Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have been without a job for a couple of months now, unemployed for the first time since I was 16.  The feeling of relief is incredible.  I guess that's how you know for sure that you're in the wrong job: you're thrilled when it's gone, even if it means you're joining the ranks of the jobless.  I'm now a statistic that people talk about. Honestly, I think it's the best thing that ever happened to me. Perhaps I will change this opinion if things don't work out, but for now, let's go with the positive.

Inertia has been the driving force behind every single career move I've made, starting in college.  I haven't actually been actively involved in developing my future...more like I've been along for the ride.  The path of least resistance has been pretty good to me. One job led to another with the help of key supporters putting in a good word for me. I was consistently promoted, given more responsibility, more money...the whole shebang.  The only real hiccup was that I wasn't happy. The only thing I've loved about every job was my coworkers...and I still love them.  Some of the best friends I'll ever have came out of jobs I complained about endlessly (to those same friends...)  Lots of things kept me where I was, but I now realize the biggest hurdle I've faced is fear. Fear that I wasn't good enough to do anything else, fear of failing if I tried, fear that I'd make the wrong choice and regret it.  A subtle change has come over me since I was liberated from my job: I now only fear NOT making a change.  I'm terrified that I won't take a chance at happiness and I'll go back to what's secure, even though it makes me miserable.  It's quite the driving force, this fear.  Of course it's not like dark alley at night fear, or "we have your test results" fear, but it's enough to keep me going.

I've decided to listen to some advice (novel idea, I know) and actually try to do something I enjoy.  I'm good at lots of things! So what if they don't easily match any job description I can find? I'm doing all the right things, taking inventory of my skills, likes, knowledge.  You know, I'm figuring out the color of my parachute.  I'm actually thinking of starting a business.  It may not pay much at first, but cliche or not, there are more important things than money.  I hope to hell I won't have to use that line with my mortgage company or anything, but it is essentially true.

So here I go. I'm going to do this, naysayers be damned. I may fail, but oh my, I may not. It's a little a roller coaster, thrilling kind of way.  Hold on for the ride!

Friday, September 23, 2011

a little help

It started with a self-closing toilet seat.  Sounds like a great does it know it's time to close?! Magic! Unfortunately, it's not so magic. The toilet seat needs a little help. A little nudge is needed to start the closing process, but once it gets going, it does so with grace. Yes, I know it sounds disturbing that I'm excited about a toilet seat, but, hey, what can I say?  I am, of course, the only one in the house who appreciates the elegant close, since no one else attempts to lower the seat.  One step at a time.

It's completely understandable that after experiencing the self-closing joy, I just HAD to have that feature on the new kitchen cabinets.  The doors in our old kitchen cabinets often remained in a state of open.  The effort to close is apparently too much after all of the work of opening and all.  This actually was preferable to the alternative...slamming the doors.  So I walked through the kitchen closing doors on a regular basis.  On the rare occasion when someone else unloaded the dishwasher, all the doors would be open at once and I would walk around closing doors feeling like Vanna White flipping letters.  Without the fancy evening gown, of course.

So, back to the cabinets...all with the soft-close feature on the doors.  They are unslammable.  Just a touch and they close.  Somehow this is now an attraction, unlike the toilet seat, and the entire family is overjoyed at how quiet the kitchen is.  They show off to guests...look at our family's door-closing prowess.  The drawers close with a little nudge too.  Just a touch with the hip and off they go, easing into the closed position.  Aaaahhh...  this is the life.

But there's a little wrinkle.  I can only hang out with other people who live this refined life too or I'm a total barbarian when I'm out of the house.  As a guest, I'm politely lowering the seat when I leave the "powder room" (so much classier than what it really is), giving it a little tap to start the closing sequence and SLAM!! Down goes the seat - FAST, not so gracefully.  Apologies all around: So sorry.  You see, my seat at home is automatic...

Later on, trying to help out in the kitchen, I just gave the cabinet door a nudge and SLAM!!! Hey, take it easy!  Again, with the apologies.  You see, my cabinet doors are self-closing... And we won't even mention the drawers, all left open in my wake, since my little nudge didn't get them all the way closed.  Sigh...what have I done?  I've created a monster! I've lost my good closing sense!

The more I think about it, I have MANY things on "automatic": lights on a timers and sensors, my car's headlights go on at dusk, the directional signals turn off after 3 seconds, the list goes on.  Which means I'll never turn off the lights when I leave the room elsewhere, I drive around at night without headlights in a rental car, and yes, I've kept that blinker going driving through three states.  I'm not so sure this "help" is helping...

Monday, July 25, 2011

command center

The kitchen is absolutely the command center of the house...without my command center I'm feeling a little powerless.  I don't know where to put myself!  I've been without a kitchen for a couple of weeks now and I have to say, I'm feeling the pain.  No, it's not the lack of cooking.  Honestly, I don't really like cooking, so this construction just gives me a handy excuse for my laziness. Take-out it least 2 meals a day.  It's not the mess...that just gives us all a reason to let loose and free our inner slobs.  I'm just feeling all out of sorts.  It turns out the kitchen is where I spend all of my time. I never realized that until I didn't have a kitchen.  Now, that seems a little strange, given that I don't cook, but it's true.  It's where my computer is usually set up (and we know how much time I spend on that...too much), it's where the kids do their projects and homework, it's where the phone is, and it's where I putter.  Yup, just putter. Doing what, I'm not entirely sure, but it filled up my time.

