Alleyways- Part 1

I now live in a community where alleyways are quite prevalent. By the way, I think the term alleyway sounds a bit more quaint than plain old alley, so I’m choosing to add the “way” in this post.

The community I grew up in, and eventually settled in during most of my adult life, wasn’t prolific when it came to alleyways. You could find a few places in the downtown area, the more historical area, where an alleyway might pop up. I was a kid then and found no pleasure in what a person might discover in these backdoor places. The only thing an alleyway did for me back then was to provide a shortcut on my way home from school.

Alison, the youngest daughter, now lives in a historic neighborhood that is full of alleyways. Like the ones I remember from my youth, hers are gravel lined, very rutted and overgrown with weeds. I think they serve her neighbors as nothing more than a place to put garbage cans, or entice wandering animals looking for a free handout. Also, unfortunately, when you Google alleyway for her specific location what pops up are any number of news stories that highlight crime and death and bodies found.

Cara, the oldest daughter, lives in a planned community. This one has traditional homes with drive-up front garages and full backyards. It also has the modern version of the alleyway. I think of this version as the cram-as-many-homes-as-you-can-into-the-smallest-available-space type of community. Their alleyways are really more of one long, U-shaped interconnected driveway that leads to each homes rear garage. When you Google her community, they don’t show these blocks in the gallery of photos. I was sitting on her patio the other day, looking out at her fence.

Yes, I have time to ponder these sorts of things on occasion…

Every home on her “block” is surrounded in the back by a fence. It lines both sides of the home, starting with the front edge, runs all the way around to each side of the driveway and on one side actually comes up and borders the backyard. The alleyway is literally a paved asphalt ribbon that leads starkly to each home, running just inches from each fence.

Why am I sharing these details you might wonder. Or why should you care…

You really don’t have to care I suppose, but it struck me that one of the major ideas behind these planned communities is to create a sense of, well- community. It seems rather ironic that planners then go ahead, cram houses together with just a few feet between each other, and then surround them with these tall, privacy fences that do nothing to encourage community at all. They form a barrier. They lock the inhabitants into their own world and, to me anyway, signal quite clearly that other folks probably shouldn’t come across the line.

The fronts of these homes all have porches of some sort, and the general idea is to gather there, or as many do routinely, in the streets- at least from what I’ve noticed. I come away from this neighborhood sometimes with a sense that it’s okay to be visible on the surface, but encouraging real life interaction means breaking through some heavy and formidable walls that surround each home.

So, the point of this post, as I seem to have ventured off into some sociological impressions, is that I want to learn more about the alleyways that now make up my new community. Most of the homes around me have front porches. I see people on them in the evenings as I walk. I see quite a bit of open yard space, but I wonder what is behind the facade.

Do these new alleyways fit the model of dark, crime ridden, clandestine places?

Are they simply pathways for the local garbage haulers and tomcats? Byways to others detritus and secrets and leftovers…

Can I learn anything from these alleyways, about the people living in front of them, or will I find fences and barriers that allow for the world to see only what these people want.

In part 2, I want to share with you some of what I find in pictures… Stay tuned.

 

Wanting…and tasting

Are you familiar with that idiom that goes something like “I wanted it so bad I could taste it…”

I oddly remember my mother used to say that sometimes. Right now, it happens to be a great way to describe this divorce process. The wanting to be finished is palpable. Freedom is so close that I can taste the sweetness on my tongue.

Yet we wait. We start down all those new pathways that one must take when they end a part of their existence, yet still have to start living all over again… but we just can’t quite reach the finish line.

There are things to be done, of course. Lots and lots of paperwork, and changes: removing names and connected identities, all sorts of movement from we to me. Some of that can be done now, during the waiting time. A lot of those things are forced to wait as well, and then be accomplished in a flurry of post-final-decree-I-am-single-and-ready-to-get-on-with-my-life-madness.

