Time Management

October 31, 2007

Weekends are way too short.  And, instead of feeling rested and refreshed after a weekend, I find myself dragging more than ever because I’ve stretched myself too thin trying to do too many of the things I’ve neglected during the week.

On weekdays, my alarm goes off at 4:30 am.  I could get up an hour later, but I like to ease into my day.  I can’t just catapult my body from bed to shower.   After taking Penny out, I sit at the computer, drink a couple cups of coffee, and read email and blogs.

I head for the shower at 6:15, and am ready to leave the house at 7:15.  Because I have been granted permission to work eight periods straight through and take my lunch ninth period, I leave work at 2:00 instead of 2:40.  When I get home, I take the dogs out and feed them.  Then I check the mail and the answering machine, and deal with whatever needs to be dealt with.

From 3:00 to 4:00, if that time period is free, I watch General Hospital. (The only other television program I view regularly is House. Because I can’t stay up until 10:00 [unless I want to suffer the consequences] Daniel tapes the show for me, and I watch it on Wednesday afternoons, after GH.  That’s marathon TV viewing for me)  As soon as General Hospital is over, I prepare dinner and do whatever else needs to be done.  After dinner, I try to do some knitting, which is how I relax.  Before I know it, it’s time to go to bed.

In order to get eight hours of sleep (which is necessary for keeping the aches and pains down to a dull roar.  Unfortunately, I very rarely get those eight hours.), I should be asleep by 8:30.

Since I started knitting, my reading habits have changed dramatically.  Still, if it’s not already too late (which it usually is), I try to read for half an hour or so.  Sometimes I get really engaged and read longer than I should, which means I’m sacrificing the sleep that is critical to managing my pain.  Other times, I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to get through an entire page.

This chronic pain and fatigue business is a major bummer.  I’m tired of having to carefully pick and choose what I say yes or no to.  I am sick of making choices based on physical and time-based limitations.

This past weekend, for example, I had to say no to a trip to the Botanical Gardens.  In this case, it wasn’t a health-related choice.  I simply had too much to do, and couldn’t justify putting certain things off any longer.  The paperwork clutter in the kitchen was one of those things.

The thought of attacking that pile has become more daunting than the thought of climbing Mt. Everest.  It’s a discouraging task because there’s always a new mound of paperwork to replace the old.  As of today, you’d never know that I spent many weekend hours reducing one pile after another until I could actually see counter and table tops.

Another item on my “to do” list this past weekend was to visit my grandmother.  I took care of that on Sunday.  Monday was my ex mother-in-law’s birthday.  We took her out to dinner to celebrate. Now I have to find time to squeeze in a get-together with my own mother.  It’s been quite a while since we last had contact.

Any disruption in my weeknight activities means there will be increased pain and fatigue hell to pay the next day.    Therefore, I try to strictly adhere to my self-prescribed routine.  I can’t help but resent the confines of these restrictions on my life.

Being out on disability for five months spoiled me.  I miss having all that time all to myself.  I miss being able to indulge in long, leisurely phone calls with my best friend.  I miss being able to stay up later at night and sleep later in the morning, instead of having an alarm clock determine the time of my awakening.  I miss the freedom of not having to adapt my life according to the dictates of time and pain constraints.

Song of the Day:  Time  by Pink Floyd

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Wish You Were Here

October 25, 2007

On Saturday (which was the first anniversary of my brother, Mark’s death), I sent an email to Tamica (Mark’s fiancée). I just wanted to let her know that I was thinking of her and her daughter, Faelin. Her response was heart-wrenching. She wrote:

I ended up taking time off work yesterday and Friday. I thought I would be able to handle this particular anniversary” better – I was wrong. Faelin was crushed. Initially, I didn’t think she would even remember, but again, I was wrong. I thought I wouldn’t even mention it to her – I know if I could have forgotten about it myself the last few days might have been easier.

We went to the river on Saturday, to the spot where we used to watch them set the duck blind, and floated flowers in. We still have the remains in the containers Mike gave us and it didn’t leave her side all weekend. She breaks my heart. I miss him every day still – for her, for me, and for all of you.

