Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leaving Mr. Milk


I'm in the Blue Room at Mr. Milk's house. The Blue Room is what he calls the guest room in his home. It's called the Blue Room for the obvious reason, it's painted all blue. Blue Chinese knick knacks, blue rugs, blue bed linen, blue most everything.

I'm scheduled to get off at 7 this morning but with this agency who knows.

Yesterday was a long day. Not hard, but long. Mr. Milk requires a lot of attention. Not for his personal needs like going to the restroom and brushing his teeth or feeding or anything like that. He can do all of those things on his own. Which, at ninety-five, is more than awesome. And he still has his own teeth. At ninety-five. But the attention he requires is my FULL attention. He likes to sit in a very, very small room just off the kitchen, a room not much bigger than a walk in closet. It's big enough for one and a half card tables and two chairs. That's the room he calls the Bird Room because he has large framed pitures of birds all on the walls. And when I say all on the walls I mean I dare you to tell me what color the walls are. He also has a bird clock in there with twelve different birds and every hour on the hour a different bird chirps. So, for one o'clock a mockingbird, two o'clock a robin and so on.

He likes to sit in that room from the time he gets up at about 8:30am and talk until the time he goes to bed at 10:30 or 11 that night.

I remembered from the last time I was here he talked a lot and for the two hours I was here that day he, the caregiver who trained me, and I sat there in the room and talked. Well, he and I sat there. She was gracious enough to stand the whole time as three of us could not easily fit into that small space.

I have about three hundred photos that I put into a bag and brought them with me. I knew he would be interested in seeing them and I figured I could stretch the time by showing him some. He looked at each one and I told him the story and location of practically every one.

He wants the entire time filled with conversation. No really, the entire time! At one point I needed a five minute break and so I started emptying my phone of unwanted messages. It was a perfect time, I thought. I mean, we had gone almost seven hours straight talking about...whatever. Finally there was a five second break and so I seized the moment.

M: Are you looking for gold?

Me: Oh, no. Just deleting some messages.

I felt him still looking at me and took that as my cue to continue the conversation. About whatever.

Even when he had his meals he wanted me to be right there. For lunch I stepped into the, I don't know what he calls it, but let's say the TV room, which is right in front of the Bird Room. In fact, you have to walk through the TV room to get to the Bird Room. Only a doorway with no door separates the rooms. Anyway, I stepped in the TV room while he ate his lunch and after three short sips of his soup he was finished with lunch.

M: I'm finished.

Me: You didn't like it?

M: I don't like to eat alone. I don't like to be alone at all.

So at that point I was regretting every time I felt like Clara was getting on my nerves. At least she could reliably take a nap or two during the day. At least she wanted time alone as she read every word of the newspaper. What old person doesn't take naps? I take them.

I knew the day wasn't going to change. He wasn't going to change. I had to. So I got in his world as best as I could. Wondered what it was to be him. At ninety-five. Alone. In this big ole house with rooms that had names and choosing the smallest one with the best light that looked out onto the yard so that I could see the dog when she was out there and count the blue jays as they flew by and the squirrels the dog chased.

Mr. Milk taught college theatre. Seemed to be very well known and there are books around the house where people praised and mentioned him. Then I wondered what that was like. To have out lived all or most collegues. To have achieved so much before the success of Google and Facebook. To not have the luxury of going online to see what the world is up to. The world not being alble to go online and read your blog, your posts, your musings about being a home health aide.

I Googled him. On my phone, read as much as I could out loud about him. He loved it. I just wanted him to know that someone cared. That someone right in his face cared, and would remember and would be impressed. We are human beings. We like to impress.

He showed me a book by a famous actor who dedicated the first part of the his book to talking about him and how he had changed his (the actor's) life.

I read the part about him. I laughed out loud at the funny parts and said "awwwww" at the touching parts and smiled when I saw his name in print. I let him know I was impressed. What did it cost me to do that? Nothing really. What did he gain? Himself, his pride, his floss, his smile.

"Gettin' old aint for sissies." I will never forget that quote from Mr. Minute.

I let myself really get present to how I would feel if there was no one around who cared that I was a poet, a painter, a mother, a sister, a photographer, a friend, an enemy, a lover, a reader, a blogger, a good housekeeper, a human being.

We want to be so spiritual as to beleive that no part of us is tethered to our identies but we are. We care about who we were.

At 9:00pm as I predicted, he started crying and got sad.

Me: What's wrong?

M: I'm sad.

I knew it was because he didn't want me to go to bed.

Me: Why?

M: Because getting old is hard.

I didn't say anything. Who was I to say anything to that? I don't know. He didn't want my two positive young cents on getting old and why it was such a blessing and blah blah full life blah. He wanted to tell me his opinion. So I listened.

M: I spent so much of my life struggling. I struggled a long time. But I made it. I found a way to get through it.

I worked in a grocery store for twenty-five cents an hour. The mom and pop who owned the store would let me open one can of whatever I wanted in the whole store for lunch and so I tasted all kinds of different food. Because I wanted to know. I worked all day and then got two dollars. I kept working too. I worked hard. I'm a doctor you know.

Me: (I assumed he was but didn't know for sure.) Wow. (And that was a real wow. A "no, I didn't know that. Thank you for sharing yourself and with me" wow.)

M: I didn't have money. Now I do. But what is there to spend it on? Why couldn't I have had money when I was young? Why couldn't I have had money while I was struggling?

I raised my niece you know.

Me: No.

M: Yes I did. She pays for your services. She lives in Portland. She's frugal, but that's ok. She doesn't know that my wife and I sacrificed to send her to school and put her all the way through school and buy her things. And now that the shoe is on the other foot, well... But it's ok. It is. It's ok.

I spent so much time collecting things. All these things.

(And he does have a lot of things. His home is like a museum.)

And now what do I do with all of my stuff? I had so much joy collecting this stuff. The school will have my house to sell and give scholarships.

Me: Really?

M: Yes. They can give many scholorships with money from my house.

Me: That's so cool.

Yesterday morning when Mr. Milk got up he called me in his room to hand him a box from the dresser. There were several boxes on dresser and I handed him the wrong one, twice. Finally I got it right and then walked out. As I left I heard him call me an idiot. Harshly too, like he didn't care if I heard him because what would an idiot know about being called an idiot?

But last night. In the Bird Room. From 8:30-10:30. I wasn't an idiot anymore. I was the only person in his world. Until the next caregiver came.

I look at the irionies in the home health care world. We take care of people who, when they were our ages were probably people who wouldn't have cared about us. Black, Mexican, poor (espeically to them). And now we are the only people they have around to talk to. The only people who will take care of them.

And I look at us. The caregivers who sometimes speak badly to the clients and in some cases abuse them. As if we are better than they are when we are the ones who predictably will not be able to afford the services of the company we work for if we should live a life as long as they. Who will be there for us?

Too often we don't look up until it is too late. When will we see that what we do to and for each other we are doing to and for ourselves?

Tuesday morning prayer


Thank You, God for waking me up this day. I am so richly blessed. With Your love and kindness. Your friendship and forgiveness. I am blessed in ways I don't even know. Thank You, Mother, Father for living and breathing in me.

Please keep my mind and body healthy. Please keep me sane and loving and peaceful. Especially during this season of home health. It is a struggle for me sometimes to remain at peace in the face of the work I am hired to do.

It is a blessing, I know, to see and know first hand what the elderly in our communities experience on a daily basis. And the elderly that I deal with are only those who can afford the services of a home health aide. There are so many who can't. Please bless them. Please bless the families who are trying to take care of the older ones who don't have the knowledge and skills. Please bless me to do what I can do to share what I have learned and have been blessed with to help others.

"Gettin' old aint for sissies." That's what Mr. M. told me yesterday. Please bless him and his wife. Please give them comfort and peace in their minds and rest in their bodies.

Please bless the elderly throughout the world. Those who feel trapped in the forgetfullness of their own minds, the aches and pains of their bodies, the coldness of their thinning skin.

Thank You for being everything we need. Protector, Friend, Guide, Doctor, Father, Brother, Mother, Sister, Secret Keeper. Merciful Miracle Maker, who You are for us is endless. Thank You.

Thank You for my son, Uraeus. I thank You because I know that there is nowhere he can be that You are not. I thank You because You know all of his thoughts and deeds. I thank You because You are always with him, leading him and guiding him.

Thank You for all of who You are.

And so it is.

Monday at the Minutes (from journal entry 8-29-11)


This morning I'm at the Minutes residence. A couple. He has Altzheimers and I think she does too. I never got a report on them. He's awake and very talkative. Linda, the night shift worker said that she (the wife) doesn't talk much. For some reason I thought they were both in wheelchairs and both needed personal care. As it turns out they dress themselves and take care of all of their personal needs. Thank You! And I thought they were in Pamona. They aren't. Just in Temple City, not far from Pasadena. Thank You! Thank You! I haven't had a case where I didn't have to strain my back every five minutes. This will be a welcome change from Clara.

Actually I did go to Clara's house this morning because that's what my schedule said when I checked it on Thursday when it came out. Since then there were changes made and no one told me. But anyway. I'm here now.

Chad is sitting on the couch watching Scooby Doo and I hear his wife getting up now. What a great feeling not being with Clara today. I needed a break.

Chad is very concerned about money. Linda told me that about him. He has asked me seven times in the last twenty minutes if he had to pay me out of pocket or if my services were covered by his insurance.

