Unexpected Rescue

Well, despite my usual fears and hesitations, I decided to adopt a policy of continuous communication with my two bosses over the last week or so, just to be absolutely sure they were understanding how much I was struggling with the impossible workload.  They didn’t say much aside from acknowledging my communication but they did try not to ask me for anything new beyond the things they were already waiting for.  They didn’t have much of a chance to be rude or dismissive because they were mostly at the other side (or were busy) so that was also helpful.  Then, on Tues night, just as I was asking Dayne if he’d pick Colt up so I could work late again, I got a text from one of the casuals who sometimes come in to help me out.  She had been asked by boss number one to help me catch up a bit.  Shortly after that happened my phone rang and the other causal told me the same thing, only it was the second boss who asked her.  Apparently, even though they were across the hall from each other, the two bosses failed to communicate their plans and, because my casual colleagues are freaking amazing human beings, decided not to let the bosses know of their duplication and BOTH of them showed up on Wednesday morning to help me.  LOL!  They are both very skilled and hard-working so I was able to toss tasks at them with little explanation and they worked at a near frantic pace.  Between the three of us, all doing my job, we managed to get a ton of work done.  Payroll was completed and audited before lunch time (it would have taken me the entire day to do it alone) and then one of them audited the entire month worth of statistics while the other reconciled my accounts.  I worked the whole day through without stopping once (I made them take lunch though, my amazing rescuers) and by the end of the day I had taken a five page to-do list down to two pages and was able to walk out of there on time, stress very much lessened.  I took today off, just because, and it’s now 215 in the afternoon and I have done absolutely nothing today.  :)  It’s been wonderful.

Aside from the crazy workload, work has been pretty good lately.  I’m not sure exactly what started it all, but something has cued everyone (aside from my bosses) to start making sure I know how much they appreciate me.  They are a great group, both departments are, and I get along with everyone just fine.  They are always respectful and appreciative….so it’s not like they constantly take advantage and never say thank you, but most people don’t go out of their way to thank you for the little things.  These last weeks, exactly that has been happening…staff are purposely changing their usual routes through the hospital so that they pass by my office and stop for a moment to tell me how much the appreciate my hard work, attention to detail, for taking such good care of them, for being so dedicated and, sometimes, just to offer me support and understanding.  I suspect some of them have been talking after witnessing an exchange between the bosses and I.  I am *very* careful about the info I share with the staff and I don’t complain at work, particularly about the bosses or issues involving staff …..gossip runs rampant through workplaces and with over 200 people spread across two hospitals it’s nearly impossible to stop information that has been shared.  My coworkers are very careful about patient confidentiality, but when one of their own is being treated badly or being taken advantage of, they tend to want to protect.  The bosses have a terrible track record with many of the staff, most of whom have been working under then for many more years than I have.  The need to advocate is strong in these two groups but when it’s for someone they care about the desire seems to double.  I adore them for it…..it keeps my sense of self-respect and self-protection in sharper focus.

I tend to internally cling to this stuff….allow other people’s opinions and words shape a part of myself that should have no effect whatsoever  on my own confidence or sense of self-worth, so it’s something that usually repels me, being thanked and appreciated and emotionally supported.  It’s always been a part of me…wanting that approval; yet I hate that need and I dislike the part of me that seeks it out.  My therapist believed that it began when my parents died when I was just a little one and was reinforced from there.  Being taken in by a family who used things like love and support as bargaining chips to make me do and be what and who they wanted.  When I did not live up to their demands or expectations, regardless of how counter-intuitive they were for me, the love and support was withdrawn.  Of all the ways my father hurt me, the one I remember most vividly was him refusing to tell me he loved me because he was angry with me. I clearly recall being very young and accidentally pulling his hair when he gave me a hug.  He hated when people touched his hair or beard and despite the infraction being entirely accidental, he was furious.  I apologized immediately, tears filling my eyes before he even spoke because I already knew…..at four or five years old, I already knew.  I would tell him I was sorry and I loved him and he would flash a menacing glare in that sulky way of his, and would pointedly ignore me.  I would then spend days begging for forgiveness, telling him I loved him and that he was the best daddy in the world a thousand times a day until he finally gave up and told me he loved me again.  It was utterly exhausting.  Of course, almost every man I ever dated when I got older had similar traits to that….I sought it out against my own will. My ex husband Harry and then, later on, M were the worst two offenders when it came to using their love and affection as a reward when they were getting what they wanted out of me, and a motivator to keep me in line by withdrawing their love when things weren’t going their way.  Dayne is just about the only one I’ve ever loved who has not every punished me in that way.  I guess that’s got a lot to do with our ability to get along as well as we do;  we can be anything, together, and even when our thoughts, actions or behaviours are entirely at odds, our friendship, love and partnership never becomes a bargaining tool.

It reminds me of just how lucky I am in this life and how very little approval from the outside world actually means.  (Not that I want my colleagues to stop surrounding me with gratitude and friendship….that kinda always makes my day!)

