Psychology Today posted a really interesting article that crunched all our phobias down into five big fears that all of us share.
According to this article, you may not have arachnophobia – maybe you’re even amused at another person’s fear of spiders – but if the thought of being eaten by a bear keeps you from hiking in the woods when you would otherwise really enjoy a hike in the woods, then, deep down, you actually share a common fear (the fear of mutilation, believe it or not) with that guy you’re laughing at.
So, quit laughing already.
I’ve been trying off and on to make a living as a writer in one manner or another since I was a teenager. It has never failed that at some point in every one of my journeys (“This time I’m going to do it. This time, I’m not going to quit.”), someone or something has always stopped me in my tracks.
Asked me to come in to work to “have a little talk.”
Scared the shit out of me.
I LOVE my job. I want to keep my job. The only thing I don’t like about my job is my seeming inability to negotiate gracefully between day shifts and night shifts, which I’m beginning to despair of ever getting a handle on.
All I can manage to do is sleep. House is a wreck. The Idiot Child must feed herself or go hungry – not to mention, wash her own laundry (as well as mine), and Sheikh the Cat has begun spending his awake hours sitting next to my head, intermittently placing a paw on my face and sliming kissing me, wondering why my eyes are always closed.
This despair of accommodating the fluctuating schedule got me wishing for a work routine that I’ve only experienced once, Way Back When, remember that? I wasn’t particularly fond of the “job” part of that job, but the schedule was perfect: it was the same. damned. schedule. every. day. With weekends off, to boot.
My house was clean. The cats were happy. The Idiot Child was still a teenager, but I think she preferred the sameness, as well.
I have been wishing I could approach my boss and appeal for a Same-Damned-Shift. Even if it was the night shift. I dreamed of the conversation being short, sweet and successful.
Me: “Hey, how ’bout I work nights? All the time. Just nights. Cuz nobody else seems to like nights.”
Him: “Yeah, great idea! Thanks! I’ll just go ahead and change the schedule right now! How ’bout I give you more shifts with that? You want more shifts? There’s more money in more shifts. How ’bout I give you more shifts, too?”
There are a bzillion reasons why I couldn’t do that. I mean, I could do that, but he would either laugh, thinking I was joking, or take me seriously and still say no. Several reasons for the “no”:
1) I’m still The New Kid on the Dance Floor. Yes, others have come behind me, but I’m still new enough that I can get away with “I’m New Here” to cover a mistake I’ve made. Much longer, I’d have to use “I’m Old” for an excuse. That’s probably more apt. 😉
2) Nobody has a Same-Damned-Shift schedule. Nobody. Why should *I* get that lucky?
3) It’s obvious to all and sundry that I’m having trouble adapting to the shift changes and if they coddled me (cuz I’m old, maybe?), it could possibly cause a revolt.
So, I’ve been schlepping along, loving the job part of the job and hating the schedule part of the job, wishing for the impossible, and for shit’s sake, my boss calls me today for “a little talk”.
I knew I was fired. I wanted to ask if I was fired, but Boss is not the kind of guy that does that over the phone, I’m pretty sure. I settled for asking, oh so casually (yeah, right) “Sure, what’s up? Something wrong?” the whole while repeating the mantra, “don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad…don’t-let-it-be-bad”, which, for the record, has never once worked before. In my experience, if it feels like it might be “bad”, it’s generally much, much worse than “bad”.
So, yeah. I knew I was fired, even when he said, “Oh, no. Nothing to worry about. Just wanna go over something with you.”
Uh oh. What horrible thing have I done? Shit, he read about me finding cocaine on the dance floor! No, wait, I told him that story myself and he laughed really hard. Can’t be that.
Or maybe, I didn’t do something that I should have done? It’s not like I forgot to lock up, or anything (once did that while working for Louie, and nobody even noticed, can you believe that?) – I mean, we’re open 24/7. I’m not even sure there is a set of keys for the place.
Not that it would matter what the “little talk” was about, I still had to have it. So, I pulled on my boots and crossed the street.
