Trans Trains

So, I’ve been absent from here as of late due to health issues (big shocker) and because I discovered Tumblr. Yes, I am now addicted to all the Tumbling goodness.  As a result, I come across some very ineteresting posts. One  suggested that a person stop using the word “transparent” because it had the word “trans” in it and was offensive to Trans people (as in Transgendered or Transsexual).

Lesson of the Day? I accept such challenges and raise your absurd request to absurd levels of offensiveness.

In response, I wrote the following. You may need a dictionary, I surely did.

Kiya was a young woman living in Transylvania. She had never come across any vampires or werewolves. She found the talk of such creatures to be boring and she transcended all of the recent books and movies on the subject. She was of the opinion that works of fiction based on transmogrification were annoying. Except for Harry Potter. There was always room for Harry Potter. Instead of reading, she found joy in the outlying countryside. She often took holidays through European countries and, today, she was riding on the Trans Siberian Railroad. It was a transcontinental railroad, and she looked forward to immersing herself in the various cultures it transversed. She liked to travel with as few modern amenities as possible. It gave her the feeling of sloughing off her current woes and slipping into a time when such things did not exist. All transgressions and worries of life were forgotten. On this note, she travelled with a simple radio; a transceiver that could both receive and transmit radio waves. It was basic and did not have any bells or whisltes. She took delight in listening in on the local radio stations as the train transected the countryside. She did not often use the radio to transmit anything, but it was good to know she had it in case of an emergency.

Along with the countryside, travelling by train had other enjoyments. There was the delicious food full of trans fats, the time echoed décor, and the interesting company. Kiya had met people from the four corners of the world, in all walks of life, and made some wonderful friends. Not everyone aboard was willing to take part in this aspect of travelling by train, however. There was a younger university student sitting to the right of Kiya who had spent the entire trip rolled up on her seat, completely transfixed with her schoolwork. Kiya glanced out of the corner of her eye and saw that the young woman was currently transcribing something about the “Trans Effect”. It looked as if it had something to do with chemistry, but Kiya could not be certain. She was just about to take another glance but her eye began to twitch. She held her hand up to her right eye and silently cursed her health. She must have louder than she thought because the student looked up briefly from her transcription with a sly smile. Kiya thought to explain, but the student went back to her work.

Since her transient ischemic attack, her eyes liked to go into involuntary twitches. It caused some confusion if it happened as she was being introduced to new people. It looked as though she were having a tic attack of some sort. One man even took it as an invitation for a sexual encounter. When Kiya refused, his behavior transitioned into hostility at a transsonic speed. She remembers the venom of his words, clearly. She was amazed that people still walked around holding such primitive beliefs and wondered if she could create some kind of transponder to warn her of these people.

Kiya sighed and then smiled. She usually met much more jovial people and she wouldn’t be on this lovely train if she hadn’t had the ministroke to begin with. Her doctor told her it was a warning that a full-fledged stroke was going to occur. He chided her for living a stressful life and convinced her that she needed to learn to take time off and destress. She took his advice and began taking these wonderful holiday trips.

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted by two men arguing behind her. “No, no,” began a man in a Russian accent, “If we use transdermal medication than we will forgo the risk of infection at the site.” “Oh good goods,” responded someone in an English accent, “the risk of getting an infection at the site of a transcutaneous implant is minimal and the benefits far outweigh it!” “I will not allow my patient to receive their medication this way, their immune system is already weakened and any risk could be deadly.” The next man scoffed and continued the verbal transfer of disagreement. It was painfully transparent that the Englishman thought his knowledge superior to the Russian man’s. Kiya figured that they must be doctors headed to some transcultural medical assembly by the sounds of their accents. She was thankful they both found a common language. Can you imagine a translator in the middle of that argument? She laughed and looked around at all of the passengers and began trying to determine where each person was going to or had come from.

A few rows down from her sat a man who could pass for being transient, or homeless. His beard was long, full, and unkempt. He had on several layers of clothing, most of them looking beat up and holey. His big toe stuck out from one of his shoes and the hat he wore to cover his mess of hair did not match his clothing in any way. It was neon and had a strange logo plastered across the front. He was reading a newspaper and mumbling to himself about trans regional sports. Kiya assumed he must be a drifter. By the looks of it, a transpolar one. She quickly wondered if anyone would transvalue his appearance or simply treat him as something to ignore.

