Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Here we go again...

So, a couple or three years ago my sister and I were having one of our daily one hour phone conversations.  Frequently we would chat about Mother - one of the only things we actually had in common.  I remember we were saying that it was very hard to call Mother when we had a problem - she's one of those people who doesn't consider the feelings of others.  Even her own children.  It's always been this way.*

I remember saying "Unless it's about her garden or chickens, she's not really interested".  My sister agreed, and at the time I thought that we had an understanding that our conversations were strictly between us, not to be shared.  We had agreed upon that, in fact.

Well, I was wrong. 
 The next time she spoke to our mother she said something to the effect of "Gina doesn't want to hear about your gardens or chickens anymore".  Wasn't that a clever translation?  I'm sure that in her mind, it made her the good daughter, just for a little while.

My sister will always feel like she got the short end of the stick.  Born 14 months after me, she was another accidental surprise, and not being born a boy, she was a disappointment to my father, who had wanted a son.   She was a somewhat sickly child, suffering from extreme allergies and asthma, and was always very emotionally sensitive. It's just how she is wired.  My mother was a cold mother - not one to hug or say I Love You.  They were just things she did not do, until I had nearly grown kids of my own.

None of that is really OK, it's just how it was.  Is.  And I cannot in any way, change that for my sister.  She chose to run away from home at 15, have a baby at 17 that she gave up for adoption, become involved with all the wrong men, enlist then get discharged from the Army, and marry four times.  Four.  Every day is Opposite Day for Melissa.  She never met a piece of bad advice she didn't like...

So, to say she has had some missteps and made some bad choices in life would be an understatement.  And yet, as my sister, I love her and so wanted to have a friendship with her.  As children, we were close enough in age for people to think we were twins.  We did everything together - playing, eating, bathing, sharing a room, walking home from school...  Probably that is more nostalgic to me than to her.  And yet, I always wanted to help - and I think my intentions were misguided.  You cannot make someone's life better by giving them advice and offering help they do not want.  Lesson learned.  Only took me 55 years.

I really, stupidly, thought that, as adults, we could move past the "past" and find some common ground.  My kids and her daughter attended the same schools.  We saw each other at holidays and exchanged gifts, We know a lot of the same people.  We lived in the same zip code, shopped at the same stores, are both in the medical field.  We laugh at some of the same silly things. 
Really, Gina?  You thought all that would be enough to change things?
All it did was reinforce for her the differences.  And to fight back, she waged a very sneaky campaign using my mother.

Exactly when the relationship all went to hell in a handbag is a mystery to me.  I missed the slow burn of her anger and jealousy, but it did eventually cause us to part ways.  And in a phone conversation every now and then, my mother will avow that I said or did something that I did not, and I will think, "Oh.  Melissa".  At it again.  Or maybe its just that, my mother doesn't forgive and forget any better than I do.  And she believes what Melissa tells that "Gina said".

And so when it comes up between my mother and me, (like it did last week),  I always feel blind-sided.  And no matter what I say, she will not let go of that nugget of misinformation.  Because she wants to believe that Melissa loves both of us and is being honest... I chalk it up to her being elderly and set in her ways, not to mention emotionally naive .  *But I also believe that my mother is autistic.  And I don't feel right about holding a grudge against my mother - she's a much a victim of my sister as I am.  And she's the only mother I have.

It reaffirms what I have chosen to do for the past few months.  I might miss my sister - but what I really miss is something I never really had.  I know that we cannot have that - now, or in the near future.  Sometimes you don't get closure from a toxic relationship, especially if it's a family member. 
It doesn't mean I won't hold on to a tiny glimmer of hope for a future conversation with her.  But I am letting it go for now, and all of the associated anger, too.  And who knows if it will ever be repaired.  
My best guess is no.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Channeling my inner sociopath

I've never been one of those people who are the life of the party.  I can make friends and I am certainly sentimental about quite a few, some of whom I'm not related to, but I was never considered "popular" and I am 100% OK with that.  Most days, I feel like I do a passable job with being sociable and friendly.  I try to look people in the eye and smile, but a lot of times I don't feel like taking that a step further.  Truth be told, it's not my goal to be everyone's friend.  I'm often struck by how friendly my mother can be to complete strangers.  I don't ever remember her being that way when we were all growing up.  Most days she would lament about running away from us all, or wishing she were in Spain. I'm starting to see the value in both of those things as I get older...