Ahhhh.  Happy day off.  :)  I’m going to finally go grab a shower and wander over to the sitter to get Colt.  All three of us are taking tomorrow off and we’re going to go visit my friend Tiffany.  It’s time for our annual ink and I’m really excited to get a new piece.  It won’t be a huge one this time but I’ve left it mostly up to Tiff to design. She has never, once, designed something for me that I didn’t immediately slap onto my body.  Should be a fun day shared with my boys.  :)

Overworked

Stress overload today.  You would not believe how long I’ve been trying to post something to this blog and have been entirely unsuccessful.  I can’t even get an entire email out to staff without being interrupted a dozen times and all I have managed to write for myself, to get my head clear and feel like I do more than just work like a dog all day and then pass out to run through nightmares all night, is get a few lines written and then I end up drafting/deleting it.  I can barely manage a full thought…..in fact; THIS is the farthest I’ve managed to get in a while.  (So, if nothing else, I’m posting this as it is.)  I’ve closed and locked my door and my phone is forwarded directly to voice mail so, I’ll type like the wind and see what I get out.

Work is impossible right now, as I’ve likely made clear above.  The bosses vacillate between being pissed off that something didn’t get done and understanding that what I’m being asked to do is an impossibly unless I find a way to operate in three separate realities at once.  They get it….I mean, I’m doing my job, the job of a financial officer, a pay clerk, a scheduling clear, an HR consultant, a union coordinator and a statistical analysis.  Did I mention that I actually only work half-time for each of them?  A total of 20 (ish) hours per week, for each department?  Any one of those roles above could take up those 20 hours on their own…..all together and then doubled by department???  It’s not happening.  The biggest issue with this is probably me….I want to do it all and I want to do it all well.  I really want to manage all of this somehow but no matter how I blend it and revise my processes, it’s quite obvious that it’s an exercise in futility.  That it makes me feel like I’m about to have a stroke, burst into tears, vomit all over my desk and kick myself square in the confidence for being a ‘failure’ is all mine to own….however….my passive aggressive and full-on-in-your-face aggressive bosses are not helping the matter.  One likes to try to make sure I know she is better educated than I am and the other quietly seethes and tells me how disappointed she is when things don’t get done.  I work over time quite a bit and have forced them to pay me but there is no money in the budget for that (I know, I reconcile and track it monthly) so they compromised and allow me to build up 15 hours of ‘flex’ time, paid at regular time, which I can never seem to take because one day off from this chaos can put me so far behind again it’s ridiculous.

The other frustrating side to this is that there are people who do some of my job here over at the other campus.  They are not admin officers (and get paid a bit less than I do because of it) so all the HR and budget stuff is mine across the board *sigh*, but they do have some similarities in role.  The glaring differences are hard to swallow.

Here – We have two registration clerks who handle all the patient booking and we easily have 60-100 patients coming through per day.

There – They have the two secretaries, same hour allocation as here, and they have maybe 10 patients per day between the two of them.

Here – It’s absolute chaos here with over 150 staff to manage who all have office and treatment space located in the department where my office is.

There – It’s a freaking ghost town and the staffing levels are less than half.  They also do not congregate at that site but have office/treatment space on the unit they work for, so there is NO ONE around the two secretaries aside for one or two clinicians who see the few patients that come in each day.

Here – My phone rings non-stop and the registration desk is constantly in motion.  When the clerks step away for a bathroom break, patients start coming to me and I end up stuck there, helping them get to where they need to go.

There – No one calls.  Ever.  One of the two secretaries tells me that the other doesn’t even do the minimal tasks she is assigned and spends the entire day texting on her phone.  The other secretary, the phone texter, tells me that her counterpart spends her entire day chatting with her mother on the phone.

***I can’t even get a lunch in.  I work before my hours, after my hours and can never take flex time back.  When my bank is at 15 hours, I start working for free.  I discuss this with the bosses and they tell me….get ready for this….the other site is TOO BUSY to add tasks onto the secretaries over there.

…. (I almost asked them if they were joking when they said it).

So, I know that’s a load of crap but I also realize that it would be in the secretaries best interest to make their jobs seem busy so they don’t have to take on any more work (any at all, to be more accurate).  I sucked it up like a big-girl and just did my work as best I could and tried to draw some satisfaction from that rather than focus on how unfair the workload split actually is.  Then, one of the two over at the other site got a new job and my boss had to hire a replacement.  For some reason I cannot fathom, she hired a woman who, although quite lovely in personality, has the skill-set of a toddler in her role.  She does not understand any of the software, processes at the hospital, phone system, paging system or payroll.  She has to use the software, processes, paging system, and enter payroll  so…..kind of not a great start.  That can all be learned though, so, I absolutely thought nothing of it.  Then she was asked to do me a favour and run a Committee meeting when I was drowning and missing all my deadlines one week.  She didn’t have to do anything aside from record notes for the minutes and send them to one of my bosses.  She did…..but the notes were so useless, we couldn’t even understand them.  First, she didn’t capture any detail at all…not even enough interpret what the group was talking about.  Second, she has a hard time with english (she’s a secretary whose job includes booking patients and using the phone!) and, apparently, cannot grasp the written any better than the spoken.  She spelled everything wrong, mostly phonetically; i.e. Lori was spelled Lawrie, and she didn’t use any punctuation at all.  She capitalized random letters and sentences she did manage to form were in broken english and the grammar was….well, there was none, let’s put it that way.  She also has no idea which tense to use…ever.  “Bob say meeting Was cancel and Every body emailing to said to processed to department”  ……is an actual quote from the minutes (names changed, of course).

