SO YOU Wanna Judge…

Well, I suppose you have every right. You, with all your perfection. You, who never forgets an important thing, who never makes a mistake.

And, I don’t fault you for correcting me, admonishing me to do better.I am grateful for the extra ‘chances’. I appreciate the coaching, but you expect too much too soon. Why? You expected I would already know protocol about how to behave in an office. You expected I would not break the taboos of society that I don’t even know exist.

You expected that I should not reach out for help, that all I would need would be available in an online manual. You were wrong. Hate to burst your bubble, there.

You want to say that I was ‘deflecting and making excuses”. Was I supposed to remain silent when you were asking me questions? You can damn sure expect no response from me now. Not positive, not negative. Nothing. You’ve turned me cold. Sure , I made more mistakes than should ever be allowed, But when I asked for clarification on what exactly I did wrong, that was ‘deflecting”. And when I tried to explain myself, “excuses”. So, what did you want? My ten-point action plan to correct my faults?

Perhaps. Maybe that is a wise idea. Do you suppose I woke up this morning intending on fucking myself out of a great job with wonderful people? Did you think perhaps, I thrive on that? Well, I don’t. I woke up dreading the very idea that I had to come at work, being called into your office for any number of offenses I may have unwittingly committed. Perhaps it is all too much for me, being a competent, responsible adult. You thought you could guilt me, shock me, wake me out of it. But this is just who I am. A person you choose to disregard. A mom who’s been through Hell and back for her children. A wife, ex-wife, abused kid, neglected kid, a person who’s been kicked 1,000 times while down but still GETS BACK UP to fight AGAIN. I am a person with great dreams, great passion, compassion, and love for everyone. But you have relegated me to ‘fuck up’ category.

For some reason, whenever something goes wrong, it’s Lee. Whenever K brings you a story about how hurtful I was, you believe it, and even embellish it in your mind without ever even considering my side of the story. If I suggested a bit of bias going on, I am sure I would be told how inappropriate I am. Hypocrisy. You have decided, I can see in your eyes, that I am just full of crap, full of lies. I am not.

If you knew me, you would know that I will not actually run to you with every insult and injury from a co-worker. Why? We all have emotions. We all make mistakes. I would tell you that Darcie is amazing, Bo is great and helpful and funny, Jen always has a smile for me , and Lori has my back. Tracy likes to complain about me, but I love her way with members and her dedication to doing what’s right. Sheila is sweet, funny, and real. You are spiritual, insightful, kind, and compassionate. Your laughter makes my day very often.

I can also see that Kiarra, with her many faults that are hers through no fault of her own, is very accurate, professional, and has all the right stuff. She understands the protocols that I lack, and her social skills far surpass mine. I also see her pushing aside her annoyance or anger toward me when I somehow, inevitably and unintentionally wound her in some way, and I see her growing and maturing. She should ultimately be entrusted with management. She is worthy.

If you knew me, you’d know that pride is my worst enemy. But I also am very loyal. To a fault. You could cut me 1,000 times and I would come right back ,because I see the awesome beauty and power you possess. And I do respect you, very much. But the last thing I want is to hurt anyone!

I have done well in roles where  customer service is the primary focus, without too many details needed on my part. Therefore, anything creative, or customer- service focused withOUT too many numerical details is right for me. I also thrive in introverted research roles, finding the answer to mysteries. I can spot the many spelling errors in the procedure manual and yet not see my own errors.  Isn’t that just like a human?

So, as I regret saying goodbye, I certainly can see that you bent over backwards for me in every respect. I would only suggest a few things- take ’em or leave em.

  1. Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.
  2. Every story has TWO sides
  3. It isn’t always the part- timer who messed up!
  4. Most wrongs were not intended
  5. Don’t embellish a story or theory without facts to back it up.
  6. Sometimes even the boss is wrong
  7. Try to see WHY someone did something before lowering the boom
  8. Call people into your office to celebrate what they’ve done RIGHT from time to time.
  9. Re-visit the SOP on requiring employees to keep members WAITING for resolution because they are busy scouring a procedure manual, petrified of both giving the wrong answer, or making the member wait forever. Managers should ALWAYS be there to help their employees ensure great customer service. No Tickets or call backs required.
  10. If there’s not enough help on Saturdays to fill requests, put a disclaimer in the procedure manual which states, ” Not applicable on Saturdays. File tickets for ANY request not fulfillable by a teller. ” End the confusion. If they are not going to staff- up on Saturdays, then those who DO work Saturdays should be comfortable in saying exactly what can and cannot be expected- no ambiguity.
  11. Let new people know in no uncertain terms from TRAINING class what Spark is for, and what it is NOT for. Don’t let people go around thinking that it’s for any sort of help, because all that will happen is they will get in trouble for ‘bothering others’.
  12. ENCOURAGE people to use online banking, and staff up accordingly.EVERY call should focus  on encouraging  online banking. It’s not about our job security.
  13. Put a sign above the door that states, “PC speech only”

