Saturday, April 27, 2013

Early Morning Adventures

Linda slammed the front door, plopped down on the couch and took the skate key from around her neck.  Her face and hands were tingling from the contrasting foggy cold outside and the heated warmth inside.

As she bent over to remove her skates, her mom shouted from the kitchen, “I hope you didn’t come in the house with your skates on!”  Linda tried to hurry in case her mom poked her head around the corner to check, but found her hands were almost too cold to hold the skate key.  Thankfully, her mom didn’t come out to check on her.

As she released the roller skate from her white leather oxford, she noticed with alarm that the rubber sole was beginning to pull away from the well worn leather.  Linda knew there was no chance of getting a new pair of shoes during the summer, so she went into the kitchen to ask, “Where’s the glue, Mom?  My shoe is coming apart.”  Stirring the pot, her mom looked up and said, “I don’t know, Lin.  Maybe there’s some out in the garage.”

Exasperated, Linda threw open the door to the garage and began to rout around in the boxes and general mess that was their garage in search of glue.  Finding none there, she returned to the kitchen and began to dig through the junk drawer.  Ah-ha!  She found an almost-empty tube of glue that seemed to have some life left.  That would have to do, but first she had to call Teri to see if they were going on their early-morning adventure the next day.

These adventures had begun because the summer months between 4th and 5th grades were particularly long and boring in their foggy Bay Area neighborhood.  They wished their families could afford to go on vacations like some of the other families in the neighborhood, returning tanned and filled with exciting stories, but that wasn’t their luck.  Neither girl knew quite how the idea started, but they made a secret pact to go on exciting adventures of their own!  It was time to set up the next one.

Linda walked through the living room to the hallway and grabbed the phone from its cubby.  She sat on the floor and dialed Plaza 6-6872.  Since she and her mom were the only one’s home that late afternoon, she would have privacy while she and Teri plotted their Saturday morning escape.

Teri’s older sister, Andrea, answered the phone. “Hi, Andrea.  It’s Linda.  Can I talk to Teri?”  She heard Andrea clunk down the phone and loudly shout, “Teri, it’s for you!  It’s Linda!”  Teri picked up the phone and said, “Hi, Linda.”  She then whispered, “Wait.  Let me take the phone somewhere private.”

Linda heard the background noise fade as Teri quietly said, “Okay, the coast is clear.  Are we going on an adventure tomorrow morning?’  Linda replied, “Uh-huh!  Let’s go up to where they’re building those new houses, above Southgate.”  Agreeing to the idea, Teri replied, “Okay.  Come to my bedroom window at 6:00am tomorrow and tap on my window.  I’ll sleep in my clothes.  After I climb out the window, I’ll put my shoes on.  Let’s both wear our new hooded sweatshirts!”

Their plan set, both Linda and Teri went to bed early that night knowing they’d be up really early the next morning, earlier than if they had gone to school.  Luckily Linda didn’t have to share her bedroom like Teri did, so she set out her clothes the night before and tried to fall right to sleep.  Sleep was elusive, though, because she was excited about doing something besides roller skating or playing jacks on the porch…  and waving at cement truck drivers who drove up their street to the building site they were planning to visit.

Linda didn’t have an alarm clock other than her early-rising father.  The next morning, when Linda woke to her dad coughing, she quietly got up and began dressing.  She carefully slid open her bedroom window and stepped out onto the back patio.  Not wanting to risk walking past the dining room and kitchen windows to the gate, she climbed over the side fence nearest her room.

Free at last, Linda jubilantly ran down to the next corner where Teri lived.  She quietly opened the gate and walked around the house to Teri’s bedroom window.  She softly tapped on the window.  Nothing.  She tapped again.  Nothing.  With a little more pressure, Linda tapped again.  Finally, Teri opened the window, climbed out, and put on her shoes.  Once that was done, Linda whispered, “Come on!  Let’s go!!”

Thrilled that they were able to leave their houses without detection, the girls animatedly talked about what they might find at the construction site.  They wondered if any of the cement truck drivers they waved at would be there.  They walked quickly up the hill and were soon warm enough to remove their sweatshirts and tied them around their waists.

Soon, the construction site emerged.  There were square dirt mounds arranged in rows.  Lumber was stacked throughout the area.  Some of the dirt squares had cement floors with metal poles sticking up. Some had wooden frames that resembled a house, but looked more like Billy’s backyard fort they weren’t allowed to enter.  It wasn’t very exciting at all—there were no people and it was kind of messy and dusty looking.