The boss who was on the receiving end of these minutes is the aggressive-aggressive one and this secretary knows how she is.  She didn’t even spell check it….didn’t ask someone to proof read it….didn’t even send it to the passive-aggressive boss first to see if she could double check the notes…nothing.  I wondered aloud why she didn’t just write it in Spanish (her native tongue) and then run it through Google Translate before submitting it.  That made me wonder if she even understood half of what she was hearing.  Maybe she just grabbed random words from the conversation and that was the best she could manage.

Right.  All fine though!  Not everyone can record minutes and if you’ve never done it, it can be challenging to keep up.  That’s okay.  That’s fine.  Except for the fact that she’s in a role where this skill is a requirement!  I had to take a test to prove my ability before I was hired here, into a lower paying, lower ranking job after my old job was terminated and I was put on layoff notice.  I ended up with a decent salary because my scores were very high…..I’m over qualified for this role, by far, but I was just happy keeping the work, pension and benefits so I sucked it up.  This woman makes 4$/h less than I do.

Four.  Dollars.  Less.   That’s what I can’t swallow.  The difference in workload …. we’re not even on the same planet there….and all of that is only worth FOUR dollars an hour?

I am suddenly quick sick of this shit.  It’s ruined my motivation entirely and I get angry now, at myself, when I get all stressed out about being behind.

(Exhales…..)  Wow…that was a lot of info I managed!  I got interrupted a dozen times but just refused to stop this until I was done.  And look at that….I DO feel better and more clear headed.  Just needed to remind myself that I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for around here.  Time for another meeting with the bosses I think.  Will try to plan my course of action here so I stay in this level head space.  For now, however, I have two weeks’ worth of work to do in four days and it’s not the kind that can be delayed or put off so……back to it.  For now.

Narcoleptic Nights

I’m tired today.  Tired and stressed….so much work to be done and no time to do it (so I’m going to sit here and waste 30 min on a blog post….haha.  Grainne-logic.)  I do need to get my head on straight though and this dream I had earlier this week will not stop playing on repeat in my brain.  Might as well write it out and free it from my head for a while.

The medication I’m taking to stay awake through the day is still working fairly well.  Some days the *tired* creeps up on me but it’s not a daily happening.  I’ve been crashing early again…like before dinner early….but I think that’s stress from work mixed in with the change of seasons.  I love the fall but this time of year makes my bones ache so bad I want to rip my entire spine out of my body just for a break from the pain.  Anyway….dreams.  The days are okay and the nights are a bizarre mix of dreams, nightmares, suffocating, endless REM cycles and dreams where I think I’m awake but I’m not.  The dream I can’t let go of was one of those dreams.

**DREAM – (although I didn’t think it was a dream at the time) STARTS HERE**

The other night I thought I heard someone (something….) screaming outside my house.  It sounded like a wild animal….maybe a bobcat?  Sometimes the sound was human but not a noise I’ve heard any actual human being make, and then it started to sound like a little girl.  It was 4 am when I checked my phone so I got up to see if I could see what was going on.

I went to the window and then to the monitor that shows our security cameras that have night-vision lenses.  (Yes, they are as cool as they sound.  Dayne works with this stuff so we get to play with lots of fun new cameras and security systems as he tests their capabilities out before introducing them to his customers).  There was nothing on the camera at all….not even little bugs flying by, which was odd because they are always triggering our cameras to record their little light trails as they zip by in the dark.

“Grainne?  What are you doing babe?”  Dayne’s voice said to me, out of absolutely nowhere.

I jumped a full foot in the air and spun around to face him but he wasn’t there.  Strange.  I listened carefully, now fully triggered with senses on fire; I could hear e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g suddenly.  The fridge, the fan on the laptop from Colt’s room across the house, the fan in our room, the water heater and furnace kicking softly on, the electricity in the wires in the walls…..

“Dayne?”  I called.  It was much louder than I had meant to speak and the sound of my own voice startled me.

*Scream* – far off, outside, sounding more panicked than before.

I crept down the hallway back to the dark bedroom, peeked in on Colt as I passed to find him sleeping fitfully all tangled up in his blankets the way he is most comfortable, and walked into our bedroom.  Dayne was sound asleep in bed.  I touched his foot and called his name but he only wiggled away from me, rolled to his other side and resumed his deep breathing rhythm.

Huh. “Must be hearing things….” I whispered aloud to myself when I heard the scream from outside again, only this time it sounded like it was right outside my bedroom window.  Something rustled in the lilac bush on the other side of the window and a hand reached up toward the window screen, as if to pull it off by the little plastic tab that was (for some strange reason) on the outside rather than on the inside.

“Dayne!”  I shrieked, shaking him now, panicking and trying to figure out how to get the fuck out of there without leaving Dayne to be murdered by the screaming would-be intruder (or the one causing the screams which was an even scarier thought that flashed through my brain).

I couldn’t get Dayne to wake up so I ran to Colt’s room to rouse him, at least get him to safety.  I had a plan to get him into my car and lock the doors with the key fob and then return to get Dayne out of harm’s way.  As I left the bedroom I heard Dayne again, right in my ear.  “Grainne.  I’m right here.  It’s okay babe….everything is okay.”

I froze in fear.  I was looking directly at his sleeping form on the bed.  The hand outside had left the window but I didn’t know where it had gone or, for that matter, what sort of creature it belonged to, but worse than that was the confusion that overwhelmed me as I stared at Dayne lying in bed, sound asleep, while I could clearly hear him talking in my ear.

