Life on the high C’s

I spent the last couple of days in supervisor training for work. For the class, we took the DISC personality assessment.

If you are not familiar with it, it goes a little like this. The D’s are the dominant type, that is why the D is the first letter on the assessment. The I’s are second because they sold the idea that they should be. They are the chatty, loud, and persuasive type. The S’s are the agreeable people, they are happy being wherever you put them because they are chill. Then the best is saved for last, the C’s (you know where I rank). The C’s are the type that follows rules and makes sure things are done right.

I am pretty sure that I was raised by two high S’s. You would think that it was an incredibly peaceful environment almost zen like. Sometimes I wonder what my parents were like before I was born. Did they sit around meditating for hours in perfect harmony? I’s sure that all fell apart after I was born. Then within the next 5 years my three younger brothers were born. The second born child, Matt, is severely autistic and was violent at times.

What happened to the strong S’s then? What happened to the peaceful people that went wherever the wind would blow them?

My dad shut down completely. He became depressed and silent. When the silence became too loud for him, he would roar. Then he would retreat into silence once more.

My mother turned her gentle supportive good-natured self into a D. It was unnatural. She hated it. She had to become forceful and direct. She confronted people. She became the ferocious mother bear with an injured cub. I feel like through this she really lost who she was because her hand in life forced her to be someone she was not.

Maybe it is no surprise that I am a high CD…if I were to break it down I am probably 80% C and 20% D.

To tell you the truth, sometimes I try to disguise myself as a S. Growing up in a house of S’s sure makes it easy to do. I know the language even though it is not my own. I even own a wide variety of bohemian clothing. Sometimes I pretend to be someone I am not so I don’t scare people off right away.

Seriously, who likes a high C or a CD mix? Who likes the rule follower?? Who? Oh, and I don’t follow just any rules. I certainly don’t set my cruise control at 55 mph in a 55 zone. Seriously, I don’t want to be controlled by cruise control! The D in me always urges me to drive faster. I don’t have time to drive slow!

I follow my own rules. It is very important to me that everyone in the house turns off the lights if they leave the room. Did you turn off the lights? Sinner! You are wasting electricity. My husband says, “Alissa, how much electricity do you think your hot tub uses?”

How many people like the blunt, direct truth delivered sometimes without tact? Who likes a stubborn rigid all or nothing thinker?

How many people like it when I clean up after them when they are not done eating or using an item?? Oh, I won’t accept any help either because I am the only one that does things right. Then I get mad that no one helps me.

How does it feel to walk with mud on your shoes in a cleaning freak’s house? How does it feel to watch your neighbor run 20 miles around the neighborhood on a Saturday morning while you watch TV in your pj’s? Does it make you feel just a little bad about yourself?

I continuously have a harsh task master in my head chanting the mantra ‘Get it done! Get it done! Get it done!’ at all times. I can’t sit still without thinking about the things that I need to do.

I never miss a workout when I just don’t feel like it. My calendar is booked through October.

Sometimes I am as jealous of your ability to relax as you are of my drive to accomplish challenging tasks.

My intensity, my discipline, my drive sometimes repels more people than it attracts.

Good thing for my sense of humor!

That’s my real life navigating as a high C.

I absolutely love being me!






Funereal unreal

When I was in my last month of college before graduation, I took a career and aptitude test. The test results said that I should be a funeral director. Seriously?? I didn’t go to school for that. Was it the school’s plan to have me stay for a few more years?? Why didn’t they do the test before I picked a major??

I could see myself being a good funeral director. I am very serious, calm, and have a deadpan demeanor about me.

But sometimes I have a strong urge to laugh when least appropriate. Maybe that is a common fear of extremely self-disciplined stoic people. Let loose…quit being so serious…but do it to the extreme…laugh at a funeral…swear in church…dance and sing down the aisles of a grocery store…scream in the library..

It probably wouldn’t have worked well for me.

A few months ago, right when my MIL was in the last few weeks of her battle with cancer, her husband Darryl’s job of several decades was on the line. The company that he was working for got bought out. He lost his job as a forklift driver and his hours got cut in half. Just what he needed with the mounting medical bills coming in.

Over the years, he had other second jobs to make ends meet. He cleaned a clinic, plowed snow, and was a chimney sweep just to name a few. He worked as much as possible before work and after work. Plus he maintained a large garden, fished and hunted for food, fixed his own vehicles, and chopped his own wood to heat his house. One time he even cut his leg with a chain saw. He was even good at sewing and stitched up his own leg to save a doctor’s visit. Not at all squeamish…

Maybe you know where I am going with this..

