Tag Archives: Anger

Declutter 2017: Letter from Julia

When I was going though a box of correspondence from my mom’s house I came across a small, folded note in an unmarked envelope. Now, my mom kept pretty much every piece of correspondence she received, so it was not unusual that she kept this, but it was a surprise to me and made me very uncomfortable because 1) I didn’t know anything about it and 2) it put me in a very bad light.

It took me a while to figure out that the note was from Julia. I thought, at first, that there was someone I’d been unkind to named Pat Knight who I’d completely forgotten, then I realized it was from Julia.

Readers of this blog may recall that I briefly had a roommate from England shortly after I moved out of my mom’s house and it ended badly. She was beautiful, blond, British and outgoing. At the time I felt much inferior to her, appearance-wise. We’d go to a bar and guys would be lining up to meet her. There were times guys seemed to want to get to know me because they wanted to get closer to her. To put it bluntly, I was envious of her looks and ease with men.

I actually looked forward to her returning to the States [1] as my roommate before she arrived; and I know we had some fun together. The part about me only allowing her to come back to the States because I owed it to my parents is not right — I may have said it, but that was easier to say than admit that I was jealous of her looks and accent and how guys acted around her. I also was not jealous of the relationship she was growing with my family [2].

I know I was difficult to live with, but at the time I felt as if I were the injured party. I paid the rent and she didn’t always have the cash for her part of the rent. I paid for her medical bills when she went to the doctor because she had no insurance. I did the housekeeping and did our laundry. I definitely resented her for a lot of things and I am sure it showed.

There were other things that I won’t mention here, but both of us were on shaky ground based on societal rules (and U. S. and state laws) of the time.

The part about the letter is probably true. I don’t remember writing it, but I hated how I was acting, I hated the jealousy I was feeling. I’d long felt that there was something wrong with me because I had such a short fuse and would explode at the slightest provocation.

For years afterwards friends and family members would ask me if I’d ever heard from her or knew where she was living. I didn’t until I got in touch with her brother, and then got in touch with her in 2010. This year we became friends on Facebook.

And as I told Julia in an email nearly 8 years ago — she’s why Dean and I are together. Dean and I dated a few times in 1979, but I wanted to date someone else. A year later Dean, who  was a client of the salon where Julia worked, had her for a hair washer. When he heard her talk he asked if she knew me. She said yes and that he should call me. He did and the rest is history.

Notes:
  1. She’d spent a few weeks with us during the summer, then returned to England to get a visa so she could stay longer []
  2. well, I say that now, but perhaps I was. I know I was jealous that my mom talked to Marcia about things that she would not talk to me about []

Stewing Away on the Back Burner

I know I should let it go. There’s nothing to be gained except a small satisfaction for me and perhaps my brother. My mom wants to just forget about it.

But I don’t want to let it go. I want an apology. A real apology, not an offhanded remark about “getting off on the wrong feet”.

And then there is the fact that perhaps there is nothing to apologize for. That we were hyper-sensitive and that any rational person would have let it slide. Perhaps we should have not gone to the funeral home the day Dad died, but waited until the next day. But we were ready for it to be over. We’d already spent 4 and a half days knowing that this was how it would probably turn out.

Here’s what happened. (I know I’ve mentioned this on Facebook and have told many friends about it — so feel free to ignore this post if you already are sick of hearing me talk about it).

In a nutshell, we believe that the young man who helped us plan my father’s funeral was rude to us in the initial moments of the planning process. I called him on it and he changed his attitude. Perhaps that is all that needed to be done. However this was not someone selling us a wrench at Ace Hardware. This was someone who was supposed to help us deal with the grief of losing a loved-one.

I stewed about this for about a month, then wrote a letter to the director (who was out of town when we used the services of his funeral home). I’ll post the letter (names removed) after the break.

When another month passed and I’d not heard back from the funeral home director, I sent him an email. I never got a response to the email.

