Commit To Blip

Between 0500 and 0700, my mind has been racing with a multitude of swirling and whirling thoughts.  Inside my mind, there is a cacophony of noise.  If I were to picture the inner workings of my mind in the style of a cartoon, the image would be comprised of disembodied words tangled in a tornado – just an absolute ruckus.

My Gma is going blind.  We (“we” = my family), not even a year ago, moved Gma into an apartment closer to Mum and I.  My parents and I live across the street from one another, and Nana’s apartment is only a mile or so away from either of our homes.  My Mum is now faced with the prospect of placing her.  We, as a family unit, were confident that Nana would thrive living alone and independently, especially where she has assistance with showers and housework, for a few hours, Monday – Friday.  Mum cooks meals, and I drop them off.  I pick up and wash the laundry, take the trash out as needed, and we stop in and visit as we can; I oftentimes pop in during a run.  Between my parents, myself, her hired help, and my Aunt Nancy, we have been able to work together to make this arrangement successful.  However, Nana is still currently alone for the majority of the time.  Gma’s 82 and has a smorgasbord of health issues; her losing her vision entirely will make it unsafe for her to continue living independently.  My heart goes out to my Gma, but my heart breaks for my Mum.  With all issues between my Gma and I aside, it’s my Mum’s mother, and I know it must be painful for Mum to experience her sole living parent’s decline in health, especially at this magnitude.  What makes it even more difficult for Mum is that she has been groomed, for (literally) the past 30 years, to feel guilty with any decision she makes, even when it is the best one for Gma.  “You only have one mother.”  Couple this statement with years of reminders from Nana that placing her will break her heart and kill her.  Pair those reminders with the promise that she will haunt my mother when she (Gma) dies.  My mind and heart are currently at odds and duking it out because characteristically, I’m a compassionate and sensitive person, but I am also filled with anger at the way my Mum has been set up to feel as though she has failed her parents.  I volcalized a painful yet truthful observation, indicating that if roles were reversed, Nana would place my Mum in a heartbeat and not think twice about it.  Nana placed her own mother, my Gramps, and two women she was POA for.  This outline of events is by no means an attempt to paint my Nana in a negative light because she has wonderful qualities too.  I have shared these dynamics as a means to pictate the complexities of an already difficult situation and decision to be made.

It was with aforementioned swirling and whirling thoughts that I idled in the Dunkin’ drive-thru this morning anxiously anticipating that blessed first sip of my iced, caramel swirl, black; the woman in front of me paid for my coffee.  Most days, because I witness and am exposed to the underbelly of society as a whole, I forget how poignant the gesture of a cup of coffee can truly be.  Now, I am not so jaded that I will claim that my faith in humanity has been restored due to a cup of java, for my faith in humanity has never been lost.  The world is indeed a brutal place to reside, but there does exist goodness, there are kindnesses.  Perhaps we spend so much time searching for the grand gestures, that we miss out on the small ones (and those add up!).  If you are reading this, do something kind today for someone else, no matter how small it may seem to you.  This morning, paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee was likely just a blip on that woman’s radar, but it wasn’t just a blip to me.  Her gesture made my heart swell, when mere moments before, I was arduously trying to calm my thoughts and keep my tears from spilling over.  Stop for the pedestrian trying to cross the street, let a car ahead of you in traffic, send happy mail to a stranger . . . the possibilities are infinite!  Seek the kindness you desire with not only open eyes but with an open heart.  In turn, sprinkle kindness around like glitter.  There is much truth in the adage, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  The universe will put those people, who need your kindness the most, in your path . . .