Right now Darryl is working part-time cleaning the meat room. Not a fun job. The last time I saw him, he showed me where he got electrocuted on his finger. Eccentric man, that Darryl. So I didn’t think it was all that strange when he told me he asked the funeral director if he had any work..

Now Darryl has a new second job. He will be picking up bodies. Fifty bucks a stiff. I can picture Darryl now with a couple of bodies in the back of his pick up truck…

We briefly talked dead seriously about starting a new family business…


Barefoot running

The hardest part of joining the gym for my husband was buying shoes…

Several years back my husband got on the barefoot running kick after some program he heard on public radio. He ordered the book Born to Run about a tribe of elite super runners that ran barefoot. He decided to give it a try.

I thought he was crazy.

I learned at a young age not to walk around barefoot. With three younger brothers it was dangerous to go to the bathroom at night without shoes or slippers. I don’t even like the feel of grass under my feet.

Then there’s my husband…running around the neighborhood without shoes oblivious of broken glass, gravel, or what people thought of him. At first, his feet looked like raw beef, all red and speckled. He had to wrap them in large bandages. It was gross. After awhile, his feet grew a large layer of callouses over them. The bottoms of his feet looked and felt like leather.

People stopped him while running on the road. They asked him if he was hard up for money. They offered to buy him a pair of running shoes. They said that they couldn’t stand to see him run like that because it seemed so painful. People were doubting his sanity.

Then winter came and he couldn’t run barefoot anymore.

At the beginning of the next outdoor running season, he had to go through the painful raw meat stage again. His feet were cracked, bleeding, and blistered. They shredded up the sheets at night.

Paul said that barefoot running felt so natural. He ran differently without shoes, the way he was meant to. He said that he had less pain in other parts of his body.

But after the second winter rolled around, he didn’t want to go through the painful raw meat stage again. So, he broke down and bought minimalist shoes. They looked like water shoes with a separate area for each toe.

The minimalist shoes lasted forever. His one pair lasted as long as about 15 pairs of mine. After several years, they started to finally wear out. I won’t even tell you about how they smelled.

Once we got a gym membership, Paul had to buy some new shoes. Sadly, extreme minimalist shoes aren’t the in thing anymore and he couldn’t find another pair.

Paul really loved barefoot running. If we lived in a warmer climate, I know he would still be doing it today. He doesn’t like his wide feet being confined in a tight shoe.

I don’t know about you, but as for me, I will stick to my Saucony’s.

But sometimes I have to wonder….if Paul has such a high tolerance of pain, then why isn’t he running marathons with me??

10. My most embarrassing moment

Day 10: Describe your most embarrassing moment

Back when I was in college, I took a class called Deviant Behavior. One of our assignments was to do something embarrassing, or simply not socially acceptable, in public to see how other people would respond.

While some students did embarrassing things like farting in public or picking their noses, I kind of cheated on this one… I went back to my repertoire of embarrassing moments in my life.

Maybe it was the time that my 350 lb dad decided to mow the lawn up north in nothing but a Speedo. His stomach hung over his underwear so that from the front it looked like he was mowing in the nude. What can I say? It was hot out that day. We gasped in disbelief as the neighbors tried not to stare.

Having my dad walk around in his underwear was nothing new. He used to do that when I had friends over and sometimes he does that when we visit today. He has no problem walking to the end of the driveway to get the mail in his underwear. Let me correct that statement…He does have problems walking to the end of the driveway, so he starts up his lawnmower and rides it to his mailbox in his underwear. He answers the door in his underwear if someone comes a knocking. He pees with the bathroom door open. He will dress up in pajama bottoms to go out to eat, but he only showers once a month. He wipes his teeth on the bathroom hand towel, but doesn’t brush them…There are some things that I am too embarrassed to even tell you about..

Or maybe it was all of the times that Aunt Grace, who had enough money to treat everyone to the meal, would shove everything from the table into her big purse or leftovers container. She would take the little butter dishes, silverware, cloth napkins, centerpieces, creamers, or practically anything they didn’t clear off of the table. She used to grab matches back in the day, but didn’t smoke or a handful of mints on her way out the door. She always insisted these items were hers since she paid for the meal. Or maybe it was her fondness of slapping the butts of my friends that she liked.

Or maybe it was all of the times that I saw my autistic brother expose himself to friends and neighbors. He used to stand at the end of the driveway at my grandma’s house and pull down his pants every time a car drove by. He walked around the house in stained underwear whether people were over or not. Sometimes he wore my mother’s dresses. He would stand out at the end of the dock up north with his pants dropped and pee into the water. Then he would stand there shaking it for awhile as the boaters going by would stare or laugh. Or maybe it was when he would fart, attack people, or swear in public. Hard to say..

