Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flying Monkeys and Fried Green Tomatoes

It's Sunday morning, and there's a cool, steady rain falling.  I know it's steady, hearing the thunderous sound of the water gushing from the wrong end of the roof gutter.  It needs cleaning.  I don't have a ladder tall enough to reach.   I could buy a ladder from Lowes, true, but how would I bring it home?  Simple facts of my life. The rain sounds lovely, though. :)

I'm sitting on my very-much-tidier carport eating today's breakfast, which is a bowl of shrimp flavor Ramen noodle soup.  Really cheap and bad for me, but I've become a bit obsessed with them lately.  I'm going to make a big batch of juice later and do another juice fast.  I'm craving pineapple. And carrots. Okay, apple and lemon too.  

I canned another batch of salsa this week because the pretty tomatoes seem to pretty much be done for the season.  They're all looking rather pathetic, but because there's still a good flush of green tomatoes on the younger plants, I had fried green tomatoes for supper Friday.  Tangy, crispy, Mmm!  I think that southerners like fried dill pickles only because they're the pale flavor shadow of fried green tomatoes.  

I've found that slicing them thickly (about half-inch slices) keeps them together while cooking and firm enough to cut with a fork.  Pat them firmly into cornmeal with maybe a little bit of flour, until you can't see the wet green insides, and fry them in a pan of hot oil until lightly browned on each side.  Drain on paper towels.  Salt and pepper to taste before serving.  I don't season my cornmeal because I want to taste my food before I accidentally oversalt it.  I eat them for the taste of the tomatoes, not salt.  Plain and simple.

(And yes, I'm drinking a lot of water right at this very moment to mitigate the sodium in the ramen.  Yes.  I know.  Leave me alone about that.  Blame it on a particularly difficult round of depression this week. )

I had to make them. I'd had some a few days earlier at my sister's and couldn't stop thinking about how good they were.  Mine were better.  Lol. (Okay, mine were simply thicker.)

Why am I depressed?  Well, at first it just arrived like a phantom, with no apparent reason.  Now I can admit that it's a whole bundle of things that nobody wants to talk about.  I've been grounded from running for the last week because of another hip cortisone shot.  Had to give it time to work.  I'm sure the lack of exercise hurt my chemical levels.  

I'm lonely.  And I'm getting really resentful of all the cliches carelessly tossed my way: there's someone for everyone, God has someone for you, you're too picky, you don't get out enough to meet anyone. Well, if God had someone planned for me, I'm sure He could arrange a meeting without me having to barhop and become a out enough to run into all sorts of possible non-jerks.

I'm under a lot of pressure at work because of the new evaluation system and because I'm teaching a new subject this year.  I've had good help in planning and preparation, but nothing compares to already having that experience of teaching the lesson once before to see how it will go and to figure out how you will do things completely differently next time.  *sigh* I don't like feeling ignorant.  I don't like making mistakes.  I don't like feeling unprepared.  I don't like knowing my job and license depend on students I never have in class doing well on tests in subjects I don't even have the chance to teach. I feel destined to fail. 

I don't especially like that someone who should be closer to me enjoys calling me the Wicked Witch of the West.  She thinks of herself as Glinda.  Well, yesterday she unleashed a whole flock of flying monkeys on me in the front yard because she "had a bad day".  I was trying to tell her something.  She interrupted me and cut me off. (Understand that this is her usual way: she gets to say what she wants, everyone must listen, and she must not ever listen to others.)

I mildly called her on her rudeness.  Then she started screaming and cursing me out in front of all the neighbors who were outside to see and hear her tirade.  I told her she had no reason to be rude to me, nor to take out her bad day on me entirely.  More screaming and cursing.  Turns out she just had a very busy day at work and didn't get a break for a long time.  (On top of the late night of social activities she indulged in the night before, of course.)  What she described sounded like a typical morning in my 6th grade class.  Self-realization would kill her, if it ever crossed her mind.  God forbid if I should ever truly enlighten her as to what the rest of us have to go through.

If she had any clue how badly she hurts me every time she takes everything out on me, takes and never gives, and has people fawning over her to boot, would she try to be kind?  It takes me such a long time to get over her horrible treatment of me, because I never truly forget the previous times, though she has no problem forgetting when it suits her.  I have scars that remind me.  I never hit her back.  And somehow I'm the one everybody hates.  It's always been this way.  Black and white, if you kiss the ground she walks on, it requires that you despise me.  

I wasn't having a good day to begin with.  The ignition in my mower broke and I couldn't mow my already too-high grass.  A dirty piece of metal cut my leg literally from ankle to knee while I was cleaning the carport - my replacement home-blessing activity since mowing fell through. 

