four chocolate heart shaped box. That was so special. Thanks, Dad, for the chocolates and for showing me what it means to be special to someone like no one else can be.

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Valentine’s Day 2002 , Lesson: The year insecurities were turned into “I deserve it”– I told my highschool sweetheart that I hated getting flowers because they DIE! Yup over emotional, insecure little me. I perhaps didn’t think I was good enough to get flowers. And do you know what the big ole sweet loaf did? He made paper flowers and gave me a stone that said “love” on it. What a doll. I wonder where that Mr. Wrong is today….While he did break my heart a year later he gave me the confidence you never would believe in didn’t have once.

Oh 4 and Oh 5. Lesson: The years I found out I could make myself happy. – In 2004 I married one of the Mr. Wrong’s. He didn’t love me. He told me so. Often. I was 19….Who the hell let me get married?! Well…I guess…if you know me the answer is “Who could stop you?”. What I learned from this Mr. Wrong is that I don’t have to have some one else’s attention to be happy. I tried until I couldn’t try any more to make him love me. So I gave up! And when I stopped trying to make him happy…I started to make myself happy. Thank you Mr. Wrong for showing me independent self-sufficient happiness does exist.

The Inking years. Lesson: The years I learned to fight for love – Oh Mr. Wrong of the Inking years. As Grace Potter and the Nocturnals puts it “We had a sky dive love affair, knew it from the very start”.  I knew it wasn’t meant to be. But boy oh boy did that dude teach me about fighting. I read several books on relationships. I talked with a therapist weekly about how to be happy with him. I tried breaking up with him. I tried making up with him. And the only good that came out of all that exhausting fighting was a little love I call, Maddox.  Thank you Mr. Wrong for showing me that love is worth fighting for.

Substitutes for Love. Lesson: Whoa, whoa, whoa, She’s a lady – These are a handful of Mr. Wrongs. These guys made a rundown, tired, over stressed, underslept mom feel like a MILF. That’s right….We’re talking good old tried and true rebounds and flings. One of them loved to sing to me at the top of his lungs in his truck and show me off. One used guitar and lyrics written for me. One liked to take me out on expensive dates. One liked to take me for rides on his motorcycle, real fast. One made one Christmas season very special and gave me his full vacation’s worth of attention. One didn’t care how hot August was..wink wink. (I know honey, this is not your favorite part….stay with me here. It’s all for you). While these may have been short lived they all taught me a lesson. I’m a hot piece of ass. Regardless of if it’s true or not. I have great self-esteem. If you see me staring at my self in the side view mirror while I sing along with the radio or looking at my face a little too long while putting on make up…Its only because these guys made me feel like I was worth looking at.

Valentine’s Day 2011. Lesson: I’m the whole package. – This is the year Mr. Right and I got married. This guy respected me, acknowledged my independence, appreciated my fight for life, made me feel like a Sex Goddess, and showed me I was worth making his one and only. By marrying me he told me I had learned the lessons of what my former years had to teach.  Mr. Right is the whole package and some. While we all have baggage from the past we can chose how we travel with that baggage. Take the good stuff, leave behind the stuff that doesn’t serve us. Life is one lesson after another. Its your choice to pay attention or not.

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I’ve learned my lesson and dammit!….. I love Valentine’s day.

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Essay – Ageism

When you think of prejudices prevalent in today’s American society what comes to mind?  In his book, Ageism: Negative and Positive, Dr. Erdman Palmore suggests that the top three forms of bigotry are racism, sexism, and then thirdly, ageism (1999).  What is ageism?  When did we start using that word?  Ageism is a term coined by Dr. Robert Butler in 1968 to describe discrimination against the elderly population (Tapper, 2010).  Dr. Butler, in his life, contributed so much to the goal of shifting views on the geriatric populus.   It was the works and determination of Dr. Butler that medical schools have a required geriatric round.  He initiated the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at Mount Sinai Medical Center and wrote many books on aging and longevity including the 1976 Pulitzer-winning Why Survive: Being Old in America. (AP. 2010). There is legislature on ageism that prevents employers from hiring, firing, withholding training or pension, etc., based on age (2008). Employers, despite this, can have employees sign a waiver of this right.

