Thursday, January 24, 2013

911 on all the 411!

Ever feel like your head will explode if you're exposed to one...more...piece...of data? Lately, the chaos inside my melon feels like the last 35 seconds of The Beatles tune, "A Day in the Life". You know, the part with the searing violin crescendo just before the famous final piano chord. 

Every single day it's all about send this, answer that, call him, and email her. Oh, and remember to return those text messages, update all social media, check out a YouTube chuckle, and compose original cover letters for every single job application. The cursor blinks, the text chirps, the email pings, and the phone rings. It's everywhere you go. Nearly impossible to escape. And that, my fellow 21st Century adventurer, is information overload. It's exhausting.

The late actor Larry Hagman was known for his 'silent Sundays'. He just didn't speak. He turned down the noise. It seems a bit self-indulgent and not very much fun. But, I tried it a couple of times and it felt well, semi-marvelous! No phone, media, or email for a day. A total disconnect. That, along with hugs for my dogs, a run in the fresh air on a clear day, homemade cookies, a long, hot lavender-infused bath and a glass of fine red wine did the trick. It felt so good to just breathe.

That's my prescription for data overload and stress management. What's yours? Keep it clean....!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012-The Year of Yin and Yang

" Don't let the bastards get you down, Lisë!" I can still hear my father's words earlier this year.  He's right, of course, as he is so very often.

Those words fell upon my newly-numb ears. I, along with dozens of my colleagues, had just been told that we were out of work. Jobs that most of us had begun just the year before. Jobs we'd had every reason to believe would be given much more than a twelve month run. Ah, yin. The year had begun so very, well...yang! Too bad it wasn't the only 'yin' moment of the year. But as the (old) song goes, "Accentuate the Positive". So, that's what we do. Because we have to. Or, just watching the news may drag us down into a very deep mental well.

Here's the great part, 'yang' wins this annual story! Goodness and the milk of human kindness always does. Thanks to all of the dear friends and relatives who sent me fun, flavorful gifts and cards to cheer me up; 'mystery' money to help with gas costs; drinks bought, meals cooked, leftovers packed up and sent home with me. All done to help defray the high cost of being unemployed. And then there are strangers; people who sent words of encouragement through social media; shared with me their unexpired parking slips; granted me interviews and made me feel like my career thus far, actually mattered!  Thank you. Thank you to all of you! I can't wait to do something wonderful for each and every one of you in turn. And seriously, as another (old) song goes, "How lucky can one guy be, like a fella' once said, ain't that a kick in the head?"Ain't it , indeed?

 Time now to turn the page. Look forward, not back. And never, ever let the bastards get us down again. Now, doesn't that feel good? Happy New Yang Year to you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Double Deeeeeelight!

Who says 'pay it forward' is dead? Nobody I know. And it certainly hasn't been my experience. It is most certainly ALIVE!! (cue Frankenstein music).

There are the random acts of kindness, the 'blind' pay it forwards if you will. It just happened for me again. On my way to a job interview in downtown Chicago, I ask a man who's walking toward his parking space whether he's leaving and he nods, yes. Then instead of pulling out of the space, he walks toward me as I sit in my car, hands me his paid ticket stub and says, "Would you like this, it's paid up till midnight?" I thank him profusely. He has no idea that the sixteen bucks he's just saved me will really, really help. He didn't have to do that. Which is exactly the point. He didn't have to do that. But he did.

Today, out of the blue, I got three, count 'em, 3 (!) bottles of the promotional Heinz Tomato Ketchup with Jalapeno delivered to my door. I'd lusted after them openly on Facebook but shied away from buying any because of the shipping cost. Somebody, maybe Heinz Ketchup,  or one of my crazy sweet friends who call me "The Condiment Queen", made this happen. No ID on the sender. So, how FUN is that?

Lately I've been on the receiving end of all kinds of kindness and goodness. What's going on here? Wait, take that back. No need to question why, just the need to say, Thank You! Yes, I say thank you to the thoughtful and generous family members, AND friends, AND acquaintances. All of whom have gone out of their way to feed me, amuse me, encourage me, and just generally make the past several lean months a lot easier to handle. You all know who you are. And to the strangers, may you blessed in multiple ways as someone else 'pays it forward' to you. Bless you. Peace.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

G.I.G.O., What's that about?

I like candy. Probably too much. Sometimes it's just so good and oh boy, does it hit the spot.  But sometimes, it makes me sick.  Eventually, my tummy settles down and the feeling passes. I eat all of the right things for a good, long time and I feel better. Except for a childhood Lake County Fair cotton candy and cream puff binge,  there's no trauma from any of the other ill-fated food fiestas or how cruddy they made me feel. It's garbage in, without the lingering after-effects.

If only that were the case with reality shows, creepy movies, and cruel videos. There's no way to permanently purge memories of moments spent watching Real Housewives blather, slasher movie villains destroy, Honey Boo-Boo et al, do...whatever (!), or see yet another video where somebody, some 'thing' or some group is defiled. No figurative 'finger down the throat' to get the trash erased from my memory files. The garbage has been deposited. It's got to go somewhere. So, where does it come out? 

While I can only speak for myself, I sometimes hear myself say things that are easy, that don't make me stretch my mind.  Or, I get lazy. make excuses for things I've done, or not done. It's tough to get perspective on yourself.  On a personal note, from afar,  it sure seems like the mind crap has affected kids and adults in a variety of ways. I'll leave that analysis for the sociologists. 

