17 July 2010

So important


When I was younger, before 10% unemployment, there was always that one disgruntled person at work who loved to say "They couldn't keep this place going without me. One of these days I'm going to walk out and THEN they'll see."

Mr. Disgrunt always had some highly specific thing HE did that no one else could do - "I'm the only one who ever files anything around here. This is my system and no one else knows where anything is."

Then came the inevitable day where they got fired or walked out in a huff and somehow everything went on without them. Someone would take a couple days and straighten out the mess Mr. Disgrunt had made of the "system" and in a few months, no one could remember Mr. Disgrunt's name unless they were making a joke about how awful he was.

Denise from BlogHer posed the question: Do you work while you're on vacation?" and most people said yes. Others asked "What's vacation? LOL".

I feel like we have almost become a nation of Mr. Disgrunts by refusing to ever take a day off. Not that we have his attitude - quite the opposite. "I'm ALWAYS available! Call me if you need me!"

We're always at work. We're so important that we just CAN'T take a day off! Oh, heck no! They can't keep the place going without me!

I've been there. I have spent many days in lovely resort locations, listening to my loved one take work calls or watching him send emails on his blackberry. "Look, honey, sunset! Oops, I guess you missed it."

I wonder how much of it is actually being needed and how much is ego desire to feel needed. Do you ever wonder?

Or it it fear? You can't stand up to your boss and say that you need to have a life outside of work? You're so grateful to have a job that you let yourself be exploited? Or you ARE your own boss and feel like you need to always push on?

Or maybe you like work more than anything else in your life? Or you're doing something really important that really does need to get done, all of the time?

Just wondering.

14 July 2010

The delicate balance

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Home Instead Senior Care.

I have never had children, but I almost wish I had, because I think that having toddlers would be good training for dealing with the elderly.

The two groups have many of the same characteristics. They can’t always control their bodies the way they would like to. They sometimes have trouble expressing themselves. They get frustrated at their limitations. They get tired easily and they need their naps.

My father, who has dementia, often gets so disgusted when he can’t put a sentence together that he will quit talking altogether.
“Aw, just forget it,” he grumbles, throwing his hands down.

In helping the elderly – especially those with close emotional ties to you – there is the added consideration of trying to preserve their dignity and independence while keeping in mind that they may not always know what is best for themselves anymore.

Right now I am struggling with my father’s medication. He has taken a dislike to the mail-order pharmacy, claiming they screwed up his order on purpose. Prescriptions through the local pharmacy cost more than twice as much.

Do I overrule him and order from the place he doesn’t like, even though he has the money to pay for the more expensive prescriptions? Or do I do what seems like the prudent thing and save him money, at the cost of his wishes?

Yet largely, I am lucky. My parents, though significantly disabled (my dad by partial blindness and the dementia and my mother by severe arthritis) are very independent. They live in their own home with the most minimal of help (housekeeping and gardening). They don’t need 24-hour care or help with bodily functions.

Their life motto might well be “Don’t be a bother.” They go so far out of their way to not trouble me that sometimes it approaches ridiculousness.

I’ll find out they have been suffering along without something they need, and when I ask why, they will say “Oh, we didn’t want you to go out of your way.”

My dad made this door-closer out of rubber bands when the little air cylinder on their screen door broke. Just because he is mostly blind and can't remember anything doesn't mean he's not clever.

Recently, my mom asked me to pick up an electric blanket for my dad. It took me about a week to get around to purchasing one.

The next day, my mom said “Dad slept better than he has in a while with that new blanket. He has been so cold at night.”

My dad was apparently freezing without the blanket and they didn’t say anything about really needing a new one because they didn’t want to bug me. I had assumed that they needed a new one just because the old one was getting shabby, not because he was too cold.

Sigh. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

I teeter between thinking I am a good person because at least I see my folks every day, and feeling like a jerk because I don’t always know how to meet all of their needs.

Again, kind of like what I hear parents say about having toddlers.

Full disclosure: I got paid to write this post by Home Instead Senior Care. They would love it if you visited BlogHer.com and nominated a hero caregiver to win a cruise (not me, for goodness' sake).

11 July 2010

The Unseen World

Please bear with me. This post is kind of about World Cup but not really. You'll see.



Thank you.

Today was the World Cup Final and of course Spain won, so I was happy, because it fell under my Suebobian rule of "If you don't really care who is playing, root for the team with better-looking players." Sorry, Netherlands. Something about wearing wooden shoes has made their faces pinched and pasty.

Except maybe their goalkeeper, Maarten Stecklenburg. Ai yi yi:

Forgive me, Father, for I have done perved.

I was never into futbol before this World Cup. (I call it futbol because everyone else in the world calls it "football," not soccer, but if I say "football," everyone thinks of NFL, so this is my compromise. Works for me.)

I don't know what synapse snapped together in my head on June 11, but suddenly I couldn't stop thinking about World Cup. And the weird thing was that I was surrounded by futbol fans, but I had never noticed it before.

It was like I had walked through a secret door into another world - like my house had landed after a tornado and suddenly, everything was Technicolor instead of black and white.

With my World Cup fandom, I joined a new club. A club that consists of about 40% of the people on earth. I gained new friends all over the place.

The Nigerian security guards and I bonded over the knockout round. My cube neighbor, Tai, discovered me during the Round of 16. I trash-talked with a German guy in line at the grocery store. A girl in my class at church gave a dissertation on the storied career of Diego Maradona.

Everywhere I went, whenever I saw someone with a futbol jersey or t-shirt, I would start talking to them. Someone once told me that God gave us weather so that we would always have something to talk to strangers about. Now I have the weather AND futbol.

When I first started the month, I didn't even know how the tournament structure worked. I had heard futbol was "boring" and "slow" because there are so few goals scored in a game.

By the end, I - a former NBA fan who had to quit watching because I was getting horrible headaches from screaming too loud at televised games - realized that futbol is the most thrilling game on earth precisely because of the emphasis on quality of play, NOT on just scoring more than the other team.

Today, when I watched the finals, I was among the 25% of the people on earth seeing the game at that moment. It felt amazing - like I was suddenly a citizen of the world, bonded by this crazy love of the Beautiful Game, wishing for nothing more in that moment than to see some great play.

If you didn't watch the game, you can see all the highlights here.

Olé, Olé, Olé. I'll see you in Rio in 2014.

(p.s. My mom gave me money to buy a cute outfit for my birthday. She said "I hope you got something nice with your birthday money," and I had to admit "Yes, I did, Mom. I bought LA Galaxy tickets.")
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