Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Stand Alone

I'm exhausted. My nerves are stretched thin because of my job. The layoffs have begun and from what my sources say, it is very sudden when you find out. Boss Lady is nervous but she and I have come to the understanding that out department needs to stay under the radar so nobody gets any funny ideas about cutting us. There's only so much of a workload we can take because we lack the technical know-how for very complicated processes. To be fair, it isn't very kind to be taking work from other departments when they are probably trying to keep their own jobs from being slashed. I know my self preservation should come first but it bothers me to know that some of the good people I work with in this building could lose their jobs. I know a couple of people in my department are apathetic to the prospect of being laid off and that doesn't help me at all in this matter.

I think I've come to the end of my rope though. I can do no more. There will be some cross training with 2 other groups that I was volunteered for this month. I am not pleased about it because it isn't very relevent to what we do and I dislike most of the staff in these groups. This training smacks of "DESPERATION" and it's embarrassing. I'd sooner quit or take my walking papers rather then ever work in one of those groups.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rabbit Food FTW!

So last weekend I took a gamble on a salad recipe I saw over at Cheap Healthy Good. I'll admit that growing up and until recently, I hated big leafy greens. I distinctly remembered feeding it to pet rabbits and the general scent of dirt it had. However, I am now in love with the tasty goodness of spinach, kale, and chard. (I will find a recipe soon that uses dandelion greens since I'm curious.) While this salad may seem kind of odd, it is yummy. It allowed me the chance to play with root veggies I've never tried before.

Kale and Root Veggie Salad

1 large bunch curly green kale (about 5 cups), chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, grated
1 parsnip, grated
1 medium celeriac, grated
1/2 sweet red pepper, sliced
4 scallions

Dress to taste

1) Wash and remove stems from kale. Chop into ribbons.

2) In a large bowl, combine kale with oil and salt. Massage with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes. Allow kale to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad or up to 20 minutes.

3) Grate carrot, parsnip, and celeriac. Slice red pepper and scallions.

4) Toss topping vegetables with kale.

This salad also keeps very well in the fridge. I tended to eyeball the amount of veggies once everything was sliced or grated. The most expensive thing to purchase is the celeriac (celery root) which goes around $3.99 a lb. at the grocery store Andy and I use. (It was actually only $3.39 since it was under a lb.) I'm going to be making this salad again in the next few days since I have plenty of celery root leftover, a parsnip, a few scallions and sweet peppers. So buying the Kale bunch for less then a buck was no stretch. We always have carrots since I munch them as snacks. Though I do recommend this salad with an oil based dressing. It's not bad with a creamy one but I enjoyed it better with the latter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Slamming Of Doors

Last Friday was Amy's graveside service and burial. I think the entire maternal side of the family went through many shades of grief. My Aunt Terri seemed to be in bitter denial all week till the day of the funeral where she was completely inconsolable. It was the first time that I really saw my, grandmother, Mom and aunts rally like that. But before I stray from my narrative, the guilt of how Terri treated Amy the majority of her life finally settled in. To put it bluntly, my Uncle Mike and Aunt Terri are not typically nice and can be obnoxious. They also treated their children with disrespect and cruelty. Amy got the brunt of the physical and verbal abuse. I would not be so inclined to respect my elders either if all they did was scream and demean my very existence so naturally there was tension. However in the last several years, Amy had taken on most of the household chorse and duties since Terri's health has declined greatly. Mind you, my aunt's slippery slope of diabetes was self inflicted as she ignored all her doctor's orders for DECADES. You see, Terri was a juvenile diabetic and simply disregarded everything she was told. Now she is wheelchair bound, lost sight in one of her eyes and receives dialysis 3 days a week. My aunt needs help constantly with the simplest of things like getting something to eat or getting to the bathroom since it is not handicap accessible. Amy did all of this.

They berated Amy for not having a job but how could she when she was expected to look after her Mom? How was she supposed to keep a job when they only had one vehicle for the entire family and lived outside the city? When they moved outside the city, that's when her life really took a nose dive. She developed an addiction to prescription painkillers a couple of years after the birth of her son. I think she just kept herself lucid so she couldn't feel the anguish of her life anymore and to keep sane in light of the abuse Mike still rained down on her, even as a young adult. Someone may ask "why didn't she just leave?" Because she couldn't afford to with being a single Mom and welfare is pretty picky when it comes to helping people in bad situations. She eventually did lose custody of Brandon a year ago. That's when it all came to a head I believe. She never had an easy life and there was lots of dysfunctionality involved. Her father, Mike is a conniving, compulsive liar and opportunist with sticky fingers. They have also always been very poor. It's just been worse since Terri couldn't work any longer and her disability wasn't quite as much as what she made having a job. If it wasn't for Section 8, they probably would be homeless as well. It just seemed like no matter what choice Amy would make, a door was slammed in her face. It wasn't fair.