That’s all I have for now. Have a great rest of your career, at FU- where who you knew in High School- and their kids- still matter. And , oh- please be sure to include this my file notes, along with your armchair psychological profile and opinions about me.

Better yet, just throw my whole file in the garbage can, the place you assigned for me months ago.

 

 

 

 

 

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Betrayed

It started out so innocently,

It started as a lie

you a forlorn, lost little bug

a spider’s lair did find

they wooed you with promises of love

your romantic, loyal heart,

but soon the desperation came

and then , he had to part

You, so faithful , working hard

to prove you had the right

he came and took you with his drugs

you didn’t put up much a fight

you wore more black, your features set

in such a deceitful peace

But anyone who knew you knew

on your heart, he had a lease

you wore your mask of royal pale beauty,

deeper than the night

When all along we knew

absolutely nothing was quite right

we blamed the boy, the situation, the angst of misspent youth

but really we should have sought the source of the ruining of you

Now you know we would’ve done anything, to save you from this plight

love is a truth that knows for you, we’d always sacrifice

but you turned away from mercy, you turned away from love

You turned away from the promptings, but not force ever,

from above

And now you’re chasing pleasures, wherever they may be found

you say forgetting saves your sanity but you’re still not yet found

in darkness lives your inner soul,

that’s longing to be free

but a wound that will not be addressed won’t heal

I only wish you’d see

Love is all that saves us, in the deepest of the dark

holding on until tomorrow

becomes our only spark

and yes, you will go on

You will rise,

unless you let this world’s dark fester inside

until all the beauty can’t disguise and just can’t hide

the deepest pain- he slashed you inside

and you cannot deny

What he stole

but you can claim it back

no more hiding….

Let it out. Don’t fear letting the dam break. You may feel it’s a big mistake

but pain, kept inside, only for so long can hide

it will come out when you least expect

you can run, you can hide,

and your whole life reject

but when you look

deep inside

past what Naked can ever hide

It’s ok to let it go

it’s ok to let it show

stand up for the whole damn race

put it right back in his face

and rise,

in love.

Forgive yourself,

but avenge the victims…

 

 

Country Quiet

By the time six minutes has gone by , his gentle snoring begins. By now, I am just rehashing one scene of my day. I play around with it in my mind; rewinding , fast-forwarding,  even using a little slow-motion, and pause. I do this to analyze a conversation, trying to glean any other possible meanings or subtext I may have missed, because I will need to have a plan of action for tomorrow. Basically, I tell myself, if the boss asks about this, I will say  that. I plan out my attitude based on any number of possible ways I might be talked to. It all gets pretty exhausting after awhile, and I finally start to drift off to sleep. Just then, one of the fluffy butts has to use the scratching post. Or is it the carpet again? I sigh, willing the tiny adrenaline rush from the cat startling me to stop. No fight or flight needed.

It’s one of those nights, when I start into a nice little r.e.m. dream, only to startle myself awake. By now, my love’s snoring is at full boar. Pun intended. So I gently nudge him, and he rolls over, as he has trained himself to do years before we ever met. Suddenly everything on me itches. One spot at a time. First, I sweep the irritating hair of mine off of my face, since that tickles. Now my left shoulder has a random itch. Next, it’s my knee. How annoying. I then decide my pillows aren’t fluffed properly. No, that ONE  just has to go . I toss it on the floor. The cats sense I am still awake so jump up on the bed to see if my hands are available to pet them. They are not. Now all the motion and commotion has my sweetie sighing and moving around, so I go stock still, and wait for him to fall back to sleep so I can likely continue thrashing around in bed, and probably waking him up again. My scalp itches right there above my right eyebrow. All of this gets me slightly amused because it’s just ridiculous. And then I think of something funny we said earlier on the sofa tonight watching  T.V. And I silently chuckle, shaking the bed.

