Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Last Call

My father did not walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He was unable to make it there.
The man I met at 19 years old was a father to me and due to circumstances outside of any illusion of control we think we have over our lives as we spin on this rock, he was not able to come to my big day.

Months before he passed, we had a long telephone conversation. He was sick but wasn't coming out and saying what he felt, what he feared and what he knew. How much pain he was in. What was keeping him from going to get medical attention. Instead, as he was wasting away, he told me he had lost some weight and would likely be able to fit into one of his vintage suits.

I walked while I talked with him, as I am prone to do. It was nice out and I walked all around my patio and backyard, where we were planning on holding our wedding initially. I told him about what I was planning to do, what it would look like, how I would have the tables set, and the parts I hadn't totally nailed down yet. We talked food and flowers and dresses and weather, colors and people and music. I put the vision in my head into words. I showed him my wedding exactly as I saw it.

This was a special moment in time. A conversation shared between just the two of us. I had no idea at the time how important that phone call was. For him it was a beautiful story, a visual of what was to come, a plan for the future, a wonderful distraction.

For me, it came to represent the way he would know that day. In his mind, he had seen everything. Neither of us knew he wouldn't see it with his own eyes.

In April of 2011, Barry was admitted to the hospital. I was called while at the table of a family dinner with my in laws, and I spoke to my sister who told me he had said he was in incredible pain. She went to him and he looked awful. We had not seen him very recently and while I had heard he wasn't feeling well, I also had been told he was seeing the doctor regularly. That was only part of the story.

Barry was taken to the hospital on a Sunday and I saw him Monday with my younger brother Chris. We walked into the room and saw a skeleton of our father. A frame with his features spoke to us. I brought him some books to read and offered to go get him anything he needed from his house. I had quit yet another shitty job and it was ok, I had the time, I told him.

We left that room and I looked straight ahead as we left the building. At the car, I told Chris, "I am no doctor, and I don't know what they are going to say, but I do know this. Barry is dying. Of cancer."
Chris asked if I was sure. I was sure. In the gravest way about the worst thing, I was sure. The books would never be opened. He barely had the energy to speak to us. We had left so he could go back to sleep. I would never hold a real conversation with him again.

He had a massive stroke before they could do the biopsy. We had already gotten in touch with his daughter in England. She spoke to us, the doctors, the passport office. Arrangements were made.

We were told that his body had started the process of dying. That he had maybe a week. Hospice was called, he was moved to a private facility and we moved in and out of that room for the next several days holding vigil. We lived in that room, ate, slept, made plans, laughed, lived and cried.

On one of my short visits to my house, I watched as my husband took a call from his mother. I saw his face fall, then crumble into a carved mask of pain. A man I never see cry was unable to speak through his tears. I couldn't understand what was happening. Then it came out. His cousin, a life long sufferer of a very serious mental health issue, had taken her own life. The air left the room. I couldn't understand what was happening or what to do next. Through my own exhaustion and grief, I did not see how we would ever find our way out of this.

Three days later, I started making calls of my own.

Barry passed away the day after his daughter arrived. When she was alone with him and I had gone to the store next to the hospice to get us something to eat. I believe he waited for her. We had kept telling him she was coming.

I walked into the facility with the bag of food in my hand and I knew. I've never felt anything like that. It is a somber place, unusually quiet on all occasions but this was different. I turned the hall to his room and every step was a thundering echo in my ears. I made myself open the door. Amanda turned and we both collapsed into tears as she nodded to me, as if to say, Yes. Yes. He is gone.

There were many tears shed. A life lost. A blurred week of time spent with Amanda to have things handled and to help her get home with what she wanted to take back.

We got married in the Spring of 2012.

It was a small backyard wedding at the nearby home of a friend. A mild March day. I had suggested that we have a moment of silence or some sort of remembrance to honor those who could not be in attendance. I think the pain was too raw and too real and no one wanted that pointed out on this, a happy day, so I was shot down. In hindsight, that may have not been a mistake. Maybe we were not there, in the place where we could acknowledge the pain of our losses on a day where we gained so much. I don't know if I am there even now.

