Thursday, January 31, 2002

Snow Grilling

It is snowing like a mother bleeper out there. I just got back from the market, we were out of dog food so I figured I'd best get there before the masses raid the place and all the everything is gone.

Around here, the media frenzies the populous up into a froth whenever a storm is coming. And this is no different. I was there at 9am, and the place was mobbed. Damn! Tomorrow it is going to be 45 degrees. They will bake bread again someday! Cows will be milked! Oh my God people! Calm your asses down!!!


Anyway, I got my dogfood and some grillables, I like to grill in the snow. It messes with my neighbors' senses. Grilled meat in the snow, those two things just go together nicely in my book but somewhat disturb the sensibilities of New Englanders. When Doug and I were in College and we were doing our semester in Oregon, one of the instructors was a guy named John Linton. He was a riot. Always wore a knit cap, day and night, probably slept in it too. And he grilled every night. One night we were walking to the library and he was in his garage with his toque on his head, his heavy down coat, his snow pants, his super winter gloves, and 3 feet of snow all around him -- grilling.

Now I know I have a problem -- I can't recall if I've mentioned that before. Oh ye gods... have I just repeated myself??? Am I becoming an old lady early, telling the same damn stories over and over. Shit. I better stop on that one.

No news yet on the work front. No response yet from the interview I had a week ago. I went to the local school district's administrative office and picked up a substitute teacher packet. I may do that for a while... at least until the end of this school year perhaps.

I also sent my resume and portfoio to a company in Maine, 2 hours from here, suggesting I could telecommute if he liked my stuff. The guy wants me to mock up a site for a make pretend furniture company, to see how I follow direction... So I am going to work on that today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Mare visits; guilty pleasures

My mom responded to my request for her side of the walking to school in the sleet story, and this is what she had to say:

"i honestly don't remember the incident. i may have been so angry that i have blocked it out of my conscious memory. it had to have happened in the first grade though."

Hmmm. Right-o. Onward.

Mare came yesterday. It was great to see her. She's always been athletic and shiny, and now that she's a California girl (has been for some 10 years now I guess...) she looks radiant. She's expecting her third child, and simply looks fab. It was so great to have her to myself for a few hours. We went to Newburyport, had lunch, walked around, bought CDs, went to an Indian clothing/art store (India Indian, not native American) and talked extensively about where people are and who we'd love to find again from high school.

It was a great time, and I so enjoyed it.

We spent a lot of time talking about how neither of us were really close to the one guy from our class who died in the WTC... she couldn't remember at all what he looked like, whereas I remembered what he looked like because he was in my homeroom from 7th-12th grade. We also talked extensively about a friend of ours who was killed in a car accident our senior year.

It was the week of graduation, and he went to another school. He and two other friends were out on a bagel run in the morning, and got hit head on by someone who lost control speeding around a turn. Mike and his passenger Paul were killed.

Mike was a great guy, and Mare dated him for a long time... still had a strong connection to him, even though he was dating someone else. Over the years, Mike's mom has kept in close contact with Mare. She hears from them three or four times a year. I thought that was so sweet... that as a mom, she kept the ties with those kids closest to her son at the time of his death. Kind of a living vicariously... knowing where the kids ended up after youthgroup and college perhaps gives her a sense of where Mike may have ended up. Everyone is grown up and married and successful... and he would have been too, no doubt.

I remember the day he died as clearly as if it was yesterday. No joke. It was the last week of school, we were all sitting outside the band room door hanging out in the hall because seniors weren't practicing "Pomp and Circumstance" for commencement. A friend of mine from Mike's school named Willem came down the hall to find me.

What the heck is he doing here in my school -- he goes to Cold Spring? I jumped up to give him a hug. I was simply mad about Willem. Totally adored the boy. He had a girlfriend who was in our school and in like 10th grade (she was a doofus, I hated her, of course, and I never could understand WHAT the deal was that he was dating HER... but that's another story), and he gave me a big hug and held me back a little bit away from him so he could look me in the eyes.

His face is frozen in time to me, I can remember how hot it was in that hall, the brick hallway wall behind his head, and I can smell him, hot from walking around the school looking for me. His eyes are so blue, his hair kind of loose curls but short around his head, his mouth parted open gently as he is about to tell me Mike died that morning. I think Willem was his class' president, and felt incredibly wounded by this loss, but deep inside he knew that those of us involved with him through the youth group were going to feel it harder, so he made a point to come to us to tell us himself.

I don't remember much past his face. I remember falling into the music department office wailing and crying. I remember Mare's younger sister Amy standing in the hall with me, she couldn't even look me in the eye and she told me that Mare left school early rather than hang out (Mare was in band too), so there was no way for her to know yet. Amy told me there was no way she was going to be able to even TELL Mare what happened.

I made my mom take me out of the school, and go find Mare.

We called her house, she wasn't there... we found out she'd gone for a bike ride. Not your garden variety bike ride either... a real bike ride. So we drove around Huntington looking for her.

We found her in the Mill Dam area, not too far from the house where I lived when I missed the bus, on Rte 110 near the Sammis real estate office, the building was a colonial style house, red with dark trim. Burned into my memory... I can see it behind her where I have her by the shoulders and am telling her on the side of the road that Mike is dead.

She hugs me, is completely disturbed but holding it together, and gets on her bike and rides off.

The next few days are a blur. Paul Kelly took me to the funeral but we didn't go to the cemetery. I remember talking to Mike's mom after the funeral/memorial service, which was held in the church auditorium because the amount of people could never fit in the church. She was beautiful and gracious, and thanked all of us for being her son's friend... And that's that. Gone.

It still makes me sad that I told Mare on the side of the road instead of waiting on her porch. But I knew Amy couldn't do it. I knew I could barely... so I had to get it over with.

Mike's dad wrote a book a few years back about the Trappist monasteries across the country, examining the sociology of monastic life. Sounds kind of boring, but keep in mind NO ONE has ever been allowed to live for a period of time in a Trappist monastery without enrolling, and with the intent of writing an examination of their life.

Remarkably, or perhaps divinely intended, he was able to reconnect with God, find healing for himself in regards to the loss of Mike, and came through the other end not only with a clear sense of the monastic rites but of his place with God... Mare told me about the book and how she read it a few years back, and found it to be an amazingly moving piece. I may just have to pick it up myself. I think about Mike a lot. Probably more than I should.

Oy. So anyway... visiting with her and finding out about Mike's parents and how they are doing made me smile deep and big. Long and hard.

Confession Time
I admit in life I have very few vices. Being a lazy ass is one of them. But another is TV. There are things that I watch on TV that most people would laugh at me for. And one of these "guilty pleasures" as it were is The Real World...

You know The Real World... that ridiculous show where they manufacture an environment, pick seven or eight people who are not going to mix well on the surface level, throw them in a house, give them a task, employment or something they need to complete, and then watch the chemistry develop into a huge volatile mixture of hormones, attitudes and immaturity. Out the other end of this oven comes a batch of freshly baked, newly educated young adults who are now wise, intelligent, and full of acceptance of others... and themselves. sniff.

I got hooked on this show when they were in Boston. I was interested to see views of the city, where these people were going ... what they were seeing. I know that while the "cast" is living somewhere the show does a good job of keeping them protected, there are also events that are planned around the cast. A local radio station would have Sean and Montana on once in a while, and there'd be a real world party at some bar on Lansdowne St., and people would get into it.

But I normally wouldn't ever really WATCH the show like one watches a show. They would hook me in with the Real World Marathons... where they'd show the whole damn season episode after episode. I'd catch a minute and there'd be Genesis and Sean fighting and screaming at each other and I'd say ..... ooooooo. what happens next?

So I get totally sucked in.

