Category Archives: Humor

Would You Work For Free?

One of the most talented writers on the web is right here on WordPress. Of course, now she is all ta ta wi wi with her own self hosted site since she has so much traffic, but I knew her when. Whether she is writing about backpacking across Southeast Asia, her deranged psycho-stalker ex-boyfriend, or her crazy co-workers in the psychiatric hospital, Aussa Lorens knows how to spin a good yarn.

I am going to be perfectly honest and tell you when I first met her in my comments, I did not like her. I thought, “Who the hell is this ‘HackerNinjaHookerSpy’ biatch talking about her psycho ex-boyfriend and getting wasted on wine on my comments. Has she gone mad?”

Then I went to her blog and got the whole story. I stayed there a while and read her exceptionally well written adventures in Southeast Asia. And more about her hilarious life in the nut house. Now I just love her and you will too. If you have not met her already, drop by and get the scoop. Her latest post (http://aussalorens.com/2014/08/07/firing-stories/) had me in stitches. You must read the comments also. They are as laughable as the posts.

I promised you posts in a new category called Nurses Notes. Aussa reminded me about that when she spoke of the nurses she works with, which she often does. Since I was one of the good nurses, and not one of the weirdoes just working for a pay check, I didn’t relate, at first, and I resented her remarks. Then I thought about my own co-workers. The ones I escaped from when I retired.

With her last post I also asked myself about my personal motivations as a nurse. I wanted to help people avoid pain and suffering. Nursing school was tough. I thought if I just saved one person, it would all be worth it. But God’s honest truth…if I wanted to work for free I would have become a nun.

giphy

There was; however, one time I recall taking an assignment for no other reason than the pay offered, and that is what I will tell you about today.

I had a job once where it was ALL about the numbers and the dollar signs. Not for me, but for my employer. It was about ten years before my retirement, when I was working for a Hospice organization. It was a for-profit organization and my bosses, Mario and Leanna, were brutal. (They’re married now BTW.)

I did the job for a year. It was the most challenging and most rewarding year of my thirty year career.

I worked in Marketing and Admissions…selling dignified death. It is the only marketing position I’ve ever held and there is a whole different climate on that side of the fence. I was a Palliative Care Liaison (PCL).

2-Patch-Adams-quotes

There were five of us PCLs, all registered nurses. We were expected to knock down four admissions in an eight hour day. Basic math tells you this is a full day, but there should be travel time and meal time and an occasional break. Also, being the compassionate person that I am, I would often feel the need to spend more than two hours with a family. After all, this was their loved one dying. Sometimes (doctors be damned) we were the first ones telling the patient that they were terminal. That’s not news to deliver lightly. Most days turned into at least ten or twelve hours.

We went to homes, nursing homes, and hospitals explaining services, ordering oxygen and durable medical equipment, arranging transportation, getting tons of paperwork signed for a payee source, usually Medicaid with its myriad of complex forms, conferring with physicians and team members. Sometimes we schmoozed doctors over dinner and cocktails (company paid) and sometimes we delivered donuts to nursing home staff when admissions were slow.

merchants

Hospice, common in Europe for eons, was a relatively new concept back then in the U.S., so the marketing aspect was crucial. It was all about appearances and we were expected to dress professionally in suits and heels, despite the heat and the loamy terrain we often had to trudge through. We had rolling offices we lugged around in the trunks of our cars.

This particular day, I had slept only about four hours, having been up till 2am the previous night faxing paperwork to insurance companies, Medicaid, and HMOs. I arose with sun, showered and suited up.

By 7am there was already a fax from the referral office. My first appointment was in Yeehaw Junction, fifty-five miles south…in the center of swampy cow country. The only establishment in Yeehaw Junction is a restaurant with what was formerly a bordello upstairs that serves as a hotel.  The historic Desert Inn dates back to the 1800s as the first working hotel in Florida.

44099325

Roadkill hash and vulture eggs were the only thing on the breakfast menu so I had a few cups of coffee while waiting on my 8:30 am appointment time. The family and patient I was visiting with were already prepared for Hospice services so all I really had to do was get the paperwork done, make a few phone calls and be on my way.

gator_jerky

As I hit the turnpike and headed north my pager went off and the text message from Mario said I needed to be at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) by noon. Passing through Kissimmee at 11:30 am I felt I needed to swing through the drive-thru at McDonalds and grab some lunch to eat on the way. It was sweltering hot in that suit and I was thirsty so I swigged down about two thirds of the super-sized diet coke in a hurry.

On to the ramp at Osceola Parkway; the next exit would take me straight down OBT to Orange Avenue and ORMC. I was making good time. Not going to happen. Ten miles south of the exit, I topped the bridge to see traffic backed up for miles. No exit between me and OBT and no turning back. This was going to be a long one. I waited.

520140423190713001_6338457_ver1.0_640_480

An hour later, I was still waiting. Knowing we were supposed to stay calm, cool, collected and maintain a professional composure, I texted Mario to call the family and explained what was happening. I could see the helicopters transporting accident victims up ahead.

Calm, cool and collected was a challenge to maintain when you have had to give your lunch over to an old man tapping on your window and pee in a McDonald’s cup in broad daylight. (Not an easy task for a woman guys.) Bless his heart, he had given himself insulin and was on his way to meet his son for lunch. Without food he could have gone into seizures, or worse. Four cups of coffee had to go somewhere.

