Pod Person

Who am I? That’s another question I have been asking myself a lot lately. I’ve changed. Some may say it is called growing up. I think I am morphing into a bit of a pod person myself. Recently I realized I wanted coasters.  Who does that? I’m not a crazy neat-freak like my Aunt Nancy. I’m not completely anal about things like my mother. Except… I think I’m turning out to be them.

We’ve had Sunday dinners at Gram’s house for most of my life (now, my house). There was a period of about 4 or 5 years we didn’t which I think we all regret still. We allowed life to get in the way, things to get too busy. After my grandfather passed we realized that some things need to be a priority so Sunday dinners resumed.

After dinner people would set about cleaning the table. Not because we were anxious to clean, it was to clear the way for dessert. Again, priorities. In all honesty, if I did help, it was because I wanted dessert. I’ve never been overly ambitious in the cleaning department. Anyway, we’d carry the dishes from the kitchen table (or patio table if the weather was nice), and carry them to the sink. I’d start loading dishes right into the dishwasher while my Aunt Nan would start rinsing dishes until they were spotless. It seemed like such a wasted effort. If you were going to go that far why not just wash the dish by hand?

I remember going round and round with her about the merits of rinsing versus loading in the dishwasher. I refused  to rinse. In my mind that was her being ridiculous and was an uncalled for, unnecessary extra step. I’d roll my eyes as she rinsed away any evidence of food ever having been on the plate. Brazenly, I’d load my dishes, spaghetti sauce covered and all, into the dishwasher, announcing I’d let the dishwasher do its job.

Fast forward about fifteen years. I pre-rinse my dishes now. I fought against it long and hard. Eventually though I got tired of pulling still dirty dishes out of the dishwasher. Worse than dirty because now the bits of left over food were baked on and more difficult to remove. I pre-rinse. I wanted coasters because I’d cringe if people went to set a glass down on a wood surface. I always thought coasters were annoying. Now I”m annoyed of the thought of someone not using them.

Who am I becoming? Oh yes, wait, I know the answer to this: I am becoming my mother, my aunts, my grandmother, my cousins. I’m becoming an adult woman with a home of her own. I pre-rinse dishes. I cluck my tongue and remind people to use coasters. I get excited over buying a new mop. Ecstatic over finding greener cleaning solutions that smell amazing. I am becoming what I have always mocked (in a loving way but mocked nonetheless).

Granted my home is hidden under a layer of dust still, I have to do vacuuming and mopping every Sunday before the family comes over (although in my defense Sunday is just as good a day as any to do that). I’m still working out a game plan on the cleaning but my transition to pod person is definitely happening.

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Just a few to get started…

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Robin Williams

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

You cannot ignore history. History has shown that in general it has been the men who have done the rapin’ and the robbin’ and the killin’ and the war mongering for the last 2000 years. It has been the men who have done the pillaging and the beheading and the subjugating of whole races into slavery. It has been the men who have done the law makin and the money makin’ and most of the mischief makin’. So, if the world isn’t quite what you had in mind, you have only yourselves to thank.

Julia ~Designing Women

 

When Does Life Feel Real? AKA What makes a person grown up?

When does life begin to feel real? It’s a question I have asked myself many times over the years. It is a question a friend posed to me recently, though in a slightly different way. She asked me when it was that I felt like a grown up? I suppose that was my question all along. Two different ways of asking essentially the same question. So when does it feel real? What makes a person a grown up?

My whole life I had built up these images of different life stages. What they would look like, feel like, etc. Most of these images were based on 80’s sitcoms, movies, and books as well as looking at my real life role models: my mother, my aunts, and my cousins. I suppose that goes a long way in explaining why many of these images included long acrylic nails, hot pink lipstick, and big hair.

High school was my first real let down. I had fully expected to be popular, dating lots of boys, falling in and out of love. I would be a cheerleader (one goal I accomplished but it fell way short of the dream). I would be social and outgoing. I would be witty and charming. I would be beautiful and confident. I would be the girl other girls wanted to be. None of those things happened. I was shy and painfully insecure. I had very low self esteem. After being mocked throughout middle school and betrayed by false friends I was very, very slow to trust.

I did make friends, one in particular that I clung to like a life raft. She was beautiful and popular, or at least she could have been but she was too nice and kind hearted for that crap. I became her shadow and to this day people that I run into from high school still associate me with her.