After having explored as much as they wanted in search of excitement, they soon realized there was none to be found—and they had better return home.  The walk down the hill wasn’t as exuberant as the walk up.  The most fun part, they realized, was that they escaped their homes without anyone knowing!  They knew they would continue these early morning explorations for the rest of the summer!

As the girls neared Teri’s house, they saw a police car parked out in front.  Teri’s mother was outside talking to the policeman.  They wondered what had happened, if the house had been robbed, or if someone had been hurt.  The girls began to run to the excitement!  Teri shouted, “What happened, Mother?!”  Her mom, obviously very upset, began to cry, shake and yell—all at the same time, “I’ll tell you what happened!  Where WERE you, Theresa?!  Andrea woke me up this morning to tell me you had climbed out your bedroom window to go somewhere with Linda! We have been scared to death that something happened to you two!”

It was then that Linda saw her mom in the huddle with the police.  “Uh-Oh,” she thought.  “I’m in trouble, too!”  When Teri’s mom had learned that Teri “disappeared” with Linda, she called first the police, then Linda’s mother.  Linda knew that her mom really wouldn’t have been that upset about the girls’ outing—she was a pretty mellow mom.  On the other hand, Teri’s mom was very dramatic; something Linda always wished her mom was like, but not on that day.

Both girls were grounded for the next week, so no roller skating, or playing jacks, or waving at cement truck drivers.  Although they couldn’t talk to each other on the phone after the ordeal, they both knew that the saddest part of being caught was that their early morning adventures were over.  They would have to endure the remainder of the foggy, drizzly summer wearing their matching hooded sweatshirts while doing normal, boring things until school started.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sloth in Five Syllables

Sloth in Five Syllables

On Monday morning, I reviewed my calendar to get an idea of what the week ahead looked like.  It was going to be a busy one following a very busy weekend.  There were three evening commitments, an hour-and-a-half dental appointment, a plan for my sick three-year old grandson Liam to sleep over, and a Saturday night reward—a Winter Barn Dance at Tara Firma Farms.
 I’ve had my eye on Tara Firma Farms as a place for a family outing, especially for Liam.  I imagined there would be every kind of farm animal, maybe a tour of how the farm worked, and maybe fresh produce to buy.  I had even purchased a fun skirt and my very first pair of cowboy boots for some two-steppin’.  YEE-HAW!
What was the tightness in my chest?  I hope I’m not getting sick.  No, I have no time to get sick!  I’m not letting myself get sick!
  Thankfully, I have a full-time job working from home, so my plan was to catch up on house stuff during work lulls as the weekend had been too busy.  I also had to color my hair and make a long-overdue haircut appointment.  My fuzzy face was sorely in need of threading.  I’d squeeze it all in, if work wasn’t too demanding.
Oooh, I have chills, and the chest tightness seem to be worsening.  I wonder if I have a fever?
I took my temperature.  It was 101.5! 
Yikes!  I AM getting sick! 
I emailed my doctor; she told me to make an appointment to see her.  I let my managers know I was ill and would not be working.  I cancelled the dental appointment and found people to take care of my commitments.  I let Monica know that I wasn’t up to caring for Liam.  I doubted I’d be well in time for Saturday’s barn dance.
Once I got to Kaiser, there were signs posted everywhere that anyone with flu-like symptoms was required to wear a face mask.  I didn’t think it applied to me. 
The waiting room was moderately filled and I found the most remote chair to isolate myself from their germs, and them from mine.  It wasn’t too long a wait.
The doctor’s diagnosis was influenza.  She prescribed Tamiflu, a new medication that lessens the severity of flu if taken within 48 hours of its onset.
I wonder if I should remind her that the onset of this was on Monday morning?  It’s clearly past the 48 hour window…
The prescription meant standing in line downstairs, for-ev-er!  After a two-hour ordeal to get medical care, I returned home. I undressed and crawled into bed, feeling worse.
Why don’t doctors do house calls anymore?  The last thing a sick person feels like doing is getting dressed and driving somewhere to wait with other sick people.
My symptoms seemed to worsen that week and through the weekend.  My breathing was compromised and I was scared.  I was running a fever throughout.   I emailed my doctor with an update, ending with, “I can’t breathe!”  Again, I didn’t hear back right away, when I did, she said she had ordered a chest x-ray for me.
Oh, goodie!  I’m now required to get up, get dressed, drive out to Kaiser and I can’t breathe!
 Once inside Kaiser, I was handed a pale yellow mask by the Receptionist and I told to put it on.  I felt like I was suffocating and had to lift it up to get cool air into my suffering lungs.  I checked in at Radiology and didn’t have to wait long.  I was home within a half hour.
The doctor emailed me that afternoon; the x-ray had revealed pneumonia in both lungs.  No wonder I can’t breathe!  She ordered antibiotics and a friend graciously offered to drive out to Kaiser to fetch them for me.
Double pneumonia—the sickest I’ve ever been in my life.  My breathing capacity was so compromised that I had to stop and catch my breath when walking from one room to another.  I couldn’t talk to anyone because I didn’t have enough breath, and talking promoted a coughing fit.  I’ve never been frightened by illness, but this scared the hell out of me.
You live alone, Linda.  Don’t bolt the back door at night in case you have to call 9-1-1!  Make sure the paramedics can gain access.
If you’re wondering where the “Sloth in Five Syllables” fits it, here goes.  I was confined to my home for three weeks, no diversions, incapable of any activity.  Held captive, I saw all the particles on the carpet and wished I had vacuumed.  My hair was a bushy mess and was nearing two months since its last cut—why didn’t I make that hair appointment?  If I had taken a mascara wand and brushed it onto my face fuzz, I would have resembled Michael Landon, the “Teenaged Werewolf!” 
This was a lesson that forced me to look at a lifelong character flaw, pro-crast-in-a-tion, “Sloth in Five Syllables.” 
Being so sick made me keenly aware that I am not a 25-year old anymore—I am a 65-year old SENIOR CITIZEN.  I love that I now get into a movie theatre for $6.50 and I have a Medicare card, should I need it.  The fact of the matter is this—I am not resilient.  When I get sick, I now get sicker, and it takes much longer to recuperate.  I have to be mindful to use my aging body carefully. 
My father died at the age of 74.  If I were to die at that same age, I’ve got only nine years of my life left!!  Nine fucking years!!
My hope is that this epiphany doesn’t fade after I get well and again step into living this full life of mine.  Perhaps I should keep this paper handy, as a reminder.  

