Archive for the ‘training’ Category

How can I ever Thank You?

Am I the only person who thinks a gesture deserves thanks? What about a full-fledged gift? What about the time to shop for the gift, the money to purchase the gift, wrap the gift, package the gift, and ship the gift? Does that deserve something in the line of ‘thanks’ or am I being too old-fashioned and stodgy?
People I dearly love are aggravating me. They do not know they should take the time to write me a note, acknowledging my time, my money (I am on social security), and my love.
I feel hurt. I feel dismissed. Are they taking advantage of me? Yet I am the one hoping that someone appreciates the gift that I shopped for, selected, wrapped and shipped. So, am I nuts?
My peers raised the kids in question. People just like my parents raised them. People just like me raised them. Except they do not thank you. “Thank you for taking time out of your life to shop for me, to spend money on me, to spend your valuable time on me, to go to the post office for me, to wrap gifts for me”. Nope. Absolutely nothing.
I sent 6 gifts last year. One cost over $100 to ship. Nothing. I sent a gift card to a youngster. $45.00. Nothing. I wrote. I sent toys. Nothing. One of my favorite relatives said she had been too busy to thank me. This, after I inquired if the huge box had been received. It had been 3 weeks. Yet, nothing more. Still no note.
Another said she had been busy and was ‘behind on thank you notes’. Uh huh. That set of gifts cost me about $65. That was Christmas. It’s April. I am now due another gift for the birthday. I am really rethinking all of this. For some reason, as I slash my personal budget and see my ‘gift’ budget consistently too high, I am questioning the logic of sending things to people who don’t feel a need to thank me for my time, my trouble, my money, my love and caring.
What in the world is happening?
When I discuss this with my friends, they say, “cut them off”. I understand that thinking. I have thought that so many times. My issue is that the kids are paying a price because my peer group, my relatives, did not bother to insist on the kids learning this important lesson.
Please. Thank You. Remember that? It is as old as “Dick and Jane”.
My step-mom called them ‘bread and butter notes’. You owed them within 3 days. Even ‘within a month’ would thrill me these days. My mom taught us that we did not use the item until we thanked the sender.
I know generation after generation complains about those following us. We think they are spoiled. We think they are entitled. I think we are right. What do YOU think? What do you do?

Walking in shadow

Another  November 11.

It is a day we honor our veterans.

I revere this day. My flag is out early. Beautiful. As I am having coffee, I begin my calls. It does not take long. Many of my veteran relatives have passed. We are losing such an important generation.

My granddaddy served in WWI. He was always so proud of his service. He was a very soft-spoken man. I have his casket flag in a case, on my wall; with a commemorative, ‘plate’ that was evidently popular at the time.

My step-dad, James Wells, passed last year. He served in the Philippines. I had always called him to thank him for his service. He was always embarrassed that I would even mention it. His brother, my uncle also served. Horace Wells was a diver, tasked with finding explosives around our boats, ships, and subs. He passed away 2 months ago.

My father, Frank Conway served in Germany, in the occupation and in Korea when the war was hot. He was an aerial gunner for a time. They had a very short life expectancy. The Army sent him to OCS (officer’s candidate school) and his entire platoon shipped to Korea without him. Enemy forces killed the entire platoon the day they landed. He has never come to terms with that.

He is proud of his military service. His very large family also had veterans. They were all Navy. Dad went Army. His father missed the civil war by less than 10 years.

When I look at this history, I feel awe and pride.

My brother, Larry Conway served 2 terms in Viet Nam. He came home wounded. He is proud of his service, but he will never be the young man we said good-by to in Jacksonville when he was 19. Larry holds himself responsible for a young man who did not come home from an air mission. The 2 crew -members were shot down, KIA and Larry felt responsible. My opinion was that a wonderful angel pushed my brother out of the way. I am grateful. He is ashamed.

Our wounded are coming home in record numbers. Now they include more women than our system is accustomed to accommodating. With that in mind, I now take ‘women magazines’ to the VA centers. I take them books that I have enjoyed, gardening and fashion magazines, anything I think they might have been missing during the last year or two. It is no longer a man’s world. It is our world. Everyone’s’ world.

We owe honor to so many.

head games

Wishes were granted yesterday. I had my head examined. I was overdue.

