Saturday, December 31, 2005
Last New Year's was spent in Colorado with my family. We rang in 2005 more with a whimper than with a bang, all of us overstuffed from a great meal and exhausted from a hard day on the slopes. The year would bring a graduation, a wedding, the birth of three babies, a departure from my in-law's house, and a happy return to our own, partially remodeled home. In that span of time a sister-in-law would "come out" into proper society, I would be revel in not being a debutante, The Banker and I would visit the House of the Mouse, I would change jobs, and on Christmas Eve a miracle would occur--my old roommate's husband would turn the corner in his fight for life at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. An explosive device buried in Iraq would force him home and my roommate would learn the lengths that love will go.
And to capture and remember it all, I started this blog.
There were many things I didn't accomplish that I wish I had this year. I didn't write for myself the way I'd hoped I would. I didn't make leaps and bounds in sculpting something of my own. I'll need to strive to do better in 2006. I need to focus myself and establish some clear-cut goals. I need to be more patient, less judgmental, and more appreciative this year. And I hope to have a helluva lot of fun, too.
But before then, it's time to party. Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year's!!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Well now we can add another talent to that list: ghost whisperer.
My brother-in-law works downtown in a 100-year-old home that's been converted into a neat office. And this historic home has quite the history, including Jack, who passed away in that house many years ago but still likes to call it home. My brother-in-law had heard of Jack, but being a sensible, no-nonsense former Marine, he didn't pay it much mind.
Early in the morning, my brother-in-law headed to the office, unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and headed to his desk. "Hello! Good morning!" a voice greeted him from the other side of the office.
"Good morning!" my brother-in-law responded as he sat down at his desk. And then his jaw dropped and his blood ran cold. He'd unlocked the door and turned on the lights. No one else was in the office.
That is, except for Jack...who seems to be quite the friendly guy.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
As we're gearing up for our holiday balancing act between our two families, I just wanted to offer you all the warmest holiday wishes! May you be surrounded by loved ones and enjoying this season. And for 2006, may it be filled with health, happiness, and much love and laughter for you all!!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
At just shy of six I call my in-laws at The Banker's request, and my father, who I know will be up at this unearthly hour. I lose my composure on the phone with my Dad, turning into a frightened kid who needs her Momma and Dad to tell her everything is going to be okay.
After waiting for two hours in the E.R., we finally see a doctor who spends easily two-and-a-half minutes with us before blandly saying that this flu thing is running rampant and the E.R. is full of its victims. The Banker continues to, as the doctor kindly puts it, "sail from both ports." I play nurse and work to clean him up and change him into some clean scrubs. Some 15 minutes later The Banker is put on an I.V. and given something to quell the nausea. Finally, thankfully, he falls into a fitful slumber.
My in-laws arrive just minutes before my Dad walks in the room. Just seeing my Dad helps me pull myself together, take control, and insist that now that the screaming Tourette-like episode has passed, we should be fine. I send everyone on their way with a stern reminder to wash the hell out of their hands.
It's now past 6 a.m., and I'm supposed to be well on my way to my fourth day of orientation. I've been up since 2 a.m., and my body is beginning to slightly shudder from the lack of sleep and sustenance and from the emotional toll brought on by seeing your 200-plus-pound husband whimpering and begging you with the eyes of a scared boy to make the pain go away.
I make a call to someone who has a friend who works for my new really big company. She gives me her friend's booth number and I call, zero out, reach the switchboard, find two names I can vaguely remember from my first whirlwind days of orientation, and leave rambling messages while The Banker slumbers.
Some four-and-a-half hours after we rushed to the E.R., we slowly creep home. My really big company has called, given me the day off, and The Banker is going nowhere but to bed. I stumble to the pharmacy and grocery store. On the list: popsicles and chicken soup. Then, bed.
Now at almost five, The Banker is slowly getting back on his feet while I try to catch up on lost sleep and attempt to stay healthy. But I must admit, there's this creeping, rolling feeling in my stomach...
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
But still. I'm the Ambassador of mediocrity in my given trade. =-) Well, for now anyway.
It's eerily quiet in my cavernous building with so many off for the holidays. And as I mentioned before, my floor is exceedingly dark, since it was once the home of the graphics department. My over-active imagination starts the lights aflickerin' and the horrible horror movie music begins to fade in. I picture row after row of identical cubicles, exit signs that lead to nowhere, and me being chased by some dark figure.
The palm trees, stuffed animals, Christmas decorations, art work, and other personal paraphernalia always kill the mood, though. I've decided, I too, need to funk out my cubicle (referred to as booths at the company, though that makes me think of some terrible carnival where a carnie or clown is stalking me...I think I need to stop reading Gaiman's latest book), but will wait until I get more a feel for this place.
The good news? I have more energy today than I did yesterday and volumes more than I did on Monday. And I think I've found some quirky, like-hearted souls who I hope will appreciate the weirdness in me. So I guess we'll see!!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This place is HUGE. I've gotten lost several times. The people I've met have been very kind, but there have been so dang many of them I'm struggling to match names and faces. And the company has me shadowing people for the next two weeks--every hour has been carefully accounted for, including "Reading Time" and "Research Time," whatever these may be.
My cubicle is smaller (much to my father's embarrassment, it seems I'll never have a proper office), and there are no windows to be found unless I get terribly lost. But the people really are nice, the cafeteria is great, there's a ton of chocolate and junk food always about (farewell waist line unless I can find some self control), and creativity really, truly is nurtured here.
So we'll see. It's all been a lot overwhelming, but I'm hoping I'll start to find my niche soon. And once I get comfortable, I hope to abuse my discounts to no end. =-)
And should I not get to update later this week, for my few blog readers out there, I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a 2006 filled with much love and laughter! All my best to you!!
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Then, after that long and exhausting day, I had to act cheery for The Banker's work party. The bank served appetizers and dinner and brought in a magician and a karaoke machine. The food was awful, the singing possibly worse. You know it's a sad holiday party when the highlight is a flippin' magician. The Banker and I agreed, this truly was the worst work holiday party *ever* and that's saying a lot considering the crap festivities we've had to attend.
