Cramps and Redecorating.

I've been desperately attempting to plan my escape from work tomorrow. Charlie is off both Friday and Monday for the July 4th holiday and the last thing I want to do is go to work (knowing he'll have to be at the club every night through Sunday) and only have Monday off together.
Of course, I'm not thrilled that he has to be in there five nights in a row (including tonight and last night). I'm really getting sick of that bar but I know he wants to keep it until he decides what to do about school.
He presented the option to me of skipping out of this next semester until we locate and fix whatever problem it is I'm having in the female areas. Whether it's endometriosis, polycystic ovarian disease, premature menopause, fibroid tumors, cervical cancer . . . well, most of those ideas I don't even want to entertain. Typing them and seeing them in black and white is scary enough.

So I've been watching design shows all evening on HGTV (many episodes of “HouseHunters,” some “Design on a Dime”) and trying to figure out how to get out of work. I know I'm supposed to have blood drawn and get my hormone levels checked, which I could do tomorrow. But my next doctor's appointment couldn't be made until August first, and the blood I can get drawn whenever at one of their hospital's labs. It'll be sort of difficult to work one episode of blood being drawn into an entire day off. I'm not liking the idea of having to wait that long (and have another excrutiating period) to find out what the hell is wrong. I've let it go way too long as it is. A whole other month would drive me insane.
I wrote and asked my mom what the history was in our families, if there was anything I needed to know about. There was some squeaking about my dad's sister and his mom going through early menopause, but there's a big difference between hitting it at 30 and hitting it at 45. She also had something she called “dysplasia,” which was precancerous cells that were burned off. This made me a little nervous.
So I told Charlie to hold off on making any Really Big Decisions – don't just forget about school if I may or may not need invasive surgery. Who knows, maybe it is just menopause at 29, I'll be infertile, have hormone therapy, and start shaving my face.

I'll call the doctor's office tomorrow and find out if I can get in if someone else cancels, or if I'm able to be squeezed in between other appointments in case this is something the doctor really wanted to get taken care of and I somehow didn't relay the urgency whilst making said appointment. Was I supposed to say, “Dr Phillips said 'do it now'”?

Now I'm going to sit my butt back down on the couch and covet other people's expansive homes and wonderful redecorating ideas . . . none of which I'm sure I'll have the money or energy to implement.

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Health Schmealth

So I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and it went worse than expected, if possible. I was fully prepared to walk in and be told I had fibroid tumors that would have to be removed, schedule surgery, and then have that uncomfortable experience. I certainly didn't want this to happen. So then I go in and she schedules me for blood work to determine if I'm going through premature menopause (premature menopause?!?), and then I have to go back in for a lovely pap, then we'll “decide how aggressively you want to attack this.” The doctor's words.

I have a habit of going in and nodding, saying “Uh huh,” the whole time, then going home and doing a sudden doubletake once I've thought about what happened after a doctor's appointment. I was shocked to think about the options she gave me, and what she wants to rule out. I don't even want to think about most of the stuff. I just want to get all this blood work done, get through with the pap, and find out what the problem is. Then fix it.

The good news is, most of my problems are probably related to whatever I have: weight gain, terrible cramps, awful periods, problems related to the intestinal region . . . All in all, good times.

Ugh.

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It finally dawned on me after my last entry that there are people (albeit very, very few, I'm sure) in the world who actually read this thing. You can read the Comments section below.
Anyway, she brought up an interesting point, which was, if people at the lunch had bothered to speak to the black women there, maybe they wouldn't have felt uncomfortable.
Let me clarify that confusion by stating that everyone there all did speak to one another. The problem I had was feeling as if I was interrupting to ask a question, or watching the three women sit away from the others there and snicker together, as if there was a really big joke on everyone else.

Another interesting point is that my commenter said she doesn't want to be referred to as “African American.” I have had this phrase pounded into my head by my liberal PC friends and family. And now I have to learn to say black. It just sounds bad. I don't know why. It's like that episode of the American “The Office” with Steve Carrell where he asks a co-worker what to call him, during “Diversity Training.” The guy says he's Mexican and Steve Carrell sucks in his breath, saying he doesn't like using that term because it's racist. So the employee says it's not, in fact, racist, it's just a reference to where he's from. It goes on and is a pretty funny scene, but that's the way I feel.