 G.I.G.O., garbage in, garbage out. A steady diet of any kind of crap for your body and your brain will destroy you physically and cripple you mentally. On the other hand.....a little candy for your body, and a little candy for your mind isn't going to rot either one. But keep in mind that you can work off the sweet that goes from the lips to the hips. It's not quite so easy to work off, work out or erase the junk food you feed your brain. 

Moderation...still the key. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

When Silly Saves your Soul...

Ever been so embarrassed by your child's behavior that you are, literally, speechless? Today was my turn. Granted, my 'kid' has four paws. I figured I was exempt from this level of, let's call it, bemused horror. Not. Even. Close.  In less than 60 seconds, I was alternately horrified and deeply amused by Harvey the Wonder Dog's actions.

So there I am at the dining room table, searching for a new job, career, the usual. (At least, lately.)  Suddenly, the hair stands up on Harvey's neck, his gigantic yellow Labrador retriever head shoots up, he leaps to his paws and bolts through the front door. For no apparent reason. So I scramble after him. In my pajamas. In bare feet. He seems to know exactly where he's going. Two doors down. To the house with the new family. They just moved in. The movers have just left. The front door is ajar. And so it begins.

Harvey blasts through the front door. I'm three steps behind him. Not close enough to stop him but close enough to see  him tackle the little boy, cover him with kisses, lick the two little girls, and tear down the hall. To the kitchen. Uh-oh...

At this point, the kid's grandparents, brooms in hand, appear in the hallway. The area is now littered with giggling children. A loud crash is heard in the kitchen. A woman laughs. (No, not me.)  The mom. The owner of the house. The kids scramble into the kitchen and start squealing, " He ate the eggs, he ate the eggs!" Turns out the loud clatter was Harvey the Wonder Dog poaching the skillet off of the stove and crash-landing it onto the kitchen floor. As I round the corner, he's on his stomach. licking the pan lovingly. And I am absolutely horrified. Dumbstruck. I have no words. Except to finally blurt out, " I am SO, SO sorry!"

Nobody was hurt. Everybody laughed. And finally, my writer's block is gone. It's been nearly two years since my last blog entry, made just days before my mother died. Today is the first day that I've been able to really write. Thank you sweet, silly dog. Thank you, new neighbor. It's all going to be...okay.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Music of Her Life.....

This has been the hardest week of my life.

As I work furiously to assemble WWII era songs onto an ipod for my mother, I wonder if I will even make it there on time. 'There' being the hospital where she has existed since September 2010. I wonder if she will even be able to hear them IF I make it there on time. I wonder why I am doing this now when I have had months, weeks and certainly the past several days to do so. The reality of the situation may be just too real now.

It's possible that I don't want to watch her leave this life. The years spent handling her many errands, her desperate and immediate needs and demands, and her numerous doctor and clinic visits wore me out. Nothing was ever right or was ever enough. It just began to make me numb. But, I never stopped loving her. I never stopped hoping that the next time I saw her that we would have an overall positive encounter. She can't speak now, so it's up to me to make this a final positive encounter. As the POA, it is up to me to make the call for hospice and all my siblings are not in agreement about the next inevitable steps. It is ripping my family apart.

I would like to help her leave this life listening to the songs of her youth, her glory days. They are the songs that defined the 'greatest generation'. The generation of so many immigrants who defended our freedom in so many of the most ultimate ways. The generation who may have given us too much because so many of them had grown up with so little due to the Great Depression.

So, I scramble to figure out how to help her exit this world, I realize that writing this blog just made it easier for me to deal with her passing.

Thank you for listening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A day late and a blanket short...

Three nights a week, as I walk from work to my parking space, I see a person. A very small, obviously homeless person. I had never seen the face or even been sure of the gender of the person until last week.

Now I know it's a woman. She wears a hoodie, tied tightly around her tiny head, dirty coveralls and heavy army boots. She is always huddled in a tiny ball in the doorway of the same shop. She is usually motionless, which always makes me wonder whether tonight is the last night that I will see her. On occasion, as I pass, I will see her shift a bit or hear her murmur something or mutter. A few times I have left a bit of food for her. I stopped doing that last year after a piercing shriek and a tiny,dark fist shot out from the sleeping bag-bundled form. She was probably just scared. Now, so was I.

Week after week, I would check to be sure she had a blanket or a wrap of some sort and she always did. Every week, she seemed to get smaller and my concern only grew. Then, the Groundhog Day blizzard hit Chicago followed by a deep dive in the temperature. That Friday I noticed she was only covered in newspapers and a filthy towel. It shook me to the bone to see her that way. Nothing is open at midnight so I couldn't help that way and there was no blanket in my car. But, I vowed to drop off something to her next week when I worked. I prayed for her safety and well-being until I could help her.

And I tried. I really tried. But, she didn't want the blanket that I brought for her. Or, the small area rug that would separate her from the damp, cold concrete. She waved me off and pointed to the new blanket that enveloped her and said she was fine. Her face was small and dark and deeply-lined. Her eyes large and dark but serene. Her voice was soft and soothing when shoe spoke to me. And, she was so calm. So very calm. She made it clear that she wanted to be left alone. So I walked away, feeling a little bit useless and a day late to help.

But now I know what I truly didn't know before. Don't wait to help. Step up to the plate today, and not tomorrow. The next time someone needs something, I want to be there the day before, with an armful of 'blankets'.