Poem: Food For Free


School Lunch Lines

with hair net lunch ladies

and cement paste potatoes

and spit filled ketchup

But today the book said:

159

(160 if you count 5-year-old Luciana)

Lining up outside

long before the prison-bolt door is let loose

drawn like a vortex

walking and sweating with bags and backpacks

or stopping in front from the city bus

and the cars stuffed full as they hope they will be too

“Sign the book”: is the weary demand

it is the Payment

The Price

for all you will get

Fill your bags and your belly

“I have no teeth, so no corn on the cob”

“No dessert because I am diabetic”

“I am homeless and live in the streets”

Gracias

Thank you

I am now the lunch lady

I give food for free

 

 

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You Can Teach Old Dogs…


So a while ago, when I was sitting at home, in the thick of my contemplating about my life and future–I had a harebrained idea: I would take a course. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but what I did know, even though it was kind of intimidating, was that I would attempt to do it online.

This may not seem like a very big deal to many of you out there in computer-land, but to me, the gal who is a ‘hands on’ learner, it felt very strange. But on the other hand, I also knew that I was in no position to go schlepping off to some place for a class, nor did I want to pay a huge amount of money for some program that maybe I wouldn’t like after a few weeks. And I knew that nowadays there are so many courses offered online. How hard could it be?

So I started to search, and sure enough, our local community college had some very short and very inexpensive courses that seemed quite reasonable to explore. Hey, I had nothing to lose since my time was wide open, so I decided to sign up for the Veterinary Assistant class–actually a set of three of them (maybe I was a bit ambitious) which started today. In the long run I guess I hoped it might land me a job.

My job is to look beautiful

I literally had no idea what to expect when I logged into ‘my classroom’ today. But there were my lessons, a syllabus, some quizzes, some assignments (optional), a forum area to talk with the Professor (a Vet from Canada) and other students, plus other relevant stuff.

It was all fairly straight forward. Of course I couldn’t get my printer to work when I tried to print the lessons (I finally did after 2 hours), something suggested by the teacher and a good idea for studying for the Final to have for later on. Once the class closes, one doesn’t have access to the information again, so I will create a notebook for reference.

This kind of learning is actually perfect for someone older (like me) or busy…go at your own pace. And it’s basically open book for exams–who wouldn’t love that? I’ve always felt that in real life one gets to look up what we don’t know, so why memorize everything? It’s great.

I have a memory like a steel trap

Will I get a job out of it? Well, the funny part is that after I had already signed up for it, I got a call for a job interview for a job that I applied for about a month ago. I’d given up thinking about it actually, but it so happens it’s at the very college where I’m taking this online course! Imagine that. The interview went as well as expected, but I am still waiting to hear. Who knows?

But I will take this course anyway as it is designed with pet owners in mind also. Plus it’s fun and always good to stretch one’s mind. Maybe I will even use the information to volunteer…

And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks….??

No tricks for me Mommy

Like A Dummy


No-one like to feels like a dummy. But I think we all can agree that the first day of any new job can make any of us feel that way. Even if it’s a job that we may have experience doing, but especially if it’s something new or if we’re rusty doing it. Then, it’s easy to feel like we’re back in elementary school when the teacher calls on us and we don’t know the answer.

Today was my first day at my new job! And mind you, I made a conscious decision to get out of healthcare! So I totally understood that I could make myself look silly starting over at something completely different. I simply could not take it any longer in a field that I personally feel is rampant with unhappy, over-worked and often petty employees.

So I began to apply to anything that remotely appealed to me or where I thought I might have a half a chance of getting a job. I had certain criteria of course: Part-time was preferable for the pets; close to home if possible; if it had to be a big corporation again, then hopefully it would be decent or have good benefits with it; and if I was lucky, maybe be something I actually wanted to do! Another dream part of the job, of course, would be if I ended up working with great people….