I guess I've been lucky not to have to deal with many racially tense situations. Growing up on the east coast I remember fights between white and black kids that would end up with both parties using racial epithets, but what's the worst the black kid could have called the white kid? Cracker? Honky?
And why is it that whenever a black person “sounds smart,” people always say “She's very artiulate”? When people say this about Condi Rice or Colin Powell, it always sounds condescening to me and translates as “She sounds white.”

I don't know. Random thoughts.

Segregation is Alive and Well

So the woman in charge of public relations invited a large group of us over to her fancy-schmancy northside Better Homes & Gardens/Architectural Digest estate for “team building.” She made sorbets with raspberries, mangoes, peaches, and blackberries that we added to lemonade and vodka with a sprig of mint. She roasted a couple of whole chickens with a lemon rub and other herbs. Some other girls brought yummy fruity salads, lemon sponge cake, a baked potato and mushroom cheesy thing, spinach dip . . . All in all, a really good lunch.

The first person to get there was a younger white girl that I've never really spoken to who turned out to be really cool. Then Jessica and I showed up, then the last white person, Natalie (I can't think of a better way to describe this). About an hour after that, our three African-American co-workers drove up together. It felt very segregated all afternoon. They sat inside, or sat together away from the rest of us outside. They ate inside while we ate outside, they spoke mostly just to one another, and kept giggling. A couple of times I could have sworn they were rolling their eyes at our hostess and saying things like “Must be nice” because her home is so expensive and well-decorated.
That attitude bothers me mostly because, in a way, I feel out of place just like they do. I don't know anyone with money, I've never had money, my family has never had money. I'm not spoiled, upper-middle-class (or even middle class), or priveliged. Yet I felt I'd been lumped in to this category, this sort of “Us against them” mentality. “You're white, you white people go sit together and we'll stay over here and make fun of you for talking about snowboarding.” A conversation I most certainly did not take part in because I've never even driven past a mountain, let alone strapped plastic to my feet and rolled down one.
This willful separation despite the fact that we all work together and are trying to do the same thing. So I felt irritable with them and thought if they were so miserable, why did they even bother showing up?

I don't know. I hate segregated parties, work places, offices, bars, environments. I wish everyone didn't have such a negative attitude toward everyone else. It's gays against straights, or whites against blacks, or upper class against lower class, or Mexicans against Cubans. The purpose of going to a team-building luncheon with a co-worker who has spent a lot of money and time preparing things for you and then being snippy with everyone who is white eludes me. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

But perhaps I'm just naive. Maybe this kind of thing happens all the time and I've just been lucky to not really have seen it till now.


Also, what makes you think I want to listen to your shitty music? It's dueling RealPlayers in here with three different people playing three different kinds of music and each one turning it up a little louder to drown out the other people. One is Mexican pop, one is Christian R&B, and one is popular R&B. And this room is only about 15' x 10'.

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Being busy is nice. It makes me feel semi-important, but mostly just productive, which feels better than sitting on my butt or cleaning the house all the time.
However, it leaves little free time for such activities as updating in my journal, emailing people back because I have forgotten, staying up on social activities.
I've been invited out for both nights this weekend but am having difficulty determining to which I would enjoy going. One is with a large group of people I do not know, the other is a smaller group of people I don't know. Or, rather, I only know the person who invited me.
I'd like to go out tonight but I haven't asked my regular going-out-buddy if she wants to do anything or not.
I think I'll call her right now.

Remind me to tell you about my “segregated party” yesterday. It was semi-disturbing.

Weighing Options.

So I've been thinking about this year-long position with the company I'm working for and this new friend Jessica is doing it . . . It would mean I couldn't take classes but I would also be making more money (more than twice what I get now for a full-time position), and perhaps some health benefits, as well as a lot more in student loan/educational awards.

I haven't made a decision but I'm speaking with the director about it tomorrow to weigh my options, see what I would be doing there. It's only a year-long commitment. I want to finish school, yes, and I'm not even technically a sophomore yet, so putting things on hold yet again sort of blow . . . but I also can't avoid the fact that my bills aren't always paid on time.

