One of my employees at the smoothie shop is my boss's nephew. He was scheduled to close tonight and since he had made plans for the evening he told me he would be unable to work. Working for a family owned company means you get caught up in their squabbles. I've been on vacation for the past two weeks. When I informed my boss that I wanted off he gave me a hard time about it but I didn't let him get to me. My boss works hard but he is not a good boss. Formerly his sister was my boss. She was a good boss. She communicated well, she put a lot of herself into her work and she went out of her way to encourage and support the people who worked for her.

Today her son called to tell me he couldn't get out of a family event. Standing up for myself isn't something I'm very good at. Normally I let people take advantage of me but today I informed my employee that I hoped he could find someone else to work for him since I was unable to. He replied that he had called one of his co-workers. I said that was good and hung up. About five minutes later he called me back upset that no one would work for him. I told him that I was sorry but I had already made plans. He got mad and started yelling at me. Eventually he hung up on me but I still didn't back down because as an employee it is his responsibility to find a replacement for his shift if the schedule has already been posted.

After he hung up on me I was so mad my hands were shaky. I took some deep breaths, drank a glass of water and called my aunt who knows my problem employee. Before I could go into why I was upset my boss called to tell me that his nephew no longer worked for my store. I told my boss that I was quitting and I could have told him why but I didn't bother because as one of the other kids who works for me said this morning my boss doesn't give a shit. When I'm at work I do my best to take care of the people I work with. My boss called me a control freak and that label fits but when I was gone things went well and apart from my boss having to come up twice to replenish cash in the coin box my being gone didn't affect him.

A while back I applied for a job at a company I used to work for. I used a current employee as a reference and I have an interview this coming Tuesday. Part of me really wants the job and another part remembers the corporate crap I put up with last time I worked there. If I don't get the job my plan is to go back to school. I have most of the coursework done for a nursing degree and even if I hate being a nurse I will at least make decent money hating it. On a different note I've recently had some good conversations regarding how to become a better writer. I joined E2 because I wanted to learn more about writing. Numerous people have helped me with that and this is my way of publicly thanking those people who spent their time discussing writeups with me.

Recently I've had to make some decisions about where my life is going. I write because I like to take characters and work them through problems. In one of my writeups a girl tries to let go of the past. Like the girl in my story learns, letting go isn't easy. Last month I got into a fight with two of my sisters. It was kind of funny because at one point during the fight my sister accused me of pushing people away which is what I think she does. For whatever reason my family hands out advice to other family members. Everyone means well but our feelings are easily hurt and I've found myself withdrawing from relationships that aren't nurturing me. If I walked away from E2 tomorrow there might be some people who miss me but the website would go on and that's how life is. It goes on.

Fact of the day:

When it's first being sprayed, when it's still wet and glistening and slowly drying overnight into pseudo-permanence, the paint your municipality uses for the double yellow lines down the center of Main Street, if it's anything like the stuff my municipality uses, smells like freshly-baked donuts.

I swear I'm not making that up.

This is a story about work. I know that you are supposed to leave your work where it belongs, in the office, but sometimes it follows you. Sometimes it stays.

I work for an organization that provides home care. The main goal is to of course care for people in their homes, help them to stay in their home longer (thus avoiding nursing homes and hospitals, etc). We also have teams for specific purposes - oncology, paediatric, geriatric, and so on. Each team is composed of case managers who are RN's (for the most part). So, I work with nurses.

I receive phone calls from people on a regular basis requesting assistance with anything from basic information to nursing care to people who are actively dying. Yesterday seemed to be much of the same until I received a phone call from a woman with cancer. I receive phone calls from women with cancer every day. Every single call is different.

I can usually retain my composure, these times, I try to. I wanted to cry with her. She couldn't stop, she just got her diagnosis yesterday and she has a young son. The father is absent. Her job is causing her stress as they are demanding of specific documentation and surgery dates and she is apologizing to me for crying. And I just want to crawl through the phone and hug her. It is not enough.

The doctor missed her diagnosis. Dismissed her symptoms. Well over a year ago. It is my sincere hope that everyone realizes something very important - doctors are not infallible. If you think something is wrong, push for testing, ask questions. Know your body and be aware. You need to take care of yourself.

I know you have heard this before, I'm sure you have. I don't want to hear it anymore, either.

Please take care of yourselves.

Today is the most ambiguous moving day yet.

Moving is not usually something I have an emotional reaction to; I've moved so many times that, years ago, when a professor of mine asked us to write about "home," I couldn't figure out what she meant and projected the notion onto my family, rather than any one place.