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Strongbox

My mom died on July 4th, 1999. She would have gotten a kick out of that coincidence. A quietly religious woman, she would have chuckled and affirmed that she did indeed get her independence on July 4th, 1999.

Some weeks after my mom’s memorial service, I went to the family home to clear out her bedroom, a difficult, dreaded task. Lisa, “my nieca,” was with me, which made the ordeal a bit lighter. No matter, I was on automatic pilot while clearing out her closet and drawers, the tabletops and walls. “Don’t think! Don’t feel! Just get it done!” was the mental mantra I used to get me through.

As I drove home that day, I sadly reflected upon how little of my mom was left behind. There were no mementos, nothing she had made with her own hands, just a few knick-knacks that had always been a part of her room. It left me feeling hollow and incredibly sad for my mom’s difficult life.

The silver lining of that emptiness was that it led me to a decision I had been grappling with for a long time--whether I should leave behind the volumes and volumes of journals I have filled throughout the years, since 1980 consistently. The journals are filled with my innards—hopes, dreams, love, lust—the La-La Land of my mind. The journals are where I puked out onto pages and pages the worry, fear, despair and desperation I felt as a single, out-of-control mother with three out-of-control kids. The journals are filled with the drunken ramblings of my alcoholism, the mystical wonder of my recovery, and my continuing sober journey. Yes. I’m leaving it all behind, warts and all, because it’s who I am and I want my children to have something of me when I’m gone.

Just recently, I found myself once again in the family home, this time helping that same niece clear out the entire place following her father’s/my brother’s death. I had sworn to myself that I’d never return after my brother died, but here I was again, rooting through drawers and cabinets, looking for anything that might be of value to the family.

I was going through things half-heartedly. My niece had already given me the family photographs, all I really cared about, and I found myself once again repeating the same mantra, “Don’t think! Don’t feel! Just get it done!” One cabinet contained my father’s boxed sets of opera recordings and I envisioned him sitting in his leather chair, eyes closed, listening with rapture to the music he loved best.

On the lower shelf of the same cabinet, I found a black strongbox. I’d never seen it before and I pulled it out, curious to see what it contained. Lo and behold, it was filled with mementos my mom had kept! I felt joy and relief digging through its contents, but I didn’t have time to go through it all then.