So tomorrow begins afresh with my orientation. I'm crossing my fingers...
Monday, December 12, 2005
To make matters worse, these last few days will be insane. My final deadline. Gulp. Gatherings with friends. The Banker's office party on Friday night and a quick departure out of town the next morning for a friend's wedding. (The wedding, at least, should be interesting. Our friend's uncle is quite famous, in a fat, pompous, I-think-I-know-what's-best-for-America-and-I-bellow-my-beliefs-into-the-airwaves kind of way. Not that I'm Rushing to any assumptions he'll be that much of an ass in person, if he attends at all.) We'll be staying overnight and returning on Sunday, just in time for me to lose sleep about my orientation at the new job on Monday.
Add to this the encroaching holidays, demands of family, and what the animal behavioralist had to say about our dogs, and I've transformed from a purring ball of fluff into this frantic thing who can't quite catch up with herself and untangle her claws.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Let's see about the lows...
Got severely lost on my way to the pee test yesterday at the really big company. I was half-an-hour late to my drug test and my supposed "quick lunch hour" stretched to two hours, which mandated I stay late at work last night. Definitely sucky.
Slammed out 20-plus Christmas cards last night, but realized I lacked updated addresses for a good many people I'd wanted to send Season's Greetings to. The Banker managed to write a grand total of five holiday cards. This irked me greatly as I'd done 99.5% of the Christmas shopping and was now fretting about what to make for our neighbors (cookies? bread?). Why don't men have to worry about such things?!?
And last but not least, it's 2:40 in the afternoon and the snow has been falling since this morning. The end result? My new little zippy car is firmly stuck in the office parking lot. The Banker came by at noon in hopes of following me safely home, but the rear-wheel drive couldn't muster enough traction to make it up the slightest, tiniest of inclines in the parking lot. While my wheels spun, a total stranger even started pushing the car while The Banker watched from the distance. WTF? So the car will remain in the parking lot till tomorrow, or even later, when my wee tires can touch asphalt again.
And now for the highs...
I received an e-mail that Willow, the sweet dog I'd adopted off death row, has found a new home. My vet's office had been fostering her the last few weeks and has found a kind man to take Willow and Journey, another dog in need of a home. I'm thrilled! And I want to cry. That dang dog really got to me and part of me had hoped, against all reason, she could be mine. Still, despite the trace of sadness, this is firmly a good thing.
The kind stranger who pushed my car while The Banker watched was hot. He had a New York Mets hat on, scruffy hair, and a heart of gold. And he can push me any day he wants.
And despite its forced retirement of my car, the snow is really quite pretty at the moment and is the first true snow of the season. It's about time. And maybe, just maybe, it will mean a snow day. : )
Friday, December 02, 2005
And this is how I've functioned the better part of my life. All my family and friends know I survive this way. My best friend told me matter-of-factly, "That's how you always do things." And she's right. For instance, I went through all the motions of preparing to study abroad in Australia. But part of me, the part that seeks to protect myself from disappointment, kept me from believing any of it really was going to happen. If you'd been sitting next to me on the plane as it took off for Sydney, though, you would have seen the walls crumbling, the look of sheer panic in my eyes, and the rapid breathing of one who believes she's just ruined her life.
This same mode went into full effect when I got married, we bought our house, and moved to Chicago. I'm great at making sure every detail is taken care of while my head skips off to la-la land where it hides until those very first crushing moments of reality tear me back.
So I've begun cleaning out my cubicle, trying to obtain my college transcripts (which are annoyingly needed when I begin orientation for the new gig), and letting all my sources know of my pending departure. I've been working ahead, albeit half-heartedly, for an issue I'll never see through fruition. And this whole time I'm insanely in denial.
But stop by at about 8 a.m. on December 19th if you want to see the entertaining reaction when that river runs dry....
Monday, November 28, 2005
But the deed was done, and as the day passed, my guilt lifted a little. That is until I had to tell my coworkers, and one began to cry. Sigh.
But now it's time to work overtime and help my editorial team prep for a re-design and a double deadline. Oh, and yes, pass the pee test this coming week for the really big company. This is amusing, as I've never had to take a drug test before. Should I forgo my glass(es) of wine the night prior?!? How long does alcohol stay in the system? (Alas, I'm waaaay too lame, too much of a control freak, and guilt-ridden [see above] to have anything else in my system.)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
It's plenty of time to remember how wonderful and aggravating family can be.
It's not enough time to complete all the plans you have for a house.
It's enough time to integrate yourself into a workplace, befriend your co-workers, and settle in comfortably.
It smacks of too short of a time to already put in your two-week's notice.
Which is exactly what I'm going to do on Monday. I dread quitting. My boss will be angry; she'll no doubt feel betrayed. It's a crappy time of year--we've got back-to-back deadlines sandwiched between the holidays. We're re-designing the magazine. We're backed up, slightly screwed, and hoping for the best. And I'm about to crap all over everything.
And coupled with guilt is fear. What if this new company blows? What if my co-workers suck? I've worked in such places before, where I'd sit behind the steering wheel wondering if getting in a minor car wreck was actually better than getting to the office. A fender bender or the leering, unsettling boss? A ticket or more sexual innuendo? A $1,000 car-repair bill or the bitchy fellow editor?
And then there's the biggest fear of all: What if I suck at this new gig? What if I can't pull it off? What if I fail? What the hell am I doing?!?
Monday, November 21, 2005
Which by early afternoon still hadn't come. And oddly enough, I was a little numb to it all. If it does, fine. If it doesn't, fine. I just wanted to know so I could begin to plan out this coming year.
And then the phone call...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Despite the lack of hard decisions, the answers may be provided shortly. I'll know one way or another about the job by Friday at the latest--once it goes to committee. I'm feeling as if this doesn't necessarily bode well for me. If the company was interested, I think a decision would have already been made. I know I shouldn't be too stressed. I have a good job. I don't even know if I'll be in the job market in a year's time. But there's something undeniably personal about being turned down for a position. After all, you as a person didn't measure up. Still, I'm trying to prep myself for the letdown--the plummeting of the stomach, the slight rise in the gag reflex in the back of my throat. Everything happens for a reason. I'm not in charge here, and I need to be okay with that.
