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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Emperor’s New Clothes

You all remember the Danish fairy tale of the Emperor who was swindled by two alleged fashion designers, right? They promised to make him a handsome suit made from the finest of fabrics that only the smartest people could see. After putting on the imaginary suit, the Emperor was too ashamed to say he looked naked, because that meant he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the kingdom. So he pranced through town naked as a jaybird. The townspeople also were afraid to say they couldn’t see the suit for shame of being called stupid.

This fairy tale was one of the first things to come to my mind a few days ago, when I found one of the residents parading through the hallway naked. At the nursing home, where I am working on a temporary basis, I’ve learned, sometimes you have to let people live in their land of make-believe. Other times, you have to try to bring the person out of the situation.

Before approaching the naked little jaybird, I noticed she had her socks and a pair of stolen slippers on. Did I mention she is a kleptomaniac? Story for another day, I suppose. Looking around the hallway, I spotted a laundry cart. I grabbed the first thing my hand reached to cover her. It was a pillow. Using it like a shield, I covered the resistant lady’s baggy bits, and tried to explain why being naked was not such a good idea.

She looked at me dumbfounded as I held the pillow against her body and said, “Honey, it’s so cold today. We really need to get on something a little warmer.”

Angrily she said, “God damn it! How did you find me? I took that crap off so I could get out of here.”

It dawned on me that she wasn’t like the Emperor at all. She thought taking off her clothes would make her invisible. And now she was angry because I still could see her as she tried to make her great escape.

Comfortingly, I said, “I’m sorry I ruined your plan. It was your socks and Edna’s slippers that gave you away.”

Looking down at her feet, and back up at me repeatedly, she finally laughed, and said, “Those stupid things.”

I can’t tell you I wasn’t worried that she’d strip those off too, because I was sure that was her next move. Thankfully, she agreed to come with me to get on something warmer.

One of the symptoms of her disease is wandering. She loves to go outside and is always trying to escape. Several times a day, she reaches for the door, and I go running down the hallway after her. If she pushes the door before I get to her, an alarm will sound throughout the building and a voice will come over the intercom system saying, “The East entrance alarm has been activated!” It repeats this until you punch in the security code and shut the door. Once the escapee is back inside, the alarm is shut off and the door is closed, I have to say over the intercom, “East door secure. All clear.”

Sometimes she can get that door back open right in the middle of me calling out the all clear. My coworkers laugh at me on days where this happens often. If the intercom phone were closer to the door, it wouldn’t happen so often. But hell, it’s halfway down the hall. I do a lot of running back-and-forth there!

Yesterday, she tried another approach. She stole toothpaste off of the CNA’s cart. Undetected, she ran off to her room, smeared the toothpaste all over her face, and came out in tiptoe fashion.

My unwelcome approach went a little like this, “Oh, my gosh! What is that on your face?”

“God damn it! God damn it! And God damn you!”

“I’m sorry. Please don’t be angry,” I flashed my big ol’ puppy dog eyes at her with my lip pouted.

She put her hand on the side of my face to console me, “Don’t cry. I didn’t mean to yell at you.”

Now stroking my hair, she said, “You have good eyes.”

I smiled at her and she smiled back.

“Can I ask why you have toothpaste all over your face?”

She laughed at me and said, “Your eyes aren’t as good as I thought. It’s camouflage, not toothpaste.”

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Keeping The Home Fires Burning & The Kids' Heads Spinning

I’m slowly learning how to properly torture my children. I’ve been practicing for a while now, and according to my mother, the best torture teacher on the planet, I am finally getting close.

Where we used to live, there was a Dairy Queen a mile away from our house. The kids loved going and we went fairly often. Heck, you can even read about one of those times here. How I ever showed my face around there after that, remains a mystery.

Anyhow, in our new town there used to be a Dairy Queen. Apparently, a couple of years ago, fire ravaged the building. For whatever reason, the big Dairy Queen sign, the parking lot and the drive-thru speaker have remained intact. Why the property owner hasn’t rebuilt or at least removed all visible signs of the former restaurant is beyond me.

We’ve been in our new neighborhood for six months. And for that half of a year my kids have been craving ice cream. Every time we drive by, they look longingly at the location that once held all of the ice cream that their dreams are made of.

There is a Dairy Queen a few towns over, but it seems like there’s just no time to get there.

After repeatedly asking for ice cream, I finally said okay. We piled into the car. They were so happy. The excited chitter-chatter from the backseat reminded me of when my 12 and 14 year olds were 2 and 4. I mean, they were really happy.

They were so caught up in each other and their conversation that they were paying no attention to my driving. As I turned the car into the old parking lot, their chatter stopped. When I pulled up to the drive-thru speaker, opened my window, complete silence fell over the backseat.

Stopped at the old drive-thru speaker, I hollered out, “Can I please have three Brownie Bladder Blizzards?!”

After a slight pause, we laughed our silly heads off. But for some reason, they stopped laughing before I did.

