Friday, March 29, 2013

Time For A Change.

Things have been nutty around here lately.  I've been stressed and I've had a lot on my mind that I could not share with the public at large.  If you have found my behavior, tweets, and Facebook status updates to be a bit odd, there was a reason for it.  And today I'm ready to make an announcement.

After just over five and a half years, it's time to make a change. About two weeks ago, I resigned from my job.  Monday is my last day.  I start a new one on Wednesday.  I'm excited, but nervous.  And there are some things I'm going to miss about my old job.

For example, I'm going to miss going into the office wearing an outfit I could also sleep in.  For the record, I never went to work in the PJs I slept in the night before.  I'd always change into a different set of PJs.  I'm classy like that.

At my old job, I could put my hair back with a binder clip and no one cared.

When I'm in the office at my new job, I will have to dress like a professional.  I used to do that every day, so I hope it's like riding a bike.

The good news is I'll be telecommuting some of the time, so the jammies and binder clips won't feel completely slighted.

I will miss the familiarity I had with some coworkers.  I will miss being so comfortable with my office mate that when I inevitably fell out of my cubicle she would just laugh instead of asking me if I'm OK and making me feel like a dummy.  Sometimes I'd even get a "what did you do now?" to let me know just how many times she'd noticed I had hurt myself that day.

At the new job, I'm going to be inclined to wear heels (because all of my pants are too long and getting them hemmed is really a lot of work) and the likelihood I'll trip over the floor is even higher when I'm not wearing sneakers.  Or Uggs.  Or slippers.  Not that I've ever worn slippers to the office.  It's only a matter of time before half the office sees me fall.

But if I lived through the embarrassment of having the most ridiculous and uncontrollable coughing fit during the interview, one which necessitated the person I'll be reporting to having to leave the room to fetch me water, then I suppose I will live through the first time I face plant into someone's cubicle wall because I'm not watching where I'm walking.  I'll probably live through the second and third times, too.

I won't be able to swear and I'll need to curb the sarcasm. I will need to appear to be a normal, well-adjusted grown up.  I cannot, as they say, fly my freak flag so proudly.  If I do, people might not take me seriously.

And I do want to be taken seriously because I am serious. (OMG, seriously?  I'm totally serious!) I am good at what I do, in spite of the swearing, the sarcasm, the binder clips, the falling down and the PJs.

I probably won't write any more about my new job than I wrote about my old one.  For one thing, it's still in the insurance industry and trust me when I tell you that you do NOT want me to start talking about insurance.  Unless you have severe insomnia, then I might be able to help you nod off.  But also, as rich and colorful as some of my office tales may be, it would be inappropriate to write about work stuff.

Hopefully the learning curve won't be so bad that it will disrupt my writing schedule (hey, how's that for sounding totally unprofessional before I even start the new gig?).  But if I step away from the blog for a little while, at least you'll know why.

So wish me luck on my new adventure and, if you've got them to spare, send me some good vibes next week.

Linking up with the weekend grid over at yeah write. Head on over for some good old weekend reading.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Drunk.

"Rat! Get the grill out of the garage!"

Dad made his way from the driveway to the house.  It would have been a full swagger if he had been sober enough to walk a straight path.  His arms were full of groceries and he had a six pack under each arm.

Calling me Rat meant he was very drunk.  Demanding the grill meant he had chicken.  All that remained to be seen was if he had enough for everyone or just himself.

"Go ask your mother if you can stay for dinner.  I'm making chicken," he proclaimed to my friend, who took off to her house.

I relaxed.  This was happy drunk.  Happy drunk meant friends didn't need to leave.  Happy drunk was when he built me a clubhouse because I said I wanted one.  Happy drunk was rare.

Mom wasn't happy, though.  She was pissed he spent money we didn't have on food we didn't need and she was pissed he was inviting others to eat with us.  She had already started cooking dinner, spaghetti again, which Dad promptly dismissed as being "shit no one wanted to eat."  She hated that he made such a mess when he cooked, but it felt more like she just hated to see her kids having fun with their dad.

When the chicken was eaten and the last sticky bits of sauce were licked from our fingers, the kids went back to playing and Dad set about watering the vegetable garden.  Mom began cleaning up.  I could tell she was still angry.  Didn't she think the chicken was delicious?  I was so happy that Dad was spending time with us.  He wasn't passed out.  He wasn't screaming.  He was happy.  I was happy.  Why couldn't Mom just be happy?

