Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mourning Period

Turning in my flight attendant badge, key, and manual was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I walked into a room where I usually felt comfortable, not knowing if there would be people that I knew or cared about or had never met. I had hoped that if anyone I knew was there, it would at least be a friend. The only person I saw there was a girl who worked behind the front desk - meaning she was a flight attendant who was working in the crew room for a bit, helping supervise the comings and goings of thousands of flight attendants. She was friendly, asked me why I had decided to quit, and asked me if I wanted to speak to my supervisor. Now, I have no beef with Continental Airlines or the company in general. I did have problems with my supervisor (there are bad eggs in every company, and this guy was a real jerk). I left suddenly, after a quick fight with my supervisor, knowing that I would not be qualified for rehire. So when I entered the crew room, I spoke with the friendly girl who worked at the duty desk, and told her that I definitely not want to speak to Matt the Supervisor because he had treated me badly. I also told her that my doctor had been telling me for over a year that this job was making me sick, but I chose to ignore him until the last minute. As sweet as she was, and as much as she tried to help, I left the crew room crying and had to walk alone back through half of the Houston Intercontinental Airport, which as a whole is about as big as my hometown. Luckily, I saw a friend of mine. Not a close friend in the long run, but with flight attendants you grow strangely close very quickly for short periods of time. As soon as I saw him, I made a beeline straight to him and began bawling all over his uniform. The sweetheart that he is, my friend Adnor talked me back down to a calmer state. We had previously discussed why I was quitting, and he reminded me of all the good things about leaving this job. As much as I loved being a flight attendant (which was a ton), I also hated it, and it made me miserable. After saying my final goodbyes with Adnor, the Houston Airport, and the world in which I had lived for three years, I met my father and brother outside. I didn't realize before I quit just how hard it would be, and neither did my father or brother. I finally had to tell them to pay attention to me for a minute because I was in a bad place (they are not the most observant, but they are men). I needed to mourn, and I needed company. 
Lately I've been wondering when I'm going to move on. I'm over it. I'm done with the wishing I could be in the air or wake up in a foreign country. I hate that I miss packing my suitcase and eating airplane food so much. I think it's a bit sad that one of my favorite skills that I have is pouring drinks from two different cans at the same time and not spilling - yes, I was that good. I even miss wearing my polyester uniform that did not breathe. But, unfortunately, I am still in mourning. I've also wondered if it even counts that I'm mourning a relationship that wasn't with a living being. Obviously if I had lost a pet or broken up with a boyfriend, it makes sense. But quitting my job? I broke up, suddenly, with Continental Airlines and my job as a flight attendant, things that meant so much to me.
According to How I Met Your Mother, the mourning period for a break up is one of three options: half of the time the relationship lasted (almost 1.5 years), one week for every month you were in the relationship (32 weeks), or 10,000 drinks (I decided that "from the time it takes you to walk from the bed to the door" did not apply to me, as I am already out the door). I am nowhere close to any of these. Is there some kind of curve for different types of relationships or the way they ended? My dog died over two years ago, and I am still in mourning for her. If the mourning period is half the time of the relationship, then I have 5 more years to be sad! It's too much for me. As much as I loved Sophie, I don't want to miss her like I do for 5 more years. And I definitely don't want to miss my job for another year, or so. I want to remember the good times we had together and know that Sophie is in a better place, and I am in a healthier, happier place than before. I hear myself say these things and think that it is ridiculous to be so attached to something that I have already had at least 6 others before without mourning them. But this is how I feel, and I can't just make it stop. I guess flying was my first true job-love, even though I have had other jobs that I really liked. We just weren't meant for happily ever after. This was also the first time that I didn't end a job on completely amicable terms, which may be another factor, according to one friend of mine. So, please bear with me as I attempt to get over a rough breakup by working on those 10,000 drinks, listening to sad songs and sing them as if they applied to me, and talk about how much I miss flying, even if it was just a job, as opposed to a boyfriend. Truth be told, being a flight attendant is more than a job, it's a way of life. Does that justify my feelings a little bit more?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Every little girl's dream

