When it comes to vacations, cruising, in our opinion, gives you the best bang for your buck. We explain how we got started cruising and why we love cruising so much.
Please be patient, this is our first podcast and we have a lot to learn.
We chose this topic because it’s always front and center of our conversations, at least lately. We love going on cruises, we love experiencing cruises and we thought we might be able to share our experiences and how we got started for anyone interested in hearing about it and/or anyone who is thinking of taking a cruise.
I apologize in advance. I’m a fast talker anyway and I talk fast in this episode. I will work on slowing down. Talking doesn’t come naturally to Kevin, he says he can never really think of anything to talk about so please be patient with us as we navigate this new form of media. We’re both very excited to dip our toes in podcast and we hope you find it interesting as well. We would like to leave a bit of an auditory diary behind for our children and thought this would be a fun way to do that.
It saddens me that people think they know Jesus and what he stood for. Maybe think is too strong of a word, that people ASSUME they know about Jesus and what he stood for. People with these false misconceptions have never read the Bible, don’t believe the Bible and ridicule people who try and live their lives by the Bible. People who think they know Jesus and all that he stood for only “know” him through what has been spoon fed them.
Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about the son of God, shall we?
Again, educate yourself. Step away from the mindless media, you’ll be smarter and happier.
Kevin and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary in May.
We didn’t do anything spectacular, we went out to dinner at Outback.
We’ve actually been together for longer than 10,585 days – we were together two years before getting married.
We were one of those couples that traditionalist turned their noses up at – we lived together for two years before getting married.
I don’t know, it just felt right at the time. You don’t truly know someone until you live with them. You can only be on your best behavior for so long when you live with someone and until the facade wears thing.
I figured, if Kevin could put with me at my worst, then we should be okay.
(Side note: I will encourage our boys to live with their future spouses, too. But put a timer on it – if something is not happening, or it’s not working out after a year, go your separate ways. No sense in wasting years with someone who doesn’t want to commit, you know?)
I will be the first to admit, I have not been the easiest person to be married to. I had sort of a mid-thirties crisis where I was just a bitch to be around. No sense in sugar coating it, it’s the truth. I don’t know, I was trying to find myself, I guess. I was a wife, a mother … I lost Karen in there somewhere. It didn’t help that Kevin tried to make me into something he wanted, or thought he wanted. He thought I should have been more like his mom, which I suppose is pretty typical for men. I wonder if our boys will try and find someone like me.
Gah, I hope not.
My brother told me once that his wife reminded him a lot of me. I guess I’m just that awesome. ha!
At any rate, I don’t know why Kevin stuck around, but I’m so glad he did. Our relationship was really tested about seven years into our marriage. A seven-year itch, I suppose. We almost split up and probably should have seen a marriage counselor but I’m going to be honest here, (actually, when am I not), the thought of spilling our guts to a third party who may, or may not, have our best interests at heart did not appeal to me AT ALL. I figured, we were two intelligent adults, surely we could work this out. It was hard, and there was a lot of very truthful, uncomfortable, conversations, but we muddled through and we’re stronger for it now.
Marriage is tough. You have to be willing to take a good, long, hard look at yourself and be willing to admit when you’re wrong and when you can do better.
And then do better.
Believe it or not, reading Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” really, REALLY helped me. It taught me to think outside myself. I’m a sympathetic/empathetic person, but since we’re keeping it real here, I’m a selfish person, too. I don’t like sharing my time. When I want to do something, I expect you to want to do the same thing RIGHT THEN. And I have a problem giving in and doing something when someone wants to do something that I don’t.
I still struggle with that. For example: Kevin knows to not rush me. He just goes off and does something else and patiently waits for me to be ready to go wherever we’re going. But when I’m ready to go, I’m READY TO GO and get quite impatient with Kevin when he doesn’t drop what he’s doing to be ready when I’m ready.
I realize this is a selfish attitude and I’m working on it. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until Kevin pointed it out to me. (You have to learn to take criticism – YOU MUST LEARN).
This book taught me to respect Kevin, our relationship and myself by making sacrifices. This is an especially hard concept nowadays because we live in a “me” and “instant gratification” society, but if you want a relationship to work, you have to be willing to compromise and sacrifice. Period.
Another thing that helped me see our relationship in a new light was the different love languages. This book taught me about how people perceive love, or more specifically, how Kevin and I perceived love. Love is about so much more than just saying the words I love you. The five love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
For me, I feel most loved with acts of service. I truly know Kevin loves me because he is always so willing to drop what he’s doing and help me with something. My computer poops out, he comes over to fix it. Something goes wrong with the house, that is his number one project. He makes sure our lawn is mowed. That we are financially comfortable. He makes life easier for me. Because if life is easier, then I’m happier, and as a result, he’s happier.
I feel like Kevin’s love language is quality time. He likes doing things together – taking pictures, going for walks/bike rides, going on vacations together. But remember my problem with being selfish with my time? Yeah, that is something I’ve had to, and continue to, work on. Physical touch is another one of his love languages though I feel like that is a given for men. ha! But honestly, that is another area of marriage that takes a lot of work, compromise and understanding. TRUST ME.
Another thing that I did that helped me with our marriage was the Love Dare.
This “dare” fascinated me so much that I actually participated in the love dare and documented the whole process. I, yet again, faced a lot of ugly truths about myself doing this challenge, but I learned so much about myself, and our relationship, in the process that it was, well the humble medicine I was forced to swallow.
