Sunday, January 29, 2006

and the beating goes on

I am so sick of feeling like this that I am going to rant about it. No, I'm not. Second thought, I'll just write. You all know my arm is hanging by a thread that seems to be connected to every pain-related neuron in my body. Typing is beginning to hurt, and that is truly unacceptable. Work? Who cares. But writing, now that is important.

a. sent me the film of bennet, the smoking dog, which is always good for a laugh. this one made me laugh, but will piss off my peta friends, although I don't think the moron that made the film thought it through. He sounds regretful in the soundtrack.

We went clamming yesterday (what is the sound of one hand clamming?) and got skunked. We got one. a clam. one sixty dollar clam. (8 dollars each for shellfish tags, and gas.) the clams won. So we came home and had chicken instead. We timed it right, though. It was beautiful. A high and angry sea, any shade of gray, blue sky and white clouds, rain in the offing, sun setting through the clouds with rays like heaven behind it all. Since I was a one-armed clam bandit, I spent more time appreciating the scenery than looking for clams. They weren't home anyway. It takes a fairly good minus tide to find them, and low tide was at 5:30. We got there around 3:30, and clammed until just about sunset, but 5:30 was after dark or just at, and we didn't have light. I did purchase a set of waders last year, the kind that are lightweight overalls with nice, stretchy straps and footies made of foam that slide easily over whatever I am wearing and keep all water out. Out. I can do anything if I am relatively warm and completely dry. We went up to Mt. Hood last weekend and the snow blowing straight in my face exceeded my comfort levels. I am INTO the appropriate equipment. You should see the seat on my bike. It looks to have been made by John Deere. Comfort. That's what its all about.

So, today, we are having shrimp. Purchased at Winco.

Here's a picture of Nicole and Sid.

Friday, January 27, 2006


I filled out a silly little questionnaire about friendship yesterday. One of the questions was about pet peeves.

Currently, mine is pain.

Yesterday I was not in pain for the first time since mid-December. It was galvanizing. It lasted a day. One day. I got a cortisone/novocaine shot in my shoulder and for a minute, it seemed like everything was going to be alright. The sun came out (figuratively, we're in Portland, don't forget...), my mood shifted, and the drive to McMinnville wasn't quite so unbearable. But it is not going to be that easy. The pain is back this morning, and last night, and the monkey that lives on my back, the light sleeper, is up and screaming for breakfast. It is a tightrope I walk, the abyss beneath me with depths familiar and terrifying, looms in and out of focus. And I starve the monkey today, as long as I can hold out. Surgery is sounding more appealing by the minute. My arm hangs from a partially detached shoulder joint, stretching the muscles of my neck and arm simultaneously. Something's gotta give.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


They didn't pick me.

Well, they did, but then some guy showed up who used to work for them and they gave the job to him. He's bald. That's all I know. He showed up just as my interview ended. If I was fatalistic, which I am not, I'd say it was meant to be, or not be, depending on your point of view. But there is no anticipating that. They want to hire me for another position. Okay. Whatever. Anything for a buck.

I'm hoping for a vacation between this job and the next, frankly. I may get it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

the waiting

I could write a book about this process. I am sitting at home, too nervous, full of anticipation about this pursuit of a new job. There is so much more riding on it for me than for the organization, and I wait. And it is only a job. I have had others, many, and like pippi longstocking always said, "Don't worry about me, I always land on my feet." Or is that a cat?


The tough part about waiting is the re-thinking I should have said this or that, done this or that, worn this or that, been this or that. And they will or will not PICK ME. My readers, my friends, my compadres, are certain I am THE ONE. I am not so confident. I know what I know, and am who I am, and so far so good. If I had the poem "Disclaimer" at my fingertips, I would include it here. I'll try from memory:


Now it is not the best of me
that glorifies the worst in me
and it is not the east of me
that contradicts the west of me
nor is it just the first of me
has changed to suit the last of me.

the last of me has not yet been
the worst has never given in
or given up
or ever will
or even can
or has the will
to go beyond
the who I was
and still may be
and without pause
I celebrate the rest of me
I celebrate what’s left of me.

Okay. That wasn't entirely from memory... I had to peek.