It's kind of amusing to me that I am missing my kitchen since I complain about so many of the activities that take place in that room:  the homework (goes without saying), going through the mail, cleaning off the counters a countless number of times, doing the dishes (over and over and over again).  So why do I feel so lost without it?  I'm not doing ANY of those tasks during construction.  I'm hoping nothing important is coming in the mail, because I'm not even sure where it is.  I'm hoping whatever is in there will keep.  We bought enough paper plates and plastic cups to feed an army, and we've already discussed my lack of cooking, so dishes aren't an issue. (Except for my crystal scotch glasses.  I lovingly wash scotch out of plastic glasses for me.  Just call me Zsa  Zsa.) No counters to clean, and the dust and dirt are so out of control, nothing else is worth cleaning either.  My kids are in heaven.  Anarchy.

I'm sitting in my bedroom now.  The past two weeks I've logged more waking hours in this room than in all the previous 4 years that we've lived here.  Add to this the fact that there's air conditioning on much of the time so the door is closed, and I have a little sanctuary.  Or prison.  Tomato, tomahto...  I come out every now and again for a snack, feeling like I'm sneaking downstairs in a stranger's house. Snacks in the bedroom?! Unheard of previously, now, not that unusual. (Gasp)  The kids don't get told to go to bed (there's no sense of time in my sanctuary/prison) and they don't really have their chores to complete. Anarchy.  The troops are out of control.  I'm feeling a little like a commander in hiding.  It's time to get back to the battle...I need my command center back.  Hoo-ah!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I'm an upstanding citizen.  I follow traffic laws (mostly...I confess that sometimes I turn right on red even when it says not to). I pay taxes.  I'm a big believer in the honor system...even if no one is looking.   So imagine my shock and horror when I realized I accidentally stole something yesterday in Texas. 

The hotel told me I needed to make a reservation for the airport shuttle 24 hours in advance of my flight.  Of course, they told me this 2.5 hours before my flight, so that wasn't really a possibility.  Once we took that option off the table, the concierge mentioned that if the shuttle driver had space when he got to the hotel, maybe he'd take me. The shuttle had space. He took me. 

As we were driving to the airport I wondered how he knew at which terminal to drop me off.  Turns out, he asked me when we reached the first stop...I told him United and he said that was my stop.  He held the door open for me, went back to get my bag, I tipped him, and we said goodbye with a smile.  I walked with a spring in my step into the terminal, checked in,  and hopped on a plane.  Smooth travels all around.  Pleasant seat mates, minimal chit chat, delicious smoothie at my know, a nice travel day.

Next morning I'm arranging my receipts to do my expense report.  I have to do it right away or I forget where the hell I even was, never mind what I spent.  As I looked at the airport shuttle receipt from the airport TO the hotel it occurred to me: I NEVER PAID THE DRIVER for the ride to the airport.  I stole a ride.  What resulted was a moment of panic (OMG, what's the penalty for this?), followed by guilt (OMG, I'm a thief!).  Then I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to remedy the situation.  Or even if I should.  I didn't even catch the name of the service! It was an honest mistake...kind of like eating meat on Friday during Lent.  Heck, that's not even a sin if you didn't do it on purpose, right?  Is the same true of accidentally stealing a ride?

What's even more amazing to me is how the whole event unfolded.  Because I confidently walked away as if I didn't owe the guy money, he didn't think a thing of it.  Act like you belong and no one questions you...Could I rob a bank that way? Don't worry, I'm not going to try it.  I  freaked out all day over a car ride!  I feel like hunting the driver down just to say, "Really, I'm not that kind of person!" 

So, does this make up for the fact that the last hotel I was in charged me for the $4 bottle of water in the room when I never even drank it? (Of course I didn't notice until I was home...I'm not that observant. Obviously.) The balance of the universe at work? Perhaps.  I'm hoping this doesn't anger the travel gods.  I added to my good travel karma by giving up my aisle seat for a center seat so a couple of lovebirds could sit together on my flight down to Texas...maybe I won't be stricken down for this.  This confession made me feel better...thanks for letting me get this off my chest...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

who's missing?

Facebook is the best of sites and the worst of sites.  I am generally a big fan.  I love that I can keep in touch with my closest friends, updating a whole bunch of people at once.  It's allowed me to keep that "every day" feeling with people that I used to actually see every day.  It's not quite the same, but as a substitute, it's not too shabby.  I love seeing my friends' family pictures, their accomplishments and their unbelievably funny observations and experiences. 

A pleasant trend I've noticed is that I feel closer to some people that I never was that close to in person.  This is true of high school friends, parents of my children's friends, former co-workers...people that were friendly, but we never really confided in each other.  FB allows us to share deeper thoughts, and some not-so-deep-but-insightful comments.  While impersonal on some level, it's liberating on other levels.  I have to say, on the whole, I've been pleased with how much I've learned about my "friends". 

