Saturday, December 31, 2005

A year in review

As I gear up for this evening and clean the house for soon-to-arrive guests, I couldn't help but mull over this last year. What have I accomplished? Am I where I want to be? What changes has this year wrought?

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

My brother-in-law's secret talent

My brother-in-law's an awesome guy. First off, he's a total prince to my sister, who'll be the first to admit that she's a handful. Secondly, he keeps their house neat and tidy, puts up with my sister's spoiled dog and weirdo cat, and works his butt off at a fulltime job---all while getting his Master's degree in Criminology. Impressive, no?

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.

Until yesterday.

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

Warmest wishes to all

After our little medical scare earlier this week, I'm so much more cognizant of how fortunate we are. The Banker is pretty much back to full speed, and for the moment, I've held off any more signs of sharing his nasty little virus.

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

Love in the time of diarrhea

The Banker awoke last night about 2 a.m. to a serious bout of vomiting, and well, you read the title. At about 4 a.m. when his retching hadn't subsisted and the stomach cramps reached screaming level, we went to the local E.R. He couldn't get warm, was entirely dehydrated (the nurses couldn't get his veins to offer any blood), and was yelling and writhing in pain.

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

A piece of humble pie

I'm now, officially, the producer of a low-end product. My new job requires me to slightly edit but primarily piece together elements of previous products to form a pseudo-new product that will go to all the Marts of the world. There is something undeniably humbling about this. It's a beginning, a great way to learn this new business inside and out, and I'm assured that I won't remain long. After all, I need to learn the rules before I can know when to break them.

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

Sorry, The Callow Queen

I know I've been lax about updating how the first few days at the new gig have been going. I've just been so unbelievably exhausted at the day's end that I haven't had the energy to hold up my head, much less write anything. I'm inching by on fumes as we speak, so this will be brief. Once I've regained some semblance of a normal energy level, I'll expand a bit.

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

A Freakin' Hard Friday

Friday was my last day at the magazine. My last deadline, my last lunch with a group of fun people from the office. And it was damn hard, the hardest I've ever had it saying goodbye to a gig. I was showered with goodies, warm wishes, and early Christmas gifts. I'd only been at the trade publication for a year, but everyone blubbered and got teary eyed. I feel like a bastard.

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


I am currently, as one kind friend described me, a stress kitten. Eyes wide, legs akimbo, fur on end, tail erect, claws desperately scratching on a slippery surface, and I just can't catch my footing. Four-and-a-half days and counting till I leave the relative comfort of my magazine job for a corporate gig. Little-known fact: The pillars of my new building are numbered and lettered, much like a parking garage, because this place is so huge, people get lost, doomed to wander the rows of cubicles and cry out into the void. Denial has surely given way to panic over this decision. It's already been made! Don't look back! I know this, but I obsess anyhow. And it's making me a bit physically ill.

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

What a couple of days

The last few days have been marked by considerable highs and lows, leaving me a bit drained. But the lows weren't all that awfully low (more like annoyances), and the few highs, even if marked with a tinge of sadness, are still blessings nonetheless.

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

It ain't just a river...

Now that I've given word I'll be leaving my current position, everyone has been incredibly kind about stopping by and lamenting my departure. (Some just go straight to the jugular with guilt.) And the funny thing is, I'm a talking head. I have my speech down; I react as I should. But the truth of the matter is, I'm in absolute and total denial.

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....