Me: Yes, one hundred percent from your insurance.

C: Well, that's great 'cause otherwise I couldn't afford it.

They are the cutest couple. Nina, his wife is up now.

C: Here, honey, you sit on this couch so you can stretch your legs and be by the fan.

And she sat. Stretched her legs as the wind from the fan slightly blew her shoulder length gray hair.

Me: Do you want breakfast?

C: Just tea for now.

As I prepared the water for tea I took time to appreciate this moment. I'm sitting at their table writing as they are watching Scooby Doo. I can do this.


Uraeus was with his friends on Friday night so I didn't pick him up and I had a therapy session at 11am on Saturday and Red Stories that night and had to be at work at 7 the next morning so couldn't get there on Sat or Sun. On Friday I bought some more school clothes for him so I went up to Bakersfield last night after work and gave them to him.

I was going to drive alone but my mom said she wanted to go. She drove and we had a nice drive and listened to the audio version of the book THE HELP. Very entertaining. I was glad she did drive because I was tired on the way a back. I had spent twelve hours with Clara and still had to be at work this morning at 7. My mom didn't work yesterday. Thankfully she's enjoying herself and is not at the police station anymore.

C: Now, this is all covered by my insurance right?

Me: Yes, all of it.

C: Oh good.

Nina went back to bed and he went to check on her.

C: Honey, would you come and watch TV with me? I would love it.

As she got up he held her and kissed her face. She hugged him back and let her head fall on his shoulder for a moment.

And now they are in the living room. Drinking tea. Watching TV.

Oh, by the way, Uraeus liked the clothes. Except the army fatigue pants. He didn't like those. That's cool. I'll give them to Lynette's son.


C: So, you're all paid for by the insurance right?

Me: Yes, I am.


Their breakfast has been sitting on the table since 9:15 but she won't eat until he comes out of the bathroom and sits to eat with her.


They have finished eating and she went back to bed.

I'm so sleepy. I would love to go to bed. I'm looking forward to that when I get home.

C: Are you all paid for with insurance?

Me: Yes, I am.

I wonder what would happen if I said "No, your insurance doesn't cover me. So far you owe me $200 and by 7pm when I leave you will owe me $1,000."

He is playing a tape of the history of the Red Car. That was the public transportation system in California.


Glenda, my supervisor just called and said that they have a "situation" and they need me to go to the Milk residence and do a live in until Wednesday. Don't know what happened but it sounds like Mr. Milk got on someone's nerves and they walked out. Which I can easily see happening. What is crazy though is that I probably won't even be updated on what happened. I'll just walk into the aftermath I guess.


Katy just called me! She's a good friend of Debra, my all time favorite client. Now ex client though. I'm not with Debra anymore because she moved out of her place and in with Katy who lives in another county. Katy, the family and the agency in the other county wanted me to work out there but it would have meant that I would have had to quit the agency I'm with and I really didn't want to burn that bridge with my agency so soon. Anyway, Katy just called to tell me how great Debra is doing. I'm so happy for her.


Seriously, I'm getting a little bored with watching the Red Car history videos. When each one ends then he has another one. Volume one, volume two, three, four...

See how we are as human beings? Looking for something to complain about.

In a way I hope they find someone else to work the Milk case. I don't really want to do a live in case right now, especially going until Wednesday.

C: So I'm sure glad that I got that insurance plan. I do have it don't I?

Me: Yes, you do.

C: So this is what we have here. Wanna watch it?

(Yaaaayy! It's a video of The Street Car - The Final Years)

Me: Oh sure, I'd love to. That looks really interesting. Street Cars huh?

C: Oh yeah. So um, you're all covered with my insurance right? I don't have to pay anything out of pocket do I?

Me: No, you're completely covered.

C: That's good.

Now we're watching the Final Years of the Streetcar. Yay!

One hundred five million people ride the subway every year. Did you know that?

Wow, he's 83 years old. I didn't know that and would never have guessed. So is she. They both look so good.

C: Where's my white hair right?

Me: Right!

I guess it's true. A body in motion stays in motion.

C: So, I'm gonna take my bath.

Me: Ok.

C: (Coming out of the bathroom walking toward me with his towel) So you're covered with my insurance right?

Me: Oh yes. Completely.

C: We don't have a co pay or anything like that?


The other caregiver arrived. I'm not scheduled to be at Mr. Milk's home until 7.


I'm home from the art supply store and now I need a nap. I am so freaking tired. I got in at about 2 this morning then got up at 6 and now preparing myself for a two day overnight with a new client. Who has a dog! I don't like to go to homes with animals. When I trained at that house I left hoping they would never assign me to that house.

I like him as a client but I see how he manipulates the caregivers who work for him. If they leave he cries until they agree to stay longer. He won't take his medicine until they spend way too much time begging him. I don't want that.

It's about 10:00pm and I told him I was gonna go lie down. He got really sad. I told myself not to fall for it and keep shutting the house down. He just came in the room where I'm sleeping and said, "this isn't gonna work is it?"

Me: Why?

M: Because you and I have different hours.

Me: Well, I'm tired right now and I need to get some rest so that I can get up and prepare things for you in the morning.

He had the saddest look on his face and wheeled himself into his room. The dog, for some reason wanted to stay in my room. I don't know why dogs don't know I don't dig them.

M: Princess! Princess!

I knew that was coming. I carried the dog into his room and put her on his bed. I walked out and went back to "my" room. A few minutes later I heard him crying. Softly at first, then louder, then even louder. I knew it wasn't going to stop until I went in there.

Me: What's wrong, Mr. Milk?

M: (Loud crying) Well, umm... (crying)

Me: What's wrong?

M: It's obvious you don't want to be here.

Now keep in mind this is the same man who when I arrived told me that he didn't want me here and I could just wait in the car. He's always like that with new people.

Me: Why? Because I said I wanted to lie down? Mr. Milk, I got up very early and I'm tired. It's not about you.

I tried to sound sympathatic and steady in my position at the same time. If I gave in and said, "ok, let's play a game of cards, or watch TV or something" then he would always do that to me.

When Lisa, the caregiver from the last shift, was leaving today he said "Well, I won't be here tomorrow."

L: Why?

M: Well, why bother? Nobody likes me and nobody wants me around. I may as well just go.

I really do feel for him but I would be doing myself harm by being pulled into it. I know because I've allowed myself to be sucked into that kind of drama my whole life.

"Gettin' old aint for sissies." That's the last thing Mr. Minute said to me before I left his home.

Me: It sure aint.

It sure aint.

M: Ok. Well then you go to sleep then.

Me: Ok.

He told me tonight that his mother died when he was seven years old. I wonder if it's a trigger for him everytime a woman or anyone leaves him.

Well, now I am going to turn in. This room is a little creepy to me but I'm going to close the door because I didn't like that Mr. Milk seemed to want me to keep it open. Too bad it doesn't have a lock on it.

Ok, as much as I complain about Clara, she's my new favorite. She gives me shit but she aint gettin' out of the bed unless I get her out and she talks straight. That manipulation stuff is one of my personal triggers. I can't stand it and I know when it's happening.

Now I've hyped myself up and I can't sleep. Shoot!

Sunday at Clara's (from journal entry 8-28-11)


I'm at Clara's. I don't feel like it today. Don't feel like Clara, don't feel like being here. Didn't mind getting up this morning, didn't mind the drive. But don't feel like Clara's drama. I gotta pray. Gotta shift my mood and feelings. Nothing has changed. She hasn't changed. I have. It's up to me to shift.

I got here at 7 and at 7:05 she was already calling me. I did get a good laugh as I read through the notes from the other caregivers. Esther wrote the other day that she was having a really hard time with her and that she told Esther to leave the room and bring in a nurse who wasn't stupid. That was funny because I can so see her saying that.

I shared last night at Red Stories how we as human beings are often not present to how generous others are with us. Clara doesn't get the generosity she is given by the caregivers here. She doesn't get that when she calls we could just leave her in the room calling. We don't, but she's not present to how much we give to her.

At Red Stories I invited the audience to be aware of the generosity of the performers. The storytellers and poets and musicians who share very intimate details of themselves. Details and sharing intended to help the listeners in some way. Through inspiration, encouragement, information or entertainment.

Also as performers we have to be mindful to appreciate what the audience gives to us. They give us their attention and time. They give us their money and energy. They give encouragement, inspiration, tears, they spend money on gas to drive to the shows and back home.

In this moment I recognize that what Clara is giving, whether she is aware of it or not, is an opportunity to be a contribution to her. I know that I make a major difference in her life. In the time that I'm here. It is my blessing to be the one praying and caring for her as anything I do for and to anyone, I am always only doing to and for myself.

When I complain about her, somewhere inside of me there is my complaint about myself. Even if the complaint is as simple as why don't I have a different job where I'm not dealing with her.

I really have to pray because this coming weekend I'm scheduled to be with the Minutes. They are a married couple out in Pamona. Twelve hour shifts Saturday and Sunday. I'm not looking forward to going all the way out there two days and taking care of two people and I was just informed that I don't get paid for two. That's a huge issue for me. I have to speak with someone in the office tomorrow because... yeah no.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


So Uraeus was at a football game with his buddies at his school last night and I called (of course). At the end of our conversation I said "I love you" and he responded with a soft "love you too." I said, "I understand, you don't wanna say 'I love you' loud enough for your friends to hear. Which, I really did understand. Then he said in the loudest most wonderful voice, "I LOOOOOOOOVVVEEEEEE YOOOOOUUUUUUUU MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!"