I sort of figured that if he got the letter and the email and didn’t respond, it was not worth dealing with anymore. I’d gotten it off my chest and that is all that mattered. I nearly forgot about it until my mom callled me a few days ago and said that the funeral home director left a message on her answering machine. I asked her what he said and she said he wanted her to call him back but she was reluctant to do so. She thought she’d ramble on and make no sense. I said I’d send her a copy of the letter I’d sent him and then she’d know what was in it.

That evening I accessed Mom’s voice-mail account — we had it set up for that when she was here and I was curious to know what he said). Here is, verbatim, what the funeral director said:

Yes, [Mom’s Name],  this is [funeral home director’s name] of [name of funeral home]. I’ve been meaning to get ahold of you but I’ve…I’ve…it’s just been on my back burner and I really wanted to talk to you regarding a letter that Dona had sent me regarding the funeral services for your husband. I just wanted to kinda touch base with you and I had a couple of questions for you. So if you could, at your convenience, give me a call back [phone number] I’d appreciate it and I’d like to speak to you. Thank you.

The next evening I called my mom to see if she’d called the funeral home back. She hadn’t and pretty much said she didn’t want to and didn’t know what the big deal was. Maybe the person who helped us was young and inexperienced. She said it was part of the past and didn’t want to deal with it any more.

I can completely understand her point. After all, I was already done with it before she called to say they had called. But now I’m upset again. Upset that it took him 70 days to call. Just another, in my opinion, insult to us.

I may call him myself to tell him that Mom’s done with it and doesn’t want to reopen old wounds. I may tell him that I’m disappointed that it took so long for him to contact us. I may write a review on Yelp. Or I may just sweep it under the carpet and move on.

There are not too many other options for funeral homes in my home town. This family owns the two main ones and as Pastor Keith said on Facebook the other day, they’re the “biggest game in town”. I don’t know what we’ll do when we need funeral home services again — many many years from now of course.

Letter I wrote after the break.

Continue reading Stewing Away on the Back Burner

Dreams of Violence

Last night I dreamed I committed act of violence against a loved one in the past and this loved one kept goading me on until I wanted to be violent again. I awoke in the middle of the dream to use the bathroom and willed myself to not remember the dream, knowing it was going to bother me. I did remember the dream, and I immediately understood where it came from.

I’ve been simmering lately. I’ve been angry below the surface — not ready to explode, but angry-calm in a creepy sort of way. I’m not positive why I’ve been feeling this way — but I think it has to do with procrastination. I’d hoped that I was going to kick the habit of procrastinating after being back in Elgin where I couldn’t procrastinate or I’d never get out of there.

One of the things I’d been avoiding was calling my mom about putting me on the list of people the insurance company was allowed to talk to. I got a form from them, and assumed my mom got one too. We’d talked about it — that she would get one and would need to fill it out and send it back to the insurance company. I kidded myself thinking that my mom was going to follow through. I didn’t have the energy to call her and try to explain why she needed to fill it out, walk her through the form and have her send it into the insurance company.

Another thing I was avoiding also involved a call to Mom — to make sure she paid the nursing home bill and sent the invoice to the insurance company so they could finalize their decision whether or not to pay. If not, we’d be back at the beginning — scrambling to find a place for Dad.

So last night I got a call from my mom telling me she’d paid for a month of the nursing home bill but not all of it because she didn’t have the funds yet — some screw-up with an account her financial advisor was supposed to get to her by last week.  She’d had to use most of her liquid savings for the bill and needed a little in reserve for other bills. She didn’t know what to do next — what to send to the insurance company so they could send her a reimbursement.

I got angry. The slow simmer I’d been feeling boiled over and I was furious. Mom knew it — I know.  I told her that I’d have to call the insurance company to find out what she was supposed to send, knowing that my delay in getting permission to talk to them about this was going to be an issue with whomever I spoke to. Knowing that I should have called her last week to make sure she’d paid the nursing home and sent the invoice to the insurance company. So, I wasn’t mad at her — I was mad at me.