I know, it doesn't look like a runner's leg from this angle.  My thighs still make me unhappy and my leg was dirty from cleaning outside.

Let's not forget that there was a Wicked Witch of the East, complete with a house dropped on her, that inappropriate outfit, and a lifetime of coddling that her green sister never got.  So if anyone is going to unfairly accuse me of being West, guess who is East?  Nessarose.  You've gotta be sweet to be Glinda.

Still sitting outside, barefoot, though the day is cool. Listening to the rain watering my tomatoes, so that I can have bigger green ones to fry.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Table For One

Today I had my third cortisone shot -- back into the trochanteric (hip) bursa this time.  Last time the shot didn't do much, but it was hopefully to hit my femoral nerve, though with variations of the human pelvis, it was a trial and error process.  Apparently, with no imaging to guide him, he simply missed the nerve.  I don't blame him -- it was worth a shot.  *ahem*. :). 

If these shots don't start helping in the next couple of rounds, he will send me to the "pain blocker guys" who have imaging equipment to use, a big bill to send, and possibly resulting in a dead leg for me forever.  

I'd rather not completely lose the sensation in my leg.  It's been pretty miserable having it already so numb all these years.

A couple of funny things happened during my visit.  He twisted my leg around, then he started doing some deep finger-poking into my hip.  I didn't realize I was supposed to react when it hurt. I thought he was feeling around for inflammation or something.  Oops.  I'm used to not reacting to most pain, so I just took it in stride until he asked me if that had hurt.  (After all, when I hurt, nobody but me cares, and there's nothing I can do most of the time.) Well, yes, yes it had hurt.   Lol right th.....oh!  

So given that shot number one helped much more than shot number two, he's going to stick with bursal injections for a couple of months to bring the pain down to a more tolerable level.  No pain would be great, but less pain is better than nothing.  Well. You know what I mean.

The second funny thing was that as he brought in the cart with all the stuff for my injection, my doctor said he would be the flight attendant for the day. He said that he used to jokingly say "coffee, tea, or me?" until the day an 80 year old woman said "I'll take you!" And then pinched his butt.  Lol.  He was wearing his wedding ring this time, so sorry, no hope there.  But I appreciated that they made me laugh before giving me a very painful shot.  :)

Afterward, I went shopping.  I asked both of my siblings if they wanted to meet me there for dinner, but it was too long of a drive and they were both too tired.  My sister had her boyfriend she wanted to spend her time with.  I miss my sister.  She lives next door.  And it doesn't help.

I did manage to find a couple of pairs of Smartwool socks for running, though the salesgirl a few weeks ago told me they didn't sell those.  Truth was, she just didn't know her stock.  Actually, though you would expect wool socks to make for sweaty feet, they just provide me with some nice cushioning and they're pretty cool.  Besides, my running shoes have mesh tops that breathe too well in the wintertime, and just perfectly the rest of the year.  

Plus, these socks are awesomely bright. :). Colors make me happeeeeee!  

Not much else does anymore.  My heart is still broken.  I wonder how many years it'll be before I have the courage, if I ever do, to let anyone get close to me again.  Seems like all they ever want to do is hurt me.

I conquered one of my phobias and ate all alone at Olive Garden tonight.  I had to play some mind games to do it, mainly nagging myself that I wanted some Zuppa Toscana and it would be a while before I make it at home.  My waiter was very nice and seated me in the small two-top area, otherwise known as the you-are-alone-because-you-are-a-loser section.  Still, he was nice and worked really well for his tip.  :). Aw, you don't think I believe he was concerned about me, do you?   

Who even notices?  Am I even still here?

It wasn't a very entertaining dinner, and I had a very difficult time making eye contact with anybody I encountered.  It was just really, really lonely sitting there eating by myself, with no one to talk to, alone in my tiny section of the restaurant. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Foulness of Friendship

A while back I invited a longtime friend to go to the Adam Ant concert in Nashville. Okay, he was a love interest.  Was. At that point I had relegated him back to bland friendship again.  I had waited 30 years for Adam Ant to perform somewhere within reasonable distance, and silly me thought a friend might be willing to go with me.  After all, they had invited me to go places I wasn't exactly jazzed about going to, and I did because they requested it.

Well, except for that one invite to play cards at a neighbor's house, and I just had a weird vibe about being uncomfortable in a stranger's home.  Since childhood, that's been an invitation for terrible things that happened to me. I tend to stick to places I know, for safety.  

His reason for refusing to go with me that was that he was not a fan of Adam Ant.  Not long before that, I had been told upon inviting someone to a coffee shop, that they didn't drink coffee.  So I explained that there were other things at the shop than coffee, but they vetoed possibilities anyway.  