My brother walked me down the aisle. I carried a bouquet that cost more than my off the rack dress from a clearance department store. We ate and drank and danced and sang and when I looked around throughout the night, I saw it. The vision I had painted with words. It was exactly as I had envisioned, and just as I told Barry it would be. Whether there is any 'looking down' from any other place after death or not, I know that I held true to my vision and I know now just how much that last phone call meant to both of us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Socialist Assassin

I was in high school, I believe when the thought first occurred to me.

I am the kind of person who could be a paid assassin. I don't know how it came up, maybe watching a movie, or talking about that kind of thing with friends. Sorting out our personality quirks was one of the things high school kids did regularly.

The realization came quietly, like a banal statement about the weather or stock market, registering no real response from me. All the same, it was fully realized, a sure thing that I had just that moment come to see in myself.

Over the years, the thought has come up here and there. I realize that other people do not relish the thought of taking another human life (and I don't, either!) but I know that deep down I wouldn't have a problem with it in the right instance, either. 

Here is how it plays out in my head:

1. Someone wants this person dead so badly as to relieve themselves of a lot of money to get it done.

2. This is most certainly a bad person. I would never be able to take contracts out for children, or innocent people being murdered for their life insurance policy. This is state level killing, of the type of murderous criminal who is going to cost far more people their lives if not removed from the earth.

3. The planet is overcrowded as it is. This stain of a human being needs to go.

4. Someone is going to get paid to do this. The mark is as good as dead already. That much we can be sure of. So why not take the money?

5. This is a transfer of wealth. The kind of government organizations that can pay the exorbitant sum to a trained assassin to rid the earth of such a person are surely in possession of too much cash, obviously gained under unequal circumstances to the average person, and I am a mere consultant of the masses. This is a subversive socialist action against capitalism while acting within its realm.

As far as I can tell, I do not harbor any other sociopathic or psychotic tendencies. I have real and warm attachments to many people and would never harm an animal (even if paid to do so). I do not have social or behavioral problems, I don't lie on my taxes, I drive at a lawful speed and I generally conform to the rules of society. Other than my leanings as a militant feminist and liberal, you might not ever know I am capable of such a thing. (This also makes for a great cover. Not that I've given it much thought.)

Alas, the opportunity has never arisen, and I never pursued it with military organizations, but suffice it to say- during the zombie apocalypse, I could easily deal with the hordes of the undead, and you better believe I am looting those bodies for cash or valuables.

A girl has to make a living, after all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You Are Running Your Business Into The Ground

I have worked at the front desk of a real estate office, insurance office, after school workshop company, science and math kit sales company, college television station office, college disability services office, and many more temporary or part time office jobs in which I was charged with being the point of contact to the public for my organization.

I have learned many things doing the least respected of jobs, and one of them was how to make my life easier by making sure that communication flowed freely and that everyone knew what was happening and what to expect next. It really cuts down on the laser beam looks of hate while people are angry at someone or something beyond you.

Today was such a great example of how not to run a business, that I wish I could bottle it and send it out. This is a really important lesson for anyone who runs a business, particularly if you have placed a sentinel between you and the walk in traffic and appointments that frequent your corner of the world.

Hospitality is key. Never forget that. If someone feels unwelcome, it is nearly impossible to come back from that.

Here is how today played out and inspired this post: 

Our dog needed his follow up x rays for his surgically repaired knee. This was one hell of an expensive surgery and the x rays are no different. We have been here several times, and it is always a hit to the pocketbook.

The surgeon came highly recommended by our regular vet and we are happy with the job she and her team did to repair our dog's leg. They even give us a copy of the x rays if you ask for them.

That said, we will not be back. Ever.

