Category Archives: Work

Drowning in Change

“There’s a ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch…” Frank Zappa


Frank Zappa released the album “Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch in the early 1980’s. It’s most notable song was “Valley Girl” which was a parody of a stereotype during that time period.  “Like totally” as well as “Gag me with a spoon” were heard so frequently it was almost nauseating.  I’m pretty sure my parental units were grateful when those phrases went out of vogue.  But on the album’s flip-side was the title track “Drowning Witch” which the past six months has felt on and off like my theme song.

The lyrics that especially speak to me are: “As the light goes dim and she’s trying to swim… will she make it? (Boy we sure hope so.)”

The upside of life: I’ve finally settled in to my Metroplex apartment and have been working on getting a routine settled into place. I can actually drive around the area (thanks to the GPS on my phone and in the vehicle) and I am learning to be more independent as it’s just me and Yoda here. I’m still learning about the area and it doesn’t yet feel like home, but I’m homesick for my peeps, not so much the city where I used to live.

But a few things have happened over the past two months that have really started putting life into perspective. I took a writing hiatus to clear the head and really start thinking about what I’m writing, how I’m writing it and most importantly, WHY I am doing it.  I’m doing it because I love the written word and the power behind language. When I am writing, I create entire universes on a blank page and while I’m not yet in league with the best of the best, I feel I can take you to another place. Writing is the air I breathe and the time off has given me a much needed perspective on taking those deep, deep breaths.

I also realized that the job I got when I moved down here is not the stellar expectation I built up in my mind. (Haven’t we all done that a time or two?)  I had plenty of time to contemplate this fact after an on-the-job injury and spending time in bed at home.  I figured out while recovering when you get up out of bed each day and dread going to work and then come home too exhausted to even be human, there is a problem. Seriously, some days I felt like the anti-christ as my mood and behavior changed so dramatically.

What was I doing?  Why was I doing it?  Who was I doing it for?

Since the accident these little life questions have been haunting me and it all came to a head one day when someone at work called into question my character and integrity with such venom it took me aback. This person doesn’t know me and what little interaction we have had has been tense even prior to this.  It brought out feelings of anger, resentment and frankly, despair. (Basically my middle school years all wrapped up into a couple of days.)

WHAT was I doing? I’m a grown woman and I don’t need or deserve to be treated like I’m worthless by someone who doesn’t know me or want to know me.  WHY was I still working there after a couple of months of progressive misery? The grass was literally greener on the other side, but laying underneath the grass was a cold, dark place.  I was working there for the wrong reasons and there are no right ones to really keep me there.  WHO was I doing this for?  The epic question of the day wore on my heart and I realized I was doing it JUST for the money and not for anyone.

Money is an evil task-master.  The Beatles were right. It can’t buy you love and at the end of the day, it only buys a fleeting happiness.

So as I write this, I’m a little more than 24 hours out of the epic showdown that will occur on Monday.  I can’t look back on this time with regret like those who consistently say, “if I knew then what I know now.” I have learned a lot about me, what I believe in and where I’m going in the future.

The ship is arriving and I’m swimming to shore, but it’s not too late. Not too late at all.


If I Cry… Just Lend a Shoulder & Some Tissue

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Return of the King” 

Well, it has been a while since I have written. Congested into the past six months has been a turbulence and turmoil I had not quite anticipated. Had there been a glimmer of the mayhem to come, I might have been better suited to deal with the pandemonium. Alas, I never caught a glimpse of it. Thus, the delay in writing.  My most humble apologies. 

Toward the end of December I spoke of the pending move. Yoda was transferred to the Metroplex and so it began. I could go into all the gory details, but seriously, there isn’t enough time and carpal tunnel would kick in long before I’m done. But here’s the gist: 

We sold the house, which wasn’t even on the market, in about a month open to close. The buyer’s lender insisted the close date be moved up two weeks. Because of the freakin’ weather, we were having the outside painted and the little house reroofed almost simultaneously. The paint wasn’t even dry on the final inspection. And that doesn’t even include the other little repairs that were made during that time. 

What Yoda didn’t bring to DFW was thrown into storage during the sale of the house. The remainder of the items was thrown in literally at 8:51pm the day before we closed on the house. The storage unit locked down at 9:00pm. I have a feeling I’ll never figure out all the things that were thrown out, given to charity or are tossed in boxes here and there. (And as a side note – paying rent on storage just irks me. I want a house again. Obviously I’m feeling a bit materialistic. Maybe I need to get over that.) 

So the kids moved into an apartment – the lease was signed a few days before closing on the house. Begging, borrowing and stealing came to mind when it came to the pet deposits as two of the dogs are there and one is in the Metro.  Seriously… why are pet deposits so blooming high? 

Meanwhile my sister-in-law/sister of my heart entered the hospital over 350 miles from her home because she had to undergo a more rigid cancer treatment – diagnosed in November with leukemia.  My mom-in-law for the most part moved with her to Dallas and moved into her hospital room and helped her so much as my SIL was so weak and miserable. I mean nursing staff can only do so much, eh? This started mid-March. 

Birthdays and holidays came and went and I still hadn’t heard back from the job I applied for.  You heard that right. I applied for one. It’s a specialized field and the hiring process is incredibly long. So long that I didn’t go down for an interview etc for a while. However, after all this, that and the other they must have thought I could do the job because I started the second week in June. Normally, this is cause to celebrate; however, I LOVED my old job. I had planned to retire from it. This obviously didn’t happen. So while I’m mourning my old job, I move down on Sunday and start work three days later Wednesday 6-11-14. 

Obviously God had his reasons for the timing of the madness.

