Gratitude week 79

  1. Arabella was the only server that showed up to work on the 4th of July. So, yeah, I think they forgot about the day she slept through her whole shift.
  2. The fireworks were absolutely amazing over the lake.
  3. Summer! I was able to spend a lot of time on the water over the holiday weekend. The weather has been crazy this year. It has been extremely hot, in the 90’s, for the last couple of days. Later this week it’s supposed to be in the 60’s with rain. It’s either been incredibly hot or cool and rainy.
  4. I saw all three of my brothers this past weekend, one of my brothers I haven’t seen since before COVID.
  5. I put on my new boxing gloves for the first time this past week. My son is teaching me how to box. I gotta have nice looking arms for the wedding.
  6. It’s my birthday month. I can’t believe my birthday is next week already. I’m thankful for another year of life.
  7. I’m grateful that my husband was able to buy a new battery for Arabella’s car when it died.
  8. I’m grateful that he was also able to take our son in to get a new phone when it died.
  9. I’m grateful for the family that sent my daughter engagement gifts. It was very thoughtful of them.
  10. I was finally able to spend time with my nieces for the first time this year.

Everyone else’s problems

Okay, so maybe things aren’t going to be all that light and fluffy yet. I feel really irritated today. Maybe it’s just PMS or something.

Some days I can just let it go and other days not so much.

Yesterday my husband and I made plans to take my daughter Angel and her best friend sailing for her birthday. Apparently the weather had other plans. It ended up going alright anyway. But that wasn’t the problem. When we got back around 5 PM, I noticed that Arabella was still home. I thought she was scheduled to work at 4:30 PM. So I went to talk to her and found out she was supposed to work at 10:30 AM. She slept through her whole shift. So she missed a whole day of work and the previous two days before that she was late.

My husband and I were livid. The last thing we want is for her to lose the job that she says she loves. We again told her how important it was to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. After I woke her up she called work. Thankfully she didn’t get fired but I’m not sure how long that will last. They are very nice to her too and said she could wear a short sleeved shirt despite her cutting scars. They told her they don’t discriminate. She was really upset with herself and when I asked her if she wanted to talk about it she told me to leave her alone. Just like old times. She is upset with me but can’t do it by herself.

It really stressed me out.

Also, when we got home yesterday, we had the invisible fence lady at our door. I was on the phone with a client a few days ago when I saw my dog cross the road and almost get hit by a car. Our dog is almost 14 years old and is practically deaf and blind. He has been going right through the fence and onto the road. We had to do something. So they came out and turned the collar all the way up. Thankfully he is responding to it now. But it is hard to see him go downhill so fast. Our cat is 15 and not in much better shape. I don’t think either one will make it through another winter and it is hard to see both our pets decline.

Then if all that wasn’t enough. My mom came back yesterday. She is all stressed out because her tooth cracked and she had to get a crown, my dad now has some sort of heart problem, and my brother Matt had a CT scan because of some benign tumors on several organs. She only slept an hour last night and was a bear to deal with today. She wanted me to drive her to her appointment today which I did. But she was annoyed by my music saying it was too loud (it wasn’t) and clangy and asked me to turn it off.

A huge, huge pet peeve of mine is complaining about my music when I’m driving. It’s not a big deal if someone asks me to turn it down so they can talk to me. That’s no problem. I usually keep the volume down when I have passengers anyway. But saying they don’t like it and asking me to turn it off when I’m doing them a favor is another thing entirely. I just had the radio on quietly. Yes it was rock music. I hate her music too but never ask her to turn it off.

It kind of reminds me when my kids were young after I got past the stage of having to listen to that dribble Barney crap, I would listen to music I liked. When they complained, I told them that when they drove they could listen to whatever they wanted to. That came back to bite me because they can listen to stuff off their phone. In my book, driver picks the music whether I like it or not. Sometimes my husband will be really nice when he drives and tells me to put on anything I want. It’s like heaven to me.

But anyway, here I am back to letting everyone else’s problems bug me. I don’t even want to go up north this weekend to be around family anymore since they all carry so much negative energy. I am looking forward to seeing my brothers Mark and Luke but my dad, Matt, and my mom aren’t very relaxing to be around.

When can I live my own life and let everyone else’s problems go? Seriously!!?!