While I was not popular, I didn’t date hardly at all, and my brief stint as a cheerleader was not all it was cracked up to be, things turned out all right. I slowly learned to trust again. I let some people in. I still stay loosely in touch with the girl who was my first high school friend. I also met a girl there that changed my life and to whom I am still incredibly close with and I reconnected with a girl that I was scared shitless of in high school who turned out to be pretty darn amazing. I also learned some of the good and the bad of organized religion. I went to a Christian high school which was my first time being exposed to organized religion consistently. That is another story for another day though.

College. Another let down. Many of the kids I went to high school with were from affluent families. They were able to go away to colleges and universities all over Michigan as well as out of state. That was my dream. My ideal. The real college experience. Going “away,” to college. Staying in dorms. Independence. Learning. Falling in and out of love. Getting a good degree that would lead to an even better job. Establishing life long friendships. The works.

Me? I continued to work at the fast food restaurant I had started at when I was 15 years old. I went into management. I attended the local community college, which I paid every penny for. I never took out a student loan. I remember being 18, 19, 20 years old and being in charge of a restaurant that did 1 million a year in sales. I knew I wasn’t doing so bad for myself. Granted, fast food is a joke to most people but the work is hard, the pay is good, and I had benefits. Well the option of taking out my own benefits. I was still covered on my parent’s insurance at that point.

In the early mornings when I was sometimes the only person in the whole place, I’d look around and ponder where life would take me. I was sure that I was not going to work in that restaurant for the rest of my life. While I was making good money and had a good job with a lot of responsibility, it didn’t feel real. In some ways it felt like I had gotten it all too easily. I can still remember how I felt, how things looked, as I would gaze out at the dining room or through the drive thru window and dream. A part of me honestly misses those days…

College. It was so easy. Too easy. I was taking night classes because I usually worked 5am-3pm. That meant I was with people in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond going back to college or attending for the first time. They asked so many questions. They constantly interrupted the instructors.  I rolled my eyes. I just wanted the information and let me go! The few day classes I took were no better. The students my own age were even more annoying to me. They were so vapid. All giggles, and parties, and promiscuity. At least that was what I overheard. I was certainly not included in their conversations nor did I attempt to include myself.

While I can say that I enjoyed learning during the time I was a college student, I also felt like I was on the slow track to nowhere. I was toying with different ideas for majors but not necessarily based on passion but rather what would land me a good job. I wanted a good job so I could have my own home because having one’s own place and total independence was the true sign of being a grown up in my opinion. Independence has been at the core of nearly all my quests in life.

Eventually I gave up on college. I kept getting promoted at work and found I didn’t have the time nor interest in college. Besides, if something was a let down to me, I would often abandon it rather than try to change it. (Sadly, I am still this way).  After another year or two I finally left the restaurant industry. I felt like I was getting older and was still no closer to accomplishing life’s goals. I was, after all, twenty-two years old.

Twenty-two was a hard year for me. I felt like at that point in my life I should be receiving my college degree and landing a big girl job. Within another year or so I could buy my own condo (and I had just the condo picked out already). Instead I was unemployed (by choice) and lost as ever. I felt like a failure. This was not the life I envisioned. It certainly did not feel real. I was so far from being the grown up woman of my dreams.

Within months I started working at a chain salon and beauty retail store. I fell in love with it. It was amazing. So many things I had been intimidated by but oh so enticing. Since I always felt like an ugly duckling and my mother was more of a tomboy I felt out of place in the beauty world. Other than gel and mousse I had never heard of any other hair styling products. I had never heard of “professional” brands. I didn’t even blow dry my own hair. I let it air dry and hoped for the best. I was so naive.

I found myself surrounded by strong women who had had their fair share of knocks in life. Most were divorced. Some were remarried. They were beautiful and intelligent. My images of life began to change a bit, shift slightly. I started to realize that while I was going on twenty-three and single as ever, it wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it was the complete opposite.

While growing up I assumed I’d marry young like my mother and my cousin, I was now seeing that was not my destiny. I needed time to find myself. I needed to figure out who I was, what I wanted, where I was going. I answered my childhood dream of going to school to learn hair. I loved it! I felt like I was on track for once in my life. Cosmetology school was so much better than college. It was hands on. It was amazing. Except for being a very small, privately owned place, and it got very petty, very quickly. Again, another story for another day.

When I finally finished cosmetology school I felt accomplished. I had gone to school, I had completed school, I had my license. It was nowhere near the life I had dreamed of but it felt right. Doing hair was, and still is, one of the happiest times of my life. I loved making people feel good about themselves. For the first time in my life I felt proud if people asked me what I did for a living because I had earned it. I was really starting to feel like a grown up. The only hitch in the plan was the lack of money. It takes awhile to build a really good clientele. I had started doing hair right when our economy took a nosedive. I had a job I loved and felt great about but financially I was so far away from ever being able to move out or have my own place. On that level, it was very depressing.