Every little girl dreams about her wedding day. I started dreaming so young that I can't remember a time when I wasn't planning a wedding. Throughout the years, a lot has changed: the groom (now he's just a faceless man), the size of the dress (poofy 80s sleeves are so out right now), the bridesmaids (my best friends now are completely different than those at age 12, save for one), and the guest list (I now actually have people in mind, rather than the masses of adoring fans I thought would come to see me wed). But why is this day so important to us? These are the reasons why I shouldn't get married now: I'm not emotionally ready to commit my life to someone; I don't have any money to pay for a wedding; I like having lots of options in my life; and, oh yeah, I don't even have a boyfriend. I'm also at peace with the fact that I may never get married. Not everyone does, and that's okay. But I want my wedding. Last night I was thinking, maybe I should throw myself a wedding to marry myself, like that girl in that Lifetime movie. Then I'll be sure to fall in love with someone and marry them instead. I don't know if it's the fact that my wedding day would be all about me (the groom is always secondary in these situations), or if weddings are just more fun to plan than other things, or if we are all ingrained with the idea that we are supposed to get married, or maybe even jealousy that everyone else my age seems to be getting hitched, but my wedding is constantly on my mind. I am also currently planning my friend's wedding, and seeing as we will be each other's maids of honor, I think I have that right. I don't have a scrapbook or a wedding binder like some people really do, but it's all in my head, and on those websites that let you dress your weddings...
I have my Winter wedding all planned out, and it's beautiful. My Spring wedding is still a work in progress. I want to be prepared for either situation, just in case. Spring/Summer is more difficult because there seem to be more choices. Then there is the question of planning Anna's hypothetical wedding (my maid of honor). I know her so well, but weddings are a tricky thing. You don't want to anger the bride - it's HER day! So I am really struggling with which dress to pick out of two that are perfect for her, and which bridesmaids dresses out of every dress ever.
Flowers are hard to pick, because there are so many beautiful ones. If I have a wedding in the Spring, I want all kinds of bright, beautiful, Southern flowers around. I don't even care what kind. My problem is that my favorite flowers are pansies, and they are more difficult to put in a bouquet. But if I have a wedding in the Winter, they'll be there, mark my words.
The music for my wedding is an easy choice. I recently asked the manager of my favorite band (Sister Hazel) if they do weddings, and SCORE! They do. My future husband is going to surprise me by hiring Sister Hazel as our band for the reception. Isn't that sweet of him? And I know exactly how it will go: He'll get up to make an announcement about how much he loves me and how much he appreciates all of our guests and he'll say to me "It's all for you." Then Sister Hazel will come out and play their song, All For You. I will get teary eyed and jump up and down, screaming. Then, our first dance together will be This Kind of Love, which is such a beautiful love song.
The guest list for me, at this point, is easy. I want everyone that I care about to be there to celebrate me and my love. So many people have had a big impact on my life, and I want to show them how much I appreciate them by asking them to buy me presents, I mean come to my party. But don't think you can have yourself a wedding, not invite me, and then get an invite to my wedding. It doesn't work that way, honey.
So, I have rambled on about weddings that may never even come to be so that you can see how much girls/women actually think about their big day. I'm not sure we'll ever know just why girls start planning for something they may never have at such a young age, or even at all if they aren't about to get married. But I know that it will continue to happen, and that it is something important to us, even if those dreams never do come true. At least we'll have our memories of our fake weddings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is it dizzy in here, or is it just me?

For four days this past week I was almost completely incapacitated due to an extreme case of vertigo. I have Meniere's Disease, so when I eat too much salt, trouble ensues. When I was flying on a regular basis I had a general idea of what my salt-intake limit was. Being thrown around during turbulence and during take-off and landings while going some 500+ miles an hour really helps you determine those limits. But now that I'm on the ground and my body is a lot more stable, I'm having a hard time figuring it out. Plus, this has only happened to me three times on the ground during the past three years, so it's hard to remember just how much makes me sick. My friend Katie suggested a food journal documenting how much salt I eat throughout the day. The problem with this idea is twofold: 1. I'm unreliable when it comes to these sorts of things. I get really great ideas and follow them through for at least one day. At least. Problem 2. Determining how much salt is in your diet is not an exact science. Well, it is an exact science, if you know exactly how much of everything you are eating and how much salt is in everything you are eating. I'm more of a guesstimator. So today, I think I had about 600mg of salt. But that's just a guess, so I could be way off! I need an app on my phone that will keep track of these things for me. They make them for calories, and such, why not salt? Plus, my phone is total crap. It doesn't do anything good. Except for sudoku and crossword puzzles. And it has three different places for lists so you can make lists anyway you want (and I do love a good list). But other than that, total crap. So I guess I'll keep a guesstimation journal of my salt intake. At least for a couple of days.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beethoven's Queen Sophia

I had the same best friend for almost fourteen years. Her name was Sophie. We went for walks almost every day for the first seven years. She was there for me when I hated the world and I believed the world hated me. My awkward phase didn't phase her. She protected me from those who would do me harm. A friend of mine was a friend of Sophie's. For the last seven years she slept beside me every night I spent at my mother's house. Every time I left for college, she begged me not to go and sulked after I left. When I was away we would talk on the phone so I could tell her I still loved her. She came to me when she was frightened. When I did something wrong, she wasn't afraid to let me know. We played games together, took naps together, built snowmen together (very small ones in Alabama), and dressed for Halloween together. She would play rough, but was always careful not to hurt me. When I made her play with my cats, even though she was terrified of them, she just sat there and took it. If I needed someone to talk to, someone who wouldn't judge me, someone who would keep my secrets, Sophie was always there. If you told her to look for me, she'd come running. She even rescued me one time when I was drifting away at the lake. When I wanted a hug or a kiss, she came prepared. And she could hold it in all day, because she never went to the bathroom where she wasn't supposed to (after she was potty-trained). She was my dog, and I was her girl. Even though she was a family dog and clearly loved everyone else, too, Sophie and I had a special connection. Maybe it was because we were almost like sisters, growing up together. 

