Don’t Stop

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Four months ago to the day, I fell and severely broke my leg. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I was in a bar with my partner and some friends. We’d all had too much to drink, as can be the case on that day.

I spent more than 22 hours in the emergency room and then, finally, got moved to a room. With kind nurses, a quiet environment, and a couple of really wonderful cups of water and a small thing of juice, which I had been denied the 22 hours in the ER, I finally was able to get a small amount of sleep.

When they woke me several hours later, it was to take me to surgery. And thus began my painful, protracted journey on the road to recovery. A road which I am still walking upon.

And I am walking – a little. With a crutch or holding on to something. This is big progress. This past Monday at physical therapy I walked on the treadmill’s slowest setting for 10 minutes. Every step is very painful. It’s not just stiff, it’s not just weak, the metal on both sides really, really hurts.

It’s pretty likely I’ll have the metal removed when we are close to the one-year mark. I can’t imagine existing with the pain the metal has caused me from the moment I woke up through the rest of my days on Earth, however long or short they may be.

That will be my 13th surgery.

I’m tired.

Having a broken body with a lot of things that go wrong with it and are wrong with it is tiring. Recovery is tiring. Continually hustling for work is tiring. Parenting is tiring. But I have had no choice each day but to get up and get at it as best I can, and try to make the best of the situation. I think I’m doing that.

My body is recovering in its own way and time. I nudge it, and urge it, but am not forcing it, screaming at it or yelling at it. I’m 50. Things are much less easy than they used to be, in every single aspect of my life. I feel my age. I’d rather stay home than go out and see people, even if I could drive and walk easily. I love my friends but going anywhere for more than an hour is still very taxing.

I don’t know how it will wind up, when it’s “healed,” whenever that point is reached. I doubt I will be able to run like I did, but if I can walk without a noticeable limp, I’ll feel pretty accomplished. Everything else on top of that will be gravy.

I miss the flexibility I used to have. The energy and the drive. Walking is a miracle, you know? You just put your feet down without even looking. I have to stare down at my feet and carefully place my weak leg down, making sure it’s stable before I put weight on it. Grocery shopping now feels like running a marathon.

I wanted to start going to the gym but have only had the energy to go once. I did one workout at home and have been too tired to do another. The pool is nice, but I can’t get there on my own, and by the time my partner and son get home and everyone has dinner and cleans up after, we’re all too tired to bustle into the car just to take me up to the gym and wait around while I try to get a workout in. I sat around two days’ running in my workout clothes, determined to do something as soon as I got up, but my leg was too sore and I wanted coffee first. Then I’m lost in work, answering emails and writing captions for pictures of pretty hotels for a few extra bucks.

The kid starts middle school in a month. My goal is to be able to walk him up to the bus stop, and meet him when he gets home. This will be his first year riding the bus and we’re both a bit worried about it.

Must keep moving.

 

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Memory Brushes The Same Years

Went to a party yesterday evening. I didn’t want to go to. We have gone yearly for several years now; old theater friends host and their families and other old theater friends are also in attendance. Somehow the day seems almost always to fall on my custody week so I get to bring the kid too, which is great. He doesn’t get to see me socializing that much with other adults. When I have people over, which is rare, it’s usually only one or two adults at a time, and on the even rarer occasions I host parties, it’s not when he’s around, which is for the best because this apartment is so small and he is so active he’d never get to sleep with the noise and late hours a party brings.

Since I broke my leg, I’ve become even more anti-social. That’s not entirely a bad thing. I have a sharpened focus on my work, and have been pitching and applying for a ton of things, and it has begun to pay off. I’ve also started some new coursework on HubSpot, so I’m not filling in all the downtime between waiting for clients to get back to me and billing and collecting efforts on social media. So I’m busy – very busy – perhaps too busy. I bit off more than I could chew last week and then things shook out so I wasn’t as busy and I didn’t have to do anything to make that happen, and that brought a bit of relief.

