January 29, 2009

Memory as Honey


I hate my job. I hate it because it's not rewarding. I hate it because it doesn't pay a lot. I hate it because I am held prisoner in hundreds of conversations a week that I don't ever want to hear (I'm looking at you old ladies who talk about poop, hey, over here, yeah I'm talking about you, what can't you hear me? [Snap.]) I hate my job because it's not teaching. I hate my job because it keeps me from writing anything close to a daily thousand. And I hate my job because it makes me sad.

The thing they never mention about my job is the contact with the elderly. True, there are the deaf from births you get, but it's the old people who over the course of time whose ear bones just stopped working make up the meat of my turd sandwich job. The elderly talk about only a handful of things. Their poop, is one, of course (shit to live, live to shit). Who is sick. Who they miss seeing. What they ate. What their animals did (Diana?). And who died.

Also, many of them are cognitively weak, and get confused easily. They don't have high reading comprehension skills so they can't follow the conversations well, and sometimes, they don't understand that just because they are deaf, doesn't mean they don't have to shout as loud as they possibly can for the entire conversation to be heard.

So everyday, I service one of the greatest fears I have, the slow hell of cognition loss. Really, this goes in tandem with my fear of dying, which is so pervasive I have these panicked bursts of "ohmyfuckinggodi'mgoingtodieandiwon'tknowanythingwon'tfeel-anythingjustnothingnothingnothinghellwouldbebetterthan-
Being confused, not being able to think straight or understand what's going on completely, or even worse having the self-awareness to know I've slipped, but powerless to stop it. Just that notion of losing what I know scares me, and that the memories I have won't keep forever like honey.

Dementia and that kind of loss isn't something that runs in my family, as far as I can tell. My maternal grandparents died before I could really get to know them (Homer, my mom's dad, died before I was born). My paternal grandfather (Nathon, Sr.) died when I was little, and I've been more or less estranged from my paternal grandmother, Nanny (she refuses to be called grandma, and her real name is Mabel...I was never a favored grandchild, you see, though I don't know why). And Mabel always seems with it, or at least with it enough, so I may not have genetics to worry about there, but apparently I may not live long enough to even sweat these worries now that I think about it. Fuck, that's like ten times worse. I'd rather be half-cognizant, voting straight Republican and shitting my pants than not even having the opportunity to do those things....because if my choice is either that or nothing, give me that, a heap of steaming Kirk Cameron/Joel Osteen/Trent Lott and double it on Sundays, pretty please.

Anyway, let me try to swerve back to my topic here. So, everyday at my job, I deal with this idea of mortality while simultaneously wasting my life. Therefore, it is wholly depressing, even if those old people on the horn are just bullshitting about being cold or rodeos or whatever the hell. But then there are days where it's the perfect storm of sadness.

Where the conversations directly address death, wills, Alzheimer's, cancer. The details are always so perfect. Stuff about car keys and tacos for dinner and saying hello when you get home from work, all the minute beats of life that are beautiful if you'd just look at it.

I mean right now, take your shoe off, feel the floor, either smooth or hard or sticky or thick or soft or even the kind of carpet where you can toe the individual strands back and forth...don't you see how great that small, small thing is? See how your foot touches that floor everyday without you thinking about, without it being remarkable or strange or worth your time...and how if you let it, it can mean everything, even something so plain as carpet under a foot. Don't you see what you'll miss?

And that's what I get to think about. Five days a week, 8 hours a day (6 hours on Saturday). With every quavering old man or old woman, talking about Sunday brunch or their SSDI check or their dead brother/husband/wife or wanting a blanket with sleeves. Every fucking day. I hate my job.

VIVA el mustache


Diana said...

So, next time I talk to you, I promise to try avoiding talk about my animals. But I can only promise to try.

It's not because my animals are that fascinating; it is because I am that boring.

You should have seen The Kitten go after catnip this morning. It was really cute.

Bryan said...

It's okay, Diana. The animal talk is the least annoying...but when I wrote this, I could have relayed a call to the risen Christ and would have been pissed off.