My Yoda, dearest Yoda… He was a half-match for a bone marrow transplant. In the entire registry, he and his brother were the only ones. The transplant took place just days before he helped me move.  The process made him feel “blah” to say the least. But he has the biggest heart and I’m richly blessed. 

But my SIL didn’t improve much after the transplant. Apparently you have to bide your time and wait for the cells to kick in. Meanwhile, my MIL still stayed with her and cared for her. She only left the hospital for maybe a total of 2-3 weeks between mid March and June. Wow. She’s such an amazing woman. 

Saturday the 14th we went to see her in the hospital after going to church. Darling SIL didn’t look so hot. I mean, sporting a hospital gown theoretically could be a sexy look. On cancer patients, not so much. However, her bald head was beautiful and her smile still so sweet. But you could tell something wasn’t quite right. She was rather “out of it” and slept most of the time we were there. 

The long story short is the excrement hit the proverbial fan. I don’t remember how many calls and text messages flew back and forth over the next week, but too many to count. There were prayers lifted for my SIL all around the world. But she lost her fight to that ugly disease called cancer on Monday, June 23rd. Now the texts and calls fly because of funeral arrangements and all I can think about is that I just want to pick up the phone and hear her voice. I want to get her advice on some things and I can’t do that. I feel bloody selfish. I feel bloody miserable.  

Tomorrow I leave for “home” again – a quick trip. My new supervisor allowed me the day off if I work next Friday (which I was supposed to have off), but I’m not allowed to use vacation days, sick leave etc for the first six months of employment. And a SIL doesn’t apparently qualify for any kind of bereavement leave. I don’t know that I understand, but there’s no arguing the point.

I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I am in a pretty dark place right now and I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit before I’m feeling “normal” again – whatever that is.  I believe I will feel better after my SIL is laid to rest and we all gather to celebrate her life.  For now, all I can do is rely on my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, to carry me when I’m weak and lift my heart from the darkness to the light. 

May this letter from my new home find you in a better place than I am emotionally at this time. Always…. C

It’s a Hard Knock Life

Lately, it seems as if my job has become more social worker, psychologist and Peanuts-style-Lucy-advice-giver than investigator. I’m okay with that because it means maybe I can help a family before law enforcement actually has to step-in and take action that is more permanent in nature. I’m not trained in any specific field, but I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve had two kids of my own who are doing okay. Combine that with the fact I was a bit of a hellion as a teenager (and from time to time today),  I can see the world in a perspective that is sometimes unique.

I had a conversation the other day with a parent who has done everything for their child, has battled all of their battles for them and now is having problems with him. I had to ask them, “Why did you do this?”

I know it’s hard as a parent to see your child suffer, but there are natural consequences to one’s actions and I believe it’s not to early to start teaching your children that. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned. Depending on the age of the child, you might pull their hand away and spank it. For older kids, they might actually touch the stove and realize, “When I touch it, it IS hot.” If you don’t follow the logical progression of teaching a younger child natural consequences, then when that child becomes a teenager, problems ensue.

This parent called me because he couldn’t get his son up for school. He’s gone so far as to set his own alarm an hour and a half early so he can start the process of nagging, scolding, yelling, yanking the covers off the bed, turning the radio up loud, using water as a wake up device, pulling his son out of the bed and dragging him to the closet…. well, you get the idea. I asked him why he was doing that. He said if he didn’t do that his son wouldn’t get up and would miss the bus then he would have to take him and be late to work himself.

Excuse me?
Can you say enabling?

I understand the school district’s policy on tardies and absences and a parent’s responsibility to take one’s child to school. However, this kid is almost 17 years old. At what point do you say enough already? And that’s exactly what I asked him.

He was stunned by my question so I asked him again and was met by silence.

I explained. In another year, this kid will graduate and then probably go to college. He’ll get a job. I asked him, “Are you going to be getting him up for college or awake in time for work everyday? Are you going to call his boss and explain to him that he’s late or write him a note or take him to his job because he just couldn’t get it together to get up on time? At what point do you say, ‘Enough?'”

I also asked him what time this kid goes to bed. He said that it’s anywhere between 10pm and 2am. I have teenagers, one of which carries a heck of a course load, but there is NO need for a regular 2am bedtime when you have to get up early for school. Teenagers need a recommended NINE hours of sleep a night. (Resource: National sleep foundation) Obviously that’s not going to happen and things are going to suffer. No wonder that kid can’t get out of bed. He’s working against a biological drive to sleep.

He said I made a very valid point he hadn’t thought about and thanked me for my time.

A few days later, he called me back. He told me that night when his son came home he basically threw down the gauntlet and told him to set his alarm and to be in bed no later than 10pm on school nights; he was no longer waking him up for school and if he missed his bus, he could walk. Apparently his son didn’t buy it. His son woke up about 11am and called his father at work to take him. Dad stood firm and told him, “You have two legs. Use them.”  The day after that, he didn’t wake him up again and the son again missed the bus. He called his father and apparently begged him to pick him up and take him to school. Dad told him, “Son, I can’t do that because you need to learn to do some things on your own. This is one of them. Do it.” On the third day, his son was up and ready to meet the bus.

I’d like to say that all is going to be perfect, but we all know that bad habits are hard to break. I’m glad that this father is working toward instilling new, healthy ones in his son before it’s way too late.

The School of Hard Knocks isn’t an easy one. However, I believe that as our children become older, we have to give them more responsibility to do some things on their own and make their own mistakes. After all, if we don’t do that, we haven’t properly prepared them for the adult world that is to follow and that’s not the School of Hard Knocks. It’s the World of Hard Knocks.