I crept closer, studying his sleeping face; watching for movement.  “Babe?  Grainne?  Come on back to bed.”  He said with not a single movement aside from the rise and fall of his chest as he inhaled and exhaled.

“Dayne?”  I answered.  “Where are you?”

“I’m right here beside you.  Come on now….it’s time to sleep, let’s go back to bed.”

I was now standing directly beside his head, bent over at the waist, staring at his lips from 2 inches away.  “I don’t understand…..I kept hearing this screaming….”  I said.

Still close enough to him to exchange breath, I jumped when his eyes suddenly flew open and widened to an unnatural shape and size.  I stood up and stepped back and, as if attached to my body with string, his limbs mimicked mine as he lay there.  His eyes rolled back into his head his mouth movements synced with mine when I spoke, only no words came out.  “What the hell is going on?” I cried out, terrified now, as he lip-synced my words and expressions.

I heard a noise behind us and spun, afraid it was whatever had been trying to get in the window earlier, but exhaled when I saw it was just Colt.  He was standing in the doorway, white as a ghost.  Dayne was twisted up like a pretzel on the bed, limbs following mine even though he was not standing, blankets getting knotted and wrapped around him as he moved.

“Mom?”  Colt said in a quiet voice.

When I looked at him, I opened my mouth to answer but the words came out in a scream; the same scream I’d been hearing outside only it was coming from my own throat.  I couldn’t stop it once it started.

“Mom!”  Colt yelled above the racket I was making, hands clamped over his ears.

“Grainne!  What’s going on?”  Dayne yelled, fighting the blankets that seemed to be holding him back, trapping him where he lay.

The scream tore out of me until I ran out of breath and then kept going, pulling everything from my body once there was no air.  I tried to stop and breathe in but it wouldn’t let me and I started to panic, clawing at my face to break the noise my body was making.  My heart started to slow and my lungs were burning for air, pulsing inside my chest, diaphragm in painful spasms, body starting to curl in on itself as the oxygen faded from my blood.  Dizziness overtook me and I fell to the floor, still screaming even though my body was no longer capable of sound.

I felt the last spark of life leave me and everything faded into blackness; my vision gone, my senses numbed and sending incoherent signals to my oxygen starved brain.  As I slipped away, I no longer felt any pain or fear but I could still hear the scream ringing in the background, drowning out everything else.  My heart stopped in my chest and I felt the blood slow to a stop in my vessels but still, that scream was still sounding.  My very last thought was that it wasn’t my body, but my soul that was screaming….and then I wondered what came next.

**DREAM ENDS HERE**

A moment of blackness was abruptly broken as I felt myself being roused from sleep.  I opened my eyes to find Dayne beside me in bed, eyes open and full of concern.

“Babe I’ve been trying to wake you for nearly 30 minutes!  You were scaring me this time.  What in the world was making you scream like that?”

I was too afraid to answer.  I didn’t want to find out I was still dreaming so I just shook my head, turned to my other side, flipped my sweat/tear soaked pillow to the dry side and curled up in my blankets so tight I could barely move, hoping to keep myself safe until morning.

Talk and talk and listen not

I went over to a friend’s house on Sunday for a couple of hours and had a nice chat.  She’s one of those friends that I seem to find in abundance, who cannot seem to stop talking long enough to listen to someone else and although that’s a bit annoying at times, it takes a lot of pressure of me when all I have to do is listen.  It was a lovely afternoon that had sunshine, red wine and a gorgeous salt water pool that had been heated all morning so the water was a lovely 85 degrees.  She warmed it for Colt, hoping it wouldn’t be too cool for him so he could swim while we chatted away a few hours.  Dayne came too and the two boys played in the pool for most of the visit….I was happy with my wine and the sunshine on my skin.

“So how are you feeling these days?”  My friend asked with kindness, looking genuinely concerned.

“I’m doing pretty good!  The new medicine seems to be helping my sleep cycles a lot….”

(Although recently I’ve been tripping into pits of sedating-drag-me-under tiredness like I used to before the meds.  Not sure if they are losing efficacy or if other factors are affecting me.  Worrying….but, I’ll see the specialist again in a few weeks so will discuss.  She seems to think it’s the quality of the sleep I’m not getting that is tipping the scales, but we will have to see.)

I had paused for a moment to think of how to share the rest of that info with her without making it turn into a long story of my sleep issues and before I could take a breath to speak she jumped in to tell me how tired she has been lately.  She is not one to think out her words so she went on and on for a long time and by the time she was done, half her life story had been poured out onto the patio table in front of me.

This happens with people….a lot.  I’ve never really understood why.  I do love supporting people and it’s a wonderful thing to me when someone trusts me with their secrets and heart aches but it just never seems to be turned around and there’s no place for me to talk in these friendships.  I guess it’s okay…..I’m not one to wear my emotions or deepest thoughts on my sleeve, out there for anyone to see, but it still annoys me when people cut me off to talk about themselves; particularly when I’m trying to share something with them that I wouldn’t share with many others.