RonaldSlap_zps94b83995

Mario texted me again, “Where the hell are you?” I explained everything. “That’s TMI over lunch.”

“You asked,” was all I could reply.

By 2:00 pm I was at the hospital and the lady and her daughter were most cordial. They were glad I was there as the plan was to have Mama go home to the daughter’s house and all of the necessary paperwork was signed and arrangements were made.

4:00 pm and I was texted to be at Florida Hospital (FH). I am not happy because, while I have only had two appointments, I have been on the go since 6am on 4 hours sleep. My day should have been over an hour ago or more, and I still haven’t had breakfast or lunch. I grabbed a tuna wrap and a tall iced tea to go at the restaurant café.

starving

I beat rush hour traffic and made it to the FH parking garage in thirty minutes. Just enough time for that supersized soda and that large iced tea to mingle and I was on the tenth floor. The nearest breezeway, and bathroom, was across the garage and down seven floors. All I can say is thank goodness for heels. This is NOT a small building.

group_GS_3_1

With aching feet and a throbbing shoulder from hauling my office across two counties, a ten story parking garage, and up ten more stories in the neighboring building, I made it to the ICU.

My patient, while relatively young, had a horrible clinical picture. I reviewed the chart, made some notes and met privately with the family. The fairly young woman had two children present, a young man and woman in their twenties. They were divided over what to do. Mother was unconscious and had been since brain surgery fourteen days ago. Mother had two terminal diagnoses, brain cancer and inoperable liver cancer. She also had a colostomy, a foley catheter, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) where she was fed intravenously through a central venous line, and was on a respirator.

tumblr_ltk8lboX7g1qe4xqxo1_500

There were two more children in college, so it was necessary to make a conference call, a difficult thing to accomplish through AT & T at that time. Using my little flip chart, I explained the services a second time. I was hoping for a tie breaker, but again, they were divided.

About that time, the doctor shows up. We ended up in a sparring match with us both citing statistics and lab values. The hospital staff, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and two of the children favored terminating most of the life saving measures and sending her home. Two children and the doctor (who had known the woman for years through their church) were at odds. The doctor was adamant, “If you take a woman right out of brain surgery and throw her in a wheel barrow and cart her across town she IS going to die!”

I couldn’t argue with that. I must have repeated a thousand times, “You all think about it and give us a call when you decide.” Each time, I was met with another barrage of questions which the doctor disputed, but the staff supported. It was horrible for the family. I insisted they had been well informed and did not have to decide at that moment (another thousand times). After 7:30 pm, I walked away.

Lifting my rolling office into the trunk I split my pants. About that time I received another page telling me to be at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic by 8:00 pm to do a formal presentation for a staff meeting. I explained my dilemma. I was NOT excused because three other PCLS were still on appointments and one had gone home sick. I had ONLY done three appointments.

salvation army thrift store

The Salvation Army was on the way and they were still open when I got there. I grabbed the first pair of black pants that fit. I was wasted by the time I finished that presentation a half hour later and it was pouring rain when I left the parking garage. I drove home and called in reports to the various Team Leaders simultaneously. Getting out of the car in my own garage an hour later my Salvation Army pants zipper busted…but I was finally home.

10:00 pm and I am thinking my long day is over. I slipped into my PJs and made myself a frozen pizza. The fax machine had already spit out tomorrow’s four appointments.  I tore them off and started going through my paperwork faxing signed forms to their respective agencies.

13SWnPa

By 11:00 pm I was done with that and crawled between the sheets. My pager went off with a notice to call Mario at home. What?

There was a patient on the south side of Orlando at Dr. Phillip’s Hospital that we needed to hook up a CAD pump (Continuous Analgesia Delivery system) for so he could get out of there before midnight. It required and RN. There was no team nurse or PCL available. All of the Team Leaders had gone to Miami for a conference and I was their last hope. It was imperative that this patient be out of the hospital by midnight and the ambulance for transport was already waiting. The hospital staff was not allowed to touch our equipment and the agency pharmacy had already dropped off the narcotics.

It would be a ten minute deal. The patient was already admitted to the program and was just awaiting transport. Normally we were paid $75.00 per visit, Mario offered $150.00. I knew this was a make or break moment, but I was exhausted. “How much is it going to cost our company if we wait until tomorrow?”

“More than $3000.00.”

“I’ll do it for $1500.00”

“Deal.”

So this was the one time that I can recall actually taking a nursing assignment for no other reason than the money offered. By 2:00 am, I was back in my bed preparing to do it all again the next day.

244_

Would you work that hard for free?

Advertisements

How Colloquialisms Get Started

article-new-thumbnail-ds-photo-getty-article-251-253-78292608_XS

I went shopping today for some clothes. I have put it off for a long while. Seems I’ve spread a bit more than I would have liked since retiring, so I can’t satisfactorily shop in a regular store anymore.

I’m short and wide so I have to go to the specialty shops. I’m not going to name the one I went to, because they are just trying to do their job…but you may also know it as the fat lady’s store.

So I go inside and bright young lady asks me if she can help me.

“Yes, I’m looking for pants with an elastic waistband.” (Notice I didn’t say, “Britches.”)

