Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Can't Wait to Touch the Bed..."

The commute last night was very difficult.

Jess worked in Newton and took the train over to my office here to wait for an hour with me. Because I am losing a day's pay again due to a holiday (there are pros and cons to being a contractor...) I didn't want to leave early and lose another hour. I also canceled my physical therapy (probably a mistake) again to avoid losing 2 hours of pay there ...

My knee was really hurting so we opted to take the Silver Line from Courthouse station over to South Station to begin the T ride home.

I have a lot to say about how stupid Courthouse Station is... but that's for an entry some other day.

We got to South Station and it was extraordinarily crowded. Down on the platform eventually there came an announcement that a train was disabled two stations south of where we were, and "moderate delays" were expected.

We'd already missed the 5:15 train since I opted to work a little later. The 5:40 was our goal, but it was looking grim. We opted to walk to Downtown Crossing. Now, on most days I would have just walked all the way to North Station. But this knee situation has ruined me for any decent walks. Jess knew how to get to Downtown Crossing so we hoofed it as fast as I could go. The orange line there was packed as well, people just trying to get from point A to point B. We enjoyed a nice Beatboxer dubbing over himself repeatedly and then kind of singing. First time out of all the street musicians I've seen there be one of those.

The Orange line was exceptionally poky as well as crowded and we got to the station four minutes after our train left.

An hour to kill, no desire to sit at the Paulaner bar and enjoy a beer, we waited. And my knee swelled up. Borderline miserable, we got on the train and headed home.

There was a young man behind us who asked the guy he was sitting with if it would be okay to borrow his cell phone, his was dead. "It's been a really long day and I just have to make sure that my ride is at the station to get me," he told the guy. "I was in Washington DC this morning. Got through Philly, New York, got to Boston and the Red line is broken and I ran up here to catch this train. I can't wait to get home. I can't wait to touch the bed."

 It put a big smile on my face as I thought about that longing that someone has after an exceptionally long travel day by train from DC to Boston... with obstacles like Red line trains dying and cell phones dying... having to run that mile between the stations just to make it on this train, knowing if you didn't the next wasn't for two more hours. And I thought that was kind of a cute sentiment. Oh yes indeed, son... I know I know I know. I can't wait to touch the bed either.

By the time I got home it was bedtime. Ate a quick meal, took some Aleve and got into bed, I touched the bed, with an ice pack on the knee and heating pad on the back of my thigh because my muscles have been doing so much work to compensate for the knee.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny..."

Almost everyone I know is doing 2013 wrap ups. There is a lot of joy and a lot of accomplishment and borderline gloating about the awesomeness of the year in the posts of many of my friends.

I've kept this journal since 2001, and to be honest, I don't feel like any one year in this 12 year span has been a GREAT YEAR. But I also don't think any year has been as abysmally shitty as this one.

I told my friend Carrie the other day that I'm exhausted from trying to be optimistic. It actually wears me out always trying to look on the bright side of things. I do see the benefit, and as someone who is naturally optimistic and hopeful, I would like to end this year with a look back on some of the good stuff.

My contract job has put me in positions this year (as some of my blog posts about the city outline) where I can help people. I can stop what I'm doing, step outside my schedule, miss a train or be late for work without it hurting my heart and soul, to help someone who really needs help. I've carried the fronts of strollers down stairs at Downtown Crossing, I've given Japanese tourists directions on how to get to the airport, I've made funny faces and played "5 little monkeys" with my fingers in the palm of my hand with toddlers on the orange line, I've helped blind people not walk into walls, I've helped blind people get to the right platform. Wondering if I'll ever help a blind person not fall onto the tracks one of these days because I bet that's coming.

To be honest, being able to commit service to others has strengthened me and given me hope that I'm not useless, worthless and horrible. Having all that stuff happen with the house and finally losing really trashed my soul, my self esteem, my faith in other people (never in God, don't forget that... never felt abandoned by him just completely soul-raped by banks and people). So being able to miss a train because I helped some guy who has no idea how to get around in Boston is a blessed sacrifice. I'll do it again and again through my tenure in the Seaport.

I have some great co-workers who seem to like me. I still feel like I'm on the periphery of the team, though... not really part of it and not fully trained to know what is going on. It may have something to do with where I'm seated, it may have to do with the fact that I'm a contractor so why teach me everything and why include me on lunch call outs... I'm not really an employee.

But I want to feel that way, and hope to feel that way.

My co-worker Tim has to be one of the funnest people I've gotten to know, and it makes me sad to have to report that he got let go during his 90 day introductory/probationary period. He arrived there before me and applied for the open real position with the company, and got it. I guess that during the probationary/90 day/whatever period that this company does it was found that he just wasn't a good fit, and they let him go. It's kind of weird... I've been hoping they would have a full time real job for me at some point, and I have yet to ask if they'll be posting Tim's position publicly again or if it is now in limbo... I never imagined that my hoping for a real job with this company would come at his expense though.

Often I've said "be careful what you pray for..."

