Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Letter to the Respiratory Therapist

Dearest RT,

I have often said that we are the red headed step children of the health care industry. Not yet able to enjoy the respect that comes with longevity of similar careers like nursing, we are still after decades of existence a bit of an enigma to everyday people. Some might have noticed our name yelled during episodes of their favorite hospital drama. After all the business of saving lives is complete the heroic MD yells with deep conviction

"Call respiratory and tell them to bring a vent!"

As he clutches an endotracheal tube that is nowhere near secure in a patient that isn't even being bagged. As if we're off somewhere slamming down doughnuts as we wait for vents to be called for.

What everyday man often doesn't know is we would have been there from the word go. Nor do they know that in many cases it us who often secures the airway , initiates "life support", and then asks that the MD get called so we can tell them what we did. Little does the everyday man know how hard we work to cover anywhere between 10-25 patients per therapists per shift while having to be prepared to drop it all and see about the emergencies (and quasi emergencies whenever summoned.) We are often unappreciated, misunderstood, and unfortunately mistreated by those whose team we're supposed to be on. Yes, red headed step children.

Notice I said "often" not always, as there are those times, hospitals, and situations where all the stars align and therapists are truly made to feel a part of the team. Our experience and knowledge are valued. People actually know our names instead of yelling "RESPIRATORY!" down the hallway behind us. I have been fortunate in my now almost 12 year career to have enjoyed these circumstances and I'm truly grateful for these times.

When it's bad though, it's really really bad. I have worked in places where therapists have been reduced to the role of nothing more than a button pusher or knob turner having their clinical skills and knowledge completely disregarded by people who often don't fully understand the purpose and action of therapies they're requesting then being told or shown by their own management that we have to "take one for the team." To understand this I have to go back to the point that the general public and alas some healthcare professionals have no clue, or worse, no respect for what we do. I don't pretend to know how to change this other than to keep doing what we're doing. Do it well. Do it consistently, stay educated in the field and stand our ground in the face of adversity and ignorance. Combat ignorance with education and open dialogue, and maybe...just maybe, things will change.

I write this letter from a place of appreciation and love for everything this career has done for my life and the many wonderful people it has placed in it. My patients! The reason why I can do what I do in the first place. The good ones, the mean ones, the in-between ones, but especially the pleasantly confused ones whose shenanigans make my night whiz by. The nursing staff who I've saved lives side by side with, cried with in tragedy, and even laughed with in tragedy (cause you gotta laugh to keep from cryin' right?). The MDs, who don't let their egos get in the way of what is best for a patient, who once they understood that I knew what I was doing allowed me to DO MY JOB! The unit secretaries, radiology, lab techs, pharmacy, environmental, hospital security without you guys there is no us, because we are ALL critical to lives of the patients we care for whether we know, or are told that or not.

I'm in the process of stepping back from this career that has been a defining part of my life since I was pregnant with my son and into one as a writer. Eventually, (if all goes well) I won't be practicing much if at all. However, everything I learned while a therapist will carry me in to the tough business of the written word. After all what can thicken your skin or grow you as a person more than dealing with life, death, and every manifestation of the human being on a daily/nightly basis? I promise to one day write our story that people may continue to come to better know and understand who we are. I promise to tell our story to the best of my rotten ability!

To all my fellow RTs:

Your name is NOT "respiratory". Your knowledge and experience matter even when those around you would make you feel that it doesn't. Go forth, give nebs, save lives, be as BRILLIANT as you are, and smile because you are somebody!

With Love,

Stacey Rose RRT, RCP

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Dog's Day Afternoon...and Evening

We tend to think that getting mauled to death by pitbulls could never happen to us. It's a story for the 11 o'clock news or one you mention in passing while picking up your buttered roll and coffee from your local bodega.

"Hey d'ja here about that kid that got mauled to death by pitbulls?!"

"Yeah, that's a damn shame! Could'ja add two more sugars?"

Well gentles, I'm here to tell you that I stared a maulin' in it's eyes...excuse me, eye (more in a sec)...and lived to tell the tail. I mean tale. I was doing my usual deal, dropping by the homes of the sick and shut-in to spread joy and drop off respiratory equipment when I pull into the shared driveway of two houses that looked to have just smashed down from Kansas. I check my surroundings because if my pristine ghetto upbringing taught me nothing it was to know whats up when I arrive on any set.

