Monday, June 28, 2010

Holy Sexual Harassment, Batman!

Dear Nurse:

I regret having to discuss such a sensitive matter with you, but you've left me little choice.  When asking a patient to disrobe ENTIRELY for an exam, it is uncouth to follow the request with "Let's see if the curtains match the drapes, eh?" 

Furthermore, staring at the discussed area of my body after I undress was unnecessary and kind of disturbing.  Your "I guess we'll never know," was even more inappropriate and added an extra dose of humiliation to what was already an unforgettable fiasco.  Look lady, it's SUMMER TIME.  That which has been removed has zero chance of making a surprise appearance when I'm wearing a swim suit.  Not that it's any of your farking business, thank you very much. 

I may have survived the appointment, but my pride was not so lucky.  By the way, how exactly did removing my pants facilitate the examination of my armpit?

Still mortified,
The beet red patient who officially hates Mondays..and now, maybe nurses

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let's Rephrase the Question

When I was younger I taught at a preschool for a number of years.  This is one of my all-time favorite memories from that time...

The head teacher in the four year old room was a big fan of performing random individual assessments of the kids' learning.  This particular day she had chosen a sweet, wide-eyed boy as her focus.  As this unfolded, I forgot all about the daily reports I was writing nearby and just enjoyed the show.  I'm so glad I did. :D

"Liam," Mrs. Dunne said, placing several felt pieces on the table before him.  "I want you to point to each shape and tell me its name."  He glanced at the the colorful cut-outs before looking back at her with uncertain eyes.  "Can you tell me what this one is called?" she asked, tapping the triangle.  He blinked at her a few times.  "It's okay if you aren't sure, do you have any guesses?" Mrs. Dunne asked patiently.  Brow furrowed, the kid rested his chin on his palm and scrutinized the triangle, square, and circle with intense concentration.  "What are their names?" my coworker repeated softly. 

There was a very long silence before Liam sat up in his chair with a jolt.  "I'm ready now!" he announced, beaming at her triumphantly.  She nodded and returned his smile.  With his little face full of sincerity, Liam joyfully jabbed an index finger toward each shape and identified them in turn:  "Connor, Michaela, and Jacob!"

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pick-Up Line FAIL, Casanova

To the cute guy I met at the library:

I was impressed when you confidently struck up a conversation with me.  Our little chat was really enjoyable too.  Casually offering to meet me next week for a bite to eat was a good move.  Your suggestion that we go to Hooters for that bite, however, didn't exactly sweep me off my feet. 

Still laughing,
The flat-chested girl in the biography section

Sunday, June 13, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes - Is that Jesus!?

The best thing about three year olds?  They say the first thing that pops into their heads.  This makes them a source of endless amusement.  Here are some gems (old and new) from my favorite three year old..

To the uncle who attempted to distract her from a skinned knee by talking like Mickey Mouse:  "Excuse me, but did you know?  You are weally, weally stwange." 

To relatives watching a t.v. interview of Sarah Palin: "Turn that lady off, dudes.  She makes me get a headache."  This is especially awesome considering that everybody in my family (except me) is incredibly conservative.  I might have high-fived the kid when nobody was looking.

While chasing down the cat who stole the baby from her dollhouse:  "COME BACK!  Don't eat that, you're s'posed to be on a diet!"

Excitedly whispering to her mom as the pastor stepped behind the pulpit:  "Is that Jesus!?"

Happy new week, peeps.  Hang in there. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Three Secrets to Life

I am extremely lucky to be an aunt to eight little girls. Though we are related, they are not technically my nieces. Yet as far as they've ever known, they are my girls - one hundred percent.  I was instantly smitten when the eldest of them was born and I've never looked back.  It's been an awesome ride.

To say I love them fiercely is a massive understatement. I love them with a raw ferocity that overwhelms and astounds me. It is an unwavering affection coupled with feral protectiveness. It is a love that wants to propel them into healthy, happy futures and to help mold them into strong, confident people. My commitment to them is steadfast and wholehearted; I'd sacrifice anything to help them thrive.