Ladies, let this be a warning sign for you. If a man makes some stupid broad statement that he doesn't like an entire class of things, he's just too chicken to say he doesn't want to be with you. I know, all they have to do is say "I'm not interested in you", but many of them lack the gumption to tell the truth.  Perhaps it's in the spirit of not burning all their bridges. As if they get all the say-so about coming back to the good woman who loved them with all their faults when they've blown it elsewhere.  Backtrack to that proverbial bridge and you'll find it's already gone, because you destroyed it when you hurt her with your careless disregard.  

Fellas, man up and either tell the real truth behind it all, or be that truly considerate friend who does something that doesn't really thrill you just for the sake of your friendship. It's a lot better than completely losing the respect of other people because you're a coward.  

Yes, other people will eventually find out what you did, because some actions are as lame as a breakup on a post-it note.   

I'm not sure if he was bothered by the fact that I was willing to pay for a $25 concert ticket for him, or if I had simply exceeded my utility in his eyes.  Unfortunately, I did find that he wasn't really a gentleman after all, and all of his statements to the contrary were mere posturing.  He's had 100 days since then to make what he did right and he hasn't bothered.  So I know where I stand, but I also know what kind of person he really is.

Heck, part of me suspects that it's payback for telling him that it was A Flock of Seagulls who performed "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" that time when we were in his car.  I was right, he was wrong, and it really didn't matter to me, but I did work in a music store for a while and he got all flustered about being wrong.  i got the silent treatment a good part of that evening.  Maybe it was a big deal to him, but I'm not going to get a favorite song of mine wrong.  Geez. 

There's something to be said for eyes so harshly opened.  I almost wish I didn't know, because the knowledge has stolen a lot of happiness from my life.  It could've been worse, I suppose. I could've been married to him, and then I'd be deeply sorry to learn the truth.  Still, this is a heartbreak and disillusionment that I don't think I'll ever recover from.  It still hurts now as much as it did in June when the truth become apparent. 

None so blind as those who will not see.  Sometimes you squeeze your eyes tightly closed in the darkness for fear of what will be revealed from the shadows.  Other times you're left scarred from the memories of what hurt you in the darkness when you were brave enough to open your eyes and look.  

I did have one friend, who I've known much longer, say he would love to go to the concert with me even though he wasn't a particular fan of Adam Ant.  (Rush is more his speed.) His reasoning was that he knew I was a fan and he wanted me to be able to go.  I've done many unpleasant things over the years for the sake of my friends.  (So, I guess that puts me in my place with the one who wouldn't be giving of one evening for the sake of making a friend happy.  Well done indeed.)

We made plans to go, simply because it promised to be a very entertaining show, and I was happy that one friend would sacrifice an evening at my expense so that I could see a performance I'd waited 30 years for.  One friend.  Wow.

Then of course, I found out that I would have to work on the evening of the concert, and I couldn't get out of it. My job doesn't allow for rescheduling.  Still, he's got the Brownie points for being willing.  

I guess I've just become quite weary of forgiving others' trespasses against me.  They do those things willingly to hurt me.  Let's face it.  People are no damn good.  I don't see the point of wasting my energy continuing to forgive them for their misdeeds.  Ah, yes.  The misdeeds I knew about all along, though I never pointed the accusing finger at them.  

But I'm done with blaming myself for being their victim.  It's obviously their choice, their fault, and their nature to deliberately hurt other people.  I'm just waiting for Karma to turn back around.  I've seen it happen so many times before.  Sometimes the old gal even provides for a chuckle from the peanut gallery.  

Now translate that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gotta Go Shopping

I've had reassuring messages coming in lately.  Sunday, running was a little bit easier, so I bounced past my previous limit and did 5.33 miles.  That was my "long run" day.  They'll get longer as I get stronger.  I played a number of mental games to keep going.  I noted that while I was taking a walk break, that woman who is considerably heavier than me kept on running slowly past. I told myself to start running, and go at least as far as she did.  We both stopped to walk up that one killer hill, but it didn't hurt me as much as it usually does.

When I headed to sign in at work this morning, another woman told me I was looking really slender today.  Yay.  :) Right thing to say.  It made me feel great and made my liquid meals more mentally tolerable throughout the day.  My juice doesn't taste bad, but yesterday they served steak and gravy in the cafeteria, and I wanted some so badly.  

Later, my sister said that its time for me to buy some smaller clothes.  When I tested that idea, I was able to pull my pants down completely, without unbuttoning or unzipping them.  That was amusing. Then I pulled them back up the same way with no problem.  Maybe it is time.  They're all getting pretty baggy in the seat and the legs.  Lol. A male friend mentioned that my butt and legs are a lot smaller lately.  I never had any junk in the trunk anyway, but that means that my hips are shrinking.  Hey, middle aged men, look out.  Haha.  