“We don’t have any pants with elastic waist bands. We only have regular pants. All of our pants have zip closures and belt loops.”

Now, I’m thinking…If you can’t find pants with an elastic waistband in the fat lady’s store…where in the hell are you going to find them?

So I told her I would just look around.

A few minutes later, I came across an entire section of pants with elastic waistbands. I called her attention to them.

“Oh!” she says. “Those aren’t pants.  That’s our active wear.”

“Well, aren’t they pants with elastic waistbands?”

“No, not at all,” she says, “it’s all active wear.”

Yes, she was blond…just like me, but I don’t think that was the whole problem. She’s been trained to flatter fat women. “Active Wear” is so much nicer than “Fat Lady Clothes” don’t you think?

It sort of made me feel like I have graduated to the Tupperware of the clothing industry.

Now, I ended up spending nearly three hundred dollars in their store on bras, and active wear, so it didn’t hurt and maybe it helped. Now I can tell people I wear active wear and it will sound like I’m trying to do something about my weight gain.

It did make me think about our southern colloquialisms and how they get started. You can Google southern colloquialisms and get tons of funny words and phrases. These are words and phrases I grew up with. I know proper English, but when I get out among a crowd of other southerners I speak just like they do.

When I write some of my characters in southern lit, I write them with dialect. That can make issues when your beta readers are Yankees, Californians, or Brits. We do have an understanding though…for the most part.

Delilah S. Dawson from Rosswell, Georgia has a great post on how to write a kick ass southern gothic tale here on Chuck Wendig’s site.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/05/delilah-s-dawson-25-ingredients-for-a-kickass-southern-gothic/#respond

Here are just a few of the daily speech quirks you will hear in my house. Not the hilarious metaphors and similes you hear everywhere…just a few routine phrases.

“I’ve never done that before, but I might could.”

“Don’t be sharing this with nobody, but I hear tell he’s getting married.”

“She’s right smart.”

“I used to could turn cartwheels all over this yard.”

“I had dinner on the table before he got in the door good.”

“I’m sick at my stomach.”

Instead of “hand that to me,” or “pass that to me,” we say “reach that to me.”

“I reckon he will.”

Bedclothes = sheets/linens

Britches = pants

Y’all think on it and get back with me.

Do you write regional dialect?

Finding Independence at Forty

1

Independence Day is just around the corner and this is the time when we are supposed to celebrate living in a democratic society and the freedoms we declared coming out from under British rule.

Funny, I never think of that. I always think of my own personal struggle for independence.

I was officially emancipated at the age of fifteen. A ward of the state, I had a wage paying job, a pregnancy, and a marriage that indicated that I was prepared for independent living. HA! Yes, laugh.

The job lasted six months, the pregnancy nine, and the marriage seventeen.

Life got better. I got a college degree in nursing, other jobs, another marriage, had two more children.

Then, the kids grew up. The husband became strange(r). We got divorced. Trust me, it needed to happen.

I could have stayed in the area, but I opted to come to Florida to be near to supportive family. It was a culture shock. From conservative, small town, U.S.A., to a nudist resort in a diverse community where “anything goes” was the rule. Finding yourself at age thirty-six, the prime of your life, single, with a good paying career, in a Florida resort sounds like heaven. I was sipping pina coladas in the sunshine, for about two weeks. It gets old faster than you think.

BTW: Being a nudist does not imply low morals and no self-respect, just in case you are wondering.

I had my independence. I could pay my own bills, manage my own bank account. Not be responsible for somebody else’s crap. I could come and go at liberty. My responsibilities were my own. But I was alone. I had fallen off the edge of the earth.

For the first three years I sat in my house and listened to the clock tick. I had one five month relationship that ended when I learned the guy replaced his dying wife’s cardiotonic with herbal vitamins in an effort to hasten her death. Seriously, shit gets scary.

I had left a world of social structure that included being soccer mom, Girl Scout cookie chairperson, Den Mother, youth group chaperone, softball coach, Varsity Cheerleader mom, Tae Kwon Do mom, PTO & Church secretary, Women’s League co-chairlady farmer’s wife… those All American roles that had made me who I was, and became simply me. All of the things the other women my age were doing were gone.

Being a single woman in your mid-thirties is challenging. Being independent also meant I could pick and choose my company, but that was not as easy as it sounds. I hung out at Cheeks, the bar and grille at Cypress Cove, and found most of the men to be superficial and shallow. They were there for a good time. I wanted more for myself. But I was 500 miles from home and becoming single for the first time in my adult life, had no clue how to proceed.

After three years, I finally decided to venture out alone. I would go to restaurants alone, and feel like everyone was staring at me sitting there with no partner…the poor girl who probably got stood up. I would take in a movie, sit in the rear…and watch the backs of pairs of heads leaning against each other. AND I cried in these places, real tears of loneliness and despair.

I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and go out to meet people of my own age. Where? I had fallen out with the Church. I won’t go into that here, but that was not an option. There were bars and clubs and volunteer organizations, where I could meet people who; perhaps, shared my own interests. I joined a canoe club, a waterways cleanup crew, The Wilderness Trekkers, the Audubon Society, and Artist’s League…and waited on them to post their next meeting dates. Meanwhile, I was going to brave the world and go out, alone.