Upon checking the set, I see to my right a porch that looked to belong to a family of garden gnomes. This was cool as this was the gnome...patient I'd come to see. In front of me, I spied a large German Sheperd with a gleam of curiosity in his eye, but a high rising gate to his front. This gave me a fleeting sense of security so I attempted to open the door and exit my vehicle. My automobile's sticky electric locks are the only reason I sit here writing with all ten fingers in tact.

It could have been a scene from one of those really bad "gangsta" films. This would have been the part where the wicked street boss finally got what was comin' to him. There was a slo-mo pan to my left that revealed: The Den of Death. Three 7'5" 90lb pitbulls* with jowls that drug the ground leaving frothy spittle in their wake were looking at my plump brown toasted caramel physique with wanton longing. Their powder white bodies twitched with anticipation of pouncing on me (either that or they'd been denied food for so long they were having some sort of neuro-muscular tics). One, whom I'll choose to call "Righty" because his absent left eye (I think he and the others shared it for lunch), never let his disabled glare leave me. He was the reaper, incarnate.

I thought screaming to be unwise at this point being the hell dogs were standing in a doorway obstructed only by an uninstalled child safety gate (dern thing must have come a loose with the house landed!) and I didn't want to rile them any further. I pondered driving away and never coming back, but then realized that I'd quit my other job (shit!). "Okay." I thought, "I'll call work and then runaway!" Just as I was making my frantic phone calls: one to my patient to let him know he'd have to hold his breath one more day, and another to my office to let them know about my impending escape; A miracle occurred.

A man, let's call him "Bo", appeared and gazed outside of the gaping door of the makeshift shack. Two of the hounds of hell retired to the inside of the abode, leaving Righty still fixated on my now rolled up tinted window. Bo stood behind Righty, gave a loving tap to his back as a mother would an infant, and Righty the blue eyed cyclops turned and entered the home. The door was shut, and my living nightmare was over.

How I wish I could say my dogged dilemma ended here. Alas Non. There were more patients to be seen, more dogs to be encountered. I was challenged by Chocolate the dachshund with balls of cast iron steel, and Dixie the...well I don't know what the hell kinda dog she was but she was huge, made a hell of a lot of noise, and sniffed my ass.

By day's end I was emotionally spent. I was dog tired after having worked my fingers to the bone. Then, the the final blow: The passing of Nate Dog! I was howling at this point. How much could one endure in one day. At last, I arrived home, a wasted heap where I was greeted (not really) by my cats with lackadaisical side eyes, yawns, and soft silent farts. Cats, you see, are just the way I like my animals (and men unfortunately); quiet, distant, and emotionally unavailable.



*I swear those dogs were that damn big I don't care what you say!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Zion Chronicles: Eatin' Lightenin' Crappin' Thunda!

I remember my elementary school guidance counselor Ms. Kenney. She was a short black woman with a warm smile, a compassionate temperament, and a no shit taking attitude. I remember loving the way her office smelled. I also remember spending hours on end there in 6th grade. You see, 6th grade was a tough one for me. I was some how elected whipping girl for that year and as such was picked on ad nauseum.

During my time in the fetal position on Ms. Kenney's couch, eyes damn near swollen shut from crying, I would fix my cloudy gaze on this one "inspirational" poster on her wall. It was the cutest, puffiest, cuddliest kitten clawing for dear life to a rope with a knot on the end. It read: "When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Inspirational posters, I've found, are wasted on children. At the time, I had no idea what the poster meant. I didn't know that I was that damn kitten and that Ms. Kenney was trying her best to help me hang on.

It frightens me to think of what would happen if my story had been set now. With all the suicides among kids due to bullying, I'm sure I would have been another headline. It doesn't seem rational to the lucid adult mind why a child would want to kill themselves, but being THAT kid in the 6th grade I do. The pain! There was an incredible amount of pain and self hatred. It hung heavy over me like a dank cloud every morning I woke up. I'd wake up hating the fact that I did. I'd wake up wishing I were somewhere, somebody, or something else. Weekends were hallowed times where I could retreat into me, read, watch television and eat until I damn near popped. Monday's dropped me off at the gates of hell again. I cried every one. If I looked it up I probably had about 45 days out of school that year.