This morning, I took our heavily tranquilized 100+ pound dog to the office for his 10:00 appointment. We were acknowledged on our way in, the woman at the desk did not even need his name or my name, she said "Hi, I will get you checked in." Great. That is perfect. We are a couple minutes early and we will sit and wait.

10:10 rolls around. The front desk technician asks if anyone has come to talk to me or take him back. I say no, no one has been out yet. She disappears.

A few moments later, and she is giving furtive glances around the corner of her window while whispering with another tech. Ok, not my concern. Lots of other things going on here, I am sure.

Ten more minutes go by. I see our doctor. I smile, she smiles. She has a whispered conversation with the woman at the front desk. No one says anything to me, my dog is at my feet, we are going to keep waiting. For now.

Five more minutes go by. At this point, a woman and her dog come in, the first people to come or go from the facility in the time I have been there. She is greeted warmly, taken back to a room with her dog (which is the usual procedure with us as well) and one talks to me. I text my husband and say that at 30 minutes I am going to have to ask them why they had me drug our dog and sit in the waiting room for a simple x ray that doesn't seem like it is going to happen. I will be furious if I drugged my dog only to sit and then have to reschedule. I won't do it to him.

35 minutes after our scheduled appointment, a technician comes out. I have met her before, nice lady...I look at my watch and say "uh, I thought our appointment was at 10?" She says, "yes, we have other appointments going on right now"... we can easily see through the glass front that almost all of the exam room doors are open to empty rooms, (except the one where the earlier mentioned woman and her dog are). I said "Yes, I'm sure but it would not have hurt to let me know that the appointment would be running late." She skips past that, going through her list of questions about how he is doing, etc. and then has me put a muzzle on him so she can take him back for x rays.

Uh....what? Why am in the lobby still? No exam room to speak with the doctor after she looks at the radiographs? All of those rooms appear open and clean, what is going on? The lady at the font disappears for a bit.

I wait a few moments and I go upfront to pay. The woman comes back, tells me she can take my payment, but that they may have to run it again if there is additional medicine prescribed etc. I said sure, that was fine, but he is not taking anything now and I don't anticipate that so I would like to pay while he is back there (since I have already been made to wait extensively without any indication of why or when we would be seen, I would like to leave as soon as possible). 

She almost begrudgingly takes my payment and gives me my receipt. Wow. You just charged what  4 regular vet visits cost and you act like it is a personal affront to take my money? The doctor comes out, speaks to me in the lobby (???) about the x rays, says yeah we won't need another visit (which I knew) and there is no need for medicine or anything at this time so we should be all set, just let us know if there are any changes. Yep. Great. Let's leave.

Never, during all of this time, did anyone say a single word to me about what was going on, why I was waiting forever with an empty parking lot and empty rooms.... nothing. Several times the staff found a way to have hushed conversations with each other in full view of the lobby where I waited. I felt disrespected, kept in the lobby like a contagion, and hurried once they found the time to deal with my long standing appointment.

This is the worst type of customer service. 

Do not let these people do this to your hard work.

If you have managed to start a business or go to veterinary school or get your CPA or start your own law practice, etc. DO NOT just hire someone with the "right experience" and post them at the front desk and hope that it all works out. 

Because behind your hard work and the well crafted exterior and all of your thoughtfulness about how to keep your business booming and customers returning, a snake lurks.

This is how it happens. I am not calling a veterinary surgeon to complain about her front desk tech. I am not ever going to make it my problem to manage your employees. I will however, be taking my money elsewhere for future needs of this type and me and my cash will never darken your doorway again, but you will have no idea why.

Everyone has a bad day once in a while. But if you make it a policy to ignore paying customers who are patiently waiting for a time you set with them, time they are not at their job, not able to get their errands run because they wanted to honor your time.... you will notice that many of those customers don't have great things to say. They don't come and rave about you on Yelp. They may never speak your name at all.

And even though they don't drag you through the mud, it won't matter. Because the person they saw first and last already pulled you down there. All while you did your level best to provide the service you promised. That they are happy with. It just won't matter.

