Wish I Could Flush it All Away


I was thinking earlier today – and actually remembered tonight – that it sucks getting ‘old.’ Why? Well, there’s no one around to talk with about, um, bodily functions. In particular, um, er, hrm, ah… elimination. Yep, times are tough. And I’m left wondering if anybody else experienced what I experienced when I….  Never mind. I flushed and forgot about it. Or, I thought I did. I guess not.

I wrote the other day about the “New Abnormal” Normal.” Face it, this high unemployment, to some, is here to stay for quite a long while. That’s what “they” said the other day. What changed between then and now? Did something magically happen to turn things around just like that? Today, Employers see uptick in hiring in 2010. Yesterday, the song went along like employers know that they can squeeze what they have left for employees until their veins are dry, milking them for all they’re worth and then some. Why? Employees are terrified to lose their jobs and will take whatever is thrown at them, just so that they can keep on keeping on.


A Moment to Listen


The elderly woman suddenly appeared in my office and darted behind the partition with her hands behind her back and an ear cocked to the doorway. It’s not unusual for people to pop in, nor is it unusual that when they do, I’m right in the middle of something. I glanced up from my computer screen to meet her eyes; the glance held only a bare moment before she looked away.

In the same way, I returned to what I was doing, but left it open for her to talk. I don’t remember what she was talking about, but the next glance I gave her told me that there was something on her mind.

“She makes me feel dumb,” she blurted out. A few sentences later, she elaborated with, “There are times when she’ll just butt right in and take over. She about knocked me down the last time.”


The Universe of Music


Freedom's just another word when nothin's left to lose,
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free...

The next to the last chair of the second violin section of the symphony was mine. The city high school's underground bomb shelter was our practice room, and my chair was located at the direct center of that large, low ceilinged, basement room. It was a gray, dank, sparsely lit room, it's corners lost in shadow, its unadorned walls a blank testament to the room's intended purpose.

Books in one hand, instrument cases in the other, the legion of musicians would silently file in and set up. Shoes on concrete floor, the opening and closing of the heavy door at the top of the stairs and the snapping clicks of case clasps turned into the cacophony of tuning instruments within a few, scant minutes. From my perch in the center of the room, I could watch, and marvel.


Arkansans’ Flooded Christmas

floodWhile Santa made his rounds around the globe, what hovered over us here in Arkansas was a torrential downpour, adding an additional 9 inches of rainfall to an already oversaturated earth.

Major interstate highways flooded for miles, trapping unsuspecting travelers where they stopped in bumper to bumper traffic. State highways fared worse; to close an effected area meant an hour’s added detour around the flooding. Roads closed yesterday afternoon remained closed today. The water just isn’t receding.

Those hardest hit by the same storm that blanketed the east in snow were those living in low-lying areas. What was considered safe before Hurricane Katrina was subsequently reevaluated by FEMA to fall two feet below a safe flood margin.


Through the Rain, Everything is OK


Like hundreds of leaky faucets dripping loudly in nighttime stillness, the random pings and clangs and tings abruptly jar my thoughts, bouncing them around in one direction then another. Darting here and there, I watch for positive glimmers to shine through the gray, drenched day.

Drip, drip…

With quick suddenness, she put a plastic bag on the floor next to my computer.

“Take that out to your car as soon as you can, Hon,” she said to me.


From Open to Cubed: Office Makeover

office1The past week saw a complete transformation of our very busy office. Construction happened while we tried to maintain a “business as usual” flow.

A few weeks ago, it started, with the expected sign in the lobby that said, “Excuse our mess, we’re remodeling!” For that most part, that mess consisted of only a few packed boxes here and there.

The office had been open, with mismatched desks seemingly randomly placed throughout the “pit” of a room. That openness allowed us all to talk to each other or ask questions or to quickly see if someone needed time to do what they were working on. The disruptions and interruptions were frequent, but we managed to work together. I was the primary cause of the majority of disruptions and interruptions as I had to bring my people in from the front to take them all the way to the back where my desk was. I used the long walk back to "break the ice,” which was intrusive for some. The open floor plan was not very private, and fell far short of HIPPA requirements.


Reaching Beyond With Eyes Wide Open


My friend Rebecca posted this photo this morning on Facebook, capturing her first glimpse of the winter storm falling on her part of West Virginia. That something so severe and cold and smothering can be as beautiful to behold as unpredictable and searing and illuminating fire only illustrates nature’s perfection all that much more.