The woman sitting one row closer looked as though she had just stepped off the Trans Saharan Trade Highway, her dress transposed from another time. She wore fabrics of black and shimmery golds. She had large, golden hoop earrings and was dressed in the traditional African sense. The only thing that brought her to this century was the iPhone in her hands. She transuded severe annoyance and it seemed to be aimed at whomever was sending the messages. As she burrowed her eyebrows deeper into a frown, her large jaw bones and high cheeks, matched with a liberal application of shimmery make up, almost made her look like a transvestite.

Kiya’s thoughts drifted back to her own phone. She wondered if it was wise to leave it behind. She might need it. Did Mark from accounting need her help? Would her mother be able to go two days without calling to see if she was alright? She sighed and looked out the window through the translucent, lace curtains. The transformation was amazing. Her worries melted away as she watched the scenery pass by. The argument behind her erupted again. They were now “discussing” transthoracic transplants and policy or procedures. She laid her head back on her seat rest and closed her eyes, smiling. “Oh yes,” she thought to herself, “it was goin to be a fun holiday.”

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Just follow your dreams.

I am so tired of hearing this sentiment, and for multiple reasons.  First, a little history.

When I was a teenager, I bought into the whole “if you think it, you can do it” mentality. I worked very hard and enjoyed doing it. I had great grades, a super grade point average, and was the favorite of all the teachers. “Stop bragging,” you may be saying. You’d be totally wrong.

I had no friends and socialized in a combination of avoidance and verbal acid. I developed a very serious anxiety disorder and several physical health problems.  I ended up dropping out of school at the end of my sophomore year.  Or maybe it was the beginning of my junior year.. I can’t remember. The thing is, I don’t remember much of that time except that I was constantly studying – and sleeping. I didn’t do anything recreationally – I just lived and breathed schoolwork.

I did my homework (and all extra work) on the bus ride to and from school, at my lunch hour, during study hall (when everyone else was napping), and at any time I was home and not eating or doing chores. I have worked hard to not regret these years as much as I used to. I keep thinking of the opportunities that passed me by: fun times with people, a part time job to help out, and maybe – just maybe – a healthier person overall.

This experiences, and the fallout afterwards, has brought me to a point in life where I can appreciate a “all is for naught” attitude. It is dangerous to delve too deeply into the depression that such an attitude can bring about. In order to counterbalance this, I turn it into kind of a philosophical state of mind. I’d talk about Nihilism and the implications of it on life, but I think that may be a bit too much for all involved (including myself).

Here’s Today’s Lesson: Yes, by all means, follow your dreams. It’s hard work to get there. Just sitting around dreaming about it won’t get you anywhere. Still, be sure to enjoy life itself.  Don’t “put your nose to the grindstone” all of the time. Talk to people and truly enjoy being in their company. Take part in solo and group recreational activities. Learn about the environment you live in (small town, big city, countryside) and come to appreciate all it has to offer.  Life is precious and it’s too short to be chasing something you think you need or want. Instead, enjoy what you already have.  It’s far more rewarding.

Just Another Day..

..in Ye Olde Timey Towne.

Hubby and I decided it was time for a change, so we did some major Spring cleaning. I mean major.  We tore the bedroom apart, first, and holy crap! I think we killed a sprawling dust bunny metropolis. Under the bed, no less. The room itself just feels cleaner now and falling asleep is less of an allergy-induced nightmare. Ahh.

It was such a hit, that we decided to Spring clean the living room. Again, this was a major cleaning. I think we mopped the floor five or six times and you still can’t tell, but! We did completely revamp the place. It’s amazing how moving furniture around can make such a huge difference and now you can actually walk around. Wow! In the process, we discovered some old particle board .. uh.. boards from a bookcase a few years ago.  Now, I’m not sure if this is a testament to how poorly mass produced craftsmanship has become, or a reflection of how little books are used now-a-days, but said bookcase did not last long because we put books on it. That’s right, we used it for its intended purpose so it broke. Granted, we have quite a few heavy books.. but still. It’s a bookcase for crying out loud. I could understand if it was something like a tower of milk crates.. but it was designed and built to hold books.