So, anyway, I am waiting for this phone call. All Known Life hanging in the balance. And I have given notice. So I am out on the proverbial limb. I have said to others in similar positions, risk. Get out there on that limb. (the hum of chainsaw on wood behind me) but I do believe this is where the rubber meets the road. Risk is life. I hope they choose me. They should.... but they don't know me like you do.

I am working at home today.

Yeah. That's what I'm doing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

everyday halloween

We live in the Hawthorne. I think its why I like Portland. Now, I'm not much of a theme dresser--I wear black turtlenecks. I have 10. Three of them fit me. But I digress. We were walking driving riding down hawthorne last week, monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in all of the store windows were mannequins dressed as, well, beyond the fact that they are all nazi atrocities and testimonials to bulemia, the clothing was so whip-me-beat-me that I thought it was halloween all over again. Ground Hog's day. I don't object to the style, I just can't wear it. I am so grateful that I know what age-appropriate dress means. I see women my age in belly shirts and low-rise pants and cringe. But walking down hawthorne, we saw an 80 year old indian princess, two or three librarians (you know the type: black hair cut with severe bangs, horn-rimmed glasses with wings like a 1958 caddy, nets and striped long stockings with club-footed shoes), several sluts, poor single mothers with 5000.00 strollers that weigh 14 ounces, roll uphill and can accomodate a 500.00 shopping spree at Walmart.

Here it comes.... I remember Marky's stroller. It must have weighed 25-30 pounds without him in it. He was one of those children who were simply reluctant to walk. I wouldn't say he was lazy (not until he was 16) but he just wasn't all that interested--takes after his mommy that way. And the stroller was one of the metal folding models. A goodwill find, probably free, and it got me through the first year. I was hitchhiking. That's how I got around in those days. Baby on one hip, thumb out, stroller full of laundry, groceries, garage sale treasures, you name it. Fold it up, get in the car. Get out of the car. Unfold it. Fold it up.... you get the drift. It was in the early days of public transportation in the Rogue Valley-- 1978-- But I didn't have any money. I had treasure... who needs cash? So, I was waiting for a ride, standing in the blistering heat of a Jacksonville day, sky as blue as a fair ribbon, too long in town, ready to head for the hills: my home. So an old chevy truck pulled up,'53 I think, so I unloaded my crap, and tried to fold up the stroller. It wouldn't fold. I tried and tried, exhaust billowing in my eyes, baby flailing around trying to get away. So I picked that stroller up over my head and flung it as far as I could into the Blackbird parking lot. That's when Marky learned to walk.

I also have to acknowledge the holiday just passed: Martin Luther King Day. Cooky and I were driving somewhere and she said, "Guess who's going to speak in Ashland for MLK day?"

I said I didn't know.

She said, "Martin Luther King, Jr. I heard it on the radio."

I said, "He's dead, Cook."

She said, "No, its his son. His kid. He's speaking."

I said, "Wow. That's amazing. I mean, here we are, in Southern Oregon, the last stronghold of the KKK and MLK's kid is coming here to speak?"

We sat there, together, for the longest time.

"Naw," I said. "That can't be right. MLK jr. IS MLK. He's already the Junior. His kid isnt' even named Martin or anything."

Cooky considered this. She started laughing, the kind of piss-your-pants laughter I miss so much about her. We laughed all the way to Ashland.

Each year I call her up and ask her who's speaking. Is MLK coming back this year? We laugh so hard every time. It never gets old. But we do.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

interview questions

I'm still thinking about my upcoming interview.... Sorry. You'll have to endure my angst for a few more days.

I asked the corporate recruiter what the interview would look like -- questions they would ask, etc. and I thought you, my captive audience, could review my answers and it would give me an opportunity to express not only what i might say, but to also give voice to the truly unacceptable answers that might pop out if not given voice somewhere else. A vent, if you will, for impropriety. You know how I am, and underpressure, the whole "not caring" thing might get the better of me. I could decide halfway through the interview, for instance, that "fuck it" is the best I can do, and this would be based on a sideways glance that had absolutely nothing to do with me. An unrelated sigh. The wrong clothes. Somebody prettier than me. I throw in the towel for the most bizarre reasons.