Lane 1 asked, “Um, dude, Ma, you were kidding, right?”

That just made me laugh harder, and then I said, “Their service really is slow today!”

Lane 2 said, “Mom, I think we should go to a Dairy Queen that is actually open.”

I was laughing so hard by then, tears were running down my face. I drove out of the old parking lot, still giggling while the kids were shaking their heads in a confused fashion. I drove right back home. When I pulled the car into our driveway, both of their mouths were gapping wide-open, as were their eyes. It was classic! With them still sitting in the backseat, I motioned to get out of the car. Neither could muster a word. They looked appalled that I had tricked them.

Because I started the car back up and took them to the Dairy Queen a few towns over, Mom says I still have a lot more torture practice to get in before I reach her status.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Ester, our pocket knife loving friend from the last blog post isn’t one to participate in most activities. She will rarely join the others unless you specifically invite her to come and have a snack, which often times is included in the activities. Since she is more of a loner than the rest, I’ve tried finding one on one activities that she and I can do.

She makes it perfectly clear that the other residents annoy the shit out of her. It isn’t unusual for her to tell someone to “shut the hell up,” or “go to hell,” or to simply to run them over with her wheelchair. I’m not even kidding.

She never married or had kids, which tells me she has always preferred to be a loner. She will “help me” work a crossword, but she won’t do one on her own. I feel like I have to try extra hard with her because her mouthy ways tend to run others off, including some of the staff. But, y’all know me, I ain’t skeered!

I found out she also likes bingo, as long as no one tries sitting at her table. She’s really smart too and is great at trivia, again, as long as no one is around to cramp her style. She loves coffee but no one gives it to her because she is a spiller and they don’t want her to get scalded. I put a few ice cubes in the cup before pouring the coffee over them. She asked me why I am the only one that lets her have coffee. And I said because no one else knows how to make it. A little white lie to make her feel better is just what the lady needs.

Since it was such a nice day today, I thought if I finished up with everyone early, I could take her outside on the patio. She always says she wants to get the hell out of there, so it really seemed like a good idea.

“Hey Ester, it’s almost 70 degrees out today. Would you like to go sit outside for a while?”

“I guess,” her enthusiasm apparently was already outside.

I grabbed a sweater for her on our way out. And then I punched in the code to get us out of the first door. With my arm fully extended trying to hold the door open (which pushes outward) and push her wheelchair through, I ran over my own foot. I held all of my bad words inside, faked a smile and continued through the second set of doors.

Once outside, I parked her chair with her back to the sun. I offered her the sweater and she said, “No. It’s hot out here. What the hell would I do with it?”

Smiling back at her, holding the sweater, I began to make small talk about the flowers that were finally in bloom.

She looked at me so seriously and said, “Are you trying to fucking kill me? I just got over a cold and you take me outside! I want in.”

I don’t know if it was that two minutes of fresh air that did her in, or all of my flowery talk. Regardless, there we were struggling with the doors and wheelchair once again. And our secretary, whose office is in plain sight of the entrance, just sat trying to stifle her laughter. I am so kicking her ass tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

God Bless the Blue Haired

Some days the senior citizens gang up against me. I think they stay up late at night, plotting revenge for anything and everything that may have gone wrong during their lives. Other days I get to be a part of their team. And we always win.

Because the nursing home I am working at is a state funded facility, state employees come periodically to make sure that everyone is well taken care of, and all of us are doing our jobs correctly. The state came for a visit Monday and have been there all week. Being new, I hadn’t learned all of the rules, and being temporary help, they didn’t think it was worth the time to show me everything. My boss says I’m a real natural, which I think is why she was slightly lax on training.

Lucky for me, I am working with the dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Sure, at first glance, one may feel sorry for these people. But after getting to know them, they are happier than most well people I know. Some live in their own little worlds, where their imaginations go wild. Others think of nothing but the good old days. Most of the time I feel like an actress. I play the role of who each of them needs me to be at any given time. The place reminds me of the movie “50 First Dates” but my side of the building is like the character 10-Second Tom (from the same movie).

One lady is certain I am her niece. So I have taken to calling her Aunt Bernice. It works for us, and makes her happy. You should see how her eyes twinkle when she sees me. She just lights up. I wonder if her niece knows how much she is loved.

Another lady whose company I thoroughly enjoy, has some seriously colorful language, kinda like me. She can carry on a good conversation sometimes. Other times, her disease gets in the way and causes her to say a handful of phrases that may not suit the moment to anyone but her. She says “Hurry, get me a cane. Hurry, get me a nightgown.”

One day I asked her, “If I get you a cane, are you going to hit me with it?”

And she said, “Probably.”

You gotta love her honesty if nothing else. But she gave me more reasons to love her while the state was there watching my every move. A state employee walked up to her and said, “Hello,” in a sugary sweet voice.

She replied, “Hurry lady, I’m shitting out my ass!”

Classic Laverne! It was so hard to not laugh! God I love that lady! And to top it off, she scared the state lady away, and she didn‘t come back for the rest of the day.