Once I was home and found the courage to release the ghosts contained in the strongbox, I opened it. I found my mother’s elementary school graduation certificate. This was special to her because she never went to high school—she had become pregnant and was robbed of her high school days, her youth, really. I also found my father’s birth certificate, a first-generation San Franciscan--his father had come from the Abruzzo Region of Italy, and his mother from Norway. My grandparents’ death certificates were in the strongbox, as well as my parents’ marriage certificate. It warmed me to find my baptism booklet and immunization records mixed among those of my siblings. There were a couple of news articles and a winning ribbon my younger brother was awarded for the 50 foot dash in Cub Scouts in 1957!

My plan is to organize the contents of the strongbox and give away those mementos which will have meaning to the recipients. In the meantime, I’m so happy that my mother cared enough about these events in her life, in our lives, to keep the memories. This brings to mind an evening when I was a child and my older brother was serving his mandatory two years in the U.S. Army sometime in the 1950s. Our family put their musical talents together and created a tape to send to him in El Paso, Texas. They changed the lyrics to Bob Hope’s song, “Thanks for the Memories,” and created a family masterpiece. I don’t know what happened to that tape, but I can say this: Thanks for the memories, Mom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Second Set of Parents

There are four Sirianni offspring born to Joe and Agnes: Rich, Bobbie, me and Johnny. John and I are the only one's left; our dad died in 1991, our mom in 1999, our sister in 2001, our brother just last year.

I remember feeling as if one of the training wheels came off my bike when my dad died. Life felt wobbley. By the time my mom went, I knew I was riding on my own. I didn't feel scared. In a way, it was empowering; I felt grown up.

Losing siblings is another story. The saving grace was that Rich was 12 years older than me, and Bobbie 10. They were almost like a second set of parents. Almost, but they weren't around much.

When I was two years old, Rich was sent to live with my aunt and uncle on their chicken ranch in Santa Rosa. According to family lore, he was 14 and heading down the road to juvenile delinquency. I guess my father, who had quit going to school entirely around the 8th grade, didn't want the acorn to fall far from the tree. My parents were convinced that living with relatives who were upstanding, church-going farmers, with three sons around Rich's age, would turn him around. It seemed to have worked.

Rich returned home to graduate with his class at Jefferson High School. I must have been in kindergarten or first grade. A young family had moved next door to us, a successful mortgage broker, his wife, and young children. The mortgage broker took a liking to Rich and decided to mentor him. He suggested that Rich go into the Army and get the two years of mandatory service behind him. Rich did that and was stationed at Fort Bliss in Texas. He luckily had missed the Korean War entirely.

When Rich got out of the service, he returned home. By then, he was a young "stud muffin," dating lots of pretty women, and he wasn't around home much. He had begun his career in the mortgage loan business and was doing well. He was my hero, my father of choice. (We'll broach that topic another time.)

When Bobbie was 19 years old, she had her first manic-depressive episode, a condition that lasted until she died at age 64. I was 9 years old when Bobbie got sick that first time. I didn't understand why my big sis was acting so strangely, why she didn't sleep, why her personality changed so drastically, why my parents were so upset. I thought all she needed was a good spanking because she was misbehaving so badly! Bobbie was hospitalized for two years then, and treatment involved electro-shock treatment. I visited her there with the family and I simply didn't understand.

Not long after Bobbie was released from the hospital, Rich married his first wife. It was 1959 and I was 12 years old. They had a lovely, large wedding at Mission Carmel; I remember I cried and cried. Soon after that, and against doctor's advice, Bobbie married the brother of one of her co-patients. They moved to Eureka where his family lived; she was gone again, too.

In February, 1962, Bobbie's daughter was born. Bobbie's doctors had also strongly advised that she not get pregnant or do anything life-changing to upset her precarious recovery. Soon after Jill was born, Bobbie had another manic episode and was hospitalized again. The disastrous marriage soon ended and Bobbie and Jill eventually moved into the family home.

I guess, in retrospect, my older siblings weren't even "almost" a second set of parents. And, although I wish they'd been around more, it wouldn't have been fair to them. Johnny and I weren't their children, after all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Debtor's Deadly Denial

This month's Macy's account statement arrived in yesterday's mail. Conforming to the law recently passed and enacted this month, the invoice contains the requisite payment information, i.e., "if you make the minimum payment, you will pay off the balance in X amount of time."