I love my family, don't take that the wrong way...
But I love to spend time alone, I really do.  I find myself to be adequate company.  I can sit quietly and work on things that are meaningful to me, without hearing the roar of the TV or music in the background, or the sound of the alarm system beeping every time someone goes in or out of the house.  It's even more delightful if I leave my hearing aids out for the day.  Rainy day + no one home = wonderful.  I don't even necessarily think that's weird or wrong.  I think everyone needs a day like that now and again.  Maybe it helps you appreciate people in your life even more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I have always loved jewelry.  Pretty shiny things really speak to me, I guess!  Maybe it's because of how they feel, or rather how they make me feel.  One of my earliest memories of jewelry was of having a pretty birthstone ring - maybe I was around four or five.  I took it off to admire in the bathtub.  Oops.  I watched it drop down the drain never to be seen again. That was the first of many rings lost, including my mother's wedding band from my father, and 2 high school graduation rings.  Not to mention necklaces...and many, many earrings!

I've lost plenty of bracelets, too over the years - a sterling charm bracelet with enameled black cat charm that my mother gave me for Christmas when I was about 13.  A 14KT gold bracelet with multicolored jade and semi-precious stones linked by the Chinese symbol for lucky (ironic, I know).  A sterling Greek key bracelet.  A bracelet of gold heart-shaped links. A couple of simple 14KT gold chain bracelets.  What is it with me and bracelets?!


But this one - I vow to never lose.  I guard it carefully and I have it cleaned regularly so they can check the links.  it's a James Avery charm bracelet with 12 charms so far.  Two more and I will have no more empty links!  Putting it together has been an exercise in sentimentality.

This is the only charm not from JA - a Tab trailer charm for Mabel.

Each one of these has meaning for me.  I purchased them with someone or something very specific in mind.  A Christmas tree for Grayson.  The state of Texas for Spencer.  A cat to commemorate Sugar.  A double heart for Chloe.  A bat for Dylan.  No baby shoes or tiny heads on this bracelet for me!  No engraving either.  A store of people and things purely remembered.

A heart within a heart, and an infinity charm for Mark and I together.  A sand dollar for Galveston, horned toad for Lubbock.  A snowflake and a butterfly remind me of friends and the changing of the seasons.  Just two more charms to choose, but no limit to nostalgia and memories and love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Venting about work events, Part Two

 And here continueth my delightful story:

A full TEN weeks after interviews for the Lead position, the boss pulls me aside for a meeting. {You're not in trouble, Gina...} Whereupon he:
1.  Talked at great length about how he thinks that he does not need a 4 year degree unless someone can show him the benefit of having something other than a piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall.  He doesn't feel the need to use 'big words' - he realizes that half his staff have 4 year degrees, but so what.

2.  Told me my communication skills needed help because I co-shouldered the blame for an exam  that went awry while I was OFF one day but knew about the day before.  I had emailed my co-worker and apologized for leaving her holding the bag, then stated what he wanted us to do in future.  His complaint was that I should have 'moved on' from the initial problem and only focused on the solution. 

3. Asked me where I saw myself in ten years, 5 years, 3..."what would you do, Gina, to sell yourself to Dallas Children's Hospital? I want people who want me to hire them be HUNGRY for it."

So here are my responses to all of the above:
     You know what?  Regarding my degree?  Fuck yourself.  I put myself through college with loans, VA benefits, part-time work, help from my single working mother, and scholarships.  I graduated with a decent GPA and I used that degree to help further me along in more than a couple areas of life.  I have earned the right to be proud of myself.   Because of my 'fancy high dollar' college degree I don't have a problem with the wording of information I pass on in emails or other communications.  And if vocabulary like "willingness" or "investigated" or "availability" in an email poses a problem for you, maybe you should get an education.

     Secondly,  I didn't apply for a position in Dallas, I applied for one here.  I'm fairly certain that Dallas came up in the convo because you had an applicant from there.  I don't need to sell myself to you as a professional because I AM one.  I don't have a problem with tardies or attendance, I keep my certifications and CEU's up to date, I have a good working relationship with the doctors, nurses, and other techs, I have served on several hospital committees, I mentor students, preceptor new employees, and in general, KNOW MY SHIT.  I don't come to work to make excuses or pick fights with people, behave rude or unprofessionally, nor dress like I just rolled out of bed.  I accept the blame for my mistakes, try to foster friendships with people I work with, don't take more time than alloted for lunch, and attend departmental meetings.  Why would you want me to beg for a job that I am already tasked with doing? So you can make a decision about whether or not to give the Dallas person a job?  Go ahead.  I will stay in my staff role and go on working hard with a clear conscience. I have worked above and beyond to help fill a hole in the schedule that YOU have allowed to widen as the weeks go by.  I have worked as a team player, pulling my weight as well as answering the phones and dealing with problems and issues.  I resent your attempt to undermine my confidence and spirit.  FOR WHAT? A dollar and a half extra per hour?  That is laughable.
No Thanks.

Gosh.  I feel so much better without that job hanging over my head.  And now, as my mother would say, I'm going to go on living my life.