This other lady, Ester, is always looking for something sharp to cut off the seatbelt on her wheelchair. It isn’t a restraint but it is difficult to take off. It was ordered by her doctor because she kept sliding out of her chair and falling. Anyhow, everyday she asks me to give her scissors, a pocket knife, a needle, a cleaver or a butcher knife, just so she can take her lap belt off. Every day I lie and tell her I will get her a knife the next time I go shopping. It’s a little white lie that makes her feel better, for the moment. I can always get on her good side by offering her a cup of coffee too. Whatever works, right?

Yesterday, I’d just finished telling my boss how well things were going after Laverne saved me from the state lady. Upon my return to my side of the building, I heard Ester screaming, “Help! Pocket knife! Somebody help me! Oh God! Pocket knife! Help! Pocket knife! Somebody! Pocket knife!”

To the untrained ear, or that of a state employee, one may think there was an armed robbery in progress, rather than a lady who just wanted to take off her seatbelt. Holy shit it cracked me up! When another lady from the state came running to see what all of the fuss was, I explained the situation to her. More then anything I wanted to leave her hanging just to find out what she wrote in her report, but I didn’t want the nursing home to get a fine over something that turned out to be nothing.

I hadn’t planned on getting attached to the people who live in this nursing home, because my stay will be short. But with as much fun as I have, and as much as I enjoy their company, that is likely going to be the hardest part of the job.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I HEART Hoss!!!

Hoo boy! I sure do love that Hoss fella! Thanks for keeping this ol’ blog alive while my life has been wrapped up in other stuff.

The old laptop has had it. The lady who tried fixing it said she had never seen a laptop that had all of its letters worn completely off. She also said that the fan had been burning out for some time, and because I didn’t take it in sooner, most of the main components were fried. So it goes, right? I have a backup disk of everything except the last couple of months. Technically, I suppose it could be much worse.

My new laptop, which I was given by Mr. Lane as an Easter surprise, is taking some getting used to. I wish I had more time to play with it. This thing came with Windows Vista, which blows major donkey balls. Avoid it if you can! It is so slow! And it asks you every time you fart, “Are you sure you want to do that right now?” No, I’d rather hold it in until I explode you stupid ass. Ugh! Vista = Shit.

Have I mentioned how much I missed you guys? Holy shit, people, life has been so busy. I took the nursing home job mainly because I wanted to surprise my old man. I was hoping to work there for the couple of months that they needed me, stash away all of the money, until I had enough to get a garage built for him. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how my old man loves to hideout in his garage. But since we moved into our house, the poor guy has been stuck with me. There’s plenty of land to put one up, there just wasn’t enough dough.

He is gone Monday through Friday, so he wouldn’t even know I was gone. Tricking him would have been easy, had our kids big mouths not gotten in the way. As Spring Break came along, one of the kids sang about my job. He/she said something to the effect of, “Where are we going to go with both of you gone?” So much for my surprise.

He said he was thankful but would rather use the money to finish the kitchen. He has big plans for the kitchen, which sound great but I know how happy he would be with a garage. Ah, hell, what can you do, right? Before I can show you the progress with the ceiling, which looks fan-fucking-tastic. I have to install my camera software and a few other things. But I promise, I will get to it… one day.

Back to the nursing home, holy shit you guys, someone needs to write a sitcom staring senior citizens. They really do and say and do some of the funniest shit ever! I will be getting to those stories soon. For now, thanks to Mr. Lane, I can finally check my e-mail, blog and comments. Yay!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Angie, Help Me Out Here

Let's say you show up at the airport with only minutes to spare. You do not have time to spend 2 hours in line. So you dress like this, they wave you right past Homeland Security onto the plane, and -- boom! -- you're in Holland.

I know, I know: You didn't want to go to Holland, but that's the only place where dress like this will be ignored. At least you didn't have to wait long.

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Lois Lane seems to have turned up missing (I love that turn of phrase), so I thought I would duck in here and cause a little mischief. For instance, I spent some time feeling around in Glumbert's pants, and so should you.

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Personally, I think Lois's sister, Angie, could be of help. What say, Angie, you got a b**g or two on you? We could take turns until Lois gets tired of getting beaten up by old people.

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I read a story today about "a man shot in the cul-de-sac..." Very interesting. I got shot in the alley once.

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Al Gore is a big buddy of mine. You know Al -- he's the one going save us from being cooked like a egg on the sidewalk. He is having a hard time getting anybody to do anything about global warning. So I am gonna help him out. I am recruiting a Mafia guy to go over to India and kill all those cows. Believe it or not, 4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions comes from cow farts.

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A man appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. "Have you ever done anything of particular merit?" St. Pete asks.

"Well, I can think of one thing," the man offered. "Once on a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off! Or I'll kick the shit out of all of you!'"

St. Peter was impressed, and asked, "When did this happen?"

"Just a couple of minutes ago...."