The Accelerated Life Plan

I’ve had this dream more than once. It’s really odd, as dreams usually are. But I always wake up thinking that it makes a certain amount of sense, and I kind of wish it were true.

In the dream, I’m about to be born, and I’m asked if I’d prefer the standard, or the accelerated life plan. Naturally, I want details before I commit. I mean, that’s a heck of a question to be hit with before you’ve even taken your first breath.

It turns out that the accelerated life plan allows you to get all the nasty biological functions out of the way up front, so that you can focus on actually living your life. For example, you spend an entire day sneezing all of your sneezes, and then you never ever have to sneeze again. Granted, that day wouldn’t be much fun, but think of the weight that would be lifted off your shoulders afterward!

Having had the hiccups for a full 24 hours once, I can verify that Hiccup Day would be excruciatingly painful toward the end, but what a relief to get that over with. Acne Day wouldn’t be pretty, so it would probably be best to do that in isolation. Headache Day might become rather controversial, because that could be construed as cruel and unusual punishment. I would dread Cold and Flu Day, but I could handle it, knowing that 24 hours later I’d be fine. I would just whine a lot.

Yeah, I’d probably sign up for the accelerated life plan. It would be nice to be able to stand up and face the icky stuff of life and get past it. I like the certainty of it all. “That’s me, done,” as a friend of mine likes to say.

From there on out, it would be smooth sailing, until, of course, the inevitable Death Day. I doubt many people recover from that one. If they do, what happens the next day? That’s the question.

sneeze

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Try Not to Let Go

I was sitting cross-legged on my friend’s bed. Cozy. With popcorn and gossip and a mountain view. We hadn’t done this since college. I’d missed it.

“How did she die?” I asked. “I never knew for sure.”

My friend paused for a long time. Then she said, “Everybody had the flu that winter. I mean, even I got it…”

Suddenly my ears started ringing. It was hard for me to hear. And my vision did that telescope-y thing. She appeared to slide away from me. The bed seemed like a football field, its quilt stretching on to infinity.

Why was I getting shock-y all of a sudden? This death was not news to me. Our former college crew leader was only in her 40’s at the time. I had been sad about it for years. But I guess I hadn’t allowed myself to dwell upon the depth of the tragedy. I don’t think I realized how senseless and preventable it had been.

“You weren’t there that last year. She was so depressed. Her divorce was vicious, and her daughter had moved in with her ex-husband. I would find her crying. In her office. In the bathroom. In her car. I think she just gave up. And that flu was kind of all she needed.”

I stared at the quilt pattern until all the colors blurred together. “This isn’t the 1800’s. Forty-year-olds shouldn’t die of the flu. Not in this day and age. I guess you really can die of a broken heart.”

“Yeah,” she said.

I reached out. For the popcorn.

Reaching

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Body Signals

When I got the news that my mother had cancer, I was at work. Prior to the phone call, my skin was clear. After the phone call, my face was covered with deep, painful, cystic acne. I went from looking fresh-faced to looking like pepperoni pizza in the space of just a few minutes. A coworker said he’d never seen anything like that in his entire life. It was if my skin erupted. It was first for me, too. For several months I had to sleep on my back, because even touching my cheek to the pillow was so painful I couldn’t get any rest.

That was the moment when it dawned on me that my subconscious was pretty darned powerful. When it wants to send me a message, I tend to get it, loud and clear. Fortunately it doesn’t happen often, but when it does… wow.

When the sheriff’s office called to tell me that they’d found my boyfriend’s body in his truck, still clutching his asthma inhaler, it sent me a similar message. This time, prior to the phone call, I wasn’t feeling bad at all. Afterward, Bam! I had the full-blown flu. Fever, aching, and my head and chest were so congested that when I took the plane to fly back home my ears became so blocked that I couldn’t hear a thing for two days. Which was convenient, because I didn’t want to hear at that moment in time.

Another time, the complete opposite happened. I had a bad cold, advanced enough for me to be longing for death, and then I received really good news, and my congestion instantly disappeared as if it had never been there. I can’t even remember what the good news was. (Funny how the positive stuff doesn’t stick with you.)

To this day, when I experience stress I’ll get blisters on my ankles. That area has so many scars after all these years that I find it unpleasant to gaze upon my feet. My doctor is completely befuddled.

I wish I could sit down and have a chat with my subconscious and tell it that less is more. Subtlety would be greatly appreciated. But my subconscious would probably reply, “I would, but you have this annoying habit of being totally oblivious.”

Message received. At least until the next time I need reminding. “Be gentle with yourself during times of crisis or I’ll take you down.”