There are a few years I didn't watch any episodes, even if they did a marathon... the first year in NY I thought it was stupid and contrived, although it was probably the most honest of the shows because there wasn't a 6 million dollar budget for housing decor... it was a normal looking apartment in Manhattan. As the years went on they took great pains into creating these incredible living spaces (hello? Hawaii!!!??? did you see that friggin house!?) and this year is no exception. The house in Chicago is unbelievable, to be polite.

It isn't the real world at all. Give the next cast some cinderblock bookshelves, some fucking milk crates and a big board and an egg crate mattress -- that is real. That's what kids their age should have for housing. Forget the Jacuzzi and fucking POOL tables! Jeeesh.

Okay. I digress. I love the drama, I love watching the redneck from Ohio learn not to call black Americans "Niggers," especially to their faces. I love to watch the militant Muslim streetwise loud and bossy bitch get knocked down a notch or two... I love to watch the gay guy try and keep that secret for a while because he doesn't want to be judged by his sexuality, he wants to be accepted as a person first. I love the girls who just don't give a damn about modesty, and who are completely comfortable with their bodies (or have serious issues with needing to be accepted or loved so they have to bare all). I love the fights, the tears, the jobs they get, the changes, the growth, the photography. I love this show.

I missed episode two of the Chicago (year 11?) one that is on right now. But I don't think it matters.

I think if you have to ask me what is my favorite year... It might be the Boston year, but then again, it might be New Orleans... It might be this past year in New York. I liked how the people learned and grew there. I loved Mallik, the black guy with the big 'fro. I loved his smile, and how gentle and sweet and polite and loving he was to the redneck from Ohio, Mike. He (Mallik) taught Mike more about friendship -- not even black guy friendship -- than I think Mike had ever learned. And I thought that was one of the sweetest things anyone could ever do.


Anyway. I have to run through and look for a job. I have to send a follow up email to the people I interviewed with last week. I should contact a few professors I know at the college who may have some grant money to do webpages with. I need to start cleaning my bedroom, and look into what to do with Geoff's wall where he ripped off the wallpaper. I may paint it solid blue and leave the other three walls the way they are. A solid blue background with shelving going the whole way up the wall... he needs some serious shelving in there. I need to get him a bed too. He's got a mattress, but needs a bed frame. I bet I can find one in the local want ads.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Karma Police.... turn off my tenant's stereo...

When we decided it was time to buy a house, we decided we needed a multi-family house, because the income from a rental unit or units sure would help us in keeping our heads above water.

Douglas was getting ready to enroll in graduate school, and I was making like 30 grand a year... so we figured we'd be renting until about right NOW in our lives, and NOW no one can afford a house in northeastern Massachusetts... so it was a do or die situation in 1996.

We found this house quite by accident. We were looking at a two family house on the dead end street across the road from here, and decided we wanted to check this place out. It was a two family but one of the two units had been broken up into two units, so there were three total... one of which was illegal because they didn't have a second means of egress from the building in case of fire. We decided to rent that "illegal" unit out to our best buddy, and never lock the door between our two units, and we took the stove out of his unit for the building inspection to say that he really was living in with us and using our kitchen for cooking... he didn't really... he just used a toaster all the time. Not one to worry about preparing meals, as long as he had a toaster and a hot plate he was a happy boy. So it made everyone happy.

We rented him the front unit for 500 a month, and the 2 bedroom unit upstairs for 600 a month to some good friends from college. Our overall mortgage was about 1100 bucks a month, so you do the math. It was great for us because we survived on my income, with Doug in grad school and working for 2 years, and we paid off debts and totally stayed above water.

In 1990 our upstairs friends moved away to South Carolina (hi Chad, if'n yer readin' this) and bought their own house... we got other tenants upstairs and I'll chat about them in a second.

In the summer of 2000, our buddy in the front part of the house ran into some issues with heroin. We asked him to move out of the house. I would have let him stay here, but he constantly had people in the house that I didn't know, and we didn't trust them... so we had him move out. It was hard and I felt so bad, but with the door unlocked between our units I couldn't live like that for long.

When he moved out, we took over his unit. Jessica's bedroom is what used to be his livingroom/bedroom. We use the kitchen as an office and there is a tiny bathroom here. I have a mental picture of what I'd like to do to totally remodel this area, and a dream to do it. But it'll cost us big money, so we'll keep things arranged this way for a while.

Anyway, it was great to get extra space, and Jessica loves her immense bedroom (I wish she'd keep it clean but... whatever, I'm not the best role model). And I like not having the computer in the middle of the living room or in my bedroom. It works out well here.

Our upstairs tenants are interesting. It used to be a guy and his girlfriend, but they broke up and he kicked her out. Thank goodness. She was hard to deal with. She worked early mornings, so she went to bed at 7pm, would get up at 4am. And if my kids made one peep or were in Jessica's room fighting, she'd call down here complaining "I don't want to complain but I have to get some sleep..."

She has 3 kids who live with their father (shows how messed up she must be because in Massachusetts the mom ALWAYS gets the kids... that should have been a dead give away when I met her), and so she didn't seem to recall what it was like to HAVE kids, because she only had them on weekends, once in a while, and would regimen them from morning til night, getting up and having them vacuum at 6am (yeah, we can't make noise at 7pm but she can run the vacuum on hardwood floors at 6am. Fucking Get A Broom. It's hardwood flooring. Vacuums are for RUGS stupidass!) and then they'd fight and scream and yell until she pushed them out the door to take them somewhere and then they'd come back and fight and yell and scream more. The oldest kid would go out and play on our swingset, like he's 13 or something, so I wouldn't let the kids out to play then. He got stuck inside Geoff's babyswing, dumbass... and I told him to stay off it from that point. So he would sulk around the yard and throw stuff in the creek. I didn't like him much.

The daughter was nice, she must have been 12 or something. But her mother RODE her ass about her weight and would always say humiliating things to me in front of her. It broke my heart.

The youngest must have been 9. He was sweet and kind, and we took him sledding a bunch of times up on the hill out at Veasey Park. He didn't want to come back to the house. We were there hours one day.

So when the couple broke up, she psycho ex-girlfriended him for a while... leaving messages on the machine. The bedroom set was hers and she wanted it back... so she would call us and ask us to go up to the house and get it. Yeah. I'm getting involved. So they finally got things set up so she could get her stuff, and she took the dishrags, toilet paper, cleaning stuff and the bar soap.

Who takes the BAR SOAP and TOILET PAPER out of the bathroom??? She was a work of pure genius.

So he lived upstairs for a long time by himself. He's a family kinda guy, so he would have his mom and dad over all the time. His brother, his sister, the inlaws... and my house would be full of happy people not fighting and making noise but so not caring that my kids were noisy.

Or if they cared they sure didn't complain.

The house isn't very soundproof... so when the ex-girlfriend was still living here and she'd call me and complain "I can hear everything you people say down there ya know..."

"Yeah, I can hear everything YOU say too. This morning at 5 am you couldn't find your car keys and it was all his fault. So he was a 'cock sucking fucking guinea motherfucker,' then you threw a kitchen chair at him. And I think you threw a glass at him too. And then you found your keys. So I can hear you too, so keep that in mind..."

She hung up the phone on me after that one.

So my single male upstairs tenant lived quietly upstairs until recently. No, he didn't get a new girlfriend. Although I wish him happiness and success in love, that he has not yet found.

No. His niece moved in.

Her parents were going through a divorce that was getting ugly. So she needed to get out of the house. She's about 19 or 20, not sure... and she has had a real messed up past, but she's got a heart of gold. She's nowhere NEAR the bitch the ex-girlfriend is. She never calls down here complaining, and she sure is nice to talk to in the driveway when we run into each other. She doesn't like the dog sniffing her and got mad that he pee'd on her wheel of her car one day, so we keep him away from the front of the house.