Testing was intense. 5 hours of sitting in a small office, doing all types of things to show how my brain works, if at all. This is necessary because of several brain injuries and Alzheimer’s is being rampant in my family. As I prepare to move, I need to plan based on my hope to live independently.

My good fortune is finding humor everywhere in life.

The man (psychologist) was just as you would expect. He ‘tried’ to be fun, but is, after all, something of a scientist, anal, orderly, and controlled. My polar opposite.

While I took tests, he observed and surreptitiously scribbled secret notes. I asked if I might please have some water. He grabbed a coffee cup and obviously saw the horror on my face as he started to fill the dark brown-stained cup for me. He stopped. I had not meant to show my concern. I must have been fatigued. He said, “This bothers women,” pointing to the stains inside the cup. I agreed (wholeheartedly). He said, “It doesn’t bother men, why does it bother women?” I told him that most of us would fear the cup was not clean. I went on to say my brother had a heavily stained coffee cup. He carries it with him everywhere. Once, without realizing my transgression, I cleaned it. Thoroughly. I did the old ‘Polident’ tablet in the cup, twice. Then, I took a scouring pad to the offensive stains. The next morning, after putting it through the dishwasher, I proudly handed him his pristine cup. He asked what I had done. I told him I had just cleaned it, as if it were no big deal.

My brother left. When he returned, he had a new cup. He did not openly complain. After a year or so, his new cup looked just as bad as the one I had spent hours cleaning. He was happy again. I had clearly ruined his cup. I learned the lesson.

This man across from me asked if I needed a different cup. I said no (I lied). After another section of testing, he asked me how to remove the stains. Amazingly, men know that women fight stains. We get no extra salary for this. We get no recognition but men know we fight stains. We are wonder women without the snazzy costume and lasso. I told him to put a Polident tablet in it.

The look on his face was so odd. He almost looked embarrassed. Then he explained that he does not wear dentures. I smiled slightly and leaned over the table. I said, “You know, it’s interesting. You are allowed to buy them anyway. ‘They’ don’t even check.” He just stared at me. I could see I was not getting through to him. So, l leaned in a bit further and said, “In Texas, men are even allowed to buy sanitary napkins.” That did it. He broke. He laughed. He saw the humor.

We went back to the testing.

Two hours passed, immersed in the paperwork and the various tasks I was given. He finally saw that I needed a break. He told me I could take 10 minutes. I almost felt as if a lock was taken from the chain that held me in place at that small table. I bolted.

When I returned, I carried a large cup of coffee, extra shots. He was noticeably concerned. I apologized for bringing something into the exam room, assuming that was some sort of ‘rule’. It confused me, though, because we had been sitting there, drinking water from cups. He explained that the testing materials were very expensive and spilling coffee on them would be a problem. I was mortified that I could not be trusted with my cup of coffee, even though I am not known for being sloppy with beverages. Each time I took a sip, he watched carefully. It was an agonizing drink. During the time I consumed it, he explained twice more the expense of the materials. I knew I was on thin ice.

He turned a page in my booklet in front of me. There was crayon all over the page ahead of it. I asked how crayon got on this expensive booklet and how he could possibly expect me to use it, thus ruined. He was serious: “children are not easily controlled.” He went on to explain he had tried to get the crayon out of the page, to no avail. He asked if I might know of a way to remove the crayon. He asked if I needed a new booklet. He simply cannot help himself. He is a serious type.

During one part of switching materials, I asked him how long he had been married although I felt certain he was divorced. He did not want to share that information, which was fine. He DID mention that the crushing blow to the union was the desire of his wife to have a pet. He explained that a pet means there would eventually be a pet hair somewhere that it “doesn’t belong.” I had enough of a mental picture and needed no other explanation.

As we were reaching the end of the testing, he was rushing me. We were behind schedule. I realized what a huge transgression that was so I was doing my best to accelerate. He announced that we would not be able to finish but he thought he had enough to complete his analysis.

As he rushed me to the door, he explained that I would need to return for his results. We made another appointment.

I am edgy about the results. I am hopeful but recognize it is just going to be my life and I cannot control the outcome too much. I want to take a piece of cat hair. I just can’t help myself.

can you change the ending?

A friend of mine is not in great health; his time is short.