I did call the insurance company, then called mom back to tell her what to do and to ask if she’d gotten the form she needed to fill out authorizing me to be put on the list of people the company could talk to. She finally understood what she needed to do about the bill, but didn’t know what I was talking about regarding the authorization — even though we talked about this when she was here. She thought I should fill out the form I got and then send it to her to sign. I’m reluctant to do that because she needs to begin doing these things herself. The more I do, the less she’ll do and be dependent on others doing things for her. I don’t think it is too late for her to start learning these things.

I went to bed late, and since Dean wasn’t there (he was up late watching TV in the family room) read my current book group book. What a mistake that was. I’d been enjoying Little Bee for the laugh-out-loud parts where Little Bee discusses the language and cultural differences between Nigeria and England. Last night I got to the part where she told about what happened after the men took her and her sister to the overturned boat on the beach.  You know the phrase going cold with horror? I felt that last night as I read Little Bee’s account of the event. I went cold.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed I beat someone to a bloody pulp.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t procrastinate
  2. Don’t read about horrible things before bed
  3. Find ways to deal with the simmering kind of anger before it becomes a rolling boil.

Worst Evening Ever

First some background:

I earned a BS in Education and Special Education, specializing in what was then called Mild Mental Retardation (MMR). I took no classes in Learning Disabilities (LD) nor did I take any classes in Emotional Disabilities (ED). My first teaching job was at a special needs school for students with various learning difficulties including MMR and LD. When I was  hired for my second teaching  job, the administration didn’t consider so much at my degree, but at my “experience” and hired me to work with LD and ED students. The administration at my third job did the same and I worked with LD students. My fourth and final teaching position was to work with LD students. Except for the first teaching job, I awoke nearly every morning with the fear that that was the day I would be exposed for the fake that I was. I was sure I was going to be told I had no business teaching children with learning disabilities, having had no official training in that field.

So it was important to me that, when I embarked on a new career after grad school where I got a masters degree in educational technology, I did something I was trained to do. Unfortunately, because I lacked the experience I was not hired at the many places I applied to be an educational technologist. The one company that offered me a job did so, believe it or not, because I’d been a special education teacher. They wanted me to quickly learn all about a new law (Section 508) that was shortly coming into effect mandating, among other things, that all electronic media offered by the government was able to be accessed by the handicapped.

I did everything I could to learn everything there was to know about this law. I never again wanted to be afraid that I’d be found out to be a fraud. I also educated others. I brought back what I learned at meetings and gave presentations to people in my office, college classes and conferences. While I never loved giving presentations, and was always nervous before giving them, I didn’t hate it too much. The audiences were usually appreciative and well-mannered.

A couple of years ago I was asked to take a look at how to make PDF files accessible. I’d worked with them years ago, and declared them to be inaccessible and suggested that HTML be used instead or along with PDF files at all times. The government agency I was working with was insistent and wanted all PDFs to be made accessible. I needed the work and was up for a challenge so I scoured the Internet, asked authority figures, read books, posted questions on email lists and bulletin boards, and picked apart various PDF files to figure out what made them work and how to make them accessible. After a number of months I felt that I knew what I was doing. I was asked to show other folks how to do this so they could help me with the huge task ahead of us — remediating existing PDFs to make them accessible for a large government website.

I talked a few people through the process, but because the work came and went and because the people working with me were assigned more important work, I kept on having to train more people, only to lose them after a month or so. I decided to write down the process so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself. I did so in blog form.

About 6 months ago someone found my blog and asked if I’d help her learn more about this, and perhaps co-present at a meeting she was setting up for an organization she was in. I’d not given a presentation for over 5 years, but was so comfortable with the process agreed to do the presentation which went over pretty well. I felt exhilarated afterward, and glad I’d found a small area of expertise.