Well, I’ve ended up in a sweet little position working as a cashier at a local Farm market. The farm itself is huge and specializes in sustainability, organic vegetables and fruit, locally grown also, U-pick on the property, all sorts of local breads and other wonderful items. What a difference working in a place that smells nice! It can’t compare to the smells on the ambulance!

They had a sign on the Cash register that said: Cashier in training, Be Nice! So they even have a sense of humor. As I bumbled along trying to figure out why they considered an avocado a fruit and which items were sold singly and which by the pound, my customers were very patient. And even though I thought I knew my vegetables pretty well having been a vegetarian for 40 years, a rutabaga looks pretty much like a turnip when you’re in a hurry.

A place that has a 21-year-old in charge because he’s been there since he got out of High School (he told me his goal is actually to become a fire fighter/paramedic–imagine that), can’t be all bad. And they even have an AED, so while the boss wants me to save him if he has a cardiac arrest, he wasn’t sure the batteries were working. Yikes. Stick with farming dude!

So while I was nervous and felt like pretty dumb at times, everyone was helpful and assured me at the end of the shift, I wasn’t fired yet. Even though I didn’t do a very good job wrapping the breads that came in either. Maybe it’s just the perfectionist in me? And this place seems to have my most/all of my criteria for jobs too? Time will tell…

But riding home in my car I thought: gee, I used to save lives didn’t I? I guess eventually I’ll get the hang of this won’t I? Of course I’m older now…but like we used to say in the back of the ambulance: just pretend you know what you’re doing and be nice. The customer/patient may not notice it’s not true…..

Invisible


While I don’t like to admit it, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older (and have embraced my gray hair) I’ve become invisible. In my younger life, I was never, ever an invisible person. Even when I felt then (unbeknownst to my then introverted self) that the crowds were getting a bit too much for me. Somehow I still stood out shall we say. My personality was somehow bigger than my small frame… even when I didn’t want it to be.

It was my big mouth I suppose: always standing up when I felt injustice was happening, or whispering an irreverence at inopportune moments. Or when I felt someone (preferably someone of authority) said something I felt stupid and needed to be put straight. Yep, I never held back, and usually got in trouble, bringing attention to myself and therefore was definitely not invisible.
Plus I was never, ever a follower. And in fact, usually a leader. Starting a trend maybe, like the first one to wear hot pants in my high school. To me, they were just cool. Or to bring cloth bags to the grocery store 40 years ago when everyone thought I was nuts. Or becoming a vegetarian about the same time because it simply made sense. And being the ‘class clown’ and ‘most inclined to argue’ also put me in the class of calling attention to myself–just like George Carlin so aptly said…Hey, look at me!

Did I need attention? I don’t know? I just know that I was an only child and loved school and my friends and loved to get into it with anyone who would participate in good debate or humor. Or I did some things simply because they made good sense to me and I believed they were right. It never occurred to me that not everyone felt the same way. In fact, it might be better if they didn’t.
So now that I’m 60, and suddenly a senior citizen–it seems so odd to say that because I still feel like a kid–and part of the class of people who most ignore. It feels crazy. Me, the person that most folks used to gather around and laugh with, or got yelled at, or who got sent to the principal’s office because I was so disruptive. Now I can’t even mange to worm my way into a conversation because it’s assumed I have nothing of value to say. It’s utterly amazing to me.

At least this is what I find among the folks where I work. It’s a mixed crowd of both young and middle aged…not too many my age. I’m in the hub where people come and go and I could just be a chair really. When they bring new people around, most times I don’t even get introduced. I find it rude really. The new gal that does my job in the evening is 27, pretty and has far more attention from folks (men and women mind you) fluttering around her in a couple of months than I do in nearly a year there.

Is it because our society doesn’t value age and wisdom? Certainly I have become less in need of the attention I once did. I’m more subdued and quiet and more observant. Maybe I don’t draw the attention any longer.

It’s quite interesting to watch the squabbles, the dances and cruelties. I’m proud to have joined the ranks of the wise ones actually. There’s humor sitting back while seeing those that make fools of themselves as I once did or listen to tales of woe and know how unimportant these things really are in the grand scheme of life.