She works nights, so she gets home anywhere between 6 and 9am. And then she cranks up the stereo, showers, unwinds, and goes to sleep or goes to her boyfriends for sleep...

She hasn't been accustomed to having someone down here... in fact, she did it on New Years Eve day because it was a weekday and she was just used to us being here on a weekday at 8am. Aaron and Michelle were sleeping in the livingroom and Aaron requested that I contact her and have her turn down the rap music she'd chosen to blast.

Normally it is classic or alternative rock, but she gets in a rap groove once in a while.

Lately it's "Karma Police" by Radiohead.

Every day for the last 2 weeks, since I've been home, I'm usually sitting here at the computer looking for a job or writing in the journal here, and I hear her come bounding up the stairs, which are right on the other side of my head, and the landing and kitchen are right above me. She hits the top step, I hear the keys hit the dining table, the two shoes hit the floor, 6 stomps over to the stereo and then the opening notes to "Karma Police."

Then I don't hear her stomping around much, she walks nicely, not like the ex-girlfriend who weighed 100 pounds soaking wet but sounded like her feet could blast right through the floors and come down and hit me on top of my head... for a skinny chick, she sure walked fat.

Karma Police plays about four times. Then she moves to something else. This morning it was an ecclectic mix of Pink's new party tune "Get the Party Started," which is tolerable to me, and keeping in the color scheme, some Pink Floyd... "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." Excellent choices. And then some Aretha Franklin. And Karma Police one more time for good measure. So it's kind of cool. I'm glad she's got somewhat decent tastes. The other day it was the entire Houses of the Holy album from Zep, so ... I enjoyed listening while surfing. But in the past two weeks there have been times that I've longed for absolute silence, and I don't want to call her and ask her to be quiet. I understand her routine, and to be honest it isn't like I plan on being down here forever. It's daytime, it isn't like 4am, and she isn't vacuuming hardwood floors, so I'm okay with it.

I don't hear anything now, so she's either on the phone or she went to bed. Nope, there she goes down the stairs. Seeya! Have a nice day!

Honestly, I love the guy who lives upstairs... he's the best. We didn't raise the rent when our first tenants moved out but we could have. And we didn't alter the rent when the girlfriend moved out or the niece moved in. He always pays on time, he fixes stuff up there and doesn't ask to be reimbursed (we keep telling him to give us the receipts, but he shrugs it off. I just hope when he does move out someday that he doesn't take everything OUT that he put in). I think he recognizes that for a two bedroom in this area, he's got a sweet deal, so he just kind of does his thing and we let him decorate and repaint and do stuff up there to make his life happy. After all, he's the one who has to look at it, not us. So we give him free reign on the place.

The only thing I regret about them being up there is the bitch ex-girlfriend wanted us to alter the second bedroom before they moved in. There was a built-in 3/4 size captain's bunk with two drawers under it, and it was my favorite thing in the house. I wanted to convert this place to a single family one day and have that little room be my son's room or a playroom with the guest bed. I loved the woodworking, and how sturdy and beautiful it was.

She insisted it be taken out because she wanted to put a sofa in the room that folded out, and I couldn't see why. So we did. And we never replaced the floor under it, we put down plywood panels and they put a rug over it. I cried and cried when Doug pulled that thing out. And he was also heart broken. I told him to be as careful as possible, so he saved the drawers and the front panel where the drawers slide in... but we'll never be able to replace it or put it back in the way it was. I'm glad we have the drawers and front panel, because maybe we can use them when we build in the entertainment center in the living room. And that can always be a part of the house memory.

I like having them there, they are good tenants as I said... sometimes I wish I had a single family house, but ya know... this isn't bad. Someone is always here, so the house isn't left unattended when we go away on vacation or he goes away, and I feel safe. They are good people.

I have to get my act together this morning. I have some tidying to do before Mare gets here, and I took the car up to the garage this morning so I'm hoping to hear from them. Our brakes stopped working (not on the Saturn, but on the Beatermobile) and so before we had a catastrophic braking failure Doug decided I could be car-less for a while and it wouldn't be an issue.

Perhaps I'll vacuum my hardwood floors and listen to "Kid A" or "Optimistic." And I'll leave you with this. Kinger's new favorite place to sleep in the house is right flush up against the door in Jessica's room, which leads to the outside world, which has our mail slot in it. You've heard of those door snakes that stop drafts, right? Well, I've got a Rottie-Golden X draft stopper. He saw me coming with the camera so he rolled over onto his side, but he WAS sleeping on his back with his legs up in the air, all akimbo. It was a sight... I'll try and catch him again sometime.

And yes, Jessie's room is that purple color. That's a story for another day.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Patriots going to the Super Bowl! Meh and Yeah all at once....

I really wanted the Steelers to win. (pictured here is the view of Heinz Field, formerly Three Rivers Stadium, from Mt. Washington on the North/West side of the burgh. Downtown is just out of range to the right of the stadium, which shows how seriously these people take football. Unlike Foxboro, which is an hour from Boston, The Steelers play in Downtown... in the heart of it).

We fired up the fry-o-lator and made wings -- best non-restaurant wings I've had in ages. I rushed home from Charles and Margaret's good bye luncheon, missing only part of the first quarter... I was aghast that the Pats pulled out in front but thrilled that the Steelers came back with their collective teeth bared and their attitudes adjusted after a very crappy halftime show. Gah, I hate Sheryl Crow.

But they lost. And while I certainly are happy for the Patriots, I am also incredibly sad because I think the Steelers were a FAR better team this year, and by far one of my favorites. The media was totally behind the Steelers, favored by a ton of points. And the Patriots made monkeys out of everyone.

I guess my sister's friend Rob stands to win some money just because the Pats made it past the AFC championship and are going to the big dance.

So at least there was a real highlight during the day here. And I am happy for them. But...


I am happy for the Pats. Honest. If anyone other than the Steelers would be going to the Super Bowl, heck. Sure. Go Pats. At least it isn't the Dolphins or those God Awful Ravens. And they had a hell of a story this year. I mean, everyone wrote them off completely. Me especially. Year after year they've broken my heart, so I gave up routing for them. I still wanted them to win, but they kept inventing new ways to lose. Last year they were like 5-11 and this year at the start no one said they'd beat that. Then Bledsoe gets injured after they start the season poorly. Brady steps in and things start clicking together. Win after win after win, week after week. Astounding. The fire was lit under the arses of the erstwhile sarcastic bubbleheads known as sports commentators, and the Pats start marching up the AFC East ladder.

Bledsoe stands on the sidelines injured and sad, Brady keeps winning. Bledsoe's job security becomes fodder for the keyboards of commentators and writers in AND outside the sports field.

Today, Brady ends up getting injured, so Bledsoe gets the chance to save the day. And he does. Amazing. Totally Amazing. Brady may have a broken ankle, so there is a good chance he won't get to play in the super bowl.

How's that for a fine howdy-doo. The proverbial kick in the pants as it were. He brings the team this far and may not get to play THE game of his rookie career. Gets the team this far and whammo.

At the end of the game, they kept in tight on Drew Bledsoe's face, and he was crying. His chin was quivering, his eyes were all misty. He bit his lip in a Clintonesque way. He was truly moved, shocked, astonished, and amazed. It was so evident. So obvious. A man who doesn't know what his job is going to be in August now has the chance to save the day and become the hero instead of the Goat that everyone has believed he is to this point.


It's a great story. And the Eagles and Rams are playing right now, and we shall see who the Pats will face, and we shall see if Drew will be that hero. I wish him well. Goodness knows I am glad for them, and I sure ain't routin' for any NFC team here.

