Thursday, August 30, 2007

Infinite loop of sadness

He was old. Tall and bony, with silver hair laying flat against his head, he'd probably used a handful of Vitalis to keep his hair in place. His room smelled faintly of Old Spice layered over the scent of disinfectant and urine.

The room in the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit was neat as a pin. A colorful patchwork quilt covered the adjustable hospital bed, a big bible the only thing on a veneered nightstand. When the nurse took me by his room, he was standing in front of a small mirror, carefully buttoning his jacket. He wore a pale blue double knit suit and white shirt, only the bedroom slippers he wore instead of shoes were out of place.

"He dresses like this every morning," the nurse explained. "He thinks his children are coming to take him home."

He'd forgotten that they didn't even come to visit him anymore.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Celebrity "religion"

The tabloids and entertainment media are reporting that Madonna and her comrade celebrities are planning trips to Israel during Rosh Hashonna. They've embraced Kabbalah, and along with their red string bracelets, are getting quite a bit of media hype about their "beliefs."

When I read this stuff, juxtaposed with what I read from fellow-bloggers who live in Israel and defend their faith through words and their nation through defense, both physically and spiritually, (go to: Lovely Leah and Mish Understood) I can't help but wonder what these women, and millions of faithful Jews, really think of her showmanship.

Leah has already posted about Madonna's visit. She noted that some of the ways Madonna shows her "beliefs" are actually not appropriate within their faith. Leah is gracious enough to explain the differences without sounding judgmental.

Spending time learning about a religious tradition seems to me to be an important part of embracing a specific faith. In the Christian tradition, we're told to "go into your closet to pray," and although many so-called Christians ignore that and sell their faith on TV, it is a valid admonition.

Kind of goes along with the old therapy stand-by: Just because you think it, doesn't mean you have to say it. Or as my dad would say: Make sure you've got the facts before you start talking.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Payback or Paranoia?

I spent the better part of the past year fighting the minds at Missouri Medicaid about the changes they made to the way Medicaid funds mental health services. They had arbitrarily decided that young children could not have individual counseling. We fought hard, talking with state legislators, lobbyists, candidates, the department directors, the governor's aides, and so forth. Finally they reversed the decision, once again clinicians can decide if a young child needs individual counseling and if Medicaid decides to okay it, they can have five sessions with the child.

That's great.

About two weeks after that change occurred, I started getting notices from the Missouri Department of Revenue about taxes they think I owe. I've left messages on their phone lines, since they're apparently too busy to answer the phone, but the only response I've gotten is a notice that they'll take away my clinical licenses if I don't work out the problem.

Am I paranoid? Maybe the tax man just decided to focus in on my little income because it was my turn? Or is it payback for fighting the system?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heat-related Gratefulness

As promised, (Heat-Related Grumpiness), I'm practicing the Laws of Attraction (The Secret), trying to move away from focusing on life's annoyances. What you focus on is what you get, and as Howard Glasser's Nurtured Heart Approach teaches, when you energize the positive, it grows. You know: Water the flowers, not the weeds.

Here are some cool things that are easy to be grateful for, in spite of the heat:

1. 100% cotton clothing. It breathes and preschoolers don't care if it's ironed.

2. Hummingbirds are back in the yard, zipping about outside the kitchen window, dive bombing each other for a few sips of bright red sugar water.

3. The air conditioning in my car blows cold, and the Jim Widner Big Band's latest CD sounds awesome no matter what the weather does.

4. Tiny white clematis flowers are blooming in spite of 103 degree weather, and they've not been watered at all.

5. The heat has kept the Young One inside more so he's reading -- tearing through book after book. In the evenings we turn on Mediacom's "classical masterpieces" and listen to Mozart as we tear through our books together. He's re-reading Harry Potter, I'm re-reading Chaim Potok. Life is truly good.

6. Fresh lemons in icy cold tea.

7. Spending more time in Lawrence County during work hours means I'll get to meet my dearest bud for lunch more often. We'll talk about green hair and polyester over Hawg Wild or Acambero and laughter will come easily.

