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Health inspiration Islands Observations People Philosophy Think Travel Work

Dream Big Or Go Home.

You wanna know how to get through the hard times? Take a minute or two– or an hour or two, however long it takes– and daydream about what it’s going to be like when you reach your goals, when you don’t feel shitty anymore, when your life is what you want it to be. Give yourself something to look forward to, and it’ll be easy to get the motivation to keep going forward, get your shit together and move on.

It works for me, anyway.

Dream big. Believe that you can achieve that dream. Prioritize your life around getting there, and you will. And when you get there, come up with a new dream. Inspiration is everything.

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Faraway Places Health Islands Nature Observations People Philosophy Think Travel Uncategorized

Musings on Time and Gratitude

This morning I woke up around six a.m. to use the bathroom and when I opened the fridge to grab a drink of juice (which I expected to be warm), I was pleasantly surprised to see the light on in the fridge, indicating that power had been restored to Vieques. In all honesty, I had no expectation that we’d have power back so soon, as I had no confirmation of what the source of the outage was. Rumor had it last night that there was no power on parts of the main island, that perhaps the outage had to do with the solar storm and resulting earthquakes– in my mind, we could have been without power for days. I was prepared for it. At least we still had running water, a house, and a gate around that house to protect us.

Turns out it was simply corroded wires, and the power was restored by morning, which, given my expectations, was a treat.

If there is one thing that I love about Vieques more than anything else, it’s that it makes me appreciate the small things in life. The simple necessities. It makes me grateful for the things that we take so much for granted at home. Running water. Locking doors. Privacy. Electricity. After camping for ten days, those things seem like a luxury, and every day I’m grateful for them.

And without all of the trappings of home –TV, internet, movie theaters, scads and scads of retail outlets vying for every last dime in your wallet– I find I appreciate the natural world around me more here than I do at home. Not that I don’t appreciate nature at home, but without anything else to do, there is really no choice here most days but to go to the beach, take pictures, go for a hike, or kayak, or paddleboard, or hop aboard a friend’s boat. On Vieques, there’s plenty of time to do all those things we keep telling ourselves we don’t have time for at home. The truth is, we have time for them all at home, but we fill up that time with unnecessary activities, most of which involve earning or spending money. It’s refreshing not to have the option of filling up my schedule with bullshit. I’ve been to the beach every day this week, and I DO have a job. My rent is $200 a month, and although the place is not a palace, it’s enough. It’s all I really need.

The other huge benefit to living without all the unnecessary extras we call “normal” at home is that I have plenty of time to think, to reflect, to write, to read, and to daydream. I think we Americans have trained ourselves to think these are the unnecessary extras, when the truth is quite the opposite. If we spend all of our time working in order to pay for all the things that we really don’t NEED, we don’t have time to live. To be. To relax. To think. To be happy, and REALIZE that we are happy. Our priorities are all messed up.

In the perpetual quest for material wealth that is contemporary American society, we have lost sight of what is really important: the quest for happiness. We all know, on a surface level, that money can’t buy happiness. But then why do we keep trying to fill whatever empty place exists in us with material things? Why do we get ourselves into crippling debt buying toys and clothes and fancy home furnishings and zippy cars? Wouldn’t being debt-free be more satisfying than having all those things at such a steep price? Because the price is not just the debt, and the stress of the debt, but the TIME spent trying to pay off the debts; time that we should be spending with our friends and loved ones, enjoying nature, making art, cooking and eating, listening to music, relaxing, and doing the things that will ACTUALLY make us happy.

Time is the most valuable resource we have, and we waste far too much of it. We waste it on working to pay for things we don’t actually need. We waste it on anger, stress, resentment and guilt. We waste it on pointless activities like video games, television and facebook. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not simply proselytizing–I’m just as guilty as anyone else. But I’m trying to shift the balance of how I spend my time and money, because as I’ve learned here on Vieques, I’m a hell of a lot happier when I’ve got less money, less trappings and all the time I want to sit in the hammock and read my book. Or to sit here, at half past noon on a Wednesday, and write to you.