Pepperoni Pizza Slice
My post-traumatic face. [Image credit: graphicriver.net]

Sick when you’re Single

Most of the time I like living alone. The only exceptions are during major holidays or when I’m sick. Right now I’ve got the head cold from hell and disgusting substances seem to be flowing from every orifice. I’m weak as a kitten and I keep forgetting to eat. I am miserable. Lord, take me now.

Sadly, there is no one to hear my whining and moaning, no one to make me chicken soup, no little annoying bell I can ring. If I run out of orange juice, I’m out of luck. I can only afford to have so many pizzas delivered.

My only comfort is my dogs and my flannel, and I’m worried that if I die the dogs will chew through the flannel in no time. Where’s the loyalty?

There’s nothing quite as depressing as being pathetic and snotty all by yourself. I want my mommy.

If there’s no blog entry here tomorrow, call 911.

sickchild

[image credit: multiplemayhemmamma.com]

I am Officially Doomed

After 12 years of working crazy shifts here on the drawbridge, often two or three different shifts in the space of a week, I’m now discovering that there is an official name for my constant state of mental fog, my messed up immune system, and my apparent inability to lose weight despite all efforts. It’s called Shift Work Sleep Disorder. Classified as Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder in the DSM-IV, I can now say that what’s going on with me can be taken seriously, for all the good that does me.

Symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Lack of sleep. (Well, duh…)
  • Increased stress.
  • Increased risk of infections, including colds and flu.
  • Increased risk of breast and prostate cancer.
  • Higher cholesterol.
  • Increased risk of heart attack.
  • Increased risk of obesity.
  • Insomnia.
  • Headaches.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Reduced attention span.
  • Gastrointestinal and digestive problems.
  • Decreased production of Melatonin, causing decreased immunity, and increased production of tumors.

Some other fun facts about shift work are:

  • We are twice as likely to have a work related accident.
  • Sick leave is reported in 63 percent of shift workers as opposed to 34 percent of day workers.
  • 30 percent of us are single, compared to 20 percent of day workers.

All this due to a disruption in our circadian rhythms. I’d love to say “Now I don’t feel so bad,” but actually I feel just as bad. Now I just have a name for it.

There are some things you can do about it, but I’m just too tired to write more. So just check out the sources for this blog entry:

sleepy

Why I am Child Free

At the moment I’m taking care of a child. I love him to pieces, but I swear there are moments when I’d like to dump him on his parent’s front porch like a flaming bag of dog poo, ring the doorbell and drive away quickly.

Blond Boy Crying

He whines. He complains. He doesn’t listen. He gets cranky. Various liquids flow from every orifice. I have to clean up after him, feed him, and wash his clothes. He often won’t eat what I put on his plate, and he for sure insists on drinking things that aren’t good for him, rather than the healthy alternatives that I suggest. He won’t go to bed when he should, and he wants to sleep when he should be doing something else. You’d think I was water boarding him when it’s time to take medicine. When we have to go somewhere, getting him moving is like pushing a train up a mountainside, and he usually makes me late. Lord knows he makes me cancel plans on a regular basis. Strangulation looks more and more attractive to me with each passing day.

This child that I’m taking care of just happens to be my 56 year old boyfriend who is sick with the flu, but my mantra for the past few days has been “Thank GOD I got my tubes tied.” He is my reminder that, aside from my dogs, I do not have a maternal bone in my body.

Now, before I get a s***storm of hostile comments about how SELFISH I am by not being a parent, or how INSENSITIVE I am for even talking about this subject when there are so many people out there who can’t have children who desperately want them, or how I’ll someday change my mind, let me say that a) It’s much more selfish to have a child that you didn’t want in the first place, b) I’m not against other people being parents except when they let their child throw tantrums in the checkout line at Walmart or when I’m trying to watch a movie, and c) I’m 48, and I haven’t changed my mind yet, not even for a second.

Another comment I always hear is “The Bible says we should be fruitful and multiply.” My response to that is that the next part of that sentence is “…and replenish the earth,” and the earth seems to be replenished enough without my help, thank you very much.

I’m convinced that not all of us are cut out for parenthood, and it’s better to embrace that than to do what society expects and be miserable. Oh, I think I would have been a great parent. I would do everything to make a child feel loved and safe and nurtured, because he or she didn’t ask to be put into this situation, and every child deserves not to be emotionally crushed like a bug, in spite of the fact that most children wind up crushing their parents at least once in their lifetime. The fact is, I’d have been unhappy deep down, and therefore I chose not to have children.

I could go on about this for pages and pages, because I’ve certainly been expected to defend my choice every step of the way, but my boyfriend is calling me from his death bed, begging for lime sherbet, so I’ve got to go.