Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm late, I'm late!

Okay, I'm late posting my final blog. I hope it won't count too much against me, however, since I have posted 13 blogs, prior to this one. ;)

Why am I late? Yesterday was my sister's birthday. She had to work, however. Her husband also had to work: this is his Reserve weekend. Their son had a baseball tournament out of town which they both had to miss, and he had to miss his mom's birthday. Their eldest daughter can't be depended on to watch the two youngest girls, so my Saturday was completely taken up with babysitting. When I say completely, I'm not joking. I actually stayed the night because it was so late by the time they got home from work, we had dinner, did a bit of socializing with friends, had cake, and...well. It was late. Since I'm also babysitting today, I thought I'd also save myself the gas of going home at midnight just to be back by 7am. And I'd get to sleep longer. :)

I'm not only late posting this final blog, but I was late getting to my sister's yesterday to start my weekend babysitting gig. I've noticed that I have an odd tendency to be late to family things, but early or on time for anything I'm getting paid for. Odd, isn't it? Offer me money, and I can get up at any time required and be on time. If it's a family function, if it's in the morning, I'm going to be late.

I would dwell more on being late, but I have two girls tussling around my house and a brother looking very sour about the whole thing. We have to get to Sam's, then get to the park for some playtime before Marissa has to be at baseball . And the munchkins are nagging to get on the road...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Old gods and mythology

Lately I've been reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. It's quite entertaining, and a great series for pre-teens and early teens. It has action, adventure, and a healthy dose of mythology. Enough to spark curiosity and tempt youngsters down the path of more classical reading.

I've always had a passing interest in mythology. Enough to think, "I want to learn more," but not enough to actually devote myself to learning more. I think I really want to, though. The problem is: how? Where do you start? There are so many books out there, but most of them assume that a Mythology 101 course has been completed. Mythology isn't like a television series, where you can start watching it in season four and by the end of that season, pretty much know the storyline and how everything relates. At least, not in my linear mind!

I like timelines. I like starting with the first book in the series. I like knowing the background. I like 'this leads to this, then led to that, then leads to this...' Tell me the story in order so I can follow it.

Mythology, however, doesn't really care about time. Mythology is a long, convoluted, complex story that explained the world to folks who didn't have the means of understanding it any other way. But don't you wonder, sometimes, if there's more to it than that? What if those gods did exist? Who's to say they didn't? Surely even all those thousands of years ago people needed more proof of godly existence than the fact that grapes grew and the sun rose?

And why did belief in these old gods and goddesses started to fade to nothing? No one hears of anyone worshiping Zeus or Poseidon anymore. Aphrodite has no follows; Apollo no brides. What happened to them?

Everyone knows the name of Hercules. They know he's the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. But what were his labors? What are his stories? I don't know them. I think I should.

Who is Perseus? Theseus? Jason? The Hesperides? Atlas, Kronos, Oceanus? The other Titans? Where did they come from, and where did they go?

And now I'm reminded of a song, one of my favorites, although it always makes me sad:

"Last Mourner"
written and performed by Heather Alexander

In a clearing stands the ruins and remains of a temple
That once stood as proud as the sky.
On the wind blows the bittersweet sound of lost love.
On my gown flow the tears that I cry.

Through ages you waited for your children to come home,
And frolic again, as long ago.
But with time and with distance there comes independence,
Whereas you did not conceive that we would grow.

No more will we drink the sacramental wine.
No more will we light the sacred fires.
For ye only I am the last who shall mourn you,
And the loss of the music lyre.

My spirit rode forward on the wings of love and glory,
But duty rent the passion from me.
Tis true I betrayed you, and my own heart with you.
But my kind could not bow down; we must live free.

No more will we sacrifice the land to you.
No more will we gather laurel leaves.
For ye only I am the last who shall mourn you,
And forever the one I will grieve.

In a clearing stands the ruins and remains of a temple
That once stood as proud as the sky.
On the wind blows the bittersweet sound of Mount Olympus,
And the gods who taught the human soul to fly.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guardian angels working overtime...

Today started out early. My nephew and my niece both had baseball games. Zach's was at 8am at Tinsley Park. Marissa's was at 9:30am at a different, but nearby park. Zach had his second game at 11:30am. My sister had to work today, and my brother in law is an assistant coach for Zach's team. So I was up and out early to watch a bit of his first game, then I took Marissa to her scrimmage. Then back to watch Zach's second game. My sister decided to cook out tonight, and my brother came over after work. All three of us were together when we got the call.

My parents and my younger sister live in northeast AR/southeast MO, within about 10 miles of each other. My sister had a fight with her husband this afternoon, and drove off in a fit of anger. She went too fast down gravel roads, in a town so small that they've only got one paved road. Okay, that might be an exaggeration. Or not. But that's how it's been described to me.