Or maybe it was just simply bringing a friend or potential boyfriend back home to a house where there was always dirty dishes with rotten food on the counter and pee on the bathroom floor. I brought them home to a hoarder’s paradise where things don’t get thrown away. Funny thing is…I always preferred the clean freaks…Ha ha ha ha…Sometimes unwanted items would be given away to my brothers or I, but usually it just meant that it was time to build another shed.

Let’s just say that I don’t get embarrassed much by anything anymore…

But as for the most embarrassing thing that I ever did…Back when I was in 2nd grade, I peed my pants in front of the whole class. I couldn’t get the teacher’s attention and couldn’t hold it anymore. Urine leaked down my green tights and puddled into my shoes. I had to walk around all day in a short little dress with nothing underneath..

Now you can probably understand why I skipped the assignment of doing something embarrassing in public…been there, done that, and don’t want to do it anymore..The hardest part was narrowing down my topic of embarrassment.

Lilacs, mushrooms, roadkill, and dandelion wine 

Every year when the lilacs bloom, I think of Darryl.

Darryl is my husband’s step-dad. He is a rugged outdoors man of the wild north woods. He doesn’t even have (gasp) internet. Except for being a non smoker, he is reminiscent of the Marlboro man of old. He is tall, lean, and ruggedly handsome for a man in his early 60’s. He has a head full of thick wavy hair. He works full-time as a forklift driver. He is a hard worker and has many other side jobs such as janitor, chimney sweep, and lumberjack. In the winter, he hooks up a plow to his pick up truck to earn some extra money. In the summer, he works in his massive garden.

Darryl lives off the land. In the fall, he is a deer hunter. He even goes black powder hunting. He processes his own venison. He takes the hides from the deer and sews his own clothing. In the winter, he goes ice fishing. In summer, he fishes from his boat. Life for Darryl is simple yet satisfying.

Darryl also picks up roadkill. One time he picked up a dead raccoon off the side of the road. He threw it into a crock pot and served it to my kids telling them it was chicken. They loved it.

I have learned over the years not to eat any of Darryl’s food. He has been known to leave brats in the fridge for months then serve them. Sometimes his food has a funny taste to it. He seems to have a strong constitution though.

Darryl also makes his own wine. He never follows a recipe when he makes his wine out of unusual ingredients such as potatoes or dandelions. It doesn’t always taste the greatest and sometimes has a high alcohol content. People have been known to spend the evening sick after a few glasses. In fact, a couple of weeks ago Paul and Darryl shared a bottle of wine while out fishing. Darryl lost his balance and fell out of the boat. Then he fell several more times on his walk back home. If Darryl offers me his wine, I tell him that I am strictly a beer drinker which isn’t entirely true.

Darryl says that every year when the lilacs bloom, the morel mushrooms are ready. Morel mushrooms are a very expensive delicacy in these parts. One year, he asked us if we wanted to go mushroom hunting with him. It sounded like an adventure, so we went. We combed the woods and found a few. On the car ride home, my skin was crawling with ticks. Darryl and Paul decided to fry up their mushrooms for supper that night. I don’t like mushrooms and was a tad bit worried when they wanted to eat their find since there is a false morel mushroom which is similar but poisonous. Darryl was fixated on mushrooms for awhile and even started carving a large intricate mushroom out of wood.

By far the most interesting story I heard about Darryl happened the time that he cut his leg open with a chain saw. Now Darryl is the cheapest guy that I know. He has been known to dumpster dive or collect items that others don’t want. In fact, he is a bit of a hoarder. His house is decorated in vintage 1970’s mismatched furniture. He has two refrigerators in his kitchen, one works and the other he uses for storage. After he cut his leg with a chain saw, he was too cheap to go to the doctor to get his leg stitched up. So he did it himself. He took a needle and some fish line and sewed it right up. He could win a survival competition hands down (or even tied behind his back)!

Darryl sure is an eccentric fellow. 



The first sail of the season


On Memorial Day, we were finally able to head out for the first sail of the season. As I posted on Friday, it was too windy and rainy to get out of the harbor so we just sat on the boat and fought. Friday wasn’t a totally wasted day however. Paul helped Harv put the sails on his boat. Harv is the man that did our boat renaming ceremony last year. He is twice my age and couldn’t tackle that job alone.

Harv has become like a father figure for Paul. They are not only sailing buddies, but they are theater buddies now as well. Harv tried out for the summer play and would only accept a part if Paul took one. I may have mentioned this before, Paul grew up without a father. Not only did he not have a father, he never had a grandfather either. Paul’s mom married his step-dad Darryl after he was an adult.

