No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Made for TV Election Cycles

i·ro·ny - /ˈīrənē/ - noun -
When you look at Facebook and you see that the same people who have posted this meme, also posted memes that say that we need to refuse refugees and that all Muslims are terrorists.

It's getting really, really gross out there. People are all Trumped up on rhetoric and vitriol, and they are steaming mad at everyone and anyone who looks different than they do.

I had a discussion over the weekend with an older gentleman who started talking Trump. He was saying that Trump really understands Americans, and that he speaks to what everyday Americans are thinking. He ranted about how Trump is right to want to ban all Muslims from the country, stating that this is a Christian nation. He agreed that Trump's wanting Muslims to carry ID was pointless, stating, "We already know they're Muslims by their turbans!" And dismissed my recant that not all people who wear turbans are Muslim, and that not all Muslims are terrorists who believe that they have to kill infidels. My objection was waved away like a pesky fly.
I tried to be respectful in my dissent, he's my elder and a much respected person, so I simply countered that I don't think that Trump speaks to average American's sentiment. I don't. I think he speaks to some American's sentiment, true, but they are the fringe. I think that he speaks to the lowest common denominator, and that what he connects with in those people is their fear, and that fear, being promoted and flamed, creates the hatred that we're seeing, which, in my opinion is what drives the anti-American sentiment of so many people when all they see are the Trumped up hate mongers as representative of who we are and what we believe.
I said that I hoped for our society sake that Trump's stated opinions and ideas are not representative of what the average American carries in their heart of hearts. Because if what he exhibits in any way represents the hearts and souls of the typical American, then we're definitely a doomed nation.

I think that we noticed in each other that neither would bend in our views of Mr. Trump, and so eventually he let it go, no longer trying to entice me into further debate.

I have no time for debating Trump's legitimacy, just as I have no time to debate the legitimacy of rainbow winged unicorns living in my backyard. I need to concentrate on things that matter, things that help, things that nurture the better good, the higher perspective, and the common core of loving one's neighbor and of first, doing no harm.

I think that we need to step away from the made for TV election coverage, and look at the real issues and the people who are actually trying to accomplish something more meaningful than spiking their ratings and getting poll bumps from spewing hate and anger.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Vision Bucket List

Image from Huffington Post
I'm just putting this out and into the universe because that's the only way I know to manifest the things I truly want: Speak them. Dream them. Envision them. And very often, they will come.

New addition to my Vision Bucket List: See the Alaskan Northern Lights.

My cousin and her husband live in Alaska, and they are always posting the most beautiful pictures of the lights on Facebook. I can't imagine what it must be like to be able to look up in your backyard and see that. Plus, there's all the stars in the sky with their photos. Oh, the stars! I haven't ever seen so many stars in the sky. I think that possibly, I'd even be able to see them out there. I can't really see any stars in the sky here anymore. I really miss seeing them. That's one of those things you don't realize how much you take it for granted, until it's gone. I knew it would happen, I braced for it, but still, I miss seeing the stars in the sky. There's just not enough contrast here, with the city lights so close by. Even when The Wifester sees them, I still can't, not usually. I'll only see like one or two, vaguely, while she's seeing a dozen. But I bet I can see them in the Alaskan sky. Possibly in the Arizona desert, too. But I'm running out of time before I won't be able to, even there.

So there it is, Universe. Let's make this happen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

ISO Gainful Employment

So I still haven't heard from the people about that job that I really, really wanted. I'm pretty much making the assumption now that they have decided on someone else. I'm happy for the person who got it, but I'm disappointed, to say the least. I really wanted that one. I would have been the perfect person to fill that role, I believe that with all of my heart and soul.

If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be, and so I have to let it go now.

I keep looking for something else to do, something to fill my time, allow me to utilize some of my skills, and hopefully earn a living. It's frustrating, looking for work when so many jobs that match your skill set require you to have a valid driver's license and clear driving record. It's hard to explain that while I can't drive, I can certainly take a cab or an uber or catch a ride and that once there, I can find my way to the computer or workstation in need of help. They look at that white cane and they assume that I can't see anything.
They assume a lot of things.

There has to be a company out there who is willing to hire someone with low vision to do a job that is more fulfilling than being a customer service agent. Something better than being a punching bag meant to take all the hits aimed at the company, and that pays better than a minimum wage pittance.
I am capable of so much more!
I yearn to do so much more!
I will do SO much more!

Fulfillment. That's all anyone is seeking in life, right? Fulfillment to some may be a call center job, taking the punches for the corporate heads, and making just enough money to get by. If that's fulfillment to you, then by all means, that's your thing and do it with gusto.