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Blather Fashion Health Making Fun Of People Observations People Pointless Narcissism Pop Culture Rant

On The Corpulence Of Santa Claus and Other Social Problems

My friend Mike, a close friend of my dad’s who later became a close friend of mine, looks like a member of ZZ Top. He’s got a long white beard and a long white ponytail and he rides a Harley. He’s a Harley mechanic, actually.

Due to his natural resemblance to the Jolly One, Mike’s been playing Santa Claus at his church for the past few years. This year, he was asked to ride a motorcycle dressed as Santa for the local Harley Riders chapter’s annual Toys For Tots run–a look that was perfected by the Santa hat sewn on outside his helmet and the dark black ZZ-esque shades he wore. There was a photographer on the run with us, and he took a picture of Santa Mike with a horde of bikes behind him that ended up on the front page of the Calendar section in the local newspaper (I was on the run with another friend, and although we were in the picture–my very bundled-up face and the side of my friend’s helmet–we were so teeny tiny you’d only know it was us if you’d been there). The people who organize the annual arrival of “Santa” on the ferry in Vineyard Haven happened to see the picture, and as their usual Santa had fallen very ill, they called up Mike to see if he’d be willing to do the job. We spoke on the phone several days later.

People are real weird about Santa nowadays, he said. You know in Australia, Santa’s not supposed to say “Ho Ho Ho” because it’s sexist, or degrading to hos, or something. So everyone who plays Santa in Australia is supposed to say “Ha Ha Ha” instead.

And now the Surgeon General says that Santa can’t be fat, Mike said. Apparently it’s misleading to children to present such a positive role model as being obese. So that’s the reason American kids are fat. I always thought it was the fact that there’s a fast food restaurant on every corner and a big screen TV with 500 channels in every living room in the country. Boy was I wrong.

First there were the worries about inappropriate touching (“Okay kiddo, I hope you’ve got good balance because I can’t put my hand on your back to hold you up, I might get arrested”). Then there was the trouble with Hos in Australia (“G’day, Little Dibbie. What’s that? You wunt a paony? Ha Ha Ha!”). Now, Santa’s not even allowed to be round. What’s next, PETA claiming that it’s unethical for Santa to use reindeer to drive his sleigh, or the American Association of Little People protesting the use of the term “elf”?

This is an imaginary character, people. An imaginary big fat man in a fuzzy white suit, who smokes a pipe (or at least he used to when I was a kid, I’m sure the pipe was nixed sometime in the 90s) and rides around the entire world in the span of 24 hours, managing to climb down the chimneys of 6 billion houses–a character sketch which completely explains why most people cease to believe he exists by the age of five. So what’s the big deal? Isn’t there something more important the Surgeon General could be worrying about?

Leave Santa alone, for fuck’s sake. And if someone is willing to put on a terrible, itchy, silly-looking suit for three hours and play pretend so that a bunch of kids can pee on him and yank his beard and spit in his face and walk away convinced that Christmas is something to look forward to, then damn it, leave that person alone, too. We’re raising such a cynical, superficial generation of kids that Santa Claus will probably be obsolete in ten years anyway.

Besides, a skinny Santa would be really, really creepy.

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Health War Wounds Work

Side Effects May Include Hallucinatory Itching

So I’m back to the Vicodin again. This time it’s my shoulder. Of course I have no idea what happened, as I’m prone to frequent mystery injuries, and this particular hurt, which I’m starting to think is a pinched nerve because my fingers keep hurting or going numb, could have come from pretty much anything I do on a regular basis (waitressing, bartending, sleeping screwed up in weird positions as though I’ve been dropped). It’s as though I’ve got the point of an arrow lodged in the center of my shoulder blade; when I move, the pain shoots down my arm. I tried to do the ‘child pose’ this morning in hopes to stretch something out, but when I stood up I could barely breathe due to the pain.