But anyway, back to Monday… It was probably the hottest day that we had so far this year. I decided to go out for a 6 mile run in the morning, my first run after the marathon. My knee ached a little, but I didn’t wrap it. It felt wonderful to be out on a nice day. Hot, but nice! After that Paul and I watched our youngest two kids march in the parade. So I did a couple more miles of walking this time with coolers and chairs. Lol.

This past weekend I found out that my son Alex has a new girlfriend. He hasn’t had a girlfriend since his first girlfriend two years ago in 7th grade. He wanted to spent the afternoon with her after the parade. Angel said that this girl is a quiet, beautiful, and nice church going girl. I haven’t had the chance to meet her yet. Pity the poor girl’s parents, another nice girl falls for a bad boy. Lol. I am hoping that it will change my son’s opinion about church and school, but I am not holding my breath.

After we were done with all of the festivities, we headed out to the sailboat. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect. Harv ended up showing up at the same time that we did. So we took him along on our first sail of the season. It was a glorious day. I was happy to finally savor the warm weather doing two of the things that I really enjoy, running and sailing.

Unfortunately, I was so exhausted from everything going on over the weekend that I wasn’t able to do the other thing that I enjoy, writing. Not to worry though, I plan on writing about it while it is still fresh in my mind during the rainy and entirely boring days…

Surviving the time change

My mom said earlier in the week that the risk of having a stroke or heart attack increases significantly for those 65 and older two days after the time change. My mom said she was planning on having the heart attack and my dad was planning on the stroke. Or maybe it was the other way around. Nevertheless, they survived another time change and it looks like you have too.

Last Sunday, my mom invited my family to her church for a chili meal. Before the meal, we all went to church with her and Matt. We didn’t fit into one pew, so Paul and Alex sat in the pew in front of us. During the prayer time, Matt announced loudly that he needed to use the bathroom. He kept saying it over and over until my mom nodded yes. Then she rolled her eyes and smiled at me. Matt will be Matt. When Matt got back from the bathroom, he sat down next to Paul in the pew ahead of the one that he was previously sitting in. After a few minutes, he looked at Paul and did a double take. He shook his head in shock and disapproval. Then he got up and sat down in his original spot.

After church, we headed to the chili meal. Matt has a special diet, so my mom brought his food to microwave. When she heated up his meal, it blew a fuse and the lights went out along with the power to the slow cookers. Whoops!

I am not crazy about chili. I like the flavor, but it really upsets my stomach sometimes. It didn’t help that on my second spoonful I almost ate some hair that I found in my soup. I did eat it though, albeit rather slowly.

Then we went back to my parents house. My dad was sitting on the couch in his shirt and underwear. He had a blanket slightly draped over his legs. Remember earlier when I said that I don’t embarrass easily? I just had to find a guy that would be able to tolerate my eccentric family. Of course, I was expected to return the favor.

My dad is a hard core pessimist. His common words of wisdom are shit happens and life’s a bitch then you die. Paul’s mom is a hard core optimist. She told the kids that when she retired she would buy them a swimming pool and spend time with them. It doesn’t seem to matter if the cup is half empty or not, neither one of them lives in reality.

My dad does have a few redeeming traits though. He has a great sense of humor which is one of the few traits that he seemed to pass down to me.

My dad was complaining about having a virus on his new laptop. Apparently he received an email from a deceased friend. He had to click on it to see what kind of message was being sent over from the dead. Then my mom clicked on the email too. I said that she probably didn’t even know that the guy was dead. She didn’t.

We spent a lot of time laughing at my dad’s story of his computer virus. He gets so worked up about technology issues. He even called the anti-virus software. They told him that he probably had a virus. He over the top thanked them for being so helpful. We briefly talked about getting together to smash our computers with bats. Now wouldn’t that be a smashing party??

They may have gotten a virus, but at least they survived the time change.

Grace uncommon, part 7

Grace liked to take things.

To be more accurate, she liked to take things that were questionable if they belonged to her. She would be the person that would grab a handful of mints while leaving the restaurant. Or back in the day, she would grab matches everywhere she went. After she passed away, we found enough matches to make someone with a two pack a day habit happy for at least 10 years. Hotel rooms would be cleaned out of soap, shampoo, conditioner, pens, and paper. If I was told that she made off with a couple of towels, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Every time that we went out to eat with Aunt Grace, she would get a box for her leftover food. It was in this box that she would try to take whatever was left on the table. Sometimes it would be the little bowls that warm butter would come in. Maybe it was a bowl full of creamers or sugar packets. Silverware or small plates. Bread baskets. Cloth napkins. Table decorations. If it didn’t fit in with her leftovers, sometimes she would shove it in her purse.

We questioned her for taking more than she should. She always said, “I paid for the meal.” It was true, she always did.