Gratitude week 77

  1. After a couple of nights away and not sleeping the best, it is nice to be home and sleep in my own bed.
  2. My son turned 21 this past week and we got to spend a lot of time with him for his birthday.
  3. My husband, son, and a friend of his went whitewater rafting. I wanted to go last year but never went. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out because it was a lot of fun. Plus it was a hot day which made it so much better.
  4. It’s the first day of summer! Woohoo! Funny thing is that it is quite chilly here. I turned off the A/C and put on a sweater.
  5. Paul and I worked most of the weekend for our business. It was nice because some friends of ours stopped by to chat that we haven’t seen since before COVID.
  6. I am grateful to have a wonderful husband that is a great father to our kids. For Father’s Day we took him out to eat and toured a maritime museum. He had a really nice day. I’m grateful for all the great dads out there that make a difference in their children’s lives or men who step up and provide that guidance.
  7. I’m grateful that life seems to be back on schedule again. Some friends of ours just invited us to their Halloween party this fall. It’s nice to have some events back on the calendar.
  8. I’m grateful that my daughter seems to like her new job.
  9. I’m grateful that the pool guys came out today to put in a new filter. It’s always nice when broken worn out things are fixed.
  10. I’m grateful that I haven’t had the chance to be bored this summer. So far it seems to be going a whole lot better than last year. I’m sure almost everyone can say an amen to that!!

Gratitude week 76

  1. Arabella found a waitressing job! I am grateful she has a job now.
  2. I forgot to mention this one sooner…Last year my mom, Arabella, and I were planning on going to Europe with the school group on a music tour. Because of COVID the trip got cancelled and the tour company kept $1900 per person. Hundreds of people joined a lawsuit against this company and we won. We got our money back. I can understand if the company kept a couple hundred dollars as a processing fee for the work done, but $1900 that a lot of students (and parents) worked hard to earn and fundraise for. I’m grateful for justice.
  3. Friday night we went to a surprise birthday party for the guy my husband works for in the off season of our business. It was held at a bar and grill that had a live band. We ended up seeing a lot of people we knew that we didn’t see since before the pandemic. Everyone was dancing and partying like it was 1999. It was so nice to see everyone and hear live music again.
  4. We had our first graduation party for the summer this past weekend as well. Again, it was nice to see people I haven’t seen since the pandemic. Although I’m not much of a social butterfly, it’s nice to have the choice to attend parties again.
  5. My son is turning 21 this week and I have his birthday all planned out for him. (He wanted me to plan everything which totally surprised me!).
  6. Talking about birthdays, my brother Mark called me today to wish me a happy birthday. Funny thing is, it’s not my birthday. He was off by a month. But it was great to talk to him since I haven’t seen nor talked to him since before COVID.
  7. I also talked to my brother Luke and saw my brother Matt over the weekend. I haven’t gotten this much attention from my brothers since before COVID. Strange but nice!
  8. I spent the last couple of days up north. It was nice to relax, read a book, go for a walk, kayak, and swim. Last night I spent the evening up north by myself. It was a little creepy since a storm blew through at night. I can’t remember the last time I was truly alone. I didn’t really like it. But I did like to eat what I wanted to, listen to the music I liked, and just do whatever.
  9. I totally whipped my mom playing cribbage. I know, I know. But I enjoy being competitive.
  10. Summer!!!! I totally broke down and put on the A/C. In my defense, we had the earliest heat wave ever recorded. We had a good week of hot and humid days in the 90’s. Some summers we don’t even see temps in the 90’s, very rarely in June. It hardly gets over 80 in June. But apparently not this summer when I wanted to make it without air conditioning to save money. But I love it hot and want to spend as much time as possible pool side, at the beach, or on a boat.

Gratitude week 73

  1. My daughter Arabella will be graduating this next weekend.
  2. I just booked a trip to Maine for a graduation gift. Arabella, Paul, my mom, and I will be visiting this fall.
  3. I just got my hair and nails done. I’m grateful to take some time out for myself.
  4. Arabella has another job interview today for a server/bartender position.
  5. We had an open house this past weekend for our seasonal business and it went really well.
  6. The weather was also perfect.
  7. We had the opportunity this past week to see some of our elderly friends that we haven’t been able to visit with for awhile.
  8. I’m grateful that my mom was able to take a trip with my brother and his family.
  9. I got my new crown put in this week. I’m really grateful that whole painful dental procedure is over.
  10. I’m grateful to be entering into my favorite season…summer!!!

The first hospitalization

Paul and I tried to get away for a few days for our anniversary, but it didn’t work out. I started the job with the census and would be training that week.

By that time, Arabella was on her second therapist. She was still feeling depressed and angry a lot at home. But at Jordan’s house everything was fine. I started noticing things I found unusual. Arabella started wearing long sleeve shirts in the summer. She even wore them to go swimming in the pool or the lake. When she was wearing shorts, I noticed a cut on her upper leg. I think at first she said the cat scratched her. I didn’t believe it and asked her what really happened. She said she cut herself with a scissors but didn’t really like it. I asked her if she cut her arms, but she refused to tell me or show me.