It feels like I’ve got a broken wing–but, then, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no angel.

And the cold–this October chill which I so dearly love, which occasions the digging out of beloved sweaters and the excessive consumption of tea–the cold is crippling me with tension. I just want to stand in a hot shower for hours, but the water eventually runs cold, and there I am again. The sun comes out on the porch for a few minutes and I bask in it, letting it heat up the back of my black sweatshirt, and for a few minutes, the pain subsides.

So it goes.

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Blather Health Making Fun Of People Pointless Narcissism War Wouns

In Which The Salt Girl Is Sucker-Punched By A Door

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, or even spent significant time in one, then you know that the swinging kitchen door may well be more dangerous than the ovens and stovetops. This is particularly true when the swinging door is being kicked open–which is most often the case, as stuff must be hauled in and out of kitchens frequently. What nincompoop decided that these heavy, often precariously hinged doors needed only a tiny porthole-sized window in them? And what of short people, or tall people, for whom the window is not at eye level?

So the long and short of it is that I have been assaulted by one of these doors, which was assisted significantly by a healthy kick from a coworker, and now I have a bit of a black eye. It’s not a total shiner–not really noticeable unless it’s mentioned–but it does look, when I raise my eyebrow, as though I’m wearing eggshell-purple eye shadow, which I would never do. Last night, there was a knot on the side of my brow bone (the point of impact, and, ahem, OW) that stuck out like a bone spur and made me look a bit like I had a baby horn growing, but thankfully, that disappeared in the night and was replaced with a plum-colored sensitive spot right at the crease of my eye which looks like I’ve badly applied a really awful shade of eyeliner.

But really, I don’t care how it looks. It’s fucking annoying. I keep rubbing my eye and accidentally inflicting sharp pains on myself, and it’s still swollen enough that I can see it in my peripheral vision, which is a bit invasive. It’s tight-feeling, and I want to close my eye, which is really not hoping in the quest to accomplish a truly epic amount of homework.

Someday perhaps I will make peace with inanimate objects, and they will stop violently attacking me, but this latest is evidence in my mind that it will not happen soon. Somebody’s not done laughing at me yet.

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Family Health Insomnia People Rant

The Bullheaded Tiger With The Indelible Stripes

There comes a time for most of us when the roles of parent and child are switched, and the children start caring for and watching after their parents. As I am an only child, I knew that this would happen to me–that eventually I’d be the person responsible for my father’s health and welfare. I just didn’t think it would be so soon, and–though I knew it would be hard–I didn’t expect that I’d have to sit by and watch while he made decisions that could put him in serious danger.

My father has end-stage liver disease, and is currently awaiting a transplant. He has been in and out of the hospital since March, and each time has been a terrible scare, because my father’s personal habits are negligent at best, and terribly dangerous at worst–he has had open wounds that have been in danger of becoming infected, and it seems that nothing short of a miracle has prevented an infection.

This past week, he was hospitalized and had surgery to repair the destroyed skin on his abdomen from where a buildup of abdominal fluid paired with an abdominal hernia caused the skin in his belly to rupture multiple times. This has been a gory and messy process, and painful. The surgery was successful, and he recovered from it well, and after a week of sitting prone in a hospital bed, the doctors were ready to release him to a rehabilitation facility today, where he’d have medicine monitoring, constant nursing, food provided, and most importantly physical therapy to help him regain the strength in his legs after having spent a week in bed. Surprisingly, my father agreed initially that a “nursing home” was where he needed to go–he felt that he’d be best cared for by professionals who could be completely vigilant and he’d be much safer than he would be at home, alone.