Geoff tore some of his wallpaper off his wall today and I am pissed and angry. I can't believe he did that. It was the one truly 100% finished room in my house, and now it's screwed. So now I have to tear it all down and redo the damn thing. Good thing I'm friggin' laid off! Hello Home Despot. Need some paint. And the kicker is that I'm going to have to mud his walls entirely because the bottom half is Dark Dark Blue... unless I want to paint the whole room that color now. I still am going to have to mud where I remove all the wallpaper trim. Damn damn damn.

Well. Other things... this weekend on the whole was nice. We did go out to dinner on Friday night. The sitter was a big hit with the kids. They liked her a lot and she states that she's willing to come back (!) so that was a relief. She reminds me of my roommate from college a little... she's from Eastern PA and has a very Laurel's First Year at College haircut, and glasses, and she smiles the same, uses her eyes. So it brought back some interesting 17 year old memories for me.

Dinner itself was a blast. Expensive beyond belief, delicious, relaxing. Good food, bottle of wine, excellent service... I love this place but wish it wasn't so dern 'spensive. We then went to a movie of Doug's choosing... Gosford Park. Meh. It wasn't nearly as funny as the commercials made it out to be. A murder mystery set in the English Country Estate of a pompous old fart hated by everyone. Great performances by Clive Owen and Helen Mirren, and too many pictures of Ryan Phillipe's pouty full lip and puppydog eyes. It would have been a much better movie if they shortened the buildup to the murder. Establishing the characters and their inner workings went WAY too long and didn't add to anything. The plot after the murder and the happenings therein were much more interesting, and sort of exciting. I thought it was going to be more like Wooster and Jeeves (Stephen Fry is in this as a bumbling inspector, very funny, the only truly funny thing in the movie) but it was more like Masterpiece Theatre and just as dull.

The beginning of the movie is interesting, when the servants/valets come to the house with their Lords/Ladies/important rich snobby folks, they show the goings on Upstairs and Downstairs (so much like the aforementioned Masterpiece Theatre)... and the contrast between their worlds is amazing. The lifestyles, the attitudes, the working class strength that carries SO much of the British nobility that without their maids and valets it is obvious these people would perish, yet they get no respect. It was a beautiful rendering of the period - the clothes, the lifestyle, the furnishings, the way a manor home worked with all its inner mechanisms... that I liked. But overall I wouldn't recommend it.

Saturday we went to Dave and Gretchen's house to hang with them and our buddy Dan, Mr. Humanity Moment. It was a nice visit. Initially Doug didn't want to come, he had a list of things that HAD to get done this weekend and was bemoaning them all, but suddenly changed spirit and came with. It was nice to come with him. So often we get invited places and he just is anti-social, doesn't think he'll like these people or like their work or have anything in common with them. And then the end result is everyone is communicating well and telling stories and it isn't dull for him and we have a great laugh or two, and it's awesome. Dave and Gretchen have a stunning home (no lipsticks were mushed here by the way)... and it was so nice to see them, as well as nice to see Dan. I miss him so much sometimes. Dave and Gretchen have a beautiful little boy and it was a blast to play with an 18 month old for a while. Someone who doesn't tear wallpaper off the wall. mmmmmmeh.

We were on our way out when another former coworker, Susan, and her daughter and husband came over, so I got to see her for a brief flash. I always enjoyed hanging out with Susan, she was so much fun to work with... so it was great to catch up.

Gretchen told me that the company I used to work for (her husband was my boss, and after I left she started working there...) is shutting down in April, so there is going to be a big BIG alumni reunion kind of thing -- everyone who ever worked at this company invited back for drinks and a larf and some good memory sharing... so that will be fun.

I loved working there, loved working for Dave and loved doing the stuff I used to do. It makes me sad to know they are shutting down, and it makes me even more sad to think about the company I just got laid off from, but there's nothing I can do about either.

Oh, by the way, I had mentioned the other day I'd gotten my hair cut. My daughter took this picture of me today after church, as well as a couple other pictures that I took over the last two days. And, it occurs to me now, I didn't take any pictures of Dan. I would have liked one of him and me... oh well, hopefully there will be another time...

Me with my short coif... it is almost all one length except right in front where it angles down. Next time I get it cut, it'll finally be all one length, like this:

And it is scary how much me and my kid look alike. I think. Only sometimes I'm the bigger ham.

We went to the car wash on the way home Friday night because it was like 50 degrees and the car needed it badly. Doug aims James Bond Style, yo.

Tomorrow my friend Mare from High School is coming to visit me. Her husband has a ton of family in Western Mass, so every couple of years they try and come east. Currently they live out in Dana Point, California! I haven't seen Mare since Jessica was about 2. She came out 2 years ago at this time, but I had the flu so badly that I told her there was NO way I wanted her to come visit. She's expecting her third kid in March, so she'll be fully big and preggo. I plan on taking her over to Newburyport for a little walk'round, and some time without her 2 boys... she's got her hands full!

Mare and I met in Kindergarten. She remembers more about my childhood than I do! She tells me anecdotes about stuff we did in brownies, and places we went, and I don't remember them. So I'm sure going to try and get some more stories from her. She was incredibly athletic and I was bookish and uninvolved... we went our separate ways for a while, not being really close friends, until I reconnected with her in high school band and in Campus Life, the youth group that I went to in high school... she was an active member, and it was great to rekindle that friendship which we'd shared for so long. She's a very involved evangelical Catholic, doing lots of stuff with her church and her family and her husband's bike store (owned and operated by them!) so she's a great woman and one whom I hold in high esteem.

Well, I'm going to remove myself back to the family. I will try and write tomorrow of the wacky adventures of a pregnant lady (Mare) and a lady who looks pregnant (me) but isn't.

Friday, January 25, 2002

Faking and Being Sick

An early entry today. It isn't even 9am. And I have loads of cleaning to do between now and 5pm when I get the sitter.

I was up at 6:30. Geoff gets up early and puts on the TV and walks around the house. Not sure how early he was actually roaming, but I heard him coughing.

Coughing and coughing and sneezing and sniffing and coughing. Aw crap, not again. How do these kids constantly pick up colds? They get their daily multi-vitamins. He's on amoxicillin for chrissake, isn't that some sort of deterrent to germs or is that just my imagination. So I decided to keep him home. I knew if I gave him cough medicine it would render him sleepy, cranky and useless.

Jessica then gets out of bed complaining of a stomach ache, and putting on her pathetic and pained face... "ooooooohhhhh, I dont feeeeeelllll gooooood."

So I freak. Every day since I got laid off she has claimed she's sick... has a head ache, a fever, a stomach ache. Thing is, I know she wants to stay home with me because I'm all about the party and I'm tons of fun, but when I'm home I want to get things done, and not hang out just watching Spongebob Squarepants until my eyes bleed.

When I yelled at her that she was faking it and demanded she go get dressed Doug got mad at me, and said I over reacted. Uh, no. I can see right through little kid bullshit, and I'm not over reacting. So he assessed her, does it hurt when I poke here... Let me see your throat, you have no fever... the whole time I'm cursing him because he is playing into her ruse. He determined she was fine and told her to go get dressed. When I filled him in on this whole wanting to stay home every day since I got laid off thing he understood my reaction more.

By the time she left for school she was psyced because a squirrel was on the porch, and other stuff made her happy that if she were truly ill she'd just make a grunt towards and cross her arms tightly. So I totally knew she was just freakin' fine.

No gettin' that crap past me.

My mom was the queen of figuring out when we were faking it and I totally inherited that skill from her. My body temperature runs about 97 degrees, which is lower than normal, so when I had a fever of 99 it would register as 98 on the thermometer and I wouldn't get out of school... I remember my doctor once Doug and I got married telling me that it is pretty common, that 98.6 degrees is only some people's temperature, so he laughed at me when I told him I couldn't get out of school for minor fevers. I'd have to have full blown scarlet fever or ebola or something to get out of school.

