Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Staying in Touch with the Real world

I’m sitting at a small table in a hotel room in Grove City. I am lucky to have a ground floor room next to a vast expanse of bright green lawn and cedar trees.

(We won’t mention the fireworks warehouse next door, in between two gas stations. Nothing’s perfect.)

I sit here, reading emails and USA Today and suddenly see them – large and black, as big as my cats back home. Two shiny crows, their feathers iridescent in the light of the rising sun. They are so close to my window that I can almost touch them and see the glint in their dark eyes.

It’s going to be a good day.

Too Old for This

It was a long drive over the mountains of Pennsylvania – in rough weather, rain driven by strong winds. I didn’t go to the hotel. I should have. I went directly to the facility – the one that I have scheduled for a mock survey. I walked around the large building doing my environmental tour – walked down long corridors, inside resident rooms and bathrooms. By the time I got back to where my Regional Nurse waited, my spine felt as if it would accordian upon itself. My left leg ached and my knees throbbed.

I sat at the long table and reviewed Incidents and Accident Reports and also Abuse Reports. I report my first report. By 4 PM I had had enough. I went to the hotel.

I was to have a microwave and refrig in the room. At least I had the refrig. But there were not enough outlets so I couldn’t have laptop, lamp and refrig plugged in at the same time. (I was supposed to get a new laptop battery last year – hasn’t showed up yet – I think IT forgot about it) I was frustrated with the laptop and trying to connect to the internet – had to reconfigure my modem several times before I could sign on.

I ordered a delivery supper and couldn’t finish it – pain was just too much. Advil wasn’t touching it tonight. I soaked in a hot tub but everything still ached. I rubbed arthritis cream all over everything – now I hurt AND stink.

I turned off the TV, put on my headphones for my personal CD player and fell asleep to guided meditation.

This morning will be better. But I’ve decided it’s time to go back to the rhuematolgist. The pain is just getting worse.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"Not in Nursing"

If I have to get another job, I do NOT want it to be in nursing. Been there, done that – for almost forty years.

When I was a junior high school almost fifty years ago, I had to write three reports on what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” The third choice was nursing; the second was draftsman (I thought since I could draw I could earn a living drawing houses). The first choice? Journalist.

I had been reading the Washington Post (we lived in Laurel, Maryland) since I was 10. I wanted to major in journalism with a minor in political science. Today I say, trying to be funny but with some real sadness, “I could have been Woodward or Bernstein.”

So why didn’t I go to college and follow that dream. Pop said we couldn’t afford college. But we could afford nursing school. But not Washington Hospital Center School of Nursing (I had been accepted to three schools and that was the one I wanted). We could afford Easton Hospital School of Nursing in Easton, PA - two hundred miles from home but it was only $500 for three years – this was 1965. A bargain. And considering Pop gave me $5 a week to buy my toiletries and anything else I needed, I guess it was a real bargain for him. But not for me.

I hated it. I hated, hated, hated it. I hated the classes. I hated the work on the units. I hated being two hundred miles from home. But I graduated with good grades and when I learned that Mom and Pop were retiring and moving to West Virginia and I would have no home to move back to in Maryland, I realized I had to make my home in Easton, PA and I had to support myself by nursing.

And I hated it. I started work as a charge nurse on one of the worse units (six bed wards with no running water) in the hospital. I called off sick as often as I could. I got warnings after warnings. I hated it. I hated getting up in the morning. I hated taking report. I hated doing everything pertaining to nursing. But I did it. I supported myself. I did it well. I went on to other areas in nursing and finally into administrative work. I was the major financial support of my family, then of my daughter and now of myself.

And I still hate it. There are parts that I like. But those are few and far between. I’m in long term care and the regulations are strangling – you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In long term care, you are the Bad Guy – always. I want out – out of long term care and out of nursing.

Forty years is long enough. Many people don’t serve that long of a sentence for murder.

I may only have ten years to live – two bouts of cancer, one of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, nonfunctioning parathyroids –Mom died at 68 – I want out now.

I want to do something I love – not something I have to do just because a decision was made forty years ago.
My friend, Verna, who is older than me, tells me that I have so many options. I can do anything – as long as it’s in nursing. She tells me because of her age, she doesn’t have those options. But she has something I don’t – a husband with a very good business. She doesn’t have to support herself; I do.