One night, I left Cypress Cove, way out in the wilderness, and went to downtown Orlando for the very first time, alone. I found a cute little Irish Pub with a Peter, Paul, and Mary band singing folk music. I ordered a drink and sipped it for an hour. There was a man at the bar. An American Indian with nicely chiseled features, long black hair, and suntanned skin standing there in a suit coat looking like he was saying, “Come with me and my wolf to traipse through the forest of my world.” Our eyes met. He sent me a second drink. Within a few minutes he was seated at my table and we were talking about Florida wildlife and sixties music, books we had read and movies. I had finally met somebody interesting.

He asked if I had dinner yet. I had not. He offered to take me to a deli downtown. Not knowing anything about where I was going in Orlando or the parking provided, I left my car blocks away in the public parking garage. He was parked in a lot just outside the pub. I agreed to join him. (Mistake number one: never get in the car with strangers. Didn’t your mother teach you that when you were four?”)

We rode away, up and down unfamiliar city streets to a quaint little deli. As small as it was, it was crowded, and I thought he was really nice to take me somewhere so popular. The waitress came and I ordered food. I thought it was strange he had invited me to dinner, but only ordered coffee for himself. It was getting late and the crowd began to thin as I was finishing up my simple sandwich meal. He looked at me and said,

“Look, you’re thirty-something, I’m thirty something. We’re obviously attracted to each other. We’re adults here. What will it be, my place or yours?”

“Well, this is very nice,” I said softly, “But I’d really like to get to know you better. We’ve just met.”

With that, he stood up and started screaming, “That’s it! I’m done! You women are all alike!” Heads turned in our direction. People stopped eating and stared. “We buy you drinks and dinner, and you always want more. More dinners, more drinks, more stuff. I’m outta here!” He threw down his napkin and proceeded toward the door. “Find somebody else to take advantage of!” he yelled back over his shoulder as he pushed through the door.

I sat for a few seconds smiling at the onlookers. Then, to the clerk who had come out from behind the counter to sweep the floor, “Check, please. And could you call me a cab?”

Here I was pushing forty, and taking a cab back to my car across town. I didn’t think things would ever change. I was destined to remain alone. I laughed all the way home!

After that, I went back to isolating myself at the Cove. I met the Canadian Cowboy a couple of weeks later. This was a nice guy who came to the Cove. Tall, blond and handsome with sparkling blue eyes, and hung like a horse. He was always sporting a white cowboy hat, and nothing else. We had talked off and on. He asked me on a dinner date. We went out of the Cove to Pebbles. A lovely restaurant at the Crossroads by Disney. This was about twelve miles from my home. We went from my house in his car.  A real freakin’ date.

After dinner, he groped me the whole way home. I’m thinking, “Okay, you’re pushing forty…there’s a certain expectation.” We had sort of gotten to know each other. He was kinda nice. He was smart, good looking, polite (up to a point). Time to release your inhibitions girl and go with the flow.

We got back to my house. I put on some music. He stripped off his clothes. I started lighting the candles around the house. I was trying to set a mood. He followed me to the bedroom where I was lighting the last candle, and said, “So you have some crazy, fucked up ritual you have to perform before sex. I’m good with that, but it makes me feel like some animal that’s about to be sacrificed to the Gods.”

Whooosh! Out went the candle. I went around the house blowing out all of the candles, one by one. I handed him his clothes and pushed him out the front door. Okay, I’ll admit, I had issues. I laughed myself to sleep!

Dating got a lot better after those first couple of experiences. I vowed to date any man who asked. I dated over a hundred. Most of them I would not date twice. Some got one to three. There were a few short term relationships, a couple of long term relationships. I was non-committal and not looking for a marriage partner. For seven or eight years into my forties I learned a lot. Most significantly: How to take what was beautiful from one relationship into the next leaving the baggage behind. That culminated into knowing exactly what I wanted in a relationship. I was not willing to settle for anything less.

Rules:

  1. Learn to laugh.
  2. Never say never.
  3. The best dates aren’t the expensive ones, but he should buy you dinner and you should order anything off the menu without a thought. After all, you’ve colored your hair, manicured your nails, responsibly managed your feminine needs, applied your make-up and perfume, dressed in your nicest attire, including those stockings and uncomfortable heels, bought all that sexy lingerie.  I could go on. Bottom line: respect yourself. Buy him dinner, too!
  4. There should be several dates, real dates. You deserve to be courted and wooed, even if it takes a while. If he is THAT impatient, he’s not worth the time.
  5. You don’t have to have a man on your arm to know that you are desirable.
  6. If he can’t listen as well as he talks, he’s not going to hear you. (That works two ways.)

There are probably more but those are the ones that easily come to mind. I could tell you stories about other dating adventures, but I’ll save them for another holiday. Now I’m eighteen with thirty six years of experience.

Just so you know, before age fifty, I met the man of my dreams, but he told me I would not have liked him if I had met him sooner. He’s perfect, funny, charming, a real renaissance man having traveled the world, a real genius in many ways, a handyman, supportive and kind. We are more interdependent than independent or dependent. We both have our own interests, but those we share in, as well. We were married six years ago this October. No regrets.