I can tell for real sick and for fake sick, and hell, even if you ARE sick go to freakin' school. Some other kid came to school sick and gave it to YOU, so get back in there and give it to someone else!

Jessica dillydallied and was dangerously close to missing the bus, so I got after her and said "you miss that bus, you're walking! I'm not driving you to school!" and that brought back a childhood memory (segue via wavy screen with Wayne and Garth making their travel-back-in-time noise).

Once when I was in the second or third grade (my mom would know the specific year...) I missed the bus.

I had missed the bus a ton of times. We lived up on this huge hill and I never made it down to the bus stop on time... so I'd trudge back uphill and my mom would freak. So that particular morning, she said that very same sentence to me: "you miss that bus, you're walking! I'm not driving you to school!" And I knew what I had to do.

I stood there, it was sleeting, and I looked up and down the road hoping another bus would pass... There was a foot of slush on the roads, and when no bus came to my rescue I started walking. I didn't dare go up that hill to that house to that woman. My ass was grass and her foot was the lawnmower (with bagger attachment) and there was no way I was going to face that music.

So there I was walking along West Shore Road thinking that it wasn't that far to my elementary school, probably four or five miles... I'd be there in no time. I was DRENCHED from cars passing me and splashing me with road junk, and from stepping into the knee deep slush as I trudged my way to school.

A cop car passed me, then came back again, then passed and pulled up in front of me. The officer got out and asked me what I was doing.

I told him I missed the bus and had to walk to school because my mom would kill me if I went back to the house because she was tired of me missing the bus so I didn't have a choice.... and I started bawling.

Now, this is the early 70s we're talking here. Today he would have driven me to school and the school would have called DYS and my mom would have lost us kids and ended up in court and on the channel 7 news. But seeing as it was the early 70s, he drove me to school, and I was only 2 hours late, but I had a police escort (soaking wet still, but there).

I do believe the school called my mom to inform her of what had transpired and she was embarassed (I think, but she'll have to attest to that) but I honestly don't remember missing the bus again.

Jessie's bus stop is caty-corner to the house at the end of the little cul-de-sac across the road. I can see it from the window and can see her pink jacket and blonde hair from here, and I keep a good eye on her until that bus comes. It is a 2 minute slow walk over there. The bus comes anywhere between 8:14 and 8:17, so I try to have her out the door by 8:10. And I've driven her to school before on days when I've made her shower in the morning. But I've never made her walk to school. Her school is 1.5 miles from here... she could do it. There are some good short cuts that you can take by foot which shorten the trek... but I haven't made her do it.

It is a different world out here, compared to when I was in second grade. Even if she missed the bus of her own accord, I'd still drive her because I don't trust anyone. I trust her judgement not to accept a ride, but I just don't trust the concepts of letting her out there on her own walking around. I only let her walk as far as Maddison's house around the corner, across the street from our church, or, to church itself if she has to be there on time for choir and I'm not quite ready to come over with her.

I am not saying I'm a better mom by the way, no dissin' my mom here. It's just a different world. One where we try and pay closer attention to the kids who pull the same crap we pulled back in the day.

Once I let her walk past Maddison's and across the park at Lanen street to a friend's house. I didn't let her walk insomuch as I told her to run and not stop for anyone except traffic... she was there in a manner of minutes. Her friend's mother was shocked. "How close do you live? I thought you lived way over there?!"

Yup. We do.

Well, I have to get a move on. We have that sitter coming tonight, so I have to clean now. Geoff is in the tub because he took ice cream from the freezer ("I was so hungry, Mom!") and sat on the couch eating it out of the container... he then got some on the floor and decided to step in it and make footie prints on the hardwood floor that I cleaned day before yesterday. Dang, yo.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Visitors From The Past

The day thusfar: Up at 7:30. Readied kids for school. Doug took Geoff, I have to pick up. Went back to bed. Slept until noon. Dishes. email. Find babysitter for tomorrow night (successful, thank you!) off to Wal-Mart to get my niece's birthday gift (she just turned 1) and some other sundry items. Get Geoff, visit lenscrafters to get his glasses adjusted (they were all bent out of shape). home.

That's right I slept until noon. After everyone was out of the house, I started dishes and said "screw it..." and got back in bed. The phone didn't ring once, no kids were here fighting and waking me up demanding bowls of cereal. The dog slept with me, and it was gray and rainy and dark and gloomy. It felt good to sleep.

Doug's birthday wasn't thrilling. I got him a card and a cake. Had the kids sign the card (geoff can't spell his name right, he puts a series of random letters down and says "That's my name!That's Geoff!") I put 35 small candles on the cake just for a larf. Damn. That's a lot of candles.

By the way, the 35th candle is for a measure of good luck. I always put one more than the age of the person just to say let's count forward. Jessie wanted to use the candle 3 and 4 from each of their birthday cakes (I have saved all the candles, the big number kinds, from their birthday cakes. Each of them have their own number 1 in a little box, and then I've used the 2, 3, 4 and 5 twice, the 6, 7, 8 and 9 all sit waiting to be used again by Geoff...). She was disappointed that I didn't want to use them but I told her they were special to me, and that it was damn funny to use 35 candles.

35 birthday candles throw off a lot of light.

I made scallops and shrimp and a wild rice casserole for dinner. It was okay. I want to make broiled scallops like they do at a restaurant. I want them to be all crusty with the ritz crackers baked in those little ceramic ramakins... the kinds that burn you when you try and get the scallops out. The scallops last night didn't come out quite that good but they were alright.

I bought Doug's gift today... a fry daddy. So we can do buffalo wings right! Yeee haw! It's something I know he's always wanted, something he's debated over and always passed up on. He says his temptation towards fried foods will be his undoing. That'll come in handy for this weekend when the Steelers and Pats play. I'm so grooving on it. I just like wicked good deep fried buffalo wings. They don't come out right on the stove or broiled in the oven. meh.

I got a call today from a friend of mine from the company I used to work for in Marblehead. She told me that one of our old co-workers, Dan, is coming for a visit THIS weekend! I am so happy.

Dan was a software programmer there, and he, Dara and Kenna sat in this dark little room and did their programming thing all day long. I always loved talking to Dan... he was tall, greying prematurely but sporting it well, thin, smiley, smart, nerdy and intelligent all at once. He was a great person to have around.

We would drive to the ice cream stand on occassion to have ice cream breaks -- just leave work and go. That always seemed so dangerous to me, I was sure we were going to be fired. I had always worked places where if they didn't know where you were every moment they were looking for you to fire you. But we'd get ice cream and we'd talk.

Dan started doing this little thing called a "humanity moment." We'd all four get together, Kenna, Dan, Dara and myself, and say one nice thing that had happened that day, or one nice thing about someone in the office. One thing we were thankful for. It was usually when we were so busy and stressed, that this was a way to step back from things and get a grip, relax. It was always so much fun.

Everywhere I've worked since I've tried to instill the "humanity moment" concept. At this last company, we surely didn't do it enough. I'd get together with a few girls and we'd do ice cream and humanity. No bitching. And it always felt good... but I should have done it more.

Dan left the company to move to Chicago with his true love. When he left, he hugged me goodbye and I cried like a freak. It was the hardest goodbye I've ever had to give.

After a while the humanity moments dried up... Kenna stopped speaking to me (still have NO idea what I did or said to piss her off... she moved away and I got her email and sent her a message recently and she didn't reply, so... uh. okay.) and Dara moved to another company. I had Geoff. I moved on to the college job.

When I was in the hospital trying not to have Geoff, Dan would call me from Chicago to check up on me.

My friends who were two towns away at work wouldn't even come visit.

It mattered a lot to me, and meant a great deal, that he made that effort from 1/3 the country away. It kept me sane, that someone outside the building aside from my husband cared.