Sitting in my chair all day and only seeing the slice of forest outside my window has quite literally narrowed my view and made me look inward, bringing peace and gratitude I didn’t know existed. I am delighted beyond belief with a trip in the car, no matter where we’re going. I feel like a dog, wanting to hang my head out the window and smile at the trees as they whiz by. A bath, which I am now able to take, is so wonderfully relaxing. I can hide my broken, scarred, misshapen body under the bubbles and sink into the epsom salts water, emerging (slowly, so slowly and carefully) renewed and rejuvenated, as I have done this warm evening.

Sliding my now-cast-free-all-the-time leg under the cool, crisp sheets at night is nearly orgasmic in its pleasure. But outings are tough, even though they are joyful. Getting around anywhere with the walker and my barely-weight-bearing status is extremely slow, and if grass and stairs are involved, it’s a real challenge. I field endless questions about what happened, how long it’s been, how recovery is going, repeating myself over and over, to strangers and friends.

An hour away from my chair and the purple limb begins to painfully swell. Two hours and it’s a cankle. Three hours and it’s an elephant leg. But I went to the party anyway,  because I love my friends, and because my son loves my friends and loves going to this party, where there are teenagers, young adults, little-little kids, multiple dogs and then a bunch of folks my age and older. D asks every year starting in June if we’re going to the party, and so I wanted to try, for him. They have fireworks in the town where my friend lives once it gets nice and dark, and the kid always enjoys it. He won’t always, and I value this time. But yeah, stairs? Yes. Grass? Plenty.

I’ve grown accustomed to my little, easy-access space and can put my tray of food down and push it along the ground to my chair without anyone giving me a weird look. I didn’t feel chatty, but everyone had questions about what happened to my leg so I filled in the blanks and it got me talking. At one point, I was reminiscing with three different people I met now 32 years ago at college – two are theater people and one is my partner. I feel bad about how I look because I am old and fat, and now also disabled, at least temporarily, but I see my friends and they don’t look bad to me, they just look like my old, dear friends, perhaps as if we’ve all been put into aging makeup and costumes and are still back on the black floor of Wright-Curtis, blooming so brightly, crying and screaming and on our knees and singing and laughing and stealing kisses in the wings and waiting for sound cues that didn’t come and making it up as we go along when things didn’t go as planned. Or sweeping up after, taking down flats, lights, carrying stuff back to the scene shop.

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Wright-Curtis Theatre, Kent State University

I settle into being with these old friends like I do my easy chair. They’re soft, comfortable, and safe.

A woman comes every year who I’ve gotten to know from the parties, the sister of one of the hosts. She has adorable, very young small children and I like to play with them, but this year I can’t play with anyone. She reported to me about halfway through the evening that my 10-year old was playing with both of her boys, and was being so, so kind and gentle with them, and playing really nicely. Completely out of my sight. What an amazing compliment, but also a terrific thing for my kid to do, and I did reward him, and thanked him for being kind.

We walked across the street as dusk settled. Me clanging and scraping my metal walker down the sidewalk and road, and then carefully picking my way through the buckthorn until we found a good place to put the blanket down and wait for the fireworks. Sticky-fingered from the bbq and smelling of bug spray, I managed to get down to the blanket on the ground and watched as kids ran all around screaming and laughing, overtired and restless for the show to begin. The woman and her husband with the young boys sat down next to us in their lawn chairs. The littles had glow sticks and we also had glow sticks so I started playing with them and they came over to our blanket to hang out with me and play. It’s so weird to me how you never lose that “thing” in you as a mom. I instinctively caught one of them when he almost tipped over in his little chair, and I was working with the one teeny so he’d switch hands more often to develop his motor skills evenly. The slightly older toddler was very good at trading back and forth different colors with me, and I played on his sympathy looking sad a couple of times when I didn’t have a glow stick, and he made sure to give me one of his – instinctively developing his empathy, or trying. You can play and teach at the same time, and I always tried to do that with my kid. I still am.

The mom was grateful for the break and for the kids focusing on something other than MOM MOM MOM for a few minutes and I got to imagine for a tiny segment of time what it would be like if I had been able to have the three total children I wanted, instead of my only child. It’s certainly hard with competing attention and watching more children all at once, and each gets jealous when you focus on just one, so you have to try to get them to play with each other as you can’t be in two places at once. My son was surprisingly jealous, and kept insisting I pay attention to him, which was also healthy for him.

