Archive for the ‘Totally Off Topic’ Category

Father’s Day and Baseball

June 16, 2013

Hello, Friends.

Happy Father’s Day. Today I am going to go completely off topic. While having my morning coffee this morning I turned on the television and discovered one of my favorite movies of all time was on: Field of Dreams.

I grew up in a very tiny town…and we have one thing – Baseball. It was the one constant of my life and it has always been a constant. At the end of the movie I found myself crying – I just couldn’t help it. It always makes me a little moody.

Towards the end of the film there is a speech given by Terence Mann (James Earl Jones’ character) about baseball being the constant. He says that people will come and the memories will be so thick that they will have to wipe them away like cobwebs. The memories flood me during that speech like water flowing down hill. I just can’t help it.

My Grandfather was quite old when I was born. My father’s brothers are all WWII Veterans but my father is a Cuban Missle Crisis Veteran. Quite an age gap! By the time I came along my Grandparents were retired and living across the alley where they had lived for decades. By the time I was 12 – they had passed on.

I loved my grandparents so very much! Grandpa was a WWI Vet and Grandma was a housewife. They were perfect grandparents! There was never much to do in a town of 99 people – but in the summer there was always baseball. We have a perfect and beautiful baseball field. There is a grandstand, concrete dugouts with wood stands over them, bleachers and a wall full of painted advertisments. Many of them have been the same since I was a child. They just keep repainting them. We even have lights! On the 4th of July there were always fireworks! Over the years they have gotten better and better. The American Legion Post that my father belongs to always starts the 4th of July games by marching out to the middle of the field, the National Anthem and the flag is raised above the old scoreboard. It used to be a manual scoreboard – but a member of the community left money in his will that bought an electronic modern board. My children have gone to the games since they were little with their grandfather…just like I went with mine.

I can still see us sitting there. We are in the grandstand to the left of home plate on the bottom bleacher. Grandpa couldn’t climb bleachers anymore…so we sat right there. I am head to toe dirt and dust. My barefeet are slapping their heels against the green wood plank behind me. I have a bag of popcorn on my lap and a cup of RC Cola at my side. I can still smell the sugary sweet smell of spilled soda and the sent of stale beer that lingers in the air. The flies buzzing around licking up the last little bit of soda on the cement. I am wearing shorts and a town team shirt – a ST. Louis Cardinal hat. The early evening breeze is cool and refreshing. The corn behind the back wall is tall and the breeze is blowing through it is like a whisper. Grandpa is clapping and he ruffles my hat with a narled hand – he is smiling.

At that place, my Grandfather is still alive. There is innocence and there is light and warmth. Pain is a scrapped knee or a stubbed toe. I still have the dream that I could grow up and be a baseball player. I always wanted to be a baseball player. I wanted to play shortstop for the ST. Louis Cardinals. This was before I knew that girls don’t play baseball.

I did play baseball there – one season. I never really got to play. I practiced everyday. It was 4 miles to play softball – but baseball was right there. I was the only girl on the team. I played right field for one half of one inning. That was it. I was 8 years old. The next year – I made the trip to play softball. The boys didn’t want a girl on the team.

There are parts of the movie that you can only truly understand if baseball has been a part of your life. The smell of your glove in the afternoon heat, the glare of the sun, the buzz of the lights at night. The heat that comes from the grass even after the sun has gone down for the day. The oily feel of the grass under your barefeet. The locusts in the corn making their songs. The way the ball feels when it impacts your glove at a high rate of speed. The tingle in your body as the bat makes contact. The dry feel of the dirt when you slide into a base. The smell of the dugout! Sweat and chewing tobacco, leather and pine tar. The whine of the infield gate and the slam of old wood when it closed behind you.

I guess the place that the film really gets me is in the passage of time. My children are grown…the pictures of them at the ball field with their grandparents are slowly getting to be less and less. Even their grandma sometimes makes the trip to the ball game – even though she knows nothing about baseball and likes to talk through the whole game! I admit…it drives me nuts!! It drives my daddy and my husband nuts!! However, we do our best to keep an ear on her and our eyes on the ball. She has never understood baseball.

One day – my father will be gone…and that scares the hell out of me! My dad has mentioned that he remembers me sitting with his father – how short a time it seems…but how it is a lifetime. His lifetime, my lifetime…my children’s lifetime. Someday I will sit there with my grandchildren…and I pray that they will sit there with their children.

It is the constant. The peace and tranquility. Win – Lose…doesn’t matter. It is about the game and the ghosts that sit on the bleachers with us. The spirits that surround us – enfold us – love us.

I hope there is baseball in heaven. There are so many people I want to sit with again…drink an RC Cola and eat a bag of popcorn with. Argue an umps call – smell the leather – taste the dust…and know that it will never, ever end. The sunlight always warm on your face.

Peace and Blessings on this Father’s Day. I love you daddy…I miss you grandpa…I hope you are saving me a seat on the left side of the grandstand.

Joan

Happy Holidays – signed Your Federal Govt

November 30, 2010

Hello, Friends!