Maybe by the time the gym pool is built, I won't mind too much being seen in my swimsuit.  I'll just swim for exercise anyway.  I'll have to figure out what to do about my contacts though.  Maybe they'll sell decent goggles at the gym, since the cheap and cheesy ones sold locally in the summertime always threaten to suck my eyeballs out of their sockets.  I'm not kidding!  I'd like to be able to swim without being completely blind over and under the water.  Who knows when they'll build it, though.  They still haven't broken ground over a year later.

I realize that sunrise will keep coming later until November, meaning that any running I do before work in a public venue will have to be undertaken in nighttime darkness.  That really creeps me out.  But I'd like to get my running over with so I don't have other things taking my run time away in the afternoons. What to do?  My neighborhood isn't safe.  I think I'll borrow someone else's neighborhood that I know pretty well.  Someplace close and well-lit.  I hope it works for me.  If all else fails, I've been offered the loan of a rather large German Shepherd who is crazy with love for me.  

Here's hoping my air conditioner holds up until it is cool enough to turn it off for a while and allow it t that out.  Last night I had to sleep in a wet t-shirt and it was a clammy, unpleasant experience.  Still, I did sleep deeply, going by the amount of dreams I had and the sweat that still poured out of me and left the shirt just as wet.  I hate the smell of my own sweat on my clothes.  It's even worse when it's from night sweats.  Yes, they are far too early in my life, but it's likely because I'm childless.  I had hoped I'd get the chance to at least love someone else's children as my own, but I'm sure it's all part of God's plan. At least I'm not one of the divorce court frequent flyers club.

Oh, the baggage I don't have.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frustration, Capital F

I'm getting angrier by the minute and the things fueling the fire just keep on reminding me to make pile bigger.

First, let's start with my hair.  It's too long to hold curl, too short to stay in a ponytail, and too freaking layered for me to French braid outta my face when I run.  And I'm too young to settle on an old lady haircut.  Old lady haircuts make you look like an old lady, so no thank you very much.  Put down the scissors NOW, because the answer is not to cut it even shorter.  

I want it out of my eyes when I'm dripping sweat, i want it to look feminine, and I want it to look neat at the same time.  IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?  Headbands generally don't help because they're too tight and cause me to have headaches.  Yes, even the Sparkly Soul ones which are expensive and beautiful and don't do a damn thing for my hair. I have a big head, so they hurt quite a bit.  Takes all the fun out of running, on that rare occasion it doesn't already feel like self-inflicted torture.

 Attribute that to my thick skull, rather than a big brain.  It takes a lot of force to give me a concussion, such as a horse accidentally throwing me off so that I land on my jaw.  But hey, that worked, and you can keep the nausea and blurry vision.    

I need my hair out of my face when I run.  When I run, I sweat, and when I sweat, I itch horribly all over the minute the first overly salty bead comes dripping out of my pores.  I get gritty white salty patches when I let my sweat dry on me.  Yep, I'm one of thoooose people.   And I don't need the top half of a mullet drooping soggily into my face when I'm running.  Bobby pins?  Oh sure.  They add to the itch factor because they provide tightly pulled places where the sweat stings first.  They scratch my scalp, and the tightness doesn't let the sweat evaporate.  It just puddles there at my hair roots.  

Speaking of running, I got my invitation to the race which was so rude last year.  I'm surprised there wasn't an option to just give them a cash donation on the registration form.  No water stops on the extra-long course being called a 5k, the sweeper truck that didn't stick with the runners, and the race being announced as over because they hadn't bothered checking that people hadn't finished yet.  I may be out of line for saying this, but it seemed to have been set up for favored friends to win, and for everyone else to just hand over money for.  Does it really cost that much to have a cooler and a few water cups halfway through the course? 

There was such a marked difference in attitude from that race and the first one I was in that I can't understand how they could have done such a horrible and inconsiderate job.  Maybe that's the key.  My first race was a small-time affair, and they provided simple refreshments, and took a photo of all participants.  They cared, and it showed.  I can't say the same for this other one.  Others noted the snobby attitude prevalent.  Well, my money Is probably not good enough for them anyway.  Still, I'm angry and offended to get an invitation to be forgotten about once again.  Oh no, don't ask me why I won't support your organization.... Because if you do, I will certainly tell you why.

