Working At Night

Copyright Carolyn J BrownWorking nights used to bother me. Not the getting-up-at-1 am-to-go-to-work part. Although, that did take about 3 weeks to get used to. I’m talking about the actual dealing-with-life-in-the-dark part. It used to really worry me: waking my neighbors, worrying about the people nearby who might be awake, who might wonder why there’s a car leaving at 2:30 am. But, I’ve come to accept a few things. The reality is this… I had to let go of what I thought was “normal people time”.

Working night shift not only means getting up at 1 am on your shift day, it also means doing the same thing on your days off. Unless you’ve got a whole string of days off at once, which let’s face it, most people don’t. Whatever you think normally happens during the daytime – like doing everything from cooking, to washing the dog, to taking out the trash, you are probably going to end up doing before the sun comes up so you can enjoy the rest of your “day” off.

Don’t worry, people are going to think you are weird. So just get over it, and live life to the fullest.

And by all means, enjoy the moonlight.

A Sudden Appreciation for Silence

A Sudden Appreciation for Silence

I started losing my hearing back in 1981, when I was 11 years old. This was probably due to multiple ear infections and viral illnesses in childhood. My ENT doctor in 1981, told me I would one day lose most of my hearing and require sign language to communicate – probably by adulthood. By age 14, it was bad enough that I needed a hearing aid. I magically “lost” it a year later and learned to ignore my partial deafness – read lips, pay very close attention to what people said, including their body language. I started reading books at the library about sign language (now called ASL, in a politically correct world) when I was in high school, and practiced on my own for fun since I had no real use for it. That exposure opened many doors for speaking new languages and just “being open” to communication.

It’s been 30 years since then, and after a lifetime of subtle quietness, the deafness has finally started to progress again. Of course, I knew I needed a hearing aid, but with my fixed income, I could never afford one through an audiologist. Even the cheap ones are hundreds of dollars. I researched “over-the-counter hearing enhancement” devices and found one for $30 at CVS. Ironically, it looks exactly like my old hearing aid that I magically lost in a fit of teenage embarrassment, except it doesn’t require batteries – I recharge it overnight just like I do my cell phone. It works perfectly, and I would recommend it to anyone who truly needs it. (It’s called an MSA-30X Sound Amplifier).

Now that I’ve worn it to work and my coworkers have seen me with my hair in a pony tail, sporting this thing wrapped behind my ear lobe, I’ve been confident enough to wear it everywhere – and let me tell you something that I didn’t notice before: People in general, are as loud as chickens in a coop. Clucking together like hens! Even when people are quiet, theres background music everywhere! Or noise from TV sets that are placed everywhere you go. Grocery stores have it, shopping malls, the hospital, the elevator?? And everyone feels like their opinion matters, and that they know more than you do about any given topic, so they have to show you what they know, even if the subject is something intangible and immeasurable. I’d give a dollar if people would just be quiet.

You sure can’t enjoy life if you’re busy pecking at somebody, showing off your pointless trivia, or nit picking, or worried about what someone did, or said about somebody else.

And todays quote-unquote “music”?? I never really tried to understand the words before, because it was muffled and garbled like everything else. Some of it is STILL undecipherable, and others, I wish I never found out the lyrics.

When I’m at work, I enjoy not having to guess what people say anymore. When I’m not at work, I enjoy being able to turn off the crap and retreat into a quiet universe. Take it from someone who never really heard you until recently: If you’re a chicken pecker – just talking to be heard? You sound like an idiot. Do us all a favor, and shut up.

Friendships and technology

 

True friendship is priceless and can’t be measured, contained, defined, or bound by any earthly means. I’m aware of that. But God put something in my heart just now, that will bust me at the seams if I don’t write it out. I wanted to look at how friendships have changed as technology has changed over just a lifetime.

 

 

 

In the 70’s:  Hanging out with a friend meant going out of your house and walking,or riding your bike, to your friends house or to your favorite “hang out” corner, and talking face to face. You could also call someone on the phone, if that person had a phone.  Fights, backstabbing and lies were less common, because the person doing the lying/backstabbing had to deal with their victim face to face.  