We met online through Great Expectations dating service. It cost money. I figured the men would be really desperate or really serious and it was up to me to decide which. I was ready for serious. Our first date was Austin’s Coffee Shoppe, where we talked for three hours. He was the first guy I met, and he was on the payment plan, so it took me three years to pay off that contract. Well worth it and he helped with that. Just saying there is hope if you are waiting for the right one to come along.

They won’t come knocking on your door.

Get independent.

Put yourself out there.

Face your fear.

Traps: Our Latest Bipolar Moment

Though I don’t dwell on it, I have made no secret of my affliction with mental illness. I don’t like it when people stigmatize mental illness by using it as an excuse to behave stupidly. Yet, part of my coping mechanism is to cry laugh at myself when I do. Laughter is far more effective in many instances than meds or therapy ever could be.

My husband is also bipolar, so the two of us can get into serious trouble. Even on medications. We don’t have healthy boundaries. Someone hurts our bitty feelings and we’ll be morbidly depressed for weeks. A tiny triumph and we are ready to take on the world.

I am not trying to belittle the agony mental illness can cause. I am no stranger to that either. My mother, severely depressed, committed suicide because she believed she had cursed my father’s unborn child when it was born with deformities and died. My first cousin offed herself after a manic episode in which she cashed all of her husband’s savings bonds and ran up $50,000 in credit card debt trying to redecorate and furnish her house. I worked psychiatry for years and saw families and lives ruined, slaughtered by this disorder. It is one of the most damaging and consequential disorders in the DSM-V.

This is real life heavy duty crap.

And yet I laugh.

People who know avoid you. It changes how you are perceived. People don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to talk about it. Yes, it is disturbing. It is the sad truth. People are afraid. One in four Americans is mentally ill. Those are just the ones who are officially diagnosed and treated. The other ones, who aren’t, scare me more.

Please! Tell me you can’t check off on a few of these:

Manic phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

Depressive phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

Anyway, if you can check off on a lot of these you should probably get yourself some help. If you already have, good for you! I did. My husband did. But there is really no way to totally avoid symptoms, so we have learned to laugh. I am happy we found each other. Now we can laugh together, and put each other in check.

What do we find to laugh about, you ask?

We laughed when we bought a cabin cruiser on first sight without a surveyor’s inspection, and one of the motors blew up on its maiden voyage.

That was a bipolar moment. We already had a boat, like we needed two. We don’t even live on the water; it’s moored 150 miles away growing barnacles.

We laughed when my husband sent $500.00 to China via Western Union for some iPads we just had to have before a vacation. No, they never came, but the rocket scientist and some guy in Beijing exchanged emails for weeks in broken English.

That was a bipolar moment.

I once painted every room in the house beige before realizing it was pink, which required a repaint of every room in the house neutral.

That was probably a bipolar moment, or two, or three.

And our latest bipolar moment: Our dog was attacked by raccoon. We think (we don’t even know). She had a seven inch gash in her chest requiring anesthesia and sutures. So we hired a trapper to come to our home to catch the varmints…for $500.00. He set out three traps with “protein” bait for three weeks.

Traps are $17.00 at Ace Hardware. Vienna sausages are less than a buck a can.

Ha, ha, ha! Could that have been a bipolar moment?

That was a week ago. Maybe the dog scared them all off. This is our haul so far:

traps 001

 

Humor is one of the most effective coping mechanisms. Let us laugh.

Yes, sometimes the meds need tweaking. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

So laugh with me.

Flirting with Disaster

I know it is late (or early, depending on where you live), but after a day of unending flashbacks, I have to tell you about how we nearly died last night.

My husband, the rocket scientist, is a humble man in many ways, gregarious, kind, and compassionate, but he has a flaw or two (or three, or four): 1) He can be auspiciously flamboyant, 2) He likes to be right, and 3) He turns sixty next month. You cannot softly tell him anything he does not want to hear, or you’ll be accused of yelling at him, even if you whisper.

“Dear, you are about to put salt in your coffee.”

“I know, stop yelling at me.”

He’s extremely sensitive.

You all know how horrible Orlando, Florida can be to drive in. With the traffic, tourists, and old people, you are lucky to make it home alive anytime you dare to go out.

Yesterday we spent a few hours at a car dealership. My husband drives a Mercedes SLK 32 AMG. It’s a sporty little two-seater hard top convertible. He’s been thinking about trading it in. Youth is wasted on the young. The only people driving these cars are 60 year old rocket scientists. This car has a lot of horsepower. God help us if he was twenty.

After a few hours at the dealership, which we were smart enough to walk out of without a new set of keys, we decided to go down the street and dine at a lovely little Greek restaurant. After a delicious meal of phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, dolmades, roast lamb with rich gravy over rice we got on the road to head home.

We’re traveling east on Highway 50, also known as Colonial. For those unfamiliar, this is a seven lane road that cuts across the center of Orlando west to east, parallel to the 408 toll road. It is also one of the busiest roads in three counties. We are approaching the 417 which connects to the 408.

I say to the rocket scientist, “I think you need to turn left before the bridge.”

“I want to go south on the 417, so I turn right,” he says from the far right lane.

“No,” I say as we near the bridge, “You’ll have to turn left. The on ramp does a 180, and then you’ll be headed south.”

