Friday, May 29, 2015

Shit people say that actually made me feel better (Update May 29 2015)

I'm not like everybody else, a lot of people say things to me that they think will make me feel better, but they don't.  Here is the list of things I don't need to hear.

I thought I should complement this list by making a list of things that did make me feel better.  I'll keep updating the list as people keep making me feel better.

May 29, 2015.... I know a lot of people are uncomfortable and really don't know what to say and they mean well.  Yesterday I sat next to someone who I haven't seen in over a year.  He looked right at me and said the perfect thing.  "How to therapy going?"  It was such a simple's question, and the answer only made me think of how I am getting better, not how bad I have been.

Hugs help. Smiles help. Babies help

Facebook helps. Really, Getting a few hundred likes when I simply post a picture of the fact that I could walk does encourage me. Thank you

I've often found myself trying to cheer people up who were talking to me. Sometimes I look up and say, "I won the bad lottery." Sometimes I just smiled to myself think of how my cousin Barry responded to that. He said, "No, you just got five out of nine numbers."  

Visits in general really made me happy.  It really does help if you just have lunch with me, or just spend a half hour with me and walk back and forth in the hallway.   Thinking back to my time in the hospital, it really meant a lot when people stop by on the way home from work, or even at the end of a run that showed up all sweaty. It meant a lot to me when people came from far away just to spend some time with me.

I'm sure will be more to come so I will keep expanding this list... ....

A Bad Sign

Two jobs ago I was a school administrator. It was one of those nine months programs were you go after high school to learn a skill and get a job.  I was Dean of Students/Director of Student Services at a private for-profit proprietary school.  I mainly had two job functions.  Primarily, I had to maintain the students records, so that at any time I can document to the government that all our students were making academic progress towards graduation.  This was a big deal, many schools that were like ours were taking money from the government and not preparing students for a career.  The other, more challenging, part of my job was to actually prepare students to graduation.  Making surely went to enough of  heir classes, did their assignments, etc.  My academic training was in social work.  That worked because I felt like it was my job to help the students maneuver through complicated process.

I was hired by the President who was the owner of the school.  She had a big office, and used it well.  She was one of those bosses that without saying anything showed you that she was going to work hard and everyone was going to work hard also.  Because she regularly put in a 50 or 60 hour week so did I.  Things changed significantly when she retired and sold the school.  You see, when she owned the school she worked very hard to keep it running.  But eventually the school was owned by some venture capitalists in California.  Suddenly, a bunch of people who didn't do any work had to make a lot of money.

The organizational chart changed when the California people took over.  I didn't answer to a president or director.  I had to report to someone whose job title was controller.  He called me into his office and asked me to close the door."  Michael", he said, "we have a cash flow problem and you can help make that go away."  He told me that the new focus of my job was to not to let any student leave the program until they completed 51% of their required hours.  And that it was crucial to make sure that every new student got to the third week of school.

This is when I started planning my exit.  A big part of my job was to be able to identify the students who were never going to make it to graduation and only cause disruption on the way there.  The tool I used to solve this problem was the fact that if a student dropped out before the 11th day of school they would not be required to pay any tuition.  If I can tell a student who couldn't come to school two days in a row to save his life, that if he decided to quit at the end of the second week he would not owe any money we saved everyone a lot of problems.  And when I say everyone that includes the students who sit in the front of the class and were trying to learn.  Then I had a push them to the halfway point in the program just so the school could keep all of their tuition money.

Yeah, cash flow improved.  But the kids in the back of the class started to outnumber the kids in the front of the class. I wasn't working side-by-side with an owner.  I wasn't proud of the product of my labor anymore.  I was just helping people in California recoup their investment.  And I knew that their need for profit was infinite.   This is among the many reasons I left.

