29 August 2006

My Big Smoke Vacation

Missed me? Probably not...I've been out of the country in the UK since 20 August, and have only just gotten home tonight. Let me give a brief account of the trip which will be followed in the next few days by more than you EVER wanted to hear, I'm sure. The trip was life changing...and I'm so glad I went.

Sunday, 20 August/ Monday, 21 August

Flew from Atlanta to London, landing at London-Gatwick at almost noon due to delays. Quickly found the British Airways desk to ask about a later flight to Edinburgh since I quite obviously would not make the 1:15 leaving from London Heathrow. Was given a "Compassion Fare" for the low low price of $160 USD and took the bus from LGR to LHW to fly to Scotland. Made LHW in plenty of time because my flight wasn't even given a gate until literally 10 minutes before boarding.

Arrived in Scotland quite tired and feeling icky around 6pm. Was collected at the airport by Ben (friend of the brother in law) after nearly becoming homicidal over the bus maps and lack of sleep. Popped by the B&B for a quick shower and then dashed out again to join a ghost tour of Edinburgh. Finished the tour, had a lovely fish and chips dinner and returned to the B&B to sleep like the dead.

Somewhere on Monday spoke to sister and was told that the other half of the money I'd brought to the UK was not in my suitcase as I'd thought. Had thought myself quite clever for putting half my money in my wallet and MEANING TO put the other half in the suitcase to go with my sister and her husband to the house so that I wasn't walking around with 300 GBP in my pocket to get stolen. At least it was safe...back in Georgia at their house...

Tuesday, 22 August

Hopped a bus to Rosslyn to see Rosslyn Chapel (any DaVinci Code fans?). Toured Rosslyn and waited for Ben to decide on what to purchase from the gift shop. Hopped a bus back to Edinburgh, retrieved luggage from the B&B and hopped yet another bus to the airport to catch our flight to London. We literally ran through the airport and were the last two heineys in the seats before the plane took off.

Landed in London. Before we'd left Rosslyn I'd spoken to my sister and learned we had tickets to see Les Mis for BIL's birthday. Figured out the train tickets from LHR to Paddington station, then got hopelessly lost. Learned that the Tube map looks rather like crayola spaghetti when one is as tired as I was. Rung my friend Liz who lives in London for help navigating to our guest house, but looked at the time and realized we hadn't left enough time to drop of luggage before the show started. Met my sister and BIL at the Tube stop, then headed for the Queen's Theatre.

Arrived back at the guest house around midnight. Promptly fell into restorative coma on the sofa.

Wednesday, 23 August

Up and out the door quite early to catch the train to Salisbury was the plan. In reality, we arrived at Salisbury around 11am, and all had dinner plans that night. Saw Stonehenge and had a lovely lunch in the rain before riding the bus back to the train and the train back to London. Split up for dinner, with me going to me an old college friend for a lovely evening of girl talk and some WONDERFUL cider.

Three pints of cider down and my "family" has still not called to let us know how they will collect me when done with their dinner. Am quite fuzzy headed and not particularly caring, until both Liz and I realize that there is such a thing as a last train to Dovetail (the guest house where I was staying in Lewisham) and we needed to get my fuzzy self on it.

Got myself from Canary Wharf (dinner) to London Bridge station and once again became hopelessly lost. Panicked for a few minutes about being lost in a foreign country. Found a very nice gentleman that worked for that Tube station who pointed me in the direction of the train (the sign that read National Rail This Way was literally right behind my head.)

Caught the very last train to Lewisham, walked the ten minutes from the train to the house, and again resumed restorative coma position on sofa.

Thursday, 24 August

Actually got up on time and by 9am were all on the train for Canterbury. Toured Canterbury Cathedral, was properly and reverently awed and amazed. Paused at 1pm with the rest of the country (according to signs we saw all over Britain) to pray for peace in the Middle East...quite moving, and for me to say that is quite amazing in and of itself.

Left Canterbury after popping into a small shop for a beef and veg pasty and cup of tea. BIL suggested catching the train to Dover and then going on to Brighton. Somewhere just before Dover, BIL suggested that we actually have dinner in Calais rather than in Dover. Where is Calias, you might ask?


Took the ferry across the channel to Calais. Reactivated my two-years dormant vertigo problem, but the good conversation and comfy chair I had on the way back seemed to keep it at bay. Ate dinner actually in the ferry terminal because we didn't really have time to go anywhere and still make the last ferry back to England. Giggled a lot at my BIL's attempts at French and our new stamps in our passports.

Made it back to Dover and took the shuttle to the train station for the long ride back to London, then to Lewisham. Wobbled down the streets to Dovetail house. Rinse Repeat Coma.

