Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There's Always a Story

Once again, I have some odd rambling thoughts floating about in my quirky brain; however, they will all eventually lead to an actual post with substance.  First, the twisted stuff...

In my Bipolarness - be this a word or not (and I really don't give a rat's ass because I'm somewhat discombobulated this morning) - I've been sleeping far too much.  The sound of my teenage, autistic boys yelling at me for no particular reason, or they've been caught lying, or I find items which belong to me in their bedrooms which only means they've been rifling through my personal belongings have me craving the solace of my pilliow lately.  Also, since they're adopted, they're now playing the I-don't-love-you-I've-never-loved-you-you're-not my-real-parents game.  Lovely.  This brings me to my next rant.

In order for me to force myself awake and accomplish a much needed bath, I went to Starbucks this morning.  I'm perfectly capable of making my own candy bar in a cup.  In fact, I had one earlier.  I NEEDED MORE.  IT MUST BE STRONGER.  I MUST BE INSPIRED.  So, instead of trying to explain to the drive-through Barista, "I'd like a a Skinny Venti Mocha no whip add an extra shot of espresso and mix in 4 packets of artificial sweetener and a hefty shake of powdered cinnamon - Oh, and please include a sausage, cheese, and egg muffin" (to offset the diet coffee); I simply asked for the breakfast sandwich and the coffee sans the sweetener and cinnamon because I could add those things at home.  I also know from past experience that asking for my specialty drink is like trying to explain to a hair waxing technician why I only want my lower forearms treated.  It's just not worth my time and effort.  And NO, I will not explain it now in this blog.  It's far too complicated.  One word:  Sasquatch.  This should be sufficient for now.

AND finally, because I have two spoiled and ravenous dogs who've already been fed leftover steak from a previous night's dinner, I realized that if I didn't shove the sausage muffin down my gullet within the three blocks between my house and Starbucks, I would enjoy it less than I would standing at my counter with the two of them clawing at me.  Now I have indigestion.  I still had to take the dogs outside before I sat down to write this blog and the plastic shopping bag which I've asked my husband to remove from the tree three weeks ago startled my fat little steak eating Shih Tzu into not pooping.  Instead, she pooped on the stair case landing.  Why, my dear friends and blog readers ask, don't I take the plastic bag down?  Because before today I would have considered it but now I won't.  It's the principal of the matter.

Silly, twisted thoughts aside..here's what my brain woke up writing today.


There's Always a Story

I'm a story teller by nature.  Perhaps it's the Irish in me.  Maybe it's a Bryant Family trait.  My clan has always loved to sit around and tell a good story.  Oh, and God help you if you're one of the main characters.  I can say in all honesty, we tend to embellish a wee bit for the giggle factor.  Not only do I love to tell a tale, but I love to hear them too.  Funny, serious, history, love stories - they can be just about anything and everyone.

I can only guess this is why I love working and/or visiting with the older generations.  Their lives are a wealth of adventures and these folks are begging to share them or at least I've always thought so until I met *Clara.

Clara was a resident at the nursing home I worked at during my brief history in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  She was also one of the first patients who screamed obscenities at me.  She was coherent.  There was nothing wrong with her except her age and what the aides explained as "pure meanness". Clara would degrade anyone who walked into her room, refused to use the bathroom, slapped the aides, and wouldn't cooperate when it came time to place her into her wheelchair.  It was even rumoured that she could walk but refused to.  Every aide was terrified of her; however, I couldn't wait to meet her.

When I was trained as a Certified Nursing Assistant one lesson never left me and it was a lesson in humanity.  The students were asked to write down ten things in order of importance in our lives for instance, spouses, children, home, financial security, faith, health, etc. and then imagine all of these things being taken away one by one.  That's what most of these residents suffered and what most of the employees in these facilities lacked in understanding.  The residents have every reason to be angry.  Let them yell.  I was ready for Clara. Something in her life had allowed her to be bitter and far be it from me to judge her or take it personally.

My first day on her hall, I knocked on her door to get her up for breakfast, "Good morning, Ms. Clara.  I'm Bri.  How are are you doing today?"

"I don't care who you are!  Get the fuck out of my room!"

"Well then!  Is that how you're going to treat the gal who's here to wipe your ass?" 

Dead silence.  Clara just sat in bed staring at me with her steely blue eyes.  I grinned and winked at her.  She burst into laughter.  No one had ever spoken to her like that before.  We became instant friends.  There were days she'd still yell at me and of course, I'd tell her to knock it off.  I'd tell her to stop getting pissy with me.  We'd always end up laughing. 

Out of all my patients, she never offered up her story.  She held on to it tightly.  I knew she regretted her life.  There were no pictures beside her bed.  No visitors to see her.  No letters were ever delivered.  I became her family.  Instead of sharing her past with me, she asked for my stories.  My days became her days.  What I planned on preparing for dinner became interesting to her.  She'd add ingredients and offer suggestions.  My impulsive teenage years were laughable, shameful, and yet oh so indulgent to her.

This time of my life was also my loneliest.  My first marriage was crumbling.  I was living in a state hundreds of miles away from the support of my friends and family.  There were days when, without a word, Clara could see my anguish.  This woman became my surrogate grandmother.  She knew of the horrible fights between my husband and I.  She witnessed my heartache as the weeks and months wore on.