Really, celebrating our fallen
 soldiers with a sale

So there is a running shoe store around the corner from my house.  I remember when it opened, I met the owner.  I met his kids.  He's a neighborhood guy.  A lot of people I know were very excited when he opened more stores in Manhattan.  All of them were places to go if you really want to buy a good running shoe.  Many times I walked in and spent 45 minutes or an hour getting fitted.  I tried on every model that fit and run on the treadmill.  I would walk in and show them my current shoes and say I needed a shoe to run my next race in.  I always felt confident that I walked out with the right shoe.  I knew they weren't trying to sell me something because it was the brand they were making money on or because it was the current fashionable color. 

The four stores was sold to the same people that own a chain of other running shoe stores in New York City. and "is the parent company behind a network of 75+ local running stores across the U.S. and an online" that's a contradiction in terms, how can you be both national and local at the same time?  Their website says "We understand how important local communities are to runners. While your local store is part of a larger network, they are still focused on providing the best running experience in your market. Whether that’s recommending the best running routes in your area or throwing community events for you to attend, they will remain locally focused. Being part of  [mega Corp.] allows your local running store to get access to the best running products from the best brands out there." The person my track club has been told to talk to about our events doesn't reply to phone calls or emails, I don't think she has ever even been in New York.

Well, above all is a picture of last week's window display.  Usually, they paint their window with pictures of their mascot running or swimming or biking.  Sometimes celebrating a local clubs race or a holiday season.  I walked in and said what the fuck, did you find that so I on the floor in Kings Plaza?  The assistant manager told me she had to take a picture and send it to the West Coast People.  
The manager quit, my friend was fired, everyone got a pay cut.....  I guess the investors have to make a profit now.  Kind of like this

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

A good sign

A year ago today I looked happy. I had just gotten a pass to see my kids in their school play and a couple days later I got a day pass to go out for lunch. I didn't really want to eat anything when I went out the food was okay but I really want a cold beer.

The cold beer made me happy. I also didn't know that I still had two relapses to go. I knew that whoever took me out of the hospital had to be approved by my doctor. I thought they just needed to demonstrate that they can push a wheelchair without killing someone.

But it turned out they had to sign a document that said in multiple places they would let me smoke or drink. I don't smoke but the whole point of living the hospital was to drink. I did ask my doctor if it was okay to go out and have a beer. He looked at me, looked at my chart and then looked back at me and said just don't come back drunk.

We were on the same page.  One drink good, drunk bad.
Click to make readable
I just remembered that I took a picture of the menu at Rusk.

The food was not bad,but as you can see no cold beer.

I later learned it was the exact same menu at Tish.   In my two stays there, I that totaled almost 3 weeks, I was never able to sneak out for a beer.

Then I transferred to long-term rehab where the food was amazingly terrible.  That's another blog.
Now back home in Park slope ......In front of Shawn Fine Wines & Spirits.  I have lived around the corner for over 25 years and I might have gone in two or five times.  I'm really a beer person.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Fountain

I was once asked by a reporter if runners have a favorite water fountain.  When I started telling her about mine she said wait a minute I have to get a pencil..
Long-distance runners take only tiny sips of water during runs, but when Ring finishes his jogging jaunts in Brooklyn, he slurps up liquid at his favorite fountain. It shouldn't be confused with another drinking fountain near Grand Army Plaza that's on the street and pumps water that  tastes like metal, Ring warned.
"Sometimes I'm thinking about this fountain for miles," Ring said of his favorite fountain, which can be found on a path between Prospect Park West and the park's East Drive.
"While you're running, you can only take sips, but when you're done you can drink as much as [you] want. I wait my turn and...drink until I feel my weight shift."
I said a lot more than that.  I talked about how the water stream is always thick, and that it's always cold because the pipes are deep and in the shade.  In the spring it's underneath some of the most magnificent cherry blossoms in Brooklyn.  One day I'll take a picture of the fountain covered in petals.  I wouldn't mind if my ashes are spread there,so I can be those petals,

Last year I wound up in the hospital before they turned it on.  In the hospital I would close my eyes and drink its water.  My son read my mind and brought me a bottle of it.  He took a picture and I made it my background on my phone.

The plumbers must've been a little backed up this year so it just got turned on.  My Facebook friends just let me know..........................


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