When Dad was done watering, he turned the hose on us.  We weren't wearing our bathing suits, so getting soaking wet was really funny.  Most of our yard was dirt where grass should have been and the water simply turned it to mud.  Running in flip flops became impossible, so we went barefoot.  Our legs stained brown up to our calves, we ran and slid and laughed.

When Mom saw our drenched and filthy clothes and my hair full of mud, she was furious.  My friend was sent home.  My brother and I were sent inside for baths.  From the bathroom, I could hear them in the yard arguing.  Dad shouted that we were just having fun and Mom needed to lighten up.  Mom countered that he couldn't just disrupt everything because he felt like being a family.

It was turning back into a regular summer Sunday night.

Later, once in my bed, clean and dry, I couldn't help but smile.  It didn't matter to me that Mom was mad or Dad was now unconscious.  I knew that for as long as I lived, that evening was going to be etched in my memory as one of the best of my childhood.


Linking up with Yeah Write again this week.  If you have a blog and a 500-word or less story to share, come join the fun,  If not, come by for some good reading and vote for 5 favorites on Thursday.

Edited to add:  Talk about feeling the love!  This post won the jury prize and crowd favorite this week.
Thank you to everyone who commented and voted and for every kind word this post has received.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What I Told My Six Year Old About Steubenville

I admit I didn't know much about the situation in Steubenville until I started reading the coverage of the verdict.  I tend to be a bit out of the loop and maybe people have been talking about it for quite some time and I had no clue.  On Tuesday, I listened to the audio of that leaked video of some kid making light of the incident.  I don't know how to add that video to a post, but Google it if you're interested.

I have a pretty strong stomach but that video was disgusting. The kid talking in the video should be ashamed of himself and the person who shot it should have stopped and told this kid how sick his comments were.  He joked about someone he knew being raped and urinated on.  He compared her rape to other assaults we've heard about in the news and have seen in movies.  Clearly something about the forceful penetration and degradation of another person is funny to him.  I don't understand that at all.

When I got home from work on Tuesday, I was greeted by the sweet face of my 6 year old son.  It occurred to me that these boys involved in this crime used to be 6 years old.  They used to be someone's sweet faced little boy.  So what happened?  What changed that?  Whether those boys changed that day or in the years leading up to the incident isn't relevant.  Something inside these kids malfunctioned and their red flags didn't go up that something was wrong.

I'm not blaming their parents or anyone for that matter.  But what I am saying is that it occurred to me that if I didn't start talking to my son immediately, I would be part of the problem.

And that's when I decided to sit my son down and talk to him.  More or less, here is what I said to him:

Nathan, what I'm about to tell you is very important and I need you to understand.  I need you to tell me if you don't understand and ask me questions if you have any.

It is never, ever OK to hurt other people.  It's never OK to touch another person's body if they don't want you to.  I know that you know this already.

But what I want to make sure you know is that it's also not OK to let those things happen to someone else.  If you know someone is being hurt or touched, you need to tell me.  Even if you think you'll get in trouble, you will never get in trouble with me for that.  Even if you're embarrassed or scared or sad or mad, you need to tell me.  Because someone being hurt is so wrong that a grown up needs to know.

Even if your friend tells you something and makes you swear you'll never tell, you need to tell me.  Even if a grown up says if you tell you'll get hurt, you need to tell me.  I will never get mad at you for telling me the truth, especially if it's because you are worried about someone.

Also, we do not laugh at other people being hurt or made fun of.  If you don't want to tell your friends to stop laughing at something like that, I understand because that is hard to do.  But you tell me.  And if you can tell them to stop, that's even better.  I don't care if you don't like the person they are laughing at either.  It doesn't matter. You don't have to like everyone, but you do have to be respectful of everyone.  We are all people and none of us deserve to be hurt or made fun of.

When I asked if he understood, he said he did.  His only question was to ask why I was telling him this.  So I told him two boys hurt a girl in their class very badly and will go to jail for it.  But lots of other kids knew about it and laughed about it.  That poor girl did not deserve that.  It was mean for those boys to do and it was mean for kids to laugh at her because of it.  It was mean for people not to believe her when she said she was hurt.

I told him that I know he's not a mean boy, but I know it is easy to get confused when all of your friends think something is OK or think it's funny.  I told him that if his heart or his brain told him something wasn't right, he needed to talk to an adult about it.

I don't know if I said too much or too little, but I couldn't not talk to him about it.  He may only be 6, but someday he won't be and I don't want him making mistakes because we didn't talk about things.  I don't ever want him to be mixed up in something like this and I'm not so naive as to say my boy will never make mistakes.  I'm sure the parents in Steubenville never thought their boys would end up this way.  Maybe they had talks with their sons like I did but this still happened.  I just don't know.