There is a miniscule scraping of the surface of the history of ageism to date. To follow will come my opinions and life experiences coupled with possibilities for remedy and potentially how to prevent a decline in care and respect for who will inevitably be us some day.

I have to admit that upon receiving this assignment I was stricken with guilt and embarrassment.  I have always been ageist.  I hate it.  I like to think of my self as a well rounded, open-minded, widely accepting participant in society.  But, alas, I am human and not exempt from opinions and emotions.  Growing up both of my parents worked in a nursing home. My mother was the business office manager and my father was the director of social services and admissions for SunBridge a franchise assisted living facility. With an in like that, it was easy for me to slip into my first job at the age of fifteen as a “dietary aid” for the cafeteria at said nursing home.  As a dietary aid (lets be real…I was a dishwasher) I started honing my ageist opinions.

I’m sure you can imagine what types of “yuck” I would encounter on the returned trays of the residents.  Let me paint a picture for you anyhow.  Often times I would get a tray back with teeth on it.  Yes, Alfred forgot to put his teeth back in after eating and yes he tried to eat with his dentures in only to succumb to the fact that he couldn’t.  So that was pretty foul.  The endless accounts of bodily fluid filled tissues and napkins that littered the trays.  The cups and mugs returned with solidified beverages from the thicken powder used to thicken the beverage so that those who had a hard time swallowing might not choke on the liquid.  I was even lucky enough to get a whole tray of vomit one time.  Oh yes, I was ageist at a young age.  I did this for two years before becoming a licensed nursing assistant.  That did not bode well for my outlook on the demographic. Changing diapers, showering, changing, and answering to the beck and call light of many elderly was fodder for my well developed prejudice.  I hated it.  I hated old people. They smelled bad, they couldn’t hear me and if they did they couldn’t understand me, I couldn’t understand them.  It was like we were having a language barrier.  We were from different generations and that may as well be from different planets as far as a 17 year old was concerned.

I quickly escaped the world of elder care only to find my self landed back in an LNA position in 2006. By this time my work ethic and my determination to attain perfection had set in.  I still held the ageist opinions from my early youth, but now I was dedicated to the role of caregiver. I worked overnights with the thought that I would see less of “them”, and I did. What I didn’t count on was how many of “them” died at night.  I suppose it would be safe to say that is when my thoughts on the elderly started to shift. I developed greater patience and compassion toward these people passing on to the next whatever-they-believed-in.

The first time a resident died on my watch I was rife with mixed emotion.  I felt responsible somehow, feelings of horror and literal morbidity.  The emotions were endless.  I was to count breaths and heart beats every 5 minutes and was asked to talk her through passing on. What?! I was mortified. But some how Bernie and I made it through the night. Twenty breaths a minute, thirteen breaths, five breaths, no breaths. All the while talking to her. “When we met you were such a fire cracker. Remember? You said I looked like a circus freak with all my tattoos… We became good friends, huh? Who would have thought?” I would speak softly to her. “Mommy, Momma, Momomom” was all that she could say.  “Yes soon you will be with your Momma, Bernie, soon.” I gave her a sponge bath, combed her hair and tried to help her stay as comfortable as possible.  When she was pronounced dead I didn’t know if I should cry or if it was unprofessional or not.  I waited till I got a break in the smoking room by myself. After Bernie there were lots that died on the night shift and I looked forward to helping people pass on.

My favorite was a woman named Alice. That woman could not remember my name to save anyone’s life. She was “gone with the wind” we would say (She loved movies).  The night she died she looked at me and said: “Melody, you have such a lovely name… … Don’t ever let anyone call you ‘Mel’ again. Don’t let anyone call you by anything but your god-given name because it’s yours, and you are beautiful.” She closed her eyes and didn’t say another word and passed away 4 hours later.  I had a classic jaw dropping moment in her room that night and to this day I ask to be called Melody.

These two stories and many others like it opened my heart to elderly people. But you know the saying, “Outta sight, outta mind”. When I stopped working at the nursing home I was so happy to stop. I was tired and burnt out from the over night shift. I went back to my old ways of the demeaning name calling under my breath and the intolerance to every slow driver who was obviously too old to drive.