It was a humanity moment. In all the jobs I've had, a few people trail along with me through the years who made a difference to me at the time I was 'in the trenches' with them in the workplace, and Dan is one of the big stars in my sky.

So he'll be here Saturday afternoon and evening. I have to talk to Doug and see if he is game to go hang out with people he doesn't even know.

I have to go make dinner now... the kids are getting hungry!

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Happy Birthday Douglas

The day thusfar: Up at 7. Readied kids for school. Doug took Geoff, I have to pick up. Took a walk (it is 51 degrees out. Wet and slippery, but oh so gorgeous!) Did coffee and cookies and chat with my neighbor Shelley (one of my daughter's best friend's mom). Decided we will walk if the weather is good on Friday (tomorrow is supposed to rain/sleet). Wrote checks to pay bills. Lunch. Journal. Dishes (next).

Today is Doug's Birthday. He is 34. Happy Birthday to Doug. We were planning on going out to dinner tonight to this swanky pad that costs shitloads of money but Jessie and I have to be to choir practice at 6:30 and we'll be there forever. This coming Sunday is our Rector's last Sunday. He's retiring. So they have special music planned and we have to rehearse it.

So we'll go out Friday night. Get a movie in too. Hopefully I can find me a sitter. Right after we had the last girl babysit (the one the kids liked) she came down with some sort of mystery fever that won't go away so she went home sick, leaving college with all incompletes and with the sinking feeling she wouldn't be back this spring semester. So now I have to find a new sitter. I haven't called her dorm room to see if she came back, not sure she's there... hope she's okay.


So that's on my list of things to do today. In addition to make something kind of nice and special, do the dishes, run to Walmart and the post office (gotta ship my niece's birthday present, but gotta buy it first!).

I had a great interview yesterday and think I'll get a call back for a second interview. The company is growing and doing amazing things. But it would be a hard job, with lots of work, lots of effort. I think that it would be a great opportunity, but it definitely wouldn't be a job with the "dishes" philosophy. It's hard work. I told my former boss about it, and her boss knows the people there who run the place really well... if I want he'll make a call for me. Guarantee me getting in there almost. But part of me isn't ready to jump into a dotcom or software company. Part of me wants to teach part time... dog walk. Waitress.


I'm not sure. Doug is starting to give me the evil eye that I have made literally NO effort here. So I'm kind of getting sad. Not sure what comes next. Just kind of happy having some alone time to do stuff.

By the way, the thing I saw in the woods the other day is a turkey. A friggin TURKEY who is living with two ducks. They were walking along the creek bed yesterday when I went to take Jessie to school with her diorama (see below) and I was scraping ice off the car window and looked out of the corner of my eye down into the creek beside the car and there they were. Un friggin real. He/She is HUGE!!!!!

I'll try and grab a picture of it. At least I'm not thinking it's a Sasquatch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Black Ice

I felt I needed a break for a couple of days. Sorry for no daily update. It is especially hard when Geoff wants on here to play Reader Rabbit, Doug has reports to write, and Jessica wants to play the online PowerPuff Girls snowboarding game (it's fun, I admit...). I had a lot of housework to do, football to watch, sleep to catch up on... plus Monday was a holiday and that found everyone still here at the house instead of off to their respective schools and out of my newly cut (short, at the shoulders) hair.

Now I find myself on a sunny and bright Tuesday, with about an hour and a half to kill prior to my job interview. So I thought I ought to post a quickie update. Seeing as I have nothing to WEAR to this interview, you'd think I'd be panicking and running around like a freak trying to find something. But I really can't find anything, nothing fits, and I'm not overtly concerned with articles of clothing in the first place. I'll look okay with what I can pull together. And we'll just leave it at that. I'll let you know how it all works out.

Football this weekend for those in concern was simply amazing. Aside from the fact that half the planet disagrees with the call that was made (Brady's non-fumble) which kept the Pats in possession and got them to tie the game and then win it in over time... it was a great game. Played in a full fledged snowstorm, with about 7 inches on the ground by game's end, the game featured runners unable to run, receivers unable to receive, and lots of mistakes. It was old school football, the kind that I remember from my youth. When weather was a player in the game as much as the human athletes themselves were.

Now everyone has a friggin domed stadium and that makes for comfortable conditions, but no fun.

I love football in Foxboro, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Chicago -- places where they haven't eliminated that all too volatile factor - weather.

The Pittsburgh game was also great, and now my two favorite teams square off in the AFC division finals next weekend out in the 'burgh. Can't wait until this weekend!

Green Bay didn't even show up to play the Rams... I mean, they were there but not there. There was no fire in the eyes of Mr. Football, and they got their asses handed to them on a platter and pushed into a bus to trek off from Saint Louie. So the Rams face the Eagles, a team I care nothing for. I predict the Rams win that one, the Steelers win the AFC match up, and February 3rd sees the Steelers and the Rams in the Big Dance in New Orleans, with the Rams victorious.


Let's see if the 'lers can prove me wrong. I think that the Rams' offense is going to walk all over the Steelers' defense... and the Steelers' Offense is no match for the kind of defense the Rams showed this weekend against Green Bay. But, I think it will be a great game. I'm glad the Ravens lost and are out of it, because even though they won the Super Bowl last year they are over rated and lame.

So bring on February 3rd!

Okay, that's my football update. What else. Oh. Geoff misplaced his glasses and did such a good job of misplacing them that I can't find them ANYWHERE in this house. Damn. So now I have to tear it apart.

He had a really crappy weekend behaviorwise. He was so disobedient and got into everything the second we turned our backs. He got punished four times, and on top of losing his glasses he just was a royal pain in the ass.

Jessica had a project due today. She had to build a diorama. It came out okay, but it was so hard to make. She read this book and had to write a report answering a series of questions and then build the diorama based on her favorite part of the book. Well, her favorite part was when the characters all go into a pitch dark evil castle... and it is literally pitch dark. Dark dark dark. I said to her, "how are you going to make a diorama of something that no one can see? Are you going to take an empty black box to school and tell everyone to use their imaginations? Can't you pick another part of the book to represent in the diorama?" She was adamant... so we decided that we'd show what they looked like and she'd write in her report that they are supposed to be not visible to the eye due to the darkness.


It was a great argument though. I love making her think. And I honestly think she thought she could bring a black empty box to school and pass it off as a project. Sneaky girl.

Well, I have to shower. I'll do another entry after the interview to let the world know how it went. Think good thoughts for me... wish me luck.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

I love "Office Space"

Today's agenda: Up at 7:00. PBJ for breakfast. Drove kids to school at 8:15. Came home. IMed with my sister and others (my sister gave her official notice today. Hell Yeah! big changes for us girls in the workplace this week... ) Showered, and then had lunch with a few of the hangers-on back at the company (FL, you ROCK. I miss you so badly already...) E-mailed resumes. Emailed friends. Rented a movie. Watched the movie. Did dishes. Took out trash. Brought empties to the basement. Planned run to store to deposit empties and get some righteous dough. Doctor's Office (see below). Dinner. Beer. Journaling, and finally Laundry.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Office Space.

I've mentioned it here before, back in the Gayle episodes, that Office Space Lives are all around us. My office space at my company was nowhere NEAR what it was for Peter, Samir and Michael at Initech, but office culture can be an amazing thing.

And the movie Office Space (this site has all kinds of sound bytes)... sums up a lot of the Dilbertesque qualities of high-tech culture.

It is a fabulous comedy, and one that I think most people can totally relate to in full or in part. If you've yet to rent it, please do so.

My favorite part of the movie is when Peter takes Samir and Michael, who have just been laid off, out to a field with the office printer/fax/copier/scanner that was always malfunctioning, and they do a gangsta gangsta style hit on the hapless machine. Peter's gift to them as friends and co-workers... It is one of the funniest segments of film I've seen in my life.