Up until a few years ago, I lived the life of a fiscally irresponsible fool. A Scarlett O'Hara wannabe, I embraced the mantra, "Fiddle-dee-dee. I'll think about it tomorrow!" with regard the handling of my finances. If I wanted something material, damnit--I deserved it! and I purchased it on credit. I perceived a bank card's credit limit as cash in my greedy little pocket.

This eventually had me drowning in an abyss of despair and led me to the denial-smashing realization that I would never be able to pay off the sum of my debt in my lifetime. With a great amount of shame, I filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2003, concurrent with being laid off from a well-paying hi-tech job. ("Concurrent" meaning that I had begun the filing process before losing my job.)

What happens after one is granted a bankruptcy is criminal. The credit card companies begin an onslaught of offers for a new line of credit. The credit limit being offered is low and the interest rate astronomical. For someone as sick with Scarlett fever as I was, I jumped at the chance to continue the greedy game of instant gratification. I did not in any way change my lifestyle after I lost my job, by the way. I didn't move from the too-large, too-costly condo I was renting. I didn't stop going to lunch and dinner with friends. Instead, for almost three years after that layoff, I lived on sold stock, cashed out 401K funds, unemployment payments, and credit.

When all of that ran out, I hit a brick wall so hard it almost led me to picking up a drink after 18 years of sobriety. There was no one to blame but myself. Miraculously, I didn't drink, and a chain of events occurred that led me to Consumer Credit Counseling Services (now Surepath), and to a book entitled, "Money Drunk, Money Sober." Right around the same time, I was rehired by the hi-tech firm that had laid me off all those years before. (The Universe always cooperates when we take that first step toward taking responsibility for our problems.)

I turned over the six--count 'em: SIX!--bank cards to CCCS (debt totalling $18K after bankruptcy). They negoiated with the credit card companies to get the interest rate down (and some aren't very liberal about lowering the percentages). I began paying CCCS $509 per month via electronic fund transfer from my checking account. I moved into an apartment so small that it necessitated storing my dining room furniture and other items not needed day-to-day, and I began working the program outlined in the book, "Money Drunk..." My journey on the road to fiscal accountability was on.

This month, I made my last $509 payment to Surepath, having paid a total of $24K over their four-year program (yes, there are fees, but who cares? I was able to clear the debt in four years!). In those same four years, I've been tracking every cent I spend, daily, then, at the end of four weeks, I map out those expenditures by category. I now know exactly where I'm spending money, and where I need to pull back (one month, I discovered that I had spent $450 eating in restaurants!).

My Scarlett fever isn't cured completely. I kept two department store credit cards off the bankruptcy and the debt-consolidation lists. I decided that I wouldn't be too prudent about those purchases, and I'd pay a standing $150 a month toward the ongoing balances, budgeting the $300 paid monthly as a "clothing" expense.

Back to this month's Macy's statement: My balance is $1170. If I make the minimum payment of $39, the balance would be paid off in 17 years! If I pay $46 a month, the balance would be paid off in 3 years. I am grateful beyond words that those six bank cards have been paid in full, and the requests to close the accounts were mailed just this past Monday! Now that the $506 monthly payment to CCCS/Surepath are done, I'll have those two department store balances cleared in no time.

My concern is for other debtors as sick as me (past and present). I know that many suicides are motivated by financial woes. I keep envisioning someone with a family to support, who is unemployed and up to their ears in debt, opening their credit card statements this month and feeling utter despair and hopelessness. What of them?

Included below the payment information box, the credit card company this note: If you are experiencing financial difficulty and would like information about credit counseling or debt management services, you may call 1-877-337-8187. Curious, I dialed the number. There was a recording listing names of debt counseling and debt management agencies that offer help. How many will call that number? How many will jump off the Golden Gate Bridge?

What I know for sure is this: The disclosure of payment information is going to yank debtors out of deadly denial, and the game that's been played by these legitimate loan-sharks called credit card companies is going to change. Drastically. Mark my words.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Never Listen to Nike

What's going on with me that I make every excuse in the world not to exercise? Why is that?

The jury's in about the benefit of exercising. I've found that going to Curves works for me. The clientele is like me--female, older and, for the most part, out of shape. It's a great comfort to me that the place isn't filled with young hard bodies, firm, lithe and nubile.

When I do Curves' half-hour circuit and post-workout stretches, I do it full-bore and actually work up a sweat. I can pop in whenever it's convenient (provided the urge to exercise coincides with their hours of operation). It's a wham, bam, thank you, Ma'am/no muss, no fuss kinda exercise program.