I only hope I’ve taught my own daughters to treat their elders better than I am treated at work. And I hope I never acted in this way. We can certainly choose moments to be invisible, but no-one should make  someone feel that way. We all have the same rights to be equally colorful, vibrant and brilliantly seen.

Welcome??


“Live free or die!”–this was the refrain I was used to hearing from where I just moved. A war cry I often made fun of when I was there, especially as a paramedic. We would change the saying to: Live free AND die when we’d arrive on scene of a motorcycle accident, no helmets, the person dead or dying. Ayup, no helmet laws…that’s right folks, do whatever you like for sure. It’s your life despite best practices and safety information! Go ahead: live free and die for sure…keeps me in business.

It was all a big joke, but many there took their freedom very seriously. And, I suppose, with good reason. In a world, where Big Brother seems to encroach upon us in so many aspects of our lives with all the rules and regulations, I kind of get it.

I, for one, have never been so good at following all of the rules. The ones that didn’t make much sense to me, or seemed unfair or unjust–well, yeah, I definitely went outside those boxes. In that way, I related completely to the above sentiment. It makes me nuts when someone tells me to do something that I deem as irrational or I simply know to be incorrect because I have proof. It gets all my hackles standing on end.

And I must admit, I’m not very good at being quiet about it. I’ve always had a rather big mouth–for as long as I remember. Pressing the boundaries and getting myself in trouble. Not exactly self-righteous, but willing to go against the establishment.

So here I am facing The Establishment like I never have before: buying a condo! It’s a whole new experience for me. I was always afraid I might not be able to do it and to ‘fit in’ and follow The Rules of folks telling me just what I could and couldn’t do with reference to how to live. But I had no idea to what extent it would happen until I went to my ‘orientation’ meeting today. There was reams of paperwork and boxes to check off. It was nuts.


Already a bit crabby missing work because they only have it during the week, something I felt rather archaic–maybe I was already a bit prejudiced I admit. Sure, it’s ‘an active adult community’ (this meaning 55 and over), but that means many of us work for goodness sake!! So why not run some of these after hours or on weekends?? I suppose because the office lady doesn’t want to come in then…but sheesh.

This meeting is mandatory, even though I had already met with someone from my particular building. One can’t close until you go and get some paper from them for the title company!! She didn’t want to overfill the class, meanwhile (if you include a couple) I was the 5th person. Really, 5 is too many? She’s afraid someone would ask too many questions. But instead, SHE talked in redundant circles, about nothing. Garbage, what colors to paint your house, where to park your cars… Are you joking? An hour and half later, I thought I might scream.

And even though she told us to hold all questions until later, she snipped at me with the one question I had, which was never answered. Ahhhh! It was crazy. And there were so many rules! I’m not sure I can go to the bathroom without checking with someone first. Or at least…the color of the toilet paper I buy…


No, but really, it all seemed rather silly, but I’m sure once you move in nobody even cares. And when she said there’s a woodworking club that the MEN are in (I asked if woman can join…yeah yeah, I was being smart)…I thought: maybe I’ll start my own club. Like the rebel club. Or the people who use weird toilet paper club. Or those who never listened during meetings in high school club. Or the live free or die club….

Or maybe I’ll just go into my cute little new condo, shut the door and mind my own business.

70 Years Young!!


This is what my co-worker posted on the white board about my birthday today! Happy birthday to me…  ha ha, because I’m really 60 today and he likes to be funny. But with me dancing around and that post, plenty of folks knew today was the day that I  tipped over into a new decade.

Usually I let these things slide, but since this one seemed fairly monumental to me, I let my mouth rip. I mean, sheesh, I recall feeling like my Grandma was way old when she was in her sixties! And wouldn’t you know, time just plundered on ahead and here I am! How the heck did that happen pray tell?


My high school friends and I have been scratching our heads (and looking in the mirrors) and wondering where all those years went. One of them just sent me a picture of my HS principal/geology teacher. For goodness sake, he’s 91 years old! He looked fantastic mind you, but 91 years old?! That’s nuts!