And another thing... The race I ran in early last fall... I think that they shouldn't be so pushy with the sweeper truck, and that it shouldn't pass the people in the back.  They're most likely the ones who are injured, and might need to be picked up.  I read articles about other regions' races, and they don't disrespect all of the back-of-the -packers.  One woman works in the sweeper truck, and it's her job to offer water and gatorade to the strugglers and stragglers, gels and fruit if needed, encouragement and reassurance, and sometimes run with that last person, to provide emotional support when they'd otherwise collapse on the curb and cry, never to run again.  But around here, the people in the sweeper truck just can't devote an entire hour to the race. Nice.  Jerks.

I'm frustrated because my dog is on his 4th day of diarrhea, and he has smeared and splattered it to almost every room in the house.  I get it cleaned up, and there he goes again.  He also rubbed his nasty butt on my pillows, so it's quarantine time for him until I see some days of no diarrhea.  I love my dog, but I've spent my weekend cleaning up after him, and dealing with my own migraine and nausea as a result.  I have canning and a lot of laundry to do.  At least if he trashes the kitchen, I feel that I can get that sanitized more definitively.  

Maybe the dropping temps will cheer me up.  It's finally starting to feel like fall in the evenings.  *tired sigh*

Why all the running?  I'm just trying to keep my brain from thinking, trying to distract myself from thinking about my disappointing wreck of a life. I feel like it's the only thing I can accomplish with what's left of my life.  So many opportunities have been taken away from me, I wonder if the field was level to begin with.  I suspect that it wasn't. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sleep After Five Miles

My sleep chart from last night, after five miles. :)

Best night of sleep I've had in months!

Breaking the Barrier

I ran last night.  Truth be told, I was planning to run yesterday afternoon, but it was 90° all day!  Pretty toasty for September, even around here.  My nephew had called me earlier in the afternoon to ask for a ride home from the county fair, and when I picked him up, he looked reminiscent of a drowned rat.  His dark brown hair was hanging in sweaty strings all around his face.  

By 6:30, I decided to go and run, but it was still 88°.  80° with high humidity is the danger zone for running.  I don't know what else to do.  If I run on the treadmill, I can't participate in the Nike+ Challenges I've signed up for.  The app is incredibly unreliable at tracking treadmill miles.  If I run outside, I have to deal with extremely high heat and humidity.  It's like training in Hell.  If I avoid running in heat entirely, that gives me a good two weeks of autumn's comfortable running weather, and sudden cold winter temperatures.  

Sometimes we have very mild winters, true, but last winter ran through April.  May was a brief respite of springtime temps, and then boom! Blasted with broiling summertime heat again!  May I put  in a request for six more weeks of fall, another month of spring, and perhaps just two months of living in an oven in the summertime?  I mean, really, is there a benefit to weather so hot it causes me to have asthma attacks?  Baking cookies in your car is a silly trick at best.  

I have this terrible feeling that I'm going to fall in love with Ireland and the UK's summer temperature next year, and I won't ever want to leave.  *sigh*. Maybe I should just find myself a British guy and move over there.

Back to my point.  Sunset was at 7:15 and I was really afraid to run at my usual place, which is, honestly, boring and frustrating me to death.  I don't feel that I'm improving any there and it irritates the crap out of me to see random strangers misusing the property when there are no students there.  I mean, really, they love taking their dogs to do their business in the middle of the yard where the children play kickball and football! Have a little consideration! At least pick up after your dog and obey the leash law so your large black lab doesn't go chasing after me. Again.

So I headed for the only running path in town at the park.  There were several people out there walking, so I felt very comfortable.  There are even lights throughout the park, along the path.  I ran for the first two miles, several times going faster than my typical tooth-pulling pace, and then I finished my third.  By then it was really dark, and several of the darker areas on the path were insufficiently lit.  A little bit creepy.  Mental note to arrive an hour earlier next time.  

I did figure out a mental game to play with myself.  Whenever I started trying to rationalize that I was too tired to keep running, and I should walk the rest of the way, I decided THAT was the perfect time to break into a run again.  Run run run. See her run.  Run, Jane, run! 

By the time I finished the third mile, I decided to keep going for a fourth, because I'd had my "long" run the week before for over four milers, and it was a shame not to do that much again.  When I finished the fourth, I wanted test myself and see if a fifth mile was possible.  Turns out it was, and I finished 5.02 miles. ( I only walked further the day we toured Rome on our own last summer, and i was DEAD the rest of that day and the next. ) So I broke my own distance barrier.  And then, of course, I walked my dog later for an extra half mile.  I just have to start earlier when I want to go further.

At some point, I'd have to increase my mileage anyway.  Someday I intend to run a half marathon, and then maybe a full marathon.  This is the only way to do it.  I think that increasing my mileage slowly will someday enable the miles on my shorter runs to pass easier.  

Running before dawn scares me for much the same reason as running after dark -- there are greater chances of being assaulted in the dark.  I wouldn't worry at all if anybody I knew would ever join me, but I guess they're going to live with it if something does happen to me.  

