homework helper

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, known as West Allegheny Junior High School, I found myself drawing a lot of maps. At least it seemed that way because Mr. Campbell, the geography teacher, always assigned a drawing of each and every country we studied in our classroom tour of Europe. For me, map assignments were easy. I aced maps. I was so good, as a junior high aged kid, that I imagined that I would grow up to be a cartographer – a great cartographer. It would have been really cool, except for the math part. Dammit math!

But forty some years later, my map drawing skills come in handy as I assist my eight grader with his research project.

Just the map, Mom.

Best part was saying Phuket and snickering like a junior high boy.

That’s not how you say it, Mom!

living with the greatest evil

Saint Augustine once said, The greatest evil is physical pain, and all I can say right now is preach on good saint!

I like to imagine that I can handle pain. I mean I have birthed babies with no pain meds on board. I road a bike from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and back the next day with my right arm in a cast. I’ve run my fair share of half marathons. Come on, surely I am capable to handle a little pain and survive.

But time, spondylosis, and osteoarthritis is telling me otherwise. Forget an exhilarating 5K run to start the day. The same goes for a slow walk around the park just around the corner from The Big Top. Reach for that salad bowl on the top shelf or bend down to tie my shoes guarantees the constant throbbing to amp up to knives stabbing the spinal column, hips and knees. The 20-30 commute to work just might kill you were it not for the salvation of the heated seat in that fun-sized Dory-car. The pain of swollen fingers,, hands, wrists and elbow promises that sleep will be interrupted numerous times through the night…or day for this night shift nurse. Yes, I tell my ortho doctor, I do take THAT much Naprosyn daily – my stomach is fine, for now. Late at night, as I attempt to console a baby born addicted to opiates because of mother’s addiction, I find myself having a better understanding sometimes what that mother must have been living with and trying to erase with prescription and illicit medicating. I’m still Team Baby, but as my back, neck, shoulder and elbow scream in protest while I hold their baby in comfort from their own withdrawal pain, I can imagine wanting to do just about anything to make this pain stop.

I’m working on it with the help of my ortho and pain specialist doctors; but this chronic suffering did not come about overnight so I imagine that relief or adjusting to a new normal that I can live with, work with and play with will take time too. I tell myself that. I tell myself that a lot – every day, every week.

Today though, today was not a good day because that chronic pain is peaking with no relief. I might have ugly cried at least three times – driving home from work this morning, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep this morning and waking up just an hour or so after falling asleep to that same pain. Days like today, and last night at work can be much too much sometimes.

But hurray for a new ball cap representing the fact that I am just a Steeltown girl and that, in spite of the pain, I woke up like this.

You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and…you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way. ~ Elizabeth Taylor

snowflakes, snow days and winter is coming

Somedays can be so hard…like today. Chronic pain, persistent anger that simmers at a low boil and long awaited and prayed-for winter storms take their toll…and today it was just that.

Expressing frustrations socially can help except in this time of political incorrectness; which is basically code for a hall pass for bullying anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Still today was a day where I spoke my mind, because I have a mind dammit and as long as it is my social space and the First Amendment remains, I’m going to express myself. It feels good. It’s even better to bask in the warmth of the like-minded in my own circle. In church we used to refer to it as encouragement. Of course, not everyone I know thinks like me. That’s okay. Most can just agree to disagree because it’s the mature thing to do. Others just walk away, mute, unfollow, scroll past or just ignore – equally mature. I respect these choices. I honor them. I give thanks for each and everyone in my circles who do this. You all are amazing! Mad love and respect for you all because we regularly exchange ideas and challenge one another.

It’s all fine until that one person you know stops by to troll. YES, troll! We all know that one person…or two or maybe more. The ones who have nothing to say when you get that promotion at work, or your kid does something great, or when you wreck your car, or when you are lonely or afraid. But express an opinion that differs from theirs and THEY ARE THERE!

Hey there trolls. How the hell are you? Let’s talk. Engage. Trade ideas. Brag about our kids and grandkids.

Trolls respond as trolls do with shrill screeching, yelling and name-calling.

I’m a snowflake?

Okay fine, I am a snowflake.

