Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I remember standing in a Taco Bell line on my lunch break from Music+ one evening, my thrift store-find polyester men's shirt buttoned up to the last button, and having two men staring at me. As I stood hoping the line moved faster so I could slam my lunch before standing on the floor for the rest of the night, one of them said, "Man, she got nice tits." He announced it like I wasn't a human being with ears and disgust and embarrassment. I was supposed to stand there and either pretend I didn't hear it or reward him with a demure, appreciative smile, while his friend stood there with a stupid grin. At that point in my life, I'd already been groped--at 15--by an old man in a strip mall, paid to pierce my ears. I'd already been hollered at by a stranger not to "change a thing, baby" as I powdered my nose in a passenger seat at a gas station, and I was cussed at by the same man when I rolled my 16 yr-old eyes; I'd already had lewd gestures aimed my way of what someone wanted to do to me, by the time I was 14. 

That night in that Taco Bell line, something in me went on autopilot, and I spoke--as loudly as he had--about his mother, his sister, his girlfriend. At first, he was angry I'd dared to talk back, dared to rebuff his "compliment"; that made me a "bitch." But being nineteen and angry that there was *never* a break from that--even when I was just trying to get a damn burrito so I could get back to my crappy job--I didn't back down, though no one backed me up...and somehow I pushed him right into a sincere apology.

All these years later, I remember how he said it and the pressure of his eyes on me. I remember how shaky I felt inside, but I also remember being damned if I'd let him see a single ounce of shame or fear from me. Most men know his is not the kind of "compliment" (most) women are flattered by, but how often do they think the things in this short video are? Because this IS life as a woman and as a girl:

Monday, April 8, 2013

To the Stranger Taking Away My Grammy's Care...


I am posting the letter I composed to The Director of Rehab Services at the hospital where my grandmother is currently receiving treatment. I'm not posting it because I'm an expert on Medicare. I'm not. I'm not posting it because I want to put pressure on the hospital, either (the only name that appears in full is mine). I'm posting it because I know that my grandmother--my grammy--and I aren't the only patient and caregiver going through a fight to receive needed care in this sea of the unknown in post-stroke care. Many people on Facebook have followed me on this journey and cheered me on, so I'm posting this so they can continue to be with me, with my grammy, because their cheers matter. I believe that the good will, thoughts, vibes, and prayers of caring people help, and my grammy and I need those, as do all struggling to get and continue therapy, not only to keep their quality of life but prevent the deterioration of it.

After my letter are links to helpful websites and a NY Times article. Again, I'm NOT a Medicare expert; I'm just someone in the midst of having to do my homework, who'd like to give as many people as possible a few notes for theirs.

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Dear Mr. H***,

I want to tell you about my hero, because you don’t know her.

Before October 18, 2012, this hero of mine was not some frail thing, content to sit all day with needlepoint and watch the world go by. My hero was a 4 a.m. riser who walked two miles a day, who drove herself wherever she wanted to go, who made her own house repairs. She raked leaves in the Fall, planted in the Spring, reveled in the Summer heat, and carried in wood for fires in the Winter cold. This hero of mine has been known to be called Grambo, a name she’s always hated, but a name that fit the woman who once climbed a fence to get inside a locked house. She pushed grandchildren and great-grandchildren up the driveway on their bikes when their little legs were too small to peddle for themselves and drove them to and from school and activities. She read, quilted, and crocheted. And the dolls she made! Porcelain or ceramic, hand-painted beauties.

Can you imagine seeing that strong person in such pain she can’t take a breath? Can you imagine watching her beg for something to stop her pain? Now can you imagine the impotence we, as her caregivers, feel having nothing to give her that will stop it and no access to the professionals who can? I don’t have to imagine any of that.

My hero had a life she’d like to get back to. Only, she’s accepted that probably won’t happen because the only time her hand relaxes and opens—maybe an inch—is during the two days a week that she has forty-five minutes in OT.

My hero’s accepted that she won’t drive again, or be able to bend to garden without risk, or carry heavy loads or great-grandchildren. So she’s contented herself with the goal of merely flossing her teeth, with real dental floss, with her own two hands. Such a simple thing, really.

Except she can’t do it.

Grambo still fits her though. Since October, she’s endured crippling pain, right side paralysis, the inability to speak or make sound, and medical procedures that would make a grown man cry out. This independent, fierce woman has accepted being driven around, being bathed, having her finances attended to for her, and having strangers decide what’s best for her recovery or for their bottom-line. And she’s done it ALL with an almost constant smile and with laughter.