And my boss said to me – no word of a lie, here, either, I swear – I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest little bit:
“I’m hoping I can change your schedule. Would you be willing to work straight nights, with weekends off? You’d be guaranteed five shifts that way, (employees who have been there longer, of course normally get more hours, unless they book a shift and hand it to me) and if I need you on the weekends, I’ll call – you’ve never turned down a shift, so you’re the first one I call. Would that work for you?
Well, gee, lemme think on that….
I’m dumbfounded. I agreed immediately, though, and he was all thanking me as if I were doing him a favour. Maybe I am and just don’t realize it, but it’s like he read my mind.
Or my blog….
So, he hands me my newly-minted hours, starting Sunday end, or S/M if you read the little date box on the schedule, and I trotted back home to write this post, and marvel over never having to wonder when I’m working “next week”… and there followed shortly a call requesting me to work an extra shift tomorrow. Already, I’m booked for overtime. I love my job.
Now, I have to clean a cat-box. Maybe then, Sheikh will quit sliming kissing me in the middle of my version of night.
~ Just about to hit the publish button when I get another call from work – this time from the assistant manager: apparently some deer-hunter I was joking around with a week or so ago (told him he should bring me some deer parts, since my dad was gone, and nobody ever brings me deer meat anymore), just dropped off a venison roast for me. Can I please come pick it up, as it’s grossing her out? ~
Well, gee, lemme think on that….
Excuse me while I go pick up Free Dead Wild Animal.
I’m feeling a little raw, lately. There are a lot of changes being thrust upon me, and, as you all well know, I don’t deal with change ummm… much.
I’m not having any luck becoming accustomed to the schedule at the new J.O.B., which kind of throws everything else out of whack as far as my family life is concerned. As well, my kid is about to graduate from… what should I call it…? Pre-high-school…? Grade 8, anyway. And another “landmark of Motherhood” being reached is difficult for me.
It’s an exciting time for her, though, because the graduation process is filled with trips, and camping, and dinners, and formal gowns, and what-all and what-not and God help me if any more gets added, because it all costs a frightening amount.
That makes it the “wrong” kind of excitement for me, because the J.O.B. wage is crap, and the schedule does not allow for a supplemental part-time J.O.B. (I never know from one week to the next what my shifts are). My small and hard-fought-for nest egg has been punctured in several places long before I’ve built it back up to where it should be, and the funds are leaking out in an alarming manner.
Other, scarier things loom ahead. The building I live in, which has been for sale for well over a decade, has finally got a serious offer. Good for Ruby – she’ll finally be quit of the huge headache the maintenance on the place has become for her.
Not so good news for me and the kid, as, rumour has it, the new owner wants to gut the interior and remodel, and plans on giving all the tenants notice. I don’t have a move built into the budget anymore, unfortunately, so I’m torn between hoping Ruby gets it sold, for her sake, and praying the guy changes his mind, for mine. Time will tell, I guess, and I’m trying to take my mother’s old saying to heart: “It’ll all work out.”
And I’m about to add another bill to the mess with the acquisition of The FlyMobile, which has now become a necessity if I ever want to see my parents.
They have moved back to Teeny-Tiny Town, where I was born and raised, the place they spent the first 50 years of their married life, to a facility that offers my father the 24-hour care he now requires, and allows them to stay together.
This was a good move for my mom and dad: they know everybody there already, having worked with them, and lived near them, and socialized with them since 1947. It’s also good because my sister,”Tootie”, is a nurse in the hospital that is housed in the same structure. She can see them everyday, without having to drive an hour each way and still manage the swing shift.
It kind of sucks for me and Ky, though, unless I can handle the payments on the minivan, which start in July. Money’s easy to get, though, right? It’ll all work out. Somehow. I hope.
Having a vehicle will allow us to visit once a week, like we’re used to doing. I’ll just have to spend more time on the stepper, which is currently gathering dust in my closet, to make up for the lack of weekly Walk-About to the other side of town and back. Now that I have an ass, I don’t want it to get flabby, do I?