I didn't listen to any music yesterday.  I just listened to the cars passing, the leaves rustling in the complete lack of breeze, kids playing in the playground.  Someone was grilling, and I could smell the smoke from the fire.  :). It was nice.  Actually, I think being able to hear my own speedier cadence was encouraging.  And no headphone wires to tangle and aggravate me.  Joy.  That's about the limit of joy in my life, so it's a small one, but I'll take it.
ZombieWeen 5k

I came home and registered for three different charity races last night, all zombie-themed: Zombieween, a 5k; Happy Brainsgiving, a 10k; and Season's Eatings, a 12k.  They're virtual races, which means that I choose my time and locations, and I get personalized racing bibs and medals for finishing.  Yay!  I'm not one of those runners who gets all up in arms because a 5k runner doesn't "deserve" a finisher's medal.  I'm one of the runners wondering hey, why have all the races I've participated in, never given finishers medals at all?  *pout*. I want some bling!   The proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  (Look for Virtually Awesome Races on Facebook). I may provide links later, when I'm on a real computer again.  

BrainsGiving 10k

Race photos?  I don't have any of those either.  None of my races have bothered.  Boo.  I'd I probably look like a hag anyway, but that's beside the point!  My cheeks become cherry red from the incredibly salty sweat that pours out on my face. My skin is covered in gritty powdered salt when the sweat dries too.  All this from a chick who didn't use to be able to sweat much at all when I was younger.  I suppose I'm getting closer to my proper hydration point.  Sweating is good.  Sweat is cooling.  I hate the smell of my own sweat.  Lol

Season's Eatings 12k

I can't deny that a little bling will make me happy, because I'm used to races where they forgot people are still trying to finish, races where they snidely say at the finish line that they didn't bother keeping time past the first 200 finishers and don't have water for the slow people.  That attitude made me not want to participate in another race, and it actually made me skip the one I was signed up for the following month.  I was expecting camaraderie. Got snobbery instead. Oh well.  It just tells me which events I don't want to support again, no matter what charity or school team they are collecting cash for.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Botulism Special... With Crackers

Once upon a time, in this very land, I was a slip of a girl just graduated from high school.  (Really!  I weighed 120 pounds and I was only an inch shorter than I am now.  I was thin.) On my way to college in the fall, I needed a good-paying job with which to pay my tuition.  I'd been working in the mall at the music store, which I loved, but they still paid minimum wage.  

I'd been told by my stepmother not to even ask my father for money.  "Not one red cent!" were her exact words.  She seemed very opposed to the idea that I would go to college, when it was expected of me all along. Why? Gosh, I don't really know... Gee. Golly gee. It really hurt my feelings for many years afterward, because I believed that demand was coming from him.  I was really dumb and trusting when I was younger. I'm not so trusting anymore. ;)

He was unaware of that edict, and it ran counter to what he had intended. Later, he told me that paying for college educations was what had him voluntarily working 8 shifts a week in the factory where he worked.  I had done the math, and had figured out that I could survive (barely) on my scholarships and a better paying job.  

The factory my stepmother worked in hired college and college-bound students as temporary summer workers.  They paid us the grand sum of $5.25 an hour (minimum wage was $3.35 an hour way back when in the late 80s) and treated us like stupid dogs. If there was some nasty job to be done, let the college kids do it.  We worked 10 hours on the 4th of July, with regular pay, 

It wasn't an actual factory, as they didn't create anything there.  They simply packaged automotive air conditioning and heating parts that were ordered by parts stores such as Auto Zone.  

I'll tell you a secret -- the parts, whether Napa brand, Carquest, or Murray -- all came from the same bulk boxes and pallets, and were placed into differently branded boxes as orders came in.  Whether it was a compressor, fan clutch, blower motor, or a 100 foot hose package, they all came from the same box originally. I had the bloody knuckles and broken fingernails to prove it.   They got different part number stickers depending upon which distributor was selling them, and back then, Napa-boxed parts demanded the highest purchased price of them all.  

Anyway, if there was a nasty job to be done, "let the college kids do it."  If there was mandatory 14, 12, or 10 hour overtime, let the college kids do it.  (No overtime pay for us, ever.)  On the 4th of July, while the regular employees were enjoying a national holiday, we worked a 12 hour day, at regular pay, of course.  We weren't allowed to miss a single day for being sick or meeting school appointments, or we would be fired. In short, they treated us like slaves, and most of the regular employees acted as if they were royalty compared to us.  I still worked two jobs during my college semesters, so I never had a break from working. 