And while there are no takers yet for Willow, I've found someone else at work who may come by to look at her next week. It's not much to go on, but it's the most interest I currently have for my ward, so I'll try to stay upbeat.
If nothing else, The Banker and I have a rehearsal dinner on Friday followed by a wedding on Saturday. There's plenty of opportunity to lose myself in wine and dancing should the news turn out to be disappointing. And the Thanksgiving holiday is around the corner, and there's much to be thankful for. As someone pointed out, the more you focus on how much you have, the less time you have to spend thinking of what you're doing without.
Monday, November 14, 2005
A call from the really big company on Monday morn, but I missed it. So the waiting game continues.
I had an eye doctor's appointment yesterday where they dilated my eyes. Today they're still dilated! It's incredibly annoying. Little-known fact: For my 18th birthday, I received Lasik eye surgery. Before it was FDA-approved. I was the youngest patient in the tri-state area. And now 9 years later, I need a touch-up. Road signs have become hazy and the tv screen not-so-clear from across the room. Sigh. Looks like it's time for surgery again.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Not that I have much time to sit and fret. We have Willow with us this weekend, as I try to entice all I know to adopt this adorable beast. (She'll return to the vet's on Monday, but unless I can find her a suitable home, we'll have to keep her over the Thanksgiving week. Yikes!) So far, only vague interest in the "Let me talk to my husband" sort of way.
The Banker finds himself humiliated by this dog. Willow's brilliant. She's trained, understands what we tell her, and more importantly, she does it. And she puts in sharp contrast the lack of control we have over our own dogs.
The chaos we are experiencing is that weird combination of exhausted and giddy joy. This dog rocks. But we can't possibly keep her. But what if? Yes, she can jump our fence. And yes, Ginger's going ballistic, and our house is too small and beginning to reek of dog. But what if?
I hope someone takes this darling creature soon. Please, someone, please. Take this perfectly perfect dog from me before we go insane.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
So, if this behemoth offers me a job, do I trade relative comfort for the unknown? Forgo the two degrees I've obtained and work on my rhyming? Trade my comfortable group of six colleagues for several thousand? A job that lets me wear jeans for one that has a stricter dress code? A short commute for a longer one? A job with a company no one's heard of for one at a company no one can avoid knowing about? And pay that's somewhat insulting for ???? And should I even bother jumping ship if there's a very good chance I'll be re-evaluating my role in the job force in a year or so? (And on a similar train of thought, could we even afford such a move? And would I go clinically insane staying at home with rug rats?)
I know it's ridiculous to start asking such painful questions before I know whether I need to answer them or not. Maybe the decision will be made for me. At least, if this company isn't interested, the first several worries are moot. The last couple of questions still need to be answered, though. And my brain remains so thoroughly fried, I can't begin to fathom the right answers. I used to take every opportunity regardless of what changes it brought forth, but think I may be getting to the point in life where I need to weigh such possibilites a bit more seriously. Remind me why growing up is such a great deal, again?
Monday, November 07, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
So the houseguest is gone, and after this weekend of fun, I'm feeling sore, exhausted, and more than a bit irked. And what else am I? Bruised all to hell:
That's the inside of my thigh. Nice, huh? Courtesy of the mechanical bull at Saturday's thoroughly exhausting bachelorette party and a morning horseback riding lesson. It hurts to walk. But that's one item I can check off my to-do list. Mechanical bull? Check. And I actually held on for quite a time, finally giving up because my wrist felt like it was going to be torn off. What a thorough beating I've taken this weekend.
For once, I might actually be thrilled to start a week of deadline tomorrow.
Friday, November 04, 2005
I HATE when men in tight pants run around and tackle each other for money. I know, I know. Yet another reason I should become an expat. That and politics, general way of life, and the driving desire to be called mum.
See, The Banker has his Irish citizenship. (Some crazy wife nagged and nagged at him to get it. And what did she get? Jack squat. For after 9-11 Ireland tightened its borders and now no longer grants citizenship by default to spouses of citizens. Bloody hell.)
But I don't think The Banker would ever be down for such a dramatic move. (Our two years in the really big city was actually a really big deal. His parents were pissed. After hearing the news they said, "Oh. We were really hoping you were pregnant." We'd been married for only a handful of months at that point. Geez crazy people!) A vacation destination, of course. Permanent residence, not so much.
But I think I'm a bit of a gypsy. I think it scares my mom, perhaps making me seem a bit like my grandmother. Shudder. Shudder. But I'm just a gal that craves the exotic, change, challenges, and constant learning. Sigh. Think I should work more to embrace the mundane and show gratitude for what I have. (Thanks to an incredibly introspective blogger by the name of Naiah.)
So I'm going to embrace scrubbing the toilets for the House Guest. Yep, the Pig-penesque man who once tried to get in my pants our freshman year of college. The Banker once wanted to kill this guy. And now he wants me to clean the bathroom for him. How the world goes round...
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
It found it's origins in Venezuela, where my mom's parents met, married, and began their ill-conceived family. Both were Americans but living in the steamy tropics for various reasons: one was bored, another was there for oil. One night my grandmother woke up terrified, flush with sweat, and dizzy from an all-too-real nightmare that still seemed to clutch at her from the depths of memory. She'd dreamt she was driving her car through one of the common ramshackle neighborhoods where Venezuelans crowded together in makeshift homes. A ball came bouncing into the path of the car, followed immediately by a small girl in a pink dress. My grandmother was unable to slam her brakes in time, and she hit the small child, killing her with the force of the behemoth car. The dream upset her greatly, which speaks to how real it must have seemed. (My grandmother was not an overly emotional woman, caring more for her place in society than her impact upon it. Even as a child, I remember thinking her "cold" whenever I visited.)
The next day with the thought of the suffocating dream still heavy on her, my grandmother ventured out into the world. Slowly she crawled her car through the surrounding neighborhoods out on some errand or another. It was then, without warning, a ball bounced into the roadway, followed by a racing child. A girl in a pink dress. My grandmother was so on edge, she was able to stop in time, sparing the destruction of two lives.