My childhood was a swirl of new houses, new schools, and moving days. Place of residence became my chronometer; I could tell time only by location, which is why my sisters and I sound like we speak in code, peppering our speech with "yellow house three" and "UBC 1" any time we sift through our recollections of youth. I don't remember living anywhere for even two complete years. I remember times when I didn't even bother to unpack.

Now, without ever realizing it was happening, I've gone and blown all of that. My portable sense of home became temporally, spatially stuck while I wasn't even watching. Today, for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm leaving home - something that wasn't even a consideration back when home wasn't a place.

Six and a half years. To a nomad, that's longer than a lifetime, at least in how it feels. It has slipped though my fingers like tad pools in the ponds of our childhoods, something that we never really tried to grasp. In that time, I completed one degree and another and begun a career. Five years ago, my other half moved in with me and we built a life together. It was, I think, the first time I've fully invested myself in a communal project. The first time I've trusted someone else enough to depend on them since back in the days when dependence wasn't a choice.

Today, we are moving. I tell myself that this is no big deal, that I've done this dozens of times, that the boxes will flow through my fingers as easily as those tad poles once did. But, if I were to try to speak those words aloud, the lump in my throat would get in the way. This place, for all its imperfections, is the only home I've ever built myself. It has been my fortress, my solace, my starting point and destination. Here, I have had some sense of the security that I never wanted to admit that I needed.

I feel like a gambler who's lingered too long at the craps table without stopping to ask, why am I taking this chance?

Today's the first day of the last month of summer. Maybe there's a couple of days in September thrown in before school begins, but they are unimportant.

Trolling on Yahoo Answers is always fun. I critisized European accents, then moved on to critisize American accents. People get so mad...

The national events today were pretty unremarkable. A 97 year old man sunk a hole-in-one in golf. Obama did something. People got swine flu and made a big deal out of it.

I'm back from the lake. The Introverted Thinker and I spent two weeks in the woods, in a cabin built in 1936, with no electricity, no computer, no running water. I missed Everything2. I spent two hours writing every morning on paper. Among other things, I wrote about getting fired to give to my cousins as part of our family letter that should circle around the family. However, four people that I love told me that I talk too much and one worried that I was manic, so I did not give the family the letter, which filled half a notebook. Ah, well. It can join my diaries for posterity.

There are six cabins on the lake, in a half-circle around the bay. I've been going there since I was 5 months old and I am imprinted like a duck. It is about 2000 miles from where I live and a real pain to get to from home, but worth it. i know the rocks and the trees and the taste of the lake. I long for it when I'm not there.

One night I couldn't sleep at 1 am. I got up. I didn't want to waste it. I went out on the rocks and looked at the stars. It is dark enough to really see the Milky Way and the spiraling arms. I went back to the cabin and rummaged for a little star chart that the Introverted Thinker brought. Back to the rocks, trying not to slip on the dangerous bit, and there was Aries for the first time ever. Also Pisces. My usual friends: Big and Little Dipper, Cassiopeia, Delphinus the Dolphin, Cygnus the Swan. Draco the Dragon and the North Star. I went back to the cabin and had a cup of tea. Then out again to see how the stars had moved after an hour. I saw 7 falling stars. After that, I was able to sleep.

I was in the Little Cabin and celebrating the resurrection of the Big Cabin. Various people had tried to get our extended family to rescue it from 7 years of occupation by Little Brown Bats. The bat population measured from 500 to 2000 in the cabin, by various people's estimates. The Big Cabin is a log cabin, built in the 1940s, no foundation and a chimney built of river rocks that is gorgeous. As the cabin settled, the chimney shifted out from the walls, giving the bats a perfect and huge entry. My grandmother died in 1995. My grandmother was the matriarch and three of the cabins went to a trust owned by my uncle and my mother. My mother died in 2000 and my uncle in 2007. Our generation has four people and then there are three other cousins who own the other two cabins. We were discombobulated by the deaths. There was no training program, no leadership plan, we didn't know what to do. So the bats stole the cabin. My other uncle and I tried to seal it a few years ago, with foam spray in the gap between the cabin and the chimney. We wore bandanas over our noses and mouths for the smell and in a vague attempt at safety. We sealed every crack of light we could see, but the bats can slip through a crack. We failed.

One cousin tried to get us moving, then my sister, then two old family friends. Last summer we researched and discussed. The cabin is too close to the water. If we tore it down, we could not rebuild. At last, one of the old family friends looked at me wickedly: "We have a bet, you know."

"What do you mean?" I said.

She grinned. "We have a bet on whether you will repair it or not."

"Damn it," I said, nettled. "I'm fixing it."

