Not a day over 40

I am 58 years old today. That doesn’t seem possible. How is that in two years I will be sixty? I swear to god that just yesterday I was graduating high school. Only a few years after that I was a brand new dental assistant, already coming to understand what working for a sexist a**hole was going to mean.

My children are adults, like real adults, not just beginning the “newly out of college phase” but actually marking their own year by year climb up the age ladder. Okay, I have to give Alison a little leeway- she’s only 24 so still just a toddler in the adult world. I can remember every moment of labor with each of them. How can I be almost 60 and remember those events, but forget where I put my phone only seconds after setting it down?

I have two grandchildren. Aren’t grandma’s supposed to be all round and cushy and wearing a full head of white hair while carrying around lined faces and crepe-skinned necks and saggy jowls and chicken wing arms? Alright, I will admit to a degree of round, but hey, I carried and birthed 3 children remember. I do have some crepe-ish skin, somewhere under my drooping eyelids, and I will admit to a few fine lines, but those are mostly on my well-worn hands. Chicken wings for arms–yeah, it doesn’t take much to get some flapping to occur under my arms, but white hair- no way! Garnier Nutrisse 5RB will never allow me to look like a snow queen.

I wonder, on the day I turn 68 and realize that at that time I am just two years shy of seventy, if I will finally be able to acknowledge feeling mentally the same age as my body tells me I am. My head consistently tells me, on these annual birthdays, that I am somewhere around 25. I used to say 18, but that’s pushing a bit these days. I’ve had too many life experiences to claim to be the mental age of a naive 18 year old.

I wonder when the mental clock will finally catch up with my chronological age. Perhaps we always imagine ourselves to be younger. Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation mechanism, a way to stave off our mortality. If that’s the case, then today I’m going to hop back to about 40. I think that was a pretty good year.

Am I the only one who experiences this? How old are you- in your head anyway.


What does a “day off” mean?

An interesting call just came in from the coordinator of the hearing screen program. With no fanfare, just a simple and direct, “Tell me again your commitment during the week with your other job. Maranda just gave her notice.”

Maranda is the hearing screener who works during the week at my weekend location. It’s just the two of us, with my boss spending Mondays there, screening and doing administrative work. Five of the remaining six days per week she (the boss/coordinator) is at the larger facility about 10 miles away, screening and overseeing one crisis after another.

There was a moment, before I answered, where I wanted to say, “Why of course she quit. Everyone does in this rather low paying, increasingly stressful job.” But I didn’t, My boss already knows this. It doesn’t take any new hire long to realize that the time and energy involved in this work is likely never going to pay many bills. In this system, as a new hire, you have to have a firm idea when you begin that this job is likely going to be more part-time in nature, even if you work four days per week. It’s simply not a job you can support yourself, or a family, on. Maranda is apparently leaving for that very reason. Maranda lasted about four months.

So a new screener was about to be hired, but she can only work weekends. She’s a student during the week. My boss had hoped that I could move into Maranda’s work schedule and the new person could take my weekends. That can’t happen, although if it was a few years into the future I would have jumped at the opportunity. Team player that I am (?) I made the offer to cover on the two days I am free during the week: Monday and Thursday. Plus I will continue with my weekend schedule. Let’s do the math shall we–

Granddaughters Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Hearing screening Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

I believe that equals seven full work days per week. This new arrangement begins the second week of October. It isn’t forever, but, as this system moves at the speed of a very slow mud flow, it will likely be three, or even four months before someone new is fully functional to take Maranda’s place. That’s if the boss can hire someone yesterday.

It was rather ironic that this call came today. I was sitting here, reading a book on my day off and actually feeling rather like I was wasting time. I had these vague thoughts of how much more productive I could be; of how I really didn’t need a full two days off, because I really don’t have all that much to do…

And you know what, it will be okay. Two more days per week will certainly boost my paycheck a bit. My days screening are almost never full days anyway, especially on the weekends. Sitting here on these open days makes me feel pressured to clean my house, over and over, and I barely need to clean it now. I am not a messy person. Fortunately I have a good number of scrubs so I won’t have to do laundry every other day. Both of my jobs are a fairly easy commute and I will likely miss peak traffic times anyway…

I can do this, right?

