03 April 2019

Units of Measurement

My father rarely had toys at his house when I’d go to spend a weekend with him. He was always a collector of sorts. Encyclopedias, triangular prisms, top-notch recipes. I always admired his willingness to admit that he was in a constant process of learning.
One of the things I marveled at most was his miniature Galileo thermometer. A fascinating glass tube, especially to an adolescent.
The Galileo thermometer consists of a vertical glass tube, typically filled with water, and sealed glass bubbles containing colored water or alcohol. Each bubble is also attached to a specific mass (labelled with the temperature it represents) to calibrate its density (the amount of mass in a given volume). The temperature can be read by interpreting the distribution of these bubbles. The principle of buoyancy states that if an object is less dense than a liquid, it floats; and if the object is denser than the liquid, it sinks. 

When the temperature of the liquid in the glass tube begins to warm up, it expands; hence lowering the density of the liquid, as its mass now occupies a larger volume. The opposite occurs when the temperature cools (ie density of the liquid increases). Therefore, if a bubble becomes denser compared with the liquid, it sinks; and if less dense, it floats.
It’s appears simple from afar, but if you really get close to it, the science is fascinating.
I know what you’re thinking; -“I bet she breaks it!”.
Unfortunately, I never broke the Galileo.
I knew how much my father cared for it. I had no reason to want it broken. I enjoyed its presence in the apartment too.

Without realizing I was having a bad day, I found myself on the internet. A dreaded place to be in the wee hours of night. The kids had endowed me with their shopping list for science fair shenanigans due next month. Once I carted the necessary items, I took a look around. It’s very rare for me to have an “urge” to buy myself something. There is very little I ever find myself actually “needing”, so why buy it?
Tonight however, I am in search of my very own Galileo. I do not have a good reason. I just desire it. What a strange feeling. I settle on one that’s about 20 inches tall with a cherry case around it. It is similar to the one I remember my father having, but yet completely its own style. No-one else has to like it. This one will be important to me.

One week later, Sunday:
I’ve worked for a year on a big project for my honors capstone research at college. After multiple college board reviews and professor oversight I have been cleared to release my survey to the public. A huge evening for everyone around me. I feel like I’ve been waiting on this forever. Before I release it to the public, I send the survey link to all of my family members; even my little sister. Even if they don’t exactly understand my excitement over the project, they each applaud my efforts and choose to be in the first group of participants. Their answers are strictly anonymous and I will never be able to read them. Just knowing they shared involvement in my work fills my heart to the brim. Maybe this is what pride feels like? But, I can’t be certain. I was sick with what felt like the bubonic plague a few days before.
My text tone sounds with the response of my last family member. Pride is short lived and expectations are hell. My heart sinks as I read the words of my father telling me that he has nothing to contribute to my project.

Suddenly I’m 8 again admiring his little Galileo on the table.
I wonder what it’s like to be that fragile. To only exist under the law of constant, consistent protection. In the deepest part of my heart, the glass inside me rattles against the incoming cold. My delicate is busted and the precious liquid is seeping. I’ll surely never be able to measure emotion correctly again. Maybe this is female overreaction? Disappointment, however, is no stranger to this system. It was never about the answers of my family....it was knowing they cared enough to partake in it for me.

(Today) AKA 3 days later:
I receive notice that there’s an extra large package waiting for me at the post office. I miss the open window hours, but they leave it in a parcel locker so that I can still pick up my inconveniently sized box after work. I spoke to my survey mentor, in the 3 days since its release we’ve had 112 participants. An astonishing number for what they were expecting from my little hometown. There are still 7 days to go.
I get the kids situated so that I can open my box without error. There are fragile stickers covering every corner. 
Inside, is my cherry framed Galileo thermometer. It sets near the window, a beacon of hope. I feel eerily satisfied. It's taken me 20 years to understand what I've been measuring. 
I’m going to admire my own damn bubbles from now on.

28 January 2019

Anger Management

This man looks how mothballs smell.

If you could see him, you’d understand.