Today how is my outlook on the aging population? Well, greatly affected by society, because as I always say, “I am human and not exempt from folly.”  Mindfulness and patience will aid in my ageist recovery.  After all in the past two years I have become dearest best friends with a woman who is 66 (She turned 67 today! Happy Birthday MLS!). She is so amazing, strong, and has piles of stories to share from her formative and adult years. I love this woman and I owe her a big thank you because she has reminded me that we are all just people on a life spectrum.  Looking back, I’m so angry with myself for thinking this way.  I suppose the same could be said for anyone after a shift in paradigm, for any prejudice.

We have to make a stand for education of our doctors, legislature and employers for the aging community. Like I said earlier, those old farts will be us some day. I sure hope there is a caring girl with tattoos sitting by my bed whispering me off to the “Otherworld” as I take my last breath.

Work Cited:

Tapper, Joshua. “A Last Conversation With Dr. Robert Butler.” The New Old Age Blog. The New York Times. 7 July 2010. Web. 18 Sept 2012. <http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/a-last-conversation-with-dr-robert-butler/>.

Palmore, Erdman, PhD. “Ch.1: Introductions and Definitions.” Ageism: Negative and Positive. 2nd ed. New York. Springer. 1999. 3-18. Print.

Dittmann, Melissa. “Fighting Ageism.” American Psychological Association. May 2003. Web. 19 Sept 2012. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/may03/fighting.aspx&gt;.

Associated Press. “Dr. Robert Butler, Was a Specialist on Aging, at 83.” Obituaries. Boston Globe, 7 July 2010. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. <http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/obituaries/articles/2010/07/07/dr_robert_butler_was_a_specialist_on_aging_at_83/&gt;.

“Facts About Age Discrimination.” Facts. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 8 Sept. 2008. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. <http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/age.html&gt;.

Essay – Potty Mouth

The following is an essay written for an Intro to Psych class. The topic of the week was stress. Our teacher, Betty, asked us to write an essay recounting a stressful event in a comedic light stating that it is believed that doing so reduces the stress accumulated. So, we are about to get super personal. Enjoy!

Potty Mouth

So here I am…again.  This is your Highness reporting for duty upon the porcelain throne.  Yes we are thirty-five days in and still counting. Outlook is grim.  This episodic explosive tragedy happens a few times a year in turn leading to lots of “meditative” sitting time.  Here I present thoughts from the throne or alternately titled “Potty Mouth”. A Monologue. A one-lady show. A “one-lady” with P.H.I.D.S. (poop hole in distress syndrome).

I’ve had a pretty decent day.  No sudden urges….No gurgles from the depths.  It creeps up really sudd…OH!!

“Honey! Gotta go! Felix is in the living room!”  I bolt out of my seat while trying to also hold on to my seat.  Doing the penguin shuffle all the way down the hall I fling my self into the bathroom and almost in one fluid motion I slam the door, throw my pants down and sit all in the nick of time.  Whew…that was close…I think I’m done. I get up and take care of business and wash up.  Then the sounds from within come as I’m drying my hands. “Gurgle…GURGLE!” Again with the “I gotta go” dance to the john.

“Hmmm” I think to myself, “I though I had to go…I have to read. I can’t ever go unless I’m reading.  Of course, nothing within reach for reading material.”  I lean over my lap and try to look for something…anything, to read. I look up on the counter. All I’ve got is lotion….I read.

“Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort. Lotion contains lavender and vanilla – natural ingredients with calming and relaxing properties. Combined with natural colloidal oatmeal, known for its ability to retain moisture and soothe skin, this non-greasy formula helps heal and protect your baby’s skin….” And, release. I throw the bottle on to the counter and it slides into the sink.  Done again, and commence the ritual after dropping off the heresy chocolate.  Hand washing. I toss the lotion on to the shelf. Dry my hands. “GUUUUURGLEEEE!”

“You’ve got to be kidding…” I fly on to my seat again. Not being able to be distracted enough to just go I clamber my hand over the counter looking for that baby lotion to read again.  I look up. There it is, on the shelf.  I think “Damn you, Mom!” She got the habit drilled into me “Everything has a place and every place has a thing” she would recite. I can’t find anything to read so I resort to my distraction techniques formed in public restrooms. Counting. You can count ceiling tiles, floor tiles, bolts, the list goes on really.  I count the floor tiles. I already know there are 32, but I’m not counting the geraniums on the shower curtain again…and release.  And, hand washing ritual.