An even more unexpected outcome...I've made new "friends".  These people I've never met, but we've had "conversations".  We share friends and jokes's a little like we're meeting at our mutual friend's house for a party...only we're in our own houses...drinking our own alcohol.  Well, when you say it like that it sounds weird, but really, it's kind of nice to "meet" new people, even if I haven't officially met them yet.

And then there's the downside to FB:  defriending, unfriending, whatever you want to call it.  You would never (ok, mostly never) do that in real least not without a fight.  People don't just make the statement "I do not wish to be your friend" like they do on FB.  The thing about friend kind of know it's happening, but you don't know who it is. Someone doesn't like you...but who? (Well, I'm sure there's a way to track your friends regularly, but really, is that healthy? I think not.) I've noticed a few times, the number of friends I have changes...but I don't know who's missing.  If you're not here, raise your hand...  After a while, I may notice I haven't seen any posts from a particular person and I'll go check.  Hmmm...Gone from the friend list.  What's up with that?  I don't THINK I did anything to offend...did I?  Can't really retrace my steps...don't know when they left!  Now this has only happened a few times, but each time I have a fleeting moment of hurt...until I realize that I barely knew these people.  These are not my closest friends, but really, who likes to be told outright (well, sort of) that you haven't met some friend standard, especially when you don't know what the standard is.  There's only one way to handle the FB drama...shrug your shoulders and give it a "whatever".  Move on. It's not like you can work to keep those friends, and do you actually want to? Nah.

Overall, I can't imagine not checking in with my little community online.  I can choose to interact as much or as little as I want. (Okay, I'm not sure how much choice I have anymore.  I'm kind of addicted.) Yes, I have to ignore some comments and others make me roll my eyes, but that's true in real life too...only it's a heck of a lot easier to move along online. Nothing to see here...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

new englander

I'm trying.  Really, I am. Trying to not complain about the weather.  I've always thought of myself as a "roll with it" kind of person, but honestly, this weather has been testing my limits.  I don't want to be one of those people, but it's feeling like there's not going to be an alternative this year.  Now, I'm not alone here...far from it.  I don't know if the weather just becomes more conversation-worthy as you get older, or if I've been in small talk situations more than usual, or if this is actually a more notable year, but so far in 2011 it seems I've done nothing BUT talk about the weather. 

January brought the snow. Oh, the snow!  I kind of like snow under normal circumstances.  And by normal circumstances, I mean being voluntarily "snowed in".  If my interaction with the snow is strictly on my own terms, I'm okay with it.  That means not leaving my house if I feel like it, puttering with shoveling (without having to be actually responsible for clearing the whole driveway), maybe playing and making snowmen...all the good stuff.  The majority of my interaction this winter was definitely NOT on my own terms.  Commuting, parking, learning how to use the snowblower (OK, I admit it...that was kind of cool), even walking to the office from my car, were all the epitome of drudgery this winter.  So what did I do? I complained.  Sometimes I was just participating in the complaining process, not initiating it, but still...

Then the rains came. Cold rains.  It was weeks of feeling all pruny and clammy and...moist (I hate that word AND that feeling.)  With extraordinarily frizzed out hair.  Not good.  Running in the rain all soggy. Not good. Sssllllowwww driving (because we all know that precipitation slows down traffic exponentially, even if it's relentless misting).  Not good.  Only one cure for all that not good stuff: complaining.  I had LOTS of help with that.

Finally, the sun came full force.  Suddenly it's hot as hell. Rush to find air conditioning!  Even running has instantly become more difficult. And sweatier.  And don't even get me started on my hair. I started to complain, but I stopped myself.  Wait! I like some of this! Even though it sounds like I'm complaining here, I actually have been finding the silver lining of this weather.  You would think finding silver linings without clouds would be difficult, but it's surprisingly easy: No jacket required! Flip flops and toe rings! Iced tea breaks! Yardwork (Yes, I know.  That's not a good thing for most people, but I kind of like it)! Vitamin D and bursts of energy! Using the screen porch! Dare I say it?...suntans! 

One major upside to all of the weather variations: it's a never-fail conversation starter.  Cliche, yes...but it works.  I don't know what I'd do if I lived someplace without variability.  You can only use "Hot enough for ya?" so many times.   How on earth do you REALLY appreciate the good weather if you never have any bad?  All that rain led to the greenest grass and most colorful flowers. Yin-yang. Sure, it sounds a little sappy, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

When all is said and done, I do love the fact that I live in New England.  I love that there are seasons. I appreciate what each one brings.  And I love to complain about them.  It's my prerogative as a New, it's practically my duty. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have an uncanny ability to remember birthdays.  I think it's uncanny because I seem to be unable to remember much of anything else.  With very few exceptions, I can't remember anything verbatim...lines from a movie, words to a song, motivational quotes. Nothing. The worst is jokes.  I am absolutely incapable of telling a joke any more sophisticated than a "knock, knock" joke...and even those I find challenging.  Phone numbers last in my head with barely enough time to dial the phone, and even then I'm chanting it over and over again in hopes that at least the echo will stick in my brain long enough to complete the call.  I was moderately functional when everyone just had one number.  Add mobile phones to the mix and I was overwhelmed. Speed dial has been a great enabler.  I have no hope of getting phone numbers back in my head.  I can live with that. 