Never drive when you are angry. NEVER. My sister (Beth) spun out and flipped her car multiple times. It took thirty minutes for her to be extracted. She was flown to the nearest trauma hospital, in Cape Girardeau, MO. That's about 97 miles from Cooter, MO, where she lives. She's now en route to Barnes*Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, which is a level 1 trauma hospital.

She has a grade 1 liver laceration. Translation: a small cut on her liver that will heal just fine on its own.

She has a laceration on her head that required 12 staples. Because of that, they're keeping her on minimal painkillers. They have to monitor her and make sure there are no brain injuries that take time to present.

She has numerous scrapes and contusions.

Those are the minor injuries.

She also has multiple fractures on her pelvis, which is why she's being relocated to Barnes*Jewish. Apparently no one likes messing with the pelvis. She has an acetabellum fracture. That's apparently a fracture on the ball that goes into the pelvis. She has several thoracic compression fractures, in T8, T10, and T12. She also has a burst fracture at L5, and it's impinging on her spinal cord.

Good news: she's neurologically intact, hemodynamically stable, and breathing on her own. What that means is she's not gushing blood from anywhere and she can move her fingers and toes. But the trauma surgeon has kept her in the C-Collar and on the backboard until she can be taken in for surgery on that burst fracture and get those bones away from her spinal cord.

By all rights, my sister should be dead. It's a miracle that she's not. That girl has always had some pretty powerful guardian angels watching over her.

It's going to be a very long time before she's healed. Our older sister, Katie, is a nurse practitioner. She's the one who lives here. She says that Beth will be in the hospital for several weeks, and probably be in a wheelchair for a while after she's released.

My dad is scheduled to have knee replacement surgery this week. It's going to be in Memphis. Beth will still be in St. Louis. My poor mother needs a clone.

I think I'm a little in shock still. My mom told Katie not to call our aunts and uncles. That bothered me a lot. I struggled with it for several hours...then considered how I'd feel if something happened to any of my nieces, or either of my nephews. I called my aunts and uncle on my dad's side of the family. I called my mom's brother. The rest of her side of the family are nut jobs. I'll let me uncle figure out when to tell my grandparents. Grandpa just came home from the hospital this week, so his health is fragile enough.

I want to go home. I want to spend this week with my family, so my mom won't feel like she's abandoning her husband, or her daughter. I want to see my sister alive. I can't go, though. I don't have vacation time or pay at work. I don't have money to make up for the lost time at work. The only thing I DO have is Spring Break from school.

Maybe I'll do a hell-or-high-water trip home next weekend, for Easter. I have a day off work, whether I want it or not.

I don't suppose I really need to blog about this, but I need to write it out. I need to work through the shock and fear. I need to see, in black and white, the words that she's going to be fine.

I want to send thank you cards to the paramedics who got her out. If they'd been less skilled, less careful, she'd be paralyzed. I want to thank the old woman who called in the accident and stayed with my sister until the paramedics arrived.

Guardian angels sometimes are as human as you and me.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Friendship is often taken for granted. When you have it, you ignore it. You assume it will always be there. You don't nurture it.

And then, one day, it's gone.

Two years ago, I had to very good, very close friends. I considered them family. They were, and are, very important to me. But two years ago, the writing group we'd been in together for over ten years was shut down. And slowly, we drifted apart. I lived close to one, and with a little effort we could have kept in touch. Phone calls, getting together, IMing...

But I was working full time, and going to school full time. I was, and am, sensitive to those little clues that indicate that someone's backing away from me. Especially with this one friend. I had observed for myself how she distanced herself from someone else who was trying too hard to be friends with her.

I assumed that she was doing the same thing with me. It started with IM conversations that elicited monosyllable responses. She never suggested getting together; it was always my initiation. In my last month in California, she made no effort to get together with me. That hurt. Once I moved, God knew when we'd actually be able to see each other again. If I mattered to her, wouldn't she have at least suggested dinner sometime in the week before I left?

She didn't work. She wasn't in school. She didn't contact me.

I interpretted this as her wish to sever the friendship. It hurt, a lot, to realize this. I still considered her one of my best and closest friends. And because I stilled cared - and I'm essentially a coward - I didn't confront her and demand to know if my assumption was right.

With the other friend, she lives a distance away. I can't honestly say she drifted away as much as I let her go. She was never one to start an IM conversation. If I didn't start the conversation, then we wouldn't have one. But she and our other friends are very close, and I suppose I thought of them as a pair. Lose one, lose the other.

But over the past year, I've been thinking a lot. Did I let go too easily? Did protecting myself cost me a friendship - two friendships - that were and are important to me? Should I have pushed?

And I started thinking about other frienships that had faded over the years. Some with cause. Some just because life moved on, priorities and circumstances changed.

