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.

 

Eye Put the “Fun” in Conjunctivitis

Hm, in reexamining the spelling of conjunctivitis,  I just realized there is no “fun” in c-o-n-j-u-n-c-t-i-v-i-t-i-s.  WEIRD, ’cause I know that I am having an absolute blast with it.  I demand to speak with Professor James Murray!  (This is a Professor and the Madman / The Surgeon of Crowthorne reference).  In summary, “Sir James Augustus Henry Murray [ . . . ] was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist. He was the primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) from 1879 until his death.”  My citation: Wikipedia, baby!  Also, when you explain a joke, it’s no longer funny; soooooo, moving on . . .

As I have (IMO) humorously explained to a handful of my colleagues and to most of my close friends and family, I went to bed 34YO one night and awoke 92YOA the next morning.  Saturday the 6th – the Saturday that is today, has been a week of excessive body BS.  BS = bullshit should you not be up to snuff with your acronyms.  I am hesitant to complain about my issues because I know several people with serious ailments: chronic pain, organ failure, etc.  However, I’m frustrated.  And I do think that my frustration is “OKay.”

I don’t feel the need to detail all of the issues, but in summary, I’m leaky, itchy, and in pain.  The leak = my eye.  The itch = another round of poison ivy.  The pain = left shoulder and left hip.  I was texting Mum at 0500hrs because when I awoke, the entire white of my right eye was flaming red, and there was some unpleasant eye junk build up.  I set my alarm for 0445hrs because I was registered to run in the Moxie 5k with bib #2 today.  The Moxie Festival is kind of a big deal in these here parts, and it was going to be my first go at one of the most difficult 5k courses in Maine.

I did not go to the run, which leads me back to why I was texting Mum at 0500hrs.  I was attempting to ferret out whether I was merely trying to find an excuse to not go to Moxie OR if I truly felt that the eye is a serious enough issue that I should stay home and call the Dr. as soon as the office opened.  As I have outlined in many a previous post, I have anxiety with new things, large crowds, and “doing things” by myself.  However, I have never not gone to an event I have been registered for.  I have always battled through the stress of all of the above.  My main concern was not the travel to a new place, running a difficult course, the swarms of people, or being alone; my primary concern was that if I was all the way out in Lisbon and was indeed able to make a “sick visit” appointment, that the office would not have an availability late enough for me to get there in time.

As luck would have it, I am scheduled to be seen at 1100hrs.  So, I could have run the run and made the appointment, but I had no real way of knowing that this is the way it would all play out.  I am “bummed” that I missed the run, but I’m not down on myself or overtly upset or angry with myself so I think I really did make the right choice.  The Moxie will be waiting for me next year, and I will be even more determined to conquer it.

I’m off to my appointment, but I felt the need to blog through my feels just to be doubly sure that I wasn’t just punking out.  The irony is, it isn’t my pain ridden hip that took me out of the game, it is my eye . . . but ultimately, I’m not an asshole – hip pain doesn’t spread, conjunctifunivitis does.

 

Surely Shirley

When did she become old?  When did she begin to traverse the aging process?  I still view my Aunt Shirley through the eyes of a child.  I regard Shirley as young and vibrant and affable with that enviable head of curly, bombshell blonde hair.

The unspoken truth lying heavily upon us like a sodden wool blanket is that this beautiful woman . . . a mother, a devoted wife, a sister, an in-law, a grandmother, an aunt, and a friend is at the end of her life.

This is the second of my Dad’s siblings to face the grim reality of life – death.  Aunt Shirley is the oldest of the brood, my Dad the youngest.  In between Aunt Shirley and Dad, in no particular order because honestly, I cannot remember the proper birth sequence of the middle ones: Barbara, Donald and Donna (“the twins”), and Ronald (deceased).  As an only child, I cannot fathom the loss of a sibling.  Though I have no experience with the bonds that tie brothers and sisters, I have an understanding of the complexities of their relationships.  Even more unfathomable is the loss of a parent; my heart aches for my cousins.  I know that I am so very blessed to have both parents living, especially when I nearly lost Mum years ago.

I have yet to shed a tear for Shirley.  However, while I write about her remaining days amongst the living, my eyes brim with tears, but I will not allow them to spill over.  I have vocalized all of the expected and appropriate sentiments of consolation, I have gone to visit and will continue to do so, but I feel . . . nought.  My well of emotions runs deeply so I know that my current lack of sensitivity is my visceral reaction to mournful situations, and therefore, it is merely temporary.  As is my typical pattern of behavior with loss, the dam will break when the hubbub dissipates and the quiet envelops me like a cloak of fog.