I am going somewhat off topic today and I hope you will forgive me.  All of us who are Federal employees received an early Holiday present from the top…we are having our wages frozen.  You know what…that is okay, it really is.  Things are tough everywhere and for the most part I am just really happy to have a job.

The thing that really disturbs me is what the public and our government thinks about us.  I have been reading comments or listening to things on the news about how we Federal employees are way over paid and we are way under worked.  How the tax payers just have to support our lazy butts like we are on some sort of special welfare program.  To this end…I would like to set the record straight.

I make $35,489 dollar a year – before taxes.  I can’t put much away for retirement right now because I am trying very hard to keep three kids in shoes!  My health benefits aren’t all that great – but my husband gets really good state benefits…so we use his instead.  I get a little bit of child support but it doesn’t even cover what I spend in grocercies per month.  I was making really good money in the Army – but the powers that be took that away from me.  I get a small disability check every month that almost makes up for what I was getting in the Army.  However, I have a constant fear that the Government will decide that I shouldn’t be getting that and just up and reduce my benefits there.  What better way to save money than to get rid of all that “welfare” money we pay people who were “wounded” during their time in the military.  Damn Veterans are nothing but a Damn Burden!

I have been at my current job for four-years.  For three of those years I was the only person qualified to do my job in my office.  I should mention that I also do clerical duties.  I am a lab tech, EKG tech and a clerical person.  When necessary, I also assist the nurses with their duties.  In three years, I had one week of straight vacation..because I had an OVARY removed!  I’m saving the other ovary for a Cruise, maybe to Puerto Rico or Alaska.  However, I came back to normal duty too soon and I now have a small abdominal hernia that I don’t want to take time off to have repaired – because between my family medical needs and my therapy – I don’t have a lot of sick time to burn!

I am always at work early.  I never leave early and occasionally I do stay past the end of my day because I am assisting a Veteran or a provider.  I carpool…so I can’t do that very often.  I do everything that I am asked to do and then some.  If I see a need I fill it.  If I see something a Veteran needs I do everything in my limited powers to see it happen.  I have spent time telling my brother and sister Vets how to get the benefits they EARNED.  Who to talk to…where to go.  I maintain running lists of people in their counties that might be able to help them.  I point out things like…”Hey…you have heart problems?  Are you service connected for those?  Did you have boots on the ground in Viet Nam?  Okay…this is what you need to do!”  I’m not the only one who does this.  I see healthcare providers who work 12-14 hr days trying to meet the needs of all of their patients.  There is no overtime…they just do it because it is the right thing to do.  They care…some of them really, really care. 

So I have some questions for the Federal Government. 

1 – Why is it that a person serves one term in Congress and gets lifetime Health Benefits…at no charge…but a person serves 4 years in the military and gets no health benefits?  If they believe that they were injured they have to PROVE it…Yup – you serve in Iraq or Afghanistan and the VA only gives you 5 years of benefits..after that you either have to be service-connected or broke.  Or, you can pay up.  So much for Abe Lincoln and his desire to “Care for them that have borne the battle.”

2 – Why do people in Congress see lifetime pay and benefits but a person discharged from the military after 16+ years for being a “whistleblower” gets nothing?  (Oops..what am I saying..that’s not “why” I was discharged…they have another story for that)

3 – Why does our Government sell us the myth about Veteran’s Preference in hiring practices.  It isn’t really true.  Sure..your Vet Pref might help you get a job in the housekeeping division, but if you have any skills and education it really doesn’t help you at all.  This frustrates me to no end, because there are some people who really don’t care about Veterans that work for the Federal Govt.

No, I know from first hand experience that not every VA is a good place to be…for staff or patients.  However, I will say again that I feel pretty lucky to be at the one I am at.  My boss does allow me time to make things the best they can be for the Veteran.  I have the few extra minutes to refer Veterans to county offices and to decorate my lab for the holidays.  I have time to chat with a Veteran – just so they know that I really do care for them – and some of them I love like family!  I am given the opportunity to talk to these Veterans like the “kids” that they used to be.  It may not look professional to the “world” but I get to call them, “Airborne” or “Marine” and I get to give them a hug.

Somedays – I am greeted by an email or a phone call or a family member that tells me that one of my patients has passed away.  I’m not ashamed to say that I cry with them..or that I wait until I am alone and I cry.  In a lot of ways it is like losing a close friend or a family member.  These aren’t faceless numbers to me…they are precious, precious people.  I lost one about 18 months ago and I haven’t been able to eat a Hershey Kiss without thinking of him, he loved them and I would stash some in my drawer for when he came in.  Another patient I make sure I keep his wife in my prayers and I light a candle for her in church on a regular basis.  These people that I care for are my Brothers and my Sisters – they are Veterans and whether anyone likes it or not…WE owe them a debt.  What is freedom worth?

I do feel blessed – to be allowed to do what I do and for whom I do it.  I’m just sick and tired of people looking at me like I am some kind of a slug who sucks off the back of the taxpayer.  I’m not the only one, either.  There are a lot of us scum sucking bottom feeders who are doing this job because we love our patients…not because we are getting paid the big bucks.

Freedom isn’t free…I see the cost of it everyday.  God bless all who have served and continue to do so.  You are always in my prayers.