8. Orange kitty the gigantic ball o' fur is soft and fuzzy and his nose is cold even when the house impossibly warm.

9. CU says don't do laundry or run dishwashers during "peak hours." Oh how I love to obey!

10. The heat makes everyone slow down just a little bit. When that's not making me crazy, it's nice to simply slow down with everybody else, take a deep breath and say "oh well."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Heat-related Grumpiness

In this heat, even with the a/c blasting in the car, it never really cools down. It's a little easier to find shady parking spots at rural preschools, but the hours driving to and from the little burgs can be really hot, and even the dulcet tones of George Guidall narrating an audiobook can sound like fingernails on a blackboard.

The heat makes things that should be teeny-tiny little annoyances become great big irritants.

Today I am heeding my "inner therapist" by venting my frustrations, processing my feelings. Here's my attempt at chimney sweeping:

--It is impossible to dress appropriately for this weather. If I dress to stay cool on the long drives, I go inside air conditioned buildings and turn into a gigantic goosebump. I miss the days of Jimmy Carter when 78 degrees was the norm for public buildings. Now the thermostats are set on 68, and I'm carrying a jacket around in August. Bump up the thermostat and save the world.

--The lazy way Ozarkers speak tests my impulse control (I do realize that as an Okie, my complaint is more than a little hypocritical). Springfield is pronounced Springfeld. Items aren't on sale they're on sell. People don't appreciate your business, they appriciate it.

--What happened to people asking "may I help you?" or "may I take your order?" I drive through Taco Bell and the disembodied voice asks "how are you today?" What the heck? Do they really want to know? How much time do they have? When am I supposed to order my burrito? Today I drove through the local cashew chicken joint, and all I hear is "Chinese Chef"... so is she answering the phone or am I supposed to know that she's ready for my order of potstickers? Other places the clerks just look at you and say nothing. Maybe I'm supposed to be getting the message telepathically? Sorry, I missed out on that talent. So of course I'm all Miss Bubbly: "Hi! Looks like you're busy today!" and "Thanks so much." Maybe I'm supposed to talk in text-speak: OMG ur so bzy! Thx! ur my new bff! Whatever.

--Folks who park their shopping carts smack dab in the middle of the store aisle to either: Talk on the cell phone, catch up with a neighbor, argue with their partner about what brand of hot dogs, or just leave the basket and wander up and down looking at stuff. Is there some invisible line that prevents them from moving out of the way? Are they entitled to more space than the rest of us? As my mom would say, "you're taking your half right down the middle."

--Ditto for drivers. Look, we're all hot, and some of us have to be somewhere. The left lane is for passing, so move over. It must be legal to pass on the right in California and Texas -- drive a few miles on I-44 and if you find someone going slowly in the left lane, most of the time they'll have Texas or California plates. If they don't, they probably just moved from there.

Ahhh. I feel better now. First of all, if these are the biggest complaints I've got today, I am one lucky chick. Secondly, following "the Secret" theory, I'm just going to attract a bunch of grumpiness if I stay on this track.

Now I can move on to the good stuff, and there's so, so much more of that. Maybe that's a good post for a Thursday Thirteen!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Turn, turn, turn.

Sitting on the "back slab"-- the hulking concrete block that functions as a porch -- with the 100 degree heat shimmering off the horizon, I look at the landscape of broken trees which surround the yard. Limbs still hang from treetops, some with green leaves, but most looking fragile as they sway in the hot wind. Some broken tree tops have leafed out, which somehow makes them look even more pathetic.

The ice storm was 7 months ago. Yet even as the heat pulses around me, I can simply close my eyes and hear the gunshot CRACK of limbs, the showers of ice crystals as they tumble to the frozen ground, the eerie silence created by a city that's lost its white noise of electricity.

Thinking about the ice doesn't cool me off. It is too hot for that. It does remind me, though, that life is transitory.

There's a season for everything.