Do Good

It’s almost TIME!

ELEVEN days until I leave the lovely mountain town of Bozeman and move to DEEEEEEENVER, Colorado!

it's a colorful state, weee!

Very exciting.

The only part is, I am leaving a life behind. I’m sure there are only good things ahead of me, but goodbyes are hard.  Like I’ve heard many say, a goodbye is a very poorly named ritual…is there really anything good about it? Except the excitement of a new open door?

One good thing, besides all of the wonderful well wishes, is the advice I’ve been getting. Some of it isn’t so good, some of it is weird (although “always floss” is probably something I really should listen to) and one particular piece has really stuck with me, from a most unlikely source.

One of the cooks I work with a lot at the nursing home is in her mid-thirties, with several kids and several divorces under her belt. She’s smart and capable, but as she’s from rural West Virginia, she isn’t very educated. Yet, out of nowhere, she’s quite educated on life: the only thing she said to me by way of goodbye was “Do good in Colorado.”

“Do. Good.”

So simple, and for some reason it really just stuck with me. It’s all I’ve been thinking about.

I guess that, when it comes down to it, that’s what I want to do with my life. Sure, I want to be happy, and see the world, find a career (or careers) that I adore, make a home on the coast, surround myself with those who love and respect me.

But under it all? I want to do good.

I may be stressed about the move (i.e. stressed about the sheer amount of packing I still need to do) and nervous about my job and slightly freaked out by moving in with a boy. I’ve been worried about what I am getting out of my life, what I want out of it, what’s going to happen when I’m older, how short and unpredictable life is.

Among all these worries, I forgot that the root of the human experience is tied to our interactions with humans, all lifeforms, and as a result, it is tied to our relationship with the planet and the entire universe, and our treatment of all of this.

So thanks, Cook A, for reminding me that life really doesn’t have to be as complicated as I make it.

And that if you let yourself listen to the people around you, sometimes the most random sources can make it all startlingly clear.

Why You Gotta Be So Mean

(Continuing the ahem, trend, of naming my blogs after songs…)

Don’t hate me for channeling a little bit of Taylor Swift.

She is America’s Sweetheart for a reason and…ok, I kind of like her. Now shush.

make fun if you must...

It’s one of those days.

The kind where I don’t do anything right.

Probably because I haven’t been sleeping much, and worked several 12-hour shifts in a row, but my brain just wouldn’t engage. And, maybe kind of understandably (and slightly unneccessarily) I got yelled at, scolded, and talked down to like I was a four-year-old.

(Now I’m watching The Office and trying to block everything out. Probably not the best coping mechanism, but pshaw).

Since one of the Assistants to the Activities Director at the nursing home (yes, one of the Assistants…why, I’m not sure, considering the volume of activities doesn’t seem worth one Assistant and sometimes not even a Director, although the Salvation Army does come often to sing hymns in their military look-alike uniforms) is obsessed with Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and had it on repeat, I was thinking about it all day.

Plus I kept getting yelled at.

On the subject of mean, my sister is a nanny this summer to our neighbors, and her adorable little charges happen to have these ridiculously bratty friends.

I’m talking Spawns of the Devil here…a common occurrence in our neighborhood, now that I think about it.

(On a side note, I can’t wait to get out of the ‘burbs and never, ever return. Although I’m not sure Bozeman counts as a ‘burb…but all the houses are the same in our neighborhood, so close enough).

The older girl, Olivia, has muscular dystrophy, and when I saw her little friend imitating the way she walks I really almost hit her.

Kids are SO. MEAN.

Why are people so mean? What makes a sweet little girl want to make fun of her obviously weaker friend? I know that mean actually makes me sound like I’m four with it’s sheer sophistication, but sometimes, basic is okay.

I could use my anthropological background to theorize about the necessity for this kind of thing…but sometimes people are just rude.

So the moral of this story is:  let’s all just be a little nicer. Partly because it’s better for your health (mentally and physically) and also because I truly believe that karma can be a b*tch.

Not that I wish the Spawn a sad little life (I don’t want to sing “you’re a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life,” because even though I enjoy the song, I will feel four if I start that).

I just hope that the next time she imitates, she trips a little.

:).

Happy Monday!

From Old to Young, Wills to Homework

I think working at a nursing home is getting a little, well, old…no pun intended.

I actually am in love with several residents, and I really enjoy working with them. The first week, I was seriously depressed. I imagine it was the whole dealing with the mentally/physically disabled aspect, not to mention the near-dying part, but I cried every day. It broke my heart to see the the old husband come in every day to eat lunch with is wife who barely remembered him.

However, in about my second or third week, I talked to a different couple: this one includes the most adorable old man (who always kisses my hand!!) on hospice (sad) and his wife who faithfully comes in every day right after breakfast and leaves right before dinner.

The wife and I were chatting as I cleaned the dining room, and I got to asking how they met.

“Oh we met in California, got married a few years later, and lived happily ever after,” she smiled, patting his shaking hand. The husband is in his late 90’s, barely talks (although when he does he’s the sweetest guy ever) and is on hospice with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and a host of others issues. His heart is beating so slowly he shouldn’t be alive. Yet his wife still considers it “happily ever after.”

That sort of changed my mind about my job, and I began bonding with all the residents (the elderly seem to find my incessant questions and talking charming) and as I said, I love ’em.

However, the close proximity to death is what’s getting to me.

My residents are often right at death’s door and present the great fear of our society: the inescapable destiny we all face. While “to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure” (thank you, Albus Dumbledore) our society still carries a stigma attached to death.

This week, one of the aides brought up paperwork for a recently deceased lady accidentally…which was met by some amusement when the story of the mortician asking if said  lady would need her glasses was told.