The world scares me sometimes and trying to steer my son in the right direction seems an overwhelming task.  But I'll keep trying and I'll keep talking.  I hope he keeps listening.

Hanging out over at the weekend moonshine grid with my favorite Yeah Write people.  Head over, I'm sure you'll find something good to read.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Curses! Van Morrison!

When I meet a new person, I like to give off the impression, temporary though it may be, that I'm a lady.  At my first job, I was able to keep up this ruse for six long years.

That is, of course, until my boss attended my wedding.

In retrospect, picking the DJ for our wedding based on the fact that our dog liked the couple who owned the company might not have been the wisest choice.  During our interview, we put great emphasis on the fact that although we wanted our guests to have a good time, we weren't really into traditional wedding music. On the Do Not Play list were all the group dance songs and Kool & The Gang's "Celebration." They were not to close the reception with "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, though they were free to play that in the middle of the reception if they had to.  The most important instruction, if they listened to nothing else, was that they were, under no circumstances, to play Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl."

No matter what compromises I was willing to make, I simply would not tolerate a song that caused girls to stand in a circle holding hands and sway like "Brown-Eyed Girl" does.  If anyone requested it, our DJ was to instruct the guest that by order of the bride the answer was no.  I knew there was a chance that a rogue bridesmaid might request it simply to annoy me and I advised him to be prepared just in case.

"I don't care if my own mother somehow gets her own wheelchair across the room to request it, you tell her no.  It's MY day.  Do. Not. Play. That. Song."

During the wedding, I made my rounds to each table.  By the time I reached the table where my coworkers and boss were sitting, I had hit the whiskey bottle pretty hard.  I managed to hold it together for a few minutes, but then I heard a few familiar notes giving way to some familiar lyrics.

"Hey where did we go
Days when the rain came..."

My boss was mid-sentence when I cut him off.

"That mother fucker!  I told him not to play this fucking song!"

Jaws dropped.  I heard something like "no one dressed in a white gown should be swearing like that," but I was already on my way to give the DJ a piece of my mind.

I was no longer laughing and a jumping, hey hey.  I was not skipping and a jumping.

When I returned to work after my honeymoon, my boss approached me to tell me what a nice time he had at the wedding.  As he walked away, he started singing "Brown Eyed Girl."  My cover was officially blown.

Yeah Write's birthday celebration is still going strong.  Head over, read great writers, vote for favorites and if you have a piece that fits the bill, why not link up?

I'm so thrilled that this piece placed 2nd in the popular vote this week!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Half A Week.

I don't really like Mondays.  Or Tuesdays, for that matter.  And kinda not Wednesdays, either.  And if Monday in any way includes Sunday night, cross that off my list as well.

I wanted to participate in this blog link up all week and I'm just now getting to the post.  I was going to write something else or find something old and amusing to link up, but when I tell you what's been going on over here, you'll see why just telling you will be enough to explain why I am not a fan of any of the days.

I know I'm not alone in Sundays being a day to prepare for the week ahead.  I don't usually make plans and especially not afternoon or evening ones.  My kid goes to bed super early because everyone is tired and Monday is our longest day, so we need our rest.

But this Sunday, because I didn't want to be a mom who says no just because she is lazy and doesn't like people, I agreed to take my kid to a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party from 4 to 6 pm.  This was a party for kindergarten kids, mind you.  Never again.

On my drive to the hell that was the party, my car started making this awful noise that sounds like the wheels will fall clear off the vehicle. My life isn't enough fun on a regular basis, we have to throw car trouble into the mix.

We managed the time change OK on Sunday, but on Monday we overslept by about 30 minutes.  By 2pm, I could barely keep my eyes open I was so tired.  Suddenly being up 2 hours past my bed time the night before registered as a terrible idea.  I added an extra large Dunkin' Donuts coffee and two doughnuts (don't judge) to my day but I was still lethargic.

On Mondays I work until 5 and my kid is picked up from school by his grandparents.  I pick him up at their house, which is about 6 miles from my home.  My roundtrip commute every other day is only 2 miles.  On Mondays it is 12.  That 12-mile trip takes an hour.

For the entire ride home (6 miles or 30 minutes, for those of you not keeping track) my kid usually bellows that he may starve to death if I don't stop and get him McDonalds.  He also tells me that I never take him anywhere.  No amount of me pointing out that we picked up dinner the last 3 nights matters though.  He only stopped complaining about his hunger to complain about his neck and arms itching.  I looked back at him while stopped at a light to find him bright red and covered in splotches.