We'll see how it goes.

My Co-Worker

There are four different kinds of people where I work.
1.) The full-time, gainfully-employed people with degrees related to their job who are paid by the company for which I work
2.) Domestic Peace Corps people paid by a federal agency who have to work “X” amount of hours in one year
3.) A version of #2 that I don't understand other than that these probably don't get health insurance – they are responsible for volunteer recruitment during their one-year commitment
4.) A version of #3 but only for the summer, 10 weeks full-time – yours truly – we are responsible for fundraising during our commitment

The latter two do not have to claim the pittance we are paid on our taxes (at or below poverty, according to the federal agency), although we do pay some taxes on the living stipend. We're considered volunteers but are “on-call” 24/7. We also get a certain amount of money to put toward student loans or the educational institution to which we are or would like to attend (it's good for up to seven years after your service, I think). I get a grand; the year-long people get about five grand.

There are about half a dozen of the first two types; two of the #3s, and five of people like me. Got all that?

'K, well, the second person who makes up the Type 3 has been causing massive amounts of confusion. For one thing, she is not in the office with the rest of us. She hasn't brought in a desk for herself, nor attempted to locate a PC. No one knows where to find her. She spends a lot of time talking to other people in the office, wandering from room to room, having cigarettes, pawing through donated supplies, taking other people's things, getting rides from other employees.
I shouldn't tell too much because I don't want to come off as a Gossipy Gertie or however the hell you refer to someone who gossips a lot.
But I'll tell you some . . . just a little bit.

So this employee, we'll call her “Sarah,” made her first mistake by complaining during training. On my first two days at the downtown office, she often brought up her issues with the different floors of the building in which we work. She had already been in the office for a few weeks before attending this training program. She said she wanted to find a way to bring “the upstairs and downstairs together.” This still makes no sense to me. I think she was insinuating that the administrative people on the second floor are snotty assholes and the support staff on the first floor are the “hard workers” who do direct care and get treated poorly. Or something.

Then she took stuff from the house. There are supplies donated by companies for the “students” to use. She took home an economy-sized box of tampons. Not to mention lifting my lighter when I gave her a ride to a facility a few weeks ago. And bumming cash off everyone during lunch to get something to eat.

Now, don't get me wrong – I appreciate her situation and feel bad if she's in a bad financial state. But so are the rest of us. None of us make that much money. But none of us made her have six (SIX!) kids.

In the car on the way back to our office she complained about getting over $740 every month in food stamps and how hard it is to use all of that, despite her six (SIX!) children at home. So, she said, she sells the remainder and gets an extra $400 or so each month in cash. Then she complained that we're not allowed to have other jobs during our Peace Corps service. And then Sarah answered her phone. “What happens in this car stays in this car,” she scolded me and the other person riding with us.
I managed to tune out most of the conversation but wondered what the hell this woman was doing. Long story short, she was setting up some sort of “event” for a man that would include “a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead,” all of whome were, according to her, gorgeous in bikinis or whatever else he'd like.

The thing that makes me uncomfortable about this situation is that she allowed me to overhear the conversation, despite not knowing me at all. We made a full-time commitment to work for a national agency that does not allow us to work another job. And she's . . what? Running a escort service on the side? The worst part is that I recognized the name of her “company” the last time I was reading NUVO and it kind of gave me the creeps.

Of course, I wouldn't say anything. I don't want her to lose her job since she clearly has a lot of mouths to feed. But part of being an adult means being responsible for the promises you make. If Sarah has issues with the requirements of her job, she should seek employment elsewhere. Besides, she could make a lot more money just working in an office somewhere.