They told me it would be “zen”. At best, the room reminds me of one big dusty book. It may hold treasure for someone. It’s just not me. Mr. Rowling was the embodiment of what I imagined an appropriate middle aged father was supposed to act like. Maybe I dodged a bullet there.

Mom never comes in.

If the floor is lava than the counselor's office is the volcano. It’d take a court summons to order her to talk to a shrink. She’s likely ventured off into one of the local shops. Pretending she leads a seemingly normal life I suppose. Maybe she’s making a hair appointment for the next time we’re obligated to be here. Or maybe she’s at the pub. I couldn’t blame her if she was enjoying an afternoon Budweiser.

Unfortunately, I’ll never know.

Perplexing as it is, neither of us can talk to the other one. Not even about how we spent our afternoon.


Which brings me back to this bare bones chair bullshit. I’m to do 8 sessions with Mr. Rowling. 60 minutes each. “Anger management”, they call it. I’m 14 and I tend to think I’m fairly average. The puberty stricken boys I see putting dents in the school lockers are a far cry from my situation. Nonetheless, I am here. I am unable to tell you what it feels like to be "a little" mad. My emotions work as if controlled by a light switch. I'm either fine or I'm out of control. I once spilled a container of thumbtacks and got as angry at myself as I did when I blew the transmission on my first SUV. If I'm under the impression that there are Doritos in my cupboard, then realize that there in fact are none, there's a high probability I'll be as sad as I was at my cat's funeral.

In other words, my reactions aren't proportionate to the things I'm reacting to.

It's something I've been working on...

“It’s like hammering a square peg into a round hole every single day,” I say.

“I just want to know who I am.”

“No one knows who they are Samantha. Adults 5 times your age are still figuring out who they are. It's part of the process. Feeling enraged at the fact that you haven’t grown into your persona yet is unfair to those around you. And wrong to expect at a mere 14,” he scolds.

He doesn’t get it. The expensive paper hanging on the wall is supposed to be proof of his excellence in this field and show how qualified he is to handle little hiccups like me. And he literally doesn’t get it.

I can feel my cheeks going red.

The sheer frustration of knowing exactly what’s going on, while everyone else refuses to acknowledge you...

You’d get aggravated from time to time too.

Mom was late to pick me up. Against the protest of the lady at the desk, I swing the exit door and walk myself out. I don’t need to look back to see the expression on her face. I can feel her judgement. She’s wrong too.

Mom finds me a few doors down sitting on the large stone steps of the library. I secretly find myself hoping that the secretary is still watching; In awe of the fact that I wasn’t caught rolling joints or smoking crack. There’s no conversation on the ride home. I’ll run a mile, bike a mile and eat a bag of Banquet chicken tenders. I couldn’t even guess what the calorie count is on a bag of those suckers and truthfully I couldn't care less.

Fast forward a decade.

Work has brought me to Mr. Rowling’s doorstep. I recognize the name on the mailbox.

I want so badly for him to appear. For him to remember my face and my struggle that he could never solve.

I want to tell him that I’ve found all of the answers and that I was right all along. I need to tell him about the eyes I’ve looked into and the pieces of soul I’ve replaced. The places I’ve traveled and the love I have found. The searching I did for the answers I've sought. That he was ignorant in his old age and that my youthful self was justified in her quest....

I set down the large package and get on with my job.
Maybe he doesn’t deserve to know. For him, I was just a folder. This is my life.

Trying to make sense of other people's responses to us is a basic human activity. Accepting anyone's anger by concluding that it is justified, is a way of making sense of a difficult relationship.
But, this acceptance comes at a great cost.

03 July 2018

The B-word

B is for Bitches, but today it's for Bomb.....

It's only my second day back to work after a pretty sweet vacation in the Caribbean. The first day back was a jam packed ten hours. Today was proving itself to be an even bigger beast.