The same woman and I arranged to give the same presentation at an accessibility group in DC this past Tuesday evening. I was nervous, but felt more prepared than I’d felt at the earlier presentation. I felt like I knew my stuff. I also knew that there were people out there who knew more than I did in the field. There are always going to be people with more knowledge on a subject — I knew that, but figured that if someone was already well-versed in the subject they wouldn’t feel the need to go.  (Although, truth be told, I did expect to see one person there who I knew was an expert in this field, but judging from his online persona, was not too worried that he’d act superior or anything. He seemed like a likable fellow.*).

The night of the meeting I arrived a couple of minutes later than I expected to and found a rapidly filling room. My co-presenter had mentioned she’d be late arriving, so I set up my laptop, but because my part of the presentation came at the end, I didn’t begin talking, except to a few people around me.

Much of the audience was blind. or had low-vision. I’d discovered this a day or so earlier and was worried about how I’d explain the steps as I demoed them on screen, but figured I’d do okay. Other people in the audience were college students, government workers and a couple of people who’d been remediating and creating accessible PDFs for some time.

My co-presenter’s talk was a little different from the one she gave in January. I was happy to see she left out the 508 stuff, since the room was full of people who already knew what 508 was all about. Since she’d begun late, I was a little concerned that my presentation was going to be cut short. As her talk went on, I mentally cut out bits from my talk in order to fit it into the time we had left. Her slides kept coming, and then I was dismayed to see she was giving the first part of my presentation. As she got into the discussion of PDFs a couple of people questioned or corrected her on what she’d said. I figured that I’d touch on those topics when I gave my talk, and clarify some things. One woman in particular seemed bent on correcting what was being said, and my co-presenter was gracious and said she was glad that woman was there.

Oh, yeah. Then the guide dog started to fart.

Finally it was my turn. I was not sure where I was going to start, but showed my slides quickly — and mentioned that my co-presenter had already discussed this or that. I got into the meat of my talk (with about 20 minutes of time left — and announcements over the loud speaker that the library was closing) and the woman in back had things to say. She said I was completely mistaken in one thing I said — even though I demoed that I did it correctly, was not sure it was necessary. Someone had a valid question about something else and the woman in back said something like, “learn to use role maps”. The next time I looked she was standing up having a conversation with another PDF expert in the room.

By this time, I knew I’d lost my audience. They were tired and the woman in back had completely undermined any semblance of expertise I had. I said, Ok. I guess I’m done. Any questions? People popped up like jack-in-the box clowns. While I put my laptop away a few people crowded around my co-presenter. No one wanted to talk to me. Why should they? I was outed as a fraud.

I did go out to dinner with a group of people from the meeting, and did what any self-respecting adult child of an alcoholic would do. I ordered and drank two glasses of wine in quick succession.

*This person did come to the presentation but was not there for my part. He is a very nice person. I am sure he thinks I have no sense of humor because I was not getting the jokes he was telling — but I was basically a nervous wreck and my sense of humor is often the first to go when I’m feeling nervous.

My Mother, My Boss [Part 2 of My Mother Series]

It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I was able to understand my relationship with my mom.  I’m still not sure I understand it fully — and it might not be until my kids have kids that I do, but it is getting a little clearer as the years go by.

One of the hardest aspects of the relationship is that of authority figure. I’m pretty sure that, from a very young age, I rebelled against authority figures — except I was too shy to rebel in front of anyone other than my family, so most of that rebellion manifested itself into rage at home when I was not given my way or disciplined in anyway. I had temper tantrums and screaming fits. I once picked up a pile of newspapers and as I went to fling them on top of a brand new dining room table realized that something very heavy was among the papers. I flung them anyway and put a dent in that table that is there to this day.