You think that will hurt me? Oh bitch please. I have been called much worse…in fact one of you actually was one of those who called me much worse back in the day. I forgave you then. You were just a punky kid then. Today you are an adult, an adult armed with the idea that this Republican administration gives you a pass to insult and name call anyone who does not agree with your opinions, your beliefs, your politics or the Administration that you voted for. Now who is the snowflake, really?

But go ahead, if it makes you feel better about yourself, your opinions, your politics, call me a snowflake.

I’m a snowflake…one tiny snowflake alone, so delicate, so fragile, so ethereal. No wonder you feel so brave with your trolling. And yet, let a billion of them come together through the majestic force of nature, they can screw up a whole city…highways, airports, businesses and schools.

Winter is coming my friends.

So is a snow day.

Get ready.

surviving with deep roots

Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.

~ George Herbert

As a survivor I know why I have survived and why I thrive. It’s my roots. So many storms weathered through. Too many, much too many when I was at my most vulnerable and defenseless as a child. The fact that I am a alive it’s a miracle!

Yeah, I still sometimes quote Hamilton with no apology whatsoever!

It’s true though. How did I manage to survive and thrive when others have not?

That is not for me to figure out.

No.

Instead I will continue to survive and thrive. I will because I am stubborn. I am loved. I also continue on because I know when I must fight and when I must retreat. I don’t retreat because I am letting you who attack me win. I retreat because I am working on me which means that I win. I win because I know for a fact you (who belligerently raged at me trying to rip open wide horribly scarred wounds in reminding me what a useless, worthless shitbag fuck I am) are apoplectic right now in that I walked away from your very public meltdown directed at me. And while you raged on like a storm, I retreated into words…words that heal, that strengthen and remind me how much stronger and better I am than you. Three thousand-six hundred-fifty eight words, words filed away for now. Filed away with your words that I have boxed up for no other reason than I can. Perhaps someday you might read those words, all directed at you. Perhaps not. It doesn’t matter either way. In all these words I have strength and power in me and over anything and everything you have and continue to try to throw my way.

My roots are deep and I am stronger because of and in spite of you.

triggers

Continuing with our at play in our own backyard Fall Break Daniel I spent the day in San Francisco. We were considering exploring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or perhaps the Contemporary Jewish Museum along with a bit of shopping at the new Lego Store but Yom Kippur and Wednesday changed the plans a little. No big deal. San Francisco is a big place with so much to see. Taking Abby’s and her roommate’s advice, we decided to explore Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium complete with all the kitschy oddities including lasers, lights and mirrors that come with trigger warnings for those with certain physical health conditions.

For us, it triggered perhaps a little vertigo at first but we got through it dancing and dabbing along the way.

Daniel dabbing and laughing because Mom dabbing.

Making our way through the mazes, we were cocooned for but a couple hours from so much going on in the world and it was a good thing.

Soon enough, back out into the light of day, there was the news of the World, the Nation, the Election to contend with. Twenty six more days…or is it perhaps forty six more days?  Regardless, those of us struggling to some degree or another just have to hang in there in the best way for us because the struggle is getting too real right now. Like so many, I’m taking care of me in the best way that I can right now which might include a little writing, a little venting on my ever-patient darling husband and a lot of muting, unfriending and blocking of especially those who are directly responsible for so much of the anxiety and post-traumatic stress that is what I live with.

Perhaps we are connected by family and love but to be brutally honest with you, who blew up my phone in early hours of this morning detailing just how worthless and fucked I am with my higher than thou shit as you describe it in your hate-filled meandering stream of consciousness that kept me awake through the night overwhelmed with anxiety, restlessness and palpitations, I don’t want or need that brand of crazy love in my life. Yes, I know, it’s all in my head just as it has been there for literally decades as I have tried to process terror, fear and pain that no person ever deserves to live through…terror, fear and pain that you were a party to. It is indeed all in my head. But thankfully, in the light of day, I can calm the anxiety and panic and I can block you out…at least for now…and I will because what you tell me is love for me is nothing but. It never was and it never will be.

I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong.  And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer — not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.

Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual.

~ Michelle Obama, October 13, 2016