But I know the way of the world. I’m too young to retire and too old to be taken seriously for job retraining. I need health insurance. I need to support myself. My fate may be sealed because of a decision made forty years ago.

At least I didn’t kill anyone – at least not that I know of.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear . . ." Buffalo Springfield

The World:
I know I'm a bit "different", but I can't be the only one that feels the change in nature. I can't be the only one that doesn't believe that these strong hurricanes, one after the other, are just part of a "cycle." Even the morning light is different - and I should know, I go out every morning to great the new day. I can feel subtle changes. Maybe I can feel them because I am a bit "different."

Professional life:
Most of middle management where I work met with "financial people" this week. We've been told that the company is going for refinancing. I don't believe it and it's been verified by people outside the company - there will be a change. Do I want to work for someone else - after 17 years in this company? Who will hire a 58 year old nurse without a degree and who can no longer "pound the pavement"?

Personal life:
Gentlemen from my past keep showing up. Rich - understandable -I helped him after his surgery. Hugh - he searched for me - I guess he's renewing old friendships. Mark - IM'ed me one morning and my heart flipped when I saw his screen name. So one year hasn't changed my feelings for him.

I am finding that I am missing a place I only visited once - Washington State - or maybe it's my daughter I miss. Washington equals Heather. Washington equals quiet, clean streets and flowers. Washington equals nature. But I also miss Cornwall - want to return, to live there.

And there's my physical yearning - sometimes an ache deep in my chest - for all things in nature. A need to be near trees and animals.

It can't be just me that feels this upheaval - personally and globaly. There's a change in the atmosphere - at least I can feel it - maybe because I'm different.

"You gotta stop! Say! What's that sound? Everybody look what's going down."

Friday, September 23, 2005

How to Get Published and Be on Oprah

Well . . . you no longer have to be a dead writer to have your book become part of the Oprah Book Club. But it helps if you've been addicted, in rehab and then write about it.

I'm not saying that James Frey's story is not worthy of a book - I'm sure it is. Redemption is always a good theme - even when it's true. Especially when it's true. I'm sure it's an inspiring story.

But what bothers me is the first part of Frey's story - the drug and alcohol addiction. Is that what makes it a good read? Is it the hell he went through to kick his habit? Will this help others find themselves and get them to rehab? I doubt it - people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol rarely spend time reading.

So, tell me . . .why would I want to read this book? Just because Oprah says so?
No. I think I'll pass. I can see the results of drug and alcohol abuse any day I want - in any of the nursing homes I go to.

I want to read something different. Give me a story about women who overcome obstacles - not ones of their own making (as Frey's were), but the ones society has thrown in their paths. Give me a story about a couple over 60 who have found love --- and even (gasp!) sex. Give me a story that makes me laugh and makes me feel good.

For the drug and alcohol addiction stories . . . well, I have the news. I have the burned out nursing home residents with dementia in their fifties. I even have Kate Moss.

Sorry, Oprah - not spending my money on a book about a drug addict gone straight. Seems to me almost like someone who commits a crime and then benefits from it.

I would rather read about someone who didn't even START doing drugs. Give me those stories - they're out there.


Critique Service

“Not Your Momma”
Critique Service

What I’m not: Evidently I’m “not your Momma.” I will critique your manuscript. I will not tell you that it’s wonderful even if it needs work. I am not a “Book Doctor.” I will not write the book for you. That would make it MY book. This is YOUR book.

What I am: I’m a freelance writer with twenty years of publishing experience that includes articles and short stories in national magazines and daily newspapers.

What I will do: Fiction: I will show you how to strengthen the characters, the plot, the conflict and your voice. I will also critique partials (synopsis and the first three chapters). Nonfiction: I will critique for clarity, voice and tone. I will advise you on grammar and sentence structure. I do not critique poetry.

What it will cost you: All manuscripts critiqued (with notations directly on the manuscript) at $2.50/page. This will include a separate evaluation of the manuscript and suggestions for submission.