Yawn

I've been at the office now for only one hour and 15 minutes and I'm already bored out of my mind. I've made copies, printed off flyers, called people, answered the phone, answered and sent emails to keep the bands up to date . . . And that took me about 25 minutes, all told.
The flyers turned out absolutely bitchin', which is great because it makes me look good at work. Word around the office is that I'm on top of everything, amazing, keeping it together, awesome, etc…
That doesn't change the fact that I go home, lay down in the bed, and worry that people think I'm a complete idiot.
It's strange to have this utterly lost feeling, this complete sense of insecurity in only those areas where I'm succeeding. When I do well in school, I worry that I could do better (last semester's boo-boo in Political Science aside). When I do well at work, I worry that I'm not doing enough or that I leave too early.
Of course my worry related to work is mostly that I have to complete this project in a relatively short period of time. In addition to that I'm expected to raise money, which I don't think is going to happen. I would be surprised if we brought in a grand at the absolute most, including raffle tickets and the door, plus anything extra people dumped in the jar we'll keep at the table. My hope is to get a bunch of drunk 20-somethings to sign up as volunteers. That'd be great. Then call them up afterward and make them feel guilty about it and suddenly we have lots of people who realize they can make a positive difference in someone's life.

That last sentence makes me sounda as if I'm awfully optimistic about the nature of people. I wish I could say that everyone is basically good, deep down. Sometimes I'm not too sure. Our former landlord gave us the run-around for weeks and now he's keeping a total of $800 of our $1300 deposit on the last place. Eight hundred dollars for some paint and removing the last renters' stuff out of the basement.
We need the money for bills at the new place that are starting to roll in so we won't complain. Yet. But once he sends that check he's going to get a super-nasty letter from me. It probably won't solve anything or change his money or get us more money, but the principle behind the matter is what really bothers me. After every dollar we dumped into that slumlord's house to fix all the crap he didn't bother looking at when we moved in . . . to turn around and blame us for the stuff the last tenants did is just unforgivable. It's not my fault he doesn't pay attention to anything. I shouldn't be punished for being honest and not asking him to reimburse me for the broken blinds I replaced, or the dead bolt we put in, or the sinks and drains and tub we fixed.
Asshole.

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I feel kind of sheepish about that last post. I worried a couple of people and apologize for that. I guess I needed an outlet. I didn't feel comfortable calling up anyone to give the gory details because I have this misguided sense that I bother people when I call them or that I'm saying things that aren't my place.

We've talked about stuff but it's still too new and uncomfortable a subject. It's hard to resolve an issue when everyone's staring at their feet waiting for the conversation to be over.

I haven't had a solid night's sleep all week. Ugh.

Not to seem bitchy

Do you remember the first time you saw one of your parents drunk or crying? That sort of surreal, creepy, encompassing feeling of helplessness and confusion?
Last night I was suddenly eight years old again, crying in the dark while I sat on the top of the stairs, wondering what was going on.
Except this time it wasn't one of my parents. But it felt the same. It felt like I was watching someone who's supposed to be stronger than me spin out of control and there was nothing I could do. He's twice my size; I couldn't have helped him out. He's 240 pounds of dead weight; I couldn't have lifted him on to the couch.
The worst part is that the people responsible left him there. While Cavan stayed up and told me everything was fine, just go to bed, I sat in the blackness upstairs for three hours, my stomach cramping with worry and nausea, sweating from nerves, wondering things like: if the snoring stops, does that mean he's quit breathing?

All the while, though, I'm trying to control my reaction, my thoughts, my feelings. Knowing that he has a team of supporters cheering him on all the time, I end up considering whether or not I'll be yelled at for not being “good enough” for him . . . or accepting enough of his faults . . . or considering often enough his desires . . . or forgiving his earlier transgressions . . . Sometimes it feels as though I can never win with his friends, or even some of my own.

Not everyone knows the whole story, or even a portion of it, but it's not my place to tell that story, no matter how hurt I may feel I've been in the story. So I sit back quietly, occasionally try to defend my reaction to certain things, but there's always someone around the push me back in to my seat with a palm on my collarbone, telling me to leave him alone, let it be, let him just have a good time.

Promises were and have been made in this arena a few handfuls of times. I don't believe they're meant to be broken. Once broken, one more little inkling of doubt lingers along with the others, making me ask myself whether my presence holds people back, whether I do anything but keep him from doing what he wants, whether other people think I just make him miserable. His choices are his own and as much as I'd like to be included in them, it may just be a matter of my accepting that it won't happen.