“I don’t think so,” he says going even farther over to the right, across the white line. Now we are riding on the paved shoulder to the right of the white line, a hair’s breadth from the ditch. He has his right blinker on. He never slows the vehicle. We are in the fucking median between the road and death, and we are running out of road as we come to the overpass. The light turns red at the intersection ahead of us.

“Honey, you are NOT on the road, you are on the shoulder, there’s a sign twenty feet in front of us.” I say calmly, refusing to scream. “There is not a right turn onto the 417 before the overpass.”

Jerking the car back onto the road to avoid the oncoming sign, speeding under the overpass, he blasts through the red light, starts to turn right against “one way” signs into traffic that is stopped at the intersection preparing to go left from the off ramp of the 417 onto Colonial, suddenly realizes his mistake, veers left, cuts across seven lanes, including three lanes of oncoming traffic which he miraculously weaves through to do a U-Turn that has us going back west in the right lane.

I grabbed ahold to my stomach, doing all that I could to keep the dolmades down.

He says, “I think I go right up here after the bridge.”

“I think you’re right,” I say.

“There should have been a right turn onto the 417 going south.”

“You’re right. But there’s not.”

How to Eat for a Year on the Cost of a Timex

Brio

Jon, the bartender, had told me about being up for a management position at Brio Tuscan Grille. He was hoping for the Assistant Manager’s position as it would mean more money, his rent was due, his wife just had a baby, he had a two year old at home, and his car was on it’s last leg.

Brio was always the hopping joint in the Village by 8:00 PM, but it was early yet. A long day’s work behind me, I kicked off my heels, and hung my suit coat across the back of my bar stool. Within minutes, I was sitting there quietly at the bar dining on a large platter of beef carpaccio with arugla, capers and Dijon, warm bread in herb infused oils, flat breads, and sipping a glass of Shiraz.

The place was empty except for two distinguished businessmen in suits a ways down the bar from me. Known to eavesdrop for learning purposes, I listened as they spoke about corporate plans and entrepreneurial joint ventures. They also had a few words to say about bitter wives.

In came Roxie, a member of the Winter Park Wives Club. Not a formal Wives Club like the Women’s League of this or that, but an informal name I had given to the large group of high maintenance women who gathered on Thursday nights to gossip about whose secretary was doing whose husband and what they hoped to gain from such relationships. Sometimes, being invited to their tables, I was privy to their secrets and knew Roxie to be one of the more vicious women who had owned a small cafe in the Village that had gone bust, and had a penchant for jewelry. She was separated from her husband who had been let go from a legal firm and had a new, hot-bodied, young, boyfriend, Jarred, an architect.

“Jon, Jon, Look here!” she called from across the room holding her left arm out to dangle her flashy new piece.

White tassels shimmying on her short white dress with with every step, she bounced across the room to the bar. With her dark hair cut short and curled slightly around her face, and deep red lipstick, she resembled a flapper from the 1920s. Her high heels made her walk awkward with her lean long legs, and her bulging flesh was oozing out from around every orifice of her skin tight dress. She draped her bosom across the bar, still with arm extended.

“Jarred, bought it for me. It’s a diamond watch.”

“That’s pretty,” said Jon.

“I don’t like it,” I piped in.

“What’s not to like about it?” she asked.

“It has no numbers on the dial.”

“Who needs numbers?”

“I’m a nurse, I need numbers.”

“Well, I’m not and I don’t.”

“It has no second hand”

“What would I need that for?”

“To take a pulse.”

“I don’t plan on taking any pulses.”

“You just might need to.”

“I don’t need to. Isn’t it pretty? Cost him thousands of dollars.”

“It’s pretty, but it’s not functional.”

“It functions.”

“No, it has no numbers. It has no second hand. It has no indiglo.” I held out my Timex and showed her my large faced $15.00 watch, with it’s blue indiglo backlight. “I can see this baby in the dark.”

“Well, I don’t need to see my watch in the dark. I want one that sparkles in the light.”

“Pretty, but still not functional. Might as well have been a bracelet.”

“Humph! I’m not a working woman. I’m a kept woman, and I don’t need functional.”

“Well, I’m a working woman. When I work past noon, I can even even see military time at a glance.” I showed her my watch again.

“Well, you need to get off your feet more and onto your back.” Abruptly she turned to leave. “See you later, Jon,” she call out behind her.

Jon continued washing his glasses, and I noticed the two businessmen had been watching this whole show.

Businessman one stands, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, counts out five hundred dollars, and slides it across the bar in my direction. “Buy yourself a pretty watch,” he says with a smile.

Oh, no, I can’t take your money. I was just giving her a hard time. Don’t like her type.”

“Well I don’t either, and you deserve a pretty watch for holding your own.”

Not to be outdone, Businessman two reaches in his breast coat pocket and pulls out his wallet, counts out five hundred dollars, and slides it against the first pile of bills. “WE don’t like her type.”

They insisted. Before I could thank them, they were gone, with the pile of cash laying there on the bar.

I looked at Jon and he at me.

“I’ll tell you what Jon. Break this for me.” I handed him $100.00 bill.

He did.

“I need $20.00 for gas.” I took out $20.00, paid $40.00 for my dinner, placed $940.00 in the tip jar, and left.