In general, I'm lazy with remembering things.  If someone else I know has the information in their head, or has access to it, I free up that space in my brain and trust that I'll ask again if I need it.  Yeah, my co-workers have always loved that little trick. No point in two of us remembering the same thing...

Technology helps immensely.  Google is always there for my lapses in memory.  Thank God for the Google.  The older I get, the fuller my brain stuff, work stuff, kids' stuff.  Something's gotta go.  For me, that tends to be the details of life.  I can accept that.

So, you can see why it's remarkable that I remember birthdays.  ALMOST all of them... It's not really on purpose, although it really does make people happy when I remember, so maybe subconsciously I try.  So let's say with very little effort, I remember.  If I commit it to memory, it sticks.  I remember every co-worker's birthday.  Not just my current co-workers (I'm slowly collecting birthdays in my new job)...All the friends I've worked with, at every job...even my high school job (Mary's April 17), the 3-month temp job (Marjorie's December 13), and the woman who only worked with me less than a year (Ruthann's September 3).  My first friend in school, friends I don't see, friends of the name it.  Someone recently called it my "superpower".  I like the ring of that.  I don't have much super anything, so lame or not, I'll take it. With power comes responsibility (or whatever that quote is)... I'll use it only for good. Yes!

But then along comes the great equalizer...Facebook.  Ordinary people get notified that it's birthday time for their friends...without my help.  Hey! That's my job! It's like they started handing out capes to everyone, so now there goes my superpower. That piece of technology is a little like my kryptonite.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't always make a point of telling someone I remembered his or her birthday, so it's a little like a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear.  If I know it's your birthday and don't actually mention it, does it still count?  Perhaps not.  I do my best, and sometimes it works.  Often, really. And occasionally, just occasionally, I miss one.  And I feel AWFUL. But then I think, hey, I'm only human.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Is there any greater joy than seeing a handwritten envelope addressed to you in the stack of mail, amid the bills and credit card offers? I think not.  And it's infinitely better when it's special reason, no birthday, no anniversary...just because.  When I was a kid, letters came from friends at summer camp, far away friends...basically anyone whose house wasn't within biking distance.  In school, correspondence came in the form of passed notes in the hall.  Each one would be cherished for a while, and re-read over and over.  I'm a little sorry to say I never actually keep correspondence...I'm not a saver, so there will be no publication of my  memoirs when I'm gone.  Maybe that will change as I get older, but really, it's not about the letters or cards.  I love what the letters and cards represent.  I don't need the original...I remember the feeling it gave me. 

What makes the handwritten note so uniquely fantastic? I think it's a couple of things...being able to "see" the person's handwriting makes them closer for that moment.  They were RIGHT THERE when they wrote it, and now they're RIGHT HERE.  Cool.  Handwriting is so personal, so individual, it's sharing a little of yourself.  You can also see the emotion in the writing.  It begins all neat with great the excitement builds and the words flow faster, the writing reflects the excitement....practically illegible if it's a really good story.  You can "hear" the person's voice as you read the words and you're together for that moment. Fantastic.  You have to put some thought into what you'll say before you write, since there's no backspace or cut and paste.  There are only so many scratch-outs allowed before it needs to be abandoned and started over.  I like that thought is required. Maybe it's a girl thing, but scented pages add another dimension of personalization.  Nothing is quite so potent as a smell memory.  It's a multisensory experience...

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm a big believer in electronic correspondence in all forms.  Love it.  Love being able to let someone know at that exact moment in time that I'm thinking of that with no effort I can make someone smile. There will always be a place for texts, e-cards, emails, and chat. It's all good.  But for me, it will never match the ultimate pleasure of handwritten correspondence. Ever.

Today I received another batch of free greeting cards from a charity, and I started to put them in the ever-growing pile of free cards that I neither use nor throw away.  I got to thinking about this very topic.  Why, exactly, don't I just send them all to friends? For less than 50 cents, someone will handcarry that card to someone I care about in about a day.  And they will be very happy for that second when they see their name.  And maybe the good feeling will last a little longer too.  That's enough to claim success.  More than enough.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

no rules

I think it's crazy how I somehow consider myself exempt from most rules when I travel...well, at least all the healthy ones.  Travel makes me nutty. There may be slight differences between business and personal travel, since the former has someone else footing the bill, but for the sake of argument, let's lump them together.

For me, it starts almost the minute I'm out the door. When I arrive at the airport, all of a sudden I have to have a snack.  Nevermind that I probably ate before I left the house.  Who knows when I'll eat again? It's travel!  That snack has about a 25% chance of being healthy.  All of a sudden, those seem like good odds.