For some people, fulfillment isn't achieved until they have become the best of the best at whatever it is. And that's great for those people who have that kind of drive. Go for it! Set new records, give the rest of us a higher bar to aim for. We all need motivation to improve from time to time, so your unequaled passion to be the best serves us all. But don't let it stop you from appreciating all you've done.

For me, I'm somewhere in between. I don't need to be the best. But I don't want to accept the lowest hanging fruit, either. I need to feel good about the work that I do. I need to feel like I've been helpful in some way. I need to feel like what I've done today made a real and measurable difference in someone's life. I need to improve the world around me, and to help other people find happiness and fulfillment.

I don't get any of those things from the work I currently do.
I really need to find something better, but each time I try, it circles back to me walking in to that interview with my white cane in hand, and them immediately making the judgement call that I will not work out for that job. I can't be the only person stuck in this cycle. Surely not, since blind and visually impaired people are the most unemployed and underemployed demographic of the American workforce population.

So I guess my ticket to fulfillment is going to be in finding a way to change that.
Sounds easy enough!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Can I get a side of rage with that hypocrisy?

The thing is, after all the years that I spent working in retail, and working in nursing homes with elderly folk who are very set in their ways, thinking back, all those holidays spent either behind a cash register or bathing elderly people, the only times I ever got yelled at, like seriously yelled and sometimes even cussed at over a holiday greeting was when I said "Happy Holidays" to someone who wanted me to have said "Merry Christmas" instead.

But the thing is, when you work with the general public, you can't just assume that everyone is celebrating Christmas. Because they aren't. People are celebrating a ton of various holidays during the November through December months. No one ever told me not to say Merry Christmas. I just realized one day that it seemed silly to wish a Christian holiday greeting to my coworker who was Hindu. It's like wishing a happy birthday to someone when it's not their birthday.  I worked along side people from every corner of this globe. I worked with people of every race and just about every religion you can name. And out of all those people I worked with or encountered, not one of them ever yelled at me or angrily insisted that I wish a Happy Hanukkah. No one ever screamed at me to wish them a Merry Solstice. Some people replied to my Happy Holidays with a, "And a Merry Christmas to you." or with, "Happy Kwanzaa!" or with, "Happy Hanukkah!" I even got some "Season's Greetings!" and  few silly "Bah-humbugs" thrown my way. Generally though, most people, be they Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, or what have you, always returned the kind greeting with another kind greeting. I did have a lady once say, "Well, I'm an Athiest, so I don't celebrate any holidays, but thank you, and have a wonderful season yourself!" But she wasn't mad or berating or yelling. She was actually quite pleasant.

But there was those few who would turn bright red, heads looking like they were about to explode, rage filling their eyes as spittle flew from their jowls when they spun around to shoot expletives at me, ranting and raging, "This is CHRISTMAS GODDAMMIT! FUCKING SAY MERRY GODDAMMNED CHRISTMAS!" That actually happened on the sales floor at K-Mart one year, it had to be the early 90's. It happened several times over quite few years, actually. But I remember this specific chick like it happened yesterday. I think her head may have actually spun around a full 360 degrees.

Another time that stands out in my memory was a gentleman at the nursing home who spent his days devotedly reading bible verses to his wife, who was my patient. He had been a Baptist minister prior to her stroke, and now spent his time berating us for not seeing to her needs quite to his satisfaction.  I can still see his face clearly, too. And hear his voice. He didn't realize that I was the daughter of a Mexican woman. He didn't know that my grandma was an immigrant. And he didn't hold back on telling me all about how he refused to stop at McDonald's for coffee anymore because all they had working there was "those god damned wetback spicks." I bit my tongue and smiled and nodded and bathed his wife trying not to listen to the garbage he spewed. It was my job, and that's what I was paid to do. So I did. Besides, his foul mouth and bad attitude was no reason not to take care of his poor wife. Anyways, the first Christmas that I cared for his wife, I remember walking into her room that day saying, "Happy Holi..." and he jumped in, "You better not say that god damned holiday bull shit! It's CHRISTMAS, god dammit! What in the hell has this world come to? I can't get a god damned Merry CHRISTMAS around here?"

So, when I hear all this talk about the b.s. of being politically correct, it always gets me to thinking about all the people I encountered on Thanksgiving day in the retail stores or nursing homes, on Black Friday sales days, the Christmas eve shoppers...on all those pre-holidays shopping days in those stores, behind those registers, out on the sales floors, and at my patient's bedsides... Not once can I remember anyone going ape shit crazy quite like the folks who did because someone failed to say "Christmas." Yet, it always seems to be that very same crowd, the ones who want everyone to say "Christmas" and are so deeply, mortally offended by anything other than a "Merry Christmas" who are the ones that are fussing and complaining about other people getting offended too easily.