The next year or two or three of my life was difficult for me. Sometimes I kicked myself for ever leaving fast food. I rationalized that had I stayed there I would probably be a supervisor by now and making great money. I kicked myself for giving up on college because maybe I’d have a degree and a job in a cubicle or office because surely that meant being a grown up, right? The thought of being trapped in a cubicle was so depressing to me but if it meant being a grown up…

I felt like a female version of the character in the movie, “Failure to Launch.” I was in my mid to late twenties, still living at home with my parents, sharing a room with my sister, with not much hope for my future. I was the farthest thing from a grown up. I had twenty something years of life experience I gladly offered up to people younger than me but at the end of the day I was not even capable of supporting myself. My dreams, my images for my life, I had let them all down. I had failed.

Soon I landed a job that was only meant to provide me with steady income while I built up a clientele in the hair industry. Instead, it changed my life. It’s had its ups and downs but I sincerely hope its the last company I ever work for. I’m not stuck in a cubicle and I’m not asking if anyone would like fries with that either. I still don’t have a college degree, maybe I will one day, maybe I never will.

Last year, I moved in with my grandmother to help take care of her. That made me feel grown up in a hurry. Being responsible for another human being is a big deal. Not living with my parents for the first time ever was odd. I was now the able bodied person in the house. Granted, my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bill took care of all the expenses around the home and the maintenance but it was my job to notice any issues and help coordinate taking care of them. I bought all my own groceries and looked after myself more than I ever had before. (Growing up with an Italian mother, she did everything).

Since losing my grandmother and now being in the process of buying her home, I suppose I finally feel like a grown up. I guess that was kind of the key for me all along, home ownership or at least providing for the roof over my own head. To me, that means I am fully responsible for myself, a true mark of being a grown up.

As for when things “feel real,” I realized it was my idea that was flawed. I always built things up in my head, believing there were certain milestones one had to reach to be taken seriously. Be a doctor, a lawyer, a struggling artist working five jobs to make ends meet. To be in love or a relationship, be a spouse, or a parent. While I’ve been busy searching for a moment when it all feels real, where I feel worthy of being taken seriously, I’ve come to realize that IT is real. Life is just life. Our stories, our choices, the many moments in a day are what make life. It doesn’t matter what we do for a living, assuming its an honest living. A job doesn’t define life. It doesn’t make one person more worthy than another.

I think that what makes a person a grown up doesn’t boil down to the degrees we accumulate, the property we own, or the milestones we achieve. I think it comes down to taking responsibility for the choices we make, good or bad. To live a life filled with love and compassion. To take the risk of letting people in, whether that risk is for a friendship or a relationship. Being a grown up means not taking life too seriously but knowing when one needs to be serious. Being a grown up means to never stop growing because there is always something new to be learned.

I’ve realized that its always been real, even if life hasn’t always lived up to my ideals. I need to stop looking at what is next and how that will feel and appreciate what is going on right now. Despite its flaws and tough times, this life, my life, is real, and its beautiful.

Blur

I am a blur of emotions lately. Before I can fully identify one emotion and process it I am on to the next. No I am not pregnant. No I am not bi-polar. I am just me. A woman who sometimes feels too deeply and other times it seems I don’t feel at all. I can be remote and detached as I observe the world around me as if I am looking at it all from above. This used to worry me, once upon a time. Now I know it is simply me. For the most part I like me. Sometimes, not so much.

Yesterday my anxiety won in our daily battle. It claimed me as a victim. I woke, nervous for how busy my day would be at work. I remembered other days when work was busy. The feeling of so many people around me, moving, talking, the sensory overload. I could feel the anxiety start to flutter through my chest, the muscles tightening, the tension start to creep in. I could feel it working its way to my gut, clenching, twisting, threatening.  I considered taking a Xanax. I thought about taking Formula 303 (seems to be a natural version of Xanax). I thought of how I’d let down my fellow coworkers if I called in. I thought. Too much. I stared at the time on my phone wondering if I was strong enough or if the strong thing to do was to shield myself from further stressors.

Ultimately I opted to stay home. I told my sister, who was not happy. She loves me and she is an amazing woman, but we have very different personalities. She also doesn’t suffer from anxiety. I’m not sure she was really judging me or if it was all in my head. I don’t really know. Siblings have effects on us that others will never have. I stayed in my bed where I felt safe and warm, snuggled with my pups.