Housekeeping tip 1

If you clean your home before you go to bed and make sure it's clean before you leave to go anywhere, then it will always be clean.

Red Stories day!

Good morning friends and family. I'm up getting ready to do the running around that I do the day of Red Stories. I love this day. Tonight Alice the Poet and Sandra Loraine Coleman will be the features. I'm looking forward to the stories that they will tell. Of course, I'll let you know about it. If you are in the area, come on by. The show will be at Vibrations 2435 Manchester Ave., Inglewood, CA 90305. 7pm, $10 cover. I do look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday at Clara's 7a-7p


C: Did you get the mail?

Me: Yes, there was none (really there was but I was instructed not to give her anything but the junk mail).

C: That's a major crime you know. Someone could lose their house or something because they didn't get the mail for one day. That's the problem you know, these people come from other countries where they don't have good laws. We're not living in Tujuana you know.

Me: No, we're not.

She just won't stop with her racist comments. Yesterday we were watching a show and there was a black man and white woman married. She said "Will you look at that girl, how do you think her mother must feel?"

Me: What about his mother?

C: Well his too. Don't you go thinking I'm a racist or something. I voted for Obama you know. I'm just stating that people need to be with their own kind. That's not being racist it's just the way things are.

Except the people taking care of her everyday are black and Mexican. What if we only took care of our own kind?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Da Poetry Lounge

I went to Da Poetry Lounge tonight on Fairfax and Melrose. The poetry was cool. I haven't been there in a few months and it was good seeing the large crowd of young folks sitting on the stage and filling the seats. I only stayed for the first half and enjoyed myself. There were four performers that really stood out for me. I don't remember any of their names but they were good. Plus Brotha Gimel was awesome as usual (dj) and Shihan hosted the first half and was his funny self.

I wish I had my notebook with me and I could have captured more specific moments of the night but...I didn't. It's about 11:30pm and the second half ends at midnight so they're still going at it about now. It's been years since I've seen the second half but I'll try to make it some time this year.

I'm off to bed now. Goodnight all.

Surprise surprise!

I waited until late last night to find out where I would be working today and then finally logged in to get my schedule only to find that I'M OFF TODAY!!!!!! Yes!

Today I will catch up on some much needed promotion for Red Stories 9 this Saturday featuring Alice the Poet and Sandra Lorraine Coleman! Seriously, you don't want to miss it. I am so looking forward to the stories that will come out of theses sistas mouths. If you don't know it's at Vibrations at 2435 Manchester Ave., Inglewood, CA 90305 at 7pm and $10 cover.

Also on my agenda today is to catch up on some writing and sleeping.

Oh, I started a new blog at I just pulled many of the poems and stories from this blog and put them there. Mostly so if folks want to read my poetry and stories without going through my daily journaling and musings they can.

So, friends and family, enjoy you today!

Me with Lynette

So how do I introduce Lynette to you? I guess this isn’t really an introduction because I mentioned her several times on this blog. We have known each other for about fifteen years. We met when I had a recording session with her producer boyfriend (now ex beau). After the session she cooked for the crew and she and I laughed and have been encouraging each other and making each other laugh since then. Our boys are also about the same age. Actually her twins would have been born the same month had they not come a month early.

Right now I am with Clara. For more information on Clara, read previous blog entries. Right now Clara is occupied putting her makeup on and things are pretty quiet around here so I thought I’d get as much of this interview (conversation) done as possible. I called Lynette about five minutes ago but she was busy with lunch and we agreed that her turkey burger need not be included in this session so let’s see if / when she calls back.


L: (By text) Is this a good time?

J: (By text) I’m sleepy now.

Friday at Clara's (from journal entry 8-19-11)


At Clara’s. Been here since 7a. Good day so far. We are sitting in Clara’s living room talking.

C: What I miss most of all is driving. You know in this town you’re lost if you can’t drive around to the grocery store and such. You know The Canyon has a beauty salon now. That’s a really good retirement home. I’ve considered living there but I don’t want to deal with all of that now.

She took her teeth out so understanding her is harder than usual.

C: You know my father was born in Canada and my mother is in London. England at that time was over one quarter of the world. Can you imagine that? Little England? Of course the Mexicans are taking all of our jobs now, but Ireland is a pretty good place to live.

Me: Oh yeah?

C: Well sure. In fact Americans are so well loved all over the country that in Ireland if they see an American they walk up to them and give them a hug.

Me: Really?

C: Well sure. Everybody loves Americans. Have you been to Vancouver?

Me: No.

C: Well you ought to go. It’s just over the border. Be sure you have your papers with you though.

She’s putting her makeup on now and usually asks me to put her eyebrows on. I don’t like doing it because they always come out crooked.

C: You know, Helen and her husband moved out by the beach.

Me: Yes, I know.

C: Of course he’s away most of the time. He has grown children from another marriage. He’s a grandfather you know. I have three nieces but only one has a child. I think every woman should have at least one child. (Pause) Well you just kinda wonder what the future is going to bring.

Me: Yeah.

C: Well, only George Bush knows. Only him and a few others who are rich and think they can do whatever they want. (Pause) You know, Helen’s husband is a business man. He can handle anything. Helen is sharp too.

Me: She is.

C: You know, I have this big place so if you need a place to stay then you just let me know. I’ve been through the depression you know. My mother remarried you know. I don’t think she wanted to, but it was the thing to do. A good man is hard to find, you always get the other kind. Do you know that song?

Me: No.

C: (Sings song)

Me: Did you get along with your stepfather?

C: I wouldn’t call it getting along. I didn’t have any feeling for him. There aren’t many men who love other people’s children enough to raise them. (Continues song. A good man is hard to find)

C: So I started to tell you why I divorced my husband. After we had the baby the war was over and he didn’t have a job and kept drinking. So I divorced him. And a good man is hard to find so I didn’t want to get married again. And for our son I would have stayed with him but he was just one of those men who just if he opened a bottle he had to finish the whole thing. I didn’t feel like I had the right to have a man who drank too much to the head of the family. He was a good man though. But you know…

Me: Yeah.


Me: Kim Kardashian’s wedding is going to cost ten million dollars.

C: Whoever is charging that should be sued for that much.

I’m watching Access Hollywood right now and they are discussing the suicide of Russell Armstrong (Taylor’s husband) on the reality show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It’s a sad situation. Reality TV is a sad situation because the television shows go so far into the lives of these people without, it seems, taking into consideration the impact on them.


C: (Waking up from nap) Help! Help!

Me: Yes, I’m here.

C: Yes. I think I left the iron on!

Me: No. The iron is off.

C: And you’re sure?

Me: Yes.


I made her lunch (crab mean with kidney beans, steamed vegetables and juice).

C: This looks good.

Me: Thank you.

C: But where is the mayonnaise?

Dear black home health aides,

If you have a white client that you have to cook for then please remember that white people love mayonnaise. I know that mayo on broccoli, cauliflower and carrots does not sound good, but they like it.

Moments of Blue and Hannah (Texting)

B: Miss u
H: U 2. Didn’t feel like leavin
B: Were u late?
H: No. 5 min early. Hows that
B: Time flies when ur havin fun
H: Hows drivin to work fun
B: Well u were thinkin about the fun u were havin b4 u left!
H: That’s true! What time you home tonite
B: Ugh???
H: Y?
B: Gotta get the bathroom installed at the place on 64th. Today is the only day I can do it.
H: How long is that gonna take
B: Depends. U know. But I cant leave here till cable man comes cause SOMEBODY had a meeting.
H: Sure did & I gotta go soon
B: Babe, it was good tho right?
H: I’m not gonna start this w u. I gotta go B. Muah
B: Muah
H: Yeah it was real good. C u tonite. Even if its late :(
B: No sad faces between us
H: :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine today who is a writer. After the questions about each other's families and other business I asked him if he was writing. "No. I'm not. Nothing going on right now."

I thought about that statement. Now he and I are friends from way back and I remember in both of our lives when more was going on than we could keep up with. And by a lot going on here I mean circumstances we felt were out of our control. Things we thought we had to worry about. Life seeming too hard. Stress and concerns we held on to instead of turning over to God who was waiting to take them away. Back then, we poured every ounce of emotion we could muster into prayer and poetry. Often prayer as poetry. There was never a time we weren't writing.

Life is not different now, we are. We know our Father better. Life is what it is always was, we just see it from a different perspective now. God is who He always was. We trust God as Mother as Father as Protector as Friend. But that is not cause for us to stop being who we are because we know God better. These are time for better stories. For healing stories. Times for prayerful poems.

I connect the story of the zeal I had for writing with the zeal many children of God have when times seem hard. We are singing, praying, shouting, asking, inquiring, praising... And then our prayers are answered and there is little time for all of that noise. But these are times for singing praise songs, praying praise prayers, asking praise questions, inquiring on how we can give more, forgive more, be forgiven for more. These are times for our good noise.

So when your sister asks you, "Are you praying now?" Will your answer be, "No. Nothing really going on right now."?

Today I am inspired to inspire because I remember a yesterday when I couldn't get out of bed. Yes. I am praying. Yes. I am writing. Yes. I am forgiving. Yes. I am asking for forgiveness. Yes. I am praying and writing. There is so much good going on right now.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Debra. Visitors. Nurse. Sleep.