August was a hard month with packing and moving. It was very stressful. I never really let on exactly how upsetting this process was for me. And it is still upsetting because a certain bank keeps sending me letters saying "we want to help you save your house! Call us today!" which is just plain infuriating and insulting.

But for as horrifying as this all was, Geoff is in his school, he's doing great. We got a great big apartment. The dogs are good (when they aren't falling down flights of stairs because they're old and their legs don't work... trust me guys, I know how you feel!) I feel like the next year and a half will be very good for him. And I'm so hopeful for him and Eagle.

I miss my old house, and my old neighborhood and my neighbors, but there are things here that are magical and wonderful and I'm so deeply thankful. The sky here seems so much more full of stars at night even though we are much closer to Newburyport and what I would think would be a lot more light pollution. The land behind the house backs up to a farm on the other side of a thick copse of woods, and every day we watch four deer come out onto the edge of  the property and pick for crab apples and other treats. And we have a wood stove, which is a bit too far away from where I'm sitting but it is a lot more efficient than our last wood stove which seemed to always need fed. Logs seem to burn a lot longer in this one and I'm hoping the two cords we bought last to the end of winter. And my neighbors across the street are good good friends of ours from church whom I just plain LOVE, and I love their boys and I love their chicken eggs (don't love their rooster crowing all day every day but they don't love him either). I am blessed to have them over there.

We've gone through a bunch of cars this year in ridiculous and epic fashion. Our Jeep died, I totaled a car, the Subaru and then the 2nd Volvo both blew head gaskets. We don't have any money to buy a really super good car, and we can't get any credit anywhere until I have a real job with real earnings over a six month period so we were back at the NH state auto auction yesterday with a budget of $2000 dollars, looking at all the No Reserve cars. No reserve meaning the dealer selling the car doesn't have a minimum price that the vehicle has to go for. Doug picked out two cars that he was most interested in (operative terms for him: gas mileage and back seat leg room for the kids), and he bought one for $850. I hope it lasts longer than 6 months. He feels that if he scores a good car for under a grand and it lasts for 6 months, he's made out better in the long run than paying a 6 year car payment where banks make interest on our money and then the car blows up at in intersection in Buffalo NY on the way home from a conference.

With the cars blowing up left and right, I am reminded that I am dearly loved by my friends. I put out on Facebook that we needed rescued DURING A SNOWSTORM and within minutes we had several offers of people calling us or responding that they'd come get us. Thankful beyond imagination for Amy who was the first to respond and drove us home up lonely 95 surrounded by snow plows.  I'm also amazed by the kindness of strangers, specifically the mechanic who declared our Subaru dead but was able to give Doug a ride to within 90 minutes of Boston that very night.  The guy's willingness to help Doug get close to home, refusing to take payment for gas ("We have to go that way anyway, so we fit you in the car!"

There was so much stress, but also so much to laugh about all at once. I could go on but I've got a carpet to vacuum and stairs to sweep before Doug gets home from church. As Mr. Springsteen says, and as the title of the blog attests, right now I may not be in the perfect space and things may seem a little bleak (more than a little bleak) at times... but I hope Mr. Springsteen is right.

Goodbye 2013 and all your bullshit. Don't leave any bad mojo residue behind for me to deal with in 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Our car blew up on the way home, in a blizzard. That was fun.

While stewing with anger in the passengers seat (because Doug and I had a very huge disagreement about the logistics of what should have been happening last night) I had the following thoughts.

On the Subway: Assholes, you have to let people off the train before you can get on. And going forward if you try to muscle in on me, I will not step aside, I will push you down (you can tell I was angry last night).

Sometimes, when there is a task that does not belong to me it is very painful for me to sit there and watch someone else doing it. Especially if they are doing it entirely wrong.

There are people who walk around who just have dirty looks on their faces all the time. Cheer up.

I do not feel like I am a part of the team at work and it makes me sad.

I am glad I am not a dog, because peeing and pooping outside in 7 degrees looks like a challenge.

I have a pocket  full of cough drops. Would it be rude of me to start handing them out on the train?

There are more observations but i am thumb typing on the phone and finding it very tiresome. I prefer a full fingered keyboard experience.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Part time to Full time... I've been there before

Once upon a time, I worked as a part time HRIS person for a small company near my house the "IS" portion of that title is Information Systems. The other part is HR.

I'm not an HR kind of person. I have a lot of issues with using "humans" as "resources." I have a lot of issues with secret keeping, with obfuscation, and with laying people off while looking them in the eye and telling them everything is going to be okay and not to worry. I find the vast majority of HR people to be phony, liars, deceivers, and not really interested in the "human" portion of the equation.

The "IS" portion of that thing, I liked. I love building webpages and tools. I had great experiences building things with one company as the HRIS portal manager, and was looking forward to another job in that vein to build my skill set, even if it was a part time job.

The job wasn't panning out the way it was supposed to, for a number of reasons. I ended up doing a lot more employee care, direct counseling, worker's comp paperwork, and other things to fill in the gaps of the director and assistant director's lives.