I digress. We found the particle board boards from this bookcase and decided to try and upcycle them into two, small computer tower shelving units. The plans were sound, the brackets and screws were new, and the appreciatively loaned tools worked great. It should have come as no surprise to us when things did not go as planned, however, because these boards have already fallen apart. I guess we never learn.

Did I mention that we had to paint them, first? Before we discovered (again) that the boards were useless and couldn’t even hold up their own weight let alone anything else, we painted them for prep.  Even that one backfired. I present to you Exhibit A:

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Now, I know what you’re thinking.. “Why did you keep spraying with the paint if you saw it was getting on your fingers?” Because I am stupid, that is why. You see, the nozzle was defective and it was not only leaking paint, but also a vast amount of compressed air. This made it difficult to actually paint the boards and froze my index finger in the process. AGAIN.. an object that is created for a specific purpose that cannot perform said purpose. For shame. And just in case you missed how much this pissed me off, I present to you Exhibit B:

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I figured I could get away with that picture because my finger is the same color as my hoodie. And no, I am not wearing a peach colored hoodie.  At least you can’t tell that I pretty much got a fine mist of paint all over my clothes, shoes, and self. Clean up wasn’t the most pleasant thing I have ever been through, but it gave me some amusing pictures.

The day wasn’t a total loss. While helping the Mom-In-Law with yard work, Hubby and I found a really neat creature:

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This little guy was about the size of a quarter and was almost stepped on by us. I’m sure he would have survived with that tough shell, but we put him someplace where he wouldn’t be bird food: in the pond. He promptly ran down a snake hole on the edge.. so at least he won’t be bird food, right? Unless one of the herons eats him.. Well, at least we didn’t step on him.

We finished up our weekend by finding out that our car has officially taken a crap on us. Walking all over town to get groceries and price other cars has been quite a workout. Poor Hubby has to find a car tomorrow and I hope it works out because he works about 20 miles away. We have a bike but let’s be reasonable: If walking 5 miles in one day makes us feel like extras on The Walking Dead, I think a 40 mile round trip bicycle excursion will actually kill us.  So, another car it is. Stay tuned because I have a feeling that the ball of bad luck has just started rolling. Ah well, at least we’ll get some good pictures out of it.

Lesson of the Day: Dealing with Customer Service

Retail jobs in general suck but Customer Service Representatives get the crap end of all of it.  They have to deal with customers who are already pissed off and they have no way of pulling a magic wand out of their ass that will fix the customer’s problem.. so the customer gets even more upset.

I have had the good fortune of being treated pretty well by all the CSRs I come into contact with, even ones from bill collections.  I never understood the opinion that you are not only entitled to be angry at the CSR for something that they can’t control, but that this anger somehow gets you better treatment.  It has actually been the opposite.

If you are having issues with electronics, faulty items, or account screw ups on bills.. listen up and listen well.  CSRs are there to help you.  That is their job.  They are not going to have to be persuaded to help you to begin with, they are already supposed to help you when you or they answer the phone.  Comprendo? Comprende.

As with all social interactions in life, getting angry with someone has the effect of turning them off.  This makes them want nothing to do with you.  When that someone is a CSR, it makes it harder for them to do their job, which is to help you.  So getting angry makes it more difficult for you to be helped.  Also, getting angry at someone for something they have no control over is just stupid.  Grow up.

Here’s the scenario.  Jane calls the credit card company because they still haven’t changed her last name from when she got married six months ago.  Jane is very upset about all of this because it is causing some issues with purchases when she has to show her ID.  Some of the clerks at the stores don’t believe her name change story (even though it’s true) and Jane is pissed off.  What to do?

Jane calls the credit card company and is irate from the beginning.  The CSR is apologetic, as they are required to be by their bosses so they don’t lose their jobs.  This makes Jane think that she is in the right by lashing out at the CSR who has no prior knowledge of Jane’s predicament.  In other words, that individual you are talking to on the other side of the phone has had nothing to do with your current situation.  The information you are telling them is actually new to them.