(Perhaps she needed them for her paperwork…it’s nursing home humor).

To continue the theme, my grandparents were also visiting this week and discussing their will. They’re probably the most organized couple ever (perhaps they relate to Dumbledore’s above quote). I’m sure we’ll all be grateful when they do pass and everything is tied up in a neat bow; for some reason when I fast forward 50 years and see myself going through my parents’ stuff, I see an image from this episode of Friends (“The One Where Nana Dies Twice,” if you’re interested) where Ross finds his grandmother’s collection of Sweet N’ Lows.

I’m not sure what I’ll be getting in the will (not that I’m terribly concerned)–they were just double checking my middle name (which should be easy as my younger cousin has the same one, and there aren’t that many grandchildren, plus I was the first granddaughter, so you’d think that would command some space in the brain, but whatever, they are 80) but I do know I won’t be getting the antique beer steins my great-great-great-great something brought over from Germany. (Aw, bummmmmmer).

My mom thinks that her youngest brother (younger by the rest by at least 11 years) will get all the “good” stuff, since he got all of her grandmother’s interesting items. I pointed out that he did help clean out her house, and from what I can tell all he got was a weird rocking chair that for some reason my mom and her siblings all really wanted.

I lost the point of this post–mostly that I’m not used to being around death so much–it’s weird. Every day I am consumed with thoughts of how short life is, and so every decision becomes quite weighty.

Well, not every, I don’t think that picking out which shirt to wear is that monumental, but even spending a year with a job in Denver seems long and I am constantly questioning whether I should just head back abroad.

In the fall, I’ll begin working as an AmeriCorps member with the Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation.

courtesy of americorps.gov

Which will be an incredible experience. Which I will in no way regret doing–but it’s still a tangible decision and direction.

Despite my contrary nature, it will be fun working with the young. Although I’ve enjoyed working with the old (and I won’t be finished until August) it will be nice not to have to PROJECT my voice at decibels my vocal chords clearly find uncomfortable.

There are many more benefits–that’s just the start. The great thing about working with kids is the amount of hope and innocence they still retain. (Although if I recall my 7th grade year, I remember a lot of brats…maybe that was just my personal experience?)

In conclusion, though, my residents seem to like me a lot more than any kids ever have…so wish me luck.

If Wishes Were Horses…

I’d have a rodeo (or a lot of dog food, as one of my friends helpfully pointed out).

But, first things first, I officially have a job (!!) although it’s only temporary, somewhat miserable, slightly humiliating, and a little depressing. I’m a dietary aide at a local nursing home (thanks to my mother, who’s been an RN and administrator there for 20 years–nepotism really does seem to make the world go round, even for a job like this) but at least it’s a source of income, and hey, gives me something to write about, for all you l-u-c-k-y readers of mine.

NOW back to the important news of the week: The Royal Wedding!

I was obsessed with the royal wedding coverage, obsessed with the story, dismissing all critics and “who cares?” or “she’s just a social social-climber” or any of that such nonsense (I’m clearly neutral on this matter).

I loved every moment of it (except for the excessive formality, but it is a royal wedding in Britain, after all) and teared up every five seconds. I obsessively searched for tidbits of news on the internet, as well as the latest photos. I watched my favorite bits several times throughout the day (it was on all day where I work, in my partial defense) and discussed it at length with anyone willing.

Perhaps this makes me a bit of a romantic fool (okay, I admit it, there’s no “a bit” in that sentence–my boyfriend claims I’m romantic due to the fact that I was raised on Disney movies, and my sister did say the royal wedding was like a “Disney movie come to life”) but part of the reason I loved it was the sheer happiness of the occasion.

In a year of devastating catastrophes, like tsunamis and tornadoes, civil wars and violent protests, and a lifetime (for all of us) often filled with heartbreak, loss, terrible miseries and the occasional harsh realities, a giant event that inspires the world to unite, and has even the generally scandal-hungry media raving about the love and beauty, well that is an event that I am going to watch.

Even though it did mean I had to wake up at 4 a.m., but hey, I had to get up at 4:30 for work, anyway, so what’s an extra half an hour? (Yes, I now work that early occasionally, and in the past 3 days I’ve worked 30 hours. A rude awakening indeed!)

I now work at a nursing home, giving me a glimpse into the way many of our lives may actually end up. There are many sweet, fairly lucid residents, but also many who can’t feed themselves much less walk. One particular case breaks my heart: every day at lunch, a resident is joined by her husband. He can still get around by himself, but could no longer take care of her on this own. But, every day without fail, he comes in to help feed her, and interact with the other residents. It’s sad, sweet, and humbling.

So, a wedding like this is just what I, and I suspect the other 2 billion watchers (and pretty much everybody else, if you ask me) needed. A reminder that life, no matter how short, no matter where you end up, is full of wonderful, fun, beautiful, happy things as well.

Sure, maybe while I was asking (yelling–it is a nursing home) if the residents in the dining room wanted cranberry or grape, dessert or fruit, I made several wishes that I was the woman, on the flat screen behind me, about to become a duchess, glowing through her fancy veil at the world, marrying her handsome prince. However, I also take hope in the fact that at 23, my life is, hopefully, just hittin’ it’s stride. After all, this said duchess is 29! A lot can happen in six (okay, five-and-a-half…I guess the lying about my age has officially begun) years!

Not that I’m in any rush: my weekend plans are super exciting. They involve sleep, leftover Easter candy, and my Neti pot. (Yes, the week I get a job is also the week I get a nasty cold, even though I haven’t been sick for a day since my search for a job started…go figure).

For now, here’s to happy endings, beginnings, and everything in between!