The fireworks started, and my kid got serious about my attention. I put my arm around his little back and gave him a hug and he held it there, and when I tried to take it away, he kept putting it back. It was hard for me to sit like that, as I couldn’t lean back and can’t use my leg to steady myself, but those precious moments as the fireworks sparked and boomed, so, so close to my son, where he rarely allows me to get any longer, were too precious for me to take my arm away and try to relax. I leaned into his hair and kissed him, and I said, “I promised I’d bring you, and I’m so glad I did.” He said, “me too, Mom,” and told me he loved me.

We’ll go again next year, if life is kind and we are fortunate enough. My old friends, who knew me back then, and the new ones I make, who know a different me.

It’s so strange to be all of the people I’ve ever been.

The Air Is Rarefied

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Me on Middle Bass Island,7th grade, releasing a duck we healed

Summer has finally arrived and the hot, heavy and muggy weather with it. This is fine with me. I find as I am aging I appreciate more and more that I live somewhere where the seasons change. If you don’t like the current conditions, wait a while and they will change. In that way, there’s something for pretty much everyone to enjoy, depending on how they take their weather.

So there are fans and shorts and cold drinks, a little more ice cream, more salads, and more bugs. I found a tick crawling on the dog a couple weeks ago and yesterday, found one on my SCALP, which was not a good way to start the day. However, I’m optimistic no lasting damage was done. Just to be sure, I’ve sent him off to a lab for testing.

The deer who visits regularly has given birth, and her fawn follows her around and they are SUPER CUTE. I have a panoramic view of the woods behind my apartment. All things considered, as my leg continues to heal but prevents me from going much of anywhere else or seeing other things unless I’m being taken to a doctor’s appointment, it’s not a bad view.

This month has been my busiest month of work since I lost my full-time job, almost two years ago to the date. I know better than to think it will continue at this pace, but it has been nice actually being so busy that I must strictly project plan and prioritize or else I won’t get work done and hit deadlines.

Have I stopped chasing work under the crush of all my current activities? No , I have not. In order for the feast to continue, a certain amount of time must be baked in each week to marketing activities, including networking, applying for work, reaching out to colleagues, responding to leads I’ve saved, crafting and sending pitches, billing and collecting.

I am also learning. I learned a great deal about home building and remodeling this month, and am also learning about how rich people are able to diversify certain assets to avoid the tax penalties associated with taking those funds out in retirement years. This month, I also learned you can get a scholarship for college if you’re good enough at playing Pokemon cards or video games.

In news of more good fortune in June, a major repair I have been avoiding for the last 7 years – the shitty headlamp assembly in my Kia Optima which causes the headlights to look dim (it’s the wiring, not the bulb) has finally been named an actual recall. Do you know how glad I am that I didn’t listen to the dealership and let them fix it for $600? Or to the indie repair shop I took it to, who said they could do it for $400? Or to the indie mechanic I visit occasionally, who said he would do it for $250? Sometimes, procrastination does actually pay off. My little black lemon is at the dealership now, having the headlamp replaced. The bad news is the front strut broke on my car, and that is not recalled, but you can’t have everything. There’s always a yin to the yang.

It is slow going with the leg. It’s swollen and painful a lot, and the metal is so close to the surface on the outside of my leg that I’ll have to have it removed as soon as I can, which won’t be until early next year. I’ve had so many surgeries that I realized I forgot some when I was counting up which number the leg surgery was. It was 12. And I’ve already got 13 planned. Ah, life.

July will require just as much push as June did. There is a ton of work to do. I think it will let up in August, which is good, as there are so many things to do to get my son ready for middle school. I have an old flip phone I want to get activated, if it still works, so he can use that for emergencies. I have to procure the supplies for his new journey into the land of trumpet playing. I will have to shop in stores for school supplies for him for the first time. And he’s growing and will need new clothes. He will also be taking his first plane ride – something I had hoped to usher him through – but unfortunately with my leg it’s not in the cards. He’s flying out to California with his dad to visit dad’s cousin. I will be a complete basket case until they are back on the ground safe and sound in Cleveland. They arrive back home only one day before his first day at his new-to-him middle school.

