Saturday, October 29, 2005

A word from the Cat

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

Back into the swinging noose of things

Am back at work, though I admit it may be a bit premature. Still, I made it through the night and kept down dinner, which is a resounding success in my books. Yesterday was a pretty miserable day. Aside from the heaving, body-shaking illness, I got word from the really big company I'd had some interest in. The HR woman had told me last month that while they were under a hiring freeze, they had a set amount of people retiring this year. She went on to say that the company was moving people about but that they didn't want me to give up on them, they just needed to suss out what open spots would appear where. So it seemed a good sign--like an offer would be around the corner once some shifting had occurred.

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 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

Where The Banker Weighs In...

First and foremost, does anyone know how to convert blogs into an audio format? Since I only occasionally and "irregularly" read Kat's blog, there is always a lot to catch up on...little does she know I check it almost every day.

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.

The Banker

Blech. Urp. Bllarrrggt.

I'm home sick today fighting a stomach flu--the likes of which I haven't seen since my childhood. There's nothing worse than the feeling that you're suddenly going to lose all control in only a matter of seconds. And that loss of control happened all last night and into this morning. I feel as if I've been clobbered by a steel pipe in my head, stomach, and intestines. And of course, I can't take anything for the pain. The only upshot is I've lost three pounds in 12 hours. If the weight stays off, it may make my Halloween costume more doable...

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

One Aussie + One Boyfriend = Trouble

I broke the news to The Banker as gently as I knew how. Which translates to roughly: "Holy shit. Guess who's coming to our college for the semester." The Banker, in turn, was less than thrilled. He and I'd recently reunited after my semester abroad, worked some of the kinks out of our relationship that winter semester, and had spent a cozy summer in our college town. His apartment was doors from mine (he'd kindly found me housing while I was abroad, which conveniently put me two doors down), and that summer we became a family. Yep, nothing like pulling 3 a.m. mornings with a whining pup before dropping her off at daycare and racing off to work as a teacher's assistant in the university newsroom.

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

In Honor of Romance

Given MM's amazing over-the-top wooing of his wife, which he recently detailed, and the hate mail it garnered from angry men, I began to think about the most romantic thing that had been done for me. And that's were things get tricky. Because technically speaking, the grandest gesture I ever received wasn't from The Banker. (And here's where I'm super glad he doesn't read my blog with any regularity.)

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 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...

A Wee Bit Better

Tree company arrived. Hurrah! While they seemed to take a lot off the trees, it'd been over 30 years since anyone had touched those lofty limbs, so I'm sure it had to be done. And all the better, fewer leaves to rake in the coming weeks.

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...

Waiting for the Sky to Fall

I took another vacation day today (use it or lose it being the office policy), to wait for the tree trimmers to arrive. It's almost 9 and the company has yet to arrive. I love that I hauled my exhausted ass out of bed at 7 in case they showed early. Grrrr.

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

Magazine Bootcamp

Enjoyed a magazine bootcamp today sponsored by the ASBPE and MAP, a new association started by the Missouri School of Journalism. It was great to see a few old professors again and get a refresher course filled with incredible design and writing tips. It was also a little depressing to see examples of some truly beautiful magazines. Ah, what a large budget and talented people can do on paper.

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

A weekend of mutts and society

I had much to accomplish this weekend: two freelance projects (Being Mr. Sensitive While She's Pregnant and Telling the Workplace You're Expecting), a book to read for book club, a photo album to start and complete, and a house to clean. Needless to say, I got nothing accomplished.

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

The dog days of fall

I did something good today. And I should feel better for doing it, right? Then why do I feel only melancholy?

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

Motivation and Weird People

So I secretly want to publish a book. I've done the newspaper thing, the catalog thing, and the magazine thing. But more than anything, I want to hold my words between two hard covers. I want art that helps the story leap from the page. And I want to give children a gift I adored, and still do: Temporary passage to a different world where strange, funny, frightening, and brilliant things happen to people not so unlike ourselves.

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

Christmas for all

On Saturday we participated in Christmas in October. This charity organization adopts a low-income neighborhood and seeks to improve the housing conditions before the hard winter months. It's exhausting, dirty work, but from what I remember when I participated in my younger years, incredibly rewarding.

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

A little weekend whirlwind

So The Banker apparently rocks as a car salesman. Who knew? He managed to sell The Donger last night to the first woman who came alookin'---and for our asking price no less! So that means we have two days to purchase a car, or I'll be asking some serious favors come Monday morn.

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

Oohh. Zippy!

So The Banker has gone ahead and begun trying to get rid of The Donger. The Donger is our reliable old Honda we purchased in the really big city when we realized we'd need two cars. The Donger is great. It very rarely needs food, lugs the dogs about with nary a dog hair in sight (love that grey-colored interior!), and is so small parking is a breeze.

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

Things I have learned thus far about blogging...

1. Advertisers who post comments to your blog suck.
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

Wherein my name is Leslie

When The Banker and I returned to the middle of the country from the really big city, our house was still inhabited by a very nice couple and their new offspring. It would be several months before this lovely family's lease was up so we could kick them to the curb. Into the cold. With an infant.

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 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!

You can feel it in the air

There's nothing quite like the feeling that fall brings. The smells and sounds, all coupled with a pulse that courses through the air, seeming to electrify everything. It's my favorite season, followed only by spring. There's something about the way everything is being transformed during these seasons. The wind almost crackles with the potential for change. And there's no shortage of that seemingly headed my way. And while I typically invite chaos in almost all its forms, I have the sense that some big decisions will be made, bringing with them big changes.

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

And on this day...

It's funny how birthdays change as you age. When you're younger they're heralded with parties, cake, balloons, toys, and the like. When you're older the celebrations become more muted, especially as you wearily eye those "big birthdays" no longer so far out there in the future. Making it one year older becomes more of a joke and less of an accomplishment.

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...