Friday, 25 August

Did not get up on time. Took the train to the tube to Greenwich. Saw the Queen's Residence (?), the chapel and the Painted Hall. Saw the Cutty Sark but decided not to tour it...you can pretty much see all of it for free from outside. Went to the observatory...holy stairmaster, Batman, that thing is perched on the top of a hill. Lost a few pounds and an inch of tread off my shoes on the way up. Left Greenwich to go to British Library for an exhibit my sister wanted to see.

Saw lots of interesting old manuscripts there including something written by Elizabeth I, some handwritten early Beatles lyrics, and several copies of the Magna Carta. Decided to go to Temple Church (again, DaVinci Code?) because Ben wanted to see it. Argued about the proximity of the church to the Library. Unbeknownst to party, Brother in Law knew it was faaaaaaar away but decided to let us walk it because Ben thought it was close.

Two hours later arrived at Temple Church to find it closed for renovations. Had minor meltdown and all four of us melted into the concrete for a few moments. Had planned to hit Tate Britian so I could see a painting by my favourite painter, Waterhouse, that was on display but didn't have time after failed journey to Temple Church. Instead headed for Hyde Park to try to find fountains from the fight scene in Bridget Jones.

Walked for several million miles through Hyde Park. Found the fountains. Brother in Law and Ben too stubborn and tired to fake fight scene for my sister to take pictures. Strolled on through Hyde Park until Ben collapsed to sleep under a tree while Brother in Law, Susan, and I discussed dinner plans. Decided to head downtown and look for something. Found trendy Italian place. Ate until we almost passed out. Hit internet cafe across the street and then headed to Dovetail house.


Saturday, 26 August

London again. Got a late start. Toured Southwark Cathedral, then headed to the Tower area for me to get a gift for a friend and for Ben to see All Hallows Church which contained an archway built in the 600's AD. Toured the church and met up with the Verger who was called Terry...and chatted with him for over an hour. Learned the origins of things such as Brits calling the toilet the "loo" and what it means to "knock someone up round morning" and "keep your pecker up" (it's the same as keep your chin up, apparently). He was fascinating, though a bit lonely it seems for as long as he talked to us.

Left All Hallows and headed for Covent Garden I think for lunch. Might have done that on Friday. Coma no longer restorative, therefore mind muddled. Had lunch and then split up for me and Brother in Law to go to the Tate Britain and Susan and Ben to go tour St. Paul's Cathedral. Saw my painting, recovered from the puddle of goo I became when I did, and moved on to Big Ben/Parliament where we were to meet Ben and Susan. Hopped the Tube and a bus out to Wimbeldon Stadium to catch the greyhound races. Nearly cried over missing my babes when I got to meet Champy and Daisy, two retired hounds that were part of a meet and greet at the track. Caught the bus and then train back and again tried for the coma.

Sunday, 27 August

Attended service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Am not Anglican/Episcopalian so it was interesting and different. Left St. Paul's bound for Hampsted Heath, a natural area that was home to many authors including C.S. Lewis. Hiked a bit and then took a lovely nap in the grass at the crest of a hill.

Returned to the house via another train station to pick up my rail pass for the airport for Monday morning. Brother in Law talked a guard into letting us into the currently closed King's Cross Station to get a picture of me at Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter anyone?). Tidied up the house and got to bed rather early.

Monday, 28 August

Finished cleaning the house and headed to the train that would take us to the airport. Arrived at Gatwick, got Ben headed toward the buses that would take him to Wales (he's still there till Thursday) and found our gate. Susan and I had breakfast in a pub in the airport, then we caught our NINE HOUR FLIGHT back to the states.

Cheers and Thanks to my beautiful sister Susan and her wonderful husband Dave for making it possible for me to go with them on this trip and showing me such a fantastic time in the Big Smoke, London. Have passport, will travel, when can we go back?

13 August 2006

An Awesome Birthday Present from Daisy

She won her race yesterday on her birthday! I think that moves her up to grade B!!!
TENTH RACE Grade C 5-16 Mile Track F Time 31.26
Fth Oopsie Daisy 64½ 1 2 2 2 11 31.26 19.00 Caught A Fader,Insd
Jnb Miss Lucky 57 5 3 4 3 21 31.32 1.50 Rushed Up Outside
Se's Sweet Abby 61 6 1 11 12 31½ 31.36 .60 Set Pace,Just Showed
Kiowa Kim Katie 61½ 8 4 6 6 44½ 31.58 6.40 Bumped 1st,Str Gain
Hkf Kendra 60 3 6 5 5 55 31.61 45.00 Evenly After Break
Sauterne 72½ 4 5 3 4 65½ 31.66 27.80 Shutoff Far Turn
Saved Message 63½ 7 8 8 8 76½ 31.71 4.30 Back Early,Wide
Wr Branch 57½ 2 7 7 7 87½ 31.80 3.10 No Factor,Midtrack

Jessica Michaud Ken’s Red F, August 2004, Cm Stormy—Lady Leelo
1 Fth Oopsie Daisy 40.00 5.00 5.20 Twin Trifecta 1-5-6 $167.80
5 Jnb Miss Lucky 17.60 6.80
6 Se’s Sweet Abby 11.80

12 August 2006

Two Years...