But even though I went to work, it’s been a great day so far. Some of my co-workers got me gifts….it was amazing and incredibly touching! Man, after 8 years of working at my old job, you had to die for anyone to pay attention. Two gals in the scheduling part of our OR came up behind me (very unusual) and I turned around from my desk. I said: wow, I’m being stalked by schedulers (I really had no idea what was going on). One is pretty serious, so she said: Yup, you made a really big mistake booking a case. My heart was pounding in my chest and I got so upset. Then the said: Happy Birthday, and they gave me the nicest gifts! I was shocked. It was so sweet!! Even my bosses got me something and another wonderful gal who gave me the book the other day.


And as I was leaving a bunch of them chimed in to a rendition of: Happy Birthday to you, you live in the zoo…. I changed it to: I work in the zoo… All in all, very touching. With hugs, fist bumps and all that…. So maybe I’m getting there and work is becoming more and more an accepting place.

On the home front, a huge package from a dear old friend, cards and best of all:

Calls from all three of my wonderful daughters! I even was remembered by someone I’ve been out of contact with for quite some time.

Mom and I will go out tomorrow to dinner too. I’m lucky to have this day, because it’s often a 3 day weekend. Yippee.

Let’s hope it’s a wonderful decade. Better than the last because that one was a bit tough. Now I’m really moving into the crone years: hopefully the wisdom will start to really come, the patience, the contentment and I’ll be walking the right path. Thanks to you all for you continued support on this blogging journey of mine!!

 

 

My Baby


My baby graduated college today. Well she walked with her class technically and still has a couple of classes in the fall. But that’s because she is amazing and decided on a difficult major in computer science with a minor in math. She still graduated summa cum laude to boot!

OK a bit of bragging the day before Mother’s day, but normally I don’t think much about those Hallmark holidays.
               
Today  though I am celebrating her day from far away.

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Luckily the college had live stream so I could watch it on my computer. And I filmed it on my phone so my Mom and her sister could see it too. Ah the wonders of technology!

So on this special and beautiful day, I wish for my daughter some things:

That she follows her dreams and has no road blocks ever in the way stopping her from her goals.

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May she find love and give love to those around her, keeping compassion, kindness and caring for all sentinent beings in her heart.

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May she never know hardship, but if she does, that great strength, wisdom and intelligence be hers during these times.

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Good health be hers always, with a strong body, peaceful spirit, inspired mind and a gentle soul.

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And finally may she always know that her Mother’s love is boundless, non-judgmental, ever available and a gift freely given.

I love you little one. Congradulations and Happy Mother’s day. 

Mangoes From Heaven


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For the monkeys!

Way in the sky….

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Just babies….

Or up close and personal, these babies will someday turn into this:

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A WalMart Mango.

A lovely ripe mango! This one is from the grocery store, but the unripe babies are hanging, along with tons of others, from a tree that I walk by every day. This tree is right near the sidewalk but I suppose is technically on the property of the private Christian school that is right near my house.

I see the kids running loops around the same loop where I walk. Plus I hear them on the other side of a great fenced area of bushes playing various sports like soccer and baseball.

In fact three times now I have tossed a runaway soccer ball back over the hedge to delighted voices of things like : hey look Mary there’s your ball. Then in the general direction from whence the ball came they yell: thanks!

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The Hedge….You can see the soccer field….

So I’m kind of thinking when those mangoes ripen, that maybe I might just be entitled to one or two as payment? After all, soccer balls cost a lot!

Resignation


Well, today was the last straw at work. Someone that I thought was a nice person and sort of a friend (I don’t know anyone really well enough to call them a true friend), did something pretty yucky to me today. So now, after being pushed and soul searching, I’ve decided to resign tomorrow. And what better day than April Fool’s day.

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I’m no fool!