This past summer when I knew I was sending Zion off to the 6th grade all those old feelings came rushing back. "Would his 6th grade year be like mine?" "Maybe I shouldn't send him. " were thoughts that raced through my mind from July all the way through August and occasionally still do. Thankfully Zion's social adjustment has gone remarkably well. Maybe it's the school. Going to a school full of artsy fartsy mainly free thinking kids must be pretty cool...I guess. Maybe he's cooler than I was. :/ Anyway, Zion's major obstacles have come where I least expected them with academics, and in many ways his 6th grade year has been just as rough as mine was.

I'm happy to report that things have improved dramatically. It's taking a full on team effort with his teachers, his EC facilitator and myself, but I'm definitely seeing some turn around. What I'm most proud of is my improving patience which has resulted in our improving relationship. It took me accepting that my expectations of him were unrealistic. He is not the student I was. He does not like to read like I did. He is not me. To think I bosted how I was never going to be the parent that tried to relive their existence through there child, but there I was doing just that. I wanted his 6th grade year to be better than mine. I wanted to save him from what happened to me, to see him succeed and in his success he would some how redeem my 6th grade year. To my dismay, none of that shit was based in any sort of reality.

Fact is, the 6th grade/middle school is a huge transition for all children it can and often is awkward and painful. I have to hang in there with him and be the knot that he's hanging on to when he's at the end of his rope (and some time that knot is my mom. That's okay too). I strive to be attentive without smothering. I try to discipline without being a dictator. It's a tricky balance especially being a single parent, but we do just fine most days. When I read about kids who've killed themselves because of the sheer pressure of being a kid in this day and age, it scares the hell out of me. I ask Zion a million questions. He answers two. He seems okay. I try to have faith that he is.

I have visited his guidance counselor's office and didn't off hand notice any inspirational posters. She, while quite pleasant, lacks Ms. Kenney's certain I-don't-know-what. She's a new generation of guidance counselor. Maybe it's the sheer number of children and variety of issues she has to deal with on a daily basis. Her office is not the cozy nook that I remember Ms. Kenney's being. It was quite dark with a slit for a window and had cement walls. No leather settee like Ms. Kenney's. I have empathy for her plight though, and wish that I could pop in and hang just one inspirational poster on her wall. While I didn't really understand what it meant, it was comforting to see that little kitten when I went to her office. Say! I'd always been rather fond of Mick the trainer from Rocky. Maybe he oughta have done a series of posters. They would have looked something like this...

...I so would have gotten this one. Yep, me and Zi will just keep eatin' lightenin' and crappin' thunda until we get through it. Together.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Unecessary Roughness?

Most mommas sternly warn their children about the one good time in jail and then they're on own. I've officially had mine and someone else's. I was arrested the other night. (Looks weird written), for "Driving While License Revoked". I'm still trying to process the whole situation, and definitely knew instantly I would write about it. The situation begged to be written about. First, I thought for sure I would rain my written retribution down on the heads of the CMPD powers that be and finally expose that den of iniquity disguised as a police department for what it really was. After sitting and stewing in that for a bit I realized that no matter how jacked up the arrest was (and it was a lu lu), I had ultimately placed myself in this situation by not following through with/paying for a traffic ticket.

Besides I'm not a fan of making overall minor personal problems into international declarations of outrage against "the man." Nine point nine eight times out of ten, "the man" is ourselves. On the flip side, I do think the matter could have been handled waaaay differently by the arresting officier (B. Harrison #4364 Troop N District A1)...

The Story:
Our Boy Friday (or Officer Harrison if you choose) was excessively stern and borderline abusive. He did not state a reason for stopping me (i.e. I swerved, or I had a headlight out, etc.), followed me for approximately for a half mile which in itself was frightening being a woman alone driving at night and given the history of police officers and sexual assault in this city. When stopped I was asked where I had been (which since I was neither drunk nor high, was NONE of his business). As he proceeded he didn't give me a chance to be cooperative. He shined his flashlight directly into my eyes several times then asked "what I had" in my car and looked around inside of it. The last time I checked I thought that was called an illegal search. The best was yet to come I would find.