 

 

 

In the late 80’s: we had this groovy brand new thing called the “world wide web” or “bulletin board” that required you to do a wild hook up with some Radio Shack purchased phone adapter gadget that looked like it was swallowing your phone – and I mean the old fashioned kind of phone, with a “microphone speaker” and a “voice speaker”, then dialing 16 numbers to connect long distance (which resulted in AT&T sending your mother a bill for $1000 the next month) to a server, and waiting for about 30 minutes for the connection, that would happen at the amazing speed of about 300 baud.  Never heard of baud? There’s a reason. This was usually encompassed by nights of D&D, inventing new DOS programs in order to play TIC TAC TOE on a green screen, and typing the words IF and THEN until your keyboard died.  The connection was with usually 1 friend at a time. You had the ability to be anonymous only if that person could not track down your physical address by using your phone number.

 

 

 

Between the early and late 90’s,people used e-mail to contact others, or chat rooms at places like AOL (these chatrooms were as crowded as a baseball stadium and getting the “boot” was an everyday experience). Writing an email required more thought back in those days – to actually type out a “letter” and type out the email address, and send it. The dial-up experience was getting a little faster, it was 9600 baud by then if memory serves, and phone companies were getting with the program by allowing free long distance!!!!!

 

 

 

Between 2000 – Myspace:  Keeping in touch with friends meant going to a forum (writing an email to a friend and saying “You should check out this forum, we can talk there, they have a quiet and private chatroom!”), typing in yourscreen name and password, and reading pages and pages, finding “the right one” to respond to with your thoughts. Friendships were capable of being many, but a lot of contact meant a lot of multi-tasking. Connection time was DSL, very fast and reliable.  A few more bullies, but it was manageable. You could always open your own free forum for your friends to use to get away from hurtful people online.

 

 

 

Myspace: Our first taste of instant gratification, mass appearances of anonymous bullying online, and speaking to friends and relatives very easily.

 

 

 

And then came wi-fi, Facebook, and mobile uploading of photos/status updates:  Staying in touch with a friend or relative is as easy as following them on your news feed – in essence they come to you, so speaking to them requires no effort. At the same time, if you want to be a blazing asshole and show the world how much you need to shut your mouth by not doing so – no effort is required, and you can even do it anonymously, thanks to Facebook allowing multiple accounts to the same IP address (using a different email to set up an alternate account).

 

 

 

And then came the government legally monitoring every thing we say and who we contact, day to day. It was bound to happen, but did you notice that it only happened when we made it easy?

 

 

 

All of the above is a reminder to me of just how precious true friendships really are, and how with great power comes great responsibility.  

 

 

 

Thank you to all of my friends for being there, especially the ones who have made every effort to stay in touch – through us all growing up and moving, through our marriages, divorces, job changes, technology changing around us, and our ever-changing homefront.  

 

3 small steps

Three survival tools will help you in your battle against agoraphobia. The first is taking that first step. The second is taking that first step. And the third… is taking that first step.

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I wrote this in response to this weeks Trifecta challenge. We were supposed to use this quote by Henry James as a guide. 

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.
–Henry James

There were a few things that I wanted to write about, but this one seemed the most important.  Agoraphobia is a lonely existence.  Being the caretaker of an agoraphobic is hard, not because of the work of having to do everything outside the home, but because you watch your loved one suffer in the prison of their mind.  You think an agoraphobic doesn’t want to go outside? Doesn’t want to go to a doctor for help? Doesn’t want to open the blinds? Doesn’t want to go back to their job? Doesn’t want to share a trip downtown with their family to run some mindless errand?

It’s all they think about, when they watch you go out the door….

‘Lead Me’

I first heard this song in 2010. I was in a marriage that left me broken and used. The song convicted me, because I wanted so much for my husband to be a godly partner and father, to be someone who I could freely love and worship God with. I prayed for this for 17 years. It didn’t happen. After years of threats, battering, and manipulation, that marriage finally fell apart in 2011. My worst fear came true and I lost my children, but  God knew what would happen, even when no one else did, and like the ever-watchful Guardian, He’s been there since the beginning.

Two years ago, after my failed marriage, when my world was completely turned upside down, God saved me when I was drowning in sorrow.  He reunited me with my childhood friend Adam.  Adam helped my soul heal.  He didn’t know it, but he was God’s instrument.

Instrument…. that has more than one meaning to Adam.  Adam is a lifetime musician.  Since he was old enough to hold an instrument, he’s played…whatever he can get his hands on. You leave him alone with it for ten minutes and he figures it out. Well, God has left me alone with him for two years  🙂  Over 24 months I’ve seen him grow from out of his own shell, and release emotional pain that has manifested physically.  I’ve watched him survive a stroke and rebuild himself slowly, and have been extremely blessed to watch as he accepted Christ and became a baptized believer, with the conviction of a knight.  My heart was renewed that day.