I don’t wait well. As I just said to someone yesterday, Patience is not a virtue that I claim. I am being forced to wait. I love the state that I live in, or at least I do in all respects except for divorce. In an uncontested divorce with no minor children, whereby every single aspect of married life has been looked over, divided, listed and assigned…whereby every financial detail has been agreed upon…all without lawyers because both parties wanted the divorce equally…my gorgeous-for-it’s-natural-beauty, liberal leaning  state still enforces a 90 day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.

I have filed forms that were nothing more than 10 pages of ‘check the appropriate box’ responses all referencing our agreement. They sit, signed and stamped, in a file in my county clerks office. I have completed the remaining forms- again, 20 odd pages of checked boxes referencing that very same agreement…waiting for me to stand in front of a judge, assure him that ‘yes, we both want to end this marriage,’ and then watch him place his name on a paper printed from my computer, releasing my spouse and myself.

Do I feel as if we are wasting 90 precious days of freedom? Clearly the answer is yes. I want my own name on my own accounts. I want to find my own new home and not be encumbered by the fact that no one will believe that I will have an income post-divorce because they have no evidence, only my word that ‘the divorce will be final in mid-July.’

I want to change all the we things and make them me things. I want my identity back, fully and completely. Even though I was a fully functional, independent adult before marriage, maintained personal accounts throughout marriage, have an amazing credit score, continued to work during most of the marriage, and can still be considered mentally competent to pay my bills on time and correctly, I am now fully confronted by my social standing as married female.

And I don’t like. But…I will not go off on a feminist inspired tirade, claiming sexism and oppression and marginalization and patriarchy, even though I really, deeply, and sincerely want to.

I will simply reiterate that a 90 day wait period, in this type of divorce, is ridiculous! I would like my judicial system to come to terms with the fact that some of it’s citizens can very easily think for themselves, come to mutual agreement, and move on with living. Autonomy doesn’t have to be a bad word. It does not have to be a word that strikes fear into the hearts of men who begin to imagine chaos and civil uprising and desperate females crying at their courtroom doors, begging and pleading and claiming that ‘it was all a misunderstanding…I never really meant to leave him…let me go back…I promise that I’ll behave…’

Having no choice, no option, no ability to move on, only to sit and imagine that far off day when pen on paper provides freedom, well that sucks.

90 days of waiting sucks, pure and simple.

 

On Responsibility…

I’ve been pondering on that word a lot lately- responsibility and the taking of it, the lack of it, the inability to accept it, the fear of it…

What allows some people to easily step up, claim their place and do their just duty in the realm of responsibility while others do everything that they can to avoid it.

I know that it’s easy to imagine the worst, to invent in your mind all of the bad and wrong and horrid outcomes that might come from taking responsibility. I’m guilty of doing that very thing. But what about claiming and owning and feeling empowered by the knowing that you did step up, speak out, say “Yep, it was me, or I’m the one and I take responsibility for it…”

All those old sociology texts packed away in a cardboard box in my closet would probably tell me that we learn responsibility from our surroundings; from watching the people we are closest to as they step up, do the right thing, and take responsibility. I can’t argue with that. I believe that. We learn by example. We as humans are heavily influenced by our social groups and environment.

I also have a social psych book buried in that box somewhere as well. I remember being fascinated by that class. It was the perfect marriage between the social and the personal, the environment and the inherent aspects of the self that may, or may not influence us to be who we are. I loved learning how the two disciplines can work side by side. I always believed (still do) that sociology and psychology are not mutually exclusive. We are complex beings, and believing that there is only one way to define our behaviors seems rather elitist and ill-conceived to me.

In my world right now, with this focus on responsibility muddling up my thoughts, I’m even more convinced of the complexity between the inside and the outside.

Taking action…

Leading the way. So proud to be a Washingtonian right now.

trump_travel_ban_washington_state_15924-jpg-ef116

Washington 1st state to sue Trump over immigration order.

Student Status

So, I made a decision. Another decision.