I always feel better afterwards! The endorphines kick in and, psychologically, I feel I've done something good for myself. When I do Curves two or three times a week for a couple of months, the shape of my body tightens and improves noticeably. There's no longer a need to lie down on the bed to zip the jeans, or wear the long, cover-the-bulges tops. I can even grab items of clothing from the thinner side of the closet!

The latest derailment of my body began right about the time the wheels started coming off the relationship. That was late summer. It's clear to me that emotions trigger what I eat, and how I treat my body. I see the pattern. I wasn't getting naked for anyone anymore, so why bother?

So, time heals, but before I knew it, the holidays were here and I became too busy. After the holidays, I was too tired, it was too cold, too dark, too wet, it was too much to ask of someone who has the luxury of telecommuting to venture out to exercise, a person who isn't required to leave her home to work, who never has to wear anything with a waistband.

What triggered this self-flaggelation, you ask? Why, the visit to the new doctor, of course! I had to get on the scale and the thing-a-majiggy was slid to the maximum of my allowable range. Urgh. Once in the examining room, the doctor began asking all the questions on the checklist (any history of liver problems, kidney problems, etc.) My responses were automatic, until the one came about how frequently I exercise. I'm sure my face resembled Wiley Coyote's after he's run off the cliff and looks downward. Err...umm...sputter-sputter... I can't recall what I mumbled as an excuse, or lack of one. He told me to walk. Just walk. I live in a walking neighborhood, so just walk.

The doctor appointment was on Monday. It's now Friday. Have I walked? Have I seen the inside of the local Curves. NAH. The thing is, no matter what my good intentions, the minute I begin to think about not going to exercise for whatever reason, it's over. I'm not going to do it.

What I'm hoping is that my writing about it will be another catharsis, spurring me into action. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Caffeine Dependent Curmudgeon-ess

This week, I went to a new doctor here in my almost-new town. After giving me a surprisingly enjoyable introductory exam, he sent me away with a lab order for perfunctory blood work and urinalysis. Dr. L said the lab was located just two driveways from his office and no appointment was necessary; however, pre-test fasting was required.

Urgh! This fasting mandate was going to require some planning.

I placed a call to the lab immediately upon returning home to determine what time they were open for business. I was delighted to learn of the 7:30am start. Still, I would be required to get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, get into my car, drive across town, and interact with people BEFORE HAVING COFFEE! It was, therefore, imperative that I be conscious for the briefest amount of time before the bodily fluids were to be taken.

Last night, after much internal deliberation, I set the alarm for 6:45am, even then fearing that I'd given myself too much time to get to the lab. (6:45am is considered "sleeping in." My alarm is usually set for 6:12am on workdays, 6/12 being my birthdate--self-centered to the core, but, hey!, not everyone can set their alarms using their birthdate!)

Wouldn't you know it, I woke before the alarm this morning, at 5:05am! I couldn't let my mind click on, but it did. I couldn't remain conscious without coffee until 6:45am! I decided that if I read as if I were going to bed the night before, it might induce sleep. I clicked on the lamp, snatched up the novel, and began reading. That did it, thank God, and next thing I knew, the radio was blaring.

Urgh! I felt as if I were moving through thick, sticky molasses on my way to the kitchen. I prepared the coffeemaker, all but flipping the switch to begin brewing. I somehow managed to do everything required to get out the door, and I have absolutely NO recollection of my drive across town, a disconcerting realization.

Being new to the lab, I was required to fill out paperwork and sign acknowledgement forms. I resented every minute of the time it kept me away from my first sip of coffee. As soon as I turned in the completed forms, the burglar alarm began screeching, loudly! All of the lab technicians came out to the front, alarmed about the alarm, trying to determine if it was theirs to shut off. I muttered under my breath, "Just forget about it, pleeeeease call me in and draw my damn blood!" The alarm went silent as mysteriously as it had begun and I was called in. Once in the lab, the whole process took no more than five minutes! Before I knew it, I was on my way home to the awaiting coffeemaker!

I've been a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 21 years. I was going to self-righteously proclaim that I've had no alcohol or mood-altering chemicals in my body for all those years! But after this morning, I realize such a statement would not be true. I have a replacement drug: Caffeine. Damn it! I am a caffeine-dependent curmudgeon-ess!

Am I going to quit drinking coffee? No bleeping* way!
(*I felt guilty after giving my 89-year old uncle the URL to my blog...)