The Bible says in 1st Peter 3:1, Wife, be subject to your own husband, so that even if he does not obey the word, he may be won without a word by your conduct.  My grandmother told me that verse when I was in my mid-20′s. I was newly married at the time to my (now ex) husband, and I had asked her what to do, a little bit desperate, because my husband was not Christian.  We didn’t share the same beliefs about God.  Very clearly, the Bible gave instruction. I prayed every day during our marriage (which lasted from 1995-2011), for him to be baptized, for him to share time with me reading the Bible at home everyday.  He was jealous of my relationship with God. At first, he scoffed at me for seeking out a church home,and then belittled me when I taught Sunday school, and then he came to accept my doing this, but he never condoned it.

Deep down inside, I knew that my ex-husband and I would divorce someday, not knowing the how or the when or the why, so in faith I continued to serve my husband, and love him. Sometimes that required work. I had to force myself to love him. He was cold and insensitive, and constantly spewed ugliness out of his mouth, sometimes breaking me down, which made me feel worthless.  Sometimes we even fought physically, because I would constantly fail in my husband eyes.

Faith was my strength. In God and in the verses like that one in 1st Peter.  I leaned on God.  I lived in a constant state of prayer. I believed that God was watching and protecting me and my children, even as I was attacked by my spouse, as I lost various freedoms over the years due to his jealousy of my relationships with family and friends.  And when he threw me out in 2011, when he bribed my children to stay with him instead of going with me, I still prayed and leaned on God’s understanding – which is greater than my understanding.

During this time, I’ve been surviving…. and I wanted to do more than just survive, I wanted life.  I longed for the closeness that God, and no one else, gives me.  So I grieved the loss of my children. I grieved the loss of security and self, and let it go. That was a very hard transition.  During this time, God has been building me up to prepare me for discipleship.  I do this with a humble heart.

Even though Adam and I have been a couple now for 2 years, I feel as if we are at the beginning of something beautiful, because we are now both Christians who both love God, and we want to share that with others, in celebration for all that God has done, is doing, and will do. I feel like God rewarded me for my faith all those years, for putting my trust in Him, for giving the life that was out of my control over to Him.

It’s true…my children are still living with my ex-husband. My heart still aches for them. But my heart is healing. Adams heart is healing. What a difference it makes in your life, when you just let Jesus in! Watching Adam be baptized renewed my soul. Sharing bible time together as we both grow in Christ and allow ourselves to be molded, and praying together, is such a gift! It’s such a peaceful foundation to root and grow a relationship.

Thank you God, for everything. For convicting my heart back then, for protecting my children through all that has changed, and for convicting Adam to become a godly partner, molded by You, just for me. You are the Great Physician, and truly the Miracle Worker.

Peripheral Vision

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In my childhood memories, he was always there in the corner of my eye.  He would appear calm in the face of adversity or chaos, bringing sunlight to a soul walking alone, while we both waited for the moment when we would finally meet.  Did he know then, that my heartbeat followed his? My imaginary friend, my angel… the voice that kept me safe in the dark.

I wrote this for the 79th Trifecta writing challenge. Adam and me first met in 1986, when we were teenagers.  Since then, we’ve felt each others presence no matter where life has taken us, even during a 19 year stretch of time when we were out of contact, due to circumstances beyond our control.  Since then my heart beat strong when he was close by, and it has ached in a physically measurable way when we were apart. Recently his mother gave him a photo album made of his baby photos, childhood photos, every photo she had of him dating up to the present. It was a beautiful piece of artwork in itself.  Looking at his baby and childhood pictures made me realize that….I had known him all along. I knew him for years before we met. I recognized his spirit in his childhood pictures, as the imaginary friend I had, who would sometimes visit me in my childhood, especially (that I recall) between the ages of 4 and 7.  That explains why when we met that first day in 1986, both of us were overcome not with the newness of being introduced to a stranger, but with something that felt more akin to “It’s so good to finally find you. Thank God you’re really real!”

The Undertow

This Trifecta challenge was a tribute to a hero in 33 words. Well, hello. I’m a barista! My hero is made of roasted beans, and its harvested by a family that makes a life out of growing coffee, and has probably done so for generations.  God bless them all. 

Aroma of Irish creme, cold shot of breve,  splashed by the heavenly double shot of espresso that rains down from around the spoon. You devilishly, caffeinated angel! Awaken these senses and comprehensive thoughts!