How to submit: I would prefer completed manuscripts or partials to be mailed to me. Return postage is included in the critique fee. For availability, address and turn-around time, email mitziflyte@aol.com using Manuscript Critique in the subject line.

"Situation Wanted"

"Cranky old woman willing to sit on a patio, deck or in a living room, reading with a cat on her lap."

Any interested employers are requested to please respond to the comment section of this blog.

Background: Avid reader, avid writer, lovely woman (aside from the “crankiness”), great mother, good friend, was once a good girlfriend/companion. Loyal (ask my ex-husband) and honest (see the “cranky” comment). Kinda chubby, but still cute – looks great in red but wears black a lot. Good listener – someone who others seek out for advice.

Work history: Spent the last 40 years (3 in education and 37 in actual work environments) doing a job she didn’t want. Now wants to spend the next 40 doing something she loves

Salary Requirements: Make her an offer – hopefully one she can’t refuse.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Never give up . . .

. . . never surrender!" To the people of the Gulf Coast.

It was a lovely spider web, intricately woven in the beam of my little porch. I checked on the web and its owner every morning, finding the small furry body settled in the middle of her handiwork, multiple legs curled under her. Grandmother spiderwoman - weaver of life. Native American wise woman and crone. I knew her - she had worked hard to weave something for herself - for her survival. She had spent maybe only one human-day, but maybe many spider-years. Every morning she sat, relishing her place in the middle of her world. I understood her - I was her.

Then one morning, the web was gone- possibly blown away in a wind or maybe even brought down by an uncaring hand - the woman who delivers the paper or the letter carrier. Neither understanding, or caring, how important that small bit of nature was to me, silent watcher of wonder on my little front porch. Not understanding that her web was a metaphor for my own.

This morning, late and rushing to get to work, I almost missed it. The glint of silver, sun shining off the spider thread - once again the lovely pattern I have come to love and revere as so important to the nature of things. A new place on the porch - this time on the very front- not the side - out in front for all to see. And there she sat, regal, with her legs curled,waiting for her day to begin.

Never give up; never surrender.

Rebuild and live again - better than before.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I ain't afraid of no ghost!"

Okay, everyone who reads this blog knows I'm a bit "off." Well, more than a bit.
I love to write (hence this blog) but I also like to get money for writing. So I do some freelance work (the "free" in freelance does NOT mean for no payment - just for small payment). Most of my work is done for The Irregular, a monthly newspaper covering arts and culture in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area.

For their October issue I pitched an article on ghost hunting . . .er. . . investigation. And they told me to "run with it." So I did - right to Berks Lehigh Paranormal Society and the Northampton County Paranormal Society and to my friend Katherine Ramsland, PhD and author of Ghost: A Firsthand Account into the World of Paranormal Activity.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an investigation at the Kutztown Historical Society, a marvelous Victorian building that was once the area school where there have been many accounts of hauntings or unusual activity .

If you want to know if I saw, heard or felt a "presence" - then you will just have to pick up an Irregular.

If you are interested in ghost hunting, go to www.berksparanormal.com for a listing of their open investigations in the Lehigh Valley. These public invited events are fundraisers for the group to obtain equipment for future work. This is a nonprofit organization that asks for no fees for their work. In addition to historic buildings the team investigates private homes whose owners are concerned about strange happenings.

Are "ghosts" real? Hmmmmm? I think the jury's out on that one.
Does "something" of us stick around when we are no longer alive? Well, ya gotta discover THAT one for yourself.

But in the words of the great Dr. Peter Venkman: "I ain't afraid of no ghost."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"All hat, no cattle."

That's what Molly Ivins has said about Dubya all along - even when he was govenor of Molly's great state of Texas.

As in most things political (and some things not political) Miz Molly has been once again proven right.

And so it has come to pass that the very people who voted this President INTO and BACK INTO office (because, as a friend told me, "we need a strong leader") are the one who have been hurt by his policies. Dubya has shown that he and his administration can do sound bites, but when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done - well, excuuuuuuuuuse me . . there's no one home in the White House.

Are we safer now than we were on September 10, 2001? I don't think so - maybe ariport security is better (if you have government workers doing it and not private enterprises in a for a buck).