The photo was a perfect accompaniment to my horrified thoughts at our recent military presence in Yemen. And to think I thought the latest increase in troop deployments were headed to Afghanistan. I fear for the soldiers in Afghanistan in a way, I suppose, that mothers of soldiers fighting along unseen and unknown fronts in Viet Nam did. The whole thing reeks of slimy politicking, with no purpose other than chest puffing and adding to the ever-deepening piles of shit we’re supposed to wade through on a daily basis.

I implore everyone to take some time to hear the lessons that nature, natural law, freely gives us. It’s time to move past the point where we, as a species, grow beyond not playing well with others, especially with ourselves.


Quirks and Quips Quiz

QuipIt's one of those things. It's stuck in my head. You know it by that song that plays over and over, getting louder and louder with each go 'round. Instead of a song, my head is echoing with "quirk, quip and quiz." I recognize it now. It's an idea!

Idea + me = trouble... Are you ready to play along?

Quirk /'kwerk/: a sudden turn, an artful evasion, an idiosyncrasy.

Every once in awhile, something hits me upside the head with a solid smack and I can’t help but take notice. This time, it was the realization that…

I am downright quirky.

For the most part, it’s those idiosyncrasies. When I notice them in someone else, I find myself irritated, so of course I avoid seeing them in myself. I mean, why irritate myself when others can do it so well?


Rollin’ Downhill

train“I don’t much like this time of year,” he said, his usually lilting voice flat and dull.

“It’s tough right now, and getting tougher. I can’t do anything I want to do for people.”

That’s my neighbor, a kind and giving man with a heart of gold.

Little did he know that I shared his feelings, in a profound way. Hanging up the phone, I was sadly relieved. I wasn’t alone as I struggle with a pending deep depression, and just as saddened that I had company.

Sometimes, it feels like a train running downhill, and fast, out of control. The only hope is that, at the bottom of the hill, there’s no sharp curves to navigate too. Just a straight line of track, just something to cruise until the downhill speed runs out.


Life is Worth Fighting For

sunsetthroughthetreeWhen I called her name, the woman stood up quickly and bounced toward me; a big smile filled her face. She remarked that the waiting room conversation was getting “a bit deep,” and the wink she gave me told me she wasn’t talking about ‘intellectually’ deep. She told her story:

Back in early February, she went to the doctor for the pain in her lower back; putting off the visit was no longer an option. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with a large tumor on L5. Her treatment was to begin immediately and with very aggressive chemotherapy.

She was devastated, and being a nurse, she knew that Stage 4 foretold the battle she was facing for her life. She went into work the next day and talked to her supervisors who then recommended that she resign, effective immediately. In emotional shock, she didn’t think before signing the document they quickly prepared for her.

The first chemo treatment caused her hair to fall out immediately. Her husband found her baldness unattractive and he left without ever looking back.


What a Girl Won’t Do for Chocolate

frogThe other day at work, I called this old man from the waiting room. When that room is full, there’s no telling who will stand up to answer my call.

I recognized this old man right away, I had seen him before, and turned to head back to my desk, keeping up my usual jibber-jabber to set a welcoming tone.

I was a bit more rushed than usual, so I set a quick pace, leaving the old man to saunter after me. Half way there, I glanced back to see just how far I left him in my dust and waited for him to catch up to me.

“Hmm, nice!” he says to me with a glint – a perverted glint, I might add – in his eye as he caught up to me.

I whipped right around to face him full, got my finger up in his face and forcefully said, “Watch yourself.”

The office went silent and all heads turned my way. The old man took two steps back, a startled, surprised look on his face.


It Did End, But Nobody Noticed


A conversation earlier today touched on the topic of September 11, 2001. Did I remember? Oh, yes. Vividly. A strange silence hung over the country, waiting, watching, horrified and mind-blown. Part of that silence was due to the grounded planes, marking just how much they contribute to the sounds of the life we take for granted.

How many parts of the world experience events like 9/11 as a matter of course?

Whether attributable to the attack on US ground or the change of the millennium, one life ended. And, like all endings, another life began.

But, nobody noticed. The world remained, we were all still breathing, so no one noticed just how different “things” really were.