I miss Mark every day, too. This is such a monstrous loss.

Song of the Day: Wish You Were Here by Incubus

On Sunday, there was a temporary break in the dark clouds of grief. I am very grateful that I was able to enjoy the glorious weather, and be glad for every hour (seven, in fact) that I spent at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. My cousin invited me to go, and I’m so happy I did. It was a wonderful day.

The first thing we saw as we entered the fairgrounds was this man standing on two horses.

Next, we went through an exhibition building where we marveled at all the gorgeous displays of yarn and handmade items.

I’ve been looking for something to share space with some lonely chestnuts in a bowl on my mantel. These felted balls fill the bill nicely (and they were dirt cheap).

I’ve also been on the lookout for a fun pair of mittens. (Mittens keep my hands much warmer than gloves.) I was delighted to find these very reasonably priced and vibrantly colored mittens.

Then we headed over to watch the llama and alpaca jumping event.

Another highlight of the day was this yummy meal consisting of grilled loin lamb chops, ground lamb ravioli and fresh spinach sautéed in garlic and oil.

One more fun purchase was this felted pumpkin, just in time for Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween, I’m going to dress up as Flavor Flav. For real. Here’s my costume:

Song of the Day: Flavor Flav Cold Lampin’ by Public Enemy

Although being tired seems to have become a way of life for me, I experienced a significant increase in fatigue this past week. By early afternoon, it was all I could do to keep my eyes open at work. My speech was slurred and my voice was hoarse – both of which, in my case, are common symptoms of exhaustion. Every task I faced just seemed too hard. All I wanted to do was sleep, but my sleep was disrupted and not at all restful.

A couple of days ago, it struck me that my lethargy was the result of dread. What I was dreading was today.

It has been one year since my brother, Mark, died in a boating accident.

His body wasn’t found until November 15th. Those twenty-six days in between were the darkest of my life.

Today, the darkness threatens to envelop me once again. My heart hurts so much.

Oh how I miss you, Mark. I love you… forever.


Song of the Day: A song Mark loved – Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole

I guess I should explain my offhand remark about having to spend part of Friday afternoon at the police station, huh? Okay, here goes.

Thursday night, after she got out of work, Rebecca stopped at a grocery store to buy soup. She had just walked over to a self-checkout line when an employee called her over. (She knew he was an employee because he was wearing a store shirt.) Becca thought he was going to tell her something about the self-checkout line, so she went over to find out what he wanted.

Boy was she in for a surprise. A very unpleasant one. What he wanted had nothing to do with checking out groceries. He was checking HER out.

This man looked Rebecca up and down and said, “Mmm, you’re thick as hell.” Although he said this appreciatively, Rebecca was most definitely not flattered. First of all, such behavior is just plain creepy. Secondly, most women do not want to be reminded that they are carrying extra weight.

Rebecca turned and walked back to the self-checkout aisle. Mr. Creepy followed her. He placed the six pack of beer he had been carrying on the conveyor belt, right next to the scanner, which meant that Becca had to reach over his beer to place her items on the conveyor belt after scanning them. Mr. Creepy stood extremely close to her, and looked at her in a way that made her feel violated. She felt blocked in and trapped, and started to shake.

Rebecca intentionally avoided eye contact with this man. Instead of looking at him, she stared at the checkout screen. Any normal person would have known by her body language that she wanted to be left alone. Mr. Creepy, however, demanded that she look at him so he could see her beautiful eyes.

He asked her age. Rebecca told him that she is twenty years old. (Because he was standing so close to her, she was afraid that he would hurt her if she refused to answer. She said she kept thinking of the boy who died after being stabbed in a parking lot a few months ago.)

After Becca told Mr. Creepy her age, he said, “Damn. I have kids older than you.” (This would make him at least forty.) He then went on to ask, “What’s the legal age for us to have sex? Is it 21?” Rebecca knows that the age of consent is younger than 21, but she agreed that it was, in hopes that the man would stop bothering her.

