Thursday, September 15, 2016

Going Back to School While Doing Life

        After convincing a 15 year old Bean to accompany me to the college campus, I pulled into the tree-lined parking lot and questioned my decision making skills. A skill I have flunked more than once in my life.

       I still wasn't sure if I was making the best decision. A life time had passed since I was college student.

       I made this current decision on a long five-hour drive home - after two equally long airplane flights - from a funeral.

      I think experts warn against such decision making. Good thing for me, I'm horrible at listening to experts.

        Bean stares at me, with the way she can, all impatience and a bundle of energy that I used to channel by having her run endless circles around the kitchen table. She fidgets with her seat belt, and frowns at the campus.

       I know she thinks I brought her along to convince her that college should be a future goal.

       I haven't.

       I have simply brought her for her company. And support.

       Even though I had decided to enroll in all online classes, so I can try to balance my role of mommy around the demands of homework, discussions, and quizzes - I still thought it was best to chat with my assigned mentor, in person- on which classes I should start with.

      So hence, the hour drive to campus to make human contact.

    Five months ago, on that long- February chilly drive home, carrying a numbness in my heart, and unshed tears behind my eyes, it was decided an accounting degree would be my best bet. It would pay well upon graduation - a very important point with me, since I was no longer that naive 20 year old who believed you could make a living off of hopes and dreams.

        And I needed a career that would work with my Crohn's. Because control is just me having the upper hand- it doesn't mean I can forget I have it.

       The only problem with this plan was every time I thought about this degree it felt like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole- just about chest level.

     But here I was, stepping onto the tidy green lawn of the summer-quiet college campus, having registered as a business major.

    Registering for classes was a group endeavor- consisting of transfer students - like me, sort of.

    Bean and I step into the room where we are suppose to meet together, and it is full of kids not much older than Bean and their parents.

    The smiling and perky college employee looks straight at Bean and asks her if she's here to register.

   Nope, that would be me. The 'mom figure' with crinkles around her eyes, thirty- ish more pounds than the first time I registered for college classes, a mortgage, three kids and a belly that looks like a road map.

   She startles, as if she has never registered someone in their thirties before for college and proceeds to sign me in.

   Bean and I sit down and wait, and people watch. Later she tells me. "You know I wouldn't need you there when I register for college. They all had their parents with them and they had associates degrees. How are they going to survive the real world?"

   Of course, this is coming from the kid who has told me I don't need to attend her open house for 10th grade. She was going with friends to meet her teachers and I didn't need to worry about it. I don't think you understand kid, I've been going to open houses for you since Kindergarten and you want me to stop now? But that would mean I would have to admit you're growing up...

    and able to function without me. Which was my ultimate goal...still it's hard.

   When the entire group has arrived for registration, we are taken to the computer lab and asked to sign in.

   Umm, slight problem. I had already logged in at home and changed my password. And forgot mentioned password at home.

  After obtaining help from another perky employee - I think it's in the mass amounts of cafeteria coffee they are consuming - I have managed to change my password and log in.

  Where I attempt to register for that first and extremely important accounting class, which is the basis for all the other subsequent accounting classes I need, and find that the class is full.

  And the other section is full. And I can't even take Acct 101 in town at the outreach campus, because that class is full.

  And is everyone in the world deciding to be an accountant?

  Of course, this starts a chain reaction of which classes I should sign up for, because you have to have Acct 101 before so many other business classes. And it's not offered next semester, so I would have to wait until next fall.

   I am feeling a little flustered at this point and start to make mistakes with the online registering, which Bean is quietly pointing out and helping me to the right pages. I have been on computers since games were played with DOS commands, yet I am fumbling my way through a simple online sign up form.

  The perky employee kindly helps, but I knows she's thinking I'm having trouble because of my age.

  And before you ask, wondering why I'm not obtaining a journalism degree - had you seen the job statistics on journalism and the pay?

  No, I'm as undecided as I was when I was young. Except not completely - my thoughts have circled around to graduate school but that seems too far into the future to plan. Yet, one of the classes I sign up for - I don't need for my bachelor's degree - I'm taking it because I need it to get into the graduate program I'm tentatively thinking about.

    I register for four classes and we leave. And then I decide we need Mexican food. We use Siri to direct us to the local favorite place for tacos and spicy, and I don't get lost. Not that you can really get lost in this tiny college town - just misplaced.





Friday, November 27, 2015

The Ramblings of a Depressed Human Needing Love Words

It has been four months since I have wrote words on this page. And although I haven't decided if there is purpose in continuing this blog or in which form, tonight -  I felt compelled to put digital ink to an illuminated screen.

My heart is held together by Elmer's glue, and little scraps of embroidery thread, it beats with a broken rhythm - I think they call it depression- and it feels - literally, not figuratively- like a heavy weight in the middle of my chest.

For four months I have wrote thousands of words. Thousands of words that were actually read by ten of thousands of people. An accomplishment I never thought I would see.

I wrote about food and I interviewed a finalist from the CBS reality show Survivor. I talked to pastors and chefs, and master gardeners.

I talked to professionals and your average joe. I was given mugs of steaming coffee and warmly invited to sit in their living rooms. One photographer I interviewed I had admired his work since I moved out here, years ago- never imagining I would have a chance to meet with him.

I offered people a chance to talk and sometimes the stories I heard never made it on newsprint, but I learned further about fragile hearts and sensitive souls and came away realizing that there's not enough hugs in the world and we are all so imperfectly human - each with our own story, shaped by tears and laughter and heartbreak.

One article I wrote was about how the non-profit social organizations in my Western small town had set themselves on a new path to change poverty. How instead of throwing more services and financial assistance at the needy, they were going to teach real skills- tech school or college - instead.

Instead of handing them fishes - they were going to teach them to fish.