My mom wasn’t all that strict. In fact she was pretty lenient. I was a “good” kid for the most part, except for the tantrums at home. There were times, however that she put her foot down — or at least made suggestions that made me uncomfortable. Like the time she thought I should talk to the popular kids that were in the same store as we were. Or the time that she suggested I stop by the office at school to see if anyone turned in my lost purse that held my retainer because I’d lost so many retainers we were going to have to pay for the next one. I remember the feeling I had about those experiences. My chest felt tight, my throat closed up. I clenched my teeth and fists. My breathing quickened. I was mad. I didn’t want to talk to Laura Holtz. I’d already asked at the office about my lost purse. I didn’t need suggestions. I just needed to be left alone.

I don’t have temper tantrums much anymore. I still occasionally “lose it”, but not like the old days. I still have trouble with authority figures though. Basically, I don’t like being told what to do — especially if I was already planning on doing it or if I had reasons for not doing it. I also have trouble when I’m questioned about an action. I guess in that case I get defensive.

I don’t usually have trouble taking orders from someone who employs me. I try to do the job I’m given. I never had much trouble with teachers or professors — I expected assignments and did them.  The authority figures I have the most trouble with are the ones that one day are my friend or associate and the next day are president of the PTA or a neighborhood or not-for profit-board member for whom I do some odd (volunteer) jobs. I have trouble when they give me assignments — or micromanage whatever tasks I’ve taken upon myself — especially if I’ve been doing it alone for years and they come in and want to change things. Sometimes, even,  my anger can rise when a friend (or my husband) seems to be taking over something I’ve planned.

The anger is the same as what I felt when my mom would make suggestions. And I find myself thinking in a rebellious teenage voice, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do. You’re Not My Mother!

I never do say that aloud, but I don’t always handle it well either. Sometimes I explain my reasoning. Sometimes I reply angrily. Mostly I say nothing, take a deep breath and move on although occasionally I tweet about it or make it my Facebook status.

[Not] Fanning the Flames

My inbox is nearly on fire this morning. Two email lists are very active with heated discussions. One centers on a proposed cell phone tower at the local high school and the other discussion is about accessible PDFs. While I have opinions about both issues I’m not going to participate in either discussion because I really don’t think that the folks with one view are really listening to the folks with an opposing view so participating in either discussion would be a waste of time, energy and emotions.

Passionate discussions on email lists and bulletin boards all seem to follow the same pattern. Someone posts a topic — sometimes it might be a little inflammatory, but many times it is simply an innocent question — which is true of both of the cases that are being discussed on the email lists today. Then someone answers the question or statement with one point of view and someone else responds to the person with another point of view. Then the really passionate folks start chiming in and often someone makes fun of someone on the other side and then someone from the other side defends their position using stronger words and before you know it, unless the moderator (or a seasoned list user) steps in and tells the folks to calm down or take it off-list or cease and desist, someone is being referred to as a Nazi. I’ve seen it so many times that it is actually sometimes fun to watch.

J. D.

Our wrestling team won first place at a tournament last night — our second first place of the season. We’ve got a great group of boys — they’re all polite to adults, kind to each other and, of course, hard workers.

I’ve posted about J. D. before — after our last tournament win. He’s the guy who just began wrestling this year as our heavyweight. I wrote about how he learned the sport quickly and easily and placed first in his weight class at the first tournament. Well, he did it again last night. He pinned his formidable opponent in a tough match.

But the thing about J. D. — for me anyway — is not his wrestling ability. It is his kindness. It is his huge heart that can be seen in so many little ways — from his hugs when he wins (or when his teammates win) to his words of encouragement to his teammates as well as wrestlers from other teams he’s defeated in previous matches. (I heard him heard shout, “Use your strength!” to a wrestler he’d beaten in a close match earlier in the day who was wrestling for 3rd place on a mat in front of him.)

When a teammate hurt his shoulder, J. D. was happy to hold the bag of ice on the injured shoulder so the teammate could use both hands to eat. When my son won a difficult match, J. D. wrapped his arm around him, and gave him a brotherly hug. He is always giving.  Always.