Funny how that works.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I just want to be able to buy socks when I need them. Is that asking too much?

So my paycheck today was thirty three dollars and some change. And that's for two weeks. Sadly, that was a bit of a relief, since the previous paycheck, for the prior two weeks was four dollars and some change.

In case you think you may be reading that wrong, let me put it this way:

Last check= $4.00. This check= $33.00. 
No typo. You're seeing that right.

Apparently, my employer thinks that I'm not supposed to be smart enough to connect the dots and realize that the company's "record profits" are directly related to the new contracts they have with outsourced call centers in the Philippines, where employees make a fraction of my few cents above minimum wage salary. But I am.
And I'm not supposed to be smart enough to make the connection between my cut in scheduled hours, and the increased scheduled hours of the outsourced employees.
But I am.
And I'm not supposed to know that when their server is down and I can't log into their VPN to do my job, that it's a problem on their side, not mine. So I'm just supposed to say OK when they tell me that although I was working with their IT people for 4 hours out of my 6 hour shift, I won't get paid for those four hours because that issue is considered my issue, not theirs.
But I do know better.
So I'm just supposed to see my plastic Happy 1 Year Anniversary ID badge lanyard that came 4 months after my 1 year anniversary and think, "Oh boy! My company appreciates and respects me." But I don't. Thirty four dollar pay check for two weeks. I'd quit this job, but I really need that thirty four dollars. Even if it is only thirty four dollars.

I guess it really is asking too much that an employed person in this country, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, shouldn't have to save up spare change for 6 months in a desperate attempt to be able to afford to buy socks before winter hits. But that is the sad reality of this place in time. I'm lucky to have The Wifester. What would I do all on my own with income like this?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Good Juju and Interesting Opportunities

Change is scary. And exciting. And inevitable.
I've been looking to make changes, and then I get frightened by the prospect of change and I retreat. Then I realize that I'm stuck in this rut, and realize I let an opportunity slip by because I allowed my fear to win.
No more.

Sometimes opportunities present themselves to you, and that is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago. I randomly saw a post on Facebook about a new tenant moving into some empty storefront spaces down the street from me. I've been eyeballing the renovations being done, and wondering what was moving in...

Now I know. I read about the company, which I am keeping under wraps for the time being, because I don't want to jinx myself. But I read about them and immediately thought, "How COOL!?" They are a not for profit org. that helps people, and that's as far as I want to go in explaining who and what they are...for now. So as I read about them and what their mission is and all that jazz, I thought, "Hmmmm....I wonder if they'll be hiring..." and as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I reached the paragraph that started with, "We will have one paying position, which will be open for applications soon..." I saw the title for the position and thought that may be probably is out of my league. I went back to facebook scrolling. But there was this nagging in the back of my head telling me to go back and read the job description...So I did. As I read it, I though, "Oh! That's what I used to do..." I struggled with myself for a few minutes, then I said SCREW IT! I'm going for it! I found the contact  person for them, and shot her an email with my resume and said I'm interested, and you need me! Not exactly like that, but you know...

To my surprise, she responded! And asked me to fill out their formal application, which I did. Then a few weeks later, I got invited to a phone interview. Now, I'm invited for an in person interview with her and the board of directors from their main office. I'm honored! I'm excited! And I'm a little bit terrified!

The demographic that this company helps is a demographic that is near and dear to my heart. Those who know me know that I have always said that the work I did when I lived in California was the most fulfilling, satisfying, and honorable work I've ever experienced, and that I would do that work again, even without pay, just for the self-satisfying, personal fulfillment that comes with it. This company is in line with that.

It does seem odd to be entertaining the idea of leaving technology behind and, almost seemingly taking backward steps, moving back to something I left behind so long ago...but this seems to be a great way to advance forward in my life right now. How odd is that? In no other way do I wish to have my life reflect anything that surrounded me when I lived in California, except in this aspect.

We're funny creatures, us humans.
We move ahead, we step back.
We seek greener pastures.
We come back home.

I don't know if I'll get this gig, but I sure hope I do.
Now, if all that good juju that presented this opportunity could stick around long enough to get me hired, I'll be doing alright!

Look mom! I made a meme!

 Hillary fought for gay rights as early as 2009? 