“Hey…you ok over there? There seems to be a whole lot of shaking going on”.

“Sorry, hon. Go back to sleep.”

“That’s a great idea,” he mumbles. In moments the buzz sawing and bears moaning begins all over. Dammit. I nudge him again. He moves. The cat decides to step on my body, strategically employing acupressure on my bladder and intestines with astounding effect. I shoo her away but realize I really do have to pee. I try to be as QUIET as possible, but I won’t think he will hear me over his own loud snoring. So I tiptoe to the adjoining bathroom and step directly on a warm pile of what I hope is a nasty hairball as opposed to a nasty cat poop, which is much worse, I assure you. But I have to stifle a exclamation of horror. But now I am quite annoyed. I mean, really. So I flip on the light with some attitude, and am actually relieved that it is ‘only’ a hairball. I mumble and hiss various curses and clean the glop off the carpet with tissue. It stains. That has to be cleaned tomorrow. I then stick my foot in the tub and wash that cold, slimy grossness off the bottom of my foot, grimacing like a troll the entire time.

Well, now I am quite fully awake. I think I will saunter into the kitchen, where everyone goes when they can’t sleep due to cats, snoring, and hairball encounters. I love the light on the water dispenser on the fridge. It still makes me feel spoiled, after all these years. I turn and sit at the kitchen island to drink my water by the light of the moon. But I feel like I should really be in bed. But, then, there’s a really weird sound from outside, I think- that makes the hair on my arms stand up and I get that adrenaline rush again. My eyes bug wide and I sit as still as a stone. What was that? I tried to describe it to myself.  It lasted just a second, but I hated the fact that I didn’t even have words to describe it. I just know how it made me feel. Extremely unnerved. It was like a sliding – thump-either against the outside wall of the house or under it. Low, though for sure, not at the window level. But there were so many windows, and I was glad to not have lights on in the kitchen. Ok, so probably any number of animals could have run into the side of the house in escape from a coyote. Or owl. Maybe even it was a coyote or owl. We had plenty of the usual suspects up here. And, as moments went by and I heard nothing more, I decided the easy thing to do was to just forget about it, I was just fine. I took a deep breath, and had another long gulp of water. So, of course, I heard another sound. This time I almost jumped off the stool. It actually almost tipped over backward. Ok, now I was terrified. I left the water and scampered back to the bedroom. I instantly decided that yes, this was a justified reason to wake up my husband. I whispered loudly, “Honey, wake up, please! There’s something outside the kitchen. I am really worried. Please! Honey! ” He was obviously sleeping soundly and I felt a twinge of guilt for panicking and waking him up for what would probably end up being a raccoon raid. But no, this was no raccoon noise. This was scary. I don’t know what, but- I am touching the bed and it’s warm, but he is not in it. Had he heard it, too? I rushed to the back door. It was cracked open. He never left the door open, so he must be just outside the door. I opened it, and saw no one. It’s dark, but I am still afraid to turn on the light. And my eyes are adjusted to the dark but I still can’t see him, or his phone’s glow . I can’t hear him. But the door is open, so he must be out investigating. But, I am a little bit confused, a little worried.

I checked the bathroom really quickly and he wasn’t there. So, what the Hell? I decide to be brave and I grab the giant flashlight near the kitchen, then dash back to the back door. The bed was still empty, but as I shone the flashlight on the bed, I wondered why the bedclothes were extremely messed up. My husband is a very gentle person with all of his movements. He wouldn’t normally trash the bed unless he was in a state I had never seen him in before. Now I was really scared. The thought that I should call 911 occurred to me, but then I felt foolish. I would find my husband any minute now, reporting to me that he heard weird noises and went out to check on things.

I shook off my fear and headed out the back door, flashlight in hand. That’s when something grabbed me.

 

…..To be continued. Come back soon for the next installment.

 

 

 

And So I Run

I run, because my age says I probably don’t. I run, because I need to feel my heartbeat at more than 47 bpm.

I RUN , because I like the sun on my face, and the wind through my hair. I LIKE the feel of the ground under my feet, crush, crush, crushing  the memories of pain, the weakness, the foolish ways I  might otherwise spend my time.

I run to feel more powerful than  my age. I run away

from the oxygen hoses, the sound of the oxygen “pumper” that kept you alive.

