Friday, February 24, 2006

February 23rd, 1997

This is the third time I have opened up blogger to post. But I don't know what to write or how to write it.
I have been meaning to write for the past week - random stories or thoughts but never got around to it.
But today, I feel I should post. It has just been a strange day for me. I am not sure how to feel.

9 years ago today my father passed away. 9 years is a long time. Almost a decade. And I don't know how to feel about it anymore. I'm not saying that I am not sad. But the pain is not the same as it once was. And I feel guilty about that. I didn't go through today all day thinking about what happened at this moment 9 years ago. I didn't wake up this morning thinking how I didn't want to get out of bed and I just wanted the day to be over.
I woke up because Jonah woke up and my alarm went off. I was feeling pretty sick (I am fighting something but at this point I am not sure who is winning). I had breakfast and got my lunch together. And went to work.
At work, I was pretty busy so my mind wasn't on it that much. I didn't think about the exact moment when he died or what happened right afterwards. I thought about it briefly when customers would ask the date. Feb. 23rd.
Feb. 23rd.
Feb. 23rd.
When he died, I think there were ways that it hurt me very badly and messed me up. And there were ways that getting through it helped me grow. It made me a better person in some ways. It made me grow up in a LOT of ways. It obviously changed my entire life. Not for the better - just for the different.
The hard thing is, I can't imagine him in my life right now. I am such a different person. It's hard for me to imagine a conversation with him. What would we talk about? Would we be as close as we once were?
The crazy thing is, the one thing I can imagine is him and Jonah. My dad LOVED kids. And I can just picture Jonah running up to him and giving him a HUGE hug. I can imagine the two of them having a conversation in Jonah's little language. I can see my dad's eyes light up at the sight of him and Jonah's eyes light up playing with him. I think Jonah has my dad's eyes.
Sometimes when Jonah stares at me - he has such a knowing look. Like he stares deep inside of me. He looks at me the way my dad sometimes looked at me when he wasn't able to communicate so well anymore. Maybe that's freaky. Or maybe it's just my mind playing tricks on me. Trying to hold on to some part of my dad. I don't know.
It is what it is.
The one thing I hate about my dad's death is how it has desensitized me. Like when I hear about an older person passing away, it's very hard for me to feel sad about it. I automatically think, wow, you were lucky to have had them around for that long. They lived a long and full life, what is there to be sad about? But you can't say that to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. I think it is a terrible attitude for me to have. I hear about people losing grandparents and I really don't know what to say. Because that is the way things happen. That is a normal time for them to die.
When my dad died, all 4 of my grandparents were still living. Within 3 years of his death, 3 of them had passed away. My mom's parents died when I was in Israel for seminary (they died within about 2 months from each other) and my dad's father died while I was in New York. I wasn't very close with those grandparents and so while I was very sad when they died, it was not something that haunted me day and night for weeks or months afterward. I think I was more sad for what we missed out on as opposed to just the fact of losing them. When I hear of someone losing a grandparent, after my initial reaction where I can't really understand their pain, I think of losing my living grandmother. And that shock wakes me up and I realize that yes, it still hurts. I can't even think about it because I can't imagine her not around.
So, I guess I am still somewhat mixed up.
While I wrote this, I did shed a few tears. Mostly when I was writing about my dad and Jonah. Maybe because I knew that my thoughts are all that I will have of them. Picturing them together in my head is as close as I will get to it.
Part of me still wishes I had more of the pain that I had when I lost him. Maybe I feel like I would be a better daughter if I was more miserable today. Or maybe this is just what happens almost a decade after you lose someone...................

Maybe I am normal.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Does anyone know of a good financial planning/tracking program? I tried Quicken but Shu's computer wouldn't let me get updates from the Internet so I had to put everything in manually. After 3 hours, I really didn't accomplish much because I was still missing so much information and didn't understand how it all works.
Does anyone know of an easier program?
I basically just want to track my expenses and maybe get some help with budgeting.
Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The End of an Era

