Friday, October 3, 2014

Not Great At Titles

Goodness gracious it has been a busy couple of days! Yesterday morning, we learned that our truck was broken down, so I left Department Store about three hours early. Time to run to the grocery store for pet food and then grade papers and figure out class for today, along with their paper assignment. I was grateful for the extra time. After I got home, a friend of mine came over for coffee. We were talking about education-- his education in particular-- and I ended up asking him if I could tape record our conversation and share it with my class. Well, actually, I asked him if he would come visit my class. He didn't feel comfortable doing that, so I asked him if I could videotape us later (I was dressed for unloading pallets of boxes) talking about it. He said well, couldn't we just audiotape it? So, I found the voice recorder on my phone and hit record. We talked for a half hour. I played it for my class today, and their attention was captured: Not one of the students looked bored. Because of my friend's story, I was able to develop a paper prompt to encapsulate this unit I've been conducting, and I scheduled student/teacher conferences for the kids for next week. All because the Department Store truck broke down.

I had been planning to do another kind of heavy-hitting unit on privilege and women's issues, but I was feeling kind of overwhelmed by the education unit. It was pretty intense, and I need to lighten things up a little bit. So, another friend suggested that with November elections coming up, I should show them political commercials for various issues and candidates, so we can critique them. I love that idea, and I want them to make their own political commercials and write about them for their next paper. That will make four papers, and then they begin revisions for their portfolios, and then it's Christmas. Wow, I just fast forwarded about three months of my life! My friends Whitney and Theresa from work would say, "Slow it down, Jen." So, I'll slow down for my mom's birthday next week, Halloween, Sam's birthday (21!), Thanksgiving, and finals before we get to Christmas. But time does go hurtling by.

See how I am free to think about other things besides poverty when I have just gotten paid? Watch for changes around October 20. Speaking of October 20, my Uncle Burke is planning a trip for all of the siblings to come and visit my mom the last week of October. There are 7 of them altogether, and from what I can tell, everyone is coming.

My mother keeps saying, "I don't want them to see me like this"— referring to weight gain and swelling.

I say, "You don't know when you will see them again. Better like this than not at all."

My mother says, "But, what will they do in Kirksville for three days?"

I say, "Visit with their big sister they haven't seen in a long time."

The last time she saw them was about two-and-a-half years ago, in April of 2012. She fainted on the plane in Denver and ended up in the hospital, so we don't let her fly by herself anymore-- and I can't afford to fly out with her and take the time off work staying for her visit and then escorting her home. So, the mountain is coming.

This weekend, I want to go see Gone Girl. I read the book and it was entertaining. Apparently, they have re-written the end, though, so I may not know as much about it as I think I do. So, I told my mom I'd take her tomorrow afternoon. Then I told her I'd come over and visit with her after work, after 5 p.m.

Now, my mother's memory has not been terrific for a very long time. Once she got off all of her narcotics, it improved, but it has been declining again. The primary difference between her memory loss when she was just stoned all the time and now is that she was not aware of her memory loss then. In fact, she did not believe it. She is aware of it now, and it bothers her.

Possibly not as much as it bothers me.

My co-workers are used to hearing me say, "Hi, Mom, how are you? ... I'm at work. Remember that I work every day from 8-5?"

And she will sigh and say, "Oh, well, I guess if you're at work, I'll let you go. When are done with work?"


"Okay, well, maybe I'll see you later then."

These conversations happen... well, daily. Sometimes she varies it a little. I called her at noon, and she just called me (she went two hours and 45 minutes!) to ask me what time I was coming over.

"Well, I have to work til five."

"Oh, you do. Well, I was just kind of bored and wanted to know if you wanted to go for a drive or something."

"Well, I would love to take you for a drive tomorrow."

"I thought you had to work."

"Tomorrow is Saturday."

"Oh, is it really Friday today?"

At exactly 5 p.m. on these kinds of days, she calls me right on the dot. I used to answer right away and tell her that I was leaving, and please to give me a few minutes. Now, I ignore the phone and either just go over or go home for a few minutes to say hi to the kids and try to transition between work and not work.

I don't understand how somebody can make me feel so guilty for having to work, but she does. She sometimes seems to think that I am just at work because I prefer work to her company, and that if I really wanted to come over, I could. And when I am not at work or at the grocery store or cooking dinner for my kids, she thinks that I should come over, so by the time I have a little time to myself when I'm not at work or a caregiver, I'm practically gasping. I have about two hours between finishing dinner and falling asleep. Two hours if I'm lucky. So, I don't really feel like I have that much time when I'm not in the service of others. This week (coincidentally since I began blogging), I have been feeling less put upon and sorry for myself. I mean, I do have three jobs, but I do most of them within the regular 40-hour work week. And yes, I tell myself that it's harder than having one job because I have to know and keep track of so many different things at each job. But then I stop and think, "You have *three* jobs. Really, that is pretty selfish, because a lot of people don't even have one." And I realize that I'm damn lucky. And I may not be as young and spry as I used to be, but then I go over to visit my mother and nobody can even walk up the stairs. So, again, I'm lucky to have perspective sort of hoisted upon me.

A dear friend is in town this evening from Virginia, so tonight I'm going to a buffalo roast. She has friends coming up from Columbia and friends here, and they are all going to the DuKum for a drink before buffalo. I am going to skip that part because I think it's actually really boring to go to bars (unless I'm eating, and I won't be). I don't drink and drive, so it's boring because I have to nurse a beer or boring because I'm the only one sober, or it's fun because I'm drinking, but I know I'll have a cold walk ahead of me after. Actually, I can handle the boredom, and I like the friends, but I need a little down time between work, mother, and buffalo. Since I have to work on Sunday for four hours, I have to be extra vigilant about getting enough alone time/down time. If I don't get it, I'll be wrecked out Monday and that will impact my entire week.

When I was younger, I would have told you that I was an extrovert, no two ways about it. I'm not shy. I am gregarious. I am friendly. I interact well with people (most of the time, I think), and I'm not afraid to talk in front of large groups of people. For someone with sort of iffy self-esteem, I can come across as extremely self-confident. But the older I get, the more I realize that I am a hardcore introvert. It irritates my friends sometimes that I basically refuse to go out and do anything because I want to stay home, but that is how I survive.

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