Surely Benadryl would rescue us, no?

No.  Benadryl did not rescue us.  I sent him to school because the rash was better, though not 100% gone.  I knew it was allergies, I did all I could and I sent him hoping no one would notice (don't judge).  People noticed and at 9:45 I received a call to come pick up my kid who must be seen by a doctor before being admitted back to class.

We arrived for our 10:30 doctor appointment at 10:29 and we were promptly seen at 10:45.  Diagnosis:  Allergies.  Treatment:  Nothing.

I dropped the kid off at his grandparents' house, 6 miles away, and went back to work where I, unfortunately, was no longer in the mood to actually do any work.

We overslept again.  We overslept on the day that I needed to be up early so I could bring my car to the mechanic to deal with the unholy rattling.  But we got the car dropped off and I'm waiting for the call to tell me how much of a chunk of our budget will now need to be shifted to deal with it.

On the way to work, I got a text from my husband that an old email account was hacked and I was spamming him.  Then I got a similar text from my cousin-in-law.  When I got into the office, I reset my password and deleted all the bounceback from the spam I was apparently sending.  One of the bouncebacks was from my dead mother's email. 

Because when you're going to start spamming people, you want to be sure to include your dead mother.

And speaking of spam, in the last 24 hours, I've gotten now close to 50 spam comments on one old blog post.  As any blogger can attest, getting that email that you have a new comment is fun because everyone loves comments, right?  Except for comments with bad grammar and weird links.  No one likes those.  You know when it's even more not-fun?  When your phone is buzzing every 5 minutes that you have new email and you check it hoping it's an email you've been looking out for (or at the very least a legit blog comment) and it's crap. 

The 5 day work week is half over and I'm already spent.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for me!

(In case you think I'm just being grumpy, I'm not.  I'm actually laughing about all of this because it's just so damn ridiculous.)

I'm joining up with a fun blog hop this week.  Click on the badge to check out the host and as many of the other bloggers as you can!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stare At The Ceiling.

"Mrs. Longo? I have some papers for you to sign."

I was thankful for a reason to leave the room.  It had been hours since I'd grown weary of the competition between the incessant and rhythmic whooshing of the ventilator and the erratic beeping of the blood pressure monitor.  The woman in the burgundy pantsuit and sensible shoes stood just outside the door, holding her clipboard close to her chest.

"We need your signature authorizing us to remove life support.  Do you understand your decision?"

"Yes. I shouldn't even have to make this decision, though," the bitterness in my voice seemed to catch her off guard.

My face flushed.  I looked at the ceiling, hoping the tears filling my eyes would just sink back into my head.

"I know, honey, it's hard," she said as she stood there.  Her eyes gave away that she wished she was anywhere else.  At least we had that in common.

"No, you don't," I huffed as anger forced down the sadness. "She had a Do Not Resuscitate.  It's supposed to come with her every time she comes here.  Someone resuscitated her.  Now it's on me. It's always on me."

I wiped a spilled tear on my sleeve.  I inspected the ceiling once more while the hospital social worker continued to just stand there, waiting for me.

"I don't want her to know I did this," I said, my tone hushed as if the woman whose life I was taking could hear me over the racket her machines were making.

The social worker nodded.  I hadn't even really been talking to her, so her confirmation of collusion meant little to me.

"Where do I sign?" I motioned for the clipboard.

"Oh," she fumbled to turn the page to face me and handed me a pen.  "Here, here, and," she flipped to the next sheet, "initial here."

Michelle F. Longo.
Michelle F. Longo.

I handed her back the clipboard.  She half-smiled that smile people give you when they don't know what to say because you just effectively killed your own mother.

Once the clipboard left my hand, the floodgates opened and I could feel my body starting to shake. No amount of ceiling staring was going to stop this.  The woman extended her arm, aiming to place it around my shoulder.  I shuffled outside of her reach just in time.

Don't you dare try to hug me.

I went back inside my mother's room and sat in the bedside chair.  My gaze turned to the ceiling. 

Sadness to anger to guilt, round and round and round.

Whoosh.  Beep. Beep-beep.  Whoosh.

I love round numbers, so I'm very excited to participate in Yeah Write #100.  Click on the link to read the work of bloggers who write and writers who blog.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thirsty with Long Fingernails.

Have you been wondering how I've been?
I'm going to tell you anyway, because that's the sort of thing that I do.