We all grew up knowing about the Curse, but never giving it too much mind. It was just plan weird, plus it wasn't about to win us any popularity contests. It wasn't until later that we began to understand that the Curse lives, in varying degrees, in each of us three girls.
One bright sunny day, I gasped, realizing my earring had gone missing, most likely at the dog park thanks to a friendly husky. I mentioned to The Banker that I'd had a sneaking suspicion that my diamond would go missing. "Of course you did," The Banker sighed. "You told me three days ago about your dream where you lost your earring at the bottom of the pool, lost in grass."
Granted, my dream differed from the actual event, but I never lose an earring...ever. And the similarities were enough to keep The Banker warily eyeing me for the next few weeks.
And it wasn't just the occasional dreams with glimmers of some future truth. Sometimes people's celebration of joy would bring a sinking sense of dread, indicating that things weren't going to work out. Or I would sit in an Irish pub on State Street in the really big city and realize that a tchotchke on the wall would fall. Within minutes, for no apparent reason, it would.
But for all the weird, random occurences that mark the Curse's minor, fleeting influence on my life, it's nothing compared to its hold on Sister 1. (Sister 2 thus far doesn't have any wild tales to tell. It may be because she's so tightly in control of herself that she squeezes such possibilities out.)
Sister 1 can sense a loss before it happens, frantically calling all her friends before she finds the one who's father has suddenly died of cardiac arrest. But the one incident of the Curse that really shook her husband occurred right before his eyes.
Before they were married, Sister 1 had returned from a long weekend diving meet, exhausted and sore. She promptly fell asleep on my future brother-in-law's couch. About a half hour into her dead-to-the-world nap, she awoke screaming, asking after their recently adopted mutt. "Where's Guinness? Where's Guinness? He's on the highway!!" she cried, tears streaming down her face.
"Guinness is right here," her soon-to-be fiance assured her, petting the shaggy creature at his side.
"No, the highway! The highway!" she screamed, racing out the front door to the street that ran alongside her boyfriend's house. He raced after her, afraid she'd lost her mind. But what he saw in the street sucked the air out of his chest.
There in the two-lane highway a small dog dodged cars. Drivers contined to race by, unmoved to the pup's plight. My future-brother-in-law was struck dumb. But he quickly rallied to help his frantic girlfriend stop traffic and pull the frightened dog from the highway.
To this day, my brother-in-law doesn't like to talk about that day. He's a former Marine sniper who's seen an awful lot of royally fucked up things. But nothing in his training or experiences could explain how a dream could help save a life.
But for us girls, it's not that hard to believe. After all, it's happened before.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Hello humans. I'm Mr. Ketchum. The stupid dogs got their pictures up earlier, but here I am, finally, an afterthought. My humans suck. They lock the pantry so I can't pull out food at night. (Seems one trip to the emergency vet due to a pug slowly expanding on starter dough is enough.) And they don't let me outside. Or eat the plants. And most times, they don't let me sleep with them because I'm "too damn nocturnal." But I'm a cat. What the hell do you expect?
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Then an e-mail yesterday from someone else in HR saying that the really big company had no open spots at the moment, but that they'd hold on to my application for a year. A serious WTF experience, to say the least. You want me; you don't want me? There's a spot we're trying to find for you; there's no open spot?
It's leaving me flappin' out in the wind a bit. I was told I need to figure out what I want to do with my career, and then decide if it's important enough that I continue to do it after children. I don't know. Nothing is really compelling at the moment. There's no hard desire to make a career out of my current job. In the last year or so, I've downgraded job-wise and lost myself a bit in the process, it seems. So much thought still needs to be spent on this rather sticky subject. Sigh.
Still one hysterical aside from yesterday: I was contacted by a college student who'd found one of my articles on parenting online. The girl was using my article on raising bilingual children for a major school paper, and could she please have my bio? Did I have any experience in child development? What was my schooling? Did I have any books published on the topic? Ummm, sorry. I'm a lowly journalist with no actual experience and just some luck on Profnet.com. Poor gal. I think I proved much less impressive than she'd hoped. But isn't that part of the beauty of being a journalist? I get to pretend I know a lot about everything, when in fact I just get to know people who know everything.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Now per MM's request, I will do my best at blogging. I apologize in advance for any typos, editing flaws, etc., as I am much better with numbers than words.
As for the Aussie that followed Kat around the world, she is pretty accurate. And he did suck. I believe, and I think Kat would agree, that I was more than hospitable to the poor Aussie. The fact is that I was no match for the Aussie (that was a joke).
Ok, seriously, Kat and I reunited while she was away and between the hours of phone conversations and thousands of dollars in phone bills, (which translates to no money for bars because you only work a part time job, in a bank) we had figured out that we kind of liked each other over anyone else and that everyone else sucked--no offense world. The Aussie came over at a point in our relationship when we realized we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and even adopted a dog, our first child (animal) now one of three.
As for the most romantic thing ever done, well, let's face it, I couldn't exactly afford to travel half way around the world for her. But I will tell you this, no one and I mean absolutely no one, knows her better than I and no one wants her complete happiness more than I do.
Hope you all can understand what I am trying to say.
So maybe MM is right. Maybe this is an ideal time for a guest blog. When The Banker returns from work, we'll see if we can get him to do a bit of typing before Lost sucks us in. And with that, I'm off to curl into the fetal position and cry for my Momma.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
So after all this nesting, The Banker was rightly miffed. He smelled another male infringing upon his turf, and this male had the added danger of being exotic (see undie-melting accent for more). After telling The Banker he had nothing to fear, he resorted to puffing up his fur and sitting grunting in the corner giving everyone and anyone the stink eye.
When the Aussie arrived at the airport I was there to pick him up. I took him to my parents' home for the weekend before returning to school for the start of the semester. I got him settled in his dorm, showed him around the campus, took him to the mall, to the grocery store, and everything and anything that would make him feel welcome and comfortable. (Okay. Almost anything. Minds out of the gutter!)
But things were awkward. I was different. He was different. But he anxiously, painfully wanted things to be the same as they were when we shared an apartment, pulling late nights talking on his bed. And the Aussie didn't like The Banker. They would circle, sniff, grunt, and give each other the eye. My friends thought the Aussie a pouting, pompous ass. So I spent the better part of the first month feeling the tension mount and then trying to dissemble the explosive components.