I have lost so many people in my life and my family. You begin something of a routine. It becomes necessary to continue in your daily life while you monitor the person who is leaving theirs. Routines help us cope. Knowing the ending is difficult but you still must keep moving forward, toward that difficulty.

It’s almost like a movie you love, but cry when you watch. You enjoy the good parts yet you know the worst is to come and regardless of many repeats, you will still cry. You love that movie.

Family and friends gather in a hospital. It is a kindness for them to come to a grim place like this. They want to pay their respects to the family and the friend. It is true respect. That respect carries through a funeral service. You do not attend a funeral for the person who is gone. You attend for the family to see how valued their beloved member was in life. It is respect.

When my mom passed away, I was determined to have a gathering of the fun and joy she created. Several people were kind enough to relate their stories of time spent with her, laughing or being amazed. Everyone in the chapel laughed, even though many of us had to give into our tears. My mom was always laughing. We said good-by in style and I know she enjoyed watching.

Because of my mom’s service, I do my best to attend those for my friends. I go because the family deserves to feel their loved one touched many lives. Respect.

I was talking to a friend today about respect. Specifically we were sharing the importance of being certain our next generation of women learns respect. So many lives change due to a lack of respect. Naturally, you cannot respect others until you respect yourself. Young women are especially in need. Our society still operates on ages-old routines. Many continue to make young girls obsolete in favor of young boys. Women will always be necessary because we give birth. However, young girls have consistently been pushed to the back. If these young girls do not learn their importance while they are children, they will have a more difficult time standing firmly for themselves as adults.

Our school systems believed that young women could not really grasp math and science. Astonishing. My father did not think a girl needed college. He pushed my 3 brothers to attend, even though none of them did well in high school. For me, it was not an option. He decided I would just find a husband. This idea is still alive and well in many families even though women are now more than half of the workforce.

Once a young woman values herself, she begins to expect equality in her life. Men do it so easily but women have to be taught by parents, teachers, and relatives. We need to change this. Once done, I believe many teen pregnancies will be avoided. When a young girl realizes she has more in life than to ‘catch a boy’, her options open fully. Once open, they rarely close. This has nothing to do with being pushy. It has everything to do with pushing yourself. Respect.

Being strong and respecting yourself means there is no sign of weakness to tears. Crying when your soul aches is a sign of love felt. You can only be as happy as you have allowed yourself to be sad. The valleys and peaks must balance. That is respect you owe yourself in life.

I wish for women. I hope for humanity. I pray for leaders who will make rules. I do not know how this will end. Movies and books cannot tell me. I have to play it out to the end. Nothing can foretell this.

How much do I wish I really knew? I wish I knew. Sometimes knowing the end isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Can you do this?

I find myself surrounded lately by people who ‘enable’. What is happening here?

My hairdresser is enabling her son and his family. My younger cousins and nieces, nephews are enabling their children. My great attorney friend enables his kids, who have their own families. And if you ever watch something like ‘super nanny’,  or ‘wife swap’ you see constantly that families are afraid of their own kids, when it comes to discipline.

When that generation matures, who is going to give them this leeway?

I have a tendency to view these things in terms of pets. If you die, who will take care of your pet(s)? Just think for a moment. If you have pets, who will they go to if you are hit by a bus tomorrow? You had better make those plans. We never know what is coming around the next corner.

I have a friend who cooks her own pet food. I used to feed mine a raw diet. I have other friends who hand-feed their pets each meal. Still others sleep with their pets, sometimes to the detriment of their spouse.

Here is my concern: if you die, will anyone do all that? I doubt it. If someone is good enough to take in your pet, they will have done more than enough, giving your beloved pet a warm place to sleep and food when needed. They won’t hand feed, they won’t cook and bake, they won’t chop up raw veggies. Once I began to think of this, I stopped that.

Now, my pets get pet food. Plain and simple. Just like everyone else would give them. If they get a better deal: super. But, if they just get a place to ‘sleep’ and food and water, I don’t want them to have any more agony than they already will, wondering where in the world I am. I think it’s better for my pets. And heaven knows, it  has begun to save me time.  And, not requiring so much from friends who might be kind enough to agree to take my furry babies.

I feel the very same way about kids. If something were to happen to us, who is going to treat your 20 year old as if they were still 6? Who is going to treat your 6 year old as if they were still 2? The world does not revolve around any one of us. It certainly does not revolve around our kids or our pets. I feel as if I am keeping my pets in a low-maintenance  area in their lives, so that if needed, anyone can pick up in my absence. I feel that this is the kind thing, the smart thing, and the right thing to do.

