Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bet you didn't hear this at your job today.

"Boy, I almost canceled my appointment with you today." says severely overweight middle-aged deaf guy.
"Oh really? How come?" hollers kind, innocent, audiologist currently feeling a little sad about leaving her nice job.
"Yeah, I got a case of The Gas wicked bad today." man says. "I'll try to hold it in, but..." shakes his head and goes to sit in the waiting room.

I'm gonna put today's conversation into its own special slot on the list of Things I Won't Miss About My Job.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What it takes

I woke up this morning post B.A.D, post self-medicating(which didn't really work, btw) and still felt like dirty, gray roadside detritus holding down the spring plants trying to burst forth. (wow, how's that for melodrama? Good work, Jen) That is, I felt like crap. And not just physical crap either, I'm talking the trifecta: physical, emotional and mental crap. I got out of bed anyway and bumbled to the shower. I spent most of the time in there trying to decide if I felt bad enough to call in sick. I almost never call in sick because doing so is a pain in the neck for everyone else. Kim has to get there extra early hoping to catch my 9am client before leaving home. Then she spends the rest of the morning calling, leaving messages, scrambling to cancel people and reschedule them. Some folks can only get a ride on a certain day or have taken time off of work for the appointment with me and many have already been waiting several weeks to get in and now they'll have to wait several more.

I also spend time in the shower figuring out what I might be able to wear to work that's clean, comfortable and somewhat presentable. I realized that I'd meant to wash some clothes yesterday since I used my last pair of underwear. Damn. When you're considering the first layer of clothing and you're already stumped you're in trouble. I got out of the shower reluctantly. I put deodorant under one pit turned the dial for a little more gel goo and got nothing. I only had enough for one pit.

At 6:33 a.m. I called my co-worker and told her to cancel my day. I went back to bed.

It's beautiful today. Sunny, breezy, perfect temperature and everything is coming to life. I dragged myself to Springweather Nature Area for a walk hoping to work out the crappy kinks. I sat in all sorts of peaceful places, enjoyed the solitude, listened to rushing streams but nothing seemed to lift me out of my funk. Two things I thought would make it better:
1) a dog hiking along beside me
2) finding a swing sized for an adult hanging from a branch way up high
Obviously, these things weren't immediately available.

I came home and sat down at the piano. I haven't played much recently. I don't usually make up my own stuff, I regurgitate what other people have already composed. Occasionally, if I'm alone when nothing else seems to soothe my soul or touch my heart in the right place I'll put my fingers on the keys and see where they go. Today, they found all the right notes. Gentle, sparse, delicate, major key notes that felt sad but hopeful, aching but with resolution. I played it over and over, just for me and it felt beautiful. Relief.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not to worry.

Left work one whole half hour early. (yeah, that's a good phrase) I am self-medicating with a stiff Gin & Tonic plus a bag of Kettle Chips Cheddar variety. Mmm...potato chips. The bag blurb says "A Natural Obsession" so they must be good for me, right? Things would be even better if those chips were the Salt and Black Pepper variety, but when they're on sale 2/$4, beggars can't be choosers. My straw is making empty cup noises. Fill 'er up!

They're Baa-aack!

B.A.D in the Canadian Rockies. Look closely, my nose is a water source!

If there's one thing I really love to complain about it's my allergies. I didn't have any until I turned 30. Before then I'd say my nose felt congested most of the time and I'd been diagnosed with "enlarged turbinates" by the ENT doc I worked for. Then, gradually each year it's gotten worse. Pretty much January, February and March are my only allergy free months.

This past weekend at a party an older woman who has some health issues commented to me about how she had no sympathy for people who called in sick to work with a cold or allergies. Granted, this woman has been through some serious health issues involving chemo and who knows what else. Now, on my "Bad Allergy Days" (which I might as well just turn into its own acronym: B.A.D)I can't breathe through my nose so my mouth is hanging open all the time. It's difficult to enjoy a meal that way plus your mouth gets dried out. My face feels swollen and I've had people ask me about the "black eye" due to the dark circles that appear. Snot pours out of my nose uncontrollably. In the middle of counseling a client about hearing loss I'll have to jump up with my hand under my nose to keep it from falling on my desk before I can get a paper towel. Yes, a paper towel is right. I run out of tissues at an alarming rate and must resort to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer inducing paper towels. My head gets foggy feeling and honestly, I shouldn't be at work, it's that bad. I feel my pulse beating in my sinuses and I occasionally pull a muscle in my back from so many violent sneezes in one day. Imagine an entire day of that "oh my god, I'm gonna sneeze" feeling like you've got some black pepper dust in your nose. I feel like I'm tweaked into flight mode all day long wanting to get away from my face. (okay, most people feel that way around me). I have been to multiple doctors both conventional and "alternative". Preliminary allergy testing has not revealed anything so far, but now that the season is back, I guess I should continue my investigation into how to make it stop. Honestly though, I don't have much hope.