Daisy on her Birthday
Mornin' Daisy!
She tried really hard anyway...

Happy Birthday, beautiful girl. I love you, and am so very proud of you. Keep on tearing it up...you have the heart and spirit of a winner.

10 August 2006

Love, Greyhound Style

I love my furry family.

(Clicking on the title above will let you download and see the latest "ZooFilms" production, simply titled "love.")

09 August 2006

Checklist for Procrastination

1. Sew the patch on Kim's shirt.
2. Mail the shirt with the patch and the shirt from Mountain Hounds to Kim.
3. Mail a copy of Blind Faith to Suzie.
4. Pick up leg quarters at Publix for the dogs.
5. Pick up toys off the guest room floor left by the dogs.
6. Pack for my mad overnight crazy trip to Montgomery tomorrow.
7. Pack for my awesome wonderful trip to the UK coming up in a week and a half.

Holy Smack, a week and a half.

8. Pack my house up to move to Montgomery.
9. Take lots of naps.
10. Return the Frontline plus for dogs up to 22lbs to the vet in exchange for the 50-100lbs variety...or for 11 more tubes because one of those might cover one of my dogs' legs.
11. Pick up the third interceptor tablet from the vet that they didn't put in the bag yesterday.
12. Take Franny and Hunky to the vet on Saturday after the mad overnight crazy trip to Montgomery is over.
13. Pray really hard that Franny will come back home with me from the vet on Saturday.
14. Breathe, and then take more naps.


08 August 2006

Song for the Day

Faith, by Shawn Mullins
(off the album 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor)
Pain, come no more
Don't you come knockin' on my door
Love, dry your tears
You have lived a life way beyond your years

And faith, when you're gone
All my demons and my devils
they do me wrong
And faith, let your light shine through
Let a ray of hope surround me
Just don't think I can make it without you

Hey faith, don't let me down
Let me know when I come back
she'll be around
'Cause I've been burned, a time or two
If she left me Lord, I don't know what I'd do

And faith, when you're gone
All my demons and my devils
they do me oh so wrong
And faith, let your light shine through
You let a ray of hope surround me
Just don't think I can make it without you

In the morning you know
I wake up with the dawn
Everyday, there's a way
You know I got to carry on
To know the way
and take the road of right and wrong
And keep faith in my heart
Just keep faith in your heart

Pain, come no more
Don't you come knockin' on my door
Love, please be strong
Cause I need the peace of mind
to carry on
And faith, when you're gone
All my devils, all my demons
You know, the do me wrong
And faith, you let your light shine true
You let a ray of hope surround me
You came back home and found me
Searching for the love I never knew

To learn more about Shawn Mullins, click on the title.

04 August 2006

Observations at Work Today

I have learned that an Arby's Beef and Cheddar is a dangerous thing to eat. It can put you into a coma before you realize you're even drowsy. Then, the phone will ring and you will jump out of your chair, wide awake and trying to answer the mouse because it is close to your pager...which is obviously not what needed to be answered because SOMETHING is still RINGING.

I have learned that Hershey's "Kissables" look just enough like board game pieces to be slightly disturbing. I don't know whether to eat them or pass go and collect $200.

I have learned what it must be like for those that depend on glasses for more than just reading the computer screen. When the screeching phone pulled me out of my Arbys-Coma, I realized for a frightening moment that I couldn't make my eyes focus, hence the trying to answer the mouse rather than my pager...I fell asleep with my reading glasses on like the little old lady I am.

Passive Aggressive Workplace Vengeance...Almost

Allegedly (pending successful progress with the Alabama Licensing Board for Interpreters and Transliterators) I will be leaving the SC DMH at the end of this month. As is the unfortunate (in my perspective, anyway) custom in Deaf Services, there is a "farewell" party thrown for people that leave us at the monthly statewide meeting called Deafnet (unless the person really doesn't want one or leaves on bad terms).

Why do I say unfortunate? Because I HATE HATE HATE events that call attention to me like that. Ask anyone that was unlucky enough to be near me when I was planning my wedding...they got a lot of "I don't knows" and "whatever you wants" as answers to their questions because I was so incredibly uncomfortable at the THOUGHT of all these people coming to one place just for me (well, and Scott too but you see my point) that I couldn't think. I blocked out most of the wedding but I remember clearly wanting to fly away at the end of the reception but still being concerned that everyone there was still having a good time, that everything would get cleaned up and put away, etc etc etc. I was so worn out from the stress of that experience that for the first several hours of my honeymoon I did nothing but cry.

Man, if that wasn't a clear indicator I don't know what is...but I digress...