Oh my goodness I'm so sleepy. Debra's friends are back. They left to get something to eat while the nurse was here. Nurse is gone. They are back. I am sleepy, but then I said that already.


This is my last week with Debra. She was / is my favorite client. We laugh together and even when she fusses it's cool. And she doesn't a lot and it's never about me. Always just something she doesn't want to do. Her neighbors are so sweet. They gave me a gift this morning. I get off tomorrow but I'll be back on Sunday and I'll take her out to Orange County to the doctor's office. She moves into new place on Monday night.

We've both been up since early this morning. I know that as much as she is enjoying the company of her friends that she wants to take a nap. I sure do.

Ok, journaling / blogging usually at least wakes me up a little and even it's not working.

The girl that nobody liked

Debra's friends are visiting her. They brought their granddaughter, Nina. I guess she's about ten years old. She is telling Debra about the girl that nobody liked at camp.

N: So there was this girl. And nobody wanted to be her friend. She was like, like, different and the other kids just didn't like her.

T (Grandmother): Why didn't they like her?

N: Because she didn't really fit in. Like her dad was like, in jail and everything and like, her mom was gone. I don't know where, she just was gone. But anyway, one day at lunch she was sitting by herself and so I sat down to have lunch with her and we like just started talking and everything and I just like... found the good in her. She's really nice and everything and fun and then when I started playing with her then the other kids did too.

Dear Jaha

I've been really good about not talking badly about you. Not even late at night like I used to do all the time. But if you don't get your hair cut when you get off work on Friday, then I'm gonna start back. I won't be able to help myself. Love you. Have a nice day.

Sincerely, your mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From a conversation with Val

V: I've been reading your blog.

J: Yeah?

V: Sure.

J: Well, you know, in case they wanna tell my story at least they can get it right.

V: Pst. Please...they ain gon git it right anyway. The most you can hope for is that they tell it well.

We laugh.

Good morning

Hello friends and family. I am waking up this morning at work as usual. It's kind of gray, the kind of gray I like. Morning gray. Jazz, soul, gospel gray. Hot chocolate gray with old movies and banana bread. This is bed gray. Though I suspect that no matter the color of the sky I would feel this way today.

I wish you all love today. I wish you easy and peaceful conversations. I wish you a stranger to meet that will no longer be a stranger.

Enjoy you today.

Dear Dad

I miss you. I know that you are never far from me though. I love you and think of you often. You still make me laugh. I am still learning you. Knowing you more and more. Remembering when you flew a kite with me in front of the house on Cameron. The slew footed way you walked. The gap in your teeth. Your hairline. Your hustle. Your humor. How you gave your humor when you didn't want to laugh but you knew someone else needed to smile. Your construction clothes. Walking to J&J Market with you. Your gun. When you gave me your army bag to carry to add to my costume and I didn't want it because it looked "old". Wish I had it now. How you always listened. You always loved me. You always told me. How when I was a little girl you sent me to the store with a note that said "Please give Robin a pound of hog head cheese and zig zags." Winner. Thank you. For everything.

Funny family memory

I remember my grandfather used to argue with my grandmother about everything. One night we were in the livingroom and my grandfather said something and my grandmother said, "Now you know that's the biggest lie you ever told." To which he responded, "No it is not! I've told plenty of lies, MUCH bigger than that!"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The London Riots

Florence and Normandie / London same thing. They are rioting in London. The pressure gets thick. Hot. Heavy. Police use uncalled force on black youth, abuse, harrass and think they can get away with it. Think it will last. It never lasts. They never learn. The regular everyday people get sick of it to the point that they, we, just bust.

This is not happening way over there! This is happening to us right now. We cannot distance ourselves from this. We have to stay glued and tuned in as if it was Florence and Normandie again.

Blue and Hannah

Hannah is sitting on the pillows spread in the corner of the hard wood floor with her back against the pillow against the beige wall. Long day at work. Long shower after. She is waiting. With vodka and tuna on wheat, light mayo. Onions. Celery. Black 'n' mild on the coffee table in front of her. Daring her to reconnect. Love Jones dvd. Nia Long, Larenz Tate. Vodka.

She sleeps through the scene when Bill Bellamy tells Nia to walk home, 'cause that's nobody's favorite part. Blue's timing is always right. Step, step, step, step sixteen more times then key. Open door.

"There she is."

"Hey you."

Blue is a clock. Jacket off. Close door. Lock door. Shoes. Deep breath. Blue doesn't move with hurry in his feet. But he gets there. Down next to her. Puts her head in the palm of his hand. His chin is the cieling she has been waiting for all day.

"Can we talk?" He has that voice. That voice that swallows time.

"Want me to turn the movie off?"

"No. Not talk talk. Just...say words."

Monday at Clara's (from journal entry 8-8-11)


C: Help! Help!

I walked in the room and she's dreaming.

I'm at Clara's again. Glenda, my supervisor called me at about 11 last night and asked if I would come back to Clara's again. I was scheduled to begin my week at Debra's today but the person who was scheduled to be here at Clara's called in, or...called out. And getting a replacement at Clara's is not an easy task. I really don't want to be here but I did like the idea of going home three nights in a row. Then she asked if I would work the twelve hour shift at Clara's then drive to Pasadena and finish the night at Debra's. I'll gladly try, I thought to myself and literally laughed out loud. To be clued in to that inside joke just read my entry from yesterday. I told Glenda that I'm really too tired after I leave Clara's to take on working another twelve hours at Debra's. The truth is though that I will gladly try. If I'm feeling ok at 6 I'll let her know, but it would be irresponsible for me to commit to both jobs on the same day especially when one of those jobs is with Clara. Clara's home isn't one where I can count on any rest, mental or physical, at any time. I know you can't tell by how long my posts are on this blog but I am stealing moments to jot down notes. As much information as is in the posts, believe me, there is a lot of work and conversation left out.

Anyway, I feel good this morning. I had a good night last night. I'm praying for an easy day here with Clara. I heard her screaming for help and when I ran in her room she was asleep. I wonder what she was dreaming about.


It's way too early for me to start counting down the hours until I leave so I may as well work on some creative writing or something or enjoy the time while she is still asleep.




C: Isn't it awful that that officer just returned and then was killed?

Me: Yes, it is.


My vision is blurry. What's up with my eyes?


C: I'm not surprised at all at the empty seats at the Dodger games.

Me: Why?

C: Well the price of groceries is high. Especially the fresh fruits and vegetables. (Pause) Look at that (commercial on television). The adults are getting caps on their teeth now. You notice all these adults with perfect teeth? Those are caps.


C: I've got to get hold of a Lincoln dealer.


C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: I'm actually finished.

Me: Ok.

C: Would you cut the TV off?

Me: Sure.


C: Well, I don't want to just lie like this. I would at least like the TV on.

Me: Sure.

The thing about dementia is the moment. It is often frustrating for the people who are caring for them. The moment is the point. Right now I don't want the TV. Right now I want the TV. This moment I don't like you. This moment I do.

What if the rest of us could adopt some of this? I mean in a way we can choose for the moment and not from the past. This moment I like you because of this moment. Not because of what you did or what we shared yesterday, but this moment for this moment. I don't like you right now because of this moment. Not because of what you did years ago, but because of who I percieve you to be in the moment. No guilt. No obligation. Just choosing in the moment.

C: What time is the special on Lucille Ball coming on?

Me: Who?

C: Lucy! Dezi's wife. I read all about it today.

I went to get the paper and there was a write up about the special honoring Lucy's birthday. The things she remembers.

I often have to catch myself. I spend hours running back and forth and at the end of the day when she tries to go off on me what immediately is in my human head is "wait a minute, everything I do for you and you say this to me..." but often she doesn't even remember me or that I did anything for her. I have to quickly remember that and let it go.


C: Help! Help! Help!

Me: (Coming in from condo community laundry room downstairs) Yes, here I am.

C: What do you want?

Me: You called for help and I'm asking what you need.

C: Well, what time is supper?

Me: Usually around 7. Are you hungry now?

C: Well I don't need you asking about right now! I'm asking about the time of dinner and who is cooking and you're talking about something else! Get my niece on the phone!

Me: What do you want me to tell her?

C: Ask her about the situation regarding the time and people! And then you have the television on channel 9?! The republican channel! I'm no republican! Channel 7 is for the democrats, everyone knows that!

I breathe. And then I move on.

Monday morning prayer (from journal entry 8-8-11)

Dear God,

Thank You for this day. Thank You for waking me up in a sound mind, in a comfortable bed, in a home. Thank You for breakfast, for warmth, clean water, air in my lungs, blood in my veins. Thank You for my eyesight, my hearing, sense of touch, my lashes that blink, my heart that beats. Thank You for the intricate details of my body and how it functions. Thank You, Father for everything You do for me, for the world of things that I don’t even know to thank You for.

Thank You , dear Mother for blessing me to be at work right now. Bless me, Mother this day please. With compassion, with energy, with understanding and wisdom. Please bless me to speak when I should speak and be silent when I should be. Please guide my tongue. Speak through me. Feel and love, touch and listen, create and imagine through me. Great Guide, thank You for all that you are.

Thank You for being everything I could need. For being Father and Mother. For being Sister and Friend, Brother and Protector. Leader and Speaker, Listener and Food. Shelter and Teacher. Thank You holy holy Spirit. Thank You for breathing and living in me.

