Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Thursday, May 25, 2006

25 years ago today

I was all of 19 years old. I’d left college after a rocky three semesters. I’d majored in psychology for two of the three then switched to journalism – huge mistake. I hated it. What I really wanted to do was go into criminal justice. I guess I was just to sick of school to even consider another major change so I just quit – probably the dumbest thing I ever did.

I had moved back home and applied to work at either the local police department or the Sheriff’s office. Since neither was hiring at the moment, I went to work for A&P as a cashier. Six months later, in May of 1981, I got the call from the Sheriff’s Office. They wanted to interview me for a dispatch position opening up. I don’t remember it being much of an interview but I do remember the Sheriff telling me that he’s pay me $500 a month and handing me a shiny new badge after I was sworn in. That was a load of money for me back then.

May 25, 1981 was my start date. It was Memorial Day so the office staff was out on holiday. I got there for the 8 am shift and met Earline, senior dispatcher and my training officer. Because it was a holiday it was pretty slow. Earline was able to show me most of the ropes and had me answering the phone. But all of a sudden she left the radio room and told me to answer the phone or the radio if necessary. When she came back she started making phone calls. Come to find out, two trustees who had been out back washing cars had walked off and stolen a car from the convenience store behind the court house. I’ll never forget the double escape on my first day of work. We ended up tracking them down later that evening and getting them back but it was so wild. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back the next day.

Well, I did go back and kept going back for the next 17 years. My plan had been to gain some experience there then move on to a bigger city after about five years. Instead, I wound up making a career of it right there. The stories that I could tell spanning those 17 years would take days to finish. Some of them you would swear weren’t true. But there was never a dull day in that place. I worked for a crazy Sheriff for the first 11 years. Fortunately, Ted, the Chief Deputy, was a great guy and held the place together. I spent my last six years working for a wonderful Sheriff, who is still in that position and still a friend.

I worked with some wonderful people and forged deep friendships with a few. Earline went on to become the juvenile detective for a number of years. When she was ready to give it up in 1987, I followed in her footsteps. She became the office manager for the investigations division. Again when she got tired of that, I took her place. She was like a mom to me and several others. She retired a few years ago but I ran into the chief investigator the other day and he told me she’s back working three days a week running the evidence room. She just can’t stay away.

A year after I started working there, I ended up on a shift working with Freddie, one of the patrol supervisors. We wound up volunteering to work straight night shifts for nearly five years. There were only two deputies per shift back then. Freddy was the constant but the other position was filled with several different guys over that time. Wayne spent the most time with us working those night shifts. When you work as closely as we all did, when you put your lives in each others hands every day, you tend to forge friendships that run very deep. Freddie and Wayne became my big brothers. We did a serious job but we sure had fun doing it. I don’t get to see them very often but we still keep in touch even today. Ted, Freddie, and their wives, and Earline and E and I got together a while back for dinner. We spent the entire evening laughing and telling old war stories. It was if we’d never been apart.

I left the Sheriff’s Office at the end of June in 1998. I had been 911 Director for four years and the stress was killing me. I was 36 years old and got offered a job paying me lots more money. The unfortunate thing about law enforcement agencies, especially in the south, is that they can’t afford to pay decent salaries for the most part. If I was going to make a career change that was the perfect time to do it. I’ll never forget the look on the Sheriff and Chief Deputy’s faces when I shut the door in the office that morning and gave them my letter of resignation. After 17 years, none of us thought I’d ever leave. Leaving there wound up being a very good thing for me. I moved to Baton Rouge and love being in a city. I met E and got married. I make an excellent salary and have a job that I really enjoy.

If I’d stayed, I would have made my 25th anniversary today. Looking back I cannot fathom where 25 years have gone.

I still carry a commission. I’ve had a badge for 25 years now. There are days I really miss that job and the people there. I don’t miss being a supervisor but I miss sitting in that chair, answering the 911 lines and working that radio. On that Memorial Day 25 years ago, I walked into a job that I later learned I was really good at. It fit me like a glove. I don’t believe anything else ever will.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Knee deep in the hoopla (Da Vinci Code spoiler included)

I’m a big fan of the book “The Da Vinci Code”. I read it not long after it came out and recommended it to all my friends. I have been waiting not-so-patiently for the movie to premier.