They decided they were going to hire a full time HR person, and never once asked me if I wanted the job. When they did their first round of interviews I said something to the assistant director about how it would be nice to have a full time job, and I wished that she'd asked me if I wanted it. She looked surprised and said "oh, I thought you liked working part time. It never crossed my mind to ask you." Her head tilted to the side like a Golden Retriever waiting for the ball to be thrown or wondering "where did you hide that cookie?"


I'm trained, I know the job, I'm already doing it? Ask me first at least and at least give me right of first refusal? Yeah, I liked working full time but when I interviewed we had talked about the possibilities of a full time job, and now is the time, and now you're not even asking me if I want it.

She said something about wanting a "certified HR professional" in the position. Whatever. Long and the short of it is I knew that she was very much one of those HR people I don't like. And I was not an HR type of person, so she didn't like me very much.

Turns out that they interviewed a really good friend of mine for the job, and I was stoked that she could possibly be hired. I told them that I was friends with this girl and they terminated me. Because I'd been talking to her about the likelihood of her working there. They told me it was because "the higher ups decided that a part time person was not needed if a full time person was being brought in" but I knew that was a pile of crap.

Whatever, I'm happy to go.

Resigned with Resignation

My contract job has been requesting that I work a five-day work week for them.

The reason is two fold:

  • One, there is a pant load and a shit ton of work to be completed. My extra day helps. 
  • Two, it looks good. My boss is trying to create a full time position for me, and me being here full time makes it appear that I want to be here full time so the powers that be may consider me for a full time position. 

Which meant one thing. I would have to resign my job at the Cooking School. So Doug and I talked about it, and I talked to Jo, and resigned.  I felt horrible and conflicted about it. I love working there. I love everyone who works there. But I've been praying for a full time job opportunity, and this could very well be the one.

So, hithertoforth, I no longer work at "awesome" as I called it. Here's to hoping this contract turns into "awesome too." or ... "awesome 2." Or something.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One year and 3 weeks...

Earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than you already have), including the following:
j. Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling*
k. Camping, and

This is the list of Merit Badges that Geoff has finished. He just got Personal Fitness done today. I'm wondering if he can do it, if he can turn on the turbo and get the jets going.

He has one year and three weeks until he turns 18. 

Add to the middle of this that he needs to design and execute an Eagle Service Project. I'm a little nervous. 


Sunday, December 08, 2013

"It is a good day to be under 5."

The other day at the doctor's office, we were sitting in the waiting room where a dad and his two children were waiting their turn to go in and get flu shots. The little boy, Thomas, was 5 and a half. Caroline was 3. Dad was entertaining them and everyone was having a lovely time. The nurse came out to get them to do their shots, and said that she didn't have any in stock for the 3 year old, but that anyone "aged 5 and over" can come on in.

Doug turns to me and says "It is a good day to be under 5, I guess."

We heard the dad say that he wanted to go first. The nurse, who has been our doctor's nurse for as long as we've known him (mark this - he was our doctor in college, so since 1987 at least) stammered a little and said "we don't usually do it that way."

Dad wanted to show the little boy it was no big deal to get the shot, and insisted.

Big mistake.

Thing is, with 20 something years of experience the nurses know that if you do the kids first they don't know what's coming and boom it is done. Seeing a needle go into your dad's arm, even if he doesn't freak out or panic or say "ouchies," is still something that a little kid may find disturbing.

And Thomas did.

He lost his mind. SCREAMING and crying and "I'm not ready!" and "I really don't want or need this shot after all!" Dad and the nurse were both trying to calm him and get him focused, but there was no joy in Mudville at that moment. Poor Thomas.

 Doug and I both sat there chuckling uncomfortably, because you have this instinct to go in and try and help but you also know that really it is no big deal.

We talked about whether or not we remembered Geoff freaking out for shots and we didn't. He usually did incredibly well. Mostly because our doctor gave the shot, and would do something distracting to the kid like "hey, look at that thing on the wall, can you see that picture of the dog?" and the kid turns and looks at the picture and boom - done. "ouch!" a little surprise but usually no panic or upset as the lollipop appears or mommy gives the hug.

Thomas' meltdown went on and on for quite some time, and then we heard deep and most horrible sobbing as he got his flu shot.

The adult "that wasn't so bad!" response from the nurse and the dad did nothing to help. He was devastated. I'm wondering how much it really hurt or if he had knowledge that he freaked out over something so small that he was now ashamed and embarrassed, thus the tears.

I was in my appointment room getting my blood pressure taken (112/77 baby) and Doug reported that a flushed-red little blonde Thomas came out of the room, his sister leading the way. She tip toed up to the lollipops and got each of them one.

He said she didn't seem phased at all by witnessing the near mutilation and murduration of her older brother.

Truly, a good day to be under 5.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hi, Knee

On Thursday at work, I found myself limping. My right knee just hurt like a bastard whenever I stood up after sitting for a long stretch of time. I had driven in that day, so I was very excited about not having a .6 mile walk to the car... throughout the day I stood up, stretched my leg, got tea, walked around the floor. Usually if my knee is sore, which it has been lately, use makes it feel better.

Later this month I have a physical scheduled where