After my mother, brother, sister and I moved from Ohio where my father lived with his wife and step-kids to Oklahoma where my mother’s best childhood friend lived with her husband, their four kids and successful real estate business, my visitation with my less than perfect father was limited to every other holiday and summer vacations. Eight hundred fifty miles separated the town my father lived and worked in and the town we had moved to without paternal objection because he felt, however rightly or wrongly, that he didn’t have any right to object.
Fortunately, my father and his wife loved to take road trips (and apparently required little sleep) and he usually opted to cover the distance between us by automobile, driving twelve hours to pick us up, spending an hour or so at or near our home where he would load up the additional baggage of three kids spending a period of time with their father and hit the road again for the twelve-hour drive back to his house.
On some of the shorter visits, or perhaps because we were getting older and would choose working over traveling to visit the old man, he would get a hotel room, or a cabin at a lake and spend the time in Tulsa, instead of dragging us back to Cincinnati. I always dreaded getting into the car with my father because on one of his first visits, he discovered a radio station that he loved. They played the music of his youth and apparently a better mix of it than any station he heard around his neck of the woods. I hated the music of his youth, it was all so outdated and boring and the station was very aptly called “the oldies station” (said with a sneer and a mocking tone, of course!)
Today, as I was on my way to pick up my lunch, I was driving down a frontage road along side the ridiculously crowded highway and I noticed a billboard for a local radio station. I immediately grimaced at the idea of the station as the billboard brazenly described the station as “classic oldies…” I mean, ho-hum, right? How boring!
Wait! What did that say? “Classic oldies. All the best hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s! ”
What happened to the 50’s? And since when are the 80’s oldies??? Pretty soon it’ll be best of the 80’s, 90’s and the aughts!
I’m beginning to feel the need to drive with two feet, carry a cane and shake my head as I tsk, “They just don’t make ’em like they used to” while Lil’B sits in the back seat and cringes at my terrible taste in music!
Eighteen years ago, today, I walked across the stage at the Mabee Center, at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, OK, shook the hand of some random old man, had a picture snapped which somehow managed to make my nose and chin look 18 inches larger (each) than their already gargantuan proportions and walked down the steps on the other side with a diploma in my hand. I could tell you more about the evening, but, well, I really don’t remember anything else about that day. It was much too stressful and busy and overwhelming.
Fourteen hours ago, today, Laura walked across a stage somewhere, and shook hands with some old person (probably) and walked back off the stage with a diploma in her hands. My graduation was from high school; her’s was from college. I’m very proud of her and her achievement, even if I don’t really know her all that well.
A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail invitation from Laura’s mother inviting me to an open house at her home in celebration of Laura’s graduation and I confirmed my attendance. My assumptions about tonight’s event were slightly off, but only slightly. This was not a party of Laura’s peers. Maybe I should have realized that her peers would all have their own family gatherings to attend on this important day and that it wouldn’t be a bunch of 22 year-olds hanging out with the “old guy”. Instead it was a bunch of Laura’s extended family and friends and former teachers and coaches. I was still the odd man out, but I wasn’t the oldest person there, by far. It’s OK. I anticipated it and didn’t expect anything different. Laura actually apologized to me– well, Me and Micah and Judy, for not spending more time with us. I told her, “Don’t be sorry. This is your day and all these people were here for you. Most of them have known you longer than I have. No one could expect you to spend very much time with them. You have nothing to feel bad about.”
When I decided, I was ready to leave, Micah decided he was ready to leave too. Apparently that thing about him understanding he had to find his own way home was not so much with the correct. I asked him where he expected me to take him. I didn’t really plan on taking him home since it was out of my way. He mumbled something about friends in The City and I told him, “I’M NOT TAKING YOU TO SAN FRANCISCO!” He laughed and told me he had said he needed to find out if they were there and I could just drop him at a BART station or something.
I told him I could drop him at the Fruitvale BART station which is right by my house and he said that would be fine. On the ride toward Oakland, he made some phone calls and found out what he needed to know and just as I was about to take the interchange from Highway 24 to Highway 13, toward my home, Micah said, “Um, you can just stay in this lane” in a tone that suggested he was innocently giving me directions how to get somewhere I hadn’t been before.
“I can?” I asked as I turned my blinker off. “Where am I taking you now?” Micah kind of hemmed and hawed before telling me he guessed I could just take him home. “I can?” I asked again. “Is that what would be most convenient for you?” We both laughed. It was sort of an inside joke, as he and I had discussed my issue with Judy earlier in the day. I decided to go ahead and take him all the way home because we were in the middle of a conversation that I deemed worth finishing.
Judy, apparently, had some issues in her attempt to take public transportation and she ended up choosing to go ahead and drive herself to the party. She arrived, under her own steam, shortly before 7:00 and immediately launched into her “Woe is me” story of trials and tribulations trying to get there. I acknowledge that is fairly normal human behavior given what she’d been through. I also acknowledge that I was already on edge with her and that I may have been predisposed to not like what she had to say.