I started working as a rural carrier about 7 years ago.
I promised myself I'd go and get my college degree if I didn't get hired at the USPS.
It was one of the only career paths that made sense for someone like me. With 4 young children, daycare can be hard to find. It's an even bigger task if you're only making minimum wage. Carrying mail would allow me to work outside of the home and still make a decent wage even after the
babysitting fees were deducted. Starting pay was $18/hour plus the vehicle allowance for your gas. I accepted the position the second they offered it to me. I've never regretted my choice and love many aspects of my job. With my schedule and support of my Postmasters I've also managed to go to college full time.
I now have a surplus of postal stories.
These are impossible to make up.

A few years back the Federal government was pushing the "See something, Say something!" initiative. Telling the public that with their help, eyes and ears, they could aide us in catching crimes or illegal acts in progress.
If there's one thing you learn quicker than anything else in the post office it's that you NEVER EVER say the B-word.
 B stands for bomb. And we don't mess with that.
Even the mention of it is like walking into the bank with a black ski mask on. You don't even have to make a threat. The word itself scares people shitless. We are all routinely trained and reminded of the things that warrant cause for concern or when red flags should be raised.
The public seems to be even more sensitive about mail tampering.
In the winter months I wear blue latex gloves because they actually keep my fingertips from freezing off. Much better than their fleece competition. It always catches me off guard when people ask if it's because,"I know something they don't" or "Anthrax is back".
They put things together that I can't even fathom.

I was pulling into my second office of the day. Many mail routes and offices had to merge together when the USPS started losing volume due to the increase of things like email and UPS. So, many routes consolidated to also include any small neighboring town's mail.
I have to go into my second office, case the mail and packages, lock up and start delivering again. It is fairly simple and rhythmic once you get a routine down.
 I'm already behind time because it's Monday. Upon trying to pull in I have to maneuver around a couple pick-up trucks. I know I shouldn't be irritated by something so minor, but it hasn't been my day.
I park and do my usual dismount anyways. One of the older gentlemen stops me before I can get to my office keys....

"Ma'am, I've been here about a half hour now and I've already called 9-1-1. I noticed the package shortly after the window clerk left and didn't want anyone to get hurt! They're sending the Bomb Squad. It's right there by your door!"

I am initially disoriented. I'm trying to internally process the situation, "Shit. He said the B-word. There is a "suspicious package" ten feet away. There are people all over the parking lot. The office closed an hour ago so there's no other employee here. Keep it cool. Keep it cool. You've been trained to deal with this......Shit!"

I inhale deep and assess the situation for myself.

I then notice that the "bomb" is in fact the door stopper that the office workers use to get the mail carts in and out of the building. It is typically left right inside of the heavy door. Our clerk is somewhat new and unfortunately his habits are different than those of the girl that worked the office before him. One of these habits is leaving the door stopper outside. (Shit)
A simple mistake. I would show you what it looked like, but of course this all had to happen on the one day I'm not carrying my cell phone. (It took a dip in the Caribbean Sea)
It is the size and weight of a cement block. A bit uneven though because it's filled with metal slat dividers and then wrapped like crazy with red and white postal tape that says "Priority mail" all over it. There is no address on it and is a beaming example of exactly what a danger package looks like as described by the US Government.
Today is not my day.
Certain of the fact that someone just left the door stopper outside, I (semi-embarrassed) grab the suspected bomb and rush into the office. Of course it is lunch hour at my main office and I didn't have my phone to text my traditional Post Masters. I called the nearest clerk with management experience and sought out her advice and made the situation known. I think she thought I was joking at first. She took care of the other phone calls for me. I'm trying to call my family (that has scanners) to let them know I'm not in any trouble since I can't answer anyone's text messages. Before I can make my call, the huge siren down the road starts to blast the sound of it's people. Emergency Services are in route.
 It doesn't matter if there's an emergency or not...
We are raised on the notion that siren=bad. I was starting to feel bad.
To save myself the pain of customer questions I remained behind my locked office door until the State Troopers came knocking. They needed to see the "device" and all employees...there was only me. They seemed somewhat skeptical of my door stopper story. Somehow the 9-1-1 dispatched the emergency as if it was called in by a postal employee and a confirmed bomb.
I didn't even have a phone, and the clerk had been gone for at least an hour. Something they were able to pull up and see that it was in fact called in by a civilian. They watched as I took the corner off of the thing. Just as I thought....a bunch of wrapped up case dividers. We fill out the necessary paperwork and exchange the necessary numbers. I call management...who's instructed me to make sure that thing never sees the light of day again. I'm pretty sure everyone ended up with an email about what constitutes a proper door wedge.