What I didn’t mention in the last post was the fact that J. D.’s had a tough go of things. He’s being raised by a single mother and now lives in a shelter with her. When I first learned about his housing situation I wondered if they’d be staying in the area or moving soon, as so many of the shelter kids do. I hoped he’d be sticking around, at least through the end of the school year. I hoped that perhaps a college wrestling scout would see him and perhaps offer him a scholarship somewhere. I don’t really know his circumstances, but a scholarship couldn’t hurt, right?

Last night, though, I found out that J. D. is what is called a “5th year senior”. I guess because he’d moved around a lot, he needed more credits to graduate. He was supposed to be able to stay at the school through May and graduate, but now, for some reason, he is being made to graduate in January. That means that after next week he’ll be gone. Gone from the school. Gone from the team. Gone from our lives.

I am angry about this. Not because he was a winner. Not because his leaving might make us more vulnerable to better heavyweights on other teams, but because I will miss him. His personality. His kindness. His caring about everyone — teammates, parents of the teammates, his opponents, his coaches. The world. How could it hurt to let him stay at the school for 5  more months? His leaving will hurt J. D. and everyone whose life he’s touched this year.

Inconsistant Police Officer Annoys Suburban Mom

If you know me, you know that I am usually an avid sign reader and rule follower. I never park where I’m not supposed to park. If a sign says no trespassing — I don’t trespass — willingly, although when Dean is in the lead I usually reluctantly follow even if it goes against the rules (another subject for a blog post).

That said, I have been known to drive into and park/stand in the “buses only” part of the driveway leading to the kids’ school. At first I wouldn’t, because the signs clearly state “Buses only”, but because after school one can count dozens of vehicles that park and drive along that driveway, I decided that my one small car would not make a difference. And wasn’t it safer for the kids if they didn’t have to walk across an SUV filled driveway? So I began dropping Andrew off at wrestling and picking him up via the buses only area. All was fine until one day when Whitman’s assigned police officer was on his way out the front doors of the school. He looked at me, shook his head, smiled (not in a friendly way) and ambled up to my car. I rolled the window down and he asked me what I was doing. I said I was dropping my son off. He asked if I knew that cars were not allowed in the area. I said something about it being after school and I thought it was OK then (I should have mentioned the fact that usually there were dozens of cars doing the same thing after school, but didn’t). He said that the sign didn’t give specific hours, so it meant cars were never allowed within the buses only driveway. He then made me turn around and drive out the entrance.

That was my second interaction with the police officer at school. The first time I was dropping the kids off in the morning and turned on my blinker to move into the left lane in order to make the left turn lane (not into the parking lot) that would take me out of the lot. Office Aubrey motioned me over to the curb and chastised me for my action. I was too stunned by this to explain that I was actually going out the correct exit. He didn’t leave me room to defend myself anyway.

The other day my husband drove me to pick up our daughter at school after her driving lesson. He drove into the buses only driveway, against my protests that he was going to get in trouble from the school policeman. He said, look around — there were cars parked and standing everywhere along the “allegedly no cars allowed” driveway. Officer Aubrey was nowhere to be seen, although his squad car was right next to our car.

So I’m annoyed about that. The man needs to be consistent. If he picks on a lone woman in a Camry, shouldn’t he be out there telling the men and women driving their SUVs and minivans that they are not allowed to park or drive in the sign-posted buses only driveway? I think it’s a power thing. He can intimidate me but not a crowd of parents. It worries me that he might be picking on the shy high school students rather than dealing with the more aggressive students. And If the Rate my Teachers website can be trusted, here’s an example of his poor judgment, this time directed at a student.

You can see him “in action” in the following YouTube video of this “Senior Prank”. He made a judgment call – “I’m not going after [the modified streakers]. It’s senior prank.” Just like he makes judgment calls about carpool lines – I’m not picking on anyone when there is a crowd. I’m just intimidating the loners.