One year, they allowed us to come to the company picnic, but only because it was a workday and they realized that if we weren't invited and still had to be inside working, we wouldn't do much work knowing they were outside at a banquet.  I believe they changed the picnic date to September after that, so they could keep it exclusive. 

Several people I worked with that first summer (I spent five summers there and never experienced the party lifestyle that most college students have; it's why I'm socially awkward now) expressed their confusion that I was such a hard-working girl, and that I wasn't at all unpleasant, ill-mannered, and ungrateful. They told me that I wasn't at all... the type of person I'd been painted as being, for years before they met me.  They knew me before only from what they'd heard.  I wonder who could have possibly told them tales about me? Golly gee.  I can't seem to puzzle that one out...

The first summer, for a little while, my stepmother told me she would make my lunch for me.  Grand gesture.  Was it genuine? Well, of COURSE it was, all from a place of love and caring, so that everyone could see how good she was to me, even though I was horrible and didn't deserve it.  

One day she opened her lunch bag and set before me the lunch she had chosen for me.  She had two cans of potted meat (yuck, I hated that stuff and she knew it!), one for each of us, and a sleeve of saltine crackers to share.  Because that's what she wanted for lunch.  A 3 ounce can of potted meat. Gosh, I'd be too stuffed to work afterwards!

I'll admit that I was a truly ungrateful beast for complaining that a three ounce can of mystery meat with a few crackers wasn't going to be enough to sustain me for a twelve hour shift during which she sat on a stool and I did decidedly harder labor on a fan clutch repackaging line.  But wait a minute, she was giving me a bigger can!  Hmm.  Well, not exactly bigger.  It was a three ounce can as well, but the can she chose and slid over to me was bulging at the seams.  Not dented.  Puffing out at the top. 

I should, of course, assume that she just meant for me to have the bigger can.  She insisted that I eat it, that nothing was wrong with it, and that I was "snurling my nose up" at good food to make her look bad.  After all, she's been canning food for decades, and she knows when food is spoiled. (I'm notorious for refusing to drink milk that "is only a little bit soured.")

I refused to touch the can of potted meat.  My brain said "botulism!"

She started yelling at me to eat it.  

I said I'd rather go hungry than eat a can of meat which was obviously spoiled. (Her attitude while I was growing up as a picky eater was a stern "eat what I make or go hungry." Despite the intention to make me eat things i didn't like, it failed and I was a skinny kid. Often, meals consisted of one item which I hated, such as white beans, turnip greens, or saurkraut, and that was all.  We were not poor, so it wasn't a financial necessity.)

She got mad, grabbed the can and started to open it, saying that I was going to eat it whether I wanted to or not.  By this time, her friends at the table were looking distinctly uncomfortable about some part of the situation.  I'm not entirely sure what it was.  Oh right, it must have been that I was refusing the bounty laid before me.  Such an ingrate.

When she pulled the ring on the can, it simply exploded, spraying rotten potted meat everywhere.  On everyone at the table. The table.  The chairs.  The cafeteria floor.  The walls.  Like me, the can was an accomplished projectile vomiter.

It smelled like a decaying corpse, and the stench entirely permeated the entire cafeteria.  It had to be evacuated.  Even after the janitor had cleaned it up, the cafeteria reeked of rotten offal for days.  

She then verbally refused to honor me with making my lunch.  I expressed my gratitude.  I made myself sandwiches that were far more substantial meals, every day from then on. 

After that, all of us college kids decided we would prefer to sit in the sun outside at the single picnic table for lunch, dodging pooping birds and wasps, cooking in the sauna that is the South from April to October. The regular employees didn't want us taking up any of their cafeteria chairs and tables anyway.

Naturally, I don't believe that someone would deliberately give me food that would have sent me to the hospital, thus losing my job that I needed to pay my costs for college, or even which could have killed me.  I'm sure it was just an accident, and that puffed out, bulging can was simply overlooked as she put it in her bag that morning.  

Pure accident.  Sure.  Obviously.  

Wanna buy a bridge?

On a positive note, I've never eaten potted meat food "product" since.  Yep, it's really gross stuff even when it isn't a rotten time bomb waiting to explode. It's a garbage product.

(The ingrate shall make real links later when she has access to a computer rather than an iPad.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Random Truths

I'm annoyed by people's misuse of "big" words.  Perhaps even unhinged.  Let's just use our small words and get them right. Why put on airs?

"It's no secret that a liar won't believe in anyone else" - Bono (I think)

I'm smarter than I usually pretend to be, and I've played dumb on many occasions.

I've never cheated on any of my boyfriends, but I've had all but maybe one lie and cheat on me.  Haven't met one yet worth keeping in my life.  

Yep, I've made some mistakes, but I'm not confessing my sins here. Some people I see every day have far worse things to confess. 