Peace,

Joan

The Fine Line

October 26, 2010

Hello, Friends.

Well, today has essentially been a miserable day.  I am suffering from guilt.  On Sunday I got a call from someone I know that wanted me to give her a ride to the VA…she’s sick.  Well, I was in a distant city picking my kids up, so I told her I wasn’t home and woundn’t be home until later.  I guess she called me a couple of times and I never heard my phone ring…swear I didn’t.

Last night on my way home from the VA – her mom called me – no one would seem to give her daughter a ride to the VA.  I had meetings I had to attend and then I essentially hid for 3 hours.  I never committed to being able to be her taxi service.

I would like to point out that it is a 70 mile round trip to the VA and back.  I also know that someone had offered to give her a ride, if she could give them a little for the gas money.  I have also seen this person turn a paper cut into a four inch long gash that goes clear to the bone – at least when she retells the story.

However, I feel like crap for not just going and getting her.  What if she really was as sick as she claimed to be.  I do need to say that this person is not my friend.  She used to be my friend.  Actually, I am older than her and when we were in the  military together, her and some other young girls used to call me MaMa.  Need something?  Got a problem?  Go ask MaMa.

I spent quite a bit of time going toe to toe with male NCO’s that gave female soldiers trouble.  This girl was one of their targets and so a lot of issues for me came because I was protecting her.  When I filed charges within the unit, she had a private meeting with the Sergeant Major, all she had to do was say, “Yes, this is the truth.”  All she had to do was say, Yes.  Not only did she lie and say that none of it ever happened and that I was lying, but then she took her precious time to go out into the community and tell people that I was doing this because I was afraid to deploy.  Excuse me?  Several mutual “friends” came to me and said, “you gotta be careful!”

She acted like nothing had ever happened and for some time after I was discharged she would come to me to complain about SGT Jerk.  Oh, yes, SGT Jerk…the same one that likes to beat females with sticks in front of platoons.  I finally told her as nicely as possible that I never want to hear another word about him again and that if she had simply taken the courage to stand up for one moment…it would have been over. 

I try to live my life as a good Christian.  Not a “religious” person, but as a person who tries very hard to put Christ’s love into action.  Believe me, I know all of the Bible verses about loving your neighbor, forgiving 70×7, turning the other cheek.  But is there a fine line between being a door mat and a forgiving person?!  What if your cheek has turned so much that it just “burns” all the time?  What about protecting myself from being tortured?  To spend two hours with her in the car listening to her talk about the trauma she has suffered.  Wow…really…must be bad!  Or worse, that she has no real friends…no one does anything for her after all she does for others.

I hear from this person once every 6 months – and that is normally when we run into one another accidentally.  It is no surprise that everyone she called for a ride had other responsibilities or they were sick.  She takes and takes and gives nothing in return.  Not even the common human courtesy of friendship.  Real friendship. 

So why do I feel so like HELL today.  Like I have sinned.  Like I have failed.  Still, I know that if it had been anyone but “her” I would have been there in a heartbeat.  Really, I would have.  Even people that I wouldn’t necessarily call a friend.  Every month I shuttle my kids 160 miles to see their dad and then I go back again and get them.  I don’t complain.  They love their dad.  I can’t stand him – but when he had his heart attacks I came to the hospital. 

So why can’t I let go of this?  Maybe it is because there is a fine line – and maybe protecting myself this time was okay.  I forgive her – I truly hardly even think of her – and I know why she did what she did.  That doesn’t mean that I should have to be re-victimized just because SHE needed someone.   After all, that is a small part of what got me into the mess in the first place, when she needed someone I was there.  When I needed her – all I got was stabbed in the back.

Joan

Totally Off Topic

September 21, 2010

Hey, all.  Today is totally off topic and I figure that is okay.  You see, as survivors, we still live our lives.  We maybe go to work, have social events, attend a house of worship…and we watch TV.  I admit, I love television, partly because it is an easy escape.  I happen to love Law and Order SVU.  I love watching those guys bust perps.  Sometimes we have to live vicariously.

Last night I got a little upset, though.  I watched Dancing with the Stars.  Not something I would normally watch, but I love Jennifer Grey, and I love to watch her dance.  Of course, I had to watch it.  At the same time, I was a little upset with those people.  I don’t know if Ms. Grey was a part of it or if she was just the unwitting victim, but I can’t help but think that they totally exploited Patrick Swayze last night.  I think that they exploited Ms. Grey too.  Of the millions of songs in existence I found it odd that her instructor/partner chose a song that was on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  Did they really have to follow her crying self off to the dressing room during practices?  Of course, this would have some deep memories attached to it.  There would be no way to prevent that – but did they have to show every single tear that she cried? 

I found it disturbing.  I’m sorry if that seems over sensitive – but I can’t help it.  You know, Mr. Swayze, didn’t live and die in a vaccuum.  There are people who still mourn him…people who aren’t on TV. 

Okay, maybe this isn’t really that off topic, if you think about it.  It is “explotation” that leads to MST to begin with.  Isn’t it?  Power and Control.  Evoking the reaction that they wish to evoke.

Why can’t we just avoid sticking our fingers into open wounds.

Joan