On the day I left my husband and Colorado Springs, I made a final visit to the nursing home.  I went directly to Clara's bedside and wept in her arms.  I told her I loved her.  She smiled and told me she'd never forget me.  Sadly, I never saw her again.

There's always a story.  This is my story, our story - Clara's and my own.

*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.


Friday, March 8, 2013

So much to do..so little time.

When I have a To-Do list a mile long and yet I'm composing a blog in my mind, I know it's time to drop the toilet bowl brush and sit down at the laptop - after I wash my hands, of course.

Yesterday, as I charged through another incredibly busy day, I had the good fortune to learn how to make Pancit.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the dish, it's a fantastic Filipino meal which can consist of noodles, pork, and vegetables. My husband happens to love it but it has to be authentic.  I'm certain that you, my dear friends and blog readers, are all wondering how this happened.  As with everything in my life, it comes with a story.

I'm always busy.  I make myself so.  I live in a large house which requires a lot of upkeep.  I have two special needs boys who keep me hopping between therapy, psychiatrist, IEP, and family therapy appointments.  I teach weekly catechism classes with my husband.  I maintain a lot of friendships.  I write this blog AND my goal is to eventually get back on to the stage in one form or another.  Due to a recovery from a painful broken ankle and a court issue with my eldest son, I've been forced into a sabbatical from that dream for the time being.  So Pancit..seriously?  Yes. 

I've discovered recently to stop and breathe.  It's an amazing thing this breathing technique; in and out.  When it happens an interesting thing occurs; I look up.  Sure, sure - I may not cross everything off my list.  Hell, most days I'm lucky if I get around to making dinner; however, I do learn a few fantastic things along the way AND meet wonderful people - some of whom are still playing a magnificent role in my life today.

What would have happened if I didn't take a chance to meet my local neighbors seven years ago?  I would have missed out on people I now consider my family.  These same friends who, when my garage was torn apart by my raging adolescent, immediately came over with brooms, trash bags, and love.  No judgment.  They helped Eric and I through one of the most difficult times of our lives.

There was the unassuming father sitting next to me during our sons' social skills class.  We could never have imagined where our friendship would lead us.  The awkward boy in horned-rimmed glasses sitting beside me in fourth grade.  Some thirty years later we connected again on the computer.  He's now a handsome, semi-pro golfer working in Newport Beach, California who shares my political beliefs and humor.  What a small world.  Also, there are some friends of a friend whom I've never met yet we all share the common bond of bi-polar.  Our thread is laughter and yes, sometimes sadness.  Our goal is to meet this summer; to come together from across the country and spend some "face time" versus "FB time".

Would I have bonded with half the people I know and love today had I not stopped staring at my To-Do list and looked up?  Most likely not.  Yes, I'd have a cleaner house but who would I share it with?  I'm happy that I have an enormous circle of eclectic and fun people to invite into my chaotic world who honestly don't care if they see a dust bunny hopping along my hallway.

The man who taught me how to make Pancit yesterday was replacing a broken tile in my kitchen.  We talked and laughed for over an hour about cooking.  In the time spent with him I could have completed at least three things on my list.  Honestly, I wouldn't have traded those sixty minutes for all clean toilets in the world.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ew! Gross!!

So here I am again, the odd, strangely incoherent, and to some, the lovable Rambling Lunatic Housewife.  I have something which has been floating about in my brain since last Wednesday and must be shared.  It's actually embarrassing and quite dreadful.  It's an admission of sorts and one I'm not proud of.  Some of you, my dear friends and blog readers, who've continued to read my bizarre posts already know this about me.  For those of you newbies in virtual reality land, I apologize in advance for what you're about to discover; I have a gross sense of humor.  Not just disgusting gross but gross in a nasty you're-going-to-spit-your-coffee-out-through-your-nose sort of gross.  I can't help myself.  I'm genetically coded this way.  This is a warning; stop reading now if you're indeed drinking a cup of joe.  The sensation of anything coming through one's sinuses is never pleasant especially if it's hot.  I know this from experience.

First of all, I've discovered that a good marriage can only work if one's partner is equally as demented.  Fortunately for me, I've been friends with my husband since I was a girl in high school.  I was drawn to him specifically for his oddball, quirky, and twisted sense of humor.  We're a perfect match in this regard which is what brings me to my current story. 

When Eric and I were just sixteen and seventeen years old we would entertain ourselves for hours with fart jokes.  Yes, it's true; this is how we spent our time together.  While other kids were making out on Southern California beaches, my future husband and I were sitting in his green Mustang comparing natural bodily sounds and laughing our asses off.  My mother would have been so proud.  How to catch a future mate?  I think not but apparently it worked for us.

Twenty some years later, we still laugh hysterically as Eric sneaks into our sons' rooms - especially if they've given us a rough day - and cracks a loud, long, and smelly one off once they've fallen asleep.  Bad parents?  Perhaps.  We consider ourselves resourceful and humorous.  It's how we keep our sanity in what we feel is oftentimes a dangerous and overwhelming autistic household.

The other night, Eric and I were enjoying screaming fits of laughter.  One would think we were being entertained by some hysterical comedy on our computer.  Not so.  We were watching ear wax extractions.  Yes, we were grossing ourselves out by viewing specialists performing this delicate procedure.  Eventually we moved on to nastier things until I'd finally had enough and begged Eric to stop through my giggling tears.

All I can say is, thank God I wasn't drinking coffee.