You, who refused to fight, and yet refused to submit.

You, who would not stop  the madness for a better fight.

You, who gave up trying after the “diagnosis”, so long before.

Yes you.

I run, to get away from the legacy of tobacco. I run from the endless childhood second-hand smoke,  hand-me-down habit

and hand -me -down addiction to which I was a slave for so long.

I RUN away from the  chubby little girl with asthma, and the snotty , lost teenaged girl who hid beneath the bleachers , smoking, fitting in with no one,

defying  fat, yelling coaches and perfectly shaped, popular blondes.

Now , I still defy. While cheerleaders mourn  lost figures, I fight to keep my own. I defy “secretary spread”,  and my conscience, daring me to stand up for my beliefs-

I run from the presumption  of the whole world that says it knows who I am and What I am About, and I run toward being a little better,

faster.

I run from the grief of missing you and I run to forget seeing you breathe your last breath much too soon.

I run, to feel the sweat on my forehead- my fat and weakness crying;  at least for that moment in time. I run to fight against the hills, to prove I know what suffering IS and that I can EMBRACE it .

I will never be first. I run anyway. I will never be great. I run anyway. I will never stop telling myself maybe it’s time  to quit every time I push farther. That’s ok. Still,

I RUN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressed Flowers

There couldn’t have been a better place to say goodbye than in the rich tapestry of downtown Portland- in the Pearl. The delicious aromas of fresh espresso, chocolate, exotically perfumed soaps, and bakery goods drifted through the crowded streets, vying for my attention as much as any of the unique sights and sounds. A street musician played bucket drums, his dreadlocks swaying to his rhythm. A large metal horse on the sidewalk, just the right size to mount, drew my attention – something was written on it, and I wanted to read it. As we leisurely strolled around the corner, a thrift store overflowed it’s treasures out onto racks on the sidewalk, reminding me of the costume-style gypsy clothes of New Orleans. It all reminded me of our times together in New Orleans, or old town Key West, enjoying the scene as much as any tourists, even after many years of living there. We walked past the shops, and toward you. We had to get out of that hospital for awhile, to escape the weight of death for just a bit. We dreaded returning. I knew that you would have preferred we didn’t watch you die- but it wasn’t that, Mom. We just didn’t want you to be all alone.

As we began to walk back to the hospital,  where you lay dying, a sweet, decadent fragrance of fresh roses, or hyacinth, began to be present to us both at various times.  This was not the same as the smells from the shops. I asked my daughter, “Do you smell the flowers?” It was February 1, and not a bloom was in sight. I looked above to the trees, to porches along this garden-like street, and saw no signs of flowers. Yet, I kept smelling them, for blocks, as we walked back. So did she.

You passed just a few hours later, and already seemed mostly gone from that old shell, your body. I like to think you- the real you- were with us on that walk, enjoying the sights and sounds with us, somehow. I like to think the “random”, sweet candy for our senses was you , letting us know you were with us. That death was a sweet release. We stayed a couple of more hours. You were barely breathing. The symptoms the doctors said to look for were beginning. I could see that we were all close to our limit of saturated grief. Especially my youngest daughter. We decided to leave, and come back later. But not even a half hour down the road, we got the phone call, and turned the car around. You passed at 7:47 p.m. Maybe you were waiting for a bit of privacy….

I miss you every day. As Mother’s Day approaches, I find myself more moody and weepy than usual. I know you’re in ‘a better place’, but it’s still hard. Very hard.

Jewel B. Jones Finds the Cure

No, not the band. That’s funny, though. No- Jewel has been lost in a bottle lately, mourning the loss of a family pet, an unborn granddaughter, and her mother most recently . That is the main thing. The one person in the world she felt needed her to take care of her was now gone. Jewel felt selfish to look at it that way. And it wasn’t JUST that. No, it was picking up the phone to call Mom, and then remembering. It was that first Mother’s Day at the end of the week that seemed so pointless, now. Images of moistening her mom’s parched lips with a damp mouth-sponge at the hospital played through her mind, and spoon-feeding her ice cream when she had lost the strength to even lift her arms. And the husband? Did he have compassion or understanding for anyone’s pain but his own? He never shed a tear over HER mom. One day it would be his turn. Jewel struggled to promise to show kindness and compassion and to feel what he felt when the time came. But she was an empath, he was not.