July will be a time of gathering strength together, of hard work, in every conceivable way. Then we start flying through time.

Dear Dad

me and dad

Dear Dad,

I thought of writing you this letter so many times, but how do you write a letter to someone who can never read it? How do you write to someone who can’t give you any answers?

Though you have been gone for almost 30 years, I still wish you could see how I turned out; what I’ve become. But most of all, I wish I could have talked to you and asked you why about so many things. Maybe you could have helped me to understand how I can be so much like you, and yet not like you at all—and what to do with those feelings, which have swirled, unresolved, these 30 years.

In your last letter to me, you said you were finally trying to improve yourself. Get healthy, stop smoking. It was a journey you’d never bothered to take. But after the heart attack, you seemed to really get how short life is, and said how much you wanted to stick around to see what happens.

You said you wanted to see me graduate from college. I did. You said you wanted to see me get married. I did. You said you couldn’t believe it was something you wanted, but you wanted to be a grandfather. My son is 10. I also got divorced, got jobs, got promotions, moved to California and then back to Ohio—I could never explain all you’ve missed.

Your life of self-destruction finally intersected with our bad genes, and it was a fatal collision. Four months after the heart attack, a stroke took you.

I’m still angry with you about so many things. I’ll never not be angry. I’ve learned that. You imagined that your family, who hated me and my sister for choosing to go with mom in the divorce, would unite and take care of us after your death. You couldn’t have been more wrong. You thought that because we were girls, dealing with your death and after-life care would be “too much,” and you put your nephew, our cousin, in charge of your affairs. He hated us so much, and I had to come to understand that was partly your fault. You spent years playing a “poor me” card that was a lie, misrepresenting my relationship with you, painting me as uncaring and rarely in contact so they would feel bad for you and hate me. It worked.

At your funeral, your nephew made fun of me crying next to your casket. He knocked pictures to the ground I brought, and had them turn off the Sinatra tape I had brought and asked them to play, knowing how you loved Old Blue Eyes. Your sister physically shoved me out of the way when I was in front of your casket. Her daughter came up and spit on me and my sister. They shut us out of the limo and we rode in my sister’s beater car at the back of the line to the cemetery. It was humiliating and bewildering.

Our cousin screwed us out of everything he could after you died, as quickly as possible, and with the vehemence and viciousness I’d only ever seen in movies like The Godfather. But the Corleone family has nothing on your family. They blackmailed your mother—my grandmother, with whom I tried to carry on a relationship after you were gone. You were here favorite and we were both heartbroken. We began to talk and lean on each other. I borrowed cars and got rides from college to visit with her. Coming from Greece as a young girl, outliving her husband, five babies that didn’t make it and two of her adult children who had died, she had incredible stories and a lot of pain. I finally had the chance to get to know her as a young adult. One day, I called her to arrange another visit. She broke down crying. She said that they told her if she continued to see me, to communicate with me and allow me into her house, they’d stop bringing her groceries. An old lady! This is who you picked to handle things after your death.

They took everything.

After you died, they told me nobody could go into the house; that an inventory had to be taken for legal purposes, for your “estate.” My cousin’s wife, who I maybe met once, got on the phone and screamed at me that I was an ingrate, that I deserved nothing, and that I should only communicate with the lawyer going forward. Screaming at a girl of 21 who had just lost her father. I kept calling the lawyer’s office, asking when I could make a trip home to get some things from the house. Not yet, they kept saying, not yet.

My cousin and your brother held an auction two weeks after you died. They didn’t notify me or my sister. I found out by calling the lawyer’s office again. “There must be some mistake,” the secretary said. “Everything in that house is gone.” They sold every lick of furniture, threw out every memento, photo, toy, everything that was in the house that didn’t sell. The orange comb you used for years, that stupid little plastic orange comb and a bottle of Old Spice, that was all I wanted, really, but those things were all gone. They sold your car, a car I could have desperately used as a college student, to my cousin’s wife for a pittance.

Then they sold the house to the first bidder, at a staggeringly low price, with no negotiations. That plot of land alone was worth twice what they sold it. It was the biggest on the block, you always said.