I ate free at Brio for the entire year I worked in admissions for hospice. Every Thursday, after 12 hours on the street, going from crisis to emotional crisis, I would go by my Winter Park office, drop off my paperwork and head over to hang out with bartenders, Texas and Paul, and Jon, the new Assistant Manager at Brio Tuscan Grille. Occasionally I dined with the Winter Park Wives Club just for shits and giggles.

Too Much Money!

GromitVNX1cnx1

Have you ever thought about having too much money? What would you do with it? I don’t mean what would you buy, or how you would treat yourself, but what would you do with a huge sum of cash?

Let me explain.

We do all of our banking online. Payments and paychecks go direct deposit to our account. We have little plastic cards we use to shop…for everything. Rarely do we carry more than twenty dollars on our person.

1686000803_1388195322A friend of mine was recently robbed in the parking lot of a supermarket. Her purse was grabbed out of her shopping cart as she went to put her items into the trunk of her car. In fifteen minutes she had cancelled all of her cards using someone else’s cell phone.

When people pay us with checks or money orders, we scan those on the computer or cell phone and the amount is instantly deposited into our bank account. The convenience is something we have become accustomed to. When we pay for services in situations where the provider has no card swiper, like the yard men and housekeepers, we pay with checks.

So, my husband had this Land Rover that has been with him since 1972. He brought it back from England in the 1990’s. It has sailed across the ocean and stayed in his garage forever, until he finally gave it the attention it needed to have it ready to sell.

My husband is a big online shopper and seller. He deals with auto parts online almost every day. We don’t even subscribe to a newspaper or magazines anymore. Last year, everything purchased for Christmas was bought online. Everything is done online. Of course, when he got ready to sell the Land Rover, he marketed it online and had a buyer within the first week.

The guy drove over from the coast, so we knew he was serious. He took the Land Rover for a few drives and offered my husband exactly what he was asking for it, $12,000.00. No problem. Great! Marvelous!

Only, he paid in cash.

So here we were, suddenly drawing the curtains, sleeping with gun box by the head of the bed, using thecash-giveaway security system every night (something we don’t do if we are home), fearing that someone from “Crime Hills” was going to come into our neighborhood and bust through the glass and rob us. When nobody A) knew we had this money, B) has ever done that before. Now, it wasn’t like winning the lottery, but I have a much greater appreciation for the paranoia that most winners develop.

How to deal with this?

We called all around trying to find a place we could purchase a money order to scan to our online bank, which is located in Texas. NOBODY would make money orders for amounts greater than five hundred dollars. Western Union wanted to charge us a small fortune, and the bank had complications with accepting it via Western Union. Then, the bank tells us that we have to send money orders through UPS, and they would only accept up to $6000.00 deposit via money order to one account in one day. So we figured half in my account and half in my husband’s account.

We ended up at the local supermarket buying money orders. Twenty four of them. Can you imagine, with all of the forms to fill out to buy one, just how long that took?

save-time-money-and-stressThen, we walked over to the UPS place, which was conveniently in the same shopping complex. After having spent an hour at the grocery store, with a mile long angry (babies crying, parents screaming, people swearing) line behind us at the customer service desk, we had twenty four more forms to fill out, and the machine that processed the transactions took about twenty minutes per transaction. The man processing our money orders, one at a time, was at least kind enough to give attention to folks coming in for other services so we didn’t feel so awkward, but it did mean OUR wait was longer, as having to give other customers attention also meant we had to wait for his attention periodically. No problem…it was not his fault.

I kid you not, ten hours later; with crippled writing fingers, our money was safely in the bank.

We were exhausted. That was a whole day’s work and then some. We had to laugh to keep from crying.

Have modern conveniences caused you more inconvenience than they should?

What’s the Weirdest Gift Item You Have Seen this Season?

Last year I bought all my gifts online.  A huge number of companies sent me their gift catalogs this year.  I look at some of this hapifork_newscrap these ingenious inventions and wonder just how well they really sell.

Like this item:

The Hapi Fork.  It promises to change the way you eat, with vibration and LED lights when you are eating too fast. It also uses Bluetooth to wirelessly upload your meal data to the free app on your phone.  Maybe this is why I can’t lose weight.  My fork isn’t talking to my phone. ($99.99)

There is also, on the same page, a Salad Zinger, a $26.00 bottle to mix your salad dressing in.

There’s the motorized Grill brush for $39.99.  What ever happened to good old elbow grease?

You can own your very own Sand for just $19.99. Put it back in the jar and take it out and play with it when you are missing the beach this winter. (But it is special “magic” sand that conveniently sticks together and loosens as desired.)

I kind of like the cereal bowl idea that separates milk from the cereal, but $19.99, really?  Why not just get out two regular bowls when you set your breakfast table?

There’s the electric PowerCup.  A coffee cup with two outlets for DC to AC power inversion.  Put it in your car in the cup holder space and then you’ll have two power outlets.  You can take your blow dryer and dry your hair while you drive. I don’t know where you’ll put your coffee now.

If you really want to spend big, and are into high tech, there’s the Pocket Projector that will project up to a 100 inch image on your wall from the palm of your hand for just $429.99.  These are sharp, 220 lumen, HD images! It connects via HDMI (whatever the hell that is) to most smartphones, tablets, computers, and more.  I really need a 100” computer screen now, don’t I? I guess gamers could have fun with that.