There are really psychic people out there!  They've accused me of things I haven't even done... Yet.  Hey, thanks for the ideas.  

You can't turn an insult into a compliment, no matter how much you roll in it.  If you step in dog poo, are you going to prove it doesn't phase you by rolling in that? 

Whenever I give someone a second chance, they usually make me regret it.

I still believe good will triumph over evil, and that happiness may still be found.  I'm kinda dumb like that.

Kids aren't the only ones who cyberbully.  Adults have done it to me on numerous occasions, and I know exactly who they are.  Other than being rotten people, I mean. Want the names?

I regret not taking more photos and videos on my trip to Italy.  :). I know that travelers are not supposed to feel that way, and that I took around 4000 photos, but I still wish I had more. :) I wish I had an assistant to help me finish that book I'm working on too. #victimofperfectionism. Maybe I should set a goal of one page per day, or two pages per week. It won't be just a photo book.  It'll be a diary of my trip.

I've already started packing for my next trip to Europe.  I don't like a last-minute rush. Good planning makes for light packing.  :)

I felt guilty washing my face and brushing my teeth and generally being able to freshen up upon landing in Milan, because most of our group lost their checked luggage.  I felt snubbed when carrying on both my bags was slightly sneered at by some others in our group. I got looked at like I was a bug by one. Keep calm and carry on.  LOL. Because NO, I don't trust anybody anymore, least of all an airline. Lost luggage had already happened to me. 

One particular person is trying to derail my weight loss... I'm not sure why. I would have thought they'd want to be supportive.

The cat is pregnant again.  That tramp gets more action than I do. I don't want any more cats.  I don't really want the ones that have adopted me, but one is pals with my dog.  

I'm thinking of hiring a personal trainer and laying it on his shoulders to get me thinner.

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I love folk art decorations, orange, rust, and purple, and costumes.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Idle Hands

It's quiet in my house, except for the high-pitched hum of the refrigerator that only deepens slightly as the central air conditioning thermostat clicks to shut the unneeded cool air off.  My dog barks occasionally outside, and I realize that I have almost nothing to occupy my time until Tuesday morning when I go back to work.

It's almost a frightening lack of activity that yawns open ahead of me like a dank cave.  A three day weekend is long enough to make me stir crazy.  A look outside the door confirms that I'm in a ghost town; no signs of life other than the cats crying for their breakfast.  Not a peep from my family living next door.

I've only just officially gotten out of bed for the day.  Oh sure, I've gone to the bathroom, tried to get my dog to do the same, and grabbed something to drink.  But most of my day has been involved in finishing Under the Dome, so I can't believe that it was a waste of time. I was comfortable snuggled in my bed, with my legs stretched out so that my hip didn't ache, as it does when I sit on the couch.

I learned some new words reading it, and vocabulary does make a person smarter... Well, proper use of new vocabulary does, not misuse of words that sound in the ears of knowing people like a rusty gate clanging in the breeze.  Hearing words completely misused annoys me, and I instantly become lost in mental considerations over the error rather than the spirit of their message.  Squirrel!

Ya lost me riiiight about the time you called that concrete block a cylinder block.  It's a cinder block, because sometimes cinders are used as filler in the cement mix.  I haven't seen any that could be described as a cylinder.  

Of course, I don't get out much, and I might have missed the sights and sounds of Cylinder Block World at some point.  However, I did enjoy trivia night at a local restaurant last week, and our team of two came in third place overall against several larger teams.  I wasn't so find of someone telling the DJ that I would love to come sing karaoke afterward, because I've never done that, and I suspect sometimes that telling strangers I can sing is a setup so that I can be laughed at.

That's why I've never done karaoke.  I don't believe I'm due any applause for anything, and I don't think I'd get it even if I deserved it. It's like believing you deserve to be loved.  Well, if absolutely rotten people get tons of love, is it any wonder that the well has run dry for my own cause?  Sure, I believe I deserve to be loved, but it doesn't do a damn thing toward making it happen.  

Life here is like being in an ant farm, with the occasional mean kid coming along with his magnifying glass in the sun, scorching victims randomly because he doesn't get that our paltry lives mean something to us, even if he doesn't think of us as real.  How's that for the human condition.  Sometimes there is despair because the busy and cared-for ones demand that we fall down giving thanks for the quiet emptiness, day after day, year after year.  

One task stands before me: the tomatoes.  I have plenty growing, and so does my dad, who gave me the plants.  Now I have the excess from him to deal with, as well as my own.  I'm going to can salsa, my first-ever attempt at canning.  Hopefully, I'll do it correctly.  I've got to buy a few pieces of equipment first, though.  *sigh*  I don't really want the bother, though.