COMMIT TO BLIP

 

 

Ride With Me

“If you want to go and take a ride with me [. . .]” – Nelly

My department is perpetually understaffed, it is notoriously difficult to hire to capacity, and even when it would appear that all of the slots have been filled, someone a) drops out of the academy, b) gets injured and is out of work or on light duty for (what seems like) eons, c) quits, or d) retires.  By “department,” I mean the police department as a whole, not my department of analysis, which, BTW, is at its maximum capacity with its overworked, stressed, and under appreciated employee.  Yes, employee in the singular.  Me.  Just me.  There is one person providing crime data and analytics to not only the entire staff within my PD, but to outside agencies and individuals from all levels (municipal, state, federal, etc.) as well. Believe you me, just about every in-house individual needs something from me on a daily basis; these requests are in addition to the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reports and statistics that are expected from me.

The joke around here is that even after over six years, I have yet to be “broken.”  Am I jaded?  A bit.  I mean, I see some shit, and I’ve taken some shit.  You have not lived until you’ve had someone double your size, who you don’t even know, screaming at you to not look at them because they hate you, trying to get to you through bulletproof glass.  Note: “You have not lived until [ . . . ]” is purely for dramatic effect.  I am well aware that a plethora of people encounter far, far worse.  I just want to reiterate that I am a civilian employee so my interaction with this person was no more than giving them a smile as I walked by the lobby window.  I had even given them my last bottle of water to help calm them down when they first entered the lobby, clearly in distress.  Weeks later, I gave a lost dog my last bottle of water.  I think the dog was more appreciative . . .

I’m known around the station for being happy, for always smiling, for being bright, shiny and glittery, as well as easily amused.  I am also known as the office’s MacGyver, but that’s another story.  I’m referred to as “Happy Amy,” “Sunshine,” etc.  So, as I was writing in the above paragraph, the running joke is that even after many not so pleasant experiences, the amount of stress and pressure that I face daily, and the overall negative environment, I’m still all of those things I listed; to recapitulate: “for being happy, for always smiling, for being bright, shiny and glittery, as well as easily amused.”

Now that the background has been established . . .

A random individual strolled into the lobby yesterday morning and requested a ride-along with an officer.  I jokingly told an officer, who happened to be standing nearby, that it appeared he was about to be assigned a ride-along, to which he essentially replied, “NO.”  This is the same officer who, when I was a brandy new hire, retorted, “Great!” when I enthusiastically asked, “How’s it going today!?!”  I then overheard him tell a lunchroom full of people, “Actually, it’s been really shitty, but she’s just so nice, I didn’t have the heart to tell her.”

Continuing on . . .

After this officer said, “NO,” a colleague in the records department responded with, “Take Amy for a ride-along!”  The officer misunderstood this suggestion and stated, “YES!  Let people ride along with Amy . . . then everyone would want to work here; we’d have a line out the door!”  Not only was I amused, I was deeply flattered, for I truly do try to be a positive presence here.  This officer’s remark confirmed that for the most part, I’m successful in my attempts to bring some overt happy into our workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas I That Arted

I have alluded to but not provided much detail about my recent stint with driving the struggle bus.  Seriously, it’s been nearly a year of . . . “meh.”  Since November of 2018, I have just been unable to “get it together.”  I have written zero response letters to the pile of mail I have received from pen pals, I neglected Postcrossing until about a month ago, I have been completing only one or two swaps per month via swap-bot, I’ve traded a mere handful of patches, and I have run only 450 miles since January 1st.  I have so many projects that remain unfinished: the contents of a parcel I intended to mail in April remains unpackaged, a half completed quilt intended to be a house warming present is now for a home that is no longer new, so on and so forth.  Even my blog has been a victim of my neglect in that I have not written about my runs, for though my training has been subpar in comparison to past years, I have still been showing up to my races.  I think the only aspect of my life that has not suffered from my “meh” is my reading; my Goodreads goal for the year is 67 books, and I am currently at 54 read.  I have also been less “on top of” certain tasks at work as well, but I attribute (some of) that to a bit of head butting with a superior.  There was a period of time where I dreaded coming to work; I even interviewed for a position elsewhere, but I realized shortly into that meeting that the (new) position was not an ideal fit.