When did Aunt Shirley grow old?  Even as a young child, I never perceived my elders as old.  And because I have essentially zero perception of my own aging, I have had little awareness of the senescence around me.

I will remember Aunt Shirley as young and vibrant and affable with that enviable head of curly, bombshell blonde hair.

 

Forty-leven

41.  Between the beginning of January and the end of June, the number is 41.  Rather, the number as I know it is 41, for 41 does not include data that is not searchable / accessible (to me), and 41 is a number specific to the city of my employment.

Q. What is a number is greater than 41?  A. Three.

Between January 1st and June 30th, there have been 41 overdoses, most of which have been attributed to heroin, Fentanyl, and various other opioids / opiates.  Three of these incidents resulted in death (one of these deaths being of a colleague / friend).  Note: I seem to lack the ability to recall the appropriate use of opioid vs. opiate so I have linked some info. on grammatically correct usage, as apparently, these terms are not so much interchangeable.

I work in a city with a population just over 36,000.  In comparison with Boston, New York City, Chicago, and (insert any large city name . . . HERE), this “city” is merely a sizable town.  So, 41 overdoses in precisely six months is a staggering number, IMO.  Even more staggering is three.  Even more mind-boggling is that the number of overdoses and OD deaths annually, regionally and internationally combined, is forty-leven.  Why?

I do not ask why as in, “Why are overdoses happening?”  The answer is blaringly obvious in just the word itself.  I am ever curious as to why people use drugs, how they develop a relationship with “hard” drugs . . . just why, why, WHY?  I think it is of the utmost importance that I note that my curiosity is not based in judgment; my inquisitiveness is based solely on my craving for knowledge.

What I do understand is that the topic is complex, personal, and unique.  I have an education in Psychology and Criminology, and yet, I continue to lack a hypothesis.  I have studied the overdosing issue(s) from a viewpoint comprised of a variety of angles: law enforcement, public health, psychology, sociological, and humanitarian.  I have read copious memoirs, articles, books, and textbooks.  I have watched an ample number of episodes of Intervention and Dope, as well as viewed documentaries galore.

“In addition to the afore outlined, I have devoted considerable hours to developing, maintaining, and examining spreadsheets detailing instances of overdose and overdose deaths within the confines of [ . . . ].  It is with the upkeep of this data that my interest in the use and abuse of illicit drugs has deepened, particularly in regards to a larger scale and broader spectrum.  With a background in Psychology, as well as Criminology, I grasp the complexities of the opioid-overdose epidemic; my interest lies within both the macro and micro levels of the issue, as the severity of this dilemma is both societal and singular.”

Above is an excerpt from a cover letter I recently submitted with an application for a PHA position with a national program.  I assumed that with this new job, I would be provided the opportunity to really research a variety of aspects related to the “why, why, WHY?regarding drug use, drug abuse, and overdoses.  However, I will not be making a shift in employment in the foreseeable future, but my inquiring mind will not be stifled!

I am not naive.  Therefore, I am well aware that I will never brainstorm a successful plan of action to combat the afore outlined matters.  I sincerely want to learn the “why, why, WHY?,particularly on the singular level.  Do you have a chronic illness?  Are drugs a coping mechanism utilized to numb pain from a trauma?  Did recreation evolve into lifestyle?  Perhaps you genuinely enjoy the ritualistic nature of chasing the high?  I have so many questions (more than the ones I have drafted above, believe you me), but who do I (or can I) turn to in order to seek answers, and how?  Though I have an affinity for research and erudition, I am by no stretch of the imagination to be considered a researcher.

Due to the likely inclination of fellow bloggers, surfers of the interwebs, etc. to remain anonymous, I recognize that this screed will not result in comment or feedback pertaining to one’s experience(s); even my completely benign posts generate very little interest.  Naturally, this subject is fresh on my mind with the five month anniversary of my friend’s OD death fast approaching.  Also, I have just completed the task of reading and documenting June’s overdose cases in my attempt to hone in on patterns, trends, and any other useful information I can glean from data.  I relish data (DUH, I’m an analyst), but it is so impersonal.  Data synthesis leaves me wanting more . . .