I’m happy to say that I got to see the movie, not once, but twice this past weekend. I went with K on Saturday night and E on Sunday night. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know that the critics in Cannes really panned it but I’m not as much of a movie snob as they all tend to be.

I found the characters well played. I didn’t have any problems with Audrey Tautou’s accent. Ron Howard did take some creative license with the end of the film by rewriting the whole Rosslyn Chapel sequence. There were tons of things left out – he used one instead of two cryptexes and the whole library research scene was cut down to a search using a cell phone search engine. But I understand that for time constraints he was limited. Heck, the danged thing is 2.5 hours long as it is. I think he tried to tie the end up too neatly with a bow by having them find the grail documents.

Bottom line is I didn’t expect an Oscar winning film and I’ve learned to expect movie plots to veer from the original book. In the latter, I think Ron Howard stuck very close until the very end, which is more than I can say for other films I’ve seen that were based on books.

I don’t get what all the fuss being made by the Catholic Church and other Christians is all about. First off, it’s a novel and that means it’s fiction. Now there are some historical facts in there and I love how Brown wraps his story around them. There was (is) a Priory of Sion. This theory about Mary Magdalene being the Holy Grail has been around for centuries. Brown didn’t make it up. There is a Gospel of Phillip and a Gospel of Mary Magdalene. There was also a Council of Nicaea and they did pick and choose what books were going to be kept in the Bible.

I happen to think the theory is plausible. Why wouldn’t Jesus have been married? Truth is, he would have been considered quite odd if he wasn’t because Jewish men were expected to be married after they became adults. If Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, so what? Would that make Jesus any less the man we believe him to have been? Certainly not. He did appear to her first after he resurrected. And Mary Magdalene wasn’t painted as a prostitute in the Bible until the 3rd and 4th century. Kind of makes you go “hmmmmmmm…”

Anyway, believe what you want to believe. As far as the protestors, I’d be willing to bet that none of them have read the book and none of them will see the movie. How can someone protest something they know nothing about? I don’t get the concept of being a sheep letting sound bites dictate what I believe in. I did comment loudly to the lone protestor when we left the cinema on Saturday night. I said that he should read the book and see the movie because they are both fiction. I embarrassed K, I know I did. Sometimes stuff just falls out of my mouth like that. But, hey, there wasn’t anyone there protesting on Sunday when I went back.

Monday, May 15, 2006

How I spent Mother's Day

I need to preface this with a little background on my mom. She will be 70 in August and has always been pretty healthy. Both my parents are young for their age. However, the Thursday before Thanksgiving in 2004 as my parents were getting ready to go out to see a movie on my dad’s day off, Mom collapsed and went into complete arrest. They wound up having to shock her back five times that day. In the span of one week we went from being told to expect that she had severe brain damage because of the posturing she was doing, to having her come around but with no short term memory, to her release on Thanksgiving day with her short term memory returned. Except for the pacemaker/defibrillator they installed to take care of the electrical problem they found with her heart, she has had no residual effects from that incident. It was truly a miracle as far as we’re concerned.

Fast forward to the past few weeks. Mom’s youngest brother has been going through some severe health issues and that combined with an absolutely insane next door neighbor has created a lot of stress for Mom. They live in a neighborhood where they are surrounded by mostly elderly widows and this neighbor moved in several years ago and has managed to upset the whole bunch. I could write a book about all the stuff this old woman has pulled but let’s just say that she’s given my mom and the other neighbors tons of grief. All this stress seems to have taken its toll on Mom because she, for the first time in her life, has been having elevated blood pressure and shortness of breath. We finally convinced her to make an appointment with her cardiologist but since he only sees patients on Thursday afternoons, she isn’t scheduled to see him until this week.

Now to yesterday. My parents live 90 miles west of us. Since Dad was going to be working, I suggested that Mom meet me in Lafayette (the half way point) and I’d take her to lunch. She was excited about our Mother’s Day out but called me just after 8 am to tell me she wasn’t feeling well enough to drive so she was just going to stay home. I decided I’d just drive the whole way to my home town and take her to lunch there. I didn’t tell her I was coming and just figured I’d surprise her.