Another recent example:  I have a friend who I see once or twice a year who looooooooooves my son to bits.  She was his first EA at school and lives just down the road from us and had watched Colt for us each summer since his grade 2 year on the days the regular sitters are away.  She is sweet, passionate, kind and loves to talk….endlessly.  Sometimes I can’t get away from her, she’s so engaged, and many times I ended up late for work when dropping Colt off in the morning because she has chased me all the way to my car, still talking until I closed the door and drove off..lol. She is a super friendly and social gal.  :)  I do really like her and Colt adores her so it’s a nice visit when we connect…..mostly.  She watched Colt for us one day right before school started and when I went to pick him up we stood in her hallway catching up a bit (aka she talked about her life, vacation, recent trip, weight loss, exercise routine, dogs, pool, back yard renovations, job, health, happiness, memories and kids….and there was more I’m sure I’m forgetting!)  She knew I had some health issues going on and stopped at once point to ask how things were going for me.

“There have been some interesting developments since we last connected.” I said.  “I was just diagnosed with narcolepsy and…..” She cut me off here.  “Oh!  Narcolepsy!  That’s what I think I have!  I get tired at work every day no matter how many coffees I have and I looked it up online!  I’ve heard there is a stimulant out there that you can buy, something “phedamine” (sic) or something like that.  I’m going to ask my doctor for that next time I go in.”

She asked about my symptoms and I got a few words in before she cut me off again.  Every time I said something she would interrupt with a response like “oh yeah, my husband has that” until I just trailed off and she started talking again.

Me:  “The sleep paralysis is…..” Her:  “Oh that happened to my husband once!”

Me:  “Yes, but along with that and daytime sleepiness there’s the REM component….” Her:  “Oh I have really vivid dreams!  I had one the other day where I was riding a pedal bike up and down some hills and the trees were very tall….”  *insert a 15 minute explanation of her various dreams here – I’ll spare you the endless details*.

Then she told me she wants the name of the meds I take, the name of my sleep specialist and all the details so she can get her doctor to refer her to the same everything as me.  She told me she was thinking that dexedrine would be the drug she’d want to take…I told her that it was a controlled substance and highly addictive….she disagreed….said it wasn’t in the same class as meth.

. . . . .? “Meth?  I’m not sure I understand.  Are you thinking of amphetamines?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think so…I don’t take any drugs like that. Even Advil is too much for me and I get so sick when I take anything other than baby aspirin.”

She lost me completely here.  I just kind of nodded and shook my head in what sounded like appropriate places and left confused.  Anyway, she’s dead sure she’s got the same thing as me, even though she never gave me the chance to tell her the symptoms or even what I was taking to help with them.  She says she gets super tired at 230 every afternoon, despite drinking gallons of coffee so….what else could it be?  *sigh* “Did you try looking up SAD?”  I asked.  “Or maybe have your blood checked for sugar levels, or cell counts?”

No….no of course not.  Her self-diagnosis is based entirely on the fact that she is tired in the afternoon.  I wanted to tell her that we are in our 40’s now and that your body changes….you can’t live off coffee and cigarettes like we did when we were teenagers, but wasn’t able to get a word in so I gave up on the thought.

So that was that.  I left her place with Colt, $50 poorer and with a list of details she wanted from me so she can get diagnosed with narcolepsy, like me.

Sometimes I just don’t get people.

Once in a blue moon I’ll try to talk to someone about the PTSD or depression I went through and the only thing I heard in return was their own story.  Even rarer, at this point in my life, I’ll tell someone a bit about what I’m going through with the sleep issues but the same thing happens.  That or something stupid is brought up.  Last week I was in one of the clinical areas when I walked into a conversation about someone who was dreaming a lot.  One staff member was trying to tell the story of her dream while the other was cutting her off to tell her about Jung’s theories on dream interpretation and I got dragged into it by someone else who knows a bit about REM issues and dreams I have.

“You want to talk about dreams?  Grainne is pretty much an expert!”

I didn’t even get a chance to open my mouth before the other one was telling me all about how your subconscious mind works away at problems and stresses while you sleep through dreams; how things that maybe seem totally abstract upon recalling the dream, might have very specific and clear meanings.  I let her go on and didn’t say anything…I mean, she thought she was being all interesting and clever, but I’ve been dreaming like this my whole life and it runs so much deeper.  She doesn’t know though….we’re not friends really, so I let her instruct me on how to start a dream diary so I can write down my dreams in the morning so I don’t forget them.  Ha!  I wish I could forget most of them but I can’t. I remember other dreams while I’m dreaming most of the time….and write them down?  I have years of them.  Anyway, I managed not to roll my eyes at her in an obvious sort of way, smiled and left.

When I try to talk about Colt or a difficulty he is having I get talked over so they can tell me about all the struggles their own kids face.  That or they immediately identify that they have an autistic kid somewhere in their family or friend group and go on to explain, in detail, each difficulty the child and parent faces.  I understand that they are usually just trying to identify with me and the things I’m (trying to!) tell them, but it still sits funny in my head.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’ve talked enough in my life and now it’s just time to listen.  Or, maybe my whole life is just about listening to others….maybe that’s what I was born to do.  I know it sounds like a complaint….this entire blog post….but it’s not meant to really.  I’m pretty much okay with this stuff but it’s one of the reasons I don’t go out with people much outside work.  When I’m here I feel like I have a role to play but when we’re hanging out in their back garden, sipping on a glass of wine and dangling our feet into a warm salt-water pool, I kinda like to get a word in edgewise.  But then again, the hug she gave me when I left made up for it all.  Plus, Dayne was happy that I got out and did something social for once and Colt had a blast swimming the afternoon away.  So…win win.  I think.