After hearing about those two sad young men yesterday and their tragic stories, and listening to myself complain for three months, I decided enough is enough. Life really is just too short. While there are some very nice people there, the bulk of the energy is negative. I’ve learned (and accepted) enough about myself, that I am really an emotional sponge. One can’t simply say to me: Oh don’t let it bother you. No, it’s not possible. I take in all that is around me: the yelling, the gossiping, the mean talk, the shaming, the crabbiness, the rudeness and the direct negativity pointed at me.

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I went into this job with high hopes and a good attitude and now I can’t sleep, have anxiety chest pain and feel exhausted every night when I go home. It’s simply time to walk away. This is a hard decision because I feel very guilty about leaving after only 3 months and letting the nice people down, not fulfilling obligations etc., but it’s not worth it in the end.

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On to greener pastures…..

I’m toying with the idea of becoming a home health aide. Yes…yet a new career and more training at almost 60! But I love senior citizens, it’s a short class and there is a huge call for it down here. The pay is low, but I think the rewards might be great. I’d be back to actually helping people and maybe not being treated like a second class citizen. For me it’s about giving back. Feel free to put your two cents in….??

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I seriously think you are doing the right thing Mommy!

On a good note: I got this wonderful ‘post card’ from one of my best blogging buddies today. He sent it like four weeks ago from England…he’s originally from there, but lives in NZ now. He’s on a 5 week trip all over the place. It took forever to get to me, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed it today. It’s called a ‘Timbergram’ and is made out of wood! I’ve never seen anything like it. 🙂 Thanks…(you know who you are!!)

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Clicks


It was never my style to belong or join. I never really wanted to fit into one particular group or click back in High School when the real clicks were beginning to take shape and when we were starting to learn who we were and where we ‘belonged’. That’s when I started to get a sense that maybe I didn’t belong anywhere or maybe I belonged everywhere.

Somehow I found myself with friends in all the social groups, from the college-bound, the athletes, the future farmers of America to the most popular. It didn’t really matter to me. The boundaries were fluid to me and I moved in and out of them with ease.

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Future Farmers

Of course I had better friends from some groups, but really, over all I was probably ultimately introverted even though you wouldn’t have called it that then. It’s only now that I can define it.

But it’s also more than that–it’s a tolerance that has grown in adulthood–for all people, and an acute distaste for aligning myself with any particular set of folks…just because. And just because I’m adult now, moving in an adult world, doesn’t mean these clicks aren’t still very apparent and in full swing all around me! It’s quite funny to see. One would think people would grow out of it, but no, here it is like HS still.

One can almost pick out the popular kids, the nerdy kids, the unpopular kids, the cool kids, the followers, the leaders. And where do I fit in now? Well now I have the good sense to simply sit back and observe for the most part. I still have no need to belong to any particular group–in fact, less so than I did 50 plus years ago.

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Always the odd one out!

Interestingly, I still have the knack for getting along with many types of people though. It’s nice to have the years and a little wisdom under one’s belt. To be able to sit outside the little shows that go on and just watch. I can almost see the players from long ago.

Even though we are all older, we never really outgrow our true selves. Those personas just morph into an adult, and maybe more subtle (maybe worse), version of who we were back in the day. The mean, nasty Doctor now, might have been the HS kid that was the brunt of everyone’s joke–the Valedictorian, the geek that no-one liked back then. He thinks he’s having the last laugh by treating everyone like crap now! But he forgets karma.

And the gossiping group at lunch outwardly bashing someone in front of others, were they the girls in school that were either insecure because they weren’t popular or they were too popular and used to having it their way? Either way, they continue the childish behaviors.

Or the guys that just love to goof around–all the time. Or just the folks desperate to be in the popular crowd!

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I’m way too cool for you all!

Ah, it’s lovely to finally be of an age where none of it matters anymore. Where you can fade into the shadow and half the time no-one even realizes you exist. I will continue to feel that I am a woman unto myself. I’m autonomous. The bounds between groups/clicks for me will always remain nebulous and I hope to always drift between them. A friend is a friend no matter who they are or what group they may align with–as long as they are decent and kind, they are OK in my book.

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Shadow me and my best group buddy 🙂