Today is a B.A.D despite taking my allergy medicine regularly for the past several months. Right now I'm just letting the snot run out of my nose because no one is here to see it and wiping it hurts too much. I forgot how sad it makes me, how tired, how angry, how desperate for a fifth of whiskey. So, to the woman who had no compassion for someone suffering from allergies I say, it really can be that bad, it really can make you wish you were comatose from April until January. Hopefully tomorrow will be a N.A.D (Non-Allergy Day)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh Deer, have I got problems...

I found myself in the woods hidden among young trees and rocky outcroppings. I strained my eyes and ears for signs of the creature I heard approaching but could not make it out. I waited and peered intently to my right. Suddenly a large buck with a rack that looked somewhat like that of a caribou's stepped into view from a direction I had not expected. The animal stopped and turned in my direction. He looked haughty and perturbed by my presence in his forest. I tried to stand perfectly still, thinking that if he didn't see me move he would lose interest and go about his business someplace else. But soon his nose was poking right into my face as I stood frozen with fear. The buck studied me, snorted a few times, looked right into my eyes and then turned around. Phew! He's going away, I thought. But no! He backed right up against me with his butt, pushed me against the rock and proceeded to POOP all over me! And it wasn't normal, cute little deer turd pellets either. It was big and copious and messy. Disgusting! Next thing I know, the animal's gone and I'm covered with some kind of clay like deer shit stuff trying to explain this all to my Mom.

Anyone got experience with dream interpretation? Maybe now would be a good time to start some Jungian style psychotherapy. Clearly I need it!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is time really on your side?

I make my way up the long dirt driveway to my friend's house just like I've done every week or so for the past three years. It's unusual that I'm visiting on a Friday but it's a special day. My friend, Lauren, is turning five today. The house sits up on a hill overlooking a field. In the winter I get there after the sun has set. The lights in the house glow out through the large south facing windows. The long approach offers me time to enjoy the scene of "cozy-house-on-the-hill" knowing there are people inside for whom I care deeply. But it's spring now and the sun will still be up for another hour or so. Blades of grass are soaking up the light and making fresh chlorophyll. The snowbanks are almost gone. Soon we'll be able to play outside again.

I shut off the car and sit there for a moment marveling at how another winter has passed, at how grown-up Lauren is these days. I started hanging out with her when she was just shy of two years old. I thought it would give her mom a little "free" time to do an errand, get dinner going, or even collect her scattered thoughts. I work to remember how we filled an hour of time back then before Lauren could really talk. What did we do? What games did we play? But we did fill the time and happily. Piggy back rides, lots of picking up putting down, silly face making over and over. Everything was over and over. "Do it again. Do it again." became a mantra. I remember holding Lauren upside down and jiggling her around to "shake the sillies" out of her. (We still do this although it's much more tiring with a five year old sized kid.) I remember the beginnings of hide and seek which involved Lauren hiding in the same favorite spot every time. During the summer months one of my favorite ways to spend time together involved pushing her on the swing. Sometimes we'd do this for the entire hour. I had a period of sadness back then that felt overwhelming at times. Swing pushing is surprisingly good therapy.

Lauren is grumpy when I arrive today. She is looking forward to the party this weekend with her five year old friends. I am not five. Her moods are fine with me though, since I'm only there for such a short time. I'm a moody person too and was similarly sensitive and cautious as a child. I think I understand how she feels sometimes. I often wonder how she sees me, what I am to her. I wonder how long and in what manner she'll be a part of my life. What will she remember about these years?

To get Lauren out of her birthday funk we decide to hide the presents I brought and search for them. Over and over. On her turn to hide them she actually puts them places that require me to look. She has become a clever hider.

I can remember the first time she said, "I love you" to me as I left. I remember exactly how her voice sounded and how her face looked and what it felt like to be so emotionally surprised by a child. I remember the first time she told me a joke (I don't remember the joke, but I remember her telling it). She didn't even know yet what "joke" meant but she knew we were all supposed to laugh at what she said. Someday I'd like to tell her about the peace and relief I found during our meandering summer conversations while I pushed her on the swing. I'd like her to know what a treasure it has been to share unstructured time with a child friend.

Before I got out of the car this day I felt awed by the passing of time. The changing of seasons doesn't feel mundane to me anymore, it feels almost ominous. The cycle of the sun is steady and ceaseless. The baby I held only weeks after she popped into the world is a five year old girl in just a few breaths.

I am not immune to the passage of time. No one is.