29 June 2007

Delicate Balance

Another day of uselessness. Don't think that I'm unaware of what's really going on. It takes a tremendous amount of mental energy to manage that delicate balance between terror and quasi-serenity. The only defense against emotional turbulence and obsessive worry is dedication to minimal synapse firing. In short, I don't work. On the other hand, I haven't had to visit the Ggirl Crying Building in the past couple of days. If I don't accomplish anything other than that, I've already done more than the majority of my co-workers do in a week.

I spend a lot of time fantasizing about my oncology surgeon. It is so not about how he looks. The men (or boys, really) I dated before I met my husband were all good looking, as is Hubby. I was exactly that shallow. On the other hand, if they couldn't keep up intellectually, they were banished in short order. I didn't care much for emotional accessibility, either. As a matter of fact, expecting me to be loving and open counted as a serious liability. Hubby is the only man with whom I've ever been truly vulnerable.

Back to the object of my desire. He's middle-aged, a little paunchy, seriously balding and he wears very thick glasses. I look around and see men every day who are far more attractive, but arouse absolutely no libidinal interest. It's that ineffable something. It's sexual attraction that arises from a primitive part of my brain. Maybe it's those expensive, heavily starched white shirts. (Although I see a lot of those around, too.) Or maybe it's the profound intimacy that develops when someone cuts off one of your breasts and calls you sweetheart, anyway.

My need to fuel this harmless obsession has resulted in some unpleasant consequences. I googled him, of course. (Of course!) Unfortunately, it led me to an article he published a couple of years ago in a medical journal. It impressed on me the seriousness of my illness. I hate it when I come across things that clarify the dangerous extent of my breast cancer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was editing some old entries from when I was first diagnosed. I thought I'd share them with Hubby, since my online friends are the only people who've ever been privy to the daily grind of that period in my life. The unvarnished truth can be emotionally devastating for loved ones. Hubby already seemed very fragile; helping him get through it would have forced me to really confront my situation. It would also have depleted my own energy reserves critical to survival. (See synapse management above.)

Now, I'd like to offer him the best of my literary self in addition to authenticity. In editing those posts, it became clear I'd forgotten the things my surgeon told me after the sentinel lymph node biopsy. It took my breath away. I have a truly world class ability to deny reality when it's too harrowing.

I try to put those things out of my mind, though. I get right back to obsessing about my surgeon. I know what's important. It's that delicate balance that must be preserved. If he's the necessary vehicle for that, I'll step into it wholeheartedly. I just need to be careful about knowing too much about exactly what he does.

Maybe if I Yahoo him, I'll be able to entertain myself for the rest of my work day. If not, I'll have to simply imagine the beauty of what lays beneath his starched white shirt.

28 June 2007

Non-Binding Peace Accord Reached

I've been completely useless this week. The only thing remotely productive I've done at work was yesterday's conversation with Loathsome. That pretty much speaks for itself.

On the non-productive Crazy Land front, I've had several early morning chats with the Shunner. We've signed a non-binding peace accord and relations have been almost completely normalized. I should be dispatched to solve the Middle East problem; I'd have them talking amiably in two weeks or less. They still might not like each other, but they'd be discussing critical things like home grown tomatoes and soldering tools almost immediately.

Those are the kinds of warm, bonding experiences the Shunner and I have been sharing. He grows organic vegetables for his personal consumption and was kind enough to bring some to Crazy Land. He suggested I partake and I took him up on that offer without hesitation. Therein lay the seeds of the new relationship.

Then the Shunner shared with me his frustration with a soldering tool he used this week in an attempt to repair his beloved riding lawnmower. He has three acres of land on the verge of town and nothing pleases him more than loading up with a beverage, putting on the mp3 player headphones and mowing the hell out of the place.

A couple of belts broke on the mower on Tuesday and, stranded in the middle of the three verdant acres, he "was devastated," he told me. Humor never fails to soften my heart.

The Shunner, being an enterprising guy, got his handy 15 year old soldering tool to replace some wires that got thrown about the lawn when the Kevlar belts broke. (We're talking high-end mower here.) From what I can tell, it's like a self-adjusting heating iron. It heats up to a certain temperature, shuts itself down to cool, then heats up again. I guess one of the advantages here is that sparks don't fly up and cause unsightly burn marks on the user. There's probably some other highly technical reason, but I have no idea what it might be.

Not a patient man, the Shunner, after about 30 minutes of trying fruitlessly to solder the wires together, threw the entire thing into one of his pecan trees. His wife came out to find out if she could help and arrived at just the moment the ancient tool hit a branch. Without a word, she turned around, went back to their backyard deck and resumed reading a book. When the Shunner has reached his emotional limit, you don't want to give him an opportunity to vent. Not that the Shunner has any control over Brenda at all; she will kick his butt without a moment's hesitation. Sometimes it's just too much trouble.

Finally, we dissected the sad state of affairs the weather has wreaked on this area. It's been raining for weeks now with no reprieve in sight. May is the beginning of our usual drought season, so we're all delighted to have an abundance of water, but folks are having to be rescued on a daily basis from the roofs of their houses.