Our Boy got down and dirty after a quick trip back to his vehicle. He told me to get out of my car, turned me around and cuffed me simply saying "your license is revoked". Never once did he recite Miranda rights. He hyper flexed my arms behind my back, cuffed me and escorted me to his squad car while pushing me, pulling the back of my bra, and threatening me with a resisting arrest charge to boot! All this was highly unnecessary considering I never swore at him or even raised my voice.
As much as an asshole I think he is...and he is a GRAND asshole...I can relate to him. When you're placed in a position where you work with people during their darkest hour you can't help but to become a little desensitized. If you do it long enough that desensitization festers, and permanently (or semi-permanently) distorts your view. So if you were a generally happy person overtime you can become dry and cynical. If you were already an ass you become Officer Harrison.

I've faced this type of dilemma in health care for years. What happens to a person when COPD, cancer, AIDS, accidents, amputations, mutilations, addiction, and death because of the work you do become the "routine"? We unconsciously numb ourselves over the years. Many chemically, the shot of whiskey or the pill taken after work (it was my coping mechanism for a good while.) Some in healthy ways, seeking refuge in our families and trying to not to take work home. Still many more cope with behaviors and attitudes i.e. cynicism, sarcasm and prejudice.

Sidebar: Prejudice and Human Services Work
Prejudice you ask? Well let's just say when your only contact with another culture comes when they are in need of medical services or when you're arresting them, there is a tendency to believe that that particular group is only the way you see them when they present to you. Example: There was a running "joke" when I used to work at one of the larger hospitals in the city. Any time you got on the elevator with a Latino person (who by the way were always called Mexican regardless of country of origin), they HAD to be going to either one of two floors: Five, where the trauma unit was located, or Eight, where labor and delivery were located. Was there any credence to this? I'll say about 85% of the time it was spot on, after all there is at least a semblance of truth to most stereotypes.

This is still no reason to make a sweeping judgment about an entire race of people, and without a doubt NO reason to mistreat that race of people as may happen in cases of police brutality and patient abuse. Yes, patient abuse, under reported but happening on a daily basis. I've seen patients treated differently because of their culture, economic background, or what a caregiver views as a patients moral inadequacies.

Sadly, I'm not sure if there's a way to ensure these things won't happen. Healthcare seems to just be waking up from it's coma in this area. I've worked at countless facilities and it was not until I had been a therapist for 10 years that I was offered any type of diversity training. Human service work is where I feel the real danger of prejudice lies. Do I want someone who thinks I'm an immoral being for having a child out of wedlock giving me pain medication while I'm in labor? There's nothing to say she wouldn't administer as ordered, but there's nothing to say she would either. It is here that I digress...

Back to Officer Harrison, me, and my almost 12 year career in health care. He and I both have taken on careers that could definitely be listed among the worlds "dirtiest" jobs, if only in the figurative sense. My hope for him (yes, I do have a little) is that he doesn't allow what he calls procedure, protocol, and his "authority", to let him to forget on some enchanted evening that the person he's arresting is a human being first. As for me, you're looking at my coping mechanism, however I honestly don't know how much longer I can deal with health care as the corporate entity it's become. I plan on getting out while I still have a little humanity left. ;).

Yep, I finally know what the caged bird sings...because ain't shit else to do while you're locked up!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Bigot That Sat by the Door

Ah racism, homophobia, and other ailments of rational thought. The hot button topics which stir the constitutions of the many to the point of frenzy, disgust, and eventually exasperation as most convos about the topics end with the dog chasing it's tail and everyone throwing up there hands. Do they exist only because we look for them, a sort of self fulfilling prophecy? Or are they real and palpable beasts that threaten our very existence?