Next, there is the "mentos phenomenon".  For yet another inexplicable reason, I always buy peppermint, and only peppermint, mentos before I fly. I NEVER buy them at home. Ever.  Wouldn't even consider it.  I don't know why, but it's firmly ingrained as part of my pre-flight checklist.  Water? Check. Reading material? Check. Mentos? Check.  Ok, time to board the plane.

I also eat things on a plane I would typically never choose, or like.  Those who know me know I'm not a fan of cheese.  What did I order on a flight once? A cheese plate!  Eat a whole bag of chips at home? Rarely. On a plane? You bet!  Doesn't matter what the meal is, I'm eating it. Who knows when I'll eat again? It's travel!

At home, I love to workout - yoga, running, weights, you name it.  I enjoy it and it makes me feel good. When I'm in a hotel, hmmm, not so much.  I'm a little tired.  I shouldn't over do it.  Gotta take it's travel! 

However, the opposite applies to sleeping.  For no apparent reason, I find it impossible to go to bed at a reasonable hour in a hotel.  When I'm home I'm begging for sleep, but I'm far too busy. Just have to wrap up one more thing, then I'll sleep. At a hotel I've got nothin' going on, but do I sleep? Nope.  What the heck's wrong with me?  Rules out the window!

Of course, meals are all in restaurants, and I'm reasonable with ordering healthy there (again, inexplicable, given everything else I've said. I know), but who doesn't want to be just a little decadent and get dessert? I do! It's travel!  It's not like I eat like that every day...right?  Since I'm traveling more and more I really need to find a way to manage's becoming an every day thing.  Out of control.

I reached my 'no rules' peak (or rock bottom, depending how you look at it) during the break at my training class today.  There were cookies and brownies.  My typical rule would be no cookie and no brownie at home at 3:00 on a regular day.  But it's not a regular's travel!  Guess what I ate? A cookie AND a brownie.  No kidding. 

Going to hell in a handbasket, I tell ya...but hey, it's travel!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


For the 20 years I've been going on business travel I've had a fantasy about happy homecomings.  My family meeting me at the airport...the kids all excited to see me. Joy all around.  It's never happened.  For many practical reasons, I typically drive myself to the airport and trudge back to the parking garage when I get off the plane.  But you have to walk through the throngs of people, all happy, with expectant smiles as they wait for their loved ones to appear.  I walk through them, aggravated.  Pardon me, excuse me, I've got trudging to do...

So I've started modifying that fantasy somewhat to the family just being happy to see me when I drive up.  Now THAT I get. Occasionally.  If it's convenient for them, the time's right and nothing better is going on, the kids will come running...Mommy! You're home! Hugs all around.  Happiness.

Unfortunately, I'm typically only allotted about a minute or two of this happiness before the backlash.  I've seen video of tsunamis coming, when the ocean recedes drastically before the big wave comes.  Yeah, that's how it goes with the kids.  ALL of the issues they have been saving for me while I was gone (the receding) comes all at once (tsunami)...and overwhelms me.  Every crisis, every unresolved fight, every lost item, maybe a couple of highlights...all comes barreling at me at once.  Welcome home.

Now granted, when I've been gone for a while, I miss things, but they barely want to talk to me while I'm gone.  Guess it's more fun to handle the week in "batch mode".  I understand they have stuff to talk to me about, but they were with their father, not some stranger all week. He's qualified. It's like they need a second opinion on their drama.  To add to the mix, I'm typically hearing this on the heels of a LONG day of travel.  Regardless of where you've traveled from, or for how long, travel is a long day.  Not the best preparation for the "Judge Judy" meets "Jerry Springer" sideshow that meets me at the door.

So yesterday, we added a little twist.  They left immediately after the happiness and didn't get to the onslaught until after they returned.  Yeah, that wasn't much better.  Within minutes of THEIR homecoming, I'm screaming at the kids to stop fighting.  Nice.  Mom's home.

To add to the fun,  the kids did have a moment when they were getting along...and they knocked my wine glass off the table and broke it.  (It was empty already.  Of course I went straight to drinking...Did you read those previous paragraphs?)  They were actually playing ball in the house! (Mom said no ball in the house!) I ran out of yelling by then.  Welcome home.

I guess I should be happy about  the fact that nothing changes when I'm gone.  This is my life and there is comfort in its consistency. They miss me.  I miss them.  They drive me nuts.  I love them.  But it's really hard to not hope for the magical homecoming.  I fantasize about how it could be EVERY time.

Well, I'm leaving again Tuesday. We'll get another shot at this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

mess tolerance

Fundamental rule of housekeeping: first one to crack has to clean it. 

I don't know how on earth it happened, but it turns out I'm now a big loser in the mess tolerance department.  Don't get me wrong...when it comes to living with clutter, I've practiced with the best of them.  I used to be at the top of my game. As a child, I shared a room with my "neat freak" sister.  Yes, I said it.  She was a neat freak.  I, on the other hand, was not.  Ok, I was very messy.  I was perfectly happy leaving my clothes on the floor, never making my bed or putting anything back where it belonged.  I'm pretty sure I gave my sister an ulcer forcing her to live under those conditions.  The Odd Couple had nothing on us. 