That's cute...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Uncle Paul and Pluto

I look at these images of Pluto, full of awe and wonder. I get a little tickle in my chest, a quiver in my gut, that internal signal that something big is on the horizon. I remember when we first saw the images from the Rover on Mars, and my Great Uncle Paul, sitting at my Uncle Dave's house while we all had a family cookout, I think it was the 4th of of those beautiful summer days when everyone wanted to be outside and in the pool, everyone except Uncle Paul. He sat firmly planted in front of the tv watching the live coverage of those first images being sent back to earth. He kept exclaiming, "By golly, this amazing!" And, "Hey, kids, you should be watching this!"
I heeded the requests of the eldest gentleman in our family, my grandfather's brother, and sat with him to watch, even though that cool pool was calling out to me.
I wasn't born yet when we landed on the moon, but I figured that must have been much the same feeling to those watching that landing, as this was to Uncle Paul. He had witnessed the moon landing, and from the sounds of it, hadn't imagined he'd ever witness anything as fantastic as that again for the remainder of his life.
I remember being a little bit amused by Uncle Paul's amazement and wonder. I was that young one who was more concerned about sneaking off from the party to go light one up with my cousin. I was that young one who, after leaving the family cookout, was headed straight to the bar to party the rest of the night away, never thinking a second thought about what it meant that we had landed a Rover on Mars and were now seeing photos of it for the very first time. I had drinks to drink and lines to snort, and friends wanting to go clubbing.
I wish my Uncle Paul was here today to watch the NASA channel with me, and to talk with about Pluto.
Uncle Paul, I wonder how amazed he'd be at this?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Dichotomy of a Fortune Cookie

Every now and then I get curious and I check on traffic to this almost abandoned blog of mine. And when I do that, I look to see what posts drew attention to new visitors. Sometimes I read over the post and I think, "Oh no! They read that? Why was I writing about that? Bummer. They won't be back."

Not that it matters, because they may come back for months and not find a new post and give up on me altogether. And then sometimes I think, "Oh yeah! I remember that! What fun!" Sometimes as I read over them, I cry, sometimes I laugh. But I always think, "Hmm. I should  write more. I can do better than that." Besides which, I miss it. I miss writing like I miss my friends back home. It seems like forever since I've spent any real time dedicated to writing. Real writing, too. Like, I have two, no actually come to think of it, I actually have three half written books. Okay, so one is only about 1/4 of the way...still, I have ideas floating around, but I fail to commit myself to completing them. I go back and re-write, edit, re-edit, cut, scrap, re-think, second guess and start over so much that I think in doing so, I convince myself that I can't get it right, so I stop trying, at least for a period before I muster up whatever it is to make myself go back to it and get some more pages complete. Then the tearing it all apart comes again. I struggle. Isn't it just supposed to flow? Isn't it just supposed to be easy and natural?

Or does the struggle make it into what it is supposed to be?
I'm not really sure, and since I'm not sure, maybe that's my cue that a real writer I am not. Whatever a "real writer" is...
I don't really know these answers, and I'm not even sure if there are definitive answers to such questions. And if there are, do they matter? I mean, really, do they? I will never be a great writer, one who's works end up being studied and analyzed by students and recited and re-read for generations to come. And I'm okay with that. I just like to write and get shit off my mind. It's a real release, writing stuff down. It works great as a form of therapy, at least it does for me.

I remember struggling during my first few years in recovery because my counselors and my sponsor wanted me to write. Write my feelings down every day. Write my step work down. Write all about my faults and weaknesses, write about what amends I needed to make...
Write, write, write.
I kicked back every step of the way. I don't know why, either, other than still being in the mindset of, "If you tell me to do something, I won't, just because." Being a recovering addict can really be difficult. At least it was for me in the first few years. To all those counselors out there, to that sponsor who fired me as a sponsee (sp?), to the people in my life who tried to help me, even when I made it nearly impossible to like me in the least, THANK YOU! And I'm sorry.

I think I found my way through much of my life's biggest issues and difficulties through writing. Eventually, I realized how very much it had helped me. And I realized how very much I enjoyed it. Why, then, if I know it's good for me and I know how much I enjoy it, why do I become so complacent with it?

Sigh. I don't know. But I do know that today I'll write a bit, hell, look here, I already have. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but for today, I can commit some time to writing again.

Now, which book in progress do I pick back up? Hmmmm....