Is our homeland safer? I don't think so. Not when you have looters running amok through the muck in flooded towns because the National Guard wasn't called out in time. When the governor of Louisiana calls the White House before history's strongest hurricane hits her shores and she has to LEAVE A FREAKIN' MESSAGE, we are definitely not safer. I wonder if she got one of those ubiquitous recordings : Press one for Karl. Press two for Dick. Press three for Brownie. Press zero for the President.

Picture from this week: Laura Bush in a shelter schmoozing with displaced children. Sweet Laura was wearing a heavy suit with a very large colorful scarf-thingy over it (out of style, puleeeeeeeze - even I know that and I shop at Fashion Bug). Okay, lady - isn't it time to roll up your designer sleeves and really DO something? I am reminded of Princess Diana walking through Africa in kakhis, white shirt and sneakers. And she was a PRINCESS for criminie's sake. Laura, you're no Diana.

So the President's approval ratings are slipping drastically. Hmmmmm? Could some of those people who no longer approve, be people who . . ah . . like . . . VOTED for him - twice, even?

Remember the old V8 commercial: Someone is drinking a soda and suddenly slaps their head, saying, "I could have had a V8." I guess there are a lot of people out there slapping their foreheads. "We coulda had a leader."

But what we have is a hat - and nothing under it.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

It's been difficult for me to think about this disaster and even more difficult to write about it.
It's not that I've been directly affected: I live in Pennsylvania on high ground; I have no family or friends in the area; I've never even visited the area . . .

("I've never even visited the area . . . " How sad that now, if I do go to New Orleans one day, it will be A.K. - "After Katrina" - and it won't be the same city as B.K.)

I was in Seattle with Heather when the storm approached the Gulf Coast. We heard ongoing reports of its potentially devastating effects. Reporters were already in the area. I remember saying to Heather, "I have a very bad feeling about this one. This is going to terrible." I hate it when I'm right about stuff like this.

I cannot believe that this government did as little as it did for such a long time.

I cannot believe that the President was so ill-informed as to what was happening in this area.

I cannot believe that he was so cavalier in his comments: such as wanting to sit on Trent Lott's new porch - when so many will never be able to afford to rebuild.

I cannot believe Barbara Bush's remark insinuating that Houston was a great place for the evacuees since so many of them were . . ."well . . .underprivileged anyway . . ."

The soul of a country is revealed by how it cares for its aged and poor. For all of our Fundamentalist Christian chest-beating, our soul seems to have some dark spots.


Certainly NOT leave thousands without food, water, sanitary conditions and security.

BTW: Donate www.redcross.org and www.bestfriends.org - give for all fellow citizens: two-legged and four-legged ones.

That's what Jesus would do - and Moses and Buddha and Mohammed and the Goddess and even poor mortals like me.

Blessings to the survivors, the ones who didn't survive, the reporters who showed us the truth, the rescuers who keep trying, the Mayor of New Orleans (for being so truthful and blunt about his and his city's agony), and the people of all the Gulf coast who will, of course, rebuild.

The Jazz Funeral Procession for this area is put on permanent hold.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Web of Life

I should really post this on my other blog, the one dealing with “spiritual” insights; however . . .

All life exists in a web. This I believe. If you disturb one part of life’s web, another part – sometimes at a great distance from the disturbance – is affected, maybe not immediately, but eventually.

The greatest nation on earth invaded a country whose citizens had not asked for our help. That nation’s people were told lies about the reasons for invading. The invaded country is now laid to waste and a civil war is imminent.

The invading country has recently suffered a major natural disaster resulting in a tremendous loss of life (mostly from the class of citizens who made up the invasion force) and property. The response of the government was slow, inadequate and showed the incompetence that should have been apparent after the failed military invasion.

Am I the only one who sees the “natural” justice of Katrina? We disturbed the web of life and now we are paying for it.

Unfortunately, the ones who are really paying for it are the ones most disenfranchised and many are the people who voted this incompetent administration back in office.

It is not about “us vs them”. Not at all. It’s just about “us” – all of us, in every country, of every religion, every race. We’re all in this together.

“When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?”

Goddess help us all.

I'm Back - again

Click on the title of this blog and then click on the "Seattle" and "Everett" galleries and see where I've been lately - body and mind.