Sooo if I can reign in my ADD brain a bit...The dreaded Farewell Party For Nancy has been planned for the August DeafNet meeting. Our administrative assistant, Shannon, asked me at the beginning of the week if I was scheduled to work the Friday before I leave for Britain. You might as well have asked me what the square root of an imaginary number is. "Ummm I don't know, did I request to be off?" was my answer. No response from her.

Yesterday at lunch with our psychiatrist Jill, my supervisor Tressy, Shannon, and our new children's counselor Dana, I was asked the same question. I again referred them to my leave slip. Tressy then told me that I was working that day and that I was to make sure I came to DeafNet. The point was still bouncing off my pointed little head. See, I don't go to DeafNet usually...it is more a staffing for the clinical personnel and quite honestly there is a LOT of clinical information that I don't want to know for fear that it might skew my interpretation.

But suddenly one of those thoughts that was skipping around my head like it was a maypole found purchase. "Oh no, you guys aren't thinking of something for me because I'm leaving?" Knowing smiles and nods all around. Tressy reminded me that my supervisor had told me to attend. I was trapped.

Let me stress again how much I hate anything that puts me at the center of attention like that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like having the floor just as much as anyone else does, but then I'm happy to give it to someone else. I'm totally not cool with thinking that someone has gone out of his or her way for me, it's just how I'm wired.

About 4pm I was sure that I had gotten my revenge. They said at lunch that my punishment for leaving was that I have to attend this DeafNet thing. Fine.

Holly (regional coordinator for the Columbia area, tends to plan DeafNet because she's central): Where would you like to eat for DeafNet on the 18th? What's your favorite kind of food?

Me (twisting my moustache evilly): My favorite? Sushi. Ha HA, thought I, no one likes sushi but me!!! I will have my revenge because THEY will have to decide where to eat rather than making me subject others to what I want for lunch!! Take THAT!

(and NO, I don't really have an evil moustache...)

(I don't have a friendly nor benign moustache either, thank you.)

Holly: GREAT! There is a wonderful sushi place in Columbia!! They even have cooked food for the non sushi eaters!

Me (after scraping my last shred of comfort off the underside of the cosmic sneaker): Great. Sounds like a plan.

What did I learn from this? Four things:
*Don't tell anyone you're leaving till you turn in your notice.
*Not everyone hates sushi.
*Farewell parties are as much for closure for those left behind as they are send offs for those leaving.
*I work with some of the best folks in the world.

A Most Convenient Truth

Shamelessly stolen from the sig line of a friend's email...
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
- C.S. Lewis
I thought of this today as I caught myself again doing something I've blogged about before...compartmentalizing. Today was different though, I was actually verbalizing, opening up another virtual drawer in the file cabinet of my psyche and ordering the ugliness in...only to slam the drawer shut behind it.

I left work this afternoon and the reality of the next few months of my life slapped me about the head and shoulders as I drove out of the parking lot. When my eyes teared and driving became a slight hazard, I started the compartmentalizing that is so a part of me now...but today I paid attention.

Step one: find a peppy song on the CD that you're listening to currently. Since I had my RENT soundtrack in the player, I found "Living in America" which is one of my favorites.
Step two: Start the self talk audiotape in my head to distract me from the pain.(this is the point at which I caught myself verbalizing...) "It's not so bad. You don't really know that many people here. You need to get out of South Carolina. They are just co-workers. You'll make new friends. You'll have a new life. It will be better there...etc etc etc etc."
Step three: convince yourself that whatever it is that hurts doesn't. Repeat as necessary until the offensive thing/person/event/memory/etc that is the source of the trauma is as insignificant in your mind as next week's grocery list.

I was actually riding along saying out loud "It doesn't hurt." Literally. But it does. Just like every other bad experience in my life that I've tried to compartmentalize to avoid a backdraft of emotion, it hurts. I do have friends here. I have a routine. I have a life here.

LORDY I just did it again. Teared up and then forced myself to pay attention to my typing ("dang, I need a new keyboard, this one is loud") so that I wouldn't cry...wouldn't hurt. I think I've been doing this all my life. I did it when we moved every four years when I was a child. I did this when my last grandparent died right around the time of my 13th birthday. I did this when I had to leave the people that had become important to me at Young Harris or Maryville or Camp Glisson or even Commerce High School. I did this when my childhood dog Buffy died and again when my Lizzard died last summer.

The concern now is what happens when this process fails? Will the dam break and drown me in left over crap that I really should have dealt with years ago? Or, more likely...will it have changed, "in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless," into nothing but dust?

I think maybe it's time to open the file cabinet and see.
"That drip of hurt...that pint of shame...goes away, just play the game..." -J. Larson, RENT

Music Monday: Getting in a proper frame of mind...

All I can say about this video is that this is one of the best scenes from one of my favorite movies, and it positively drips with high sc...