And I tried to make everything totally natural. I took the boy to dinner, met him for lunches. And we even invited him on a camping trip, which proved disastrous. The Aussie refused to exit his tent in the evenings, claiming he had homework. And when we canoed together, he would spastically try to paddle away from the other campers in order to have me to himself.
It all came to a stomach-dropping head when I met the Aussie one day on campus. He broke down, saying, "I can't share you." There he was, heart on a platter, begging. He insinuated that he wanted me to choose---him or my friends, The Banker, my current life. He babbled on, and it was all too shamefully clear: The Aussie had come here for me. To win me.
And I wasn't a willing prize.
"You need to make the most of this experience," I explained. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see who you are and what you're made of. What we had was wonderful, but time has trudged on whether we like it or not. And any time you try to recreate the past, you end up disappointed. Nothing can compare. So it's up to you to make new experiences. It's your turn to be exotic and different. It's your turn to find out what life here can be like. And it's your turn to grow."
It was a icky initial parting, with the Aussie clearly disappointed that this trip hadn't been the hot-and-heavy reunion he'd anticipated. But he rallied and began to get involved with life on campus. He and I remained friends and got together every once in awhile, but I really pushed him to have his own adventure. (And he found one. He managed to bang one of the more deranged gals I've ever met. A born-again "Christian," she began to talk of marriage after they began their bizarre relationship. Thankfully, the semester ended before she got her wish.)
In the end, the Aussie thanked me for the encouragement, the help, and finally forcing him to enjoy his own adventure. And it was an odd mixture of sadness and relief that marked our farewell. I cared for him, but he'd been a bit of a punk ass. He was young and confused. But he was a person of action, and he'd kind of all done it for me, so I couldn't be too angry.
The Banker, however, is another story. To this day he still has nothing nice to say about the Aussie (though in his defense, our friends concur).
But the Aussie has done well for himself. He modeled a bit in Australia, traveled the world, and is now living in London with his Swedish girlfriend. Ironically, she was his former roommate.
But I figure I won a little something, too. Once kids have added wrinkles, grey hair, and some unwanted rolls, I can still claim that once upon a time, when your Mom could wear a mini skirt and black leather boots, a man traveled half way across the world to woo her. And no, it wasn't your Dad.
Friday, October 21, 2005
It all started when The Banker and I decided to take a break, around the time of our junior year of college. We'd taken breaks before, but none had proved very effective. After a few agonizing days, he'd apologize, I'd relent, and we'd move on. But this break would be different, and entirely enforceable. See, I'd be traveling half way around the world just to ensure I meant it this time. A semester abroad. In Australia. Where the accents drop undies in two seconds flat. (Not that it did. Or I did. Or whatever.) And have you seen the adverts for The Thunder From Down Under? So needless to say, this time the break would be vastly more effective.
Over six months passed in the most beautiful country I'd ever seen. I lived with six strangers, forced to live in an apartment, (are you getting my drift here, MTV nation?!). We were all from different countries--England, Malaysia, Sweden, China, Australia, and the U.S.A. And let me just say, while the Aussie (or English, Scottish, or Irish) is make-your-legs-turn-to-jelly for Americans, apparently our accent is pretty exotic to them, too. I fared well in Australia and New Zealand. Very well. Something about the country, the experience, brought out the best in me, and it showed. There was that time in the club where I was dressed like a cat, and a chick grabbed the chain attached to my collar... (Let's save that one for another time, shall we? Double thank goodness that my family doesn't read blogs, either.)
But somehow I thought the experience would have been better, more fulfilling, if I could share it with someone. And I wanted to share it with The Banker. Over a thousand dollar long-distance bill later, The Banker and I decided we were on again, despite the incredible distance between us. (My parents never complained about that bill, oddly enough. They complained about everything else, but strangely, not that.)
But this news didn't sit very well with my Aussie roommate. We'd become quite close, he and I, and while nothing ever happened between us, it was no secret the way he felt. We would talk late into the night, and I would encourage him to do something big, to get out of this town and discover the rest of the world. You've got so much growing to do, I'd tell him, and pulling yourself out of your element is a great way to see what you're made of.
Apparently he listened. Because only a semester after my return, I received a phone call. The connection was fuzzy, the delay aggravating. But the message was quite clear: My former roommate was taking my advice. He was going to study abroad...at my university. "I'm coming to see you," he said, his voice dripping with excitement and expectation.
You know that awkward feeling you get, the stomach-clenching wave that tells you this isn't going to end well? Yeah, that's about how I felt at that moment...
And I used the morning to complete my freelance work. One article sent to the editor, another out for accuracy checks. Hopefully I should have that monkey off my back by Monday or Tuesday at the latest.
Now I must get the new car registered, force myself to read a book for book club, finish a story for myself I've put off for far too long, purchase a wedding gift, deliver cookies to a friend recently out of the hospital, and try to get some Christmas shopping accomplished. I'm starting to feel a little better about the prospects of getting things off my to-do list for this week. Okay, no delusions of grandeur. I won't get it all completed, but if I could cross off half this stuff, it'll have been a weekend well spent. Where's the relaxation you ask? I don't know. Maybe I'll put finding it on my list...
I think I've a right to be a tad pissy with this company. We have several 50-plus-year-old trees in our yard, and one gigantic pine tree. The company was instructed to cut back the tree limbs from the house and driveway. And what did they do? The idiots "lifted" our pine tree in the backyard. And by lifted, I mean a 7-foot man can now walk underneath this tree untouched by branches. It looks ridiculous and broke my heart. So The Banker spouted off some angry phone calls and informed the company that it'd be receiving a much smaller payment than previously agreed upon. And now three weeks later I'm waiting for them to return to finish the crap job they'd begun...under my supervision.