This hero of mine diligently stretches her right arm and hand throughout each day and in her bed at night, and between visits to her godsend of an occupational therapist, my mom and I do our best to mimic what we see done. We’re not the professional that her three doctors say is crucial, over everything else, for her right hand movement not only to progress, but not to deteriorate in its stiffness and pain. Yet despite the fact her primary doctor, her pain management doctor, and her neurologist have made clear that she has to have professional OT, despite the fact that her Medicare benefits haven’t run out and she’d more than likely be a candidate for an extension anyway, despite the fact that she hasn’t plateaued (and disregarding the fact that it is illegal to deny a Medicare recipient therapy services because of a plateau, as clarified in Civil Action No. 5:11-CV-17-CR, JIMMO vs. SEBELIUS, Secretary of Health and HumanServices, 2012) her therapist is being told to release her. We’re asked to ignore the defeat that washed over her face when told that the reward for her hard work—through pain—is to be cut loose. We’re told to act in place of someone specifically trained and educated—we who are as clueless and scared in this new world of stroke recovery as my hero is.
I want you to know just a little about my hero because what you see as “functional” for a woman her age was not her average on a bad day prior to October. Because she’s not average. What you think is better than nothing means her going back to constant agony that pain blocks do not control, Baclofen doesn’t help, and no one but Audrey has made progress with. Amazing progress. Audrey has helped my hero go from no movement to where she’s at now, touching her shoulder and bathing, yet still unable to open her hand on command.

My hero needs OT. My hero needs Audrey. She needs to be seen as someone in severe pain, whose condition can deteriorate without OT service. She needs to be seen as an individual. She needs all that from you.

With hope,

Kalinda C. Schreiber
(K H’s granddaughter)

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Day!

Lookie what came in my mailbox today! It's the signed copy of A.S. King's Everybody Sees the Ants that I won for writing a public lament about my gimp right ankle. If you're looking for a kick-ass YA author's work to get acquainted with, A.S. King's the one.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Use it if ya got it.


Boy it's been a long time, hasn't it? In my absence, I've continued raising a preteen, finished my second manuscript, started my third and found a critique partner for my first. I've finished a few fairies (but only a few, call it laziness if you need to). I've made countless dinners and done infinite loads of laundry. Oh, and I herniated a disc, had surgery on it and herniated it again, just for good measure. What I haven't done was write a blog post. What I did do is enter a contest to win a signed paperback (*on* release day) of A.S. King's latest book, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, because she's brilliant. And I want it. So hey, I thought, why not copy the entry to my blog? King gets a shout out and recommendation, and I don't have to feel remiss about my non-blogging. Please don't make me feel remiss; the girl-child does that enough, about important things and about the sky being the wrong color of blue. 

Anyway, entrants were to write about their ankles. Yes, their ankles. Funny thing is, I actually had something to say about mine! Let 'er rip:

My first job, all two days of it, netted a paycheck that bought a pair of 8-hole Docs. Not just plain old black 8-holes. Uh-uh. Purple 8-holes that matched my purple contacts. Why yes, thank you for noticing! I was, indeed, the shiz.

My second job, at a record store, had me standing and walking, day after day in those purple Docs, asking holiday shoppers and kids with allowances bigger than my paycheck if they needed my mad skills for finding what they were looking for, with a smile on my face, even if I wished one, just one, would ask for Skinny Puppy instead of Shabba Ranks.  (For the record, pardon the pun, it's damn hard to remember which moving and pushing shopper has already received the offer, and they DO NOT like to be asked twice. Just ask the one who slammed her box set down, cussed me out and stormed through the door.) Two unfortunate things came from that job: 1) chew toy-dom for pissy people, determined to share their holiday joy with someone other than me (at your service!). 2) Because of the rubbing those rad Docs did, one darkened, bruised ankle—the right one—that never recovered.

I've scrubbed it. I've lemon juiced it. I've lotioned it. I've waited for it to match its twin for 19 years. I can remember the cassettes I stocked and the CDs I secretly ordered to make the store cooler, but I don't remember what it's like to have two matching, unmarred ankles. In Pretty in Pink, Iona warned Andie that people who miss their proms regret it, always. Nope. People who wear incorrect shoes to crap jobs regret it, always.