My short answer: I dunno? Well, that's not entirely true. While I don't believe these things will be our undoing (the environment takes a front seat in that area), there simply is no denying that these things do exist. Just looking at daily headlines prove it. Young people committing suicide in our "highly advanced post millennium" society because they don't want to be outed as gay?! President Obama being called a liar on the floor of the senate?! (An act our dear old white southern male former president Jimmy Carter even called an act of racism). Speaking of our president, and getting to the reason I'm writing this in the first place, I was recently texting with a co-worker of mine (white male) when the conversation took a bit of a left (or right if you will).

"Him: if I hate obama wud u still love me???lol. Love u stilll : )

Me: If you "hate" him for reasons that you can explain rationally and in complete sentences. And what does your loving me have to do with you "hating" Obama anyways ;)?

Him: I love ya. U know it, but more borrowed since 1776. Enuf to give every citizen 120k a piece. Obama is muslim, gay, and smoke cracked.never proven is a u.
s. citizen. Wife. Complete racist. Read her college thesis paper.I did. Hmm.
Please prove me wrong....

Me: Ok. I'll go with you with your issues about spending. Everything else is pretty meaningless and typical small minded and quite frankly anti-islamic, homophobic rhetoric with no foundation to anything having to do with reason. You're talking racists thesis papers...the founding fathers owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson particularly was one of the greatest thinkers of his generation, but lived torn with himself because he happened to fall in love with a woman that happened to be of a people he viewed as subhuman.

Him: Lol.I know thomas jeffersons story well, don't know wat that had 2 wit wat I wnt me to be ur thomas jeffes.put one of those old man wigs u can grab that shit like u own it. I use to read a lot shit bout obama before oprah made him president. I was thinkn when he was running how cud obama ever run before he was elected. Obama was a freaking translator 4 iran getting weapons. Cia used obama because he was a muslim who wud coperate with u.s. obama translated secrets while he got weapons for iran. U shud read about it. U will be like wtf. He was never born a american citizen. His dad was from kenya that's about it. Obama wasn't. I think obama claims hawaii as birth. Lol. Really? Also obama had a crack problem for yrs. Really? Do u ever hear about that? Do u ever hear larry sinclair 100% passed a gay dare dectector about obama... which I don't care. Each to their own and people fuck up but any other president wud be reemed a new buttox if any propaganda.sp.also obama havn kanye on airforce one after elect. That's like having head of kkk on bush plane to me. Don't u think? I personally think bush and obama are linked somehow also. I think bush laden family was oil deal gone bad. I hated politics since clinton screwed us with subprime loans. I was a part of and feel aweful about. Basically clinton boosted the economy giving people loans they couldn't afford. I know. I was loan consultant at the time. I gave loans to people that didn't have a damn job. Well that's what's screwed our country. I read his book too. clinton even knew the towers we going to be attacked. Clinton didn't want his nose dirty so he passed the buck so to speak. Kinda funny to me people worship clinton like he was our savor. He helped created subprime loans which destroyed fannie mae freddy mac our banks. All n all destroyed our economy. I don't blame bush or obama for our economy. Plus internet destroyed us.not all clintons fault but I blame alot on him.whatcha think?"
As of right now, I still haven't responded to this message. I quite frankly don't know what to say. It's clear I'm not going to change his mind, he sure as hell is not going to sway me to his way of thinking. So what is there really left to say? Do I write him off as a person because of what he believes? He has a right to believe what he wants right?! Do I want to continue a friendship with someone who thinks/believes this way?! This has me a little at odds with myself, because as off the wall as I found his comments at least he SAID them to me directly (albeit via text message).

The million dollar question, and this is meant more to spark honest conversation than a witch hunt, how many of my white friends hold similar views? Some damn body voted for Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars! Is there a body of otherwise "normal" people who hold beliefs that whether they realize it or not are bigoted? The whole situation trips me out because I've always believed that I could at least sense when someone has racist/bigoted beliefs. However, I've worked with this person, hung out with this person outside of work, and never had a CLUE he thought this way. While the NAACP is out chasing phantom racist boogey men with empty threats and missed school days, I'm saving lives with the bigot that sat by the door.

To be sure a person's opinion is their own. Having a body of varying viewpoints is the spice of life and balances us as a society. However, it is troubling to think that these covert ops, these closet ultra conservatives, are dispersed throughout our society making decisions that affect peoples lives. Am I calling for a boycott of all your white friends? Hell no! Some of my best friends are white ;). However, I do feel that you should have an open honest dialogue about race, and be prepared to hear something that might not make you feel comfortable, but are very liberating for all involved.