Wren loved me the way that I love my nieces.  Both in childhood and adulthood, I could count on her to be behind me.  She taught me when to fight and when to forgive.  I went to her for advice and a sympathetic ear countless times.  Sometimes I got a pep talk, sometimes I got a kick in the butt.  I always got what I needed.  She didn't just love me and support me, she armed me with knowledge and perspective and hope.  I try really hard to do that for the girls, even though they're awfully young for some of what I preach.

Every few days or so, my thoughts return to a conversation I had with one of the girls.  In hindsight, I'm simultaneously amazed at my own wisdom and worried that a different answer might have been better.  The exchange took place over a year ago, when five year old Maura was determined to keep me from catching my flight home.  Each time I picked up my luggage and made to leave, she'd screech "I forgot something!"  Thus far she had successfully mooched extra hugs, a joke, and an off the cuff limerick out of me while her parents rolled their eyes in the background.  I was half-way out the door when she launched another offensive.  "WAIT!" she hollered in a panic.  "You haven't taught me the secrets to life!"

It worked.  Dropping my bag, I waved off her parents' objections and scooped her into my arms.  "This is important, so you've gotta listen really carefully, okay?" I asked.  She nodded solemnly.  "There are three secrets to life.  Number one, trust your gut.  Listen to your head, listen to your heart and do what's best for you.  If something doesn't feel right, pay attention to that feeling.  Other people can offer insight, but the final decision is yours.  You already have everything you need to make the right choices for you.  Trust that.

"Number two, be kind to others.  Sometimes life is hard, we can help each other.  Remember though, trust your gut first.  You don't have to be nice or helpful to anyone who gives you bad vibes."

 Maura nodded knowingly.  "Yeah, like creepy people,"

"Right.  The third secret to life is just one word: BELIEVE.  Believe in your dreams, believe in everyday magic, believe in yourself, believe in hope, believe, believe, believe.  When you get discouraged and that feels like a bunch of junk, call me.  I'll help you believe again." 

And with that I kissed her forehead, told her I loved her, and her mom drove like a crazy person to get me to the airport.  Believe it or not, I made that flight. *grin*  Barely.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Takes Talent to be this Stupid

My awesomeness astounds me.
Yesterday I..
  • Felt a headache coming on around 4 p.m. and countered it with two Exced.rin migraine pills
  • Left work early because I began to feel worse
  • Got a few blocks away and became remarkably, wretchedly ill
  • Pulled over and waited for it to pass for a while before realizing it was only getting worse
  • Miraculously got home without killing anyone despite the fact that my entire world was spinning like it did when I was 14 and drank half a bottle of vodka
  • Cried because I've never missed a vocal rehearsal before
  • Called Pierre and begged him to run my kids through their songs
  • Laid in bed for hours with the curtains drawn, eyes closed, marveling that everything was STILL spinning
  • Played the "maybe I'll feel better if I puke" game
  • Debated whether or not I was dying
  • Wondered 8,251 times how rehearsal went/was going
  • Remembered the paper that came with the newly prescribed medicine specifically stated that I was not to have aspirin or any NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Wondered what the freaking fark is wrong with my memory
  • Continued to be agonizingly sick into the night and next morning..still feel awful
  • Realized that being sick for the last however many weeks/months was lovely compared to how bad it's possible to feel if I screw up the med that is supposed to make me feel better
I win the award for "Moron of the Year."  Don't be jealous.  I'm sure y'all have gifts too. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

An Open Letter to the Neighbor Lady

Dear Neighbor Lady,

Congratulations!!  You've out done yourself!  I thought I'd lost all respect for you last autumn, when I discovered that you were raking the fallen leaves in your yard onto a tarp and dumping them in the woods behind our house.  However, I must have been wrong, because after today's stunt, I think even less of you.

I don't advertise this to the neighborhood, but sometimes when it looks like no one's home, I'm actually writing in my little office at the back of the house.  Also, I'm not terribly social, nor do I like to be interrupted, so when you knocked on the door this afternoon, I didn't answer.  I might have, if I'd recognized you, but the new haircut threw me off.  By the way, I liked your old 'do better.  This one doesn't flatter your face nearly as much.