So, according to Andrea the Recruiter, the questions may include:

1. What brings you to long term care?
A. A car.
B. I loved my grandmother.
C. No, really, this can be a short or long answer, and I think I'll try to keep it fairly short, (but I'll give you the full monty.)

In the early 70's I had been involved in a string of small robberies and was nearly caught. (Obviously, the statute has run out and I can tell you this without threat of incarceration.) So there I was, finally in need of legitimacy. A real job. Not drug dealing or petty theft. So Karla, this girl from downstairs, said, "Go to Hillhaven, they'll hire anybody." So, being anybody, I drove to the nursing home. It was a brief interview. "Can you take a temperature?" Mrs. Ingersol, director of nursing asked. I said, "Sure." And she said, "Be here at one." Then, as an afterthought, "Do you have any white pants?"

So, I showed up at one, in my white pants, and began my life's work. I wasn't serious. I didn't (as you know) care, even then. I was 19 or 20, and really an unfinished version of myself. Arrogant, drug addicted, but clearly on the cusp of something. So, they set me up with these two experienced aides who I was to follow around until I "got it." We went into this room and there was a man who, in my limited experience, appeared to be suspended from the ceiling by a series of leather straps. I hung by the door, staring, horrified at the circus geek in front of me. My trainers went to work on him, doing this or that, and ultimately, pulling a bedpan out from under him. I was horrified. They handed me the gigantic metal bowl full of human shit and I said, "Oh, so I get to do the good stuff."

And the man said, in a voice I will never forget, "Honey, if there was any other way...."

It is difficult to express the sudden onset of knowing that was contained in that moment: He became human, the job became real, and in my humiliation, I became part of who I am. His name was Gene Austin. He had been an army pilot and had the top of his head blown off in Korea, I guess. It left him quadraplegic, but his mind was intact.

And so it began. I have always treated arrogant young women who want to work in the industry with a measure of patience. I know what they can become.

Okay, question #2.

I don't really have that one figured out yet. It may be, "Why did you leave your perfectly good job last May and how do you have the audacity to come back grovelling for yet a second and better paying job???? Hmmm, biatch?" And you know, guilt may color my response just a teeensy little bit.
A. There was a car behind door number 2.
B. There was a car behind door number 2.
C. I wish I hadn't. I thought the job would be different. I didn't know where McMinnville was. Seriously. I just thought: free car, more money. But it is notable that I took a job without knowing where it actually was. I mean, I knew. But driving 99 day after day -- not so good. And like so many things that seem too good to be true: it was. The car wasn't free. The job wasn't anything like I was accustomed to. So. Here I am. Grovelling. Pick me. Everybody loves me, baby, what's the matter with you?

I hope they don't ask. It will be difficult not to be a tongue in cheek version of myself.

So, it is Sunday morning.


I woke up this morning disturbed by dreams I can't remember. I know I was giving gifts to people and they were the wrong gifts. Big wrong gifts. My dreams are not usually too mystical. This one derives, I am certain, from the fact that I sent my son a ceramic drum for his birthday. In my distant memory, there was a time when he wanted one. They are called dubeck or something. Anyway, we found one at Goodwill in Lincoln City,and I mailed it to him, late, in a box stuffed with goodies and money. At least I know he liked the money and the cashews. He likes the drum, he says, but denies ever wanting one. But he says it looks good in the living room and is fun to pound on. Ah well, there is always next year.

The job thing continues. I just got an email from my former boss that I am the frontrunner. I do not feel confident at this point, not yet, but it helps to know that. I am still competing with someone already in the company and it helps to know that is what I am dealing with. Next week sometime is the showdown.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Here is my Christmas Window, in pre-finished state:

Speaking of windows, the window of opportunity has not slammed shut just yet. Finally, I did get called for a third and final interview, a panel of judges, the corporate heads. ooooh. But now, I am competing for the job, hoping age and experience will win out over youth and beauty. But what do I know. I assume my competition is younger, and, by default, prettier. But as usual, I am making it all up in my head. I am studying, and making use of the time until the interview in ways other than shopping. For the last interview I spent about 400.00 on clothes and wore my black turtleneck. As usual. Its what I wear.