There's another light tap at the door. The people who called it in were waiting for the explanation they deserved. While I instantly knew what the object was, they did not. And they were right to call it in. It's exactly what they've been asked to do.
It looked so believable that two men stayed over a half an hour in 90 degree heat just to keep any customers that showed up away from it.
I explained it all to them in the most delicate way possible. It was a simple error on our part, but we would always rather have people looking out for each other than turning a blind eye.
"Keep up the attentiveness and thank you for all of your time!!"
There wasn't much else I could say to make it all seem worth their efforts. The crowd starts to disperse once they share the news that the door stopper isn't going to be exploding anytime soon.
I'm finally back inside. Alone. Safe. And very late.
If chaos is a necessary step in the organization of one's universe, then I am well on my way.

15 April 2018

I am Sam: Piece Four

           There were horse ranches of immense size all around us. I never would've guessed crop farming and animal husbandry would be such a big theme outside of upstate New York. Small side roads cut in between the agricultural masses. Curvy and cracked, we manuevered our way to the designated coordinates on the GPS. We affectionately call her "Karen". At times Karen tells us to, "....get out of your vehicle and finish walking to your destinaton". That's either a really good or really bad thing to hear. Dependent upon which kind of adventure we're having of course.
This morning isn't one of those adventures.
 I've got very little information to go on. An online website, two addresses and some input from Eric was about all I needed to deem it worthy of at least, an attempt.
   The last driveway at the top of the hill was where we needed to park. I am sweating bullets inside. No matter how skilled you are at small talk; convincing strangers ~that do not know you're arriving, to share personal information with you, is a bit intimidating.
 I will start with what I know best, "I am Sam." Eric convinces me that exactly that will be enough. We turn the jeep off and head for the door.
   At one time I think someone loved the property. There is evidence all around of gardening and typical miscellenous home projects left unfinished. Bird feeders hang sideways from willow trees.  All appear empty. A wood splitter hiding under blue tarps, ripped and frayed. Such a cute little home, drenched in abandon. After the initial walk up nerves, I finally settle into my skin after no-one answered the door. Eric, a bit more cautious, advices me to get out of the windows.
Still, he asks what I see inside. It looks as if someone had vacated the place back in 1980. There are shades of brown on everything. The floor, the couch, the wallpaper. It's all super retro. "This" would be the perfect house for a single cat lady.
Interestly enough though, that's the exact opposite of what I am looking for. I am seeking an aged man. Big stature and about 60 years of age. His parents were immigrants from Poland. I had found the records from Ellis Island. An attribute only rare names can offer.
I traveled a long ways to find an abondoned house with a "bird sanctuary" surronding it. Adjusting from the varying levels of anxiety and curiousties, we both plop a spot on the steps of the failed house. There's something okay about taking this break. Maybe while we sit someone will come along and claim the property. At this point I'd even take a tresspassing risk to get another lead. Stubbornly defeated, I rise to make my departure. I feel somewhat at a loss. Eric again- ever so clever, has a last ditch attempt to make sure someone knows we were here and what we are looking for. Even though we don't know who will find our note of desperation, I attach it to the squeeky front door. Head down, I take a big breath and clear my mind for the next address on my list.
         This time we are looking for a woman. I have no idea what she looks like, nor how old she should be. I have only a name...which indicates to me that she is married and a news article about events in the area that she lived in. The drive is not far. Maybe 20 minutes from our current location. We are coming down from horse land into what appears to be a more developed area. Churches stand ornate and strong, on many of the street corners. I wonder if this is how everyone feels when they're searching for something.
An unexpected sadness creeps in.
I do not know these places. I have never been to this state.
But, it feels as if I've missed them.
People would say that you can never miss that which you never knew. I disagree. With enough subconcoius proof now to back my beliefs up, I will find everything that's been buried here. In college once a professor told me that, "...a lie stuck to, is as good as any truth." Getting to this point has been like seperating salt from ocean water. I believe that as long as you're in control of the lies, you can shape them into whatver you like. But, it takes only one other person to unbind it all. Human error can be vile and atrocious. At the right time however, this will lead to something beautiful and tragic. This time the stories are me.