No toleration of yelling, screaming, kicking, complaining, when the world is basically just fine. No refusal to become adults.

My wonderful hairdresser gave her son and his ‘due soon’ baby a place to stay. He brought the wife and the dog. That was 7 years ago. They now have 2 dogs, 2 kids and no money. my hairdresser, in her  60’s is supporting everyone in her retirement home. She has one bedroom, they fill 3. Incredible. She wants them to move. They have said they cannot wait to leave so that they can live life the way THEY choose. But, 7 years and a larger family later, they linger. She is enabling them. why would they leave? They give her 200 bucks a month. The own ¾ of her home. They use everything and she cleans after them. if they get ready to leave, she feels guilty. It’s backwards. She should feel guilty that they have never had to learn to support their own lifestyle. It is heartbreaking.

I used to chop fresh veggies, go to the store daily to get ‘fresh’ meat to add to the food. Nuts. I finally realized one day that if something happened to me, the cats would immediately be on death row or be given a bag of cat food. Unless, of course, I left money in my will for them (I haven’t). I prefer having them get a bag of cat food. Any food will do at that point. Pet  food.

I have a friend whose dog has only slept on the bed it’s entire life. the dog was adorable. Now the dog is huge. I stayed over there once and woke to the dog, on top of me. I was not part of it’s territory. I’m lucky it didn’t tinkle on me to mark territory. I didn’t mind too much. It was only 1 night and I love pets. But, if I inherited that doggie, it would have to learn to sleep on a dog bed or the floor or something. And, if it yelled and screamed for 2 or 3 weeks while it was ‘getting that lesson’, I might not be inclined to bend over backwards for someone’s dog that was not properly raised, doesn’t understand that the humans are alpha and the dogs are not.

Hand feeding? Quit it. Dogs and cats and everything else really CAN take pretty good care of themselves. We get in the way.  and….we are supposed to be teaching our children to interact, to get along, to become self-reliant. Anytime you see a kid blowing up, stop to think just how long a different person would put up with that. nobody does it like enabling parents.

Sleeping with your kid? Nope. I won’t. will your cousin or your brother or sister if they suddenly find themselves with your children because you died? I doubt it. They aren’t used to bending into pretzels because you couldn’t bring yourself to do the right thing.

Why have we found ourselves in a world of people afraid to let kids grow up, become responsible, have pets that understand who is in charge? What in the world happened to the generation that followed one of the greatest?

Ooops. Cat needs cuddles. I hear the screaming. Better go get her.

are you worried or scared?

I am often afraid. I fear so many things that haven’t happened. I fear things that ‘could’ happen. the relationship between the first and the second are huge.  there is the possibility that nothing bad could happen at all. irrational fears.

I am afraid of spiders. I don’t know why. many are so tiny. I try to help them. I know they are afraid of me. then, the bigger ones: ok, I’m frightened to pieces. no clue as to why. I think I am afraid of things that ‘scurry’:  mice, rats, big bugs (roaches), spiders, and the like. again, they have never bitten me. I am just uncomfortable. afraid.

but why am I afraid of people? not many people, but certain people doing certain things. why should I fear them?

I am pretty fearless generally. it is not the person I fear, but what that person represents (as my stepdaughter taught me) me (CALL ME ANYTHING). I fear what I cannot predict. how many of us don’t?

of late, I am afraid of my future. I fear being without funding. I have only been that way once in my adult life and I managed by working 7 jobs a week. I was also 38. huge difference. now, I find myself without income and I feel old and withered, fretting about my financial future.

how different from a spider or a rat or mouse is this fear?

I know a wonderful woman. she is frightened to pieces of fire. I will hope to understand that fear before I leave her company. she consistently cuts trees, thinking this will prevent her family from burning. during the time I have known her, she has given way to both of her children leaving the nest, moving onward with their lives. she still fears that fire. she has more than one home. she is constantly cutting trees to prevent the danger of a dwelling being lost to fire. we all watch and feel for her dread. no one person will be able to put that to rest. only her. only this woman can prevent herself from the slashing of trees and shrubs, homes to so much wildlife, because she fears fire.