Be very careful. I say this as someone who has held numerable intolerable jobs for complete narcissists....Learn what your front desk person does. Get to know them. Spend time with them and your customers. It could be all the difference.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What Are Your Braces?

I grew up poor, the third of six children to uneducated parents that divorced when I was eight. My father wasn't participating in the raising of children when they were married, and he didn't change anything when they split. We did better without him, and he never paid a dime of child support. Lots of people claim poor. What I grew up in can only be described as poverty.

I know- we're off to a very big start on this, but there is no point in hiding who we are...I've learned not to be ashamed of other people's decisions. I have stories to tell, and this is only one of them, so let's get moving.

My mother worked very, very hard. Harder than I have ever worked for anything in my life. She worked two and three jobs to keep a roof over our heads, because she had no education or formal training to trade for more money. All she had was the fire at her back, the risk of losing the electricity and a nest full of hungry mouths to think about.

She had no role models on which to base her decisions. She found out that she could get a job working as a nursing assistant and make more than the terrible minimum wage, so she took the exam and went about breaking her back for the next couple of decades. We had no family to turn to for help. There were no living grandparents, she had no siblings, no one was coming to save the day.

Most times we didn't have health insurance and somehow we got by without public assistance, though surely she would have qualified. She went without to give us food and when she could afford it- clothing, school supplies and whatever she could save up for Christmas. There were no vacations or nice clothes. We were just getting from one day to the next.

One thing my mother was able to do for us, which is nearly unthinkable given the circumstances, is that 4 of her surviving 5 children needed braces, and we each got them.

There are so many things I can look back on in my life and attempt to place blame on for my failings as an adult; I didn't have a stable home life. We moved a lot. I was not well supervised. There was never enough of anything. I didn't have anyone to take an interest when I was in high school and mentor me. No one helped me to apply for scholarships that would have sent me to college for free and I wouldn't be paying off loans now. I could do that all day, but I'd still be sitting right here.

For years now, I have reflected on what made my siblings and I turn out the way we did, though. Despite the hardships in our youth, we have all gone on to attend college and/or find valuable work, becoming productive members of society despite the roads we could have taken. No one is a drug addict or abuses alcohol. No one is (or has been) in jail. We are a statistical anomaly.

My younger brother and I had a conversation years ago, where we talked about this. We all knew how tenuous the situation was growing up. We were well aware of how thin the line was that kept us together and not split up into foster homes. We kept track of each other and we didn't want to put any more stress on our mother than she already had.

When thinking about how we became the people we are, I related that I felt that our braces were the greatest gift our mother gave us in those dark times. So many things change in your life, and therefore shape who you become. Braces made a huge change, and much like the very forces that make them work, we just couldn't see the results until later.

The reality is, that with straight teeth- we could pretend. We could join the ranks of people whose lives weren't a total shit show. We were able to play a role until it became our reality. Braces made it possible for us to outlive our situation and see what it would be like for people to accept us as one of them. 

Orthodontics were truly life changing for my siblings and I. Not only for the enormous sacrifice they required, nor the way they affected how others saw us, but mostly for the way they changed how we saw ourselves. Braces increased my sense of self worth, and my belief in my own abilities. I believed that I deserved a college education and that I could do what it took to get it. We were given a gift that was much more valuable than we ever could have appreciated. We were given the chance to be judged on our own merit, the effort we were willing to put forth.

Having braces didn't make me who I am, but they definitely gave me the self confidence I didn't even know I would have lacked. The world is a difficult place, and you never know what tools you will need until you are already in the fight. I needed to be taken seriously for the words I have inside of me. I need to be heard in a way that will give someone else what they need for their own fight. I needed braces for so much more than to correct crooked teeth. In time, they helped me to see that I was more than my struggle. So are you.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Junior Assembly and the Girls That Wear Makeup

A while back, I wrote about how I was forcing a 12 year old out of a mental crib and into her real age as a productive member of society. Those days are not long gone, but they are definitely fading in favor of the ones on the horizon. Instead of being horrified at what lies beyond that thin line, I am as giddy as a small child on Christmas Eve. This is where the fun really starts. I actually wrote most of this post nearly a full year ago, so this is even more fun to read / write now.