Sunday at Clara's (from journal entry 8-7-11)

Another day at Clara’s. Yesterday I had a pretty hard time with her. I’m praying and creating that today will be much better. Working with Clara is a constant exercise of getting off the attitude, letting go of the opinion, shaking the water off my back. In each moment I have to choose to be free or in prison. I’m free when I see beyond her (or anyone’s) actions or comments and create new possibilities for myself and I’m in prison when I let her (or anyone) define who I get to be in any situation. Who I get to be is a powerful choice. I can be upset, happy, angry, miserable, excited, positive, negative, eager, powerful. No other person and no circumstance has complete control over that unless I release it. And even when I release that power, at any moment I can choose to take it back.

I did get some good rest last night. I didn’t go to bed early, actually it was very late, but I still slept very well and woke up refreshed. I woke up with an attitude to create my day and check in with myself. How am I? What am I happy with? How can I improve what I am not happy with? What am I unhappy with? Where is my integrity out? What can I do to put integrity in where it is out?

Yesterday and this morning I also thought about a girl’s group that I used to belong to when I was a little girl growing up in church. The group was called Rosebuds and I don’t know if that’s a name that St. Mark made up or if that was actually an organized group that existed in other churches. My guess now is that it’s something someone at St. Mark made up. Anyway, the age range was from maybe seven to twelve years old. Miss Williams was our leader. I think. We met once a week in the back room of the church where we discussed various lessons that were specifically designed for girls. What stands out now is that each week we had to recite in unison the Rosebud motto which was “I’ll gladly try.” Miss Williams would ask a series of questions and together we would repeat the motto. “So if someone asks you to do something what do you say?” We took a deep breath and let it out “I’ll gladly try.” “Well what if you don’t feel like doing anything?” Another deep breath. “I’ll gladly try.”

Don’t get me wrong here, I think it’s great to teach a group of young girls to gladly try. I believe the purpose of having us repeat the motto was to enforce the idea of possibility into us. The problem, if it can be called a problem, is that there was no next level class for young ladies where we learned to check in with ourselves and see if the request being made honored who we were and whether or not we could with any degree of integrity fulfill the request. No, every request is not met with “I’ll gladly try.” Our motto that we raced to shout left no room for us to say “no.” Not only that, it left us, if I may speak for us, feeling that there was something sinfully wrong if we did. That teaching, with nothing to follow it, trained young girls to be good sheep who didn’t use our own minds or connect to the God power within us all.

I grew up that good girl. And it was odd to me as a little girl when Rev. Hunter would kiss me. I often felt his strawberry soda tasting tongue touch my tongue. Even slightly was too much. I shouldn’t know his favorite soda. But I did. And young, good girls who gladly try don’t put reverends on blast. Where was the class for that?

C: Hello! Hello!

Me: Here I am.

C: I need a diaper change.

Me: I’ll go ahead and give you your bath now.

After the bath.

Me: Are you ready for breakfast?

C: Well of course. What do you think people do in the morning?

Me: Ok.

I have resolved to have a peaceful day. I will not be sucked into her argumentative drama.

Me: (Bringing breakfast tray) Here you go.

C: Thank you.

Me: You’re welcome.

Ten minutes later.

C: Hello! Hello! Help!

Me: Here I am.

C: I need a diaper.

Me: You have one on.

C: I’m about to urinate.

Me: Ok go ahead.

C: Well I’m not going to urinate with my breakfast tray on my lap. Put it on the dresser.

Me: Ok.

C: Why are you putting my bed down flat?

Me: So I can change you. Are you finished urinating?

C: Of course.

Me: Ok.

C: Why is my breakfast all the way over there on the dresser? It’s going to get cold!

Me: I put it there to change you.

C: What?! I didn’t hear you and you speak so fast nobody knows what you’re saying.

Me: (Louder) You asked me to put it there because you had to urinate.

C: Well I’m not here to argue with you about where my breakfast is!

I changed her and put her bed up so she sits upright.

C: I would like to have my breakfast before it gets cold!

Me: Ok. Here you go.

I put her breakfast tray along with her Sunday newspaper and coffee on her lap.

Yesterday Caren came in at 6 instead of 7 because I was assigned to train her for an hour. Caren is Mexian and doesn’t speak English very well. Clara treats her very disrespectfully. Constantly correcting her grammar and making her repeat her like she’s a child in school. While I was training Caren on how to transfer Clara (move her from one location to another), Clara said something. One of her usual mean racist comments. I don’t even remember what it was. It was so not out of the ordinary that it passed right by. Well it stuck onto Caren. It was about 6:30 and after twelve long hours I was excited about getting off. Caren got upset and said that if Clara was going to be in a bad mood then she wasn’t going to stay. She didn’t feel like dealing with her mood.

Me: So you’re just gonna walk off?

Ca: Yeah, I call the office now and tell them I have to go! She not gonna treat me that way tonight. I can’t take it today. Somebody die in my family!

C: Well I’m certainly sorry for her loss but this isn’t about the death of her family member. This is about my health.

It greatly bothered me that Caren would try to put me in a position to have to stay even longer than I had already been there. I did feel for her regarding the death of her relative but if she knew her family member died before she got here why did she even show up? Any open wound you have, Clara is reliably going to trigger. Caren didn’t even seem to take me into consideration at all. I finished cleaning Clara then quickly put the laundry away and at 6:53 I told Caren that if the company was sending a replacement then she was going to have to wait for her because I was leaving. And I left.

This morning Caren was here when I arrived, so either she called the office and they declined sending a replacement or she didn’t call after all. Either way, I wouldn’t want to work with her again.


I start another long shift at Debra’s tomorrow. I don’t mind though. I go in tomorrow morning at 8 and get off Friday morning at 8.


C: Hello.

Me: Hi.

C: Yes, I want to make a call. Is there a phone I can use?

Me: Sure, it’s right here. Before you dial just hit this button right here.

C: And do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes you do.

C: (Smiling) Ok, thank you.


I am watching the news and they are now reporting a case of suspected road rage in Silverlake where a man was shot in the head. I missed whether or not the man was killed. Wow.

It’s a pretty quiet day with Clara today. She’s in her room reading the Sunday paper and I’m in the living room writing and listening to the television in between the light work in the house. This is lovely.


C: Hello! Hello!

Me: Hi.

C: Yes, I would like a diaper change.

Me: Sure.

C: Um, is today Saturday or Sunday?

Me: Sunday.

C: Would you turn to channel 7? I don’t want to miss 60 Minutes.

Me: The television is in the living room. Would you like to go in there?

C: No. I don’t want to risk falling again. I’ll stay here.

Seven seconds later she was asleep.


About seven hours and thirty minutes before I can go straight home. I’m looking forward to that. Not much to do here today. I like this.


C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: (Shouting from the bathroom) Yes you do!

C: What time is it?

Me: 12:04

C: I thought it was much later than that.

We are both counting down to some event. She to 60 Minutes and I to going home.

C: It’s lunchtime right?

Me: Yes. (Bringing lunch)

C: It seems like I just had breakfast, my goodness. Um, I’d like to watch TV please.

Me: Ok sure. Would you like to go into the living room now?

C: If that’s what I have to do. So, ok, you’re strong enough to lift me, so ok. (Pause) Thirty SEALS killed!

Me: Wow.

C: You didn’t know that?

Me: No.

C: The most deadly incident…

Byron Allen’s show is on right now. This show is called Having A Dream. They are talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.

C: Is it his birthday?

Me: No.

C: This lunch is good. I got her to put more onions in the tuna.

I noticed that when we sit in the living room together she sits on the big couch and I sit on the white smaller couch to the left of her. When I’m here I think she thinks I’m a friend of hers. She’s not usually looking at me so she only hears me on this couch. The TV is facing the other way so she just hears my voice coming from behind her. The couch I’m sitting on was probably a couch reserved for special guests. She’s not aware that she speaks about me to me when we are in the living room together. I like her better in here. I don’t have to keep running back and forth in the bedroom.

C: Isn’t that just a sad situation?

Me: What is?

C: Well, the Kennedy’s of course.

Me: It sure is.

C: Little Carolyn had to watch her father die, then her uncles one by one.

Me: That’s sad.

C: It’s a shame you know. They didn’t even tell me they were bringing me home and it’s my home and people are all here using my space and things.

She has had a story that hospitals are closing and they need good people (like her) to open their homes to the patients.

Me: No one else is living here.

C: Well sure there are.

Me: No. There aren’t.

C: Well surely it wasn’t always that way. (Pause) What are they talking about?

Me: Martin Luther King, Jr.

C: Is it his birthday?

Me: No.


C: Back during the war it was so hard to get a place around here. People all over the city were sitting on the streets with their furniture.

Me: Yeah?

C: Well not everyone of course. (Pause. Going through mail) It says here that the City of Hope has earned the highest overall rating blah blah blah. Yes. They’re in my will too. Them and my church. (Pause) So anyway, where was I? Well, I don’t remember, but my husband is from Utah. His family used to be one of those dumb mormans but then his mother was too smart to believe all of that so… (Pause) So do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: So if I want to have a bm you think I can go in this diaper?

Me: Yes.

C: Well, I’ve never done that before. Do I take my pants off if I go in my diaper?

Me: No. Don’t take them off.