But Mr. Creepy was not to be discouraged. He said, “No, I don’t think that’s right. Let me ask somebody else.” He turned to another employee at the next register. While he was asking his question, Rebecca caught the eye of another employee. She mouthed, “Help me,” but the employee didn’t understand.

Mr. Creepy turned his attention back to Rebecca and asked her to give him a ride home. She said no. He angrily asked, “What do you mean, no?” Becca replied that she doesn’t give rides to strangers. He said, “I only live a couple of blocks from here.” Rebecca repeated that she doesn’t give rides to strangers. Mr. Creepy said, “If I do anything, you can tell on me.” Becca later told me that the way he said those words made her believe that he would indeed do something to her.

Mr. Creepy was distracted by something, and Rebecca was able to walk away. At that point, the employee she had tried to alert realized that something was wrong (the look on Rebecca’s face must have clued her in). She hurried over to Becca and asked if she was okay. Rebecca said no, and started to cry. The employee called a manager, who asked Becca if she would write up a report of what had happened so they could use it to terminate Mr. Creepy.

Apparently, during his shift (he had just gone off-duty when Rebecca arrived), he had disappeared for forty minutes. They suspected that he was drinking on the job. This suspicion was confirmed when another employee admitted that he actually saw Mr. Creepy drinking an alcoholic beverage. Furthermore, yet another employee came forward and said that Mr. Creepy had made inappropriate remarks to her.

Why Mr. Creepy wasn’t sent home after that is beyond my comprehension, and, in my opinion, increases the store’s liability for what happened to Rebecca. They knew an employee was drinking while at work, yet didn’t do anything about it. If they had, Rebecca wouldn’t have had to endure such a traumatic experience.

Because I was asleep when Rebecca got home, I didn’t become aware of the situation until Friday. I spoke to one of the attorneys Daniel works for, and was advised that it would be a good idea for Becca to file a police report, just to have the incident on record. (Rebecca doesn’t want to press charges because she is afraid of retaliation.) Ms. Attorney also recommended that we ask the police to find out if Mr. Creepy had been terminated, so Rebecca wouldn’t have to avoid the supermarket out of fear of running into this man again.

She and I went to the police station Friday afternoon. After taking Rebecca’s statement, the officer called the grocery store. He was told that Mr. Creepy would be fired upon his arrival, and banned from the premises, but he had not yet shown up for work.

So, that’s the story.

Before:

After:

Song of the Day: Lost in the Supermarket  by The Clash

“I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily”

I had a fabulous time in Delaware, but it was way too short, especially considering the distance we had to travel to get there. It should have taken a little under five hours, but, thanks to New Jersey traffic congestion, it was more like six and a half. Still, it was worth it. I’ve only passed through Delaware on the way to somewhere else, so it was nice to spend some time there.

We arrived late Friday night, and the first thing we did was check out the beach at the end of Rehoboth Ave. I couldn’t be that close to the ocean without paying it an immediate visit. We went back for another brief stroll on the beach on Saturday, after checking out the shops, including those on a side street called “Penny Lane.”

Here’s a shot of the ocean.

Saturday also brought a very special treat – lunch at Nicola’s with Mary and Joe. Mary left a comment after my last entry, alerting me to the fact that she and Joe were going to be in the same area, and suggesting that we meet at Nicola’s for lunch. Not being sure of my plans for that day, I couldn’t give Mary a definite answer. She and Joe were going to eat at Nicola’s anyway, so, we left it up in the air as to whether or not I would be able to join them.

Fortunately, it worked out. Rebecca and I arrived at Nicola’s just a little bit ahead of Mary and Joe. We had just been seated, and placed our order for sodas. I was doing a little bragging about Mary: “She went to clown college! She wrote a book called Girl Clown!”

Suddenly, I looked up and spotted Mary. I hurried over to her, and much squealing and hugging ensued.

Let me tell you something. Mary gives the BEST hugs. When I commented on the quality of her hugs, Joe said, “Why do you think I married her?” I can see why, Joe! Not only is she a champion hugger, but she is also lovely and kind and funny and smart. As for Joe, he is warm and friendly and a terrific conversationalist. Not to mention the fact that he’s got it going on in the looks department, too!