A couple months after you died, they held a “memorial dinner” for you at a church you were never a member of and never attended, so they could spend thousands and thousands of dollars on an event they could charge to the estate, lessening the meager amount my sister and I would eventually get.

The house you bought from mom after I graduated from high school so I would always have a home to return to quickly went downhill. The new owner used it as a rental. I heard there was drug activity. It became dangerously in need of repair and was eventually condemned. It sat empty for years.

I drove by the house whenever I went to my hometown, just to look at it. You could never imagine there was a family there; a whole life in that yard, where I played and ran and raked leaves and made forts in the snow, swung on the rusty swing set in the backyard, and later, laid in the sun next to my sister, reading magazines and listening to the radio. I was picked up for homecoming on the front steps. You took my picture on those steps the first day of my first job, at the Hardee’s restaurant down the street.

I lost a pinky ring in that yard. Mom got it for me from Avon for my birthday. It was gold toned and had a little pink stone in it. Stupidly, I wore it out to play in the snow the day she gave it to me. I looked and looked for days, but I never found it. I looked again when the snow melted. But it was never found. I looked every single year for that ring. I wonder if it’s still there, buried in the ground.

A well-meaning friend just visited our hometown last week, and sent me a picture of the lot. The house is gone. Razed, finally and forever. There’s nothing but a big patch of grass now.

That’s how I feel about you now. Empty. I learned terrible things about you in the years after you were gone. You were a bad person, and that’s so hard for me to reconcile with the father I loved so much, especially because you and I were so alike. We were pals. You taught me all about life. You taught me how to buy cars, how to spot a con, how to negotiate, and how to stick up for myself. You told me never to stay where I wasn’t wanted or where I was mistreated. “There’s always another guy, another town, and another job,” you said.

But there’s no other dad than your dad. Reconciling the monster within you and how much I resemble you in so many ways has been tough. But I am not like you. I’m better. I’m a good person. I help people when I can. I try to do better all the time. I’m not a bigot or a racist or a deviant. I’m a mother, a listener, a friend, a loving partner to my new fiancé, a caring daughter to my wonderful mother.

I wish you could see how I turned out. But then again, I’m not sure you deserve to.

Love, eternally, because I can’t help it,

 

Nina

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

My son has “graduated” from elementary school. It’s been an emotional week. It was a pretty formal ceremony, with them entering to “Pomp and Circumstance” and each kid being called up to receive an envelope and shake hands with the principal and/or teachers. I cried so much, my goodness. I feel proud, of course, but also extremely lucky.

As I sat on the wooden bleachers, everyone smelling of rain as we had come in from a torrential downpour, I couldn’t help but think of the parents in Sandy Hook, who never got to attend this ceremony, and never would. It’s part of my makeup, my nature, to consider others and their experience, whatever I am going through.

I have much yet to teach my son. As he enters middle school, the problems of navigating more complex homework and soon, practicing music (trumpet! at least for now) will arise, but also, more difficult and challenging social situations. It’s a very big middle school, and though 5th grade is mostly kept in their own dedicated wing, they do go to the main school for shared activities like lunch, band, computers, etc.

One of the things I want to make sure to keep teaching is that his experience does not necessarily reflect everyone else’s. This is a concept that continues to be lost on many people I went to school with back in the day.

I had a very difficult time in high school and was sometimes angry and in a bad mood. There were many reasons for this, not the least of which was how terribly we were struggling financially and how badly I was treated by some of my classmates. They did not have the same view. I was often told to “cheer up” in one way or another. A dear friend of mine actually wrote in my senior yearbook that I would a a great person if I just smiled more and wasn’t so negative all the time. He had NO IDEA what I was dealing with back then, and when we touched base about this stuff, decades later, admitted his head was in the sand and he apologized for being insensitive. This is what most people do who are intelligent and compassionate. When they receive new information, they adjust their thinking. They perhaps feel bad for how they treated someone when they were young and dumb. Another friend from back in the day in whom I’ve confided about what was going on in my home life said she had no idea. She said she had a GREAT time in high school and couldn’t understand why I was so negative.