You see, my lovely daughter is (was when I started this) 13 years old. 13 and 1/2 if truth be told. She is amazing. Smart and articulate, opinionated, a wonderful friend, thoughtful and kind. She is in love with kitten videos and You Tubers and just hung Christmas lights in her bedroom for the first time. She is spectacular.

In the process of being at awkward stages one comes across life's little hurdles and speed bumps, social affairs and obligations. In the nouveau-prep archetype that her charter school models itself after, middle school dances are known as "Junior Assembly".

Sit back and let the privilege hit you.

We asked her about a school dance - it seems to me that by the time I was in 8th grade, I had attended no less than half of dozen of these messes, starting with the ''promotion" dance at the end of 6th grade. In fact, looking back on it, those were not only the social highlight of my middle school life, but they were sanctioned and held by the school. There was one for every holiday, and some made up ones on top of that. It was as if they couldn't wait to get us paired up and dating...

hmmm..that might be a topic for research...anyways...

She casually says, "oh yeah, they had something a while ago, but I didn't sign up for it". Sign up for it? What? You buy tickets at the door, with your wadded up cash in your sweaty hand while wearing a borrowed dress and slingbacks, right?

When we asked why she didn't want to go to this dance, she said without missing a beat: "Only the girls that wear makeup go to those things." Oh. Is that so? The 'girls that wear makeup' sounded too much like 'he who shall not be named' and I snickered. Then I looked up this little affair to see what it was about, since we had not received any information on the event, and who knows? There might be another and she might change her mind.

Oh how the times have changed.

These affairs are no less than practice debutante balls. Sure, the dresses are made out of slightly better fabrics, and the boys have moved from Drakkar Noir to the despicable toxin that is Axe body spray, but these little 'dances' are not the public events for pubescent early teens to attempt vertical dry humping to hip hop music that you and I attended. Nope.

The Junior Assembly is a chance to learn etiquette and show it off to your other clumsy friends and their eager parents. Ahead of these events, students register for their etiquette classes to learn how to behave in a formal setting (BLEH!) The room is filled with anticipation and expectation, all of the fears and desires of upper middle class white parents hoping that this will connect their spawn to the right people and that their fates will be sealed.

No wonder she had no interest. These are not her people. She watches superhero movies and is a major fangirl of the Doctor Who/Sherlock variety. These girls already have an account at Sephora. I for one, am glad to have gotten out of yet another shopping trip wherein I drag her around to try on dresses she has zero interest in, so no skin off my teeth. 

And a 14 year old who still doesn't wear makeup? You just don't really understand the gifts that the universe is throwing at you until you have them, do you? She can keep reading and watching Minecraft videos on  YouTube for as long as she wants. She's not missing anything.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Horoscopes and the Levity of Hope

I have an app on my phone to check my horoscope every day. Seriously. I own a set of tarot cards given to me by my mother. I played the Ouija board at sleepovers in middle school.

My numerology life path number is 9, and in the Chinese Zodiac, I am the Sheep. Or the Ram. Or the Goat. That has to be the most difficult language to translate, because all of those animals are for the same year. Also- can you imagine? All people born in the same year share the same traits!?!?

It's ok if you're going to pretend you have no interest in what your life holds or think that there is no secret to the magnificent universe and you have no interest in this. If you plan to continue that way though, this is your trigger warning. Its about to get interesting and I wouldn't want you to waste time here when you could be glowering in a corner, knowing everything. Everyone else- take off your shoes and grab a velour floor cushion. I just lit some patchouli incense and candles to set the mood.