Are those reasons enough to let something as precious as friendship go, without even trying to keep it?

True friendship is rare. It should be protected and nurtured. It should be the prize rose in the flower garden, not the weed out in the empty field.

I decided to make an effort. I wrote a letter. A form letter, yes, because it made me feel safer. I emailed it to those old friends that I didn't have a home address for. I'll mail it to those that I do have a home address for.

And hopefully, my friendships will blossom again.

Slate article

Tear Down That Wall

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reading Journals

Okay, I have to take a few minutes and vent. I have to. If I don't, I'll end up doing it in the reading journal and I'm pretty positive my grade on those will be low enough. I don't need to make it lower.

I hate these damn things.

I like reading the essays. They're interesting! I don't like analyzing them. I hate this part: "Spend more time talking about how the writer does what he/she does, and less on what story the essay tells."

Why do I hate it? Because I suck at it. I can read the essay and I can probably sum up then overall purpose or point of it in a sentence. But identifying who the writer does what he/she does? That's where I get stumped.

I read for pleasure. I read for escapism. I write for the same reasons. Something in me slams on the brakes and throws up mental barriers when I try to exam what I've read. "No, sorry, that's not why you read. Stop right there!" is the message my brain sends out whenever I try to analyze something I've read.

I know I'm doing poorly on the reading journals, even without having the grade from the first set back yet. I hate when I get bad grades. I try to stick to the instructions and do what is required, but I keep veering away from that. Trying to write a half-page for each essay is a challenge. Me, who has always prided myself on being able to write as much as is required for anything, about anything. I can't squeeze out a half page because I'm trying not to spend too much wordage on recapping the essay.

I really, really, really hate these reading journals. If I could just read the essays, then write my thoughts and impressions and interpretations of them, it would be easier. But identifying what the writer does, and how they do it? I'm afraid my brain just doesn't work that way.

Okay. Back to finishing the journals. I really didn't put them off until the last minute on purpose. I've just been so busy with work and school and deadlines and studying that hte 12th got here too fast.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I don't want to work anymore...

I have 40 minutes to go before I can clock out and school. I'd rather head home, but Tuesdays and Wednesdsays are my on-campus class nights. Sometimes I think it's better to have a free night between them. It makes the long days easier to bear. Sometimes I think it's better to have them back-to-back like this semester, so I can get those long days over with in one go.

What would really be best if I didn't have to work and could just concentrate on my classes and not have any long days at all. But that's not going to happen.

The last week of the month and the first week/week and a half of the month are my busiest times. So I've been charging full steam ahead and overwhelmed for the past two and a half weeks. I'm TIRED. As of today, around noon, I've gotten to the point where all the urgent must-get-done-ASAP!!!! stuff is done and now I've a week and a half of less urgent things to occupy my time.

Or not. Occupy my time, that is. My job is an entry level one. I am not an entry level person. I can do a lot MORE than my job requires of me. I've tried to get them to let me do a lot more, but it doesn't happen. I've added aspects to my job that the bosses like, and which takes more of my time, but isn't really all that hard to do or figure out. So unless I'm absolutely buried...I get really, really bored. I tend to loaf. I end up doing just what I'm doing now: working on something that's for me and has nothing to do with work.

Why do employers do that? Why don't they use their employees to their fullest potential? Why are we pigeon-holed by job descriptions that only address one area of our skill set? And why won't they let us branch out if we 1) have the desire to do so, and 2) have the time to do so? It seems like a waste of everyone's time, and it's demoralizing to the employee. I much rather work at a job where I always have something to do.

Okay, must be fair. I have something to do right now. I just don't want to. I've an 8 inch stack of deposit batches I need to scan, rename the files, and save to the server. I need to make folders for March's deposit batches. The first will require standing on my feet at the copier for a significant length of time. I'll wait til Friday to do that job, since on that day I can wear tennis shoes. Today...I have 3.5 inch heels on. The folders...will take maybe half an hour to do - after I find someone to let me in the storage vault to get more hanging files. I can do that tomorrow.

There are also some researchy things I can do - but once I get deep into research, I don't like being interrupted. When you lose your train of thought, you almost have to start from the beginning again. With only 40 (now 30) minutes left in the day, researching anything is pointless. I'll just have to start all over again tomorrow.

So now I sit here, not wanting to work anymore, and booooooored. I know what I want to do, but like research, once I start writing I don't want to be interrupted. It would be more frustrating than rewarding at this point to open a story and start working on it just to close it out in half an hour.

I could make a grocery list. But that will just irritate me.

I could wander into someone else's office and kill time - but I hate when they do that to me when I'm working, so I won't do it to them.

Taking a nap is definitely out. Bosses frown on that. :)

Twenty minutes to go. I still don't want to work. But guess I'll have to find something to do, anyway!