P.S. I know where you guys could get started: KMBA: Kiss My Black Angst

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dearest NAACP

Dear Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP ,

I was annoyed at but tolerated your tiny little King Day publicity stunt. It was a mild annoyance and once again trivialized race relations to a mere witch hunt for whitey's hatred of the black man. Considering your organization's "too little too late" track record (see Charlotte school closings), I was not surprised. You had to find SOMETHING to do with yourselves after dropping that ball.

What IS completely "mind bobbling" (as Ricky Bobby would say), is the fact that you would proverbially cut off your nose to spite your face by encouraging two MAJOR events not occur in this city because of it's "racism". Really?! Two events that would among other great benefits, happen to create jobs guessed it that "black community" that you hold so dearly to your bosom. Really?!

There are bigger fish to fry...there are ALWAYS bigger fish to fry than the ones you people seem to dream up (see the SC confederate flag debacle that brought the confederate flag from the the lawn). Your behaviors make blacks in the south seem like little more than whining children out to get some type of non-existent acknowledgment from a parent that will never fully understand them nor love them. STOP PLEASE. Your efforts are futile and EMBARRASSING. I realize that your organization is trying to figure your purpose in post civil rights movement America, but I challenge you to realize it in away that empowers us as a NATION not just a singular race that is perpetually "victimized" (as Dr. King did).

Okay...if you're still with me thanks for reading! Just to show there are no hard feelings, I'd like to offer your organization 5 free tickets to K.M.B.A. Front row even!

Yours in Angst:

Stacey Rose

Theatre Artist, Activist, and all around good colored person.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pssst...Come here little girl, I got somethin' to show ya!

Having bad credit (and I mean really bad credit none of this 500s shit) can send really nice people to pretty smarmy places. Case in point; my recent search for an automobile. With two repos, a barrage of charge offs, judgements, and a tax lien sitting on my credit like raw canker sores I wasn't gonna be headed to Carmax anytime soon.

Nope, I had to get my hands dirty. Reeeaaaallll dirty. With $1500 in hand and a dream that I could buy a car that would withstand at least two years on the open road I set out on my search. First stop: Craig's List, the emerald city of the internet! I figured if one could purchase animals, furniture, and illicit sex acts from this virtual Oz, surely I make my dream come true (for $1500 or less).

Initially, trying to at least be smart about it, I waited around for the trusty (and I use that world very loosely) men in my family to show up and rescue me from the "woman-buying-a-used-car-curse" . This did not happen. So with Google by my side I searched for used car check list that would serve as a guide. After looking over it I found it was pretty thorough which allowed me to let go of some of the anxiety I was feeling around the whole ordeal (I only wished I'd given myself more time to look at it). I spent about a few days looking finding many hits that wound up being misses, but I finally settled on three vehicles.

Vehicle 1: 1989 Nissan Maxima

Alright, so this car had been in existence since I was thirteen, but Nissan's have a fairly decent name for themselves right? Plus, considering some of the vehicles I see on the open road still kicking up dust...literally, I thought it was worth a shot AND I mean geez, he only wanted $900 dollars for it (and had even dropped it to $800 by the time I got there!). That would leave me with more than enough money to buy an iPad after it was all said and done. (GOD I need help.)

Despite my initial optimism, in the back of my mind I knew with the driving I do on average this was a shaky option. It didn't help that I'd spent so much time waiting to be rescued by men folk (hell that's a whole other blog all together). This left me with only 20 minutes to view the car. I had to skip much of my check list, which left me with a pretty unsettled feeling, and I only got to drive the car around the neighborhood because of the time constraints. It didn’t run poorly by any means and it even looked pretty decent cosmetically even with the age of the vehicle. I decided to tell the seller I’d think about it until after I’d seen the other cars that I’d planned to look at that day. Which brings me to the next vehicle...

Vehicle 2: 1998 Volkswage Passat...or maybe it’s a Jetta?