C: Well if it leaks through, can I rub it in your face? (She laughs)

Me: Sure. (I don’t laugh)

C: I’ll let it go. You won’t run away will you? I’m doing a urine movement right now.

Me: Ok.


C: Are you ok?

Me: Yes, thank you.


I have a peaceful feeling now. I am looking at the garden and watching the orange flowers. I don’t know names of flowers. Maybe I should learn them. Or maybe not. I have no knowledge of what flowers are rare and which grow plentifully. I love them because I do. Like I love people. I love them because I do.


She’s waking up. I’m on the white couch.

C: Oh, you’re going to have to excuse me for not entertaining you. My very special guest.

Me: Oh, it’s ok.

C: How often do I get up there to see you? (In singing voice) Not very often.


C: Am I being rude lying here while I’ve got a guest?

Me: No, I’m not a guest, I’m the caretaker.

She’s back asleep already. Talking again. To her dream people. Her ghost people.


Four hours to go.

Dear Jaha,

You are too hard on yourself. You judge yourself and criticize and never seem to acknowledge the good you do. Give yourself a break. You look for every area where you are not absolutely perfect (and that’s every area) and you dwell on those areas as if anyone could meet the standards you set for yourself. As if you could ever meet them. Ease up chick and love yourself.

Me: I’ll gladly try.


C: What I’d like to have that I haven’t had in a long time is a good pizza.

We are watching a movie called Imagine Me without You. It’s about a woman in London who had a husband but fell in love with a woman.

C: Oh my, can you imagine being a mother who had a daughter who was a lesbian? I would be horrified. I would wonder what I did wrong. You know I have a niece who is a lesbian.

Me: Yeah?

C: I can’t imagine. I mean good girlfriends sure but…no. But my niece has been a lesbian for a very long time. (Pause) I can see having a good girlfriend but not falling in love with them sexually in that respect you know.

Me: Yeah.

C: I’m sure most of my friends think I’m gone.

Me: Why?

C: Because I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. Did you?

Me: No.

C: Why?

Me: I just call.


Still 3:59pm

Me: Here, let me put this pillow behind your neck.

C: Oh, thank you very much.


C: If there is any food that you want, you just go ahead and help yourself.

Me: Thank you.

C: Oh sure. (Pause) You know, isn’t it a shame how they just wiped out the Kennedy’s like that?

Me: It is.

C: Three of them they just wiped out like dirty dogs. You know, Ted Kennedy always talked on his cell phone. He was one of the first people to even have a cell phone. You know the cell phones cause brain cancer and that’s how he got it.

Me: Oh?

C: Well of course. And, you know I have a classic car don’t you?

Me: Yes.

C: It’s a Mark VIII. They sent me a letter saying that they wanted to buy it back. But when I called then they never called back.

Me: No?

C: No. The girls that answered the phone never even jotted down the message and gave it to the manager. You wouldn’t think they would be that way with jobs the way they are.

Me: Well…

C: Well, you know Jay Leno collects classic cars.

Me: I know.

C: I should just contact him and see if he wants to buy it.

Me: Hmmm.

C: I’ll give you a cut if you want to handle it for me.

Me: Would you like more coffee?

C: That’s a good idea.





I didn’t make up my bed/ I didn’t mail in my timesheets yet/ I need to get stamps/ You can get stamps at the ATM now right/ I love Uraeus/ I sent Reuben a text and he didn’t text back/ I want to pick Uraeus up Friday morning when I get off work/ I need to get an oil change/ Should I go to Jiffy Lube/ Jiffy Lube is the best/ Are they going to say I need extra work/ I should get the oil changed after work on Friday morning/ I haven’t been skating in a long time/ Is Candy going to send my books from Georgia/ I want my books/ I want my clothes and purses too but really my books/ And my coats and sweaters too/ Is that movie The Help really good/ I’m the help/ My goodness/ Who is even reading this/ What is Val doing now/ She should move to L.A./ It would be fun to go thrift store shopping with her/ If I die before she does then I want Val to preach my funeral/ Who thinks of things like that/ If I die before my mother it’s ok if my body is at the funeral but really I would like to be creamated/ How do you even spell creamated/ I’m a weirdo/ So what/ I’m not a weirdo/ I’m just ready to get off work and writing helps the time go by/ And it’s fun


Wow, the man who was shot in the head in what was believed to have been road rage did not die! They are saying now that he’s fighting for his life. His name is David Vasquez.

I’m praying for you David Vasquez.


Saturday at Clara's (from journal entry 8-6-11)

At Clara’s this morning. Sleepy. Today I don’t feel like being here. It’s never my favorite place but today I really don’t feel like it. Gotta shift my energy soon because this shift is twelve hours. I think one of the reasons I’m resisting being here today is because I had such a good night last night at home. Bought a few groceries, watched a movie, finally cleaned my room and drifted off so peacefully. It rained last night and I had my windows open. I love to feel the night air on my face while I’m under a bunch of covers. Also I bought some new pillows. I slept well! It is so rare that I wake up in my own bed. This morning I woke up in my own bed and in a clean room. Let this be an easy, quick day please. Of course, I’m back here tomorrow.

Thankfully Clara is still sleeping. Jennifer and I were talking this morning about the really racist statements that Clara makes. Jennifer usually works the night shift for Clara and we sit for a minute when I relieve her in the morning. Today she told me that Clara asked her if she was trained in Mexico. Jennifer is from Puerto Rico and took the time to explain that to Clara. Surprisingly.


I dozed off. Clara is still sleeping and the men are here to fix the air conditioner. Hopefully they won’t wake her up. As I was asleep a minute ago I remembered a dream I had last night. Almost like the dream came back to remind me it was there.

I was holding a cat. It was a black and white cat with black on the body and white on its face. I was standing and holding the cat with one hand. Almost as if the cat was hanging on to me. The cat was looking up at me and I was looking down into its greenish blue eyes. Slowly the cat showed its fangs and extended its claws and opened its mouth wider to bite my hand. Someone else was in the room. A woman. I don’t know who she is but in the dream I knew her. I woke up as I began to try to push the cat away from me but its fangs kept growing.

I don’t know what the dream meant but the cat reminds me of Clara who bites the hands that feed and care for her and try to hold her up. I read a dream book that said that the dreamer is often all of the characters in the dream. Perhaps. This dream felt like a message. I am very much not a cat person and Clara is in fact, and this is kinda spooky, as I am writing this entry I looked up and the book directly in front of me is called THE CAT. I never noticed the book before. Creepy. Maybe the cat is Clara biting at my hand as she is trying to hang on for life as I shake her off of me.

Even in the dream I remember knowing myself as someone who didn’t like cats yet I was willing to hold the cat until it showed its fangs. I didn’t start to shake it until I felt threatened. As Clara is concerned, all of the caregivers give and give and give to this woman who constantly insults us.


Talk about dreams coming true. This is my most difficult day yet with Clara. She is just now having her breakfast because she has been fussing all morning. Yelling, screaming. It has never been so bad for me that I wanted to walk away from the condo and drive home. Right now that’s how I feel. No, I won’t do it. I had to step away from her and breathe and pray. And curse and pray and breathe.

I called my supervisor and left a message for her to call me back. She hasn’t yet but she needs to soon. I have worked well for this company and perhaps have led them to believe that I can take anything. I can’t.
I just looked at that book again, THE CAT. It’s kinda freaky. I gotta get some rest ‘cause she is getting on my fucking nerves.


Eight hours to go.


I don’t like it when she refuses to get out of bed because she doesn’t want me to stay in the room with her (and I don’t want to either) and she keeps calling me and expects me to come immediately from the living room to her bedroom.

C: Hello! Hello! Hello! Anybody there!?

Me: I’m here.

C: Well how am I supposed to remember what I wanted now?

She is on the phone with her niece now. Not Helen, but someone from out of town.

I think we are both on one today. I’m tired and she’s extra cranky. She’s accusing her caregivers of stealing her life alert medallion. Thank goodness her niece keeps pulling her away from that conversation.

I gave her her medication this morning and she said that I needed to call the doctor because she hasn’t been taking medication.

Me: Why haven’t you been taking it?

C: Well because the druggies here have been stealing it of course.

After work I have to go to Hawthorne. I really just want to go home and go to sleep. Calgon!


She’s off the phone now and what a difference journaling makes.


C: Hello! Hello!

Me: I’m here.

C: Well I have to have a bm (her third today).

Me: Ok.

C: Well do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: Well how am I supposed to go in a diaper? Just let it go?

Me: Yes.

C: Well how was I supposed to know that? I’ve never gone in a diaper before.

Me: (I started laughing inside because I thought about my conversation with Jennifer this morning and how Clara asked her if she was trained in Mexico or something. Also thought

C: Hello! Hello! Are you coming back this way?

Me: (Walking way to the back room) Here I am.

C: Did you take a look at this? (morning paper)

Me: Not yet.

C: Because you should know that the price of gold is rising.

Me: Ok, thank you.

C: Yeah.

Me: (Walking back to living room)


C: Hello! Hello! Is anyone there?

Me: Here I am.

C: Well listen to this. The price of gold has risen in the last ten years from $250 an ounce to $1,648 on Friday so if you have any gold then now is the time to sell it.

Me: Ok.


Me: Ok, I’m gonna see if your coffee is ready.

C: Yeah. Boy, Gloria Molina has gotten awfully fat hasn’t she?