Over the past few weeks, I have started to feel better, more myself, and by “myself,” I mean more like the me of a year ago, before I got behind the wheel of the struggle bus and put the pedal to the metal.  I have even found some inspiration to create for the sake of creating.  The ATCs and postcards below are not for particular swaps and have no ulterior purpose; I just felt like . . . arting.  Approximately two weeks ago, I completed my fitness objective of earning my Fitbit goal daily for 30 days.  With two more races left this year, I have been longing to fall in love with running again.  This is not to imply that I no longer love the sport, but I have not been as dedicated to or excited by running as I once was . . . until I’m crossing the finish line.  Crossing a finish line inspires me to keep going, to keep trying until the next race, but then I do not maintain that desire . . . until the next finish line is fast(ish) approaching.  (I’m not fast).

A step in the right direction toward finding the (better version of) myself has been spending time in my craft room and workspace with no guidelines and no deadlines hanging over my head or stifling my creativity.  Below, for those of you who do not follow my Instagram account, are photos of some of the artist trading cards (ATCs) and postcards I have been making.

After my final runs of the 2019 “season,” I will compile the photos and thoughts I have been collecting and share them in one post.  September 28th is the Dempsey Challenge 10K and October 6th is the Maine (half) Marathon.  Anyone who wants to follow my progress during the latter race, as I traverse the 13-mile course, there’s an app for that!  Let me know of your interest, and I will provide you with the app name and my bib number.

In summary should you have chosen to skim-read . . .

I have been sucking, and I no longer want to suck.

The Gypsy

 

Potions

 

Henry

 

Freud

Note: I am well aware that the paper doll I chose for my Freud PC (postcard) is not Sigmund, but the doll looked similar enough, that I took some artistic liberties / poetic license and used it anyways.

Best Costume

MY Stint in MO

Mum and I travel together each year.  Last year and the year before, we went to New York City.  This year, we planned two short trips, one to Charleston, South Carolina in April and another to Branson, Missouri in September.  Unfortunately, the trip to South Carolina was canceled in order to move my Gma closer to us.  I have quite literally just returned from MO.  Well, not so much on the “literally” as I returned on the 15th, a day early, but I will get to that.

MO has some of the nicest people I have ever met.  Seriously, Missourians (is that correct?) are so kind, they are at that level of nice you see in movie portrayals.  I’ve heard from many that Maine people are some of the rudest they have ever encountered, but being a lifelong Mainer, I disagree.  However, I do know that Mainers have a way about them, and if you’re not “from here,” it can easily be interpreted as abrasive.

The travel to MO was very difficult on Mum, more so than we had anticipated.  I’d be lying if I claimed to not be exhausted from the travel day myself, and I don’t have the physical limitations and chronic pain that Mum does.  A very kind gentleman observed that we were disheveled, dazed af, and kind of . . . lost.  We flew into the Springfield airport, which was an hour away from our hotel in Branson.  The options were to rent a car or find a cab.  We quickly settled upon the taxi option because at that point, I was at such a level of tired, the car would have ended up in a ditch or as a ball of flaming wreckage within moments of pulling out of the car’s parking spot.  The aforementioned man clearly thought we were a bit nutty to take a cab for an hour instead of renting a car, but he could also see the exasperated desperation of two weary travelers who just want to be on their way, who just want to reach their final destination.

Jimmy, an equally delightful man, willingly and emphatically drove us from Springfield to Branson, and upon parting ways, he provided us with his phone number should we need him to pick us up for our return trip to the airport.  (Spoiler: Jimmy did indeed receive that SOS phone call).  We checked into the hotel close to midnight, but it felt even later considering the time change (from eastern to central OR an hour behind if you’re not familiar with my originating time zone).  I ate a Pop-Tart for dinner and went to bed immediately.  A Pop-Tart is not the recommended supper for a dieting woman, but there was no room service, and I did not want to wait upwards of an hour for delivery, assuming anything was open at that time of day . . . er, night.