I arrived at Rock Hill auto auction with my game face on. I had a fresh list, and I had PLENTY of time to peruse and examine the vehicle that I’d come to look at. The listing (and actually this one was on was for a 1998 Volkwagen Passat. The ad sounded really promising and I couldn’t wait to see the car. I caravanned to Rock Hill and ghost road past a car lot that looked like a used vehicle waste land. Determined not to judge a book by it’s outsides I pulled in and asked for the vehicle that had been listed. I got a hem. I got a ha. I got that the vehicle probably didn’t exist. I’m no quitter though, so I laid on the line what I had to pay and let the dealer (we’ll call him “Harold”) know that I was there to play hard ball. (Oh the depths!)

So Harold who is now my bestie because he want’s to “put me in a car” but his boss has “tied his hands” *sigh*, but...but wait! There’s hope! a 1995 VW Jetta sitting all on it’s lonesome on the lot. It’s only $500 more than what I wanted to pay anyway, and if I was just willing to give him the $1500 I did have, I could make up the rest later! (Yes, I saw through this bullshit. Geez people.) I did want to see the vehicle though. I figured I could get ‘im where I wanted ‘im once my handy dandy check list had diminished the value of the car.

You all should have saw me. I was an auto analysis master of the universe! I had magnets and coins. I tested the body and tires. I threw Harold for quite the loop. Even he had to say “Damn girl, you know what you doin’!” It felt good, because I actually did. After careful inspection I found the Jetta was not worth $1500. It probably wasn’t worth 900 (do you attempt to sell a car for $2000 when the accelerator needle doesn’t work and sleep at night?!) I walked away from Rock Hill Auto Auction completely confident in the fact that I’d made a sound decision. It felt quite amazing. So it was on to my last stop Chik-Fila! This is where I would take a look at...

Vehicle 3: 1994 Mazda 626

All the adventure of the day had left me 100% drained. All I wanted was a kids strip meal, and a nap. I had agreed to see one more vehicle, a 1994 Mazda 626. Ironically, or whatever you’d call it, I graduated in 1994 and one of the first cars I ever owned was a Mazda 626 (I did get shot at in that car though =/...again that’s a total other blog). I’d called the young man who owned the car. He’d agreed to meet me and I’d pulled out blank check list number three when my phone ring. It was the calvary. My uncle Grover, he said he was on his way to Rock Hill to look at the car. In he rode on his white horse (disguised as a white Chevy pick up truck.) The young man showed and they talk that special car talk that men talk when they get together that begins to sound like the adults in Peanuts after about 5 minutes in my ears.

What I hate is, I folded. A man showed up, and I forgot about everything. My list. My stubborn determination. I just let him do it. It took him five minutes to decide that the car was worth what the young man was asking $1500 (no iPad for me...wamp wamp waaaaamp). I negotiated the particulars of finishing the purchase and picking up the car with none of the confidence I'd walked away with after my earlier experiences.


The upside is I finally have a vehicle after going $600 in debt in rental car fees (wait, that was my iPad...*bumbed*). The downside is I'm not at all confident in my decision which was ironically made based off the help I initially wanted. The bottom line is that it's done, and I'm glad for it. It was a learning experience. It was a practice in learning to trust myself and a lesson in trusting other people. Ultimately when buying a used car you can NEVER really know how long said vehicle will last, and it's not lasting is not always some diabolical plan of the seller to rip you off. Some times cars, (and people) pass on and we can never know when, where, why or how it's going to happen. We just have to put our best foot forward to avoid unnecessary issues.

If I had to give myself a grade it'd probably be a C+/B-. It's the first major purchasing decision I've made in a long while, and probably one that I've been the most responsible in making since I've been an adult...seriously. The greatest gift is that I can see that this is a new beginning for my financial future. My credit score may be in the shitter, but I'm as determined as I was on the lot of Rock Hill Auto Auction that it won't stay there. Most of all I believe that this number does not diminish who I am as a person.

Well, I have to go and drop off the rental, and thank GOD it's homework time with Zion!...not really.


p.s. I got in the car, drove it for a while and the check engine light came on. It's running fine, I'm taking deep cleansing breaths, and calling my mechanic in the morning.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Zion Chronicles: ...and we're back.