This is what happens when she stays in the bed all day. But where was I? Oh, I thought about how Jennifer told me this morning that she had a client last week, actually two clients, a husband and wife, and the neighbor came over and stayed there with Jennifer for her five hour shift demanding to see her legal papers.

Me: Shut up, Jennifer!

J: No, girl! She did! I told her I didn’t have to show her anything. She went on and on about Mexican illegal workers and I told her I was Puerto Rican. She said “whatever” and to show her my papers or she would call the police. Of course I dared her to call the cops. Which she did.

Me: No she didn’t, Jennifer.

J: Yes she did. These motherfuckers are a trip. While we waited for the police, she kept telling the couple not to worry because the stranger would be out of the house very soon.

Me: Did the police show up?

J: Yes, a long time later. They told me that they know how she is and that’s why they didn’t come right away. They asked her to leave. She got so mad. It’s so messed up. All we are trying to do is take care of these people and they act like we are freaking criminals. Oh and before she left she got all in my face and said that she had her master’s and that she knew what I was up to. I told her I had my master’s too. Then she was all “then what are you doing here?” Shit, I need the money and I know how to take care of people. I didn’t say that to her though. I just watched the police escort her white ass back across the street.


Six hours to go. I told Marquita I would come by tonight to pick up that stand but I don’t know. I get off at 7 then to go to Hawthorne then to Santa Monica, then back to L.A. I’m gonna be too tired. Of course going to Marquita’s first might make more sense. This is what today is. Squeezing in as many hours as I can for sleep. But if I don’t, tomorrow will be a repeat of today. I called Lynette and told her I was having an off day. She told me she knew how tired I was and that I let the agency use me and work me so hard and now here I am. Maybe she’s right. But I don’t look at it like they used me like I’m the victim of it. I needed the hours and so I worked. And I’m going to do what I have to do and get some rest and take care of myself and come to work tomorrow.

C: Hello! Hello!

Me: I’m coming!

C: Hello! Aren’t you even going to answer me?

Me: Here I am.

C: I need to have a bm so would you put my papers and coffee on the dresser?

Me: Sure.

C: And put my head back a little.

Me: Ok.

C: Well what do I do now?

Me: Have your bm I guess.

C: Well what position should I be in?

Me: How are you comfortable?

C: Well don’t you know anything?

Me: (Leaving the room)

C: So you’re just going to dismiss the whole thing?

Me: Are you comfortable?

C: Well yes.

Thirty seconds later.

C: Hello! Hello!

Me: Yes.

C: Would you put my head up and hand me my papers and coffee from the dresser?


I need to do laundry but she is sleeping and may wake up screaming. I should try to close my eyes while she is sleeping.


C: Did you see this? Mexicans now make up 40% of the population.

Me: That’s good.

C: Well.

Me: Here’s your lunch.

C: Well I don’t want ketchup on my turkey dog. Ketchup is loaded with sugar. That’s why everyone is so sick. Goodness! Go and put mustard on it.

Me: There is another way you can say that.

C: Well I just want mustard that’s all.

Me: Unbelievable.

Two seconds later.

C: Well where are you going?

Me: To get the mustard.

C: And it’s taking you that long?

Me: Here you go.

C: Ok then.

Me: Not that you bothered to say thank you. But you’re welcome.

C: I always say thank you.

Me: Mkay.


Four hours left.

I called my mother just to hear her voice. To maybe make her laugh, ‘cause sometimes, that’s what you need. You know?




C: Hello! Hello!

Me: Yes.

C: Don’t I have a telephone somewhere around here?

Me: Here it is. Who do you need to call?

C: Why do you care?

Me: I don’t. If you need help dialing let me know.

C: Well I don’t. Thank you.

She dialed and actually reached someone. Who knows who she’s talking to. Now she’s arguing with whoever it is.

C: (On the phone) Well you could just tell the truth. If you wanna go, there’s no harm in saying that you wanna go!

C: Oh well, I’m not talking about any of that.

C: Well ok, you sound much better than you did before.

Twenty minutes later.

C: You never call me to find out how I am.



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting ready for rest

Hello beautiful people. It was a long sleepy, lovely day today. Debra woke up at 4 this morning throwing up. She kept on throwing up on and off until 7a and during that time we were both...up. And tired. As it is we don't go to sleep until after midnight. She is much better now. Not much appitite though. Winding down time now. We are both sleepy and about to doze off. I'm in the chair in the living room while she is in her bed (in the living room). I'm more comfortable being able to keep an eye (ear) on her tonight. I'm off tomorrow and I am so looking forward to going home. I haven't even finished unpacking yet. That is soooo not like me. Not making any promises on getting it finished tomorrow either. Looking forward to some good rest though. Have a good weekend friends and family. You are appreciated.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dear Tammy

I don't know why I thought about this but remember the time years ago in Georgia when we got up in the middle of the night and went to Subway and got two footlong sandwhiches and then had the nerve to get three cookies (each - shhhh)? And on top of all that we had to go to the 24 hr Subway because it was like 11:30 or something crazy like that. And if that wasn't bad enough we both wore pajama bottoms and flip flops because we were too lazy to put clothes on. I laugh every time I think about that. I miss you sis. Can't get to New York soon enough to see you and the baby (except he's not a baby anymore).

Hugs ma


I'm just sayin'

Debra's cat threw up. It's not that I mind cleaning up cat vomit but a little bit I do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Customer service at the Metro PCS store on Manchester in Los Angeles, CA

This true story took place at Metro PCS on Manchester near Normandie in Los Angeles. With the exception of one woman none of the other employees were wearing a uniform. I was second in line.

Employee (male): Whas up?

Customer (female): (slowly walks to counter) Whas that umm warranty callt where a muaafucka cn jus be like "here, yall shit all fuckt up" an' yall be like "whatever bitch, herego anotha one"?

Employee: Yeah we got that. Lemme see yo phone. (receives phone) Yeah yeah we got that, but check it. This phone is cool but you ain' really shittin' on 'em until you got that Android (type of phone fyi).

Customer: Fareal?

Employee: Yuuup...

Employee (woman): Next

Me: (slowly walks to counter) Ummm...(wrinkles nose, big eyes, shrugs shoulders) Ummmm... yeah... hi...

Because how do I say "I just want to pay my bill"?

Writing tip 2

Write where you are. The grass is only greener where you water it. Writers, photographers, painters, storytellers...if you are waiting until you are travelling around the world and have millions of dollars to start telling your story you are truly missing the richness of your life right now. There are pictures to take. Pictures of your children, your street, your stove, your face in the morning. There are stories to tell about your job, your clothes, the old people in your favorite thrift store, your refridgerator. There are poems and pictures to paint about your life WRITE now.

Day 2 at Debra's

Good morning all. I'm up and thankful for life, love, happiness, family, health, peace and a bunch of other words that sound like I am trying to become Ms. America. I'm not. I'm just in a good head space today.

Yesterday was long and there will be a long week ahead and that's ok. What makes my days so long here is not Debra, I really like her. It's mostly because I don't get much sleep. Besides the mental and physical exercises I do with her I also change her every two hours starting at 6am and I go until midnight. And after midnight I get up at least twice and go and see if she's kicked the covers off of herself or if she's wet. If she is, I change her again. Because she spends so much time in bed I need her to keep moving and stay dry. It's much easier to prevent a bed sore than it is to cure one. They are painful and really unnecessary. And they are a lot of work to prevent.

She's been changed twice this morning, had her bath and breakfast and has already decided that she doesn't feel like doing anything. She says that but she usually does. I'm looking forward to a good day.

I thought a lot last night about the new book and I have some ideas. I'll do some more thinking today and by tonight I'll probably start sketching.

Enjoy you today.

Another week at Debra's (from journal entry 8-1-11)

It's 4:49pm and I'm at Debra's for another week long assignment. Again Debra is full of weak agreements and strong disagreements. She has spent most of the day in bed. "I just don't want to and that's it" she says. She got up to eat and got back into bed. I gave her her pillows and pillow cases and she said "I just don't want to do that. I've been doing it all week."

Me: Well then who should do your laundry?

D: I said I would do it.

And she did and then went to sleep. I'm not pushing anything today. It's our first day together for a week and we may as well start on an easy note. It looks like I'm only off on Friday, then I'm back at Clara's Saturday and Sunday. How long is this schedule going to last? I can hang though. For now I can hang.

I was so sleepy this morning. Uraeus and I didn't end up going to the movies last night. A movie made the difference of me getting back to L.A. at 1 or 2 instead of 5 or 6am. Plus Uraeus had practice this morning and said he didn't want to be tired. Really, I think he just didn't want me to be tired driving home. He asked a couple of times if I was going to be ok coming home. I assured him that I would and told him that I would text him when I got back. I did. I got here this morning at 8 and was tired. Debra doesn't like to get started early anyway so I let her rest and watch television (activities she loves). She was in and out of being awake. So was I.

I'm thinking about starting a new collection of short stories. I don't know what it will be about yet though. Perhaps I'll work out a sketch of the book this week.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sunday at Clara's (from journal entry 7-31-11)


I walked into Clara's at 7 this morning and got the night report from Jennifer. She told me that Clara had a "hard" night. I read the notes and saw that she called for help the whole night. Jennifer said that she didn't go to sleep until 5 this morning. She's been up on and off and I've changed her once and checked her once. I started her bath but she said she's not ready to take one because it's too cold in here. I turned the heater on and I'll give her until 10 and get it started again.