This is the important thing I need to teach my son. Just because you are having a good time in school does not mean others are having a good time. We all see things about how people are facing struggles you can’t see and so please be kind, as you never know what someone is dealing with. And yet, it continues to be difficult for many people to do.

I was exhausted last night posting online in a thread on FB about a teacher from my elementary school days. Several people had very bad experiences with this teacher. When he died, one person said, he thought to himself, “Good, now he will never be able to hurt anyone else,” indicating that it was well-known this teacher was a creep. I also knew him to be not just a creep, but deliberately mean to those students he didn’t love and make his pet project. I saw things that made me uncomfortable, but I was a kid and we didn’t talk about things like that then. But it doesn’t matter. The thread is filled with lots of mean girls stating how they loved this teacher and “never saw anything” inappropriate or gross. They’ve directly invalidated mine and others’ experiences by saying stuff never happened that they either don’t remember, didn’t pay attention to or didn’t experience. They say things like, “This isn’t right,” to talk about this teacher who they remember as someone awesome.

It’s so important to understand that adults who can seem “awesome” can also be doing very terrible things to other people that you don’t know about. It’s important not to blame someone for their feelings when you don’t know or even try to find out why those feelings exist. Decades later, my feelings continue not to matter to people like this. It’s part of why I left my hometown and would never live there again. I was not a valid person with valid feelings there. I was a “problem,” “too negative,” “too weird,” voted worst dressed, made fun of for my clothes, left out of social gatherings, and made to feel bad about existing.

This is what I will be focusing on over the next several years with my son. Sure I’ll help with math and English where it seems warranted. I’ll remind him to practice his trumpet. But I want to make damned sure he isn’t doing this to other kids, leaving an indelible mark on their experience that makes them feel bad for existing, unseen and not cared for or about.

I want my son to become a good person, not just a good student. And so on we go.

Chasing The Years of My Life

Pokemon 10th birthday

This is a time of much turmoil and change. Personally, politically, physically. It is so much sometimes, I feel I am hanging on to the edge of a tree while the wind blows, legs and feet waving in the air as I attempt not to let go.

I dreamed I was walking. I walked to the window and closed it as a bird was chirping too loudly, disturbing my sleep. I looked down at my wounded leg and gasped, suddenly remembering I was not supposed to be walking. But it hadn’t hurt, and so I had forgotten.

The changes are not all bad. I have a sudden rush of work, almost more work than I can keep up with. I am busy day and night. I am working weekends and late at night. I am trying to dig myself out of the hole these last two years without full-time employment has caused. I am pitching non-stop, and applying for every bit of work I can. I think I’m doing some really good work. I feel more settled in my full-time freelance practice and have come to terms with the enormous costs associated with essentially running my own business. I continue to pursue full-time opportunities, but after more than 200 job applications, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for another 8-5 with an hour for lunch, paid health insurance, life insurance and maybe even a 401k. Nobody asks how my weekend was or what I have planned for a holiday. There’s no water cooler chit chat, birthday lunches or retirement cake. No gossip about office politics or office romance, and thankfully, nobody pounding the table and screaming at me, commenting on my boobs or calling me names to my face or behind my back. I don’t miss it anymore, any of it, at all.

It’s all on me now, and has been for some time. My two years of networking, taking classes, and doing high-volume, easy jobs for shit pay (albeit for some very nice people who can’t help the poor pay rate) are finally starting to translate into more and better work. The flood gates have opened, and I am happy.

Everything that has left me in recent years—every person, job, friend, all have all been painful and difficult to understand in the moment. Yet each of those things has led me to something better. I am starting to try to trust that things will work out, that I am capable, lovable and strong and that another door really does open after one door closes. That feels good.

I am acutely aware how little time I may have left. My father dropped dead right after his 60th birthday. But his mother lived to be 102. Will I have 10 more years, or more like 50? Nobody knows. There are no guarantees, I know that. I’m living for now while planning for a hopeful, eventual later.