I fund raised and we'd found a wonderful man who lived near the lake and worked on cabins. The bats migrate in October and he thought he could do it. The family and friends agreed to contribute funds. The wonderful man waited until the bats migrated. Then he pressure washed the cabin inside three times.

It is beautiful. The logs are lighter and the soot on the roof is gone. Red paint on the floor seems an odd choice since it's dark, but it hides the dirt quite amazingly. We took the shutters down and put up the screens and aired it. It still smells a bit of bat, but the wonderful man said that coffee and charcoal were great at absorbing smells.

I brought four chakra candles from my food coop at home. My daughter and I lit them and read an Onondaga Gratitude Prayer. It thanks the ancestors. The old furniture is still in the cabin, including a large wooden trunk. It used to be full of blankets and old clothes and all sorts of odds and ends. The mice had gotten in so the wonderful man had thrown it all out. Except that before the candles and prayers, I'd looked, and there were three plastic garbage bags, each with a cardboard box. After the prayer was done, I said, "Let's see what is in the box. I can't imagine what he saved."

I opened the wooden box and undid the middle garbage bag and slid my hand in the box. I knew it was paper. "I think he saved comic books. Now why would he do that?" I pulled out a handful of paper.

Photographs. Me and my sister. When I was four and she was one. And these were photographs that I never remember seeing.

It felt as if the ancestors had heard and answered the prayer, blessing us. We pulled out the box. A full book box with photos, all of the cousins, their parents, my grandmother and grandfather and back at least two more generations. I had to clean the remains of a squirrels nest out of the second box, and a few are damaged, but amazingly few.

I carried the pile of photos of my sister and me down to the Little Cabin.

My sister is sick. We are afraid. It is terrible and serious. I don't know how to be a Good Sister during this. I was fired from my hospital district two months ago. I am a family doctor. I have not been on call for two months and I haven't been burning off my energy taking care of patients. It was hard to know what to do with the energy at first. Everything2 has been a blessing and I'm doing 9 years worth of filing and starting my own clinic and reading and playing with my children. At the lake, it was hard to burn my energy. I wrote from 6-8 am and then worked on cabins and worked on the photos and played pirates and talked to all of the people: friends-and-relations, as Rabbit would say.

I tried to be present for my sister, but failed somehow. I did not want to drag at her with demands for time. I tried to be available but not pull at her. I kept busy when she seemed busy.

Too busy, apparently. We finally went canoeing on my last day and she said, how could she get me to sit down and be still? Also, I was too busy. Was I manic? No, I replied, I'm worried and covering.

It was a hard conversation. I do death and dying conversations at work daily. But not with my sister.

There is no map for the territory. There is no guideline. There is no path.

I said that I hoped she was choosing to do what she wanted to do every day. Really, we should all do that, because you never know. I go by my father's rule: if you get 1/3 of the the things done in a day that you thought you could and should, you are doing well. And apply it to your life. What do you want to do? Now, you will have time to do 1/3. What do you choose?

At least now I have a little bit of a guide in how to be a Good Sister. And I have a stack of photos. We are bringing them home to scan them. I bought three plastic bins to protect the ones that we are leaving there and the wonderful man is engaged to take down the trees that threaten to fall on the cabin.

There is a picture of me and a cat. I was two years old and it is in Tennessee. The cat was named Jim Crow, was all black and was ferocious to rats and snakes, but my mother said that he loved me. I can see that he really was huge: he is nearly as large as the two year old in the picture. I'm glad to have it, because I don't remember him. I remember my mother's stories about him and me. Sometimes all that is left is a story and a picture and a longing.

We had a potluck to celebrate the return of the cabin from the bats. I decorated it with the help of the four cousins of the next generation. Pine sol and coffee are making inroads on the remaining smell. My sister and a dear old friend helped get the furniture in place. The kids and I put up photos, all around the cabin, on every shelf and surface, all mixed, back to the mid-1800s. My grandfather who helped build the Little Cabin, a laughing baby on his mother's knee, in 1898. We put the food inside. The older generations sat outside, under the great white pine. It has a spiral from a lightning strike, curling the length of the trunk, but it is alive, and leaning away from the cabin. It was the fourth generation that stayed in the cabin. They laughed at the photos and stayed and talked and played. I don't think that they were worried about ghosts: they have no experience of that cabin except bats. They were comfortable there, surrounded by photos. There were photos of their parents and grandparents that they had never seen and they asked for the stories. We told them what we knew and what we remembered.

My cousin wants to throw out the photos that we can't identify. I don't. It feels like a loss. I want to keep them. The unknown stories, the lost, they were loved too.

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