I’ve known her 10 years. I have yet to learn what was killed, or  lost  in a fire, in her life. I gather she lost something or someone precious. but, maybe it’s an irrational fear.

I fear sharks in the ocean.

I was raised in the ocean. my brother and family swam in the Atlantic and the Gulf for years. at times, our mother would call out to us: “sharks! , be still.  now, come slowly to me.” we learned that sharks were a danger. we were afraid but not terrified. when I saw the movie “JAWS”, I became very frightened. that was different. now, I’m afraid. now I’m frightened. now, I can be terrified.

but that’s me.

don’t we all have something? everyone is afraid of something. we all have our terrors. our worries. it doesn’t matter if they are things or stories or memories. they still frighten us sufficiently. we are afraid.

how interesting that so many of us decide that what one person fears is silly, yet inside we fear something. isn’t it time that we all recognize that everyone has fears and no fear of one person is any less than the fear we carry? personally, I think it’s past time.

it’s STUFF. we all have it. nobody is exempt. without fears, terrorism could not exist.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but when I get on an airplane, I kiss myself goodby. I say my prayer to my guardians, my family, my loved ones and I put myself into the hands of ‘everlasting hope’. whatever happens after that is whatever happens. I have warned my family that if I were to perish in a plane crash then I was meant to, I decided to, I chose to. because, as a crew member, if I did not get out of a plane, there was a very good reason. I decided I needed to help someone else, I decided my life was over, I decided. yep. I decided.

so, what is your fear? do you acknowledge it? do you try to pretend it doesn’t exist? we all have it. no one person is exempt, no matter their posturing. everyone has fear.

overcoming that fear is a huge step forward.

my fear of sharks dissolved several years ago (that’s another blog). my fear of being left is dissolving now. (I’ll manage) my fear of spiders is a work in progress but I’m gaining on it considerably. i still dont’ like roaches but I realize now how long they have survived and try to acknowledge that as I do my best to kill them, standing as far away as possible. roaches are scary.

A Picture is Forever

The Division of Licensing has been beating me. This has caused me great angst because although they are not as official as many agencies, they DO control my ability to operate a vehicle. Additionally, many businesses require your driver’s license to identify yourself. As we move toward the obvious, a public identity card, some states have already declared that a driver’s license is not an identity card. Interesting. Nor is your social security card.

I just want to drive.

I went to the license office almost 2 months ago, all geared up to take the written test and get a new license. Did not work that way at all. They said I just needed to hand in my old license, prove my identity, get my photo taken and I would be finished. They did not even care if I could see. They did not care if I knew the driving regulations in their state. Seemed excessively easy.

I had looked at their website, learning what I might need to take along for ID. The website examples are to bring a utility bill in applicant name, to the correct home address. A passport not expired longer than a year. A military ID. A federal employee ID. A current driver’s license from another state. They offer many identity choices. Two very long lists of them. I have never had a problem proving who I am so I did not expect a problem here.

This is something with which few men will identify. My name is Dorothy Alexa Marguerite Conway. Society puts women in a spot after they marry. People in quite a few places can actually change a woman’s name, to make their filing system work more easily. When I married, I was 50 years old. I owned several houses in my name, owned my car, was buying another home, in my name, was an officer of the court, in my name, had 4 passports (you know, my name). So, since I already had 4 names, did I want to add a 5th? No, I really did not. My name was so long that no government office or form would accept it as it was. Therefore, someone (a typist) would make a decision to shorten my name. Think about that. Long name. 3 of the names can easily be misspelled. As a result, the typist usually drops a name. so, I have ID that shows me as Dorothy M Conway, as Alexa M Conway, as DA Conway, as (my favorite) DAM Conway, as Dorothy Alexa Conway. There are more, believe me. So many combinations available. I have too many names. I have never had a problem proving who I am, getting licenses in several states and territories.