What a great couple. Although our time together was short, I enjoyed and appreciated every minute I got to spend in their company.

There was no awkwardness at all. I felt completely at ease with these two wonderful people. Even though this was the first time we met in person, it’s not as if Mary was a stranger. As she mentioned in her blog, we’ve been reading each other since 2002. Mary has been there for me through a lot of bad times. Her unyielding support has helped me tremendously. Her “virtual” hugs have meant a lot to me over the years, and now that I know how good her REAL hugs feel, I’ll be looking forward to the next one!

That evening, Rebecca and I walked over to Silver Lake, a waterfowl preserve. We stopped to watch a large group of ducks in the park across the street from where we were standing.

A man came over and told us we were about to get a closer look at the ducks. He walked around to the side of his house, and we were amazed to see the ducks hurrying across the street, in pursuit of the man.

They followed him to his side yard.

Feeding time!

Another fun thing happened on Sunday while we were out on a fishing boat. I won the pool for catching the biggest fish (a croaker). The mate insisted that I participate in the “parade,” which involved me following him around the boat with my fish on display. It was hilarious (and embarrassing!).

There weren’t many people on this fishing trip, so I only won $51, but it covered what I paid for the trip, plus the tip for the mate. Sweet.

I took a few photos while we were on the boat, but neglected to get one of my fish. Instead, for some unknown reason, I took a picture of Rebecca’s Chuck Taylor All Stars.

This is the “Old Hookers” bait & tackle shop at the marina.

Dinner that evening was quite an experience. We went to Crabby Dick’s.

At first, I was aghast at the words displayed on the marquee. It was an invitation to “show off yer bitch on da porch.” WTF?

Then it was pointed out to me that this was in reference to the Greyhound Rescue Weekend that was taking place in Rehoboth and Dewey.

The irreverence and affinity for double entendres was also evident in the restaurant’s gift shop, chock full of “Crabby Dick” souvenirs. The t-shirts are a scream.

When we were seated at our table, Rebecca told me to turn around and look at what was behind my head. This is what I saw.

Of all things it had to be a bat.

I was going to tell you about the outlet shopping Rebecca and I did before heading home on Monday (it involved surprising bargains at American Eagle, Hollister, and Abercrombie & Fitch), but I’m too tired to write any more. Suffice it to say that I got some Christmas shopping done.

It’s been another exhausting week (I spent part of this afternoon at a police station with Rebecca, who was filing a sexual harrassment complaint). I’m looking forward to climbing into bed, and, hopefully, sleeping late tomorrow morning. Buenas noches.

Song of the Day: Delaware by Perry Como

Time is Not On My Side

October 3, 2007

This has been one crazy week! On Monday, I was so busy at work, I didn’t even take a break for lunch. I worked nine periods straight through, and then had to go to a faculty meeting that lasted until 4:00. Considering that I had been on the job since 7:30 a.m., that’s a long day for me.

Yesterday, Rebecca and I went apple picking after I got out of work.

Besides picking apples, we also checked out the caged birds.  Here’s a peacock.

Does anyone know what kind of bird this is?  It has a very long tail.

We also engaged in some silliness.  Rebecca’s favorite animal is the pig, so this is the cutout she chose to pose in.

Of course, I chose the witch.

Becca thought it would be cool to take a picture of our shadows.

Before leaving the orchard, we also paid a visit to the pumpkin patch.

Afterward, we went to get a bite to eat.  It was so late by the time we got home, I went straight to bed.

This afternoon, I have to do some straightening up and dig through the mountain of paperwork in the kitchen to find whatever bills are due to be paid. Then my sister is coming over after dinner.

Because I won’t have another chance to do so, I also have to find time to pack my suitcase. Rebecca and I are going to spend the holiday weekend in Rehoboth beach, Delaware. We’re leaving right after I get of work on Friday, and will return on Monday.

Tomorrow I have a hair appointment, and some more running around to do after that. I’m exhausted just thinking about everything that needs to be done, but I’m hoping that a long weekend at the seashore will be rejuvenating.  See you when I get back!

Song of the Day:  Time is on My Side  by The Rolling Stones