We all want to know what will happen to us, we want to be able to prepare for the tough times and we want something to look forward to. In a way, we also like the idea at times that there are other forces at work, so as to absolve us of all of the responsibility of making our lives great on our own. Why do you think so many people believe that there is an omniscient being who has pre planned their lives for them?

Don't put down my superstition by using your own. Just sayin'...

Sometimes I read my horoscope every day. Then I don't read it for a month. Then I'm back again. The tarot cards are carefully encased in plastic, in case I get really desperate. Or drunk. Doing someone's tarot cards is a fun party trick, I don't care who you are.

The reality is that human brains love a pattern and we try to find them everywhere. That is why we see shapes in clouds and in the texture of the bathroom wall when we take a crap. might not know your numerology life path, but you do see the little scenes in the wall, don't you? Me too.

I don't think it is any coincidence that humans do this. In fact, I think it's a sign of advanced life forms. We are trying to make sense of the world around us. Man has done this since time immemorial. We attach meaning to anything that happens, good or bad. The moon creates the tides, so why couldn't the time you were born affect your mind? And who cares if it is wrong? So one day you were advised to keep a lid on your opinions when you could have spouted them off more freely? Hmm..maybe that's not such a problem, is it?

Many of us just need something outside ourselves to get along. Many days it is a good red wine. Some days I am practically pulled along by my faith in the capacity of human beings and the fascination with the vastness of the universe in which I don't register as large as a speck. But some days we all want to know that someone knows more. That there are secrets we could tap into that would expose the "right" way to live our life, the timing that would make it all work out the way we envision it.

We need hope. Something to believe in. And an excuse for days we feel like being an asshole. So much easier to blame that on the stars. As for me, I know it might all be for nothing. Even so, I leave myself open to the possibility- that there is more than I know, that we are all connected in some way, and that those lucky numbers might be my ticket to riches.

Don't ask me my sign at a bar, though. I'll lie to you and make up a persona to match your preconceived notions about that sign. I might be interested in this stuff, but that is a tired line for anyone not wearing a mock turtleneck. What a weirdo, amirite?

Friday, July 24, 2015


It has been a while since I posted here. I've got tons of posts in draft form,  some quite old now... that I never finished. Ideas I started, then let languish in the beating sun of my intolerable existence at work. Things have been weird. And amazing. Please, come in.

One month ago today was my last day at work. June 25, 2015 was the last day I worked.

Not just my last day at my job. This is an important distinction. It was my last day "at work". I quit my very last job. The last time I will trade my hours for the currency determined by others so I can make them more money, or make them look better. If we're using my time and talents, I'll be the one making the decisions, thank you.

Let me back up a bit. It really has been a while. When I read this later, I might not even be able to make sense of what happened without a record of it...

About 5 years ago I was looking for a job. That was the intention I put out into the universe. I hated my employer and left to save my soul - and had nothing lined up. So I was desperately looking for a job. I said it over and over...a job, a job, a job. 

I only put one small caveat around 'a job' and that was that I knew I needed some sort of meaning to my work so I wanted to go to work for the public university or community college system where I live. I got my education there and I knew how important it was to find someone who knew what they were doing to help you on your journey. I wanted to be that person for others. To democratize higher education. Just because you don't come from money shouldn't mean you don't get the same chance to do something with your life, right? Right! So that was my thinking...

As the universe does, it provided. I was hired to the community college system. Day 1 was a nightmare and the next 3 years were just compounding layers of terrible. I met the worst boss I have come across in all my years of working. Things went from bad to worse. Not only was I not doing anything meaningful to help students, I could not afford to quit. Depression set in and got comfortable. I fought the good fight. Then one day, a manager threw something at me in his frustration with another manager....I was quickly transferred to another campus. Mostly so I wouldn't sue.

This seemed to be a great change. A period of wonderful things ensued. I met an incredible boss who gave me the first look I have ever had at leadership without dictatorship. THE.FIRST.ONE.EVER.