Is our marriage perfect? Of course not. No marriage is perfect because the participants aren’t perfect. But making an effort to learn more about how to make a relationship work did nothing but help us in the long run.
We are planning a cruise to the Mediterranean for our 30th wedding anniversary next year. Thirty years sounds like a big number and though it does feel like we’re always been married, it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s been nearly 30 years. In a lot of ways, I feel like our marriage is just getting started.
When I was a stay-at-home mom / working from home mom, I would listen to the conservative talk radio shows every day. I also used to look/read Drudge every day.
Though I felt informed, I was miserable. Because the news is depressing, ya’ll. I guess it has to be. Who wants to read about cute puppy antics, rainbows and unicorns? That’s not exciting. It’s not something that gets people worked up, it’s not a money maker. I get it, but damn.
When I started my job at the hospital, I neither had the time, nor the inclination, to keep track of the news. Putting some distance between me and the ugly that exists outside my four walls was actually healthy for me. I believe one should be informed but know when to step back and take a breath.
Moderation is key.
It is important to keep on top of what is happening in our world. Too many uninformed / uninterested people already exist and as a result, we have ended up with a society like we have now. However, I have found that if you read the news maybe three times a week, you’re as informed as you’re going to be. Because if you notice, the news recycles itself every day. You can listen to one radio show host and he will talk about the same topics for DAYS, ad nauseam. Dude. I got it the first time you talked about it. Let’s stick to the facts and give me a minute to make up my own damn mind, mmkay?
We don’t watch TV. Not in the traditional sense. We’ve had cable, satellite, Netflix but got rid of them when prices started going up. I’m all for entertainment but not when it costs me a 1/4 of my paycheck.
I will admit, getting rid of NetFlix was hard: I haven’t watched a movie in … six months? I’m completely out of the movie loop. But the primary reason we did it was because it’s just a time suck. Too many movies and too little time. And honestly? I often ended up feeling disappointed when I finished a movie anyway so why would I spend my time and money on something that I don’t ultimately enjoy?
Now I read books and watch WAY too much YouTube videos. I’m currently hooked this, this and this channel. (Notice a patter here? Also, this girl is WICKED creative).
I may have to ban myself from YouTube. I’ve already banned myself from Facebook. (Yep, I deactivated my account. Another time suck. Haven’t missed it – at all).
I’ve trimmed the time suck fat from my day in an attempt to write on this blog more, build our podcast, write short stories and maybe even a novel to two. I’m slowly retraining my brain to focus on more brain-friendly activities.
With all of that being said, I do try and dip a toe into real-world events now and again which leads me to the point of this blog post.
News. Here are a few of the headlines that caught my attention today.
Um. wow. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. To promote an event that solely exists to provide an atmosphere where depraved people can go and have orgies with whomever and whatever they want is a page ripped straight from Sodom and Gomorrah. Not to sound too Christian-y, but God have mercy on their souls. Nothing like wallowing in sin to be trendy and disgusting. But hey, it’s not called free will for nothing. Good luck explaining that behavior at the judgement.
Some police officers in Tempe, Ariz., say they were asked to leave a Starbucks coffee shop on the Fourth of July because a customer complained they “did not feel safe” with the cops present, according to reports.
Five officers were drinking coffee at the Starbucks location prior to their shift beginning when a barista asked them to move out of the complaining customer’s line of sight or else leave, the Tempe Officers Association wrote in a series of Twitter messages.
You know Starbucks, for a company that prides itself on “inclusion” you’re doing a rather smashing job of excluding a large demographic here. I, for one, love your coffees but won’t buy coffee because your prices are way, WAY too high for a cup of coffee. In addition, I’m really not inclined to buy anything from you because you continue to support and condone behavior that is directly counter intuitive to what is decent and right.
Why are people so hell bent on making the police the bad guys and yet the bad guys are given free reign to act like asses and/or break the law? Why is the media trying so hard to defend people, or groups, that continually work to break laws that are in place to PROTECT society at large? It seems so ass backwards to me. So, let’s continue to demonize the very people who swear to protect us. Yeah, that makes complete sense.
Let me ask you this – if the police go away. Then what? What happens if something bad happens and you need help? Who are you going to call then? If we didn’t have laws and society rules, our world would turn into Mad Max. Have you seen that movie? People are animals. Because it’s human nature to try and get something for nothing and some people do not possess the self-control gene.
Do you really want to live in a society without a police force? Well, keep demonizing them, it might happen.
Here’s proof that people have lost their every-loving minds. (I think this one might end up a short story).
In case you’re too stupid to realize this, grocery stores are where you go to replenish your stock, to BUY things you need for your home. It is NOT a place specifically designed for you to go and eat for free. The wares you see placed neatly around the store? Was not placed specifically for you. I know, I know, this may come as a shock to you but take a breath and consider, for just a moment, that a company that builds a store and then offers things for people to buy did not specifically offer this service so that you could go, at your leisure, and start eating whatever you feel like eating, you dumb ass. Get over yourself.
Wow. I have a girl crush on Candace Owens. This girl is ‘DA BOMB!
This conversation perfectly, PERFECTLY, defines what is wrong with our country.
It’s long, but well worth the watch. I dare you to take time out of your day to watch this.