We’ve driven down twice now, thanks to the generosity of The Fly-Girl, who has me drop her off across “the ditch” in Michigan and hands me the keys. “I’ve filled up the tank,” says she. “Go visit your mom and dad.” What would I do without her?
The Fly-Mobile is fair on gas, thankfully, and if the prices ever drop, I should be okay, assuming there are no more surprise grad fees dropped on me that I’ll have to suck out of the “transportation” category of the budget.
But, we’re carrying on with the carrying on… getting ready for Ky’s grad…. arguing over which photo to pick from the proofs…. pretending there’s nothing but happy, happy on the horizon, because what else can we do, really?
When, really, graduation for Ky may be a bust… Dad had a heart attack on Friday, and another on Sunday morning. He’s wiped on morphine and often confused, but for the most part, he’s holding his own. We’ve been down this road before….
Un-Brother Ken has come home from Alberta, and Big Sis will come up from Southern Ontario after her own graduation on Wednesday. We keep our fingers crossed, but our hearts are in our throats. There’s that “no resuscitation” order as per Dad’s wishes, after all. Again, good for him – it’s the way he wants it to play out – but I can’t help but feel selfish and wish they’d ignore/forget about/pretend they don’t see the yellow wristband on his arm, and just fix him, dammit!
I must apologize to the memory of my Great Aunt Emma, for this horrible photo of her painting. It’s a water-colour, framed behind glass, hanging in an awkward niche in my parents’ small space. To get the shot at all, I had to jam myself between the fake gas fireplace and the stereo stand, straddling something or other – it might have been a speaker; I don’t remember. I imagine Emma, if she could somehow see them, would marvel at both the fireplace and the electronics in the stand, not to mention the annoying blinds that caused me problems with the reflection shining on her painting, 70-odd years after her death.
The knight in the painting is Emma’s depiction of a Crusader, having his sword blessed before setting off to convert the heathenish sinners into unwavering faith in a God they’d never heard of.
And if you can’t convert ’em, hell – run ’em through.
When I was little, I used to stare at Emma’s painting for hours at a time. I thought, then, that it was Joan of Arc. I used to imagine that maybe Emma felt a little like Joan: misunderstood… ostracized… martyred. Well… “martyred”, I guess, came later for Emma.
She was my mother’s father’s sister, one of three. As you can see, Emma was an artistic soul, at a time and in a place where that was unusual. The time was the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, and the place was a teeny-tiny farming community on the Manitoulin Island – a community of hard-working, God-fearing, good people. “Haweaters”, they still proudly call themselves, and I’m just as proud to be descended from them.
Emma was a “difficult” girl. She was not exactly… dependable. Her moods were sometimes… erratic. Her actions often confused people.
Sometimes, she could be extremely morose. Depressed. Her family worried over her. At other times, she became violently angry, and frightened them. There were days that she was giddy, and loud, or just plain “odd”. There were also days, and weeks, and probably whole months at a stretch that she was just plain “Emma, herself”, and they would be relieved and nervous at the same time, wondering which Emma would be there next, and hoping by some miracle that her “fits” had passed for good this time.
My mother believes, now, that Emma might have had Bi-Polar Disorder, or what at one time was called Manic Depression. I think my mother might be right, but that was an unheard-of condition way back then. And I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea where Emma ended up.
It must have been a difficult decision, sending her away. Committing her to an asylum. The Nut House. Booby Hatch, Funny Farm, Loony Bin. Horrible, terrible names, I know. Back then, though, they were horrible, terrible places to be “institutionalized” – places where, if you were shut up into them, whether by your family, or by a magistrate, you would be shut up with other people that may very well have started out with troubles similar to yours, but over time had really been driven literally mad. By the time you met your fellow inmates, most would be dangerous, psychotic, unrecognizable versions of themselves. And you would probably end up the same way. And back then, they almost never let you out.