Nearly a year into this, when I was unsure of my future, toeing the waters of maybe going to graduate school again and putting that idea and message out, the universe provided again. Somehow all of the "gifts" bestowed upon me have seemed more like an anvil dropped from a cliff, but hindsight is 20/20 and I know now what a present this one was.

The college decided that I was doing such a good job, that I was so competent, that they would see what I was really made of. A dean who had successfully sued the system several times for discrimination (and had a long history of people working for her who would leave in tears,) was dropped into my lap after her secretary walked out. 

Already overworked and without authority to change what was happening, I started calling out for help from underneath the weight of this new development. I used the tools I had been given, the path promised to employees to rectify situations like these. I was not hired to babysit this incompetent dinosaur. I had 500 students to be responsible to, for federally mandated disability accommodations. That cannot go unnoticed, right?

I learned a few things in this effort; namely, that people will do anything to stifle the screams of someone hurt by their own actions. Also, that being right was not the same as being vindicated. I learned that you can go to work every day, do your absolute best, be loved by coworkers, supervisors and students, and none of it matters if the rock dropped on you screams louder than you do. A number of changes took place at a level I could not see and the path evaporated....people suddenly left or retired with no notice. I was alone.

I spent months in a strange place. I loved my students, I was proud of my work, I was abandoned by my leaders. I let the college know I was planning to leave in the summer to attend graduate school. Truly, if this person had not been dropped in my path, I would have stayed longer. Too long. I needed the push to get me out of my complacency. Since things weren't as terrible as before, I would have continued on. An object in motion and all of that...

Another amazing thing happened. My boss, the one shining light throughout the tunnel of bureaucratic bullshit, put in her notice. I knew I couldn't stay without the buffer zone she created, and I made my last day the same as hers. That forced me to put a date to the end and stick with it. Together, we walked out, leaving a vacuum to fill where two dedicated, competent and overworked people had been. Not only had I gotten the anvil off my chest, I had the distinct pleasure of dropping it off right back where it belonged, onto the laps of people who pretended I wasn't crushed underneath it, begging for their help.

During the darkness, I discovered things about myself with clarity I cannot ever expect to have again, so I made the most of it. I am not a worker bee. I never have been. I spent years fighting that, because I believed that I had to just work harder at it and I would BECOME a better worker bee. It is alright, there are hundreds of people who need the jobs I have left. I don't feel guilty.  The students will get the help they need or they will go elsewhere, like every other consumer. If the school doesn't do the right thing by students with disabilities, the government will shut their doors. The institutional problems that plagued my time at the college system I so admired are not mine. I did not make them, I did nothing but try to help and I know I left things a damn sight better than I found them. I take comfort in that and I sleep very well.

I cannot take orders from someone who is being floated along. It does not make me an asshole that I can't make a daisy out of a pile of shit everyone refuses to pick up and throw away. That is the work of earthworms and I am not one of those either.

To be honest, I don't know what I am. I've been searching for years to find myself. There have been so many things in the way of me, that I couldn't get a clear vision. Some of the things I put there myself. I just found that out. Again...even more this time...

I quit my job and I'm not looking for another one. I have not determined what I am doing about graduate school yet either. That's right. No job, no plan. I spent a year doing the only thing I could control and that was figuring the money part out so that I could walk away. From the job, and from the version of myself that was taught to sit there and take it, so I could exchange my pride and intelligence for a measly paycheck.

That was the hardest step and the first step. So often they are the same.

I spent a year reading personal finance blogs and inspiration pieces and listening to meditative music on YouTube to quell the panic attacks. I wrote and rewrote our household budget, over and over and over again.  I knew I needed out and I was looking for permission. No wonder I haven't figured out my life yet- I just realized that I am the one in control.

So I gave myself permission. I changed some things in my life so I could change everything in my life. Maybe, just maybe, with enough perseverance, the clarity of space and time to figure out who I am, and the passion to create a better existence for others- I can change a lot more than that.