This past week has been a hell of a week. My Uncle John was hospitalized for the third time since October. He was put in the ICU, he was septic. The tube in his side was infected. Again. He hadn’t even finished his last round of antibiotics. After heavy doses of antibiotics given through a tube in his neck, he was moved out of ICU. The next day his tube was replaced. He is at home again.

It hit me really hard. He needs this tube to get his body to filter and drain toxins properly. I know when things are not good his Bilirubin count goes up, whatever that is. I know it relates to the liver. The thing is, this mass is causing all the issues. The mass is too large or intricately woven around blood vessels and such to operate on. It impairs his body’s ability to filter toxins on its own. Hence the tube. He needs chemo and radiation to shrink the mass so they can remove it. He has to be healthy enough to have the port put in and to start treatment. But the tube that he NEEDS to keep things working properly for now keeps getting infected. Which halts the progress on treating the mass. Meanwhile the mass is growing, I’m sure. It just feels like it is all going in circles. I am so irritated with doctors and hospitals and even nurses. Usually I love nurses but I tried asking his nurse in the ICU some questions and she talked to me like I was an idiot so I gave up. I’m not the type to back down but my Uncle thinks very highly of his doctors and nurses and I knew it would bother him if I pushed the issue further. I personally do not like his doctors.

What I am trying to say, is I’ve been stressed and feeling somewhat down with all that has been going on. I feel pressured. Yet at times, I find pockets of happiness that fill my being. Today is Christmas Eve and my boss was kind enough to give me the day off. The family will come over to bake soon. Tomorrow we will all be together to enjoy the holiday. I am very blessed. While my emotions may be on a bit of a roller-coaster ride with all that is going on, blurring and blending, I am focusing on maintaining my gratitude.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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12/12/12 rambling because i can

I’m a little bit exhausted and a lot a bit contemplative, which personally, makes the best combination. I had three days off from work in a row which should lead a person to being well rested, or least being exhausted from an amazing weekend. Instead my plans all fell apart. Mostly. My Friday evening plans were cancelled, tried making new plans, that didn’t work. Saturday, well I’ve already talked about that.  Most of my weekend was spent on the couch or in my bed, snuggled with the pups, and reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Which I am enjoying. I am also enjoying having a roommate. I force myself to be more productive, or stay up a bit later because there is someone else in the house with me.

Last night for example, I went out for dinner and drinks with friends. Then I came home and started on cleaning my room. The day before (Sunday), I had “cleaned” my room. If by clean you mean shove all the miscellaneous clutter into my closet, and pray as I jammed the doors closed. That was not my best plan ever. I wanted my room to look semi presentable when the family was over for dinner. Monday. Ha! No cleaning happened on Monday so Tuesday night it was. I tore everything out of my closet and started to sort and put things away right. Now I have an overflowing heap of laundry to contend with. Then things should be good again.

Sunday night was a slice of awesome. I got to spend time with some people that I truly adore. We drank wine, ate cheese, cheesecake, grapes, all sorts of treats. We talked and dissected life and relationships. We watched youtube videos and laughed until we couldn’t breathe. It was truly a wonderful night and much needed after all the self induced stress/anxiety I had been dealing with. It was a relief as well as inspiring. I never could have guessed at my life when I was younger. It is definitely not how I planned it at all but I’ve got to say it is pretty awesome. Though I’d rewrite a few scenes if I could…

Where does the contemplation come in? Oh yes! I was watching “Parenthood,” tonight which is one of my favorite shows. As I watched Christina battling a life threatening condition, watching Adam’s tears rolling down his cheeks, and seeing him pray in earnest, I wondered, why do we only pray when our lives are going to crap? Why don’t we pray daily? Why don’t we pray for the things we are thankful for? Why is it typically begging and pleading with God when things are a mess and no acknowledgement when they are great?

Now I’m not saying what God to pray to, or what to believe, or even how to pray. I’m just curious why we think its acceptable to behave this way? I certainly have my issues with religion and all sorts of questions. I am so thankful to my parents for bringing me up to have faith but instilling LOVE as the number one tenet. I was taught about God, given children’s Bibles that I read because I WANTED to, and though God and faith were beautiful. (I still do). We didn’t attend church which sometimes made me sad as a kid but most of the time I didn’t give it much thought. Only when my friends were not available for play dates because they had Catechism. It had me intrigued, I vaguely wondered why I didn’t have it, but shrugged it off and played Barbies instead. I am so thankful we DIDN’T go to church. I know a lot of people out there that will disagree with me with every ounce of their being. I’m happy for them. It is their privilege and right. The thing is, I think that people get so caught up in church and mob mentalities that they lost sight of the message. Seems to me that every major religion has the same basic principles. Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you. Love is the ultimate virtue. Patience. Acceptance. So what makes *my* way better than yours? And who is to say that another person’s belief is wrong? Last time I checked, I’m not that important or powerful.