As of 1/31/2006, I am officially no longer an EMT.
In practice, I have not been an EMT since 2003 but on paper, I was a New York State licensed EMT until 2 weeks ago.
Part of me is sad about it. That was a career path, I thought I had chosen to follow. But then things changed. And it simply didn't fit into my lifestyle anymore. Also, I didn't love it in America the way that I loved it in Israel. It was so different here. It was no longer about the patient first and foremost. It was about making sure you cover your tush and don't get sued. Here, EMT's are at the bottom of the chain. There is no respect for them (at least in the hospital setting).
In Israel, it was a different story. That's where I got my start as an EMT. Well, a First Responder and then a step up. Kind of a non-driving EMT. When I took my course in Israel and started volunteering in Ashdod, it was like I found my path. I loved it. Every aspect of it. The good calls, the bad calls, the adrenaline. Making a difference. Helping the people of Israel. At a time when the Intifada was at it's worst and every day we wondered where the next bomb would go off, I felt like I stepped in to try and help. It wasn't easy but it was amazing. It changed my life.
To give a little background, I went back to Israel for an Overseas program with Ben Gurion University in August of 2001. I went a little early and volunteered with the Israeli Army in a program called Sar-El for a short time. I wanted to be in Israel to help. I was so helpless in America and just being back in Israel at such a time felt good. Volunteering in the army felt great. No, we didn't do anything major but we sort of took the place of a reserve soldier so they could do other things. We did a lot of grunt work. And I loved it. Someone has to do it.....
Then I started the University program and got into the university lifestyle. We had fun. Tuesday nights were salsa night in the bomb shelter turned disco. Random nights we would drive out into the desert (we had no room for anyone else in the car one night that we went so we stuffed 2 people in the trunk.....) and have bonfires. Touring, classes, having fun.
Then came time for winter break. Things in the country were going downhill and I felt like I was in Israel but I wasn't doing anything to HELP Israel. A lot of my friends were going back to the States for our 2 1/2 month break but I didn't have the money nor the desire for it. I started researching different programs and thought about going back to Sar-El. I even hooked some friends up with the program. But then I found out about the Magen David Adom Overseas Volunteer program. Wow. Intensive training for a week as a First Responder and then be sent somewhere in the country to ride on ambulances for 2 months. It sounded perfect. But could I really do it? I had never seen any blood or guts in my life and never broken any of my own bones. Would I be able to keep my cool? Would I freak out?
But I wanted to do it SO badly. I met with Yochai who was in charge of the program and we discussed it. He said as part of the training, we would be helped out with that aspect and learn how to deal with what we would see. Physically and emotionally. He encouraged me to go for it.
So, I did.
I was sent to Ashdod with 4 other volunteers and we had an amazing time. Truly life-changing.
As for my best and worst cases?
Well, the best were always the pregnant ladies we would transport to the hospitals that always waited just a little bit too long. One of them was REALLY close and the medic in the back with me said that if we didn't make it to the hospital in 2 minutes, we would be delivering the baby right here. I leaned over to the driver and whispered for him to slow down. I REALLY wanted to deliver a baby. But, we made it. Lucky lady.
Worst cases? Well, there are a few of those. But 2 stand out in my head. The first was one of my first few calls. We had to accompany the police to a house and tell some parents that their daughter had been found dead. She had OD'd on drugs. Whew. That was a rough one. Just standing there and trying to keep my composure while watching the police deliver the news. It was rough. Watching the mother crumple down when they told her. Knowing her life had just changed forever. That was a tough one.
The other was more of a physically challenging case. And I believe it is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. The next few paragraphs may be graphic so beware. Proceed with caution.
We got the call just after my team and I were munching on delicious pizza bourekas. The call is a man shot in the head. I throw my boureka back in the bag and gobble down some TUMS. We don't know any more information than that. It's the driver, an Israeli volunteer and me. The Israeli volunteer is sitting up front and does her lipstick as we are racing through the streets. Thoughts are flashing through my head. What will it look like? Will I faint? Will I throw up? Will we be able to save him? Was it a suicide? A murder? Through the mouth? Through the ear? I told the driver that this is my first case seeing blood and guts. My other cases had been more along the lines of either already dead people or breathing issues. For the most part. But no REAL blood, guts, and gore. The driver's advice to us was whatever we do, don't faint. We can throw up as much as we want, but don't faint. Oh boy.
We get to the apartment and there are police cars outside. We go upstairs in the elevator and a nosy neighbor is asking what's going on. But we don't say anything. Don't faint. Don't faint. I was feeling a little light-headed. The elevator gets to the right floor and I see the doorway opened a crack. Woaaaah.....
But as soon as we enter the apartment and I take a glance around the apartment, I feel my mind completely switch gears. It's not about me anymore. It is about the patient. Let's do what we can and try to save him. I take it all in. A man on the porch, looking upset. Policemen. A pillow on the floor. A black gun lying in a pool of blood. In some ways it looked like a movie scene. The way it was set up. But in the movies, you just have bright red blood. You don't have bits of brain matter and various shades of blood and other goop.
There was an old man, lying on the floor. And he was gasping for breath. He was still alive. But barely. My memory is a little hazy at this point. I was getting supplies from the bag and giving them to the medic and the other volunteer. The medic was doing stuff to the man and getting the Automatic External Defibrilater (sp?) ready and the girl was holding what was left of his head and was bagging him - helping him breathe. I remember at one point, she said she felt his brain coming out into her hands and was going to throw up. I was going to take over but she recovered.
He took some final gasps for air but didn't make it. We had to call another crew that had a doctor and get permission to stop working on him. There was just nothing left to do.
A police photographer was there snapping pictures. We cleaned up our mess and waited for the other crew to arrive so the doctor could officially declare him dead.
We got some of the story while we were waiting. The man had cancer and some other medical issues and was basically slowly dying. His son (the man on the porch) had come to take him to another appointment and when he came into the apartment, found him dead on the floor.
So that was that.
I won't ever forget that call.
During my time as a New York EMT, I did not have anything quite as dramatic as that. The two cases that stick out most in my head are one, when I did my required day at the ER, I had a chance to do CPR compressions on a man. It was tough. He didn't make it and wasn't going to make it by the time they let us try the compressions but it was good experiance. It's a lot harder doing it on an older, overweight man than it is on Annie, the CPR dummy.
The other case was a woman from a nursing home who we pretty much saved her life. She was having really bad breathing issues and kept puking everywhere but she wasn't getting any oxygen. So we had to bag her and I rode to the hospital while crouched over the stretcher bagging her, forcing her to breathe - amidst puke. That was a really intense call. And my partner and I had a fight afterwards.
Well, that's that. My most memorable moments as an EMT. And the end of an era.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Summer Lovin.......