We've had so much rapid development in the past several years that the historical problem of run-off in this area has gotten much worse. Even though we regularly experience long-term drought conditions, we have our own brief spring rainy season. Every year, people are warned not to drive through moving water if it's more than an inch high. If you can't judge how high it is, you should just turn around and go back the way you came. Every year, during heavy rain periods, foolhardy souls fail to heed these warnings and are swept down torrents of fast-moving water. Many of them die.

You can see that the Shunner and I have our conversational hands full with all of this weather-related activity going on.

I'd love to share more with you, but I've managed to kill another day without accomplishing a damn thing. Must be time to go home and regale the family with Crazy Land tales. You'll just have to wait for what promises to be another unproductive day tomorrow.

27 June 2007

Loathsome Needs His Receipts, Bitch

Oh jesus. Loathsome is in the office today and we've already been unable to prevent him from coming upstairs. Right off the bat.

I was on my way to Owner's office when I saw him standing in the Information Superhighway's office, forcing Money Man to look for something. (Information Superhighway is out for a couple of weeks.) I took some pleasure in noting Loathsome was already infuriating Money Man. I could see him clenching his teeth, presumably in an effort to keep his head from exploding.

I weighed the odds of being able to make it to Owner's office and back without Loathsome noticing. They weren't good, as always, it was too late to retreat. Sure enough, Loathsome turned around before I could escape into Owner's inner sanctum. I flashed him a smile and said, "Loathsome! How's life?" I gave him the thumbs-up sign as I kept walking. That should have made it abundantly clear that I don't give a rat's ass how he is, but we're talking about Loathsome here.

After I was back in my office for a couple of minutes, I thought I heard a faint voice coming from Crazy Employee's office saying, "Ggirl. Ggirl." For a second I thought I had lost my mind. I'm relentlessly optimistic. Of course it was Loathsome. Who else would believe it better to mumble my name from the other side of a closed door than to actually knock?

I girded my mental loins and told him to come in.

He asked, "Are you in the loop for paper receipts?"

Now he knows damn well I'm not in that "loop." I'm so far out of it that I had to pause for a minute to figure out what the hell he was talking about. At least he's consistent. I'm immediately baffled every time he opens his mouth. That's just part of his charm.

"No. That would be Crazy Employee. She's not here today," I told him.

He stood in my doorway and explained to me in excruciating detail why he needed some specific receipts immediately.

"She's not here today." Just in case I hadn't made it clear the first time and he hadn't noticed Crazy wasn't wandering around the office, whining. If she's here, that's what she's doing. Well, unless she's futilely attempting to create problems between Owner and me. Either way, Loathsome should have noted we're missing that special something Crazy Employee brings to the office.

Loathsome explained his customer really wanted those receipts and they'd been requesting them for a couple of days. Tough shit, Bud, I guess you should have gotten them a couple of days ago. Besides, I believe we addressed that, possibly more than once.

"Well, can't help you. Crazy will be back tomorrow, though." Maybe if I just wrote it down with a Sharpie on a piece of paper, climbed up on my desk and held it up over my head like that famous scene in "Norma Rae," I could get him the hell out of my doorway.

Three times is never enough with Loathsome. Yes, we went through it again. He seemed to finally comprehend, but didn't budge an inch. I know I always have to stroke his ego one way or another. Call me stubborn. I just don't wish to do it. Ever. So I hold out and, eventually, give in because I know he'll still be standing there at 5:00 o'clock if I don't just get it over with. Oh fuck.

"How's the back? And the wrists? And the ankles?" I hoped to get him to sum everything up for me so I wouldn't be nodding and smiling for the next 45 minutes. Dream on. He told me. It's all bad. Loathsome is a trooper, though, and hangs tough for our collective benefit.

"Yeah. I'm in pain every day, too. You know, I've had so many surgeries." I just said that because I know it irritates him to think about anyone other than Loathsome. I have to get something out of this, you know. That seemed to register briefly on his slack-jawed face.

"I really need those receipts." Back to me, bitch.

It was about as gracious an exit line as you're ever going to get from Loathsome. He had accomplished his objectives--bother the hell out of me, impress upon me the importance of his job, astound me with his capacity for endurance and, finally, to feign interest in someone else.

"I guess you're just going to have to call Crazy Employee on her cellphone."

I'd also accomplished my objective. I smiled at him as I got up, smiled sweetly and closed my door.

It's going to be a long 12 weeks.

What Book Are You?

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

26 June 2007

All Shall Be Well

Today I planned to get around to checking in with all of my online blogging friends. I always miss sharing in their daily lives when I have to be gone--usually because of a trip to deal with cancer in one way or another. I may not get around to that, after all.

I'm crying now. In my office. At the mercy of anyone in Crazy Land who happens to knock on my door. I do not wish for them to see me cry. It's too personal to explain and there is no consolation to be found. Certainly not here, anyway. Actually, I'd love to explain it to myself, but crying is only crying. No explanation necessary.

It feels so silly to be afraid. Is there something wrong in the new girl? Probably not. My mom thinks everything is okay. I should just banish the fear and rest in the thought that most likely all is well. Right? I'm almost certain everything is fine. Why would I choose to believe otherwise?