But first…my appointment with the retina specialist is coming up Wednesday. Please keep good thoughts that she will look, evaluate and then pat me on the head and tell me that nothing needs to be done and I can go ahead and schedule the first cataract surgery. Thanks!

Anyway…regular readers know that I have been in a state of semi-retirement for about 4 1/2 years. My hands failed me and clinical dental assisting became a non-career for me. My granddaughters have been my job since then. With personal plans now changed, and the future of both this country and my survival in question, I have to think seriously about money, and finding a job. My girls are growing up anyway, faster than I can believe, and theoretically within a few years (even if my life was perfect right now) I really would be rather useless as a caregiver for two girls who will be in school all day. There’s the grand-dog, who I’m sure would love 8 hours of attention, but…no.

In short, rather out of necessity or boredom, employment of some sort was likely to be a part of my future anyway and clearly in my case necessity has trumped (hah! I made a very poor word choice, but find it slightly humorous nonetheless) boredom. So what to do…

I have that Sociology degree (which I will never regret) but which does not come with a great deal of practical application for income, and it was never really meant to blossom into a career anyway.

Given the state of our country I find the concept of Social Justice Warrior to be a much needed career field right now and for the foreseeable future, but eating and paying rent are options that I value as well. Anyone know of any openings that also offer healthcare? Oh, never mind…I won’t be able to afford healthcare, nor will it be available soon either.

On a related topic, perhaps I can go into politics, maybe even run for office. Apparently you don’t need any experience, and can tell lots of lies and still be elected to the highest position our country offers. That one sounds plausible and I don’t think that I’d be any worse than what we have now. And my first week of executive orders would clearly reverse EVERYTHING being hurtled out the door of the White House right now.

What I know, and what I am good at, and what sustained me monetarily, and what provided a career purpose for the majority of my adult life is dentistry. Thus, it makes the most sense to stick with what I know. Clinical work is out, but there is the business side, the front office, the administrative functions. Secretly, between you and me and this blog post, I really don’t like any of that stuff. I became a dental assistant to work directly with patients in treatment and education. I am a hands-on gal, happiest in scrubs and up to my elbows in saliva. Those days are over, and, as I do have experience in many of the tasks that are needed in the non-clinical running of a dental practice, it seems that it would make sense to focus there.

So, while I have some time, I have once more taken on the role of student. Amazon has supplied me with the current, comprehensive text version of “Front Office Dental Administration 101” or From Saliva to Scheduling Systems: Everything You Need To Know To Run An Amazing Dental Practice. Disclaimer: both of the above titles are not really textbooks in print, just in case you were wondering.

I think you get the idea though and I do have a pretty comprehensive text that covers current practice. I figure it can’t hurt to spend some time reviewing, relearning, and brushing up on the basics. Every dental office uses scheduling software, most with almost imperceptible differences. Usually once you know one you can transition to the others easily. I can copy, and fax, and use a multi-line phone. I can be professional when speaking to patients, and other providers, and labs, and pharmacies. I have a working knowledge of dental codes, treatment planning, accounts receivable and payable. Does this sound like a resume?

I need more training in insurance and definitely in the use of electronic patient records, although I don’t think the dental field has been as quick to adopt an ER system as the medical profession. You can actually still find dental offices that chart on paper.

Geez, this does sound like a resume doesn’t it. Just in case you know of any dental office in Washington- 253 area code specifically- and want to pass on my info…

Perhaps this will be a jump start to returning to a career that I thought I was finished with. Perhaps it will fail miserably and I will have to look elsewhere. As with most things these days, every day brings change, and I can never be certain what the outcome of that change will be. Yet it feels good to plan and to move one foot in front of the other and to have purpose. Especially now, given where we are, we all need purpose.

Strength and Pride Personafied

My Monday will be a great day with these images reminding me of the power of Women.

Some of our favorite photos from the NC Editors of the 1-22-2017 Women’s March on Washington and other cities. (Laura Ansley/Nursing Clio)

via Nursing Clio Stands with Equality — Nursing Clio