Now she is gone, resting in a plot with my late maternal grandfather who died years before I was born. All the dreams of having a better life on her own and hopes of reuniting with her son, are lost. Instead of being curled up in her bed, she is laid beneath the earth in a small box on a hillside in Thurmont. According to Terri, the autopsy is in pending status right now. But based on superficial examination of her skull, they found something on the back of her head and they think it may have been an aneurysm. But they are waiting on the results of tissue and blood samples taken. I hope there was no foul play involved but there were whispers that her fiance was unstable. There were also murmurings that her father struck her hard enough in the back of the head a couple of weeks ago, that it left a knot.

I don't like to talk about fate because while I do believe we're gifted with a great destiny, the course our lives also take shape accordingly. There's a balancing act between the control you have of your life and the lack of it when life occurs. It's our choice whether we accept a destiny or make another. I think she wanted to break the cycle but was never given the chance to. Now her BFF and cousin of the same age, is continuing a self destructive cycle. Nicole is married to a physically abusive alcoholic. I wonder how long it will be till she ends up in the hospital or worse? Nicole has never listened to anybody but I hope she does soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

An Ordinary Day

It was an ordinary day. I woke up late in the morning, happily wrapped in the blankets since Andy is an early riser. There were no unpleasant coughing fits so it was a delightful bit of sleep. The cold/flu I had caught during the week was making life pretty difficult as I neared the weekend. After stumbling to the bathroom for the morning routine, I went out to greet my disgustingly perky husband in the dining room who was hotly debating something nerdy on slash.dot. I made way into the kitchen, grumbling to myself the entire time as I remembered I have not gone grocery shopping yet which meant breakfast was going to be pretty limited. I stared warily into my fridge and searched like the cure for cancer was in there. Lucky for me, there was still one english muffin and enough cream cheese. Score!

As I placed the nook and cranny filled breads into the toaster, my phone started to ring. Nobody I knew called before noon unless it was important so I answered my cell.

"Hey Dad!"

"Denise, I have some terrible news. It's very shocking. Someone died this morning."

Dad's voice wasn't shaking and the despair wasn't dripping off of every word. So I knew it wasn't Mamaw, my recently widowed grandma I.E. his Mom. My mind was swept into a macabre investigation as I went over all the names in my mind of elderly and older relatives. My father was clearly shocked and dumbfounded by the revelation. So I let him continue.

"Ivy called several times early this morning while we were in bed. When your mother got up she called her back and one of the twins told her. You won't believe it."

"It's not Nanny, is it?" I heard myself say, thinking of my other grandmother.


"Oh my god, Aunt Terri?" I spat out as I felt my heart rate accelerate.

As you have no doubt noticed, I haven't let my Dad tell me directly. The last time he did, it was my grandfather. It was hard for me to hear words like that come tumbling out of another person's mouth. I have found that if I put the pieces together myself, it was easier for me to accept and understand since my mind was prepped even in the slightest.

"No, but that's very close." He spoke slowly and I knew he was trying to gauge my reaction before proceeding.

"Uncle Mike?"

"No. Denise, this was very unexpected-"

I bit my lip and I jumped as the toaster ejected my crisp english muffins, utterly engrossed in the conversation. "Was it Aunt Brenda?"

"No, you were closer before-"

"Amy?" I uttered the name of my twenty-five year old cousin who lived at home with my Aunt Terri, Uncle Mike, and brother Joey. I felt my chest tighten as the seconds of silence stretched into eons.

"Yes. She's still out at the house, they haven't picked her up yet." Dad confirmed my creeping fear, his voice deep and sober.

"What happened?"

"They are thinking that it was an accidental overdose. She complained of feeling sick the day before and took a fair amount of some prescription drug before going to bed. They'll do an autopsy but nobody will know a thing for a few weeks."

"Who found her?"

"Mike went in to wake her up in the morning and saw that her lips were turning blue. He called the ambulance but, it was too late."

"How is Terri taking it?"

"She doesn't know yet...."

"What?! Why?"

"She's in the hospital, recovering from cataract removal. Mike hasn't told her yet."

"Oh god......"

"Nanny is devastated. Joey and Mike are as well."

"Wait, Dad! Where's her little boy? Where's Brandon?!"

"His great-grandmother dropped him off there at the house today. Mike is trying to get ahold of her to pick him up since technically she has custody of him."

"Do you think it was an accident, Dad?"

"I don't think she'd kill herself. We just saw her 1 week ago and she seemed in good spirits. I don't think I can go to the funeral......."

Every other word he said after that held no meaning as my mind reeled. It was as if I had become stuck in a pocket of space where time no longer mattered. Amy, Nicole, and I were in the same age group growing up. But when we became teenagers, we drifted apart because we all chose distinctly different paths in life. A series of events shaped us each in our own ways, for better and in their cases, for worse. I didn't judge them for the life they chose but I certainly didn't like what they had become. But now there's a little boy who will grow up without his Mom. She may not have been a very good one at times but, that's the only Mom he knew. Being only 4, he'll never remember her.

At some point, I told my Dad I loved him and that I had to go. I numbly spread cream cheese over my english muffins and joined my husband in the dining room. I dropped my cell phone with a nerve-wracking clatter on the glass surface and looked at Andy. He met my gaze and all I could hear was the sound of my own heart beating.

"Amy died this morning. Her father found her. She left behind a little boy."

It was an ordinary day.