One day, if I continue with this blog, I will write about how writing about interviewing people who deal and help people with poverty made me realize they can't feel it. Empathy- yes.  But to understand poverty you have to experience it. Pawn off useless crap to feed your kids. Or visit a food pantry.

Feel it. In the rumble of your belly. And the red stain of shame flushed cheeks when you're three dollars short for hot dogs and the small business owners sells it to you for the dollars and quarters and pennies in your pocket.

For four months I have avoided this space. I have filled my head and my fingers with words about my community and other people's stories and I have avoided my own.

My grandparents died and then I was thrown away by a loved one who never in her life has thrown anything away, but she could toss me and the rest of the family away like an old box of cereal. 

Nah, she keeps old boxes of cereal.

And I have to admit it hurts like hell to not even be as valuable as an old box of cereal. And I have to admit in my imperfectly humanness, I hope the holidays are just lonely enough to hurt. And then I try to remember love, but anger can be louder sometimes.

For my friends and families who have lost dear, dear loved ones this year, I worry and pray for you. And my heart swells with tears that I don't know how to express- because despite being a writer, I can be pretty lousy with spoken words.

But I have a wonderful friend who has taught me to say something anyway. So I stumble, stutter, but I speak clumsily and I have found that my far from graceful offerings of comfort aren't as rejected as I feared.

And I have seen the light, and I know even in our darkest hour we are never, ever alone. And of course, Bean reminds me how do you know it's your darkest hour...

 Ah, shit. I was trying for something hopeful and poetic and worthy of a life coach. But freaking me, truthfully that's not me.

Let me speak frank and with the anger I keep carefully contained under lock and key.

 Life can fucking suck and we don't always understand the reasoning behind what happens.

 It can be tough and fill us with hard words.

It can drag us down into the murky water to drown. And we do. We try to drown it with drugs, drink, food, and reckless sex. We numb ourselves and medicate ourselves and we turn away from the Divine.

And we forget to breath.

WE FORGET TO LIVE. And then Bean reminds me that she doesn't understand why people keep telling everyone to live - do more than survive. Aren't we living?

Are you? Am I?

 And in the meantime, the world shifts in imbalance - back and forth along the broken edge of a cliff, dividing people and we can feel it in our collective emotions. And if a hashtag could fix the world, then things wouldn't be falling apart like a snowman in summer.

And it's not that I'm writing about anything that hasn't been discussed since humans made a written language, and our ancestors understood hardship and death.

It's just us in the Western world we have been coddled and lived within an illusion, shopping while we sip lattes (and I do enjoy a good latte)  and now I realize that one of my main jobs of being a parent was not just to teach them compassion and empathy, but strength.

Because this world will kick you in the ass. 

And since us imperfect humans love to find solace in words - words from songs like the Beatles, and quotes from deeply spiritual people like Mother Teresa and from words handed down through centuries like the Holy Bible - one theme remains clear -

The world may kick you in the ass but

Love kicks back.

And that's how I am going to finish this utterly too depressing narrative about ass kickings, old cereal boxes, and how cancer is pretty much the most shitty deal ever.

We always find love words to give us strength.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time Out- I'm on Base and You Can't Get Me

I officially declare a time out from life. Temporary, mind you. I'm not sure how long I'll need, but if I'm to prevent part of my heart from growing cold and hard, I need some time. - I really don't know how much more strength I can find- at this point I am digging deep.

And damn it, my shovel was smashed to pieces yesterday by someone I love dearly.

This is the part in the story where I start digging with my hands, on my knees in the mud, having a Captain Dan moment.

Except I don't have a shrimping boat to tie myself too and scream at the heavens for a few hours.

Although, if God can hear my screaming thoughts inside my head, then I don't need a shrimping boat and a storm to communicate.

I listened to Abu cry herself to sleep last night,  because she couldn't believe that someone she cared about with all the graciousness of her heart would choose an inanimate object over her. She would give the shirt off her back for this person- had nothing but nice things to say, and the hurt she feels cuts me to the core of my mommy heart.

The Vikings were brilliant- burn the shit with the owner. I told my girls- when I die- burn all my shit with my body- I don't want any fighting over scraps of my life.
Bean pointed out she might be arrested for doing that, but she would do it for me anyways.

And the ironic part of the matter, is this person was getting the items, there was no question -  but for whatever reason she freaked out, acted in such a way that even I with my big, sensitive heart can not excuse with grief- and tore my family apart. And destroyed her relationships with my girls.

I hope it was worth it.

As Doc said in Back to the Future 3- Shot in the back over a matter of 80 bucks.

That line has bugged me since I first watched the movie, because what sort of person would shoot a person over something as tiny as 80 bucks?

And then I found out. Unfortunately it wasn't a nemesis, but blood. And I have to admit that hurts in ways that are crushing.

Betrayal. It stings. That's why it plays such a big part in books. We hate what we can not fight, the stab in the back.

On top of that - Hero Hottie had a doctor's appointment and was told he is really sick, as we knew, but they don't know what's wrong with him. More tests are ordered.

More. tests. are. ordered. - Translation: we don't know what the hell is wrong with your husband.

As a child I loved to read mysteries...

As an adult they are starting to lose their appeal.

My Grandpa died last week. He lived 54 days after Grandma. He would be so disappointed to know what has happened this week.

Knowing my Grandpa, he would have burnt his shit, rather than have things transpire the way they have.

My Mom asked a nurse how could she work at the hospice house, working with people when they're at their worse.

A few days later she came back and said she had thought about Mom's comment.

"I don't work with people at their worse. I work with them at their best. This is who they are."

Because dying strips us of all our facades and walls we have built around ourselves, exposing our true, naked selves.

Media has it wrong- we don't live like we're dying. We die the way we lived.