This was easy. I went in with my current driver’s license. It identifies me as Alexa M Conway Smith. Yep. Smith. Why? Well, because a well-intentioned young woman in Oregon added Smith to my last name, without proof of my identity, without a marriage certificate, without any substantiation that I had increased the size of my name. She recognized my husband, and then she just did it. When she handed me my Oregon license, it said smith, behind everything else. I gulped. I was looking for the first time at a name that was foreign to me. My brand new husband was standing next to me, beaming. She was beaming. I was silent, not wanting to hurt him or her. I thanked her and we went on our way. Today I would like to have her take that name off my license. Not just because he is having a very public affair. Not because we are heading toward divorce. Not even because smith is such a common name and it increases the difficulty of my identity. Nope. Just because it was never my choice and because I liked my name just fine and it irks me that a woman is so easily re-identified in this society. She did not change HIS name to conway-smith. Only mine. Uh huh. I am one of those.

So, the license office here did not like it that my name was smith on my license but not on my social security card. Well, duh. I never legally changed my name! But, you know who did? My health insurance company. Someone there decided that I would be easier to find if my last name was the same as my husband’s. Just like that, my records all went to smith. So now, I have to help them find me. Sometimes it is conway-smith, sometimes its smith. We never know. It is an Easter egg hunt. Then, amazingly, my insurance company that handles my auto insurance, my homeowners insurance and my credit card, began to call me conway-smith. Wow. Another ‘somebody’ just decided it was easier. The first time we got our insurance cards, after I added my husband to my accounts, the cards came in my name, with his name listed afterwards. He had a fit. This did not work for him. It was my account. Everything had been mine. I added him to my accounts. Now, he was mad because things came in my name.  I had to call them, asking that they put his name on things equally. The woman I spoke with completely understood. I explained to my husband that women deal with this all the time and he really should put his ego in check. It was not a big deal. He would have none of it. Therefore, when she put his name onto my accounts, she also changed my name. Again, I was stunned. I was also conway-smith.

I am at fault here for not fighting for my identity. However, I married for life. I knew I could handle the little upsets that might come along with the name situation. Now, things are different. I do not like seeing his name on my things. It hurts. I do not like the feeling I get, knowing my husband is living with someone who decided my marriage was not as important as her wants. I want to be rid of the ‘Smith’ stuff. However, that is a personal issue. Right now, I just want my new driver’s license. This is a fight.

I arrived in the licensing office with the following: my current license, an expired passport (the latest one was in an envelope, headed to salt lake city for renewal), a federally issued photo ID, two bills (utility and trash) mailed to me, at my home address, my auto insurance card and policy, in my name, at my address. Armed for anything, I took a number and waited. They would not accept my ID.

I went back 3 days later, better armed. This time I was carrying 3 passports, including the one that had been in the envelope to be renewed. This office caused an urgency I had not experienced in a very long time. I also took my airline ID, federally issued, with my photo. I took my court photo ID, 4 bills, a letter from the IRS written to ME, at my home address, with my social security number, and my full name and they would not accept it.

I went 7 times. By now, the people recognize me by name. Nevertheless, they will not accept my ID. Finally, I won. They took my photo and sent me on my way, promising my new license would arrive by mail w/in a week. I was happy/sad. Happy to accomplish this, sad because I had given up trying to look good in my photo. The first time I had arrived straight from the hairdresser. Looking as good as was possible for my age. As the visits continued, I began doing less and less about my appearance, knowing that today was not going to be my day.

I decided whatever picture I had was fine. It was not. Nevertheless, I still felt good about the achievement. That feeling lasted 3 weeks. By then my license was long overdue. I had travelled to Florida to help my aunt Dot, with a flimsy little temporary license that caused much dismay to the airline screeners. Their dismay caused lots of searching on my personal being.

I had no license waiting when I returned. I began to fret. I started calling the licensing division. That’s fun. It is also fruitless. I scoured their website for information and actually found a link that says contact us here if you have not received your license! What foresight! I ‘clicked’ and wrote. I sent my full name, address, date of application, old license number, and state, last 4 digits of my social. 3 days later I got a note back informing me that I needed to send my name, address, last 4 digits, date of application, old license number AND new temp license number. Otherwise, no help for me. Incredible but people NEED jobs and without this time consuming effort on her part, she might not appear to be as employable. I found the last puzzle piece and sent the note back.

She wrote. She did not like my ID. I would not receive my license. Noooooooooooooooooooooo. I wrote again, begging, offering meals, trying to be her friend, trying to learn anything that might help me work through this latest glass ceiling. No good. She finally told me to go to the social security office, change my name, get a new card, then start the process again. Amazing. This is where we live. Amazing. They all know I am really ME. Nobody will make a decision.