And the company has not arrived yet. And my eyebrow is beginning to arch with pent-up anger and tension. I could be in bed. At the local coffee shop with a book and my laptop. Doing some Christmas shopping. (Yes. Anal retentive. Yes.) Anywhere but sitting at the window, waiting to usher the muddy dogs in the house, and then walk around the yard with the crew clearly explaining what should be cut. (Here's a hint: Unlike last time, please don't cut my neighbors' trees. Or the trees along the power lines that local law dictates only the power company can touch. And please, avoid scraping bark from my massive oaks. Like you did last time.)
Ooh, ooh! White trucks!!
That are going to my neighbor's house. Grrrr.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Although I don't work for such a glossy book, I do have one bragging right. I'm one of the few journalists in attendance today that when asked what degree she'd earned could proudly proclaim "I got a B.J.!" Yep, Bachelor's of Journalism. (M.S.J. not as amusing.) Immature behavior never quite loses its appeal...
Monday, October 17, 2005
Instead, this weekend was an interesting experience in dichotomies. I spent my day off on Friday happily schlepping out of town--past farms and Dollar General stores--to give a mutt a second chance. And on Saturday I watched The Banker's sister as she was introduced into "proper society" in a big black-tie shindig with enough opulence and pomposity to make my eyes hurt.
First, the good news: The black-and-white cattle dog, now called Willow, is settling in wonderfully at the groomer's farm. She comes when called, is pretty much housetrained, is friendly with the various dogs and barn cats, goes to her kennel on command, sits, shakes, and is just one helluva dog. The groomer is thrilled with Willow and her sweet temperament and is hoping her neighbors down the road may take her, as one of their cattle dogs is getting on in years. My melancholy has given way to sheer joy as I realize that this gal is going to be okay.
On Saturday I traded my barn boots for achingly high heels, a black dress, and some jewelry borrowed from mom. It was time to mix it with "high society" and watch as The Banker's sister donned a billowy dress, gloves, and a three-foot-high feathered fan for a formal "coming out" party. There was much bowing and even a waltz (complete with much flitting and twisting of said fans). There were "big" names in attendance. The self-importance was almost suffocating. I heard the words "old money" used in all seriousness.
Part of the reason I agreed to return to the middle of the country was because I found myself getting a little too wrapped up in such matters in the big city. I could spot the newest designer purse from across the train car. I coveted ridiculous symbols of class. And I was beginning to lose my sense of what truly was important.
In some ways returning to the middle of the country has fit the bill. The Banker and I are volunteering again at a therapeutic riding ranch for children and adults with certain challenges. After a 15-year hiatus, I'm trying my hand out at riding horses again. I'm getting dirty in my yard, getting back to nature with long walks with the dogs at the park. And I'm trying to remember what's truly important.
So it was with some relief that I spent much of Saturday evening trying to keep from laughing out loud. There was ridiculous showiness of "wealth," but having lived in a much bigger city, this idea of society seemed a little paltry in comparison. Not to mention just ridiculous. The large white feathered fans made me think burlesque show; the presenting of daughters reminded me of an auction block. As one young woman made no secret, this ball was her chance to find a wealthy husband. This is the best that society supposedly has to offer.
But the funny thing is that I found "the best society had to offer" was far from the ballroom. The best of society was in a hole-in-the-wall bar. In a local family restaurant. And in an out-of-the-way farm where a life was important, no matter how small.
So I guess they can keep their big feathered fans. They looked heavy and stupid as hell anyway.
Friday, October 14, 2005
It started yesterday when a friend alerted me to a black-and-white cattledog mix due for euthanasia at an animal control facility over an hour away. I found the dog's picture online and just felt that tug that says, "Oh, hell no!"
So I made some desperate calls. All the shelters and even my veterinarian's office are overflowing with animals up for adoption. Cats everywhere are delivering litters, many facilities have opened their doors to those rescued from the hurricanes, and there seemed little hope for this gal. But one of the technicians at my veterinarian's office mentioned that the clinic's groomer lived on a farm and may be able to watch the girl until we could find her a home.
I called the groomer, but she didn't have the time or finances to adopt the dog. So I drove out there today, slapped down my money, and told the heartless animal control officer (who'd earlier that morning on the phone gruffly told me that the dog had just barely missed the needle) that I'd be taking this black-and-white girl home.
She was so incredibly sweet. Black and white paws, a white muzzle and chest. Ears that stand up until they just can't fight gravity anymore and then flop over. She sat, she shook my hand. She's housetrained and quiet as a field mouse. She just wanted to cuddle up and be loved. And it broke my heart to drop her off at the groomer's. I'd love to take her in, but with our own girls we simply can't. And while I should feel great I got her off death row, I feel crappy I can't give her a home. Her freedom may have been purchased, but she still needs a permanent home since the groomer already has six dogs and needs no more.
Why aren't people more responsible with beautiful creatures like this?!?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
All throughout my years working, I've grown accustomed to the deadline, the impetus to work carefully, if not consistently, eyeing a looming date on which my fate hangs. While some abhor deadlines, I survive by them and don't know any other way to exist. And therein is the problem--Since I have no agent, no publisher, no nada, the motivation to complete even one story and market it is exceptionally hard.
Because I should really go see The Best Friend and her new babe. Or the house is a pit and needs cleaning. Or the dogs need to go for a walk. Or I must lose myself in the Internet/TV/book. There are too many seductive lures and not enough self discipline.
This is why I went about investigating a local group of writers affiliated with a larger, national society of authors. It's a well-respected group, one that several agents have mentioned in articles I've found on the web. So after an e-mail or two with the group's Secretary, she suggested we meet for lunch, provide online support, be writing buddies. It all seemed a little creepily over-eager to me. But I need help to achieve this goal. So I went.
And it was weird. She was nice enough, but so frantically spastic I had trouble following the conversation, let alone the genres she wanted to write about. Children stories. Illustrations. Devotions. And then there was the bizarre offer to start an editing service with her. (WTF?!?) And, as she mentioned, since she's a housewife, she has considerable more time to work than I do (plus a whole lot less burnout from writing and editing for a 9-to-5 gig).
So I'm no further than I was earlier today. I figure I'll go through the motions of keeping an online critique going with her, but it wasn't quite the motivating, inspirational exchange I would have hoped. In fact, in many ways it was just strange. For instance, I discovered her daughter's husband makes far too much money. Okay, that's a cumbersome problem! And this journal that she's showing me? The one I have in my hands between bites of food? Yes, she salvaged that from the trash.