Also, I spent 38 minutes watching this video:
FASCINATING conversation. And there is so much wisdom from the black conservatives in this round table. To be fair, I see what the liberal guy was saying but it comes around to being the victim, not the victor. And if you watch the faces of the liberal guests you can SEE the confusion. They truly don’t know how to respond when faced with thoughtful, intelligent counterpoints.
I think this is indicative of America today. No one wants to think for themselves. It’s all about regurgitating talking points. I don’t think they even knew what they were saying, or arguing, half the time.
It’s time to stop being sheeple and start thinking for yourselves, people. Stop allowing the media to spoon feed you crap. Stop. Think. Digest.
I’m feeling hopeful after watching these videos. That’s how it starts, with thoughtful, intelligent conversation.
Actually, we’ve gone beyond thinking about it, we’re doing it.
Actually, we started throwing the idea around when we were driving back home from New Orleans after our cruise in May. We have a ton of ideas to talk about and well, once I get started, I never shut up so it should be a piece of cake for me. Kevin is not sure how much he will talk but I’ll see if I can’t coax him out of his shell.
We’ve been told, over the years, whenever someone overhears us talking about something that we sound cute together and we’re funny how we debate things. Granted, we are both like minded and agree on a lot of issues but we are going to challenge ourselves to think about, and argue for/against, the other sides of issues simply because we want to be fair to all listeners who may disagree with our views and to try and not come off as arrogant know-it-alls.
Another reason I would like to try this is I would like to leave an auditory diary, of sorts, for our kids/grandkids. (We don’t have grandkids – I’m wishful thinking here). In addition to reading about our lives through this blog, I thought it would be fun for our kids to HEAR our thoughts, too.
Luckily, Kevin already has most of the equipment we need to begin. He’s a musician on the side (plays electric guitar) and he used to be in a few bands and has accumulated equipment over the years, not to mention, whenever he finds a good deal out and about on his thrift shopping expeditions, he will often times come back with a microphone, or some other piece of equipment I have no idea the function for and voila! We have what we need.
We have been using Audacity to record the podcast. Kevin has also created some original music so we already have a catchy riff to play at the beginning of our podcast like the true professionals we aren’t are.
I’ve done quite a bit of reading about how to start a podcast and here is what I’ve found.
Choose a topic you can commit to.
Define your show description and artwork.
Set up and thoroughly test your equipment.
Create a plan for your episodes.
Record your episodes.
Edit and publish your episodes.
Launch your podcast to your audience.
Let’s break this down:
Choose a topic you can commit to.
When I first broached this subject with Kevin, that was his first question: “What are we going to talk about?”
“Are you kidding me?” I responded. “Let me list out some things we can talk about, take notes.”
Making money thrift shopping
Booking vacations online
Interviews with BB and Roy
How to be frugal with money
Building points with credit cards
We have been married for nearly 30 years and we have a lot of life experience in the subjects above. Are we experts? Of course not. But that’s the beauty of us doing a podcast, we’re just a regular joe/jane who have tried and failed at different things in life and we feel like we can offer tips and suggestions on how to navigate this life a little easier, hopefully. Maybe.
I will warn you now, we are both opinionated and are not interested in walking on eggshells to avoid offending anyone. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. However, we’re not jerks, either. That’s why I mentioned we will try very hard to look at all sides of an issue because let’s face it, life is not black and white but 50 shades of gray … without the S&M. ha!
What will work in one situation will not necessarily work in another situation.
Not to mention, I think it’s important that we ALL get in the habit of looking at situations from all angles. Common sense is a lost art, everyone runs on feelings now, logic has all but disappeared. No one looks at the big picture anymore. (For example: Free healthcare for all! Sounds great, right?? Reality check: who is going to pay for it??)
So, I think we have a pretty good start on gathering topics to talk about. I realize that some of these topics are hot and get people fired up and I can’t promise we won’t be fired up about some of these things, but I believe it’s crucial that we all train ourselves to entertain opposing viewpoints (without calling each other racist, homophobic, bigots, etc because we dare to disagree) because who wants to live in a world where everything is run by a select group of people who happen to shout the loudest?
You know who you are.
2. Define your show description and artwork.
I haven’t quite gotten the show description down now but basically it goes like this:
“Join two ordinary people as they explore various hot-button topics and challenge themselves, and their audience, into breaking down common misconceptions and dare to offer alternate views in order to promote critical thinking and restore common sense.”
It’s rough, but you get the gist of it.
I came up with a logo of sorts. It’s not very good and it’s elementary at best but it will get us started at least.
The podcast is called “Right From Us” which of course is a play on the name of this blog “Write from Karen.” And we happen to lean to the right though I daresay I’m more Libertarian than conservative right now because I feel like most conservatives right now are a bunch of pussies. See? We haven’t even recorded our first episode and I’m already pushing buttons.
After looking around, I think I’d like to try Anchor to host our podcasts. Our goal is to upload several episodes before properly promoting it so check back often, you might just stumble onto an episode.
Be gentle with us. We really don’t know what we’re doing but we’re going to have fun figuring it out.
3. Set up and thoroughly test your equipment.
Kevin set up the equipment and we have tested it out. We are setting up shop in Kevin’s office at our house, not the rental house, so we can just sit down and start talking without a lot of prep work. We haven’t quite worked out when we are going to record. I would like to stick to one day/time to record so that it’s just another task we have to complete. I want to make it a habit so we don’t have to even think about, just get it done. Maybe Saturday/Sunday nights? We haven’t ironed it out yet.