Jane has a right to be upset about this situation, but not to take it out on the CSR.  She continues to do so anyway, verbally venting about how inept the credit card company is and threatening to cancel her card.  She eventually lets an expletive or two slip.  Jane is so upset, that when she is asked to give a survey about how the individual CSR assisted her, she projects her anger with the company towards the individual CSR.  Jane gives the CSR poor reviews.

This causes the CSRs approval rating to drop, which lowers their monetary bonuses.  Mind you, the CSR could have bent over backwards to help Jane but to no avail.  Jane was irate with the credit card company and that CSR was the whole company in her teeny, tiny little mind.

One thing.  Jane’s session with the CSR was recorded.  If the CSR notes the time and date of Jane’s call and how aggressive she was, they can request a review of the recording. Jane’s account may be flagged as “belligerent” and she can be sent to a CSR that specializes in dealing with these types of customers.  Different companies and CSRs have different ways of dealing with these customers, but my friends tell me they tend to be more terse.  In other words, the perks are over for Jane.

 

All in all, use common sense both mentally and emotionally.  That voice you are talking to on the other line is a real-life, honest to God person.  Treat them with respect.  Understand that they have no idea about your problem and they had no way to prevent it.  They can, however, help to solve it.  The answers they give you may not be the magical ones you are hoping for, but the CSR is generally tied down to a strict set of policies to function by.  If you think you can be helped more then do these things: Thank the CSR and then politely request to speak to their manager.  Inform the manager that the CSR has been awesome, but you think someone with more access can help you solve your problem.

 

Generally, when I am dealing with a CSR, I treat it like a first time social encounter.  I ask them their name and then say, “Hi, so and so.  My name is such and such.  I hope you are having a great day today.  Here’s my problem..”  This opens up a world of possibilities because now the CSRs defenses are down.  They are not only obligated to help you, now they want to help you.  Be sure to thank them for all they have done and wish them a happy holiday season.  Pass on the good and you’ll get it in return.

Holidays, Hubby, and SAD

I didn’t do Thanksgiving this year.  I worked so that I could be sure to have a 40 hour work week, and the double time pay was an added perk.  It seems that my focus lately is more on making money than anything else.  It has caused a constant level of anxiety that is utterly exhausting.  It’s like one of those low level, throbbing headaches that is always in the background.  Only this is my nerves and I’m about to crack.

Speaking of money, we have decided to not do Christmas either.  We have each other and that’s more than enough for us.  There is absolutely no room what so ever for a tree in our tiny apartment.  We’re also afraid the cats would destroy it. I had planned on making a Mario themed Christmas tree, but physical and emotional exhaustion has taken over.  Maybe next year.

In it’s place, I plan on making a nice garland to hang on the walls and put some ornaments and photos of good times.  Reminding myself of all the blessings I have right now will help tremendously.  One of those blessings is my hubby.  I know, I know.  Start the gag fest, she’s getting mushy.  People can spend $20 a pop on a book about all kinds of sexual fetishes known the the free (and not so free) world, but don’t start talking about true, romantic intimacy or we’ll all gag!

Well get your rusty spoons out because here it comes.

My husband is awesome.  He is actually cooking dinner right now.  I told him I was going make a late Thanksgiving dinner of ham steak, mashed potatoes, and greens.  I haven’t been feeling well and he has this really sweet nurturing side so he has commandeered the kitchen.  Not that I mind one bit.

He also has a habit of getting the most awesome Birthday presents.  My birthday was in June and, at that time, I was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I was tired all of the time and the only chance I got to see my husband was when I rolled over in the middle of the night and noticed him next to me.  I didn’t really expect anything for my birthday because I just didn’t have the time or energy to think about it.  He put together a wonderful surprise for me that I will never forget nor be able to top :).

I remember coming home and he was waiting in the living room with a kind of “I’ve been up to something” grin.  I asked him what was up, he said nothing.  He took my hand and led me into the bedroom where he had set up a tabletop easel, a few different types of sketch pads, a pencil kit, and various paints, paintbrushes, and other painting supplies.  I was flabbergasted.  I talked to him for a few months about wanting to get back into drawing and painting, but didn’t quite know where to start.  I now had my where.  It was awesome.