Apparently you figured the unanswered knock meant that you were free to dig up whichever of my large, beautiful plants you wanted and transplant them into that empty soil patch you've been tilling and fertilizing for the last two weeks.  Did you really think I wouldn't notice the plants that had suddenly gone missing from in front of my house had mysteriously relocated to the flowerbed in front of yours?  I guess we'll never know, because although I didn't answer the door, I did peek out the window.  When I saw you plunge your shovel into my hostas, I was on your ass faster than you're on your kid's when he forgets to hook your sprinkler up to your other neighbor's spout so that you don't have to pay to water your own grass. 

Your excuse that the hostas you were going to remove "have a virus that will spread to the others" was creative, but I was less impressed with the patronizing tone you used when saying, "You know, like when we get sick and feel yucky?"  I am not a small child and you would be wise not to speak to me as such.  The hostas look perfectly healthy to me, though I admit I'm not an expert.  I do spend a great deal of time gardening (and have for years) and I'm quite certain these plants are flourishing.  However, just in case, I will have my mother, who is an expert, have a look at the "infected" ones.  What saddens me the most is that I'm planning to spend the weekend dividing most of the larger plants, so I'm going to have a TON of extras I won't need.  I would have happily given them ALL to you, because I really am neighborly and it would have been a pleasure to help you start your flowerbed.  I'd still be glad to give them to you if you'd like them.  I have a feeling that when I offer you will declare the virus cured.

Meanwhile, you should not come into my yard for any reason.  This includes your daily habit of allowing your dogs to empty their bowels on my lawn and the tendency you and your son have to ride across my grass on your bikes.  If your kid did it by himself, I wouldn't mind or blame him, he's a kid and I kinda like him.  I once rode my bike across a neighbor's front lawn as a kid.  Luckily, my father (you know, an adult) took the time to explain to me that such behavior was rude, especially given how much time and effort people put into making their grass look nice.  It's a shame you were never taught that.  If you had been, you might have avoided stepping in your dog's turd when your son fell off his bike in my yard last month.  My ability to differentiate what comes out of your dogs' asses from what comes out of my own dog isn't magic.  I pick up after my dog seconds after he finishes relieving himself, so I know any shit lying on the ground is courtesy of your pets.  Thanks, I appreciate stepping in it when I mow. 

You made a spectacular first impression on all of your neighbors when you went around bitching about the barking dogs shortly after you moved in and threatening to report our dogs to the city officials.  Now that we don't leave our dogs outside unattended anymore, perhaps you've noticed what we already knew:  the barking was coming from YOUR FUCKING DOGS.  They bark incessantly, but perhaps by now you've grown accustomed to the noise and no longer hear it.  I wish I could be so lucky. 

One last thing, dear neighbor.  I know it's hard to move new places and make friends, but going to each neighbor individually and gossiping to us about the others is probably not the way to increase your popularity.  Believe it or not, you're going to have a hard time turning us against each other, seeing as we were all good friends way before you moved onto the block. 

Look, I live here.  I'd rather have peace than the endless drama you seem to have brought with you.  Please settle down and play nicely with your neighbors.  We'll be SO much more friendly to you if you do.  I really want to like you.  You're making it really, really, really hard.

Love, Your south neighbor

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beware the Hula Dancing Kangaroos

 For a number of weeks the kids cast in an upcoming show at the children's theatre have been trying to learn their musical numbers with me.  One particular piece has a rhythm that's proven tricky for the wee actors, and I have tried all sorts of things to get them to grasp the counting.  Repetition is the biggest key, and so we repeat and clap and tap and snap our fingers and rap and even do a little beat boxing to practice the section in question.  We swayed our hips a lot while learning this piece.  I want it to be fun.  If it is fun, they will master it more quickly and won't feel like we are belaboring that musical piece.