I went home and crashed from 4 pm until Monday morning.   Worries me.  I don’t want these meds to stop working but things are changing with them.  It’s likely the quality of sleep I’m not getting at night so, hopefully, the doc will have an idea as to how to help that without jumping directly to heavy-duty sleep meds.  Will have to just wait and see how it goes.

Judgement

I was a Dairy Queen yesterday evening with Colt and Dayne to order Colt’s ice cream cake for his birthday.  We always get an 8 inch cake (feeds 8-10 lol!) and we all have a slice on his birthday and put the rest in the freezer.  Colt will have ice cream cake desert for the entire next week, which he looks so forward to and savours each year.  Dairy Queen, if you’re not familiar, is a fast food restaurant who specializes in incredibly delicious ice cream, sundaes and other frozen treats like ice cream blended with chocolate bars, M&M’s, brownies, cheesecake etc.  Everything there is delicious.  My favourite is their plain vanilla soft serve ice cream dipped in a chocolate syrup that hardens instantly into a shell….mmm.  So good.

We arrived around 7 pm and there was one couple ahead of us in line….nice and quiet for a hot summer evening.  Ordering the cake only took a few moments as we are picking it up tomorrow so they only needed our preferences (strawberry ice cream with a cheesecake and fresh strawberry middle layer with more strawberry on the bottom.  *drools*).  We ordered a treat each and then settled in to wait…for some reason, they always seem under staffed at these stores and each item takes a long time to prepare so it’s always a bit of a test in patience, ordering there.  We were waiting while they rang in the next people and, as the number of customers who had paid and were now awaiting their ice cream grew, we all shuffled around to make more space at the counter.  Dayne poked me and leaned in.

“I think that woman over there is plotting to kill you.”

I looked in the direction he had nodded and met the eyes of a woman in her 50’s, very conservative looking and very much in keeping with the sort of people who live in that end of town.  (We went to the DQ in the north end where all the gated communities are and where the doctors, successful business owners and University alumni build their enormous homes).  The moment I met her eyes, she dropped hers, but the mask of contempt, of offence and judgement was well maintained.

“She must not approve of choice in ice cream.” Dayne whispered, making me laugh.

I get this sort of thing quite a bit out in public.  I am professional at work and the only ink that shows is my falcon (on my left arm), my ankle piece (if I’m wearing sandals) and, occasionally, a few of the orange/red maple leaves on my shoulders if I happen to have a sleeveless top on.  My jewelry is all gauged but I choose subtle designs, like hoops with metallic captive balls and my only facial piercing is a small, plain silver nose ring.  When I’m off, I don’t bother with sensible cardigans and hair styles that shield even more of my style, and last night, I was all out there.  I had on a black dress with red, green and yellow stripes at the hem, a black velvet choker-style necklace, and my newly brightened red and black hair half up and half down.  My ears were uncovered by hair, my back piece was almost entirely exposed by the low back of the dress, and when I walked, the hem would shift to expose the bottom of one piece on my right thigh and the entirety of the left (on the outside of my leg, just above my knee).  I also had on my kick-ass five-inch black Guess wedges.  I felt so comfortable and so very much in tune with myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do realize that when I present myself in that way, people are going to notice.  Some will like the way I look and will tell me; some will like it and say nothing; some will think me a freak and wonder what could have possibly compelled me to do these things to my body; some will dislike it very much and will tell me so and, finally, some will silently seethed in judgement from across the room and loud-whisper insults to someone else, making sure I hear them without having to actually speak to me.  ALL of the above reactions are just fine by me. It took me a long time to figure out that it was up to nobody but myself, how I presented to the world.  I love my style and the art I wear on my skin and the opinions of a stranger in a DQ line mean very little and do not influence my taste in the least.  Maybe that’s what pissed her off so much.

She stood there, several feet away, glaring daggers into my back for the entire time we were there waiting for our order.  I could see veins pulsing at her temples, as if her entire face was clenched in the effort to keep her annoyance and anger to herself.  I smiled every time I looked at her but it only made her dislike me more.

“Grainne, stop it.”  Dayne said, trying not to smile himself.

I then went over to where Colt was sitting and we chatted for a few moments.  I wanted her to know I had a kid.  I actually contemplated telling her I was a lesbian and had my clit pierced (lol….no, I don’t actually have any genital piercings)  just to watch her erupt but decided it would be a not-so-great lesson for Colt so, just continued to smile and wait.  She barely took her eyes off me.  Our order was finally called and I went up to rejoin Dayne at the counter.  The angry lady was now only a person or away from me and when I looked at her again, and smiled, she shook her head, mouth set into a tight sneer, and doubled the intensity of her glare.

“Disgusting!”  She muttered, eyes flicking off to the side as she spoke the word.

Colt, having picked up on the outright aggression flowing my way, put his arm around me protectively.

“Why is that lady angry with you?”  He asked.

She immediately turned from us, having been called out in front of a now very long line of customers.

“I don’t think she likes the way I look, Colt.  Some people are just like that in the world.  All you can do is smile and remember to be yourself, no matter what people like that say.”