Today I went back. I was fully armed. Now I carry things in a large overstuffed envelope. I learned online that the office has an ‘identification specialist’ who has the authority to make a decision.

I went to one of ‘my people’, asking for the identification specialist. She was very nice. Sorry to learn I had not gotten my license. She was also perplexed that I had actually corresponded with someone who could supposedly help. She questioned me about that frequently. I kept explaining exactly where to find it on THEIR website. I was getting nowhere. Then, I began to cry. Really cry. One year ago, my dad passed away. It has been on my mind. Maybe that spurred the tears but my frustration level over them refusing something so basic, simply because the person making the decision can ‘choose’ to ignore the obvious, has beaten me down. I need them. They do not need me. I do not want to break the law but I WILL drive. I MUST drive. I am alone. I need things. Driving is the answer.

Two men began to eves-drop and move in closer. The customer next to me dug out a Kleenex. By now, I was well into the ‘ugly cry’, no stopping me. Two more men, one who had helped me several times, became part of the ‘employee circle’. Everyone is questioning and trying to help. Finally, one man (maybe he was actually the Identification Specialist!) made the decision. I would get a license! I was beyond thrilled. I asked him out for drinks immediately! He had the good sense to ignore me.

Therefore, I am waiting for my new license to appear in the mail. I know what you are thinking: why would this time be any different? What makes me think it is actually going to be sent, when that ‘person’ is lying in wait to refuse me? I will tell you exactly why: because they took my picture again, because I looked like shit, because I had not washed my hair or put on make-up, because I had sobbed, let my nose run, and had a horribly red face. Yes, this license will come. This picture will follow me for years. Forget the name, forget the hassle, and forget the 8 trips to DOL. It is all about the picture. I have never looked worse in my life. One guy offered to take me to a beauty parlor across the street to let them ‘try to fix you up’. One of the male employees actually said “Alexa, (like we’re good friends), do you have any makeup in your car?” when ‘the picture guy’ got ready to take the picture, he looked at me and asked if I needed ‘a minute’. I was crying! I said ‘a minute’ would not do me a bit of good.

This license will arrive. I won!

Duty and Honor, Veterans Day

today is set aside to honor all of our nation’s veterans.

veterans fill my family. my granddaddy served and was very proud to do so. my father served and made it into his chosen career. my brother served, doing two tours in viet nam. he came home a much different man than the one we said good-by to at the airport. he remains proud of his service. I am fortunate to have the coffin flag from granddaddy’s service. I remember very clearly the day it was handed to my grandmother.

my uncles served as well, but not for long. after the war, they all returned home to civilian jobs. my dad is the only one I remember in the immediate family who stayed in. except for my mother.

military families are always in flux. the people who quite often hold the family together are the spouses, the wives. when my father was in the military, women rarely got the opportunity to do more than secretarial work. the wives were sharing the military load at home.

whenever my dad would come in the door to announce we were moving, it meant my mother would have to give notice at her job, immediately and begin to pack, organize and ‘clear quarters’. this is military speak for “be sure there is no evidence that you existed in this home.” there was actually a ‘white glove’ inspection at the home and the wives had best pass it. if not, they had to work until it was exactly as it had been before we moved into the place. the wives bore such a heavy load. the military would immediately relocate the soldier. the wives would pack the whole family, get the kids’ school records, medical records (no computers in those days), find a new house the DAY they arrived at the next city, state, country, register the kids into a new school system and begin unpacking. the dad would come home from work, for dinner. not many women are up to such a task today. they would balk at the system. it’s very one-sided.

we now have women serving in the military, in jobs they actually aspired to and husbands staying home to take care of the children, clear quarters and maintain the home front. interestingly, not many husbands ‘stick’.

it’s hard to have your lives controlled by an agency but that’s what you sign up for and that’s what you are required by law to do. you have to be willing to support your military spouse completely because that spouse is required to honor their contract.

the kids yell, scream, threaten, and cry when new orders come in. we would have it no other way. once grown we came to recognize the value of that life. military kids (brats, we are called) can walk into just about any situation given and fit in immediately. they are friendly, natural leaders, better educated, very well rounded, and easy going. we know how lucky we’ve been. when we were in europe, the junior high and high school teachers were mostly professors. the educational standards were very high. we got smart. when I came back to the US, I spoke German fluently and only needed one class to graduate from high school. I was a junior at the time. the next year, in another state, I was speaking German and French and only needed one semester to graduate from that school. compared to US standards, our educations were pretty advanced… as a result; my last two years of school bored me to pieces. there was no challenge.