On the other hand, having once been overly optimistic, it's well nigh impossible to exorcise that anxiety gnawing around the edges of my consciousness. Two summers ago, I thought we were just going to have a look around, maybe remove a benign tumor and get on with things. Then I believed Dr. Ross would perform a little lumpectomy or a big lumpectomy and I'd go on my merry way. Obviously, that didn't happen.

Money Man's daughter poked her head in my office a while ago and, though I tried to pull myself together, I'm a messy crier. My eyes get puffy immediately and my nose turns red. Very, very attractive, I assure you. That's when I decided to take a little trip next door and get over myself. At least there I could cry noisily if it came to that. It did. But I'm back now.

A few seconds ago, Crazy Employee, who engaged in some egregious back-stabbing behavior last week, knocked on my door and made some ridiculous excuse for entering my office. If I wanted chocolate donuts, bitch, I would go to the receptionist's desk to get them. I do not wish to share anything with her. I'm insulted that she would think otherwise.

In what's come to be the Official GGirl Crying Building, there is an abandoned plant. I've been trying to get someone to take care of it for a long time and now it's dying. That touched off another round of crying and, as I sit here, tears are welling up again. Goddamn it. I'm going to try to find a way to get some water to the poor thing and, in the meantime, I slanted the blinds so it could get more light. I just need to find a big enough container to take some water to it; it's a very large plant and needs more than a cupful or so.

Back to the matter at hand, be afraid or not? Maybe I don't have any choice and I should just go with whatever the moment brings. Oh yeah. That was supposed to be one of those lessons I learned from having breast cancer. Being in the moment is being completely alive.

I tell everyone that I wish to live until I die. When I'm sitting on the floor next door, crying about a dying plant, that is exactly living until I die. Yesterday I was reminded of a quote from a Medieval mystic named Julian of Norwich. "All things shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well." They shall.

In the meantime, I may be vying for the office nickname, "Crazy Employee." I'll have to think of a new name for her, though. The possibilities are endless. I'm officially taking suggestions, but I have dibs on "Back-stabbing Bitch." I'll get back to debating fear later. I've got my priorities straight, you know, because all things most certainly shall be well.

25 June 2007


On Saturday, when I went to my local Walgreens to pick up a prescription, I was waited on by a young Pharmacy Technician. I've never quite understood what specific skills are necessary for that job other than the ability to talk (to pharmacists and customers), the ability to alphabetize (the prescription bags) and the ability to run the computer/cash register. On the face of it, that seems easy enough.

I've engaged in transactions with this tech before and all has always gone well. That's saying a lot because I've been "helped" by a number of true numbskulls who needed a lot more Pharmacy Tech education. Mainly in the area of "finding stuff." I hope there's a separate class on that subject, because it's sorely needed. Or, for instance, "Diabetes Drugs--Where To find them in the Pharmacy Refrigerator." That should also be a required class in the Pharmacy Tech curriculum.

This Pharmacy Tech must have had absolutely stellar grades in "finding stuff", because he located my prescription in short order.

"Have you taken this before?" he asked me.


"Have you had any problems with it?"

"No," I said.

His response? "Awesome."

Yet another suggestion for Pharmacy Technician required training: "Reasons Why 'Awesome' is a Completely Inappropriate Response. To Anything."

While I'm at it, I may as well cover my other pet peeve, one which must certainly define me as a crank. I always thank all waiters, cashiers and sales people. They've provided me with a service, they are fellow human beings and that is my way of acknowledging both of those things. I know the vast majority of people don't understand either one of those truths, are too busy or too irritated to be thankful. Some people probably don't even seen the need to show gratitude because, after all, the service provider is compensated either by the customer or the store owner or both. I get all of that and I'm not proselytizing for my way of doing things. Nothing wrong with those people.

It's not impossible for me to see that maybe people who work in customer service positions are completely unaccustomed to being thanked. Maybe they don't know what to say. Entirely possible.

However, once I've said my "thank you" and smiled at the cashier/waitperson/sales person, they should respond with something along the lines of, "My pleasure." Instead, the majority of service people say, "No problem." Well, I should certainly hope it would not be a problem, since it's your job, after all.

I know, I know. I have had sales jobs, but not waiting tables and not acting solely as a cashier. I have many times worked in malls at Christmas. I'm a war-hardened veteran of harried, bad-tempered customers. I've had many friends who've worked in restaurants. It's a tough to make a living wage and maintain your sanity. I'm entirely sympathetic to their plight or I would never say thank you.

I work in a service industry, though. (I will not bore you with my lecture about how we all are customer providers of one type or another. It's long and could be a bit tedious.) I not only answer to our clients, but to the other denizens of Crazy Land. Crazy Land notwithstanding, I still want to give my internal customers what they need. I will do whatever it takes to make the company's clients happy. I will tell them it's my pleasure to help them and they should let me know immediately if there's a problem or they need more assistance.

Please never, ever tell me "no problem." I don't get my panties in a wad or leave a paltry tip. It's a thing I notice, though. Think of this as just another note from the woman I swore I would never grow up to be. In the words of my co-worker, Loathsome, thank you for your cognizance.