(I enjoyed that more than I should have)

“It’s okay mom.  Sometimes people don’t like me because I’m different too.”  He gave me a hug.

I’m not sure if she realized he was autistic but the look of pride shining in Dayne’s eyes would have told the story had she glanced his way.

I generally won’t pick a fight over things  like this because, as I said earlier, it really doesn’t bother me when people disagree with my ink or presentation as a whole.  That I had the opportunity to turn the experience into a life-lesson for my son was a great thing, but watching that smug look drop from that woman’s face was the best part.  She turned to watch us walk out and I caught her eye long enough to wink at her as I passed the store on the outside through the window and then I giggled all the way home.

What a world eh?  There are SO many things out there that people could spend their energy focused on that would make a positive difference in the lives of others, and yet so many people choose to focus on the insignificant things that irritate them personally and use that focus to try to bring other people down. If people would just choose to hold each other UP, being Human would mean something entirely different.

Anyway – here’s some shots of my ink for my newer readers – so you can see what caused this stranger such displeasure while she waited for her ice cream on a hot summer evening.

 

 

Deliciously Lazy Day

Okay, NOW I feel like I’ve had a break from work.  I still won’t allow myself to dwell on that work that is currently not getting done and will be awaiting me upon my return next Monday and it’s working pretty well.  Today, I have done absolutely nothing.  I got up, took meds, got the boy some fresh strawberries for breakfast and then played on my phone and laptop until this moment, and it’s 325 in the afternoon.  I have to get Dayne’s nice pants and shirt ready as he has an interview tonight after work but I have time for that yet.  I think they are all hung up and ready to go so there won’t be much to do but lay them out for him.  (He’ll have about twenty minutes turn around between getting home and getting to his interview.  Might end up having to deliver his clothes to him and waiting for him until his interview is done so he can collect his work truck and get home for the night.  He’s taking Thursday and Friday off so we’ll have a nice long weekend between us.  It’s Colt’s birthday this weekend so we’re planning on enjoying whatever he wants to do with his day.  So far we have been requested to: Decorate the living room for when he wakes up but ONLY the lining room and not too much; out for breakfast to the local joint that makes the best waffles I’ve ever tasted – and now that all the local produce is ready and fresh, they will be spectacular!; A visit to a little park with monster slides and a water/splash pad thing (which  he doesn’t really like much) and a huge bouncy, inflated trampoline (that he adores); Then, back home for dinner, presents and ice cream cake.  As long as I promise not to sing too loud, decorate too much, or get too excited, he’s good to go.  lol…

Colt spent last week diligently creating little paper puppets he’s drawn by hand and cut out of artist sketch paper. There’s a video series he is addicted to on YouTube called “Object Wars” which is a crudely homemade version of “Survivor” with …well…objects.  There’s “Notebook” and “Fridge” and “Can of soda”…..very simple idea, and the viewers vote on who gets eliminated each week as they go through contests and such.  He decided he wanted to make his own, since the next episode was taking too long to come out, and I’m super impressed by his handiwork.  They are really cute, very expressive and their little faces are all unique and convey clear emotions and personalities.  It’s been really cool watching the process of him creating something he’s not only having fun with, but is happy with.  Colt never liked to create things because he could never get them to come out the way he wanted them to.  If it didn’t look like a HD photo of a school bus when he was done with his crayons in Kindergarten, he was done, it got ripped into shreds and was never attempted again.  These days, he’s so patient and careful….creative.  It’s been wonderful to be a part of.

I got an email the other day from a friend at work who is turning 40 in September and he has been struggling with it.  My turn was last year so I’ve had plenty of time to settle into the idea (and I’m actually totally fine with it – quite thankful for the life experience gained so far, in fact) but he remembers me not being so happy with the idea.  He’s been ignoring it all year, the fact that he’s about to hit the big Four-O and now he’s found himself with less than a month to prepare his mind and he’s a bit stressed.  I spoke with him this morning (took up all my socializing tolerance for the day!) and was quick to remind him of all the good parts of being this age.  When you get to think back through all the relationships that have been built and destroyed, jobs you’ve worked and friends you’ve had….I mean, it’s pretty vast by this point.  If you are 40 or above, you’ve likely been to school for many years, met dozens of people who became close and cherished (even if they’re no longer in  your life), have lived through menial and (hopefully) fulfilling employment, possibly several times over.  You’ve maybe been married, had children, been divorced or cheated on or left.  Maybe, you’re still with the one you promised to love until death and there is still so much more to come.  You have been through illness and recovery but have also lost people to illness you never thought you could live without.  You have healed and blamed, and healed again, then understood….maybe forgave or maybe learned that you don’t always have to forgive people for what they have done with or to you. You have discovered how strong and courageous you really are.  You have experience in the world and with life and there is no one to answer to but yourself and your own good judgement.  Maybe you’ve learned that your judgement is shit…lol.  That’s a valuable lesson too.  You have messed up and made mistakes, taken blame you shouldn’t have and denied the parts you knew were yours to carry.  You have also made a difference though and have brought happiness, love, comfort and wonder to some of the people around you.  There are undeniably people out there, somewhere, who will never, ever forget you.  I told him all this and then asked him what he thought the next 40 years would bring…..he told me to shut up and that I should go work for Hallmark writing greeting cards.  lol!  (If he didn’t want to hear it, he shouldn’t have asked!)😛

Dreams this weekend and last night were … active, to say the least.  I’m now regularly waking up in random rooms of the house after sleep walking around.  Last night Dayne, unable to remember if he locked the front door, flew from the bed and went running past me (I was in the washroom having a legit and fully awake pee) to check. It was locked and he calmed when he saw me, awake in the hallway.  Poor guy nearly broke his neck.