I just don’t get people. Sometime I really don’t. It makes me sad when people put THEIR spiritual beliefs over the lives of others. I’m fairly certain they would not like to be told how to worship and whom to worship. So why does anyone think they have that right over anyone else?

See what I mean about exhausted and contemplative? My brain is a mess of thoughts. Which is not unusual. I’m just letting them spill out here tonight. Actually, on that note, I have some laundry to tangle with still. Good night world. Please, love one another.

12/8/12

Today is Gram’s birthday, the notion of which, took my breath away. Late Thursday night, technically Friday morning I checked the notification center on my phone to see that Gram’s birthday was ‘tomorrow.’ I literally couldn’t breathe. It hit me with an intensity I was not prepared for. It has definitely taken a toll on my subconscious all week. My anxiety has been elevated. This morning I was a sobbing mess in my bed.  I was supposed to be going out with some friends this evening but when I made the plans, I didn’t realize it was Gram’s birthday. When I awoke this morning, attempting to coordinate transportation, it all just overwhelmed me. I tried to push it down but some feelings will not be ignored.

After my mini breakdown in bed, I got up, and made a cup of tea. I sat down with my pups and lost myself in a book for awhile. It seemed to help. I was feeling confidant that I could go out tonight.  Then I started to get ready,with no distraction, my focus turned inward. I realized that social activities were not happening for me this evening. The pain in my stomach, the tightness in my neck and scalp, the sorrow in my heart. I needed to either stay home or partake in some family time perhaps.

I feel like a jerk for bailing on my friends especially last minute. Luckily, as I’ve said before, I have some pretty amazing friends. Once I made the decision to skip out on our plans I felt a little better. I went over to my parents’ house to have my dad check out my car and the three of us went out to dinner. I hung out with them for awhile before finally returning home. My sister and I picked up the all essential tool for coping: Ben & Jerry’s.

This first year without her, I think every significant date will be difficult. She was such an incredible woman. Gram, Queen Margaret, Happy Birthday wherever you are and I love you.

The World According to ME Part 1 Snow

Since I have lived most of my life creating the perfect world in my head, I think it is time for me to put some of these thoughts down on paper. Or typed screen. Maybe if I get them out there it will help to will them into existence.

First off, concerning the weather. I live in Michigan. I have for my entire life. As a kid I LOVED snow. Looked forward to it, couldn’t wait for it, thought it was so beautiful and wonderful and awesome. Then I got to high school and driving age. I was more than willing to drive in the snow. I recall days that I would go out to do things (perhaps a shopping trip that was non-essential) and my mother would make some comment about not feeling the need to go out in the snow. I would haughtily tell her, “We live in Michigan, snow is a part of our lives. I am not letting it stop me from going out.” When she would lament the snow I would tell her I loved it.

Fast forward about 15 years. I kind of hate snow. Don’t get me wrong, its BEAUTIFUL on the grass, falling from the sky, up on the roof tops, or forming a soft layer on pine trees. I HATE driving in the snow.

All of this leads up to the snow according to Kelly plan. Keep it on the grass and off the sidewalks, drive ways, and roads. Is it really that hard? I’m all for the snow with some terms and conditions. I don’t want to have to walk in it, drive through it, or shovel it. It’s not just the snow that is an issue here. For anyone that lives in states that deal with snow for the winter, they know it is the ice that lurks underneath the snow that really sucks. I can’t stand walking along thinking, “Snow isn’t really so bad. It’s rather pretty,” to find myself suddenly skidding along and fighting for balance because there was a patch of ice I couldn’t see UNDER the snow. It’s even worse when it is a patch of ice on the roads. It is, perhaps, one of the worst feelings to feel completely out of control as you’re careening down the road with a ton of other cars.

My plan? Can’t we have solar heated concrete/cement/asphalt/whatever surfaces make up our roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots? Then we could all enjoy the beauty of the snow safely. Please don’t ruin my dream with the reality of how expensive all of that would be and if the roads needed repair etc. I don’t want to hear it. This is the world according to me, not current reality. In my perfect world snow is limited to grassy areas and no surfaces that people or vehicles must pass over.