However, my father is a classic-case Type-A control freak, incapable of accepting the fact that anyone other than him is able to do anything correctly. He left his house last week expecting to go in for a daytime doctor’s visit and was gone for a week. During that week, he fretted constantly about his bills, his cat, the fact that his shop was unlocked, and numerous other minutiae. After he’d agreed to go to the rehab facility, he got it in his head that it was absolutely imperative that he go home for one night to “put things in order.” The things he needed to put in order, from what he told me, were all things that could be handled easily by other people, but every time his not going home was mentioned, he got upset and distraught, and insisted, “You don’t understand, I NEED to put my things in order!”

My father’s medical care is covered by MassHealth, and the rehab facility would have been as well, but if he were to go home for one day, the insurance would not cover his stay at the rehab–they will only cover it if a patient goes directly there from the hospital. He had worked up a plan in his head and become so attached to the idea that it was essential for him to go home, that when the social worker informed him his insurance would not cover the rehab if he went home, he decided to forgo the rehab, not the completely unnecessary visit home. The hospital, having no more reason to hold him there, had no choice but to release him, and I, after numerous appeals that he reconsider, had no choice but to accept his foolish and dangerous decision. When he noticed that I was not happy with his decision, he pleaded with me, “Why can’t you just be happy for me that I’m going home?”

The doctors and social workers are convinced that he’ll be back in the hospital within the week–which would not have been a danger had he gone to the rehab as planned. I will not be able to see him because he lives in the middle of goddamn nowhere, and therefore will not be able to ensure that he’s following the doctor’s orders and, most importantly, maintaining decent hygiene (which I absolutely KNOW he will not do). I suppose I can only hope that the visiting nurses will stress the importance of this to him, but then again, he’s notorious for not listening to anyone’s voice but his own.

I am at a loss. I’m responsible for the life and wellbeing of someone who’s still technically of sound mind, and therefore can legally make asshole decisions that could jeopardize his life. As his friend says, “You can’t wipe the stripes off of the tiger.” But I don’t want to see the tiger die from something that could have so easily been prevented. And I don’t want to go through another week like this one, where he’s cooped up in the hospital, connected to a zillion wires, miserable, and taking it all out on me. Rehab would have been a step forward–this is a giant leap backward. He says he’s fully committed to his recovery, and yet he’s consciously made a decision that puts that recovery in tremendous jeopardy.

I have nothing left in my arsenal. I’ve used everything I had, and I’ve got nothing.

I haven’t exhaled in weeks.

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Blather Family Friendship Health Insomnia Observations People Pointless Narcissism Work

The Score

20 Things That Are True–My Week In List Format.

1. The inside of a hospital does not, in fact, smell like “death.” It smells like lysol, bad food, vomit and poo–not mold, dirt and necrosis–therefore, it smells more like “infancy.”

2. Waiting for a donated organ is perhaps the only situation in which it’s actually a good thing to get sicker. Which my father is not doing.

3. Waiting for a donated organ while sitting in a hospital bed and being poked and prodded and forced to eat rubber english muffins is what I imagine purgatory to be like. Watching someone go through this process is only slightly less excruciating than experiencing it.

4. Sometimes the greatest help will come from someone you hadn’t thought to ask (thank you, David).

5. A good cheeseburger and a Guinness can heal a whole lotta hurt (thank you, Phil, David and Michael).

6. Saying “I love you” does not always work to cheer someone up, but it helps.

7. A catheter is a terrible, dangerous and frightening thing.

8. Sometimes the correct answer to “Why me?!” is “marijuana.” This is also an appropriate response to “What the fuck right now?” and “What the hell am I doing here?”

9. It is patently unfair of Mother Nature to suggest that there will be a thunderstorm and not deliver.

10. Cold showers are really, REALLY awful. Even in August.

11. An experienced nurse with a good sense of humor should be paid as much as a surgeon.

12. Pre-season football is a nothing but a reminder to fans of losing baseball teams that there really will be something to watch on ESPN in October.

13. A deafening rock show in a very small room is effective as a temporary cure for depression. This cure is significantly more effective when paired with cheap beer and good company.