I noticed something tonight, that I’ve never noticed before, though how I could miss it I do not know. Judy has to make everything about her. Every conversation, every story, every interaction, everything, Has. To be. About. Her. I would start to talk to Micah about something and she’d turn it around to be about her. I talked briefly to Laura about her day and Judy turned it around to be about her. Somehow I managed to walk through the house and into the back yard without noticing the photo gallery inside. As I was ready to leave I noticed some striking photographs of the San Francisco sky line, asked Laura’s mother who the photographer was, and found out that her mother is a professional photographer. Judy managed to make it about her.
As I pulled away from Laura’s mother’s house with Micah in my passenger seat, he ruminated about whether “we all” would really hang out together now that we are approaching the final week of the EMT class. I confided in Micah, “I know this is a terrible thing for me to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, because I’m a terrible person. I really like you and would like to keep hanging out with you. And I really like Laura and would like to get to know her better. But I don’t really enjoy hanging out with Judy all that much and I’m kind of afraid it’s an all or nothing kind of package deal.” I would hate to have my feelings about Judy get in the way of friendships with other people; on the other hand, I could see Judy getting in the way of being able to develop those friendships in the first place. I don’t know what’s going to come of that.
Toward the end of that conversation I told Micah that there was something specific that Judy had said in the past that gave me great concern about being friends with her. Judy has a tattoo on her leg of a rainbow-colored ichthus which one night before class Laura asked her about. Judy told her that it was an ichthus because it’s a symbol of God, and she wanted it rainbow-colored because it represented God’s covenant with Noah and his promise never to flood the earth again. Laura, just as innocently and endearingly as can be asked, “Is that why it’s used for gay pride?
Judy, rather indignantly in my opinion, said, “No! They stole it.” Her tone and demeanor actually reminded me of my mother and I was not impressed.
I told Micah this story… And I told him that I am gay. And in spite of my best intentions of not caring what other people think or whether they approve, I was nervous; cold and shaking. Micah, for his part said, “OK,” and moved on with the conversation. He still wants to hang out and be friends.
I’ve thought of telling him, all three of them, more than once, but I didn’t. First because I’m just not comfortable talking about it face to face with people, and I don’t know if I ever will be.
But the thing is, as dumb as it is, I kind of don’t want Laura to find out. I’m still kind of crushin’ on her. I know it’ll pass. I know it’s all in my head. I know nothing can come of it, but in the back of my mind, the thought keeps coming up that maybe it could and maybe her finding out that “I thought I was gay” will send her away before we get a chance.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just enjoying the fantasy. Lord knows that’s all it is. Maybe it’s just the idea of being in love and being loved AND being in an “acceptable relationship” (acceptable to society, but even more, acceptable to my mother) that’s so bewitching, but I can’t help feeling like Laura finding out will destroy that fantasy and I’m just not ready for that to happen, yet.
It felt good to be open and honest with yet another person though.
“For future reference, always assume I’ll be late,” he told me. “There should always be a 3o minute buffer.
Laura is graduating from college and her mother is having an “open house” for her tonight. I got the invitation from her mother, which seemed a little odd to me since I only met her once for about 10 minutes, but it’s a party for Laura and the invitation was to me, Micah and Judy. I accepted right away, even though I don’t know that I’ll stay very long. I’m making a lot of assumptions about what this thing is going to be like but I would think there will be a lot of Laura’s friends, Laura’s age, from her college, at this event. I won’t belong. That’s OK. Tomorrow is a laundry day and I don’t need to be out late tonight.
Judy called me out in the hall before class on Wednesday, ostensibly to have me sign a card she had gotten for Laura to go with a gift certificate, or something that we’re going in on together as a gift for Laura. The card was remarkably tacky and I kind of wish I hadn’t signed it but what’s done is done. While I was signing the card, Judy told me that she plans to ride BART tonight because she doesn’t want to have to drive in the traffic from where she works to where the party is. Admittedly, it’s a long way and since Judy doesn’t usually get off work until 6:00 it would be late before she gets there. “So I was thinking I could call you when I get there and you can come get me. I wouldn’t want Laura or her mom to have to leave the party.”
No, you’d just like to assume that I’ll be at your beck and call and won’t mind having to leave the party.
I got a text from her this morning telling me that it looked like she’d be getting off work around 4:00 instead of 6:00 “which should help my commute time.” A few minutes later I got a text from Micah asking “Would I be able to trouble you for a ride tonight?”
I struggle with these things. I really don’t want to play taxi service or chauffeur. I don’t really mind driving Micah to the party if he’s ready when I am because he’s near by and I’m going there anyway, but…
I sent a reply to them both, “OK. Here’s the deal. I’m planning on leaving work right at 5:00 and heading to Laura’s mother’s house. I’m also not planning on staying particularly long as I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.
“Micah IF you can be at my office AT 5:00 you can ride with me. Otherwise you’ll have to figure out another way.
“Judy, I think you should drive. you’re gonna want to stay later than I will and so will Micah, probably. You’ll both need a way home that won’t be me.”