I have been in the bathroom for 45 minutes.  My husband has filled and started the dishwasher, changed the baby’s diaper, put the baby down for a nap, changed the laundry, folded the laundry, and made me some lunch. I secretly think “I should spend more time in the bathroom when I’m not sick…”

End scene.

Open scene. I’m at Toy City. Briefly, it’s a toy store meets fantasy gamer nerd store meets baby supply store meets model train store. It’s bizarre at best. The cashiers are thirty something, over weight, goatee sporting, glasses wearing nerds that know too much about changing tables and infant car seats. I’m here for what my family has fondly dubbed a “baby jail”.  Really its just a large penitentiary to protect the baby from unintentional suicide. I mostly use it while home alone with the baby and having a sudden urge to serve up a pu pu platter.

So I locate said baby jail. Price it and read the side panel like a good parent and pretend to look concerned. Really what I’m doing is noticing that I’ve got some gurgles and I’ve never used the bathroom here. I’m searching out of my peripheral vision trying to locate the nearest exit and or powder room.

“Oh man!” I stand up straight, no longer interested in the safety demographics on the stupid box. Rushing like my life depends on it, I run up to one of the card-board smelling men. “Where is your bathroom?” I spout out.

“Its for employee use only” He states quite matter-of-factly. In that moment its too late. My face flushes red and my brow furrows….”Tell me where your bathroom is now….please.” He points behind him down the hall. I’m not sure if he is afraid of my mama bear energy or if he knows I just crapped my pants. Literally.

I do the penguin shuffle down the hall knowing that more is to come. I’m panicked, I’m terrified, I’m mortified, I think I might cry. I look down at the one year old on my hip and he’s giving me the biggest (pardon me – its just so appropriate) shit eating grin.

A little side about Felix.  He is the happiest baby born into this crappy world (I’m pretty sure I pooped on him when he was born).  That baby has the most plastically perfect happy face ever and you cant look at him and not smile just a little, at least.

So back to my waddle waltz down the hall. I look down at this six toothed smiling maniac who is giggling from the jostling and he’s looking at my face in a “This is great” sort of way and I loose my grip on reality. I start laughing.

While still slightly horrified, I franticly try to find a safe somewhat clean place to land my crawling baby. And from the gentlemen I described earlier you can imagine the standard of hygiene they hold for this lavatory.

“GURGLE!”  I run in a stall. I lock the door and say to hell with the sanitation and the baby goes on the floor in a pile of loose toilet paper pieces. He thinks is great.  He’s grinning ear to ear with all six of his pearly whites showing and I’m on the loo slipping off my shoes trying to figure out if I can salvage my pants. I can. The underwear must go though.

While my pants are around my ankles and my soiled panties in precarious positions Felix discovers that he can crawl under the bathroom stall.  I reach out slamming my thumb into the…you know what. I extend a foot and my toes entertain him enough to keep him from absconding.

Now I have soiled underwear, a dirtied thumb, and inevitably a yucky thigh. Could this get worse. Yes, Betty, yes it can. There is no toilet paper save what my son is sitting on. I grab some from under him and quickly inspect it clean up my hand and thigh and peel off the unwanteds. I remember the wipes in the diaper bag and clean up best I can. I throw out the undies not caring if they are exposed in the trash or not because lord knows I’m never showing my face here again. I pull up my pants, now flying commando I make a mental note of all of the bathrooms between here and home. I lace up my shoes and gather up the diaper back and the baby. Taking a deep breath I have survived. Felix thinks this is great and looks up at me with his sweet little face, which starts to twist in to strained reddened shapes.  He poops.  Of course he does. I clean him up and go buy the baby jail. As evidenced by the current event, I’m going to need it. I will never return to Toy City.

As to what’s going on with my body, the doctors and specialists don’t know. I’ve had test after test of every fluid from blood to saliva to stool (that’s a whole different comical essay) taken. I’ve even had a colonoscopy. “I don’t know Melody, you are as clean as a whistle”.  Some day I’ll find out what and why this happens butt for now I sit on my throne, pray my babies are safe, count tiles, and rule as the over lord of the little girl’s room.