4. Create a plan for your episodes.
This part is me. I’ll write out some sort of outline, points we want to make/talk about so we aren’t doing a lot of “ums” and dead air and we scramble to think of something to say. I mean, we’ll do that anyway, I’m sure, but that’s what editing is for.
5. Record your episodes.
Self-explanatory. Average podcast length is 43 minutes. Knowing Kevin, and especially at first, we’ll be lucky to get 20 minutes. Though I don’t know, once I warm up to a topic, I can be long winded. *ahem* Or maybe we can break it down into part one and part two. Some of the topics might require multiple parts. (Foreshadowing)
6. Edit and publish your episodes.
I’m counting on Kevin to do this part. He has the most experience with Cakewalk and he will be the one who will want to cut some stuff. This is going to be an interesting experience because he tries to tell me I shouldn’t put some of the stuff I put on my blog that I do so Lord knows how he’s going to feel about some of the stuff I say on the podcast. I can see most of what we say end up on the cutting room floor. I’ll have to monitor, erhm, I mean, we’ll have to compromise.
We are shooting for one episode per week. I can’t imagine I can get Kevin to do more than one episode per week. But who knows? He may really get into this and want to do a bi-weekly schedule. We’ll see.
7. Launch your podcast to your audience.
I’ll announce new episodes on this blog and on Twitter. I really don’t do any other form of social media. I deactivated my Facebook account – it’s just too much of a time suck and life is too short, you know?
Anyway, we’ll try this out and see how it fits. If it takes off, we can look at monetizing it. Wouldn’t that be something?
So the last time I updated you on our vacation experiences/pictures, was 2013. Wow. I’m really behind. I’ll try and work on this starting with our vacation in 2014.
We didn’t go on a cruise in 2014. I think part of the reason is because we didn’t have enough points built up on our credit card to cash in for a flight and we didn’t even think of driving to a port, back then, so we went to Las Vegas.
But I think the primary reason we went to Las Vegas that year was because Kevin needed CPE credits to maintain his CPA license and we thought it would be fun to go to Las Vegas and kill two birds with one stone.
Kevin had his seminar until 2:00 every day and for the life of me, I don’t remember what I did while he was doing his thing. I think I just walked around the hotel because I KNOW I would have left the room so housekeeping could do their thing and I seem to recall reading my Kindle, (really, when am I not?) out by the pool a few times and I’m sure I would have taken my laptop … but it seems I could never find an outlet to plug the thing in to so I don’t really remember doing a lot with my laptop, sadly.
After Kevin finished his sessions, we walked around and took in the sights.
This building was by far the coolest building I saw, or have ever seen since.
Kevin was pretty big into Nascar at the time so he was pretty excited to see the M&M car.
The night lights were incredible. The whole city transformed into magic.
We went to the famous strip:
And saw some people dressed up as various characters.
They even had a zipline stretched from one end of the city block to the other and people would routinely fly above us. I wanted to try it but I couldn’t talk Kevin into it.
We toured the Hoover Dam – it was like something out of a movie.
We dressed up and went to see Shania Twain in concert.
Kevin was in heaven because he LOVES Shania Twain. In fact, he told me the other day that she’s going to be back in Las Vegas with another concert. He wants to go. I wouldn’t mind going back to Las Vegas.
The hotels are so impressive. We stayed at the Tropicana positioned more on one end of the strip.
Saw a few celebrities, no big deal.
They weren’t very talkative and looked a bit waxy, but hey, it was still cool to see them.
Spiderman kept bugging me. Man, that guy hangs out everywhere.
We have badges on here … I seem to recall we went on a tour and stopping at the Las Vegas sign was one stop. I think we also visited the famous Pawn Stars shop on this tour, too.
Yep, here’s Chumley.
And inside Pawn Stars.
The rest of the trip? Well, let’s just say that story will stay in Las Vegas.
Pretty sure we’ll go back to Las Vegas one of these days.
My lips curled into what I hoped passed for a happy, relaxed grin.
I tuned my girlfriends’ incessant chatter out as I sat and stared at the woman on the platform. The woman began to sway her hips and suggestively gyrate to the club’s bass-heavy music. She arched her back thrusting her breasts front and center immediately drawing the attention of nearly every male in the vicinity of her toxic fumes. She swung her long ebony hair over her shoulder and fixed her gaze on a good looking business man seated near the stage. She licked her lips suggestively and gave the man a lascivious wink as she slithered around a greasy pole.
I hated her on sight.
I imagined my hands around her throat, my fingers giving her a necklace of bruises, her breaths becoming short and choppy as her eyes bugged out of her head from lack of oxygen.
My lips curled into a genuine smile at the thought of squeezing every last drop of life from the bitch.
“Girl, it’s so good to finally see you smile,” my friend Chelsea chuckled while giving me a friendly nudge.
I tore my eyes from the Medusa on stage and turned back to my table of friends.
“What are you talking about, I smile all the time.”
“You don’t smile, you grimace. You haven’t been truly happy in a while.”
I sighed and lifted a shoulder into a half shrug. “What is there to be happy about? Jeremy left me.”
“Now listen here,” Nora started, her hand going up as if to shush the rest of the club so she could say her piece.