We moved when I was a teenager and I got a double bonus: my own room AND it was completely out of the path of anyone going upstairs.  I was all alone at the end of the couldn't see my room unless you walked up to the door.  And let me tell you, my slovenly ways flourished under those circumstances. You couldn't even see the floor of my room through the mess...and I loved the freedom.  Eventually, even the slobbiest will crack.... it will be too messy but you are the only one left to clean it. The double-edged sword of having your own "space".  I think I hit rock bottom and the recovery began.  Little by little I realized I like things neat.  More importantly, I like them CLEAN. I became a "recovering"'s still there, and always will be, but now I take it one day at a time. I have my moments, but all-in-all, I'm highly functioning.

Living with others, it is a well-known fact: that if no one "sees" it, it doesn't need cleaning.  Somehow, I'm always the one that sees it now.  This can be a problem.  You see, I have a new job...with a disgusting "community" refrigerator.  The new person can't start the precedent of cleaning out the refrigerator.. it's just  bad practice.  Days passed...months passed...doesn't anyone smell that? What's wrong with these people?  Wait it out, someone else will clean it.  C''re strong.. OMG, my lunch just stuck to the shelf.  Talking to myself: do NOT do it.  If you clean it now, it will be your job forever....You get the idea.  Know what happened?  Yeah, I cleaned it when no one was looking.  I cracked. I'm weak.

I don't know why, but I keep thinking I can wait out my family too....if I don't clean it, surely they'll get disgusted...right? If I don't do the laundry, they'll have to...right? If the dishes stay in the sink, they'll eventually have to clean up...right? It's a battle of wills (of course, I'm the only one that appears to know we're battling), and let me tell you...they're winning.  They are at the top of their game. 

But there is a ray of light... Tonight, my daughter asked if she could wash the floor before bed because it was "disgusting"...sweet music to my ears...She cracked! I won a battle! There's hope!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


There are moments in time when we are ageless...pure joy that isn't tied to your place and time in this world. The kind of physical fun you have when it doesn't matter how old you are, how achy your bones may be, or how you may appear to others.  I'll admit, sometimes those moments are know, when doing the limbo at a party seems like a good idea. ("I don't know why my back is killing me...must have slept on it wrong.") Other times it's just going with the crowd for fun...spontaneous baseball game even though I haven't thrown a baseball in forever? Sure.  I'll worry about that arm pain tomorrow.  And sometimes it's just perfect fun... being like a kid again, without consequences.

I had one of those moments today.

I got new running shoes.  They've been sitting in the box, taunting me every time I walked by the box.  Anticipation building...couldn't wait to try them out.  Every day there was a reason I couldn't run.  Then it struck me.  Wait a minute...I can CHOOSE to run!  So I canceled my plans, laced up, and headed out.  Within about a minute I was a kid again.  Running in the summer with a gang of real reason, just because we could.  Why walk when you can run?  Hot as hell, but running full tilt downhill...feeling like you're flying.  The new shoes gave me a spring in my step that lifted my heart.  I felt that perfect combination of smooth strides and speed.  No pain, no discomfort, just...going.  Skimming the surface... barely touching down.  I was completely immersed in the moment, yet I was consciously trying to appreciate it too.  You never know when you're going to get another moment like that...and you can't plan it.

I've often said it's difficult to experience a moment and document it at the same time.  It's one of the reasons I'm horrible at taking pictures.  By the time I realize I should capture the moment, it's passed.  So I'm documenting it now.  Unfortunately, my writing skill is completely inadequate to fully describe the feeling, but I'm hoping writing it down will remind me of the sensation .  The pure joy.  Ultimate freedom...Flying.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Missing ... I've been doing my fair share of it lately. Some of my missing is for those who are gone forever, some for friends whom I haven't seen in a long time, some for people I may not see again.  Missing is funny like that.  It sort of adjusts to fit the situation. The missing I feel in all of those instances is real, but different.  It's a lot like water.  It fills in the available space.  When I'm busier or my brain is preoccupied, there's less room for the missing.  When my mind or heart is wide open, the missing fills it.  There's an ebb and flow to it, but it's always there.  Sometimes memories hit you unexpectedly, like a splash of cold water.  A gasp of intense missing. Sometimes you just sort of float along with it... 

Today would have been my grandmother's 90th birthday. I remember the moment I realized she was going to die and the missing started. It feels like what I imagine drowning must feel like...overwhelming, can't breathe, disbelief.  She's been gone several months, but the missing is still ever-present.

In the case of my mother-in-law, the missing started while she was still with Alzheimer's took her memory and her spirit, bit-by-bit, I missed her for years.  You can miss someone even when you're sitting right next to her.  Now that she's gone I miss her differently, but completely.

Like swimming against the tide, I'm thinking missing is something you can't fight.  Maybe you just have to go with it...allow it to wash over you.  Let your memories hold you afloat...

Friday, April 1, 2011

learning to be

"If I can just get through the (week, meeting, proposal, party, summer camp - you name it.), I'll be fine."  Every time I say it, I hate it.  I don't remember where the phrase originated, but I feel like I'm "wishing my life away."  Life is short enough without trying to rush it along! I don't want my life to go by any faster...Like so many of my friends, I feel like I'm always waiting for the next thing. Waiting for the next calm period.  Waiting for the easier time. Waiting for more. No mas.