On a side note, I have used my paints a few times since then.  The exhaustion of work and money has literally drained the life right out of me, so I haven’t been able to use them as often as I would like.  I don’t even want to crochet or knit anymore.  Who cares if I can make just about anything under the sun?  I don’t feel like it right now!  I’m in one of my crawl under the blankets and sleep all day kinda moods.  The best thing to do when this happens, of course, is to get out from under the blanket and do something.  Like knitting, painting, walking, etc.  Just anything.  It really does not help having grey, cold clouds hovering over the town all day long.  Cue the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  I swear that they pay people to come up with these acronyms.

I can see it now.  Some overly-perky psychologists are talking about what to name this syndrome that they have discovered.  They’re all coming up with scientific names that just don’t “feel right”.  How about light deficiency disorder?  Naw, that would make too much sense and it just doesn’t roll off the tongue.  We need something more perky!  Never mind that we’re talking about Depression here or that the sufferers are the ones that truly discovered this damned thing.  If only the letters of every first word in the description could spell out something ironic.. like SAD.  What could we use to make those letters work?  Oh I’ve got it!  Seasonal Affective Disorder!  You’re so brilliant.  *pat on the back*

That’s some gag-fest worthiness right there.

What’s the lesson of this post?  Holiday spending is overrated.  Spend time with loved ones instead.  (This lesson is in there somewhere, I swear it is.  I did NOT just pull it out of my ass.)

 

Organs, Food, and Life Lessons

Alright people, this is a “health and malady oriented” post.  If you do not wish to read about someone’s experiences with health-related issues, consider this your one and only warning.  I give this warning because I have come across many people in my life who simply do not want to hear about, cannot be bothered with it, or who simply don’t care.  That is fine, just don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉

With all that behind us, it is time to get down to business. Specifically, the liver and pancreas.  Ah yes, those lovely organs that we never even give one thought to (let alone a second though) until they stop working properly.  I actually consider myself fortunate: I have discovered the problem before any serious damage has been done.  “What do these organs do?”  The pancreas and liver are each assistants to the digestive process.  They help the body to break food down by releasing enzymes through biliary ducts into the digestive tract.  The pancreas also helps to regulate insulin.  You cannot live without these organs and there are inconveniences to one’s organs not wanting to work right.

Namely, food.  I love food.  I am not obese, but I am overweight at the moment.  My health issues are not related to my weight, but eating healthier and exercising will help for different reasons.  For example, I am having to revert back to a diet without red meat, alcohol, NSAID pain killers, etc.  I also find that a lot of protein can cause an incident, so I am trying to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into my diet. Again, all of this is not to lose weight.  Despite what our culture brainwashes us to believe, weight is not the problem. It is generally the result.  I am doing this diet change so that my body has an easier time digesting and processing my food, and ultimately, my fuel.

I have not been told that exercise will help my liver out.  In fact, I can be outright unable to exercise when there are flare ups due to the inflammation causing movement restriction and pain.  However, I used to exercise much more than I do now.. like.. at all.  I  had more stamina, energy, and was just happier overall.  I cannot say that exercise alone was the reason for this, but only a fool would discount the positive effects exercise has on the chemical aspects of our bodies.

And muscle.  Exercise helps to build muscle.  What does muscle do? Well, it helps to more efficiently use fuel that has already been processed and absorbed by the digestive tract.  This means that if my digestive system is not functioning well, the muscle will help to use what little nutrition I am getting even better.  Makes sense to me.  Again, this is not about losing weight to fit into a social norm. I actually like my curves.  I used to be mostly muscle and found this to be a problem.  I ate all the time.  I ate only fruits, veggies, and other purely health-driven foods.   I walked everywhere, worked out both cardio and weights.  I did it all and I was miserable.  I had energy galore but I was starving all the time because my metabolism skyrocketed out of control.  I also got tired pretty quickly of not being able to quickly satiate myself with junk food.  I always made food fresh and used veggies, fruits, etc.  Needless to say, I simply could not afford to maintain this state.  I also learned a few things.