“Jeremy,” Tara placed a hand on Nora’s shoulder to quell her tirade, “is a confused piece of shit that doesn’t know his head from his ass. You don’t need that drama in your life. You’re better off without him.
I disagreed. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. “Sure, okay,” I acquiesced with a toss of my head.
“He’s doing his passive denial thing again,” Nora said with a flick of her wrist. “Listen sweetie, he may have been your first lover but he won’t be your last. You have to learn from your mistakes so that you can recognize the real deal when it slaps you in your face.”
“I loved him, Nora.”
She released a heavy sigh and placed her arm around my shoulders giving a small squeeze. “I know you did, love.” She briefly placed her soft lips to my cheek before jerking back. “Girl, did you even shave tonight?” She leaned back and rubbed a hand over her lips.
I chuckled despite my dark mood. “Of course, two hours ago. I’m telling you, I’m Sasquatch incarnate. I fucking hate facial hair!”
“You could always look into laser hair removal,” Tara mumbled behind her glass. She had lifted as if to take a drink but her eyes were focused on something across the room.
“Yeah, I could, but I hear it’s expensive,” I murmured, distracted by Tara’s suddenly pale face. I arched a brow at her to silently ask, “what is going on.” Tara quickly shook her head and took a large swallow of her drink.
Nora surreptitiously glanced over her shoulder to try and see what Tara was looking at and then just as quickly whipped it back around to face our group. “You know what, this place is a dump. Let’s go somewhere else.” She downed the rest of her drink and made to get out of the booth.
Chelsea shook her head at me as if to say, “I have no idea why these two are acting so weird” look.
But I knew. I knew without even turning around what was happening behind me. I could feel the small, but strong electric tingle worm it’s way up my spine and my groin tightened. This was always the reaction I had whenever Jeremy was close by.
“He’s here, isn’t he.”
“Yes baby, he is,” Tara said while reaching across the table to grab my hands and squeeze them.
I looked at Nora. “He’s not supposed to be here, He’s supposed to be on his way to Chicago tonight.”
She nodded. “Something must have changed.”
Nora and I stared at each other, a silent moment in time to give our brains a moment to adapt to the change in plans.
I knew Jeremy’s schedule intimately. I knew where he was at all times. I knew this because he is a creature of habit, he likes to stick to a schedule because it gives him control over his life and helps control his chaotic confusion.
His confusion being me.
I didn’t dare turn around, I knew he was there. I could sense him near. I could even pick out his throaty chuckle underneath the obnoxious music blaring from all corners of the club. What had changed? Why had he postponed his flight? He had been talking about this important meeting, ad nauseam, in Chicago for months. I knew how important it was to him, I knew how important it could have been for both of us.
A catcall from the audience caught my attention and my eyes darted to the girl on stage.
Her. His change of plans had to be because of HER. I narrowed my eyes at the harlot and ground my teeth together to prevent myself from saying anything that might incriminate me later.
“Oh shit,” Chelsea said and subconsciously slouched down in her seat. “I think he saw us.”
All three of heads turned in his direction. I looked at each of my friends’ faces and taking a breath, turned around in my seat.
Our eyes locked across the room. Jeremy was the first to look away. He turned to address one of his friends who slapped him across the back and pointed to the stage. Jeremy smiled and nudged his friend in the ribs. I released a breath not even realizing I had been holding my breath.
So that’s how he wanted to play it.
“What an asshole,” Tara hissed. “He didn’t even acknowledge you.”
I shrugged, swallowing the bitter feeling that had formed in the back of my throat. “I’m not surprised.”
“What do you mean, you’re not surprised? You guys dated for nearly three months!” Chelsea shouted to compete with the music.
“Shut up, Chelsea, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Chelsea started at Nora for a long moment, realization dawning as she turned to look at me. “No one knows you dated for three months”
Tara gasped. “Are you serious? How does Jeremy’s friends know he’s not gay?”
“Because he never told them,” I snapped. “He was trying to figure things out. He wanted to keep it quiet until he sorted it out in his head. No one in Jeremy’s world knew we dated.”
All eyes searched out Jeremy’s posse of friends again as they took a table near the stage. The witch performing paused a moment in her routine to blow a kiss at Jeremy. He caught the pretend kiss and placed it in his pocket. His friends whooped and hollered in appreciation.
“Gross,” I muttered.
“Oh my God,” Tara gasped again, “I’m so sorry, Kyle. We had no idea. No wonder you’ve been so tense lately.”
Jeremy’s chair was positioned so that he was facing our table. Our eyes locked again. I gave him a small salute of acknowledgment.
Jeremy got up from his chair and asked a friend of his to switch seats so his back would be to us. His friend looked toward our table as he took his seat, learned forward to say something to the rest of his table which prompted loud laughter all around.
“His friend knows,” Nora said quietly.
“Yeah, it looks like it. That’s Brian, Jeremy’s bestie. I never met him but Jeremy talked about him. They grew up together and are now working to partner on their new project.”
“I can’t believe he did that to you, Ky,” Tara said.
I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. “It is what it is. I can’t make someone love me. He has to sort it out with himself before he can give himself to someone else. I’m just not that someone else, I suppose.”
“What do you want to do?” Nora said quietly. She was studying me closely and I knew what she really wanted to ask me was, “do you still want to do this?”