My boss went to the Superbowl. He is from Pittsburgh and had been trying to get tickets for awhile and at the last minute, his sister-in-law pulled through and got him an extra ticket. She has something to do with the governor, perhaps the campaign? I'm not exactly sure but they were in a suite on the 40 yard line so she must do something good.
We chatted about the game and how cool it was that he was there and yada yada yada and then he was telling me about sitting in this suite and the people that he was near. Well, Barry Sanders sat about 2 feet in front of him. I wasn't quite sure who Barry Sanders was at the time but I recognized the name and knew he was a Lions something so I figured he must have been good if even I knew the name!! Ok, ooh la la, whatever.
And then he casually mentioned who else was there.....
"Matt, " I said, "Before you mentioned that, I thought it was pretty cool that you went and yah, I wish I could have been there....but now, I am OFFICIALLY jealous."
I am sure that I am disappointing my husband by saying one of the coolest things about my boss going to the Superbowl was the fact that he sat right near John Travolta. And this will be probably add another reason to my husband's argument that he would rather take a guy friend to the Superbowl than me. (the other reason was because I asked him if he was going to shave before we went to a Superbowl party - but in my defense, I would have asked him that if we were going out ANYWHERE.) Anyway, so sorry to disappoint you, Shu but I think the whole John Travolta thing is pretty cool.
I guess it all goes back to elementary school and my best friend, Sarah, and my obsession with Grease. We used to watch it at all of our sleepovers. Of course we knew all the songs by heart and we even won our school talent show when we lipsynced Summer Lovin in 4th grade. We had choreographing and everything.
Ahh, good times, good times.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I was scammed at work today. And I am SO frustrated about it. Because I should have known better and I should have caught it. Argh!
The scammer is a customer that I know (not by name but by sight) and she is a big clearance customer. She buys almost only clearance items and returns about 1/3 of it. But she is generally pretty organized and always has her receipts. She seperates her returns and things always match up. Usually her reason for return is wrong size. She is very pleasant but doesn't seem to speak English very well (or pretends not to at least) so we don't speak much. Bottom line, I had no reason to think of her as a "problem customer".
Today she came up with two bags and two seperate returns (of 3 items each). 4 men's shirts and 2 women's. She had her receipts and all tags were attached. I scanned each item, found it on the receipt (a pretty recent receipt), and returned it. Most were $10.00 items, one was a $15.00 item. I took the pile and put it aside, gave her mostly store credit back (because that is how she paid for it, with the balance on her Kohl's charge. And wished her a good day. Then I turned to scan the items and make sure they were ticketed with the correct clearance sticker (red or yellow). I pick up the first shirt and hold it up and see that it looks................used. A little dirty perhaps and felt like is had been washed..... So I enter the number into the computer and see that the tag brand does NOT match the shirt brand. I then find a UPC number in the shirt and check it to the one on the tag. As I feared, no match. ARGH!!!! This wasn't a huge deal though because the price difference was only $3.00. But still!! I show my co-worked and then give the customer the benefit of the doubt. She is a usual customer and her returns are always in order and so maybe we were scammed by another customer, no one caught it, and the shirt was put out on the floor. And this unsuspecting customer picked it up and bought it.......
And then I checked the second shirt. Same thing!! But this was a $1.00 item that she got $10.00 back for!!! This was the same vendor but the tags and numbers weren't the same. These were even easy to check because the UPC was in the shirt!!! I don't think this one was worn but it was kind of hard to tell.....
The other items were fine except for a woman's blazer that may or may not have been the correct item.......
I was scammed!!!!!! I guess it happens to the best of us (hehe) and I can't let my guard down. I just look forward to the next time she comes in............. I hope she tries it again. And she tries it with me. Not that I can say anything about the previous time but I can catch her trying it again. And let LP (Loss Prevention) know to keep an eye on her.
Because I am sure Clearance Lady will be back.................................
And I will be waiting..............................