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cancer, Life, and Friendship

One day you're just plugging away at life, paying bills, cooking dinner, folding laundry...The next you're making plans for what will likely be your final visit with a very, very dear friend. One who you'd never expect to be dealt such devastating news.
Life is crazy like that, with its twists and turns. And cancer has no social, moral, or ethical boundaries. It doesn't care that you're still young. So very young. It doesn't care how vivacious you are. It doesn't give one single fuck about your plans, your dreams, your desire to make those around you happy for all the days of your life. It will cut you down without a second thought about the contributions you make to society, and it won't even give you the chance to kick its ass. It just silently goes to work killing you without you knowing it's even there, until it's just too late.
I'm mourning my friend, M, right now, and she's not even gone yet. I'm mourning the fact that I moved away and haven't seen her since then. I'm mulling over the fact that I once saw her every single day and we shared laughter and tears, gardening tools and meals...We took walks and drives, we pampered our wives and commiserated with each other about how our houses needed cleaning...
We bonded, like fast friends do. We weren't just neighbors, but very close, very dear friends. And she always made me laugh, and always knew just how to brighten up a day.
I think about the situation she has been dealt, and I'm pissed. It's just not fair! NOT FAIR!
She was always the one to say, "I need to go exercise, gotta keep healthy!" or "I'm eating this now because I read that it is good for our health."
Ever since I got the news on Wednesday, I've been doing some research. I wanted to know what it is that we're up against. We already know that aside from the large mass that was found, the CT scans and subsequent biopsies showed more in her lungs and even more in her liver. I know that this means we're looking at stage III, likely stage IV disease. The prognosis, at least as far as I can decipher from what I'm reading, is poor.
"Surgical excision remains the cornerstone of therapy. There are no long-term survivors of stage II or III disease; therefore, early diagnosis and treatment remain crucial."
"Five-year survival for all patients with this melanoma is only 3 to 22%."
I'm frightened for my friend, M. I'm frightened for her wife, P. I'm saddened that this is happening to them, the sweet, caring, loving, nurturing people who spent every birthday, holiday, and random celebration with The Wifester and I. The ones who took care of our pets and plants and who left "Congratulations" balloons in our living room for us to come home to after we flew to Canada to get married. And the ones who were there for us through our difficult times, too. When we told them of my diagnosis with my eye disease, it was M who cried and asked me, "Are you going to be left in darkness?"
And now it is me, crying for her, but the darkness she is facing is so much bigger than my loss of sight. I don't know how to support her through this. I don't know how to support P through this. If we still lived next door, I'd pop over and do laundry, cook some meals, wash some floors...
But I'm in Ohio, now, and they're still back in Tennessee. I want to go see my friend, and hold her tight. I want to tell her that it will all be okay and that she is strong enough to fight this thing. I truly hope that she is. But I'm frightened, as I know she is. As I know her wife is.
How do you support someone who is probably dying, much sooner than ever anticipated? How do you support her wife of 20 years?
I can't imagine. And I'm so flipping pissed off that of all the people in this world, this had to happen to them.
It's not right. It's not fair.
Fuck you, cancer!

Friday, January 23, 2015

An Open Letter To Davidson Academy

A situation regarding a private school back home, in Nashville, has my blood boiling right now.
You can read more about the situation here.

An Open Letter to Davidson Academy in Nashville, Tennessee,

I'm writing in regards to the Copeland/Bullard situation: The two fathers whose children were denied their opportunity to visit your school because of your policy about homosexual parents.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not disputing a private school's right to set their own standards and guidelines. But I do dispute whether or not this is what Jesus would do. I also dispute your right to unjustly discriminate between one type of "sin" vs. another.

A friend of these fathers called your school this morning and explained that she was divorced, due to her infidelity within her marriage, and that she now lives with her boyfriend and her children. She was welcomed to come visit the school to discuss an opportunity for her kids.

Your letter, declining this family, pointed to your school's admissions policy. The policy, outlined in your handbook, requires all students, parents, guardians, teachers and administrators and staff to "manifest lifestyle conduct and actions which project an image consistent with the expressed purposes, missions and beliefs of the school." So where was that policy when the young lady called saying she had been unfaithful to her husband and was now living outside of wedlock with her boyfriend?

I find that people who practice this kind of discrimination in the name of Christianity are far more detrimental to the ideals of Christianity than the people they rally against.

It turns my stomach to think of those sweet children being shunned because someone in an office couldn't get past their own insecurities.

It turns my stomach to read stories like this, stories that make me roll my eyes and think, "Yep, there goes those awful, hateful, ignorant Christians again. Why does anyone even bother with them anymore?"

It turns my stomach because my heart and my soul are full of forgiveness, hope, and love. The opposite of what I see being portrayed by so many "Christians" today.

And it breaks my heart for that family.

I hope you and your facility can objectively reassess your own positions, and ask yourselves, truly, what would Jesus have done here? Because the Jesus that I read about and studied most certainly would not have done what you have done.

Thank you for your time,