The evening before my work orientation, Arabella called me from her friend’s house. She said she wanted to make an appointment for an assessment with a hospital for her depression. I didn’t really think she needed it. She seemed fine at the time. But what would it hurt? So we scheduled the earliest appointment available which was 8 PM that evening. After we were screened for COVID, it seemed like Paul and I waited in the lobby forever. After we locked up all of our items such as purse, cell phone, and jackets in a locker they led us in through a locked door.

They told us that our daughter met the qualifications for hospitalization. Someone sat us down and talked to us with our daughter. Then I filled out all the paperwork. I asked about her arms. Was she cutting? Yes, but it was all superficial and would heal. They were going to help her and everything was going to be better.

We got home late that evening and I had to be up early for the work orientation. It all seemed surreal. I just admitted my daughter to a psychiatric hospital. But somehow I had to carry on. I had to be ready to start a new job and meet my new supervisor bright and early. I had to have a smile on my face when inside I felt like crying. But at least it was comforting to know that while she was hospitalized she wouldn’t kill herself.

The benefits of working

Just like our greatest strengths can be weaknesses, some benefits of working were the same as the downfalls. Working for the census was adventurous and exciting yet at the same time anxiety producing. I had fears yet at the same time I had the joy of confronting my fears. I had to go to dangerous neighborhoods, yet at the same time it was sobering to see how other people lived.

There were some things I really liked about working. Working allowed me to get out of the problems of my own life and throw myself into something productive. I got paid well. I was able to contribute a paycheck to help support my family. I was able to set my own hours. I believed in the importance of the work I was doing.

I got some exercise because I did a lot of walking. I explored parts of my state that I’ve never seen before. I became familiar with the neighborhood around me.

As crazy as it sounds, this job also pulled me out of my shell especially in the time of COVID when I had every excuse not to interact with people. I met some really awesome people that I probably would hang out with as friends if we met under different circumstances.

I felt respected by the community in general. People thanked me for my service in counting the people. Other people respected me simply because it was something they could never do.

There were fun times that I just had to laugh at myself like the time I almost got into someone else’s car because I wasn’t paying attention. Then there was the time I came home from work and realized I must’ve stepped in dog crap somewhere along the way.

I met up with a lot of different families. I listened and learned about other people’s lives. I watched and observed how other people lived without judgment. People are very interesting. It was a job I could combine facts with people.

Thankfully the whole time I worked I was able to stay healthy and safe. I think the experience was worthwhile.

Before the Door closed…

By far my longest, yet favorite, day as a census employee was spent on Washington Island in beautiful Door County. Door County is located on the thumb of Wisconsin. It is a peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan on the east and the bay of Green Bay on the west. Washington Island is located at the top tip of Door County where the bay and the lake collide commonly known as Death’s Door for the rough waters and the shipwrecks below.

In the summer, Door County is the boater’s delight. We’ve spent many hours sailing this area and even renewed our vows on the uninhabited carless Rock Island which is on the tip of Washington Island. Door County is a top tourist destination in the summer. Along with the majestic waters and lighthouses, Door County also has excellent soil for cherry trees unlike the rest of our state. The waters, wineries, fish fries, and specialty gifts makes this spot a vacation paradise in summer. However, the winters are especially harsh making this the perfect location for a seasonal summer home.

I left home very early on the Friday of Labor Day weekend to drive up the door and catch the car ferry to Washington Island. I was hoping to beat the crowds and I did. A lot of houses in Door County are seasonal and we were hard pressed to close out as many cases as we could before the door closed. I saw two other census employees on the island that day.

I decided my favorite mode of census transportation was the car ferry. It was the only way to get my car there. It was a windy day and the water was rough. Waves splashed over the ferry to give us a free car wash. Sprays of water sprinkled onto the upper ferry’s outer deck feeling remarkably fresh. It was wonderful being on the water with the wind blowing through my hair. I felt adventurous.

The island had the regular island vibe as I drove off the ferry until I got to the inner paths which were rather desolate for a holiday weekend. At times I drove on a one lane dirt path which I was questioning if it would even be passable. Once I drove on the regular road again I had to pull over because I had sticks wedged into the undercarriage of my car that rattled annoyingly as I drove. A passerby stopped to ask if I was alright.

At times I totally lost my map and all cell service. That was problematic because we did all of the census interviews via cell phone. On the way to the island another census worker offered me paper interview forms. I brushed it off saying I was fine and later was upset with myself for not having any extra paper just in case. I had to rely heavily on the map they gave me on the car ferry. It was hard not to get turned around.