What gadgets are on your wishlist this year?  Have you made your wishlist?
Seen any weird gadgets?

Embarrassing the Children

IMG_2214

So many of my childhood memories were unpleasant ones, so today I want to tell you some of those funnier and scarier memories of raising my own children.  I couldn’t do the Community Storyboard prompt this week because I wanted to focus more on the positives than the negatives so, this is my chance to totally embarrass my grown children.

My oldest and I grew up together.  I was fifteen when I became pregnant and barely sixteen when he was born.  He is now thirty six.  We even like the same music.  I remember his childhood like it was yesterday.  He had a fascination with the orifices of his body, namely his nostrils and ears.

One day, when he was about two years old, he was helping me plant nasturtium seeds.  They are rather large seeds, about the size of a pea.  Several days later, he was having trouble breathing.  Thinking this was asthma, I rushed in to the hospital.  A little while later, the doctor emerged with a few plants on a napkin.  The seeds had germinated in his head and had actually started to grow tiny leaflets and roots. Some of the roots were quite long. The doctor had removed the plants with a basket extractor.  His breathing suddenly improved.  My son also stuffed English peas into his ears and had me believing he had some horrible green discharge oozing from infected ears, when in reality, it was only peas.

Direct sowing Nasturtium seeds in the garden

On another occasion, he came walking out of the bathroom one night.  He was so proud that he had reached the age of four and could attend to his nighttime ritual without much in the way of assistance.  On this night though, yellow paste dripped from his lips and he was complaining about the new toothpaste.  He had brushed his teeth with Preparation H.  Poor little thing, with his puckered lips and a horrible taste in his mouth, was quite in shock.  It took a few rinses with fresh tasting mouthwash to resolve that problem.

prep H

As an older child, it was his job to wash the pots and pans after dinner.  Once, while I was away at class, he proceeded to bury the entire lot in the back yard with a shovel to keep from washing them.  The trouble he went through to avoid that chore was amazing.  It would have been so much easier to just wash them, but not in his eyes.

shovel-digging-hole-for-digg[1](1)

My daughter and I had a different relationship.  She was headstrong and stubborn, even at two years of age.  Once she was on the deck and took off running from me.  I didn’t want her to topple off the deck and get mortally wounded, so I tried to be patient with her. I could see that she had something black in her mouth and it appeared to have legs.  Yes!  It was a live cricket, and there was no getting it away from her.  She clamped down on it and swallowed it before I could get it out of her mouth, pure protein, I suppose.

images (1)

As she grew older, her stubborn streak grew with her, but so did her level of activity.  We bought a trampoline, hoping the kids would jump out some of their energy, and she loved it.  She also had a habit of straining her ankles and wrists.  After about four $75.00 trips to the E.R. for x-rays, only to discover these were strains, and sprains, and not breaks, I decided to give it a rest.  Then one evening, she came in from the trampoline at about age eight yo.  She complained that her wrist and arm were hurt.  Determined not to spend another 4-6 hours in the E.R. for a strain, I packed her in ice and put her to bed.  The next morning, in pain, she awoke with her arm swollen twice its normal size.  I felt like dirt, a nurse, and the worst mother alive.  It was indeed broken!

???????????????????????????????????????

My youngest, another boy, was such a good baby, I thought nothing could go wrong, and I was much older at his birth, twenty-five.  The kids had a swing set and he had climbed to its top where the monkey bars were at about the age of three.  He fell, right before my eyes, and tore the back of his leg on a protruding screw.  With the calm and composure of a CCU Nurse, I wrapped the leg in a pressure dressing and took him 20 miles away to the hospital for stitches.  He never cried a tear, not one.  They papoosed him in a cocoon to keep him immobilized, but he never even said, “Ouch,” while they stitched him up with 12 sutures.

monkey-bars-jpeg-590x593

As I grew older and matured, the antics were farther and fewer between.  There were five years between each of my children.  I don’t recommend anyone starting as early as I did.  There used to be a joke about being barefoot and pregnant in GA, and I did grow up with my kids.  On the plus side, I could still demonstrate cartwheels, backbend flips, and hoola-hoops to them.  Something I could not have done later.  Now they are raising families of their own.  Fancy that!

Me upside down on hand rings when I was actually young and nimble enough to perform such a stunt.
Me upside down on hand rings when I was actually young and nimble enough to perform such a stunt.

Have you got any funny or frightening stories with your children, or yourself as a child, that you would like to share?  Go ahead!  Make my day.  I need a good laugh!

NoNaNoWriMo4Me

TurkeyWriters

November is a busy month for me anyway.  That’s what I told myself.  I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I have decided that I can’t commit.  I don’t have the courage.

Commitment means I have to follow through.  I can’t agree to walk your dog and not do it.  I can’t promise to bake you a cake and not bring you three.  I feel awful when I miss a doctor’s appointment, and I am paying him money for the pleasure of my company.

There is my paperback in progress, my birthday, Thanksgiving, preparing for Christmas, shopping, a mini vacation planned in this beautiful Florida weather on the boat.

I thought about putting a little text window of some sort on my blog and updating it every Sunday with my word progress, just so my readers know that I haven’t abandoned writing this month.  Maybe I will.  I applaud each and every one of you who have the courage to have taken the plunge.