When I arrived, she was standing in the front door waiting for me. She said that she was feeling tightness in her chest and she thought she needed to go to the E/R and maybe see the cardiologist on call. Mom’s cardiologist is in Lafayette, 45 miles away, so that’s where she wanted to go. I packed her up and off we drove. We tracked Dad down at work and he headed out to meet us. Somewhere on the road she looked at me and said, “I knew you were coming. You didn’t tell me but I just knew.” I swear she must have a connection on the Psychic Friends Hotline [wink].

So our afternoon was spent in the E/R. They did a couple of EKGs and chest x-rays. Everything checks out fine. Their conclusion was that this is probably stress related. A couple of hours after we got to the E/R, the tightness subsided and Mom started feeling much better.

My sister and her family had been an hour away at her in-law’s residence so they came to meet us on the way home. My brother-in-law went on home with the kids and my sister, Mom, Dad, and I went to eat at the restaurant we were originally going to meet at for lunch. It ended up being an early supper but it was a Mother’s Day that Mom got to spend with more family that she’d originally been scheduled to. In the end, it all worked out for the best but, boy, am I exhausted.

Hope y'all all had a great Mother's Day/weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bad, Bad Blogger

I can't believe that I've let 11 days slip by since my last post. I apologize to anyone who still cares enough to check in here. I'll try to do better, I promise. I do have a good excuse. Work got rough for a couple of weeks and I didn't have any time to get online at lunch to post and in the evenings I was just too danged tired. It seems to be easing up just a bit now, thankfully.

E is working some crazy shifts at his current job. He has, however, just completed his second interview for our local cable company and we're hoping to get some good news next week. This will be a great opportunity for him. He'll still be working shifts but he won't be climbing ladders and hauling heavy stuff around all day. Poor baby has been coming home with his feet killing him every day. He's a diabetic and his feet are not in the shape to be doing so much physical labor. Y'all keep your fingers crossed that they call him next week with good news.

It's weird not having him home with me every evening. I hate prowling around that house by myself which is ridiculous because I lived alone for 15 years before I married him. Now after only 6 1/2 years I'm reduced to moaning about having to spend time alone. Geez, what a baby.

Unless it warms up a ton tomorrow, this will be the third weekend in a row that I have been home and unable to spend the day in the pool and it's pissing me off. The forces of nature are conspiring against me and they just need to cut that crap out.

I'm planning to meet my mom in Lafayette for a Mother's Day lunch on Sunday. E and Dad will both be working so it'll just be us girls.

Not much else to report for now. Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Odds and Ends

Not enough to write a whole post on one particular subject so I thought I'd just mention a few things.

* Had a really nice weekend but they're never truly long enough. My cousins from Phoenix spent the night Saturday and we went out to dinner with my sister. It stormed something fierce and my niece didn't want us out in all that weather. I had to promise to follow my sister home to make sure nothing happened to her. That poor baby is a third generation neurotic.

* The cousins and I each brought home a bottle of wine for after dinner. By the time we got home we were all falling asleep. You'd have sworn none of us had the energy to walk to the refrigerator and open one of the bottles. They are still unopened in my refrigerator. Man, we're lightweights.

* I got so fed up with not being able to do anything with my hair that after I dropped Deb off at the airport yesterday afternoon I headed straight to Master Cuts. I am now sporting a sassy bob.

* E's schedule is all over the place. He worked 2 - 11 Saturday and 12 to 9 yesterday. After my haircut I didn't feel like going home to twiddle my thumbs so I took myself to a movie.

* Don't waste your money on "American Dreamz". While I thought all the jabs at the Chimp-in-Chief were funny, the story line was pretty lame. Hugh Grant's character was totally unlikable as was Mandy Moore's. Watch it when it comes to HBO or something but don't spend any money on it.

* While it's true that we needed rain, we have now gotten plenty. Each storm has brought cooler weather and that means cooler water temperatures in my pool. Enough already - I want to swim when I come home from work.

* Speaking of work, and I try not to here, just suffice it to say that it's been hell lately. We've got some really serious deadlines looming and you'd have thought today was a full moon it was so busy. I came home exhausted.

* The good news is that I'm home now and E's got supper on the stove. Mmmmmmm...