Will someone, about mid November, just take a moment to remind me what it’s like in the real world where you get a day or two off on occasion. I’m not so sure that I’ll remember what a “day off” means by then.

Have a laugh on me

After writing about the incident with Sam last weekend, and having a brief chat with Nancy from Apt 1 early in the week, I didn’t see her for days.

We aren’t buddies or anything, but we did come to some sort of mutual bonding over the entire Sam issue. Besides that, she rides the train to work, and when she comes home at night she literally has to walk down the sidewalk right past my kitchen and living room window. If I’m in the front of the apartment, I see her. It can’t be helped. If she spots me, she waves. We’re respectfully friendly, and as we are currently the only two tenants in this building, I don’t think it unusual that I sometimes notice her coming and going.

She mentioned that sometimes she walks for exercise, and I caught a glimpse of her, again walking down the sidewalk on Thursday evening. I assumed she was going for a walk.

Then I didn’t see her, at all. I was in and out Friday. The local phone book had been delivered to our front porches late Thursday. Hers was still there Friday, and Saturday. Two days worth of mail sat protruding from her mailbox as well. She has a cat. I wondered about Matt the cat. I walked down towards her apartment. She always leaves her curtains wide open I think. Matt sat in the window yesterday, staring at me forlornly.

The landlord was here yesterday, doing demolition on Sam’s old apartment. I mentioned that I was a bit concerned about Nancy and wondered if he had seen her at all while I was at work in the morning.

“Nope, haven’t seen her at all,” was his reply. So I went a little deeper into my concerns.

“It’s likely she’s just with her sister. I think they take off sometimes, short little trips, or to the casino, or somewhere…, but I’ll go check her apartment if that would help.”

So he did, and no- he didn’t find Nancy on the floor, or munched on by a starving cat named Matt. She wasn’t there and while he was trying not to snicker I know he wanted to.

I told myself to let it go, and went to work this morning determined to stop playing at the nosy neighbor syndrome.

I was home fairly early from work, and about two hours later, a car drove up. I heard two woman talking, one of them Nancy. I assumed the other was her sister. About an hour after that my text message notification beeped on my phone. The text said, in capital letters, “SHE’S ALIVE!!” It was from the landlord, who also mentioned he was headed over to clear out more junk.

I hope he enjoyed his laugh. Let’s just see if I worry about him for one instant while he saws through walls and rips up floors next door. I may not even respond if I hear any faint cries for help coming from a back bedroom…


I want to get my weather whining over right away, because I really have no reason to whine given what others are facing both across my state as well as to the south. It is too hot, too humid, and smoke is blanketing this area like a winter quilt. My eyes hurt, my nose itches, and I’m coughing. Plus I break out into a sweat if I walk from the kitchen to my living room. I don’t like it.

Okay, I’m done with that part.

Do you remember some of my brief mentions of Sam, the neighbor in Apt. 2? The crusty old curmudgeon. The guy who has had some sort of monopoly over the laundry room electric meter for ages. The guy who cared for his mother for years after her stroke until she died. The man who has taken over 4 months to move out of here and back to his own apartment.

Sam is out, but Sam left with a bang. Literally. Sam and his friend Eve left (we assumed) for good on Saturday. I won’t lie, Apt. 1 tenant Nancy and I had a little happy dance outside when we believed him to be gone. She has her reasons, and my reasons developed quickly as I learned just after moving in that curmudgeon or not, Sam is a controlling abuser. His control and his verbal and emotional abuse were always directed toward Eve. I don’t have to go into detail regarding the things I heard in the last month. You are all intelligent enough to figure it out. There is a backstory there, concerning Eve, but I have no idea how or why she came into the picture, nor do I know anything about her or her life. While I fear for this woman, and grieve for her in her choice to stay around this man, I also selfishly rejoiced on Saturday that he had moved on.

Then Sunday night happened.

Their car drove in and they began to haul the remaining crap from the apartment. The landlord had come over early that day. I assumed, after seeing what was left, that he had contacted Sam and told him to get the crap out, but no, Sam still had his keys and still had intentions to linger and take his time removing the leftover junk.