I lifted my dirty martini to my lips and watched the witch on stage flirt with Jeremy. She was ignoring the businessman she had flirted with earlier and I could see the man was getting irate at her lack of attention. With a huff, the man stood up, nearly knocking his chair over in the process, threw down some bills and stomped out of the club. Jeremy’s friends noticed and started laughing again.
I gave that man the best three months of my life. I know that sounds melodramatic but it’s absolutely true. I had never felt more comfortable with someone in my life and it was the first time I felt like I could truly be myself. I had never felt more complete and secure and to have that ripped out of my hands was devastating. But I didn’t blame Jeremy, how could I? I loved him. I know how hard it is to come to terms with one’s sexuality and I couldn’t blame him for trying something new and different, it just wasn’t a good fit.
But HER. I shifted again to give my full attention to the whore on stage. She I could blame.
She didn’t come out of nowhere. She-who-shall-not-be-named dated Jeremy in college but things got rough when Jeremy met me. They eventually broke it off. But she never knew why they broke it off, only that he needed some space and to focus on his career.
The bitch didn’t know about me.
Jeremy agonized over their relationship. He felt so conflicted. He knew she was supposed to be part of his plan, according to his family’s expectations, but he just didn’t feel anything for her. She was manipulating and sometimes cruel in some of the things she text him and how she treated him. But he got used to her.
She was safe.
No one, outside of Jeremy, his close friends and me, of course, knew about the bitch’s side job. She wasn’t very bright and when Jeremy broke up with her, no longer supported her, she needed to make money to keep up appearances that she was an excellent catch so she turned to stripping to maintain her “lifestyle”. I knew Jeremy’s father would be livid with the bitch’s life choice and would pressure Jeremy to marry her to get her off the streets. The fact that Jeremy hadn’t taken that “easy” route spoke volumes.
I could see what was happening now. Jeremy’s father must have been pressuring him to get back with the bitch. He needed a wife to complete the corporate picture, to help him with his all-important career. And he caved. Jeremy was weak.
But I still loved him. I knew, in that moment, that Jeremy and I didn’t have a future together, it was never going to happen. Jeremy’s world would not permit it. But perhaps I could help him find happiness in other ways.
The bitch’s raunchy routine was over and with one last kiss and a kick of her leg, she waved and left the stage.
I shifted my gaze back to Nora. I tightened my jaw and never felt more determined than I did in that moment.
“You know what? I have an early morning tomorrow. I’m going to call it a night.”
That was the cue.
Nora stood up and smoothed her skirt. “Yeah, me too. I’m going to run to the bathroom, I’ll see you guys later.”
“I’ll go with you,” Tara said while slinging her purse over her shoulder.
“No,” Nora said. “Why don’t you and Chelsea go to the bar and pay our tab? We’re treating Jeremy tonight. Besides, he’s been drinking and I don’t want him driving. Why not just take him to my place? he can crash there. He has a key.”
Tara and Chelsea gave me pitying looks and nodded. “Of course.”
As they walked off, I turned to Nora. “If I was straight, I would marry you,”
She smiled and patted my cheek. “And I would accept.” She patted her purse. “Now go. You can’t be anywhere near here when it goes down.”
I leaned forward and gave her an affectionate kiss on the cheek. I whispered in her ear, “Please make her suffer.”
Nora winked. “Oh sugar, it will be my pleasure. I’ll meet you back at my place later and show you the video.”
Retirement is close. I can see it but I can’t touch it yet. It’s within grasp, but just out of reach. I can’t believe I’ve been a medical assistant for nearly 20 years. Where has the time gone? I never thought, in a million years, I would 1. be working in healthcare and 2. STILL working in healthcare. But I’m old, it’s too late to start looking for another job now. My doctor is getting close to retiring, too. He’s about seven years younger than me but surgery is hard on the body and I can see it’s taking a toll on him. He can’t last much longer. It’s hard to believe that our physician assistant is still with us as well. She’s so smart and beautiful I’m sure she could have made way more money with another doctor/hospital/specialty but my doctor and PA have a special relationship and they have worked together for so long I guess she figured it was easier to just stick with what you know.
I know the feeling.
There are times I miss our old nurses. We’re on our third nurse now in the past ten years. Babies grow up, opportunities present themselves and our nurses have gone on to greener pastures: it’s just me, Dr. So-and-So and our PA.
The three amigos. The clinic has gone through so many people over the past ten years I’ve truly lost count. I’m one of two left standing from the original crew. I’m either stupid or loyal, I haven’t decided which yet.
I’ve written so many stories and even submitted a few but have only received rejections. I suppose I shouldn’t give up but it’s hard to keep going when I feel like I’m the only one who likes what I write. I suppose I can really hit it hard when I actually retire.
Kevin wants me to retire in two years but I’m thinking it will be closer to five or six. I feel like retirement will be like my years when I was a stay-at-home mom and though I don’t regret staying home with the boys when they were little, I was bored out of my mind. Will retirement be like that? Other than reading and writing, what else is there to do? Kevin would respond with, “You could always do housework,” which my retort will be, and always has been “haha, I’m not your mom, when are you going to realize that?”