I line them up at one end of the room and let them jump forward one jump on count one of each measure while they sing their parts.  This helps them learn the count and find the downbeat and allows them to hear the other vocal parts (soprano, alto, etc.) that move at different times.  It takes them the whole song to make it all the way across the room, then I have them turn around and sing/hop their way back.  It's interesting to stand before them as they do this, because it feels like they're musical kangaroos on the warpath and advancing on me quickly.  I learned to only allow this in the basement after doing it in the lobby caused a number of ceiling tiles to fall down in the lower offices.  Oopsies.  I also learned to keep ice packs in the staff freezer after Wyatt walloped Reagan in the eye while swinging his arms in huge circles as he jumped. 

They seem to have finally gotten it, which thrills me.  I hear them humming and tapping it while being fitted and measured by wardrobe, while waiting backstage for their cues, and while munching away on apple slices in the green room. For a few weeks the problem rhythm has been the pulse of the theatre, I even noticed some of the office workers humming it after they'd heard the children practicing in the parking lot with me.  Yes, we practice in the parking lot. With sidewalk chalk. We draw huge musical staves and use the chalk for all sorts of things that truly pertain to what we're doing. 

Sometimes I wonder if I'm regarded a bit like Maria in the Sound of Music, because my teaching techniques get some weird looks and amused comments.  I often get the kids last, after they've beaten a scene to death upstairs. They spend hours having to be still and watch each other repeat the same lines over and over until the head director is happy with the angles of their bodies, the expression in their voices, and the look on their faces.  They're told to do it again.  And again.  Now do it again.  Don't slouch.  Stop whining.  Do it again.  One more time.  So close, let's try again. 

By the time I get the kids they're hungry, fatigued, and sick of being told to keep still.  I keep water and simple snacks on hand.  I give them wiggle time and an occasional minute or two to chat with their friends.  If everyone looks especially downtrodden that day, we often take a minute to groan as loudly and pathetically as we can.  Eye rolling and foot stomping are optional, but always encouraged.  I'm told by other adults who work for the theatre that the woman who worked with the children before me kept them seated in chairs in the rehearsal room for the entirety of each practice.  I'm told by the children that she "was the meanest ever" and "yelled a lot."  I bet!  I'd yell a lot too if I had to keep them corralled like that.  Initially we're very much tied to the piano, but once they really know most of their parts, we can branch out. 

Last weekend I watched the kids perform the tricky song on stage and I have to say, it was excellent.  They've got the rhythm.  However, some of them bounce a bit on the first count of some measures.  There is also one particular section where the children all sway their hips in unision, just slightly, but it looks as if they're bursting into an impromptu hula dance.  Pierre, who works with the adults on music, grinned when he heard me murmur "Oh dear," under my breath as the unanticipated hula dance began.  He sees more of my teaching antics techniques than anyone else as he's often in the rehearsal room too.  I'm not worried about these little hang ups, we've got more than enough time to right them before opening night.  Until then, beware of the hula dancing kangaroos.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

People in Glass Houses...

Today I was coming down the hall toward the classroom I use for my voice lessons and I could hear a commotion in the outer area where the parents wait.  Normally I'm in the sound-proof practice room and can't hear what's going on in the waiting area, but I'd slipped away quickly to use the restroom between students.  As I approached, it became quite clear that the mother of one of my students was tearing her young daughter up one side and down the other.  I've worked with this eight year old for a little over 4 months and she's just delightful.  I'm not saying kids don't do things they shouldn't or that parenting isn't frustrating (because I think parenting is absolutely BRUTAL), but it'd be obvious to anyone that this mother was completely out of line.  She berated the poor kid incessantly, hardly pausing to take a breath, and when I reached the doorway of the classroom, I could see the little girl huddled miserably in a corner, her face streaked with tears.  It took the woman a moment to notice me standing there speechless, mouth agape. 