My office experiences have never been as bad as Peter's were. My bosses have NEVER been cheesy Bill Lumbergh types who come to my "cube" or "pod" at 4:55 and say, 'Uh, yeah, I'm gonna have to ask you to go ahead and come in on Saturday. We're behind now that we've lost some people... and go ahead and come in on Sunday too..." Jerk. It is a great movie.

One of the greatest little bits of the film is Stephen Root and his portrayal of constantly dumped on weird guy Milton Waddams.

Milton has been moved four times in the last year, never gets a slice of birthday cake when they do office party stuff because he's always told by the stupid fat chick to "pass on the pieces, don't be greedy!" and when they change from Swingline staplers to an inferior stapler, he just can't take it and keeps his stapler... much to Lumbergh's chagrin.

He keeps threatening to burn the building down. And eventually somethings just come together so that is exactly what happens. Luckily, no one is hurt. I love this picture of Milton because he is holding the Swingline Stapler to his chest. Right before Lumbjerk comes to tell him his office is to be moved down to the darkest part of the basement.

But it is a riot of a movie. A plan, a simple plan, that goes awry. A man who realizes every day of his life is worse than the day right before, which means tomorrow is just going to be worse than today, and that's what he has to look forward to. A neighbor who can hear ya right through the wall (great job by Dietrich Bader of the "Drew Carey Show" as the neighbor). A guy named Michael Bolton who hates Michael Bolton's music, and equally hates when people ask if they are related or what his favorite Michael Bolton song is (Thank God my name isn't Celine Dion!).

It is a genius movie. Mike Judge needs to make another movie. Please. Please. And you need to see it. If you are at all sick and twisted, you'll enjoy.

Oh, and Jennifer Anniston's in it too. She plays Peter's love interest, a waitress trapped in service positions much like office positions where her boss is just as bad as Peter's. Great role. She's great as Joanna.

So I rented it. I watched it twice this afternoon. Once in full and then once fast forwarding to my favorite parts. I then got a call from Geoff's school saying that he was bleeding from the ear (WHAAAAT?!) and that they were worried he'd ruptured his ear drum. Jesus Christmas on a Sunday, I panicked. Nothing like losing your hearing. He's on an antibiotic from the fever and a little bit of strep throat he's had, so I wasn't exactly concerned with infection setting in immediately, but crap. That's your ear. He's already half blind. Let's ruin his life a little more by having him be deaf too!

I left Jessie a note and hauled ass over there. They'd cleaned him up and there was no more blood coming out, but I thought he'd better get to the doctor. He was running around playing hand puppets with his buddy Nick, like nothing was the matter. He was in great spirits and said that there was nothing wrong. But blood. Man. I called from the school and they said to bring him in... They evaluated him, looked in the ear -- there was nothing wrong and no sign of blood.

Uh, okay.

I drove a half hour over here for THAT!? yikes. Good thing though. Much better to be safe than sorry, eh? So it is currently a mystery as to where he got the blood from. If it wasn't coming out of his ear, and no other kids were bleeding INTO his ear... what the hell happened with that.


Okay. On another note it has come to my attention that yesterday's journal entry was sent around my office and now everyone has access to the journal and is reading it.

That's good and bad.

See, it's good because I think that I'm a friggin funnyassed person with fun crap to say and I like sharing my stories. But, it's bad because like with my family (which I love dearly) my office friends/coworkers are sacred to me. And in places here I've probably offended people, which ain't good.

Everyone knows who the CEO is and for me to say yesterday that I don't give a rat's pitoot about him because he never cared for me, well, that's kind of extreme ain't it? But, it is how I feel or in some cases, felt at the time articles were written.

If for instance you are one of the people I used to work with who are now stumbling across this journal, first of all welcome -- my life is an official open book I guess. Second, if you feel you're represented poorly here in any of these pages, be advised that they are just my take on things, that I don't matter... I don't sway public opinion, I am a bitch and judgemental and an ass with a big mouth and fast fingers.

And, for those of you who feel I slighted you at the Christmas party when you were hunting man flesh and ragging on the planet, be totally advised that I played right along and enjoyed myself beyond wholeheartedly by attempting to bring a different angle into things.

And if at any point I was offended, I would have walked away in disgust, judgemental bitch that I am. But I was right there with ya girls, checkin' out the hotties, voting along, and we picked FL (who still is the nicest, superest, sweetest, awesomest guy in the company bar none). So take that into consideration -- I was with you girls. Sistahs, pickin on the menfolk. And having a good laugh. And after all -- ain't that what it's all about?

So un-HR.

And if you really feel I've painted you with a broad brush of disgust, my apologies. I'll print a detailed apology or try to defend myself for what I was thinking at the time. Thing is, it's past. More often than not I vented, I'm done. I'm past and over it. And you should be too.

After all, you can start a journal and let the world know I'm a fat, lazy, loudmouth who dresses poorly. And I'd say 'right on. ain't it the truth.'

I didn't start this to offend, but to grow. And if offending causes me to shut up, re-evaluate, rethink... that's good. And if you'll still like me and read it, why, that's better yet.

So to my girls and boys back in the big brick house... I will be seeing you, and rest assured, I'll meet more office people. Perhaps my Bill Lumbergh style boss is waiting for me at my next job (choke, gasp) and that will be my comeuppance for dissing anyone in the past at the company.

And if you wanna have lunch, email me any time. I'm here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Done and Packed up

Today I wore my Barenaked Ladies thumbs-up Tshirt to work. I've always wanted to wear it. It's a tour shirt from the Maroon tour that my sister's friend Rob picked up for me (thanks again Rob, if you are reading this). I never wore these kinds of things to work, not that I dresses WELL by any stretch of the damn imagination... it was nice to just dress like me.

It was the second hardest thing I have ever done, going in there today. First worst hardest was when I left the college and Jared had a party that night and I got good and drunk on yummy wine and cried the whole way home from the party when I left the guys there behind.

But today... Packing up and driving away... in my mind all I heard was a Jackson Browne song ("Maybe the hardest thing I've ever done was to walk away from you..."). I had to hightail it out of there without seeing FL (he was in a meeting), but at least I wasn't rushed by the company or security as so many people who get laid off are. I was rushed by me not wanting to cry my ass off in front of everyone after being able to look at all this optimistically over the past two days. Once one person cries, I'm screwed.

I spent a good hour and a half there this morning. I started with the obligatory but very refreshing and enlightening one on one with my boss. She went over the reasons for my layoff ("It's not you, it's THEM!) and we talked extensively about keeping open connections, recommendations and the sucky fact that the company decision was so widespread that they seem to have chopped their own feet off. People are emailing her and asking her to do things that other members of my team used to do, and she's unable to fulfill their requests because there just aren't enough hours in a day for her to do all her own work.

Seems to me that they didn't really think stuff through when they whacked our entire department. Perhaps keeping a girl or two there would have been a good idea.

My buddy LLP came in for her exit interview right after me, and on her way in she passed the department head and started bawling. She couldn't handle seeing him. She got to my desk where I was sitting chatting with another coworker LH and our boss, and turned into a puddle. She is taking it very hard. I think I'm taking it a lot better, mostly because I know personally I have nothing to sweat. But seeing her be emotional put me on the crying road, and I had to get out of there very quickly.

It's always bad when not only you leave your core group of really good friends, but you leave the axillary fellows of your daily life behind. People who make a small difference every day, but who you never really realize have a strong impact on you.