I think I could have rocked being a nurse. No. I don’t think, I KNOW. I’m a great multi-tasker and think quick on my feet. I toyed with the idea, briefly, in 2019, but I had zero interest in going to school, studying and of course, going into debt to pay for school. Not to mention ….. PEOPLE. They just exhaust me. At least, they used to, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t be everything to all people. All I can do is my best and I know, in my heart, that I give 150% and that’s all I can give. You can’t please everyone so why not just be true to yourself? At the end of the day, does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things, Earth continues to rotate, the sun will set and the moon will rise and a new day will begin regardless of how crappy the day before might have been. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the people who were trying to talk me into going into nursing, I just don’t think it would have been a good fit. I’m empathetic but only to a point, the bottom line is, I just don’t have enough patience to deal with …. PEOPLE.
I would have rocked it though. You and I both know it.
Kevin is nearly 70. I can’t believe how OLD we are. It sounds old, and there are certainly days we feel old, but in a lot of ways, we are still those 30-something people who were just starting out with life juggling careers and young boys. I don’t feel my age in my mind but unfortunately, my body does feel my age. I know I have a good 25 (plus?) years left but I do find myself thinking about death more and more. I pray that Kevin and I both go at the same time and in our sleep. I would hope for something quiet and painless. I want to go together because honestly, I can’t imagine my life without Kevin. We’ve been married nearly 40 years – I can’t even remember my life before him. I certainly don’t want to think about my life after him.
I do find myself thinking about what will happen in our second life, when Christ comes back for us and raises us from the dead to inherit paradise on Earth. Will we know one another? Or will we be two strangers assigned different rewards and lives? Not knowing each other, or not knowing our children and extended family really makes me sad. I try not to think about it too much as I trust God and I’m sure it will be great, but I would be lying if the thought didn’t bother me.
Blake is 37 and Brandon is 35. Blake is still not married but he’s dated a few quiet girls here and there. It used to bother me that he might not ever get married but I would rather he be alone and happy than be saddled with a woman who isn’t nice to him and miserable. Brandon is doing well. I’m really fond of my daughter-in-law, thank God, and their little girls are the apple of mine and Kevin’s eye. I love seeing them with Kevin, he just dotes on them. I always wondered what kind of dad he would have been if we had had a girl. He’s been an amazing dad to our sons and he’s a pretty great grandpa.
Blake is a manager of a retail store. He has really stepped up to the bat and proven his organizational skills. People respect him because he’s a man of few words and that keeps people guessing about him.
Brandon is a game developer and lives in Belgium Brussels. It really bothered me at first, him living so far away with the grandbabies, but it gives us an excuse to fly over and see him and his family and honestly, Belgium is a really cool place.
Roy still lives across the street from us. His dog Misty died and he now has another Shih tzu who is a bit more spirited than Misty was but seems to adore Roy. His tremors are worse now and we think he might have Parkinson’s. He hasn’t been formally diagnosed but he sees a neurologist in a few months so we’ll see.
Kevin finally broke down and bought a new(er) truck. His old truck finally bit the dust about six years ago and he has another Ford 150 that he’s driving around. He and Roy still go around to estate/garage sales and collect things but they don’t do it as often as they used to. Kevin sold his Genesis. It was a great car but he never drove it, so he sold it to make room in the garage for more thrift items to put in his booth and to make himself another workshop as he continues the challenge of fixing things up.
I bought my dream car, a Fiat Spider, black. It’s completely impractical but so much fun to drive! Not to mention, I look GOOD driving it. ha!
No plans to sell the houses. I mean, why? It’s just the two of us, we certainly don’t need anything bigger though I’m not going to lie, we do talk about maybe selling at times to maybe buy something smaller and using the excess money to put into investments or to add to our retirement accounts. We always wanted a brick home and I’ve always thought it would be nice to have a basement, but I’ve gone this long without one, I don’t suppose I need one now.
Our parents are doing well. Kevin’s mom is still with us though she’s slowed down considerably, she’s living with Kevin’s oldest sister. Kevin’s dad passed away about five years ago. Mom and dad are still going strong though I feel like dad is looking more frail but goodness, he’s over 80 now. I try and go over and look after them as much as I can.
Who knows how life will look in another ten years. I try not to think about my own mortality too much. I really don’t know why it bothers me so much, maybe I feel like I haven’t exhausted life yet. Whatever life throws at me, I pray I have my mind, my body and am not a burden on my loved ones.
Work is going well. I took two weeks of vacation off in May to go on our cruise. Our cruise was 8 days so I had nearly a week left of vacation when we came back and I spent that time doing whatever I wanted to. *snap* It was a time to recharge my batteries, Lord knows, I needed it.
I went way too long between vacations. By the time our vacation came around in May, it had been a year since I took any time off and I was going crazy, not to mention my attitude was BAD by the time April rolled around.
I won’t do that again. For my own mental health.
I love my job as a medical assistant. I work for neurosurgeons and there really is never a dull moment. You’re never caught up and there is always something to do and learn. Especially for me, since I didn’t come from a medical background, I just sort of fell into this job. (I was a scheduler and the hospital decided to eliminate my position and said, either become a medical assistant or bye Felicia).
It’s pretty much the same job, day-in-day-out, just the characters change. I think the biggest challenge is making people understand that ultimately they are responsible for their own health, that there is no magic solution, pill, or surgery that is going to fix them. It may help them on their way, but when push-comes-to-shove, people have to take responsibility for their life choices.
Another big challenge is reminding people to keep their expectations real.