Due to the lay of the land and essentially zero places to rest (benches, coffee shops, parks, etc.), we stuck close to the hotel Friday and Saturday.  Note: I am well aware that all of these things exist and are available (benches, coffee shops, parks, etc.), but when you travel with someone with pain and mobility issues, nearby has an entirely different definition than it does for a healthy person.  Please, no one get your undies in a bunch if you think I am insulting Branson, for I am not.  I’m merely attempting to convey / show the difficulties someone may face when these things aren’t within one’s immediate vicinity.

Anyways, it was Friday night that I inquired about changing our flight(s) and going home a day early.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with Mum – it was nice to “get away” as we have had some hard times on the homefront as of late.  However, I knew that if the travel home was going to be a repeat of getting there, I would need a day to rest in order to function for my return to work.  Boy, was I right!  I spent almost the entirety of yesterday in bed; I could not even muster the energy to drag myself into the shower.

Overall, I enjoyed my few days of vacation because Mum and I always make the best of our situation, but I do think we are much better suited for NYC (or vice versa) when we go away together.  In NY, there is an endless number of “things” to do, a plethora of places she can rest, and where I am familiar with the city, I can venture off if she needs to nap or take a day off from adventuring and doing.  Most applicable, the weather out this way is much more tolerable than it was in MO.  My body just does not adapt well to high temperatures, especially when it’s one million percent humidity.  Even the humidity in Maine, come August, is brutal and unbearable – hence why Beach to Beacon is such a struggle for me (though I did improve my B2B 10K time by 2 minutes this year!).

There’s an ongoing joke between myself and a friend / colleague that my hair is the barometer for the best candy making days.  Apparently, successful candy making depends on the humidity.  The bigger and frizzier my hair gets, the worse the day is for making candy.  I was not the only one in MO with frizzy hair, which made me wonder how / if anyone in Missouri makes fudge, ever.

Thanks to a swap-bot friend who lives in St. Louis, I was (somewhat) prepared for the heat and humidity.  Thanks to Google, I was aware that we were likely going to be “stuck” in one place with little to do.  Thanks to movies, I expected mid-westerners to be outgoing and (almost over the top) friendly.  Another note: I do not mean “over the top” in a negative way in this context; I am sincere as can be about the genuine kindness of strangers.

What I was NOT prepared for or expecting . . .

There was far more  blue eye shadow in MO than I could fathom.

 

 

 

 

Profile Pics

Pictures of humans and animals just are not the same, and not only because a human is obviously different than an animal, mind you.  You see, I was toying with changing my blog’s profile photo, but I hate just about every picture of myself that exists.  The photo I had selected to settle upon, because it’s “decent,” cuts into / off one of my eyes.  Apparently, we are all now expected to fit in a bubble.  Well, POP.  <~~That was my bubble bursting.   So, I have set my profile photo to one of my Radin until I am finally in a picture that is not only a suitable portrayal of myself but also fits within the circle that is meant to be representative of who I am (but I’m a square, damnit!).

The wetter / runnier Radin’s nose, the more mussed his hair, and the more annoyed his facial expression . . . the more adorable he looks!  THAT is how animals’ pictures are different than a human’s.  The runnier my nose, the more mussed my hair, and the more annoyed my facial expression?  Well, that just makes me look like a trainwreck with a bad case of resting bitch face AKA RBF!  Though both assertions are certainly accurate, that is not what the bubble was developed to depict!

 

 

 

What I Would Have Said

I am painfully shy.  I don’t particularly like talking to strangers, and I can’t bring myself to speak publicly . . . unless it’s absolutely mandatory (work, school, etc.).  I would have liked to have spoken at Aunt Shirley’s funeral on Friday.  In fact, just about every muscle in my body was twitching, and my brain / inner dialogue was screaming at me to get up there and speak because I have so many wonderful things to say, but I just couldn’t.