I was beyond irate.  I'm not going to go into what she was actually saying to her daughter, but it was unbelievable.  I was so shocked and upset that I didn't trust myself to say ANYTHING to the mother, so instead I asked Tara if she was ready and she quickly nodded and headed into the practice room.  Once we'd left Mommy Dearest in the waiting room, I handed Tara a tissue and got her a glass of water.  She stood next to the piano, in position to sing, trying to get her lower lip to stop trembling, but her eyes looked like they might overflow again, so I slid over and made room for her on the bench.  "It's alright, we can take as much time as you need," I told her.  She nodded and carefully sipped her water, trying to pretend like she wasn't fighting back more tears.  It broke my heart.  Choosing my words veeeerry carefully, I made four or five positive statements about her that directly conflicted with what her mom had been saying to her.  I chose not to say her mom was wrong.  I decided not to even mention her mom, but I shot down the ugly things I'd overheard being said.  Then I talked a bit about other stuff to get her mind on something else, and a few minutes later she met my eyes for the first time that day and said "I can sing now." 

What threw me is that I had such a different opinion of this family before all this.  This mom did not strike me as a stage mom and still doesn't.  I can spot a stage mom (or dad) from a mile away.  I see them in action first-hand on a regular basis and I've had so much experience with them that I have developed a kind of stage parent radar (similar to gay-dar, really!).  Don't get me wrong, not all parents with performing kids are stage parents. There are some awesome people. However, if parents coming to me about voice lessons trip my radar, I generally refer their kids to other voice coaches because I get my fill of stage parents while I'm directing musicals and holding auditions at the local children's theatre. 

After the lesson I asked the mom to talk to me privately in the practice room.  I have a well developed (and often used) speech about the fact that we sometimes get stressed out, it's very common, I often encourage families to take a little break from lessons if I see that happening, we want the kids' experience with music to be positive rather than anxiety-provoking, etc., etc.  It's a speech I give more to the parents who bring kids for piano lessons, though. There seems to be a higher burnout rate with piano students. 

So I brought Mom in with the intention of having that little chat, but to my surprise, it didn't go there at all.  She burst into tears, told me about some very stressful things she's dealing with right now, and seemed so genuinely contrite that I actually ended up comforting her despite the fact I'd been furious earlier.  On a lot of levels, I actually really get where she's coming from right now, though I didn't say so. 

Later, as I made my home, I realized that in a lot of ways, I'm in the same boat as that woman.  I'm not physically healthy right now.  I don't know exactly what's going on, but I hope that tomorrow morning the doctor will have some ideas.  I'm very stressed about my health, I'm still dealing with the unexpected deaths of two friends I grew up with, who three weeks ago decided to drive drunk and ended up wrapping their SUV around a goddamned tree, and with all that, Wren's death anniversary snuck up on me and for some reason, hit me really, really hard last week. 

I suck right now, y'all.  I'm over-emotional, highly reactive, and sleep deprived.  I've snapped at my mother the last 10 times I've had a conversation with her.  I'm randomly pissy with friends I see face to face then I talk to friends online and misread or misunderstand what they're saying and get all touchy because I'm a huge ass.  Later I realize my mistake and feel guilty and awful and ashamed of myself, but the next day I do it again...*sigh*  I'm sorry.  I'm truly, truly sorry.  THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR ME TO BE SNARKY OR BITCHY WITH ANYONE.  It's not okay for me to treat people that way, and I know it.  I am trying to avoid chatty things like FB and twitter when I'm feeling particularly grouchy or tired.  I felt a lot better today, but I'm sure that something is wrong with me physically, hopefully it's just anemia or something easy like that.

 If this keeps up, I'm going to shut down all my blogs and social networking stuff until I feel better, because I'm hurting my friendships with people I care dearly about and I can't stand that.  I have my second meeting with a new therapist later this week and that's going to help too.  Blogging about what's going on is great, but clearly, I need help coping with some of it, so that's going to be good.  The lady seems great, I wish I'd found her months ago, because I've been out of sorts for a while now.  I hate that I'm posting all this on the freaking internet, it should be private, but it isn't.  It stopped being private when I became the world's biggest bitch.  Lately, I've wondered who the hell I've become and what happened to the old me, the nice, sweet me.  I'm done wondering, I'm sending out search parties to find the old me now.  She'll be coming back.  Meanwhile, I'll lay low and if I'm being a fucking bitch, please TELL me and please, please know it isn't about you.  I'm just a mess right now. :(