as many of us did today, I flew my flag. I think a great house-warming gift for anyone is a nice flag and a bracket from which to hang it. I leave mine on every home I move from, hoping it will inspire the next family to fly a flag as I did. as many of us  did today, I thanked vets everywhere as I came into their paths. we owe them so much. they deserve our respect and our support.

it was just today that I really thought again about the sacrifices that my mother made repeatedly during her life. she was completely controlled by an agency because she married my dad. she honored the tradition and did her part. it cost her in many ways but she never complained. my brother and I revel in the stories of our upbringing in various parts of the world. we know we were lucky.

thank you dad for your service to our country. thank you mom for always making it fun to relocate. thank you everyone who has served and let us not forget the issues it causes at home to have a part-time parent sharing the load. In a way, the veterans are everyone of us. we are all in this together.

who is really the boss? who is top dog?

are you the boss?

I was the boss way before I was ready. as a result, I was a very bad boss. how many of us have been the boss we love to hate? I have. I’m not proud. being a bad boss is still embarrassing to me. learning how to be a better boss, then a great boss is something I treasure.

when you are a good boss, you sorta run things in your specific neighborhood. you know you have power but you don’t need to prove that power. you collaborate. you are totally secure. you recognize that you were like the person you are teaching. you recognize that you have learned from someone else. you grow into being a boss. nobody can just ‘tag’ you as a boss. nobody can ‘bless’ you as a boss. you have to earn the boss title. otherwise, everyone around recognizes you are not really a boss. you are afraid and you have someone behind you, making you appear to be the boss. if that is the case, everyone sees that you have little, that you are afraid, that you cannot expect to be respected. you are simply someone ‘put in charge’ by someone else. you are still little.

I’ve mentioned before that I get to live in a magical place. I have wildlife and wonderful trees and flowers. I am fortunate. my mornings are spent on my balcony, watching the birds. my evenings on spent on the balcony, watching the deer.

unfortunately, I have a neighbor with 5 barking dogs. it’s noise. nothing but noise. the owners do not believe their dogs bark. the owners are never home. the dog barking is incessant.

one dog is living on the deck. the other 4 dogs live in pens, at the bottom of the yard. I feel sorry for the guy on the deck. it’s his whole life. he has this little space to defend and protect. the dogs within his reach are in pens. one dog per pen with an igloo to retreat to when needed.

the dog on the deck is the worst offender. he barks nonstop. all day, everyday. the owners do not believe this. how could they think their wonderful pet is a pest? they are never home when this is happening. they have been told the dogs bark and they really refuse to believe it. when they are home, all is quiet.

my belief is that the dog on the deck has so little to protect and control,  he is insecure. he cannot help himself. he has to defend his little deck. it encompasses his entire world, this deck. he has little choice but to prove he can defend it. if he barks enough, the other 4 dogs, in the pens below the deck, join him. then it’s way too loud. naturally the owners never deal with this because they simply do not believe it happens. it never happens when they are home.

what is going on here?

I have a theory.

the dogs only yell and scream when the boss is not here. they feel the need to do that, to protect the boss’ house during his/her absence. they are doing their job, in their opinions. but, they are only dogs. how big should their opinions really be? who is in charge here?

it’s very similar in the workplace. the owner (boss) doesn’t believe the dogs (managers) bark. he or she simply does not want to believe that the dogs (managers) he or she trained so well, would be so raucous. cannot be the truth. everyone else must be complaining due to jealousy or an insecurity of their own. the dogs don’t really bark. people just want to complain for attention and to cause issues for the dogs. and the owners/managers.

so, how do you handle this? the dog cannot really rule his or her domain. he or she is totally insecure about territory. as a result, they bark. they yell at co-workers, at workers under their control. they cannot control because they do not have the skills. they bark. they are afraid. without the boss or the owner, they are powerless. they pretend to be in control by making people afraid of them, if possible. that is their only weapon.

they need to be trained. until they are, they will bark, the dogs will bark and the managers, owners will pretend nothing is wrong. so who really needs to be trained?

I think we all know that answer.