Unless they win an awesome book written by one of their YA lit heroes. There's that.

UPDATE: I WON!!!! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Golden Children, Freaks, and 20 Years.

20 years (and now a few months, since I took this post out of the draft back burner).  That's how long it's been since I graduated high school.  Reunion pictures circulating on Facebook, from the two high schools I went to, prove it.  Yet when the grocery shopping, bill paying and preteen raising duties are not weighing on me--like when I'm in my car with the sunroof open and the music cranked, or on a date with my husband (who I met in high school)--I still feel the girl from back then peeking through (the young part, not the awkward part).  Sometimes so much so, I feel like I'm just playing house and pretending to be an adult.  Sometimes it only feels like a few years have passed...but I've got to say, when I look at some of those pictures of my classmates, I can see those 20 years, and then some (yes, that sounds awful, I realize).  Some of yesterday's popular girls have held onto the same bangs that made them "hot" in the late 80's/early 90's...yeah, it doesn't work so much anymore.  Nor does the "party hearty" stuff I'm still seeing in picture captions and written all over the faces of the once-elite.

Whoever would've thought all those adults who told me that the golden children of my high school wouldn't be so golden in a decade or so would be right?  I was growing up the sensitive fat girl (or the goth girl, or the girl who got picked last in PE, or the girl with the unrequited crushes).  Back then, I just wanted the popular kids to stop their superior bullshit and leave me alone as I walked the quad or sat in Spanish class.  I wanted to write my tortured soul out on paper and have it noticed, be told the angst it dripped with made it amazing and that I was well on my way to being the next Plath (minus the death and all that).  I wanted to catch the eye of the guy with the eyeliner and the classic truck with the bondo all over it, and I wanted him to be overcome with the urge to kiss me and ask me out, and I wanted to be seen in that Ford monster.  And none of those things ever happened...back then.

But who'd have thought the swaggering jock who flipped carrots at me would end up squishy, bald and divorced?  Or that the cheerleader in the perfect clothes and make-up, with a poison pen for mean-girl notes, would have wrinkles, polyester pants and a job she hates?

Because the geeks, the freaks, the quiet kids, and the don't belongs...well, we end up with the long end of the stick, if we're patient, because we don't wear that stick out early on, I guess.  I've seen my fellow high school misfits get the educations, the money, the careers, the looks, the notoriety, the over-all happiness...most of all, I've seen them keep their empathy, humility, and senses of humor.  And since none of their success was handed to them, they develop an appreciation of it all.  20 years looks good on them.  Hell, it looks great on them, figuratively and more-often-than-not, literally.  (And they don't have to keep the same bangs or beer bong to prove themselves.)

Yep, it's true.  It does get better.  Much, much better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fairies from Falling Leaves...

Here's a peek (but just a little one) of how Autumn and the turning leaves of the east coast have inspired me when I'm not writing novel #2.  :)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Curious-Crow/187779446295
Come visit me on Facebook!  Feel free to show me some "Like" while you're there!



Then head to the website and see all my girls!
www.thecuriouscrow.com




*I know I haven't written here in awhile, but my focus is on completing my WIP--it's *almost* ready for beta readers, and I'm too excited to divert my thoughts to other writing topics.  In the meantime, I hope my fairies will suffice--they're me, too!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year.

September 18.  A year ago today I was both gutted and given a gift, all in one day.  My dad died last September 18th. But he waited for me to get to him, and he looked at me, and he smiled when I walked in the room.  For an entire year, my heart has flooded on me when I'm not expecting it--made my throat close and tears surprise me...but there is also laughter that breaks through when I think of him telling me my animals all have "hippie names" or myriad other Dad-isms.  A year ago today I found out it's possible to feel like a 30+ year-old half-orphan if a parent disappears. 

For the most part, my memories are happy, and I don't wallow in grief.  For the most part.  But on this day, I'll not censor the emotions as they come, rapid-fire.  Today I'll listen to the song I brought to him in the hospital, the one I haven't been able to listen to all the way through since. 

Tomorrow I'll pick back up and live in ways that honor him--little things he would have done: I'll throw the ball to my chihuahua, drive the winding road I wanted him to see so badly, and I'll marvel--just as he would have, if I'd have gotten him here--at the way the light falls through the trees.  Tomorrow I'll even do his "would-have"--the one he learned too late, but I learned from: I'll get my flu shot.

I love you, Dad.