My son is 10 now. For my safety, he was born a week before his due date. He would have been a Taurus if he’d been taken when the doctors wanted, but I urged them to let me go until the 39th week, and he landed in Gemini land. It all seems like yesterday, the enormous tugging during the C-section that pulled him from the safest environment I would ever be able to provide for him. Now he is smart and funny, with a bent for sarcasm and a voracious appetite for good food, graphic novels and Pokemon everything. Pokemon is his new Avengers, which was Thomas and all things train-related before that, and then before that, tractors, his first phase. He could point out at the fair which one was a Farmall and which was a John Deere and which was a Massey Ferguson. Now he doesn’t remember any of them, nor anyone besides Thomas the Tank Engine from that world. His Avengers comforter seems dated. He likes a girl, and won’t tell me who. He’s lithe and strong and so smart and funny, with a seemingly endless supply of energy.

Next week are his final couple of days as a 4th grader, a straight-A elementary school student. He has toured the middle school and seems ready. He’s anxious for summer activities, to see his friends from camp. He still cannot swim properly, or ride a bike. He’s simply not interested in learning, though at least he can tread water now and float. He’s been in lessons since he was four. Lead a horse to water and all that. There is to be a “clapout” on the last day next week, when the 4th graders are dismissed from their very last class on their very last full day. Parents, teachers and former students line the halls and applaud as the 4th graders file out. I will be a goddamned hysterical mess. He’s my only child, my only shot at this parenting thing, and every single thing that he moves through is the last time I’ll get to do that thing as a parent. I know it will embarrass him that I’ll cry but I can’t help it, and one day I hope he’ll understand. Maybe when he graduates from high school and I let him read all the letters I’ve written to him on his birthday each year. Maybe not until he grows older and hopefully has children in his life – his own or someone else’s.

While I have a ride to his school so I can attend clapout and the awards event the next morning, that’s about the extent of my activities. This will be my least-active summer with him since his birth as my broken leg continues to heal. I go back to the surgeon on Monday and have a lot of trepidation (next week is a very charged week). The films this visit will determine if I need more surgery or if I should begin the slow, painful process of trying to rehabilitate this weak, thin limb. It will take a full year, from what I’ve read, and we haven’t even gotten to the starting date yet. It’s still painful every day, but it’s nothing like it once was, and I don’t need any pain medication to deal with it except on certain very bad days. I am trying to see this going as other stuff has been going – better than expected, and with a pleasant eventual outcome, but it is very hard. I am normally a very active person, and being confined to my bed or my recliner for 2.5 months now has been extremely difficult. I am unstable on one leg and have had several instances where I was falling off my knee scooter and had to put my bad leg down lest the machine come crashing down on top of me as I fall on the floor on top of my leg. So I put my foot down a few times, with limited weight. It’s still in one piece, which is a good sign. Those instances terrify me and further confine me to my home. Going anywhere requires dedicated recon, or at least detailed questions asked to someone at every given facility – store, restaurant, whatever, to ensure I can get inside and that there’s some place for me to put my walker, preferably in front of me so I can prop my leg on it. It gets extremely swollen and painful if it hangs down even a few minutes, so road trips and even pleasurable drives are out of the question still. Sometimes I feel trapped. I miss socializing with my friends and participating in life. And I feel terribly guilty for not being able to do anything with my kid this summer; it’s our favorite season.

I am gaining a little bit more ability. I can cook in a limited way now, which has been helpful to my peace of mind. I am determined to try to get back to the gym so I can use the upper body machines there. My free weights at home just don’t cut it, and to get a sufficient workout I have to work them so much that I get repetitive motion tendon pain, an irritation of my carpal tunnel. My food stamp benefits are also ending, and with it, the monthly income cap I easily fell within, so I am now free to try to make as much money as possible, hence all the activity around trying to gain more work.

Here we go.

 

No Religion Too

I read something the other day on someone’s Facebook which I just don’t understand. I don’t even remember whose page it was on, or what the article was that my friend posted, whomever that friend was.

The article was about something terrible Trump is doing, like the latest dismantling of the clean energy bill or refusing to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill or something similar – pick a day, there’s something new every day that makes this guy a bigger jerk and threat to the citizens of our nation or makes it a more terrible place to live than the day before.