Sigh. Why can't I find someone normal to whip me into writing shape?!
Monday, October 10, 2005
This year it was nice, though not filled with as many warm fuzzies as I would have hoped. The house we worked on was owned by an older woman and her husband and was in a mild state of disrepair. We replaced some broken windows, put in a new screen door, fresh screens for the porch, a new coat of white paint, and cleaned up the backyard as best we could (there was a debris-laden abandoned mini-van with missing windows and flat tires. There were plants growing out from underneath the trunk).
I felt like we were making an honest improvement. But The Banker heard the woman (drinking a beer in front of their big screen) complaining on the phone that she wished we'd hurry up and leave. Sigh. What are you going to do?
But it's not the only Christmas sentiment that permeated the weekend. We handed over the Honda to its new owner on Saturday morning, and that evening we drove home the new (used) Nissan 350Z. It's very pretty, VERY zippy, and just asking for multiple speeding tickets. The Banker is like a boy in the candy store. And I have to admit, I love it, too. The seat cradles my back just perfectly, the car roars to life and sails down the street, and...I hate to say it, but the boys notice. I can only compare it to when I visit the comic book store. Evidently, gals don't visit the store very often...
But The Banker also loves the new car. Maybe a bit too much for someone who'd agreed to drive the Jeep. Another drawback? This baby is gonna suck in the Midwest winters. So to protect myself against both the cruel winters and the cruel egos of men, I drew up the following contract:
October 7, 2005
I ,The Banker, solemnly swear that when the weather is inclement, as deemed by my wife, I shall not attempt to drive the sports car. I shall not complain, moan, groan, or otherwise be aggravating to said wife when she demands that we carpool. Failure to uphold this contract will result in the following possible reprimands:
• Moving of sleeping quarters to the guestroom
• Unlimited amount of time spent hearing wife lecture
• Loss of permission to drive the sports car
• One weekend’s loss of either golfing or football privileges.
Additional attempts or aggravations, as outlined here above, risk even greater reprimands. I understand, approve, and hold myself responsible to these terms.
And wouldn't you know it? The Banker was so intoxicated by the new car, he was crazy enough to sign it!! Do you smell that? It's the smell of semi-new leather and power!!
Friday, October 07, 2005
I feel a little bit caught off guard by the sheer speed of this whole process. On Monday, The Banker said he was "just looking." The problem is that I failed to grasp that the male definition of “just looking” actually means, “I’ve already picked out a new used car and will sell our car out from underneath us within a day.” So by Thursday, he's sold our old car and set his sights on a 2003 350Z.
As one co-worker put it, "Like a boy in a candy store." Indeed!
Since we're participating in Christmas in October all day Saturday, it leaves little time for concentrated car shopping. This should be interesting. And I sincerely hope it doesn't bite me in the ass!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
But I've been unfaithful to The Donger. I dream of this zippy little sportscar:
I wanted a Nizzan 300ZX when I was growing up, and of course, as was my luck, they discontinued the car as soon as I hit the legal driving age. But what glorious redemption!! They've re-released the same kind of car, this time called the 350Z. We're looking at a silver little babe, though without the convertible option (as the top looks ridiculous when up). And how it purrs....
So we're going to try to sell the beloved Honda, and we'll see if I can get a zippy car. I've got a little over a year to enjoy this baby before I have to trade it in for a mommy mobile. This better be good!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
2. Never post something about someone thinking they'll never in a million years read it. I feel totally sheepish that MM saw the post about having a million of his babies. The Banker would like to point out that I also made this offer to the guy who does the art for my front-of-book department...while in an editorial meeting. And I'm sure my in-laws would like to point out that I've made no such offer to their son.
Since The Banker and I are the last of our friends to have children, it's become great fun for family and friends to gently prod us on when we're going to join the parenthood league. And I'm beginning to feel like a prize heffer. People circle me, view the hips, and say, "Them there hips'll help her breed good." A slap on the ass and a nod and I'm sent on my way.
Hourglass figures aside, people eye me carefully, noting any behavior that screams knocked-up status. "She looks a little paunchy today. Think she's putting on weight?" "Did she just pass up a glass of cabernet? And she's attacking the goat cheese with zeal..." Geez people!
Part of this I've done to myself, I have to admit. I've freelanced for a parenting website and magazine for the past three years, so I know all sorts of things about birthing techniques, bonding with baby, designer cribs, etc. My father-in-law likens me to a priest: We both discuss topics with which we have no intimate knowledge.
But birthing in my husband's family is a sport. He has four brothers and sisters, and his mom came from a family of ten. Not a family meal goes by without a labor story being shared. Is this supposed to be encouraging? Or appetizing?!?
So for now, here's my request: Instead of making me squirm under your judging gaze my dear family and friends, just pass me the wine, watch me gulp it down with glee, and let me chew on this issue for say, another year or so.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
So during this time, The Banker and I moved in with his parents. That's right--several months living in the moldy, windowless basement of my in-laws. Apparently in a past life I was a very, very naughty girl and was due some terrible comeuppance. Many things stress a marriage, and while I've been fortunate enough to have been spared many of these experiences, I would strongly argue living with your in-laws should be in the top ten somewhere.
My in-laws are really wonderful people. Really. We just fail to see eye-to-eye on almost any subject. Politics, sexual orientation, foreign countries, sexism, racism, a woman's role in the household, and religion are not safe subjects.
But I digress. There's plenty of time to tell those tales. Today's story is about my secret identity.
The Banker and I lacked a kitchen in this basement, so as we silently slipped out the door in the mornings to head off to work, we'd often stop by at the only local coffee shop--Starbucks. We would revel in a full five minutes of peace and caffeine, which was very often the only revelry taking place in that given 24-hour period.
Since we became almost-regulars, some of the staff would greet us by name, and in the case of my husband, with his order. The most astute staff member became very talented and this game of recall...with The Banker. I seemed more problematic to her. One day, she greeted me cheerfully, "Good morning, Leslie!" I smiled, quietly corrected her, she apologized, we laughed politely over the mistake, and moved on...to the next day, where she again called me Leslie.