For example: Dr so-and-so is going to cut you open, use surgical retractors to keep you open, move organs aside and expose your vulnerabilities to the surgeon working on you. He is then going to cauterize your vessels to keep you from bleeding out, drill and saw into your bones, move your muscles back into place, sew several layers of skin back together before closing you all the way up and stapling the incision closed.
Now you tell me, do you think you’re going to experience pain afterward?
Let me answer that question for you – DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA HURT.
Do you think the doctor prescribes muscle relaxers and pain medication because he thinks you might need it? Trust me, you’re going to need it.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who call us after major back surgery to complain of being in pain. I’m not talking unusual, something is wrong pain, THAT’S when you need to call, when something hurts so bad you can’t breathe and it won’t go away. I”m talking about people who call and complain of intermittent muscle/nerve pain. That’s completely normal.
These calls got so bad that our clinic came up with spine camp to help offset those calls. Whenever someone is going to have a fusion, meaning, something is going on with the back and it’s severe enough the surgeon feels like the patient will need hardware placed in their spine, we send them to spine camp. This is a two-hour meeting where the nurse teaching the class goes over everything to prepare the patient for the procedure. From getting things ready at home, to what goes on in the operating room to what kind of pain and experience they can expect in the hospital after the surgery.
Since implementing that class, the number of calls we’ve gotten has DRAMATICALLY decreased. It’s because we have done a good job of teaching patients realistic expectations.
It’s a fine line between being real and being … polite. Patients need to understand there are consequences for poor choices. If you smoke, you could get lung cancer, or COPD, where you are short of breath simply sitting down and trying to have a normal conversation. If you eat too much, you will become obese and suffer from the problems that come from that issue. And speaking of that, I have a “too fat for surgery” speech that I have to give some patients. That sounds crass and mean but it’s true. If your BMI is too high, which is doctor speak for too fat, then you can’t have surgery because the risks of surgery outweigh the benefits (pun intended). For example, you’re under anesthesia for longer because it take the doctor longer to get to the issue because there are layers and layers of fat to swim through first. This in turn, is stressful on the heart, which is already stressed because the patient is too large to begin with. It takes longer to heal and if you’re carrying too much weight, that puts too much stress on the spine and the surgery won’t if the spine continues to be under stress, the surgery will not be successful.
It’s harder to intubate a large patient. Wounds tend to take twice as long to heal on a large patient. And the list goes on.
And yet, I feel sorry for patients in that situation because sometimes, they really need the surgery but they have to get their weight under control first. When that happens, the surgeon recommends bariatric surgery to help kick start their weight loss journey. (Side note: my spell check does not like these medical terms).
Luckily, I’m a pretty good communicator and I can take my cues off the patient’s tone of voice and body language as far as how to handle them. Some patients are very no-nonsense, so I need to be no-nonsense. Some patients need to tell their story because it helps them understand and process what is going on with them, so I simply sit and listen to them. Some patients need some TLC because they are scared, frustrated, angry at their situation and just want someone to help them.
Being a specialty, we often times get patients that at their wits end. They have seen multiple doctors and have been told, repeatedly, they can’t help them. Sometimes, when patients find out our doctors can help them, they will burst into tears because finally, FINALLY, they see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I have to tell you, I didn’t go into healthcare with the thought it would be my career, like ever, not once did I even contemplate it. But now that life has thrown me into it, I have to say it’s SO SATISFYING whenever someone comes back in after surgery and they are doing well and so happy to have their life back. I can’t imagine how a doctor must feel when that happens.
Anyway, I got off topic.
The purpose of this post is tell you that when I’m at work, I’m there to work. I’m not there to play, to gossip, or sit around and watch the clock hoping that 4:30 will hurry and get here. I’m one of those people that give 150% and have little to no patience for whiners, complainers and people who like to make excuses. You don’t have to like me but if you are fortunate (!!) enough to work with me, then by gosh, you better get the job done. Am I a bitch? Depends. We all vent, it’s how we cope with stress and frustration, I do it as well. But if you have an excuse for everything and you are always asking for help when you can clearly do it yourself or you’re being friendly to my face but ugly behind my back, yeah, I don’t like you and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
Will I be professional? Of course, but don’t expect me to care about you, or your life. The hospital is paying us to co-exist and give the best care we’re capable of giving to the patients, anything more than that is bonus material.
However, with that said, I am very fortunate to work with some pretty amazing people. They are professional, compassionate, knowledgeable have great senses of humor. We all have bad days, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but we all get along and that makes working alongside these people that much more enjoyable.
I think people are a little scared of me, if you want the truth. And since we’re being truthful, I’m going to say that I sort of dig it. If you’re scared of me, then you’ll take me seriously and think twice before crossing me.
I tell people all the time that you have to have a line when you deal with the public. I will allow you to push me, scold me, and get me in my face if that is what it takes to get whatever is bothering you off your chest, but there is a line – if you start cursing or getting hateful or disrespectful then all bets are off. I use my “professional firm voice” and trust me when I say, I don’t give a rats ass if I piss you off or “offend” you.
Enough is enough. Back off, check yourself.
And people are so self-centered and selfish nowadays. It’s amazing how often you have to steer a conversation in another direction and point out to people that there are two sides to a story. Just because you heard this way or want it this way does not mean IT’S THAT WAY. You know?
I”m awesome to work with, but don’t cross my line.