Eve was set to work, hauling and dumping and removing while Sam, in his typical manner, sat back, or wandered around checking for what I can only assume to be things he deems to be out of place or not meeting his demands. About 1 hour into this return visit the loud, hateful words began toward Eve. I was just beginning to text the landlord, when I heard the laundry room door open. Sam was checking (as he always had) to see if laundry had been done in the 24 hours that he had been absent. Apt. 1 Nancy, who finally felt as if she was free to use our own laundry room and not the local coin-op facility had done laundry Saturday night, after they left. She never does laundry here…ever.

Sam immediately assumed that it was me. I know because he stood outside my open kitchen window and loudly announced, “You did laundry again and DIDN’T PAY!” He moved on to call the landlord and scream the same thing to him, again outside my window. As my fingers hovered over 911 on my phone the laundry room door slammed shut and there were bellows for Eve to “come now!” The apartment door was slammed so hard I expected to see glass on the sidewalk. The car roared off around the corner and we haven’t seen Sam since.

The landlord has been back, changing locks just in case, and apologizing more than is necessary. He has a major job ahead to get that apartment ready for someone new. Sam has been threatened with police action should he appear here again. I have been told to call 911 immediately if I see him. Nancy feels bad because the use of her own laundry room led to some of this chaos. I’ve tried to assure her that Sam could and would be able to create chaos regardless of the laundry situation. I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like for Eve should she continue to stay with Sam, and I believe she will.

Apartment life in what I believed to be a small, quaint, community…


Too early

It’s about 4:30 AM here right now. I was awake at 4:00. Awake about the same time yesterday morning as well. I don’t have to be up for my new job until about 5:30, but something has me up way before the alarm goes off.

My first day alone yesterday, and even though, at the very last minute, I actually received access to the electronic medical record, there were still issues. Nothing major mind you, but still I think this system needs some improvements when it comes to new employees. I had to wait on a baby anyway and that gave me time to chat with a great tech at the login help desk, Sam or Sebastian…or some S name. He got me access to the EMR that I needed. My fingers are crossed that I can still access it this morning when I go in.

A few observations:

Trendy, young, great couples who want to know everything. I enjoy catching snippets of a couples conversations about parenting,  when they are awake and alert enough to have those anyway. It’s difficult to go into these rooms and not play the role of established expert parent, especially when the couples are young, and you know that for all of their good reasoning now, much of what they feel strongly about doing or not doing with their new child will likely go out the window once they are home and reality sets in.

Babies are really hairy these days. I don’t mean just the peach fuzz lanugo that typically covers much of a newborn. I mean hair, long hair on so many babies. I only remember one of my kids having hair at birth. The little pumpkins that I have screened all have come out needing a haircut. Hair makes for challenging screening so I will always be partial to the bald babies.

Nurses. You know that nurses run the hospital right? Everyone, including the doctors who pop in and pop back out, is lost if a nurse is not visible at all times.

Pico pumps--a new and interesting gadget with claims to be beneficial after surgery (cesareans in this case) but that interferes with my job if mom is holding baby. Medically inclined readers…any comments on this device?

Air conditioning. I refuse to complain about working on the Labor Day weekend when I can be around air conditioning. We are on another hot streak here, with temps over 90 degrees day after day. My shift can go on and on…


Off and running

As of today I have been cleared to perform my new job, although as in the last post, I still only partially exist in the system.

I screened babies this weekend, although it was a slow weekend and there weren’t many babies. More babies=more practice before going it alone. I screened four babies today, at two different locations, with my coordinator. Everything went well, much better actually than my last baby Sunday. I was having all kinds of issues, but luckily the screener I was working with is a screening wizard, and pulled out passing results when I thought all was lost.

I have a small notebook full of notes, although I never think to refer to them when I’m in the room with patients. Seems rather anxiety inducing if your screener has to refer to her notebook…although I would if really necessary. I’ve learned a lot since working this job five years ago. Invaluable stuff that no one ever told me before.

Next weekend those babies are all mine…