This scenario repeated itself for several more days, but my corrections were to no avail. Clearly, to this girl I was Leslie, and nothing else would do. So to save us both embarrassment and exhaustion, I began to let her call me Leslie. The Banker would snigger into his steaming mocha, and I would respond that it's just easier this way. After all, in a matter of weeks--God praying--we'd be out of his parents' house and out of the vicinity of this Starbucks. Problem solved, no feelings hurt.
With painful, lurching crawls, time did pass, and we prepared to move into our newly vacant home. We went for one last stop at Starbucks, smiled warmly as The Banker and Leslie were welcomed, and said our farewells. I was content: My secret identity would now become a joke between the Banker and me. He'd travel to the new local coffee shop and have the staff write "Leslie" on my order. We'd laugh, sip our soothing warm salve, and enjoy our house.
It was three weeks later when I was at work, on deadline, and dragging. The three o'clock hour had come, and like clockwork, I'd hit a wall. It was time for a serious pick-me-up. So, a few of us editors drug ourselves to the new Starbucks down the street. And as I walk through the door I hear, "Oh my Gosh!! Hi Leslie!! You're my first regular I've seen since I was transferred up here a few weeks ago..."
Needless to say, I was thrilled this birthday to receive a cappuccino maker. Farewell my dear Leslie!
Nope, still not ready to come down on either side of the fence on any of the issues currently lurking about. Instead, I think I'll lose myself in this amazing description of fall from the incredibly talented Magazine Man:
For reasons I can't adequately explain, I've always looked forward to October. Better writers than I have extolled the many odd and wonderful virtues of October--the crisp breezes that bring smells of wood smoke and apples gone to vinegar; the sound of dried leaves, dried cornstalks, rustling in the forests and fields; the fundamental and overwhelming feeling of change in the air, of mystery, and always a mystery that seems to beckons to you specifically.
It is a month of transition, and maybe that's why I look forward to it, along with others who revel in the variety of change, who hate the sameness of one day to the next. Because October is the antithesis of the status quo, every moment of it is about change. Color giving way to pallor. Frost in the night, shirt-sleeve sunny heat in the day. Blinding bright mornings melting to sullen, drizzly afternoons. It is the buffer between times of the year that are truly warm and truly cold, and so contains elements of both in unpredictable measure, but belongs to neither one.
My gawd. This man, whoever he may be, is so exquisitely talented it hurts a little. I'd have a million of his babies. Although, he seems to have his hands more than full with the two he already has.
And I have to admit, my hands are more than full with these guys:
Monday, October 03, 2005
Today has been nice though. I've been only called an old hag once--thank you Sister #1. Highlights include Neil Gaiman's new book, cookies and small gifts at work, warm e-mails sent my way, and a birthday dinner this evening.
But as I eye this calendar date, I'm struck by the transition floating in my periphery. The possible job offer from that really big company. The lingering questions of starting a family. The my-place-in-the-cosmos thing. The should-I-resign-myself-to-settling-here-or-should-I-really-push-to-move-to-the-country/abroad/away quandary. The when-are-you-going-to-publish-a-book question. The stress of The Banker's work and his notable lack of patience as it weighs heavily on his mind. Even the stupid decision of a new car.
And oddly enough, my mind is so weary I seem unable to make decisions, something that this Libra typically has no qualms about. Remember when big birthday decisions could be made at the shaking of a Magic 8 ball? Like, should I invite Emily or Kristen? Cookie cake or ice-cream cake? Sleepover or skating party?
I think it's that as a perfectionist, I dread any misstep that takes me off the path I'm supposed to be on. My goal was to live without regrets, to the best of my abilities. Does that mean making the right decisions all the time or rolling with the decisions I've made, be they right or wrong? It's tiring stuff, this. Perhaps that's why philosophy class left me so thoroughly exhausted.
But enough of that for now. There's family and friends to be enjoyed, much binging ahead, and gifts to rip open. I'll leave the heavy decision making for tomorrow...
Friday, September 30, 2005
I've never given much thought to blogging, I have to admit. But several things have recently changed that mindset. For starters, I've become an avid reader of Neil Gaiman's journal and enthralled with the musings of Magazine Man at http://masthead.blogspot.com/. Secondly, on Monday I'll turn 27. (I know, I know---still a spring chicken compared to many. But it's older than I want to be...though younger than I could be.)
So something Neil wrote the other day caught my attention: One of the best things about this blog, for me, is that it's the diary I don't keep. That thought's very appealing to a gal never able to keep a diary for more than a few months. I've several diaries with only the first 20 pages filled...and then nothing. Even the promise I made to myself while living in that country down under was only upheld for a few tumultuous weeks. Maybe I could be better about blogging. Then again, maybe not.
I can't promise I'll have anything really compelling to write about, like MM's crazy job/kids/life, but since no one's going to read this, I suppose I've nothing to lose. I kinda like the idea of going incognito, so I'll give it my best attempt here. I have no cool job or other reason for this precaution. But I do do stupid stuff. Often. And I'll be freer to write about these things if no one knows who I am. (Okay, besides those friends whom I beg to check out my blog.) So a bit about me:
- I'm a journalist, in the loosest sense of the word. I attended two of the really big journalism schools, but haven't really accomplished anything terribly impressive with the mammoth education and contacts those Alma maters might belie. Actually, I'm an associate editor at a trade publication stuck squarely in the middle of the country.
- I recently moved back to squarely in the middle of the country (otherwise known as my hometown) after several years in one of the nation's really big cities, where I worked first for a catalog that sold expensive toys to the rich and aimless and then for a travel trade pub.
- I'm married to a guy I'll refer to as The Banker. It's what he does, but it also speaks to his personality. While I'm the chaos, he's the realist. The ying to my yang, perhaps.
- We have three animals: two pugs and a cat. Two are rescues and the other's a brat. All are royal pains in the butt, but they're our children, and as such, we adore them. I'd like to rescue more, but The Banker has put the kibosh on any such transactions. Sure, I know he's right, but still...
Wanna take any bets on the next time I get around to posting another entry? Let's hope this baby fares better than my unicorn diary of old...