Wow.  Am I ever relaxed today.  I needed this break.  I just sat here for ten minutes and couldn’t come up with a single complaint.  I mean, I have a headache and I’m pretty sore from all this lying around and doing nothing (wah me eh?  lolol)  but that’s not new.  It’s just been a really nice week so far and I’m looking forward to a long weekend with my boys.  (Oh and my house is so clean!!!  I LOVE the house being this clean.  One room per day has been my approach.  Yesterday was my bedroom and just going in there makes me happy!)

I wish I always had this much time to spend on the important things.  Something to take with me back to that office – but I won’t be thinking about that until the weekend comes.  :)

 

 

Touchdown

I have always been terrified of storms.  I’m not sure why, exactly, as I’ve never been in any physical danger when a storm hit, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of them.  Wind, in particular.

I remember back when I was very little, living with my foster family in a Toronto subdivision.  We were not exactly in prime tornado territory but we often get weather warnings in the summer because there are a lot of thunder storms that move through the region.  Where I am now is the place that gets the most lightning in Canada, in fact.  It has something to do with being surrounded by the Great Lakes, I think.  One of these ‘tornado watch’ warnings came through the television “emergency broadcast” with the horrifying bomb siren sounds screeching from the speakers to get everyone’s attention.  There was a severe thunder storm brewing and a cold front moving in and funnel clouds had been spotted in the area.  I was only little….maybe 3 or so, and I panicked.  I ran around the house slamming windows closed (I didn’t know it was best to keep them open – I just wanted to keep the storm out!) and locked all the doors.  I went so far as to lock the tiny little flip lock on the handle of the metal framed screen door at the front of the house.  Then, I went into my closet and hid, waiting for the scary event to pass.  I told my mother I was afraid but she just blew me off.  I was kind of terrified of everything at that point so I don’t think she was being cruel on purpose.  She just knew me well enough to know I’d be okay once it passed.  (I could have used a kind word and a hug, now that I think back on it.  I was just a little one and I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and my whole body trembling with fright.)

I went to hide and stayed there until I heard a loud pounding on the front door.

*OH MY GOD IT’S THE TORNADO!* I screamed in my head, too afraid to actually move or make a sound.

Of course, it wasn’t the storm…lol…it was my father who was stuck outside in the torrential rain, unable to get inside because I’d locked the screen door.  My mother thought it was hilarious but he wasn’t so amused.

I still hate storms.  I hate new articles about damage caused by storms, stupid shows about people who idiotically drive INTO storms for the sake of the thrill, and I hate videos of storm photos or damage.  Hurricanes have the same effect on me, however, it would have to be a damn huge one to reach as far inland as I am so I don’t worry about them quite so much.

This morning, Dayne woke me by text at 9 am.

**Hey did you hear that there was a tiny tornado (ground spout?  funnel?  I can’t recall what the news called it but it was an F-0 on the rating scale they use) behind X’s house yesterday?**

I was up and wide awake in seconds.  I looked it up on the news, checked out bystanders videos and then, reading there was very little damage done, relaxed a bit and kept investigating.  I read that there was a children’s wooden swing set that had been picked up and deposited into the neighbour’s yard and some damage to a bit of siding on one of the homes right next to the house where the family who babysits Colt live.  They are away on vacation (which is why I’m off as well) so I thought it a good idea to go check on the house, no knowing if neighbors had contacted them.  When we pulled up, it was obvious it was their swing set that had been tossed about as the bright yellow slide was jammed, at a very awkward angle, into the neighbors shed roof and the other bits of it were scattered into the fields behind the houses.  I took pictures and texted them to the family, just in case no one else did and they need to call insurance (they have solar panels on their roof and at least one was clearly smashed) and headed back home.  It wasn’t until I got here that I suddenly realized, with a gasp, that had they not been away, all of us parents would have been at work and the kids, including Colt, would have been there, alone, when the storm hit.  It wasn’t a long ordeal and the winds weren’t even that strong (80 mph but we get some pretty high winds here this time of year) but it would have been terrifying for them had it happened that way!  Thank heavens they were away and Colt wasn’t there.

The other thing that bothers me is that they were the only house affected. Another home had some siding stripped off but it was a chunk of the swing set that caused that to happen, so really, a tornado formed, touched down, destroyed my friend’s swing set and called it a day.

I guess, if it had to happen, this was the mildest, gentlest way it could have gone.  Regardless, I’m not leaving my house again today.  More thunder storms are coming and I’m much happier holed up in my house, nice and close to the basement crawl space.  I even have a plan to get the cats down there, if need be.  Mind you, they will never talk to me again if I throw them into a dark hole in the ground without warning. Still….the other option would be decidedly worse.

And that’s my exciting Friday!  Got my car fixed, got my phone fixed, got the kitchen, living room and bathroom clean, did my nails (twice), took Colt out for lunch and I’m done until tomorrow.  Planning on a peaceful evening with no tornado warnings!  (Work with me here, Mother Nature).