I saw a lot of wildlife on the island. As I was approaching someone’s house, I thought I saw several cats. But as I got closer, I noticed they were foxes. I never got as close to a fox in the wild as I did on that day. All the islanders were nice, but I heard rumors of recluses that didn’t like outsiders. But they never answered the door when I knocked.

I talked to one man who had a seasonal property. He said his wife was having problems with the census at home. She filled it out multiple times but they kept coming back. Then we found them while they were on vacation. I thought it was rather funny.

Labor Day weekend is the last unofficial weekend of summer for the seasonals. I did make my way back to Door County after the holiday weekend and didn’t have much luck. My guess is that a lot of seasonal people will be finding census notices in their doors come spring.

It became harder to close out cases when everything was closed down and no one was around. I had to be creative. I noticed that several places had pesticide application lawn care signs. I decided to call the company and was able to close out a lot of my remaining files because they had a database of seasonal properties. I knew most of the properties were seasonal already, but I needed more than just a thought to close them out.

Seasonal properties were problematic. The census did not allow you to put more than one property address. If you filled it out on one property, it wouldn’t be completed on the other property. Then you would get a visit from us. This was an issue for snowbirds too. Then throw in COVID and it was a big mess. But I liked those interviews a lot more than the dangerous addresses.

Dangerous addresses, part 4

I found myself asking how much my life was worth.

Sometimes when feeling down I found myself teetering on the fence between life and death. Will I choose hope or despair? There is a reckless courage when you find yourself in that place.

But when pressed, when my life was in danger, it showed me how much I wanted to live. I had to continue on the path to hope, healing, and growth even during the moments I wanted to say screw it all.

As my time with the census came to an end, they were looking for people willing to travel. I said I would be willing to go to the furthest north woods of Wisconsin. Yes, it could be very dangerous. It was very remote with limited cell phone coverage. Heroin is a big problem in some dead end towns. Wandering into a property illegally growing marijuana. Dangerous. Wild animals. Finding bathrooms. It was an adventure I was up for.

I awaited my instructions to travel, but they never came. Instead, I got a call about travelling to Milwaukee. Now that is a different kind of dangerous. This year alone Milwaukee surpassed the highest annual homicide rate ever recorded. Unfortunately, this year isn’t even over yet.

I turned it down.

My supervisor said that another employee went, an African American woman. She was sent to such a horrible neighborhood that she was utterly terrified and asked if she could come back home. I think I made the right call.

They were looking for census employees to go to Detroit, Kenosha, and Atlanta as well. It takes a special (or should I say crazy) person to do the census especially in dangerous unfamiliar places.

If I had the chance, would I choose to do it all over again? Absolutely! Will I work the 2030 census? Probably not.

Dangerous addresses, part 3

I was walking through a bad neighborhood once again. My car was parked a block away. The road was closed and virtually impassable with huge potholes. It wasn’t like I could easily sneak around the signs although no one was currently working on the street. I knew the limitations of my car.

I passed between a port-a-pot and some teenage girls. My mumbled ‘hi’ was met with disdainful snide sneers. I went to the house on my case list. A woman answered stating that she already completed the census and would not be completing it again.

It happened, sometimes we were sent to the same houses over and over where the respondents said they already completed the questionnaire. There was even one whole new subdivision that got multiple census questionnaires due to a duplicate address error. It was sent twice, once to circ and the other time to cir for a road called Something Circle. After awhile people got angry. They filled out one and still got another. I understood. I listened, figured out the problem, and tried to resolve it for them. But these residents had a valid reason for being upset.

But some people were angry and aggressive for no apparent reason at all. I found I had the most problems with men right around 35 years of age. I couldn’t figure it out. Were they afraid I would ask information about their income?

I had several doors slammed in my face by all men. It was upsetting, but I tried not to take it personally. I even had a guy say ‘don’t know’ with a smirk to every single question to try to get a rise out of me. Later I thought I should’ve asked him if his parents were home. (He was obviously a grown man).

That day after I made my house call on the torn up street I walked past a man standing on his deck. He yelled an aggressive ‘GO!’ as I walked past him. I was instantly in fight mode. I pivoted my body around and glared at him. I gave him a dirty look that said grow up and shut up. He yelled ‘DAMN!’ as I turned and walked away.

After I walked a couple houses, I turned and glanced back to see if I had to make a run for it. But the man was gone. Later I saw that the approximate location where the man yelled at me was listed as a dangerous address. I had to keep that in mind when walking through neighborhoods not just when I visited specific houses.

Later that evening my husband applauded me for standing my ground. He said it was good to show him I wasn’t afraid. My son asked if I wanted to get shot. He thought I was being foolish. I wouldn’t have stood a chance against the man or his gun, but it felt good to do something.