Depression. How does one truly define that, and put a label on a range of ‘symptoms’ that can range from just needing to listen to more Comedy Central and worship music to needing someone to pull you from the railing of the nearest tall bridge? And secrets. They had to be kept, because if anyone knew what she was doing, what she was going through, how would it turn out? Would she be kicked to the curb? Rejected? Divorced?

Home alone. Sweet, quiet time of peaceful repose. A day off or two from work. And how did Jewel enjoy it?  Some days she took long runs, but those were usually hard from not doing it regularly. Some days she stayed busy with household chores, baking a batch of cookies she dared not eat, or spending endless hours on her iPhone, toggling between Facebook and Word Streak. Other days she would head out on a grocery shopping adventure, and that usually meant buying beer or wine, as well. At least one of her two days off weekly lately had included a six pack. She would do laundry , dishes, and vacuuming while sucking down one after the next. It got to the point where the light beer six pack was not enough to make her incoherent or rowdy, or belligerent. She had worked hard over the years to keep everything under control. She hid bottles, threw them away at public trash cans, became a fairly well-functioning… alcoholic? She preferred the term, “moderate drinker”. After all, everyone on TV drank. It was socially acceptable as long as you didn’t drive after, or come to work that way, or beat your spouse with booze bottles.  The day she realized she  possibly had become an alcoholic, she denied it, of course. “I can quit any time. It’s not like I HAVE to have it. What happens if I am out of money, or have no opportunity to drink alone? Then what? I just do without, that’s what.” And that is exactly what she did. If weeks went by and the opportunity was not there, she just carried on with normal life, not really worried about it. There was always later, next time. Like a virus that lives in a body in remission , her disease was still ‘under control’. But at any given time, the six-pack days would resume. Karaoke on the phone  app was usually involved. Everything had to look normal and nice when the hubby came home, though. She watched the clock incessantly on those days. There could be no smelly breath, no staggering, no bottles in the trash, no dried bottle ring marks on the counter. Always the make-up  was re-applied, teeth brushed,  spritzing of perfume – just a little. Why? It was simply an escape. Jewel had fallen into the habit of not knowing how to cope with the flood of negative thoughts and feelings welling up in her. But, she knew this was not the answer. It could ruin everything. Jewel decided she would beat this demon like all the others. She just WOULD.

Mostly, it was the memories, and the thoughts. It was also the stress at work and the many hours home alone. There were the grown daughters just getting started in the world that never called anymore. It was the quiet. It was too much. She had a great husband and lovely home to live in. But something was just missing. Purpose. Over the years she had studied and gotten her Associate’s Degree in Business, Pharmacy tech certificate, Personal Trainer certificate, and none of these things helped her career or herself feel accomplished. She jumped from one MLM business after the next, never succeeding. If she had a job and kept it for too long, she felt bored and consigned to some sort of indentured servitude. If she didn’t have a job, she felt worthless and like a desperate drifter.

In fact, inside , she felt like a desperate drifter anyway. An outsider, an outcast. Jewel never felt welcomed in any group. She kept no friends, because she had long ago tired of trying to strike up friendships with gals who wanted nothing to do with her. So she listened to the other’s  girls-night-out stories and kept to herself. A lot. She was pretty enough, but intense and serious. She felt like she must come across like the dandruff – scratching “snow” maker in the movie The Breakfast Club. Just a weirdo. And she was smart enough to know that thinking that way about herself just made it more true. She worked on positive self-affirmations but when things didn’t turn out to her favor on any particular day, figured the exercise was one in futility.

For some unknown reason, Jewel had shied away from writing, though it was her first love. There were bills to be paid, and then children to raise, and then later, back to bills and a sense that too much time had gone by , too many classes not taken, books not read. And yet, it was the one thing she would do even if she never got paid for it. And realizing that one day from some self-help motivational poster in Facebook that she’d seen a hundred times and rolled her eyes at nearly as often- she finally had her epiphany.

My life has been a crazy ride. I see things in a unique way, but in a way that will resonate with some. I’ve been through just about every emotional drama that plays out in human experience. Hurt, loss, heartache, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, supreme joy, pleasure, loneliness, rejection, and peace. I know what the endless hunger is, and how to finally float above it, to be free. Staying there is a lifelong challenge. Grabbing ahold of healthy, good ways to express our sorrows and triumphs is key. Reaching out to others with trust and honesty is another. Let’s go there and do that here.