For instance, the security guy at the front desk is this older brit chap who always makes me laugh and smile. I carried my box past him and got a smile and a nod, very dignified. But I could tell he didn't look like he was happy to see me go. The elevator ride down with my boss after seeing him almost made me cry, because she looked at me all sad and said "I'm going to miss you so much. Who is going to keep me in balance?" She can be really intense, and when she focuses in on things sometimes people freak out and panic, which makes her mad because what she wants to hear is "we can do this, we'll kick it's ass!!!!" and see her employees do exactly what she hopes for. Sometimes she doesn't communicate things perfectly clear, and the first pass doesn't come out the way she wants it and she gets even more intense, which can freak you out. But deep down I know that the five of us always did our best for her and probably 75% of the time we nailed it and gave her exactly what she wanted. That isn't bad. So seeing her be sad in the elevator -- that almost wiped me out.

Then there's the parking guy, another older, kinda portly guy who walks the lots and gives people directions on where to park and where what office is. He always is friendly and has the BIGGEST umbrella I've ever laid eyes on. He's out there helping out regardless of rain, shine, snow... When my boss and I came out of the building, we passed by him and he muttered, "Aw shit."

I put my box down on the bench and asked him if he was okay. "They got you too?" he asked with just a hint of being pissed off.


I gave him a big hug and he told me he was going to miss seeing me every day. I know that I brightened his day so often stopping to chat with him in the mornings or asking him if he was warm enough with the weather... I wished him the best and had to get the hell outta Dodge before I lost it, that was the straw.

The people who matter in the long run are the people who give you a smile or a wave once in a while. The ones who ask you if you saw the game last night, who hold a door for you. The NORMAL people, who understand that eye contact and a smile go a longer way than hallway evasion and a fancy mother fucking sedan.

So many people at this company and other companies where I've worked have no souls. They may have a family, or some friends, but in the office they are all about business and they are cold, desperate and lonely people. They forge a little core alliance to shelter themselves from the reality that they've built their own tomb in a big brick building.

And I really don't get it. In the end, where the fuck does that kind of behavior get you? You still get laid off, or fired. You may make the company some money, but really. Is it worth it?

I rarely have worked more than a 50 hour week in the last 5 years. Why? Because I don't want to. It isn't necessary. It isn't going to get me into heaven. It isn't going to advance me career wise to kill myself and make myself sick for a company. My happiness, my family, my sanity and my soul matter more than meetings, deadlines and the abject loneliness of being a prisoner to corporate culture. I'm glad to be done there. I am so not sure I'm ready to go back to something though. And this is what's going to make it hard.

I'm really going to miss the security guys, the lunch cash register ladies, the cooks in the cafeteria (I'm going to miss the Chicken Caesar Salad that the guy makes for me just the absolute right way...), the cleaning ladies who I always left cookies for and who always said thanks.

I am NOT going to miss the CEO, the COO and most of the staff in strategic planning and development, the CFO, the CIO... because none of them will miss me or notice I'm gone, because none of them really gave me the time of day or acknowledgment that I existed.

I'm not sad for that, or resentful, they matter nothing to me in the long run. But I may drive by once in a while to hear Milton talk about the weather and chat about the Super Bowl. I'm going to miss that interaction.

My friend Matt once said that he loved washing dishes at a restaurant. He is so bright, talented and intelligent, could be a friggin' professor or a rock star. I kind of laughed at him, I didn't understand why someone with so much damn potential would want to wash pots and pans and other people's dishes. The reason he gave me was so simple - when you are done with the pile of dishes, and you wipe the sink and counter down, you're done. Done. You can go home. There are no new projects, new initiatives, nothing to keep your mind up at night trying to figure out how something can be accomplished. You don't lose sleep wondering if the dishes will work, if they'll crash. They're dishes. You can watch Late Night with David Letterman and Conan, have a beer, and go to sleep. The next day, you get up, you wash more dishes. And again, you're done.

While that sounds tedious, monotonous and boring, it makes sense. Perfect sense. Dishes.

Unfortunately, doing dishes at a restaurant pays total shit. I make a lot more than total shit. So I have to find that job with the dishes element and the money element. But I don't need as much money as I was making, I sure can live on less. So let's see what happens here with working and doing and money and dishes.

People who know where I used to work have been contacting me over the past few days because news of the layoff made it on the Boston TV stations last night and this morning. They're stunned and surprised. I can't say I am. Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to this company.

I made a lot of great professional connections with people there, and I know that it will help me in the future to keep those connections open business-wise. The type of people that worked in our HR group, including and up through the department management and the Executive VP, are exemplary employees, and, are great PEOPLE. It was the healthiest group of people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Very few political head games, well, hardly none to speak of... and a lot of desire to get work done and grow the company. Such a shame.

Yesterday I had lunch with Ben, Brian, Dan, Michelle and Derek from the ole college, and had a blast.

I'd personally like to thank Michelle for fulfilling a life long wish of mine. No, not lesbian sex. Get your mind out of the crapper, wouldya?

HA HA. itso  funny i makeyou laff milk out you nose. ha ha!I've always wanted to make someone laugh while drinking, and either spit the liquid out of his/her mouth while trying like hell not to lose it, or have the liquid come out of his or her nostrils.

Why? Because I think it is hys-fucking-terical.

Such a reaction means that you said something with the perfect timing, the just right amount of funny, which overrides a person's natural ability to suppress that laugh "reflex" for that fraction of a second, so they lose their drink or force it up their nose. Your joke/statement wins over their bodily controls.

Michelle did just that.

I ragged on Dan, as is my wont, and Michelle had her bottled water up to her mouth and had just taken a big swig. So with her mouth full of water, she reacted to my Dan Rag - water shooting out of her mouth in all directions as she tried to suppress it. Oh my GOD did I laugh. I'm so glad I wasn't also sipping my soda after my quip, or the same thing would have happened to me.

It was priceless. And I'm still laughing my jolly ass off over here from the sight of her pushing her chair back trying to get away from the table. For years I tried to get my boss at the college to do it and came SO incredibly close. The same reaction, chair shoots back, hand over mouth, face turns pink... but she always recovered. I think I did it to her on the very first damn day I was there. And I thought, this is gonna be easy! I found my perfect victim.

But time after time she stopped it and prevented the nose spray and mouth spew. And time after time I was painfully disappointed.

Michelle though, she took me by surprise by doing it. And I'll remember that forever. She's a great sport though, and took it well.

We also went to that subshop near the college and when I walked in the subshop lady was SO happy to see me. She knew exactly what I wanted (and it was gooooooooood too) and she even brought it out to the table to me and hugged me. Next time I go, I am TOTALLY taking her picture for the journal. Could be sooner than later.

My interview which was slated for Friday morning has been pushed back to Monday. That's alright. I'm enjoying my home time. I haven't had a day yet where I didn't have to be somewhere at some point and it's kind of bumming me out. I need to get a hair cut, so I might do that in the morning. I have lunch with FL scheduled, which is great seeing as I didn't get to see him today. Pretty soon I'll have days when I don't NEED to leave this house. I can lie on the couch, drink coffee, watch and rag on morning TV and enjoy myself.

In non-work related news, I took the Christmas tree out to the Christmas Tree Graveyard in the woods behind the house today... Five of them back there. Some lonely, piney old husks, this year's tree looks lively in comparison to the twiggy death frames at the bottom of the heap.

I was on the look out for a quail or pheasant that I spied out of my bedroom window walking up the hill this morning across the creek but saw no sign of him/her. When I got home yesterday from lunch, I heard a total ruckus coming from the creek and thought it was just some ducks or a crow bothering some Canada geese. But this morning Kinger was watching out the window with such intensity that when I followed his gaze I was shocked.

It waddled up the hill on the opposite side of the creek, and there were also two ducks walking up the hill... and I lost track of it in the bushes. The snow brought it right out, and it was huge and beautiful. I totally want to see it again. I'm keeping ears and eyes open and focused on the woods. Wildlife at the way out inn!

Now I have to go and sweep up all the piney needles from the floor, and sweep and mop the livingroom and kitchen. I may as well get ONE goddamn thing done today, jeesh.

More when I've got something remotely interesting to say.