There is such a thing as being muscular, skinny, and what is culturally considered “healthy” in an extreme and unhealthy way.  I looked great on the outside, my body was functioning optimally on the inside.. but to such an extreme that it caused lots of issues.  It still is causing issues.  When I decided to stop building so much muscle, I didn’t do it in a smart way.  I just started eating everything and anything I wanted.  I was sooo burnt out on eating anything remotely “healthy”.  This damaged my metabolism and the gland involved in regulating it.  It swung to the opposite unhealthy extreme of lethargy.  My activity levels have dropped off and my food intake has changed dramatically.  This is not good for the body.  Lesson?  Pick a way of life and stick to it.  If you decide to change it, make the changes slowly and with research done before hand.

As well as the liver, my pancreas isn’t so happy about all of this.  For awhile after my binge eating started, I would go into acute diabetic like symptoms that would flare now and again.  The doctors were stumped, I was frustrated, my wallet was gasping for air.  Finally, I saw a specialist that knew what he was talking about.

He gave me some very good advice and explanations.  My sudden changes in lifestyle alongside my lifelong health issues have caused irreversible damage to my liver and pancreas.  My collitis, multiple bouts with C-Diff, Fibromyalgia, and a host of other health issues were just the beginning.  Stress, anxiety and depression issues, and sleep disorders all combined to set me up.  The final tipping point was taking my body to the various extremes, very quickly.  Lesson learned.

Today, I try to eat healthy but I remember to eat unhealthy too.  My body is used to it and I’m not going to shock it now.  That might sound stupid.  I eat veggies, I restrict red meat and alcohol.  However, I do not deny sweets.  I allow myself a reasonable amount.  I don’t beat myself up about eating them.  I think about the consequences on my one and only organs.  That generally does the trick.

Oh, and the advice the doctor gave me other than the above?  Don’t drink soda pop.  It’s not just the artificial chemicals they put into it, it’s the carbonation itself.  You see, your stomach is shaped a specific way and is designed to leak food out slowly into the digestive tract.  When you drink soda pop, the carbonation opens the stomachs bottom and all the food comes out at once.  This can lead to diabetic type symptoms.  When I stopped drinking soda pop, I noticed a dramatic and positive effect on my health.  That shit is poison.

Lesson of the day: Money isn’t everything

About two weeks ago, I began a new job at a different factory.  It makes taco shells for Taco Bell, chips for GFS foods, etc. It can get pretty hot/cold and physically miserable, but the people I get to work with are awesome.

This is a far cry from the factory I used to work at, which made car parts.  This factory paid much better, but they dangled the money carrot in exchange for your life.  I was working 12 hours Monday through Friday, with the occasional 14 hour shift thrown in.  Saturday and Sunday brought 8 hour shifts.. every weekend (pretty much).  I would have probably been able to hang in there long enough to transfer into a department that wasn’t working such crazy hours, but the people there.. geesh.

My “trainer” was of the mentality that she knew everything and yet she would go to great lengths to do as little work as possible.  After she finished training me and I was on the machines alone, I would have to come into work early to get the machines up and running in time for everyone else, and she would show up early too… to walk around and do nothing.  Yay, free money.

Whenever I confronted her about this or about the fact that she just treated me shitty, I was told it was just her personality.  In fact, these are the exact words my boss used when I complained about it.  And what did all that complaining get me?  Negative feedback on my review.  I was told by my boss that 1) my trainer did not get along with everyone because it just wasn’t in her personality and that’s why she was treating me shitty AND 2) I couldn’t get along with the trainer so I was getting written up. Say what?  It’s my fault I can’t get along with her but I’m being told the situation exists because she can’t get along with me?  This made even less sense because I got along with everyone else.  Ugh, this is how that factory runs.  Talk about a house of cards.

So now I’m at a much better place and the exchange of a little loss of income is totally worth it.  I still work 7 days a week, but that won’t last too much longer.  It doesn’t take long to build seniority here because of the high turn over rate (not everyone can take the heat, literally) and those with seniority usually don’t work the weekends.  Yay!

The lesson is: money isn’t everything.  I now get to see my husband, clean my house, enjoy my hobbies, and *gasp* sleep in 🙂  Loving it!