14. Michael Vick should have his face bitten off. Someone should inform Mike Tyson that his services are needed, pronto.

15. The notion that the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about is an insidious fallacy.

16. I will never comprehend the inability of certain people to find a triangle which is attached to the pool table.

17. There is a very compassionate medical technician at Tufts New England Medical Center named Jewel, who should be given a hefty raise for saving my sanity at least twice. Someone else should arrange this because bureaucracy makes me want to mutilate strangers, and that development would be counter-productive to Jewel’s initial sanity-preservation.

18. If a store is named “Store 24,” it is not unreasonable to expect that said store be open 24 hours a day.

19. The only tolerable reason for having chapped lips is if you’ve been making out with someone. This is not why my lips are chapped.

20. My father’s Pneumonia, which I didn’t know he had until today, is apparently almost gone.

21. I am incredibly bad at stopping a list once I’ve started it.

22. There is an animal of unknown species and considerable size rooting around in my back yard.

23. I love the number 23.

24. It’s three in the morning, again, and I am going to bed.

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Blather Family Friendship Health People Pointless Narcissism Think

A Sad Little Group Of Buoys

I once described being motherless as “like a buoy cut loose and floating, directionless, belonging to no one.” This is, I suppose, the best way to describe the way I’ve been feeling lately. There is only so much stress and nervousness the body and mind can process before it goes, “Fuck it,” and you end up wearing a slack face and saying “uh-huh” a lot.

 I took a few days this week, as I did last week, to visit the Island Of Misfit Toys in hopes of raising my spirits, or at least relaxing a bit. And, as happened last week, I got a phone call from my dad the day after I got here, saying that he was being admitted to the hospital again. I suppose it’s the up-and-down that’s wearing me out; it seems the good days, the days where Dad says, “I feel better,” or “it’s been a nice day, the weather’s good,” are always followed by something not so good. I’m hoping that this surgery is the exception–I don’t know how much more up and down Dad can handle either.

 This time around on the Rock, a couple of my friends have been pretty depressed, too–and that’s hard for a number of reasons. You can’t expect a depressed person to cheer you up, and if you’re depressed, you can’t do much for them–so you end up as we did: a sad little group of slack-faced buoys, sitting stoned together in the same room and not talking much. It’s a little more comforting than being alone, I guess.

 I feel like every downswing has to have its upswing, and for the sake of my father, and my friends, and myself, I hope our upswing is coming. I also hope I cry soon, because I absolutely need it–and I actually found myself envious of my one friend, who says he’s been crying all week. A good, cathartic cry can go a long way.

 Really, I just want to see the happy twinkle in my Dad’s Santa Claus-blue eyes again. I miss the person he was not so long ago–the energetic, talkative, stubborn genius that I’ve known all my life. I know he misses that person too, and I hope we get him back real soon.

 I’m done blathering. I’ve run out of things to say. The muscles in my face are starting to atrophy from disuse. Oh, bother.

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Animals Health Insomnia Pointless Narcissism Rant

They Call Me “Sweet Feet.”

I have fifteen mosquito bites–on my feet. I was sitting on the porch, absent-mindedly smoking a cigarette and praying for thunder, when an army of miniscule insects apparently decided to feast on my foots. All at once. By the time I noticed the first itch, it was too late to go get socks, as both of my feet were already polka-dotted with little hideously itchy bumps. I’m going to have to fill my socks with Hydrocortizone before I go to bed if I want to get any sleep at all.

The up side is that if I ever need to torture someone, I’ve got a new and creative method to deploy…

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Blather Drinking Health Pointless Narcissism Rant

My Inner Alcoholic Speaks

When I get off the antibiotics, I’m going on a bender. Which will probably be about four beers, since my tolerance will have dropped to that of a seven year old. Enough of this, already. I want a sobriety chip. I’ve got thirteen days, give or take a single beer once or twice. That counts, right? Someone give me a fucking medal already. And a beer…