Poem: Failing

Young boy young boy

how we fail you

Blurry world blows by

brushing busy nonsense

between dark-colored lines

What do you see

when you look off into air

giant pink butterflies

fluttering near

whispering closely into your ear

please listen please listen

I’ve got something to say

But teachers just get angry

so it flies away

Why can’t you sit and be quiet

you twitch and squirm

and touch other kids

waving your arms

run around run around

you’ll never learn

Pupils are huge

you don’t seem to care

you’re sitting all wrong

with your feet through the chair

you talk too much

or you sit and stare

Young boy young boy

what will we do

we’re tired of trying

but it doesn’t seem fair

If we can’t help you

then how will you grow

Into a man

facing issues

I know




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

The Good, The Bad…

These are my new work shoes. Standing all day can be tiring, so I treated myself. It was interesting going into a big retail store–one of those gigantic chain athletic stores to find something. Now that I work in retail again, I could scrutinize the employees from a point of view as a customer doing similar work. Of course, I often evaluate these situations being a student of human behavior, but today I came at it from a purely retail perspective.

I interacted closely with two employees and had two totally different experiences. This store has no-one specific helping in the shoe department–they just mostly expect customers to wander around by themselves and randomly check things out. And then, if you should perchance find something you like, you can try it on yourself…OR if you don’t–then you might be lucky and find someone to help you. Maybe…

While I was doing the first option a young male employee came over to me and asked if I needed help, so I explained to him that I was looking for a shoe to stand in all day. I tried to explain to him what I was looking for, but he was very eager to show me something he thought would be the right shoe. So I looked at it (because I didn’t want to let him down)  and immediately didn’t like it (it was white and not my style of sneaker), but at least he tried to be helpful and nice.

So I kept wandering, found finally found the sale section! There I came across some decent running shoes in my size that would work. But I also came across another pair of moccasins that I thought were pretty cool. Sadly, they didn’t have a price tag, and I feared this could mean a great hassle in the check out. I liked them enough though, and have very few shoes since moving (I gave tons away before I did) that I figured it worth trying to get a price.

I flagged the next employee down I could find…another young man. He seemed rather put out, but said he would see what he could find out. He came back rather quickly and said: how much do you want these shoes (well actually I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want them dude) because it’s going to take me a really long time to figure out a price, and honestly (uh oh…lying) the last time I looked at the price tag it said like $100. I said: $100?? Really?? He said: Yup. Hmmm…??  I said: Never mind then.

My guess is he was simply too lazy to do his job and get the real price, which I doubt was $100. So, they lost a sale. But I did find another cute pair of shoes on sale instead.

When I got to the check-out the first guy was there and he rang me out. He remembered me and we chatted. He tried to get me to fill out some points thing (which I didn’t, even if I did let him down) . And I over heard him talking with another customer how he had been in recovery and clean for a while. He was friendly and did his job well. Took it all very seriously. World of difference from the other dude.

I suspect this guy had hit rock bottom in his life so he knows the meaning of gratitude. He doesn’t mind doing what he’s suppose to do, or helping out some old chick looking for a pair of shoes for work. He probably would have looked up the price of the moccasins for me and they would have sold 3 pairs of shoes that day. Oh well…instead, I had a good customer experience with him and will fill out the survey and say he did a nice job…whereas they other fellow did not.



Poem: Learning To Live Again


Maybe I will just quite my job

And go back to school

Become a student again

And walk snow-covered paths

Into busy brick buildings

Filled with kids just starting out

They will look at me like I’m some kind of nut

The gray-haired lady in English literature class

Because maybe I could really learn to write a poem

After taking “Poetry Workshop”

Or maybe I could take a class called “Writing In The World”

And get a job as a reporter for NPR

(But I would have to change my name because it’s too boring)

I’d walk from class to class

Take notes

My daughter in college would laugh at me

While helping me with my homework

Or tell me not to bother her

While she was doing hers

Either way it could be no worse

Than being at work

Where the laughter is not the same

But coming from some place outside

Where my walls must be built every day

Like a sandcastle built but washed away by the tide each moon

My comrades in class could joke

But In the end

As the semester drew on and

Midterms and finals and study groups were formed

There in the circle was the gray-haired lady

Very much like someone they know

Back taking that step forward

Learning to live again



Stayin’ Alive!

One part of my job that is really different from the normal routine, and is actually enjoyable, is teaching CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). This is one of links in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “chain of survival”. This includes use of the AED (automated external defibrillator).

While I teach: right place, right time–with more and more people hearing about CPR and actually taking classes, it actually may become more likely to save a life in the field. And I certainly seem to be teaching classes almost weekly now. While I have only had two CPR saves in my 18 years as an emergency medical technician, my hope is that with lay people learning CPR, there will be more saves as we keep educating.

With all the advances on the ambulance, with Advanced Cardiac Life Support, better CPR techniques and then the care received in specialized hospitals, patients are walking out of these facilities more frequently and leading normal lives. And it is my great joy to teach classes–especially to lay people.

Most people who come to my classes have had some class in the past–sometimes 20 years ago. But much has changed. Students are often surprised by how things have changed, but are always willing to listen and learn. In the old days a teacher could pretty much wing a class and teach based on their own knowledge. But now, AHA is fairly strict and everything is video based.

This is understandable, with all the liability now, and wanting to create a uniform program taught the same way for everyone. Of course every teacher brings their own personality to the class, and this is where I hope I excel.

Classes can vary in their own personalities also, coming from church groups, teachers, bus drivers, factory workers to stay at home moms. The groups may vary in ages from teens to elderly people. This can make teaching a bunch sometimes challenging. Some groups are happy to be there and do so willingly and some are being made by work. So it’s my job to make it fun for everyone.

The AHA video is really pretty decent given the content, but it is, after all, a CPR video! I try to spruce it up by stopping frequently with my own interjections, stories and allowing students to participate in discussions. My classes are very interactive, so the students won’t fall asleep. There is huge redundancy also which can become monotonous and boring, just like the compression metronome, so getting them up and moving every so often is critical.

When I’m testing them, I make each scenario personal to them, trying to make them laugh. I also make each class a teaching moment for other things like cardiac disease, obesity, the 911 system, the EMS protocol system for cardiac arrest, DNR’s (Do Not Resuscitate) and such. So it makes for very interesting discussions. While they are there to learn about CPR, I hope they come away with a lot more.

We also talk about the realistic part of what may happen in a cardiac arrest. The messy part that isn’t mentioned on the video, so they can really be prepared for real life. And we talk a lot about children and infants, because that’s the CPR no-one ever wants to do. I try to instill in them a sense of confidence and calmness. All this while trying to have some fun. Part of that fun is that they learn that the compressions are done to the beat of the old song from the movie “Saturday Night Fever”–Stayin’ Alive. They love that part and I actually sing it! Some of them do too.

Finally we also learn about how to help adults, children and infants who are choking. Now this is truly a life saving tool! I have saved my own daughter’s life by doing abdominal thrusts. Everyone should know how to do this properly! You never know when you may be called upon to do it: at a restaurant, a neighbor’s house, a movie theater, your family member! It’s simple and works!

So when my students complete this class, I’m hoping they leave with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Many hope they will never have to perform CPR on anyone, but know if they had to, they could. And with this new skill, they can be out in the world knowing they may actually save someone’s life.

Consider taking a class if you haven’t already–or renewing that old card of yours! Remember: it’s all different now. You never know who’s life you might save! Altogether now: Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive…Ah Ah Ah Ah….Stayin’ Alive!