Emma’s sisters, Marjorie and Lavinia, would go and visit her when they could afford the trip to Toronto. Sometimes, she didn’t care if she saw them or not. Maybe during those times, she didn’t realize who they were. But there were also visits when Emma was “Emma, herself”, her perfectly normal “self”, the sister they loved. Those visits were especially hard for Marj and Vine, because Emma would cry, and beg them to please, please, just let her come home. She hated it in the asylum. The other patients frightened her. She was going crazy. Please, please, just take her home. But they couldn’t take her home, and they would have to say good-bye and leave her in that awful place, alone.
After awhile, they didn’t visit anymore.
Emma died some time during the Great Depression. My mother doesn’t know if she was still in that asylum or not, but she was still in Toronto when she died. No one had any money then. No one could afford to travel.
There was a man who came from the Manitoulin, who lived in Toronto at the time. He saw Emma’s obituary in the newspaper, and recognizing the family name, he decided to go to the funeral. He knew Emma’s people, and he wanted to give his condolences. He wasn’t able to.
Jimmy Prentice was somewhat of a local oddball, to hear my parents talk. I don’t know if he actually had a home, or not. My mother talks about how sometimes, just before dinner was set to be “lifted”, Gramma would be looking out the kitchen window, and say, “Better put another plate on,” and they knew Jimmy was walking across the field.
He’d come in and have dinner with the family, and afterward, off he’d go with the men to do the afternoon chores. They had a farm of dairy cows – help with the chores was welcomed, and well worth a meal or two, even during the Depression. More than likely, Jimmy would be in for supper that night, too. And then for breakfast in the morning…
He’d stay on a few days (or weeks), help with the farm, eat with the family, sleep wherever there was room. Then he’d mosey off across the field; to the next farm, maybe, or into town.
One winter evening, during the War, Grampa opened the door to a very, very sick Jimmy Prentice. Flu was a pretty serious thing to come down with back then, and Grampa put him right to bed. He was sick for a long time.
Gramma and Grampa fed him up, cleaned him up, generally took care of him for the duration. No way would Grampa turn Jimmy out. Not because it was winter on the Manitoulin. Not because Jimmy had the flu. Nope. Jimmy Prentice had a radio.
Now, Grampa wasn’t necessarily against technology, but in the early ’40s, with farmhands and livestock to feed, not to mention 8 kids (minus Bill, who was overseas fighting a War), purchasing a radio was not high up on his list of priorities, to say the least. They got “The Family Herald” once a week for the War news; what did they need a radio for?
The Family Herald
The Family Herald would be read cover-to-cover by Grampa, the day it came. Then Gramma got her turn, and then it was passed around the household until everyone had had a chance to read it through. Sometimes, clippings would be mailed out to a sister or an Aunt. By the time the next issue came to the farm, the last would be in tatters, most likely relegated to the outhouse, where it was read again, and reread, and then “recycled”.
Letters from Bill (and he wrote to everybody from overseas) would also be passed around. Sometimes the letters were delayed, or lost altogether. News was shared. As worried as they were, the family knew that last month, at least, Bill was alive.
And then… Grampa discovered that the War News could come every supper-time, if somebody turned Jimmy Prentice’s radio on. Meals became sombre affairs, quiet, other than the static-y voice coming out of that little box on the sideboard. No one dared make a peep, for fear Grampa would shout them back to silence. World War II got closer to home.
Of course, over the next several weeks, Jimmy Prentice got better. Pretty soon, he was taking supper at the table, listening to the radio, and then, slowly, out helping with the chores again. Eventually, he decided it was time to mosey over the field to wherever it was he would go; the next farm, maybe, or into town. And, of course, he took his radio with him when he went.
Supper was eerily silent for the next few days. Grampa was out of sorts without the static-y voice on the sideboard. Withdrawal. They all missed Jimmy Prentice’s radio. The Family Herald was days away yet, and the news in it would be “old” news. Bill seemed farther away than ever, and World War II might never end…
And so, one day, Grampa came home with a radio of his own, and everything seemed that much better. The world was smaller again, and if it – the world or the War – should finally come to an end, he would be among the first to know. “There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Just you wait and see.
There’ll be joy and laughter
And peace ever after,
When the world is free.
The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again,
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again.
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Just you wait and see.”