Thursday night I realized I was ridiculously thirsty.  I was thirsty as though I had been walking around in the desert for the last two weeks.  I figured if I just went to bed it would pass.  Friday morning it had not.  So I had some juice, some coffee and several cups of tea.  And a soda.  I also ate.  I ate a plum, a bagel and a few other (thousand) things.  I kept eating because somehow I thought I would feel better.

Do you want to know the one thing I didn't try?  Drinking a glass of water.  In fact, I can't even remember the last time I drank a full glass of water.  It's been at least a week.  Probably longer.

Definitely longer.

A few moments ago, I drank three sips of water, enough to take the three Advil I just downed for the headache I have.  Still have?  Have again?  I don't know, I've lost track.  I've had more headaches in the last few weeks than there have been actual days to have them.  (Yes, I'm aware that's not really possible.)

Unrelated, I really need to cut my fingernails.  They aren't really that long.  They aren't like the fake nails you see on women sometimes or anything like that.  But they're too long for me.  Usually I can tell my nails are too long when I can't get my contacts out of my eyes without nearly scratching my cornea.  

Incidentally, I have no idea if I can scratch my cornea by taking out my contacts with too long fingernails.  I probably can't blind myself either, but sometimes I worry about this, too.

On Monday night, the first night removing my contacts hurt, I promised myself I'd cut my nails on Tuesday.  I was too tired to remain standing for another minute, so it would have to wait.  Then I repeated this on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  It's Saturday afternoon and my nails are getting in the way as I type this. 

And those few anecdotes completely sum up how I've been.  

The sun is finally shining today.  I was outside in it for a little while today and it felt so good on my face that it practically made me cry.  It felt like a small glimmer of hope after a long, cold, dark winter.

I'm going to go back outside.  I'm going to drink some water, cut my nails and then go stand in the sun.

I'm tired of how I've been.  I'm going to try to be something else now.

I'm linking up with the Yeah Write Moonshine weekend grid.  Join us.  It's a fun, no pressure, hangout, no judging place to meet great writers who, as it happens, inspire me to be a better person pretty damn regularly.

Also, happy birthday, Erica!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Platform.

I've always been plagued with nightmares and ultra-vivid dreams.  My mind never shuts off.  Sometimes I don't understand the unsettling particulars of my nightly visions.  Other times they provide a clarity I cannot conjure while awake.

I was at a party with friends.  There were old friends and new, close friends and those who once were close, all attending this massive party in some far away hotel.  There were some people I'd never met before and I was intrigued by them.  The atmosphere was strange with some guests swimming and others in pajamas.  As I circulated amongst the crowd, I never felt like I belonged there.  I wanted to go home.

When it was finally time to leave, we exited the only way we could.  There was a subway beneath the venue and like a herd of cattle we all made our way toward it.  I didn't remember how I had gotten to the party, so I was confused by the path home.  But I followed along, doing what the others did.  It started out calm, but the cars soon changed into the kind you see in a cartoon about people going into a coal mine.  And from there, the scene was of a roller coaster you'd see in a Dr. Seuss book.

The cars raced down the track as it twisted and curved, looped and dipped.  We were thrown about in our seats, screaming as the ride propelled us forward.  The car jumped spaces in the tracks, went underwater and spun around in impossible ways.  When it reached a platform where we could exit, I was relieved.  Everyone seemed to be having fun except me.  Again I felt uneasy.

I stepped out of the car onto the platform. There was a raging river before me.  Those ahead of me were boarding their rafts and excitedly beginning the next leg of the journey.  I looked around.  How could this be?  This wasn't right.  I seemed to be the only person concerned.

Shouts to "hurry up" and "move it along" were coming from all angles.  But I didn't want to raft home.  Surely there had to be another way.  Suddenly two arms wrapped around my leg, excitedly calling my name.  My son was there with me and I had to get him home now, too.  This was no longer just self-preservation.

The river was wild, white water rushing onto the platform making it difficult to even get on the raft.  There were no life vests and no ways to hold on.  The teenager working this platform told me I needed to get into my raft.

This was too unsafe for an adult, let alone a six year old.  I refused and more people were yelling at me. I tried to find some other way, but there was none.  No ladder to climb down, no way off the platform.  I couldn't go back to the party, the subway only moved in one direction.  The only way was this unstable raft on a treacherous river.

I had no choice but to go forward, but I was paralyzed by fear.

I'm awake now, still standing on that platform and unable to move.

Linking up with the amazing crew over at yeah write.  Please join us, read the entries, vote for five favorites on Thursday.  You won't regret it, I promise.