Jennifer said that there was a new caregiver here on Saturday. She isn't new to the company but new to Clara's house. She was here for three hours and called and said that someone had to come and replace her. I totally understand her.

Last night was Red Stories 7. Shay Fresh was the feature. Each month the show is completely different from the month before. We began with a discussion with the audience that Shay led. She showed a picture of her family elders who were married for 71 years. We talked about life 71 years with one persn. The love, trials, sleep and no sleep

C: Can I have milk in the coffee?

Me: I just put milk in your coffee?

C: Well it looks black as sin. Are you sure you did?

Me: Yes. Two times already.

C: Well it sure doesn't look anything like it.

...the work it takes to keep a relationship that long. Of course we could only imagine because not only were none of us 71 years old, but perhaps none of us had ever fathomed ourselves being in a 71 year marriage before.

It's interesting how we made it all sound so mythalogical. Like they were super humans. Most likely no one sets out on a 71 year journey. 71 years happens a day at a time and they handle the challenges of the day.

As for me, as awesome as 60, 70 or 79 years sound like, I'm not a numbers flosser. 71 years doesn't mean anything to me if that includes 60 years of abuse or something like that. I'm just saying that a large number doesn't equal good marriage.

Sandra Lorraine Coleman and Alice the Poet are the

C: I don't think that man's hair is real.

Me: No?

C: No, it's not real. You don't see one single gray hair. I had gray hair as a teenager.

They are the features for next month.

C: Not one gray hair. Hmph. I mean not even one on the side. No, that's not his hair.

So I asked them to read as a preview for next month. As usual, they blessed my soul. Reverdia closed the show by reading an exerpt from her novel. Yes!

Uraeus went to the show last night and everyone was so happy to see him. He was very young the last time most of them saw him. In fact, Gina Loring was there and Uraeus was about to go to kindergarten the last time she saw him.

C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes, you do.

C: Do you need a quilt at home?

Me: No thank you.

C: It says that you can get any size, even king size for $39.99 so that's $40.00.

Me: Thank you.

Uraeus starts football practice tomorrow. I'm going to take him back to Bakersfield tonight. As always, I had a great time with him even though I spent so much time working. The time we did spend was quality.

On Friday, Lynette and I took all the boys to the beach and we all had so much fun. They got in the water and swam for hours. I got in too! I love and have always loved staying up late and watching movies and sharing with my son. He is truly my favorite person in the world.

C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: Well, I'll just hold it because I don't want to run the risk of leaking.

Me: It won't leak.

C: How do you know?

Me: Because I change you all the time and it never has.

C: Well I'm gonna hold it.

Me: No. Don't do that.

C: You don't tell me what to choose. It's my choice and I'll hold it all day long if I want to.

Me: Ok.

Uraeus wants to go to the movies tonight after I get off work. I want to go too, especially with him but if I don't get off until 7 I won't get home until 7:30 and to the movies by 8. Even if the movie starts at 8 it won't be over till at least 10:30 and I wouldn't get to Bakersfield until 1am and I still have to go to work tomorrow morning at 8. It's not looking like going to the movies is going to work.

C: Do you need to do any ironing of mine?

Me: (thinking: Is she serious?) No.

C: You've already got it done?

So it felt good taking Uraeus shopping yesterday. There was a moment when I stepped away and he was at a kiosk in the mall looking at some kind of chain. He has always been very conservative with money and only spends money on something if he really likes it. I enjoyed watching him. In his teenaged body making his choices. I also love and have always loved that he chooses clothes by what he wants, not what is most popular to wear. I was like that. Still am.

I am so sleepy.

C: Is it gonna leak through?

Me: No.

C: Well I've never gone in a diaper ever before. Help me lie on the couch.

Me: What did you say?

C: (pointing at couch)

Me: You want to lay on the couch?

C: Lie! Lie! I want to lie on the couch. I don't lay eggs.

Dear Jaha,



She is asleep on the couch.


C: Hello! Hello!

Me: I'm here.

C: My bm came out!

Me: Ok.

C: I don't want to put you through too much trouble.

Me: It's ok.

C: Well you're gonna get a special reward for this. This is too much to ask.

Me: Turn on your right side.

C: So do you just get used to it?

Me: I guess.

C: You're gonna get a good reward in heaven you know.

Me: K. Lie on your back.

C: Where are your nearest relatives?

Me: (pause)

C: I said where are

Me: Long Beach

C: Long Beach? I'm sure they don't want to drive all the way up to a city like Los Angeles do they?

Me: They don't mind.

C: You have a daughter don't you?

Me: No.

C: Oh, I thought you had a daughter.

Me: No.


C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: I feel something there but it feels awfuly loose. But I guess it's ok.

Me: It's ok.

C: My friend up north...are you there?

Me: Yes.

C: Are you lying down sleeping?

Me: No, I'm here.

C: My friend up north says to me "That's all I want. That picture right there."

Me: It is a nice picture.

C: Is there anything out there for you to have a good supper?

Me: I'm ok. Are you ready for lunch?

C: Oh is it only lunch? No, I don't want anything but you make sure you eat whatever you want.


She's eating a tuna sandwich.

C: Where did they get the cheif for the building?

Me: Ummm...

C: He isn't much is he?

Me: Well...

C: So if I have a bm can I just go right here in my diaper.

Me: Yes.

C: You mean it won't go through?

Me: No.

C: You know, at least you're not a secretary and have to sit at a typewriter everyday. Isn't this better?

Me: Sure.


Less than four hours to go.


C: Do you do any exercises?

Me: Yes.

C: Regularly?

Me: Yes.

C: Good for you.

We are watching the abrocket twister infomercial.

C: I've gotta get one of those.

Man on infomercial: Everybody wants to look like me.

C: Sheeesh! Nobody wants to look like you. You're not proving anything. (pause) 35,000 seniors in California will pay a high cost in medical cuts. (reading paper)


C: Is it 7:00 yet?

Me: No, it's 4:30.

C: Are you sure? Because I don't want to miss 60 Minutes.

Me: It's not 7.

C: 60 Minutes is the longest running show ever you know.

Me: Yes.

C: Everybody watches 60 Minutes.

A little over two hours to go. This is when I get antsy.

I said a prayer for Selina Cass and her friends and family. We are watching the news and they announced that she is eleven and missing. I didn't hear how long she has been missing. That is always sad to hear.

My supervisor called and said that they are looking for someone to work the Friday through Sunday shift at Debra's. I told her that I would do it if she would get someone to work there for me from 8a to 7p or at least to 4p tomorrow. That way I'll have a little room to rest from Bakersfield tonight.

C: Help! Help!

Me: I'm right here.

C: I need a diaper!

Me: Ok.

C: Well I have a fresh one on.

Me: Then what's wrong?

C: Well I just wanted to let you know that I might go.

Me: Ok.

C: Well I need someone to bring a new one.

Me: Ok.


C: Where is the remote to my TV? Is it down there?

Me: No, I haven't seen it.

C: How much are they?

Me: I don't know.

C: I mean when people steal them, how much can they get?


C: Isn't it time for 60 Minutes?

Me: No, it's only 5:30.

C: (laughs)

An hour and a half left.


C: Hello!

Me: I'm here.

C: Hello! Hello!

Me: I'm right here.

C: I need a diaper.

Me: You have one on.

C: So I can just go?

Me: Yes.

C: Well, I don't need to anyway.

We are watching a commercial.

C: Hi fatty (to actress). What are you taking for all that?


Tick tock

C: Someone took I forgot. But they took it.



I am sitting on the couch behind her watching and listening to her read the label on the cream I put on her skin when I change her. I remember that my grandfather used to do that during his time of deminshia. He read everything. Now that's what she's doing.

C: Keep away from eyes.

And I notice, as I've noticed before that she is really beautiful. Her bone structure, her high cheeks and small chin.

C: It's really poisonious.

The words we speak and how we speak them make us look unattractive.

C: It's for the anal area. Avoid irratation. Not only don't eat it but don't put it on deep or punctured wounds. Cantact a doctor right away. Don't get any in your mouth. (to me) You're supposed to put this on irrated skin three to four times a day.

Me: Yes. I do.



C: Are you there?

Me: Yes.

C: You oughta go to this. It's a taste of L.A. or something like that. It says there will be thirty of L.A.'s greatest restaurants and more than thirty wine companies. It's September 2-5. That would be worth it for anyone who is out. I don't have a car and I can't walk around so I can't go to this. My God, someone would go stay there all day wouldn't they?

She laughed and I laughed with her because it's nice to hear her laugh.

C: Here's a nice little ring. It says it's an engagement ring. Take a guess at how much it is.

Me: It's probab

C: It's $4,200. Yes it is. It's platinum you know. (pause) How many miles is Manhattan Beach?

Me: About forty.

C: Forty? Well no wonder they don't get up here often. Gas and all. I haven't had my license in a long time you know. Oh, is this the one I told you about?

Me: Yes.

C: More than thirty restaurants. That's going to be nice. I haven't been Beverly Hills shopping in a long time. That's an engagement ring? But who cares? I never did care that much about jewelry. You?

Me: No.


C: Where is my phone? Do you have that number handy for the people who change my diaper?

Me: I'll change it.

C: (laughs) Oh no, I don't have my personal friends change my diapers. Just give me the number and they'll come. That's practically all they do anyway.