03 April 2018

Petty Payment

Today, I'm dwelling on my own stupidity and the only way to make any good sense of it seems to be to share it.....Let's start where I should have.

~~~~A prenuptial agreement can be obtained at almost any law office and is defined as an agreement made by a couple, together, BEFORE they marry, concerning the ownership of ALL respective assets should the marriage fail.~~~~

Boom! Plain and Simple.
It's a preplanned divorce! No surprises, no big burns!
Mature Sam loves this idea!
(Young and dumb Sam would've asked what the sense in getting married was if we were already betting on divorce and gotten defensive.)
Big..Big.. slip on my part at 18.
But don't mark me down as being bitter and spiteful just yet!
 I LOVE weddings!! The excitement, the emotion, the flowers, the food..the chance of uniting a relationship meant to last. It's big stuff! For two years now I've been an ordained minister and I've enjoyed EVERY wedding.
My only personal advice I can give to couples though, that is without a doubt- tried and true is that if you do get married; get a pre-nup as well. It's not about not loving that person at that time. It's not even about money. It's about having the safety and security of a document that states how you'll dissolve your marriage while you still have a SHRED of respect for that person. I promise you, no matter how well you can think you know someone....divorcing that same someone could be hell on earth. There was enough tension at any one of my court appearances that even the judge needs therapy afterward. There's a reason so many people applaud the survivors of a contested divorce.

This isn't necessarily a "fun" discussion to have but----

 #1 - if this person really is your "true love" neither of you should have to worry about this pre-nup            ever coming up again!
#2 - if you really plan to go through the entire rest of your life with this person then one awkward              discussion about break-up technicalities isn't going to through a wrench in your plan.

Pre-nuptials can also give a clear and land out plan for any existing assets and any new ones that may come. Men will say their ex-wives "took them to the cleaners", but never once did they think of using this simple piece of paper for the "what-if" protection. Women will say they were left high and dry by an irresponsible ex-husband but, it was those women that didn't need a pre-nup because they'd never "need" a divorce.
I know people and situations are each unique.....I promise my divorce was not the norm regarding the demands put on the woman, but it was worth every penny to get that "Freedom Decree".
It can cost as little as $100.00 to file one of these agreements together. Without it you could pay thousands for years to come.
(If you want to get really in depth, technically, you can put things like "cheating" or "excessive weight gain" clauses in the document as well. The world is your oyster BEFORE the wedding. After the vows, that freedom of simplicity is all taken away by governmental garb.)

Oddly enough I am a believer in the human heart and all things love and gush, but I've also seen the dark side of someone you think you know and I wouldn't wish that shit show on anyone....
While I sit here filling out my FINAL alimony payment, I am as disgusted with myself as I am relieved to not have to write another one of these checks. After this blog post, this requirement will be dead and gone to me.
It's about time.

You are not weird for needing a pre-nup. It doesn't make your love any less or your wedding a complete flop.
 Love yourself enough to know that a nasty divorce is in NO-ONES best interest. Life's not always fair and sometimes people just suck.

I didn't have anyone's advice when I was 18 and signed that one paper. I wished so badly that I had.
So for any of my local friends that need a connection but don't know where to start:

My divorce attorney, Krystal was one of the best. I highly recommend her as a lawyer and as a person. You can even use my name as a reference! I know she does Pre-nups because she lectured me on them after every nasty courtroom battle we had to go to! Use my bad examples as the reason you are there PRE-wedding. She'll applaud your decision.

The Rupert Law Firm is located in Lowville, NY and her phone number is 315-874-4173.