When I was a kid this time of year always seemed like a new beginning to me. I returned to school, with a fresh mind, a willing heart, and a glimmer in my eye. Often my hopes were dashed by 3rd period, but this did not keep the post holiday after glow from returning each year. I have since transposed this yearly hope shot to my son and my outlook on his education. Each year he's been in school this time of year has often spelled a new beginning. This year, with things being the way they are, I'm not so sure.

This is the first year that he had work to complete and turn in over the holiday. A science project specifically. A science project that he left all instructions for in parts unknown. This slip in consciousness had me emailing, texting, calling (technology I tell ya!), and hair pulling until we finally came up with a full set of instructions. A tedious 3 days later we look at a project that was complete, but definitely not what I would have him hand in. I decided to let it go because while it wasn't what I think he was capable of I watched him work. He was definitely putting forward his best effort.

He would stop to ask me to repeat instructions again. He'd work a little more, then stop again, and ask me what I thought...again. I began to realize that he was working to make me happy. To satisfy what I thought was right. When I took a look at the whole process it dawned on me he'd sought my advice down to the medium he chose to use to create the project. It made me incredibly sad to watch this kids scurry around trying to get it just right so I would approve. This was not the parent I wanted to be, but it was the parent I'd become. Somewhere along the line I'd stripped my child of the ability to stand confident in his own decisions.

That's the shit that sticks with a kid into adulthood. I know because I am/was one of those kids. At 34 I still feel more settled in decisions that I make that my mother agrees with than ones that I make that she doesn't. What's crazy is even when I am 100% correct in my decision I still doubt myself. Example, I refused to get Zion a PSP for Christmas because of his lack of effort in school. She disagreed. She felt that since she's never penalized us for Christmas that I shouldn't penalize him. I sat for about two weeks in a mud puddle of guilt and frustration, but I didn't buy the damn game! I also didn't provide him with a lavish Christmas because it wasn't warranted, and it would have reinforced some behaviors that for sure didn't need reinforcement.

Thank the powers that be for growth. To think, if I hadn't done some growing up and out of this codependent pattern behavior, I might not be writing right now. I might not have chosen theatre as a career option at 30. We are not our parents. Our children are not us. I want nothing but the best for Zion, but there is going to come a point (and I feel it's coming soon) that what he feels is best for him and what I feel is best for him is going to veer off in different directions. I have to accept it or the next few years are going to be hell on earth. Hence me letting his science project be exactly what he made it. His.

He went to turn the project in today. So many of the kids hadn't done it that she gave them until Friday to complete it. It figures. He brought it back home and resigned to start over. I gave him total autonomy, but advised that if his second draft failed to be completed the first one would have to do. Maybe I'm letting go too much. I'm not sure how involved I should be. This whole business is like stumbling around in the dark to find a light switch in an unfamiliar space. Hopefully I'll just stumble along and not bust my ass completely, and pray god, avoid causing any permanent damage to Zion's tender developing ego.

With a lingering hint of after glow, and hope that this week's testing turns up some answers to Zion's educational woes...


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Very Superstitious: Happy New Year

I'm writing this blog because I was raised by a very superstitious woman. My Nana was the type of woman that would not allow me to wear an article of clothing that I'd put on backward out of the house. We'd have to count to ten before leaving the house if we had to return to get something we'd forgotten. Salt over the shoulder. No brooms over the feet while sweeping. You get it. While I'm not sure if any of the perils and pitfalls of my life are actually due to me stepping on a cracks or breaking mirrors there is one lil superstition of my dear old Nan's that I've always held in regard. She would always say (and I'm 100% sure it wasn't just her) that what ever you do when you were bringing in the new year would be what you'd be doing all year.

How true is this? Well I dunno, but I've spent a many new years eve drunk off my ass with new years day being reserved for nursing my hang over. As those of you who follow me and some who know me personally can attest, I've spent some years pretty damn drunk, and largely unhappy. So this year, even if it is just superstition, I plan on bringing in the new year doing what I'd like to be doing all year. Writing and working. Both of which have grown me so much in the last year. I want to keep it going. I want to publish my book this year. This is less resolution and more what I "resolve" to do because it's time.

Speaking of time...10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.