This isn't to say that Sophie was perfect. She was no "My Dog Skip." We got into fights, like all friends do. There were times when she would run away from home only to be found at the Piggly Wiggly across the highway. When we put her on a diet, she would get out and eat the neighbor dog's food. She stole other people's newspapers and ate through all of her toys the day she got them (even the so-called indestructible ones). She always fought when you tried to give her a bath. She chewed up several of my Beanie Babies and would steal my socks and hide them. One time she jumped in our neighbor's pool, even though the pool cover was still on, and almost ripped through the cover. She had awful breath and didn't care that I didn't want to smell it. But her gas was the worst: she would let one rip right next to you, then leave the room before it started to stink. There was a time when I thought Sophie preferred my friend Beth to me. She didn't always sit when I asked, and very rarely stayed. One Easter morning, she ate most of the chocolate that the Easter Bunny had left before us kids were even awake. She would step on you with all 80 to 100 pounds of her body (depending on what time of her life you're looking at), and she snored like an old, fat man. She cried when you gave her a bone or a piece of bread. As Sophie got older, she got more crotchety. She started sleeping upstairs in my room (her decision!), even though she wasn't allowed upstairs. At 5:00 on the dot she would bark until you fed her. She would also bark if she wanted to be petted and you weren't doing so.

It's been nearly two years since we had to put Sophie down. Her kidneys had failed her and there was nothing more anyone could do. I remained calm as we made the decision; my mother cried and told us it was for the best. My baby brother, who looks more like a man, began to weep. I held my shaking puppy, bawling, as she peacefully fell asleep. 

Two years later Sophie is still in this house, my mother's house. Some nights as I close up shop, I can hear her following me up to bed. Sometimes I smell a familiar stench and wonder if she's just left the room because it was a doozy. I can hear her breathing, her tail beating against the furniture, her barking. But mostly, she comes to me in my dreams. Dreams where I'm doing everything I can to try and save her from terrible things, all the while knowing that I won't get to keep her. My dreams can be horrible, but when I wake up, I know that it's just my sub-conscious missing my puppy. So, I cherish the nights when I have happy dreams about her, and I smile when I hear her nearby. I know that that is Sophie reminding me that she loves me. Sophie lived for almost fourteen years, which is a very long time for a Golden Retriever. The day that Sophie died, our vet told us that a dog lives as long as the love it gets, and our love was enough to keep her around for a long time. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twilight: A Beautiful Love Story?

The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer has become one of the most known pop-culture references of our time. The story of "true love" between a girl and her vampire boyfriend is one that girls and women of all ages aspire to have someday. Edward Cullen's primal instinct to protect Bella at any cost, to keep her from harm's way, is supposed to be beautiful. Stephenie Meyer even references Romeo and Juliet in her novels, suggesting that Edward and Bella have a love just as strong and as pure. I disagree.

I have to admit that I was a fan of Twilight for a short period of time. For months I refused to read the books because people had said that they were the next Harry Potter. I did not want to support anything that was trying to replace the great Harry Potter. I just couldn't! But once I finally gave in and read the books, I couldn't put them down. They were intriguing and exciting. I was hooked. When I enjoy books as much as I enjoyed Twilight, I tend to reread them. I want to make sure I didn't miss anything; I want to know everything about them. But as I reread this particular series, the books lost their luster. I realized that the writing was not by a real author, but by someone who was no more talented than I am (and I have told you, I am not an author). The story doesn't always hold up, there are typos, and the characters have very little depth. But the most disappointing part of the series is that these books are setting a bad example for girls everywhere.

Bella is the root of the problem here. She is too weak to stand on her own two feet. The relationships that I have seen work the best are those with two separate people who know who they are as individuals and what they want in life and work together to achieve those goals. If you aren't enough by yourself, being in a relationship is even more difficult. After seeing my parents get divorced, and my mother remarried, I believe this even more. I pity Bella because she is not a strong enough person to be alone; when Edward leaves her, she barely survives; when Jacob attempts to leave, she threatens to go back into her intense depression. Every relationship ends someday, whether through a break-up or death, and people survive and persevere. But Bella refuses to do that, and I cannot respect someone who won't even attempt to move on. The only reason that Bella finally visits with Jacob after being dumped by Edward is because her father threatens to send her away, and she could not bare to be far away, in case Edward came back.