About my propensity to be shy . . . I feel like we live in a world today where a shy person is treated as though they are defective. Aunt Shirley never made me faulty.  I never even had to tell her that I was shy. I didn’t know it then, as a child, because we view the world differently then than when we are grown, but I see it now, in hindsight – Aunt Shirley just accepted me for who I was, no questions asked. She had this innate understanding that I was just a shy kid, and it was OKay, and she didn’t push me to be anything other.

As a tot, I always looked so forward to going to the Litchfield Fair with Aunt Shirley and Uncle Norman each year. I was far too shy to order food for myself or speak up if I wanted some bobble. I’d tell Aunt Shirley what I wanted, and she’d order for me. She didn’t tell me to tell the person working at the counter; she spoke for me when I couldn’t vocalize my wants.  I didn’t have to ask Auntie for her help; she instinctively knew when I needed to borrow her voice.

There are two times I remember Aunt Shirley being mad. First, when I was given the raw burger at the fair.  (Even if I had wanted to speak up for myself in that scenario, she was already “on it.”).  The other time . . . Uncle Normal knocked her over in the swimming pool during a vacation in Vermont. There’s a third time she was mad, and it’s the only time I’m aware of that she was mad AT me, and that was when I ran off and got lost at the beach. I’ve always relied on “I was too young to remember” as reasoning for not remembering, but years of study in psychology has lead me to believe that I’ve just repressed it. With the exception of the pool fiasco, I think that even Aunt Shirley’s anger stemmed from love.

Aunt Shirley taught me many things I use today. I was pretty resistant to learn anything useful like canning and sewing or anything cooking and / or baking related.  In fact, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Norman have always been my champions when there’s been joking about my not cooking. “She’ll get it! She’ll do it!”

Aunt Shirley gave me a love for jigsaw puzzles that may be unmatched. I won’t settle for less than 1,000 – 2,000 pieces. She taught me to construct the frame first. I can hear her voice whenever I am sifting through (literally) thousands of pieces to find the edges, uring me to assemble the border. She taught me latch-hook, which I still enjoy to this day.  Like many, I’ve always admired her ability to cross stitch perfectly; I’ve always been in awe of how it is virtually impossible to differentiate the back from the front. I recently started cross stitching, and I was so convinced that I must be doing something wrong because the back is such a mess, that I asked a fellow cross stitcher to send me a picture of the back of one of their projects.  As I suspected, Aunt Shirley’s work is just . . . flawlessly epic.

Aunt Shirley and Uncle Norman have been present at all of the big events: graduations, weddings, showers, holiday gatherings – but also the little things too: softball games, school award ceremonies, BBQs, and moving days.  I suspect that we all have a memory of looking out in the crowd and seeing Aunt Shirley there.  I also postulate that we have all learned something from her that will live on, in each of us, for (our) forever.

After family gatherings and holiday meals, I always offer to wash the dishes.  There has never once been an instance, when someone who knows Shirley Maxwell, has not commented, “You wash dishes just like your Aunt Shirley!” Washing dishes will never again feel like a chore to me.


^What I would have said^

Figuratively Literal

glitter

“She leaves a little SPARKLE wherever she goes” is a figurative phrase plastered on a sign that hangs in my office in all its sparkling, glittery glory.  And what a joyous moment when the figurative becomes literal.

My phone case is broken.

Surely, you are able to make the connection between how the signage and the broken case are related.  NO?  Allow me to explain further . . .

My (now) broken phone case is glittery AF.  It was filled with water and had pink beads and pink sparkles floating around inside (see below)!

case.jpg

Anyone who knows me, has swapped with me, or has merely just read any of my profiles: swap-bot, IG, sendsomething, Postcrossing, etc. is keenly aware that I. LOVE. ME. SOME. GLITTER.

Months ago, the water within the case dried up, and I now have stuck on, flaky glitter bits as opposed to whirling and swirling sparkles.  Recently, I must have dropped my phone because the case has a crack, said crack is leaking bits of glitter, and said glitz is left wherever I go.

The figurative phrase, “She leaves a little SPARKLE wherever she goes” is my reality, literally!

. . . and it’s amazing.