So apparently my friend has someone who supports him and they posted one of those long, rambling posts without any punctuation and not related to the article at all. I don’t remember the exact wording but it was something like,

“everything is great now more money less taxes unemployment down my 401k fatter than every crybaby still upset over the election and now i can practice my religion again god bless the usa!11!”

My friend had gently and politely asked the person to explain how, exactly, they were previously not allowed to practice their religion; how that had changed. I believe the person said something like they worked at a customer-facing job and they were “forced” to say “Happy Holidays” and now they “can say Merry Christmas again.”

I truly do not understand this.

Maybe someone can explain to me why people like this are the way that they are, because I don’t get it.

First, if you work at fucking Dealer Tire, when you answer the phone, they make you say “It’s a great day at Dealer Tire, this is [name], how may I be of service today.” Or some shit like that. Shit like that at all kinds of customer facing jobs, including high-end office jobs. We had a script at the law firm I worked at as to exactly how we were to answer the phone, and the max number of rings. It isn’t just Suzy at Starbucks. So what’s the complaint there, exactly? You don’t mind parroting that it’s a great fucking day at Dealer Tire even if it IS NOT, IN FACT, A GREAT DAY, but you’re somehow harmed by being made to say “Happy Holidays” during the holiday season?

I want someone to explain to me how this harms you, personally, physically or psychologically.

Second. Saying “Merry Christmas” to someone IS. NOT. PRACTICING. RELIGION. It’s not PRACTICING anything. I am not practicing “birthdayism” if I sing Happy Birthday to you on your birthday. It is not a practice. It is not praying.

Third. Let’s say you worked at Macy’s and you’re a Muslim and your religion is such that you are supposed to pray five times a day on a prayer mat on the floor facing a certain way. Let’s say that, even though it’s illegal, your manager didn’t previously make allowances for you to pray when prayer time fell on your shift. And suddenly somehow (how, exactly? idk because there’s no directive that’s come down from the White House, “winter” or otherwise), with Trump in office, you are somehow now magically endowed with the power to take breaks for prayer. Let’s say your manager just “feels” it somehow since there hasn’t been any type of law, since laws already exist to allow you to do this, via “reasonable accommodation.

If your job already deemed it a reasonable accommodation through EEOC, you were allowed to pray. If they didn’t, it’s not reasonable due to the nature of the business practices. For example if you’re a crew member on a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea, you can’t just stop in the middle of hauling pots because you have to take time to pray. Someone could actually die if one of the essential crew members is not there doing their job. Or if you’re a firefighter and in the middle of a call, you can’t just leave the building and let people burn up because it’s time for prayer break. But at Macy’s, for example, though it’s not an ideal space, you could go in a stock room that was rarely used for your prayer break as long as you let someone know you were leaving so they could cover your register.

Let’s say somehow they weren’t allowing you to pray before, but you didn’t challenge it legally, and again, somehow, magically they suddenly now feel they should let you take your prayer break because there’s a new sheriff in town, baby, and he’s a God-Fearing Man and all, so NOW they let you start using the break room for your prayer. THAT is now being able to practice your religion again.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it.

We’re talking about people who want to be able to say whatever the fuck they want to people without any consequences, like in the wonderful olden days when people like my dad had a racial slur or stereotype for every minority in the entire world, and used them regularly and freely among their friends. Back when you could do the “look around” to make sure nobody was listening and then lean in and tell some shitty, off-color joke.

It isn’t even about Merry Christmas. It’s about I want to call people bad names and say whatever is on my mind about anyone who is different than me and I don’t want to be inclusive or respectful or be made to feel AWARE that a huge portion of our population is not Christian and not white.

I don’t understand people like this. And they make me very, very angry. Why does it hurt you so much to just be nice to people, to say something different at work or to buy a card that’s perhaps actually reflective of the person who is receiving it instead of assuming the recipient of the card, the person to whom you are supposedly sending glad tidings, is excited about Jesus? How does being more inclusive HURT YOU SOMEHOW? If Macy’s is bought by Nordstrom, you’d all of a sudden have to answer the phone and say, “Welcome to Nordstrom,” but that would not infringe upon your rights.

Just fucking stop it. Grow the fuck up.