Stephanie Meyer believes that she is portraying true and everlasting love. Two people who would give their lives for each other, even though they are only 17. Wait, what? I understand that Romeo and Juliet were very young when they died together, but we live in a different time. And I understand that Edward is actually 117, but Bella isn't. She vows to spend the rest of her life with Edward almost instantly after getting to know him and before she can even legally vote. I know that there are exceptions to every rule: that some people really do marry out of high school and spend their lives together. But remember, Edward and Bella are planning on spending eternity together, and that's a bit longer than most people's lives.

My main problem with this love affair is the way that Edward and Bella treat each other. Edward is in charge. When he doesn't like what Bella's doing, he makes other arrangements so that she can't do them. He tries to choose her friends and even stalks her. She has no life or friends outside of their relationship and doesn't want them. All Bella wants is to be with Edward. She finally decides that she likes Jacob alright and will hang out with him some, but only when it's okay with Edward.  This is sick! Little girls all over the world are seeing this and saying "I want to marry a man like Edward." Someone who attempts to commit suicide because he heard you died and he was so distraught that he didn't bother checking the facts? Someone who follows you around, watches you sleep, has to know where you are at all times, and won't let you be with your friends? This is why there are now commercials for teenagers about the difference between caring and controlling. Children listen to these "romantic" stories and hope that they can live them out. I hear them and I'm creeped out. Meyer's version of love is one that belittles women and gives dominance to the man. I don't know if this has anything to do with her Mormon background (though my grandmother and my ex-Mormon grandpa would say it does), but I do hope that Stephenie Meyer never finds a relationship like the one she's portrayed. I hope that this woman finds a man who lets her have her say in the relationship; someone who treats her like an equal, as opposed to a frail, helpless, being; someone who allows her to have her own friends and her own life outside of the relationship. And, most importantly, I hope that Stephenie Meyer never finds a man who wants to drink her blood!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Roof Over My Head

Having a roof over one's head is something that most people take for granted. Most of us go home where our roofs protect from the sun, snow, hail, lightning, and other elements of the weather. Most people don't even worry about their roofs until there is a problem. I am so thankful that my mother and her husband have a roof that they are willing to share with me, because my unemployment checks do not provide me with enough income to pay for my own roof. A couple of months back, I was staying at their house (visiting while I still had a job as a flight attendant) and woke up in the middle of the night by a loud thunderstorm. It was a perfectly routine storm, with one tiny detail that worried me: a dripping sound inside my room. Now there have been two water spots on the ceiling of this bedroom for as long as I can remember. I'm sure they weren't there when my mama bought the house, but I can't remember a time without them there. Mama had known about them for a while. My stepfather Henry had known about them for a while. But no one worried, because the spots weren't hurting anyone. Well, after this big storm, we realized that something had to be done. My imagination went straight to the entire ceiling collapsing on top of me in the middle of the night during the next big rain. Luckily, my hysterical thoughts did not come to fruition, but there was another large water spot and another drip. Henry patched the roof up and called in the professionals.

This morning I awoke from my cough syrup induced slumber to loud bangs and clangs outside my window (yes, I am still sick). The roofers were here. "How am I going to sleep today?" I wondered. Construction noises are generally thought of as a nuisance. But then I remembered, the sound of roofing is beautiful. The ripping up of worn out shingles and replacing them with new ones that will protect us from the weather is a sight to behold. Professionals do this in such a way that it seems easy, but I know better. Some of my favorite times as a teenager were spent roofing houses with my church youth group. Coordinating a team of people to lay shingle after shingle, and have them do it right, is something that I appreciate more than ever. I have known for years how hard the work is: laboring in the heat on top of shingles so hot they burn your skin through your jeans, sweating the entire time that you are trying to line everything up quickly and perfectly, all the while managing to not fall off the roof. But now that I have remembered what having a roof means, the whole process is even more beautiful to me. Before, roofing was about working as a team with my friends and feeling good because we were helping others in the process. But   having a roof, a good roof, means that you don't have to be afraid of the ceiling collapsing and your valuables, whether valuable monetarily or sentimentally, will be ruined. It means not fearing for your life when the lightning strikes around you (which has also happened to me, but we can discuss that later). Having a roof means that you are not sleeping in the snow or wondering if you'll even have a place to sleep tonight. And I understand this now more than I ever have in my life. Cheesy, I may be. But thankful for being able to have a quality roof over my head, I definitely am. So I don't mind the sound of the men hammering away above my head and outside my window as I am trying to take my afternoon nap. I'll just try to pretend that the rhythmic hammering and scraping and pounding of the nail gun is a lullaby. And maybe I'll take some more cough syrup...