Working in the nursing home last year at this time, was gruelling, but a homecoming nonetheless. And working where I have been since May, I know that I should have stayed, and wish I had. And the reason I know this is because I was writing more then. That's my barometer of personal contentment. I may write shit, but I write. Just the opportunity to leave this job thrills me and makes it even more difficult to get in the car at the butt-crack of dawn and drive halfway to the coast.

I am quite ill, bronchitis, and my rotator cuff is still torn, awaiting MRI results and surgery. I am falling apart. And the related medication makes me feel dead.

So I remain just this side of oblivion and try to get a handle on what little I can (food) and control those parts of my life left to me. A woman at the nursing home where I worked last year just died. The cook. She was diabetic and ate badly. I've been eating badly for about a year, maybe. Off and on. And I was doing so well. Her death got my attention. It is a treacherous condition to have.

Isn't my window going to be pretty? we're still working out the final design of the side panels. The big square of glass in the middle will probably become different.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New things

I was up late so am up late. Clinton street is already alive and happening. There was a huge party last night across the street and hopefully some of them stayed put, didnt' drive home. It was a quiet night, a good night to be home. We watched the original King Kong and it was so much better than the new one. I did like the new monkey, though. This one, the original 1933 model, was such a cartoon of itself, and I know that at the time he dazzled audiences and struck fear in the hearts of children. We have come a long way in the movie biz. Too bad we don't bring such monumental change to politics.

Not to change the subject, but who the hell is going to be the next democratic frontrunner? I am always concerned at this stage, waiting for something like the Christ-child to be born in Bethlehem to lead us away from this mire. I don't think he/she will or can. I think they are all the same. I heard maybe Tom Hanks and Bill Cosby as the ticket to beat, but don't want to throw political commentary out there ahead of the pack. I don't know shit. There's always Hillary.

I think Jack Black ruined King Kong. I really do.

Well, it is a new year, and in the spirit of all that, I will remind you that I don't really do the whole resolution thing. They are all the same: Lose weight, exercise more. I would like to stop saying FUCK when I'm annoyed, but I never do. I try to stop cussing, but sometimes there simply isn't a more succint way to get my point across. My (tiny, asian, female) doctor says, "Whatever you eat, eat less; whatever you do, do more." Great advice. I hate her. The Christmas 10 sits on the hips of the Thanksgiving 5, and I sit on both.

My shoulder hurts. My arm hangs like a deadened limb in need of pruning. I had an MRI last thursday and should know the cause and cure on Tuesday. Probably a rotator cuff tear and subsequent surgery. I hate surgery. I mean, who doesn't, right? But I can speak with some authority. When my appendix blew up in July, I was really hoping that would be the last time somebody carved me like a ham.

I also had my big interview Thursday and am anxiously awaiting their response. Anxiously.... very. I met with two women, talked for nearly 2 hours, and came away feeling good about it. But time passes and I lose my confidence, and can't imagine anyone hiring me for anything. I should write for a living. I should paint. I am not fit for public consumption. Poor me. But truly, I will quit my job no matter what. I will jump out on the limb and trust. That may be a bad idea, but I am considering it. Driving to Mac every day is not okay.

My shoulder hurts. Did I mention that?

As to my life, I received a letter from my cousin Reed on Thursday. He is an honestly sweet man, first cousin on my father's side: the somewhat saner side. Actually, both "sides" are fairly sane. It was just that my family was the anomaly. The black sheep family of many fairly well adjusted families. But I'm sure you know what I know: scratch the surface and they're all a mess. Some just cover better. We didn't even try. We wore our wounds like badges of some unconveyed honor: the proud, the poor, the mad.

The Drunk.

So, my sweet cousin writes: "You have disappeared from the family."

I have. Effectively. And I am a happier woman for it. It is terribly convenient that I fell dead-set in love just after burying my brother, just after buring my mother, and deciding unequivocally that I would not see to the final events of my drunken sister's life. I was done. I am done, still. Done being the family social worker. And I don't know how to explain this to dear sweet Reed. I guess I could direct him to this diatribe and let him ferret out the reasons for himself. I am transparent as glass. No secrets here.

I think disappearing at 50 is a great idea. Become someone else. We live too long anyway. Have a couple of lives. Have three.

But whatever you do, have a happy new year. And I think: the whole year? Be happy the whole freakin' year?

Okay. I'll try.