Judy replied to tell me, “Laura said she’d come get me, but I didn’t want her to have to leave the party. So, I’ll just call you when I am getting close to see if you are willing to pick me up. If not, again, no worries.” So now if I don’t come pick her I’m the dick who “made” Laura leave her own graduation party to come pick up the person who couldn’t be bothered to take care of her own needs.
Micah’s response was that I should assume that he will be late and that there should be a 30 minute buffer. “I assume you did that,” he added. “I always assume I can get anywhere in 5 minutes.”
“No, I told you the real time that’s why ‘IF’ and ‘AT’ were in caps. In that case, be here at 4:00,” I told him.
I do not get this mentality. I absolutely respect people who can speak up for themselves and their own needs (clearly I’m not especially good at it.) But it is so not OK to inconvenience other people with those needs.
I told Micah, he needed to be here by 5:00 and that he should let me know when he gets here because by then I could genuinely forget about him. I also told him if he wasn’t here by 5:00 I would leave without him and he’d have to find his own way. Even still I fully expect a call from him a few minutes before 5:00 telling me he’s running late. I’ll decide then if I’m going to wait for him (probably.) I also told him he’d have to find his own way home and he’s fine with it.
If Judy wants me to give her a ride, she should be at my office at 5:00 as well, except that means she’d have to leave work at 3:00 and she might as well just drive herself. At some point it all just becomes ridiculous! Judy’s solution to finding her own way home is to have Laura, or Laura’s mother, take her back to the BART station.
Am I being unreasonable? I’m not perfect. I know I’ve made requests of Michelle that were inconvenient but I have tried to limit that to rides to the airport and taking me to the hospital and staying with me when I had surgery. And only because I have no one else around here to ask for such things. Beyond that, I really try to take care of my own needs. Is it unreasonable to expect everyone else to do the same?
Updated: The moment I hit send on this post I headed out to get some lunch because I had less than an hour before my next meeting and I hadn’t eaten yet. I told K, “I’m going to go get some lunch before I run out of time.”
She said, “Ooo. Where’re you going? Will you get me some fries?”
Timing is everything.
… or you guys are going to give up on me and just assume I’ve lost my mind.
That may not be all that far from the truth.
I just don’t really know what to say anymore.
One day last week after class, Mr. Williams and I were talking about some of the students. Many of these “kids” are not doing as well as they should be, and for the first time, I’m beginning to see a little bit of wisdom in the way Mr. Williams approached things with my class. I don’t think he needed to be quite so much of an asshole as he was, but he has been super easy on this class and now they’re paying the price. They didn’t have all the pressure on them that we had, because he wasn’t so demanding and because he only did two chapters a week instead of three and now they are scrambling, on their own time, to get through the rest of the reading before their final which is this Wednesday.
We spent the last three class sessions doing skills tests. Since I am a certified EMT I can do the testing and I have done all of the Trauma Assessment tests thus far. Not everyone has tested, but most of them have and of the ones that tested, most of them failed. Even the class brainiacs who I expected to do well, failed the test. In some cases, it was on a technicality. Judy failed because she didn’t initiate high-flow oxygen for her patient (well, pretend to anyway.) She said that she didn’t feel that her patient needed oxygen since he was not showing signs of respiratory distress, and technically she’s right, but, it’s right on the testing sheet that “failed to initiate high-flow oxygen for the patient” is an automatic fail and we’ve been stressing this with the students all semester. She gets a second chance to take the test and she’ll do just fine, but she should have passed the first time.
We lost half the class at the midterm because they didn’t pass the test, I’m not sure that all of the rest of them will pass the final and all their skills tests. Last Wednesday, they were all afraid to come to me for their Trauma Assessment test because everyone who took it on Monday failed. That wasn’t my doing, it was theirs, but of course I have the reputation of being the guy who fails everybody. I was very glad that most of the people who did take in on Wednesday passed so now they know it wasn’t me.
Tonight, I am conducting a review for the final and they take the final on Wednesday. Next week we will finish skills testing and then this class will be over. It feels like it went so fast; much faster than my class.
I’m kind of glad it’s ending. I’m tired of having to run from work to school two nights a week. I’ve given up a lot of my personal time to meet with students and help them practice skills. Most of the one’s I have helped, have passed the skills and so it makes me unhappy that the rest of them didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were presented. But I’ll be glad to have my time back. On the other hand, it makes me kind of sad because I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to make use of my knowledge and skills and I don’t want it to fade away.
I’m working on my resume, something I’m not skilled at and I’m waiting for some feedback from some people on it. Once that’s done, I’ll start applying to jobs and see what comes of it. I still don’t know how I’m going to support myself working in this field, but maybe if I just try it’ll work out.
I want to try to make a “teaching” resume as well, and I’d like to see if I can’t work part-time as a safety trainer; maybe with the company my employer uses, maybe with the Red Cross, maybe with another entity I don’t yet know about, I don’t know. I just know that I need to make a change.