Lately I've been thinking...what if life is really all about how you handled the waiting?  Not the great accomplishments, just the baby steps.   A phrase that came up often during my cancer treatment was "handling it with grace"... it is such a fantastic aspiration.  To just accept where you are and find whatever good you can in it.  Find what matters. I've often used this question as a test: "Will I remember this when I'm 85?" Will it matter then? The answer is almost always no...It's a really good way to bring what feels like a huge crisis right down to size and put your attention to the important things. 

What if the key to happiness is figuring out how to just BE? Learning how to simply live, finding the good where you are now and rolling with the changes. I'm not saying we shouldn't dream, want something more, or look forward to the goals we're working to reach.  Hardly. I have no doubt that there will be good times in my future, but you know what? There are good times happening now too, and I want to make sure I don't miss them.   Seems like a worthwhile goal. Sounds all kinds of preachy, I know, like a country song. "You're Gonna Miss This", and all that.  But it's true. And I know I'm not alone here.  I don't actually know how to make this all happen, but it's good to have a plan.  I'm sure as hell going to try.  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

geek wanted

Any time I've ever started a project, I tend to get a little carried away...I should know better, yet I'm always surprised. Me? Overdo it? Um, yeah...I guess. Totally one of the reasons I don't scrapbook.  I KNOW what that project would look like and I'm telling you, I can't start it.  I had the crazy idea that it would be cool to get my random thoughts on paper...well, virtual paper, and start a blog.  Easy.  Free. It's right there...just type.  Technically, that's all that's required. Done. I'm a blogger.

However, I've got questions...deep thoughts, like the tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it, what happens to blogs that aren't followed? What the hell does it mean to be a follower? How does one follow? Do I need to tell followers I've posted something?  If I have to do that, then why follow me at all? I'll come to you.  If I'm emailing everyone I know with what is essentially a "read this" message, aren't I the one following them around, in a weird kind of way?.  If I'm posting to Facebook, why not just post it there?

Honestly, it doesn't really matter.  The point of the blog was to get it out of my head more than to get it into anyone else's, and God knows I don't say anything earth shattering.  Hell, it's barely relevant.  But still...seems like I ought to do it "right", whatever that means. I'm finding that I'm polling my friends to see if they got notifications, running little tests (my own version of "Can you hear me now?"), experimenting with different types of posts. Driving me nuts...This was SO not the point.

I've entered into a whole new terms, new concepts, new stuff...and it bugs me that I don't understand it. Don't get me wrong...I don't want to actually KNOW how this all works.   I just want someone who does to give a damn and make all the right things happen.  It makes me feel old that I don't know how to "feed" or "import".  Like my parents learning how to use their TV setup, I just don't have the gumption to figure it out, but I also don't have the ability to NOT care that I haven't figured it out.  It's a pickle, really.

Gotta find me a geek. Pronto.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

kitchen fail

I somehow never got that "hunter/gatherer" gene.  I neither hunt nor gather...and most of the time don't feel that bad about it. Today, as we were huddled around the counter trying to scrounge together a meal, I realized I feel a little bad. Sometimes. I'm pathetic.

I am horrible about groceries, cooking...really all manner of providing nutrition for my family or myself. I hate it.  I hate cooking. I hate grocery shopping.  If I lived alone I'm pretty sure I'd live off a diet of crackers, olives and canned soup...maybe some canned beets.  I don't know what's become of me...I used to think the grocery store was my own personal wonderland...I could buy anything I wanted! The freedom!  Yeah, that wore off quickly.  I love eating. I love healthy food...I love having it prepared for me even more. Having a personal chef is right up there with the chauffeur as the staff I'll hire first. You know, once I'm hiring staff. 

Lately I've realized that I never seem to be able to pull together a meal.  Breakfast, the most important meal of the day? Maybe on Sundays when my daughter makes pancakes. Otherwise, cereal is a complete meal.  Lunches? Perfect idea to bring a bag lunch...economical, nutritious, convenient.  Not happening.  I have a little fantasy of someone making my lunch for me every morning...has never happened, not once...which is why it remains a fantasy.  And dinner is even more pathetic...take out, frozen pizza, pasta...  I never seem to have the ingredients for a recipe on hand. Embarrassing, really. Seriously, I would be judging me if I were you. 

Know what's even more embarrassing? I use Peapod!  I'm incapable of placing an online order in a timely manner.  I can even do it from my phone. And I don't.  I've become one of "those people"... poor little me having to rush to order the food from my couch. It's not like I'm walking to the store, hauling groceries! Oh so busy, can't possibly make a few clicks to place the order that the nice delivery guy will bring right to my kitchen.

I'm pathetic. Save me...or at least cook for me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

once more around

Did you ever have ridiculous experience that made you laugh so hard you uncontrollably giggle every time you think of it? I have lots of those. Do I have an extraordinary ability to find the funny in situations and laugh at myself, or am I just a bumbling idiot?  I personally like to think the former is true, but really either answer will be accepted.

My latest hysteria inducer? Revolving doors. Really. I recently realized I can't walk through the revolving door at work without at least smiling, sometimes giggling, and depending on the "spin", downright laughing myself to tears. I'll admit it, I'm even laughing as I write this. This is a relatively new job, so revolving my way through doors multiple times a day is also relatively new.  I need practice, apparently.  So, I have a couple of things to case you find yourself in a spin. 
  • You can only fit one person at a time.  If you don't follow that rule, the silly baby steps walk will feel awfully long as you try to get around with two people squished in the door.  Trust me on this.   
  • You can't hold a conversation while you're revolving.  You just have to put the conversation on hold for the spin. If you are in front, you will look back at the other person and risk missing the "exit",  which means you have to do the dreaded spin of shame...once more around while everyone looks at you (laughs at you?) trying to get back to the opening.  Trust me on this one too. It's a LONG way around the second time.
  • In this same vein, pay attention to what you're doing.  Trying to figure out what the hell the guy in the lobby at the counter is trying to do while you are actually mid-spin will make you miss your exit.  And you know what that means...yes, once more around. VERY VISIBLY.  Seriously, I almost walked back out of the building and back to my car for a do-over that day.
  • In the unfortunate event that one of these things happens to you, try to play it cool and hold in the giggles until you reach the elevator. Try, at least.  Unless you're with other people in the elevator...then hold it in even longer.  Because unless they were witnesses, they won't see the humor and the tears-running-down-your-face laughter will be lost on them. Again, you're going to have to trust me on this.
So now I have to add revolving doors to the list of things that freak me out, right up there with drive-thrus, toll booths and parking garages (stories for another day).  I'm doing my best to remain professional in my office building every day, but it's a losing battle.  I'm telling you, those doors are no joke ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

being human

"God, I love it when you're human. It gives hope to the rest of watching a pro golfer shank one."

Yup, today I heard those words from my I found something I had been searching for, tearing apart the house, FOR MONTHS. Let me explain...

I admit, I can be a little impatient when my family loses things.  I can be a little...aggressive, shall we say?... with my organizational tips and tricks.  With the zeal of a hopeless romantic I set up "systems" for the kids' clothes, label drawers and shelves like a maniac, sort and store according to size, color, type, you name it.  This will be the BEST system EVER.  Just wait, this time you'll see the beauty of it.  I know you will...

BUT they invariably come hollering with "MAAAA...where's my (fill in the blank)?"  Me: "Did you check (first, most logical place)? ... Try the (second most logical place)... Forget it, I'll just look myself".   And what do you know, it's often exactly where it ought to be.  The offender is accused of not really trying and I give a big, ole dramatic sigh that says, why, oh why am I forced to live among such barbarians?

So, tonight I was folding laundry FOREVER and I commented that every time I fold laundry I think about the mysterious case of the missing tank top.  It was part of a matching set with a it.  Wore it once and the tank top just disappeared. Really. Disappeared...Bermuda Triangle-style.  It was not in the first most logical place (on the hanger with the cardigan) OR the second most logical place (the tank top drawer, sorted by color and type, of course) AND I looked everywhere else.  Under the bed, behind the dryer, in the kids' had become my laundry obsession.  As I was explaining this system to my husband, I had a moment of clarity ....something that I totally would have done with the kids and I missed it. Rookie mistake...  I forgot to double-check the hanger.  Guess what?  It was there.  One strap had fallen off and it was hidden, slouched down in the cardigan.  On the hanger...Right where it ought to be.

I smiled.  I'm human.  Giving hope to others. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

silver linings

Funny thing happened while I was um, dealing, with breast cancer...I started finding the good in it. Yeah, there are actually a handful of positive things that came from the experience. (I'm a list maker - bear with me...)

1.  I like writing...who knew?  It soothes me...  Just the act of getting my thoughts out of my head makes me feel better. I started writing "health updates" to my friends and family and realized it was helping me organize my thoughts, find holes in my knowledge and clear my mind. In times of stress, I'd do practically anything to quiet my mind. Writing works.

2. There are a select few people who actually enjoy "hearing" my thoughts. How cool is that? To write something, anything, and have someone comment in a positive way. Yeah, I like that. Like little pats on the back.

3.  I am able to accept help. And it's good. Friends and family offered help in many ways and I reached the point of, what the hell...let 'em help. And help they did. You don't get any extra credit for going it alone. There are no cancer merit points. Get by however you can and get better.  And I did.

4.  It's okay to not take "help" sometimes.  Every now and again (ok, all the time) I got stories of women who were also dealing with breast cancer, meant to help me in some way.  Sometimes the stories just plain scared the hell out of me.  I quickly came to the realization that the stories weren't helping me, I didn't have to hear them and I could politely change the subject...and it was fine.  The trick is to figure out what 'help" means to you and stick with that.

5.  I'm a stronger person now.  It's a great relief to have a time in your life when you can just lay it out there and be vulnerable. I survived the awful first conversation..."the cells were cancerous" and all the blech that came after it.   Those cancer specialists, they've got a handle on this.  I'm not going anywhere. :)