Monday, July 30, 2012

God Laughs

A southern boy
For you
Toting his beekeeping book
Like a security blanket.
John Deere,
A shaman on his head.
Your mama said
You needed a farm boy
Like your dad.
She was right.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Integrity & the death of optical shoppes

This week one of the opticians (they sell and fit glasses), approached me asking if I'd be interested in doing free screenings for kids so they could drum up business. I said I'd have to do a minimum of testing because people mistake screenings for exams, and I don't want to send kids off who are in need of glasses because we were skidding through an eye check. She was visibly miffed. Frowning, she asked, "Can't we just have them read the eye chart?" I said I didn't think that was right. She walked away.

Later I heard she reported to the others what I'd said, saying about me, "She sucks." I guess integrity is in low esteem these days. And anything for money is in high regard.

I wondered, what makes these $15/hour employees so gung ho about selling glasses? They stand out front in their white coats, quoting hundreds of dollars for glasses which can be bought online for a fraction of the cost. (I recently paid $32 for glasses which were made fully correctly with three lens coatings.)

Am I witnessing the slow extinguishing of the optical shoppe? I wonder what they'll do once everyone orders their glasses online? I figure that my services will still be needed, after all there is always a health check and the autorefraction doesn't give accurate glasses for people.

In a larger sense, I wonder why people are so driven to sell? (I'm probably the opposite, money is such a low driver for me and selling things makes me physically ill.) How are people driven to trick people into buying more things so they generate more income for a store? Maybe there are kick-backs for sales. I don't know.

When I started this job, I was told not to tell my patients that their glasses hadn't changed, so the optical could sell them more glasses. I can't sleep at night knowing I have stolen $400 from an old lady on medicare just so the store generates more income. I don't know who can. Maybe people who do two minute eye chart checks and call it a screening.

Friday, July 20, 2012

[in the woods]

 gravel road 
drifting side to side 
like a swing.

around a bend 
a grown raccoon
on edge of the road

watching, darting
what to do. 

i wonder why

and i see
-her baby- 
in the middle of the road.

[a mother's grief.]

Monday, July 16, 2012

Joining the community band

Most people wait until retirement to revisit old musical interests. I'm so advanced (again, I know it is really sick, isn't it?) that I've restarted my clarinet after only 18 years out of high school. That was literally half a lifetime ago. I don't feel old, especially if I compare myself to the other members of the community band. Most of them probably already have a grave plot reserved. I love old people, so that was not a dig. Tee hee.

It took a little pushing (and a last minute call to my mom who said, "just go!") to get myself to show up at band practice. At least two of my patients had told me to join the band. Being severely rusty, I feared they wouldn't take me, but I was assured that there was no "try out" that anyone could show up to practice. (I wonder if anyone has been asked to un-join? I hope not to be the first.)

So I donned my retro clarinet case and rolled over to the Methodist Church after work to play with the band. The Hampton Roads Community Band.I parked and hoped I was in the right place, and was affirmed by men toting stands and trombones. Good indications that it was the right church.

I snuck in a bit quietly. Everyone was practicing. I was nervous. But they were sweet and welcoming right off, and shortly after I situated myself one of my patients came over and talked to me (and later made faces at me while we were rehearsing, charade-questioning how my mouth was holding up - we'd talked about it in the office). Another patient talked to me after band for a while. Band camp was mentioned by more than one member. Who'd think I'd be the outsider having never attended band camp? It was an alternate universe.

It was hard. It was harder than I thought. I'd forgotten how to play in the band. A lot of the music was filled with the kinds of flourishes they stick on the clarinets and flutes. I'm not the biggest fan of flourishes. I initially questioned what I was doing there, but by the end I was getting better at following, keeping the beat and watching the conductor. I also had to remind myself that I was sight-reading the whole time.

Their next concert is scheduled for August 5th, and then they take the month of August off as a holiday. Sounds like I joined at the perfect time!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On giving back, from "bring me the rhinoceros"

"We can't say that human lives have a purpose, since a purpose would be smaller than we are. It's true though, that the impulse to give freely to the world seems to be at the bottom of the well of human intentions where the purest and clearest water arises. To be able to offer back what the world has given you, but shaped a little by your touch- that makes a true life. Eventually we find our song and remember it and sing it. And we can never know who else will sing the song or how the story will turn out in the end; its ripples widen beyond us and there is no end in sight." -John Tarrant

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I've been fighting the inner beast. The one who tells you that you need to accomplish more. That you need to live up to your standards. That you need to prove yourself. That the lesser role is beneath you. All that mental hogwash that comes with the trip through life, especially in America.

This job I've started is the smallest place I've ever worked. The smallest little shop. A one room doctor lane and office in one. Just me and my little assistant, Angel, and a few people who sell the glasses. That's it. No MDs down the hall, or insurance people, or other docs calling for help. No one but me.

This life I'm living. I'm thirty-six and I've just moved into an apartment with another girl, Lori. She helped me haul in my meager belongings in all of fifteen minutes.

Here I am with six dresses in the closet and a dresser half full of stuff and a blow up bed on the floor. A blow up bed. The last time I was sleeping long term on one of those was when I was twenty-four.

Am I regressing?

Or do I just not care?

It is more of the latter.

The stuff doesn't matter. The status doesn't matter. The money doesn't matter.

What matters?

Having time to read. Waking up snuggling next to someone I love. Time to think. A little space to breathe. Being free.

I'm sure the demons will reappear, telling me to aspire to more.

I'll keep fighting them and aspire to good enough.

[Sidenote: This band has been haunting my mind lately.]

Monday, July 2, 2012

Finding home

Four and a half years ago I left the states, feeling lost, sick and tired of the political situation here, and exhausted with the American dream which seemed like an endless pursuit of “more”. I came back about nine months ago and I didn’t know where I belonged anymore.

I hid out at my mom’s, my sister’s, friends, relatives. Nowhere felt like home. I took a job on the east coast. Why? Why not? Why not try Virginia. Maybe it would feel like home. I started a maternity leave job, moved in with a girl temporarily into a condo, which felt like a prissy hotel room. After three months, that didn’t feel like home either.

I felt like a nebulous cloud of a being. Belonging nowhere, bleeding myself everywhere I went. Spacey and uncontrollable. Impulsive and going where the wind took me.

So I took a camper RV trip with my new boyfriend, testing the strength of our new relationship. We towed a 21 foot camper through the southeast. The Carolinas. Georgia. Florida. For a month, we moved our home from site to site, hauling it with a ten year old Chevy Trailblazer. This with a guy who I’d known for less than four months. After a short reprieve in the outer banks, the trip continued again to Bonnaroo a month later. Two more weeks on the road.

We’d perfected the arrival and departure, resembling the old couples who frequented the RV parks where we were living on the road. Every day we got up and made tea and coffee on the stove and had breakfast at our diner table. With limited clothes, life was simple. Despite the nomadic life we were leading, I had finally found something that felt like home. Waking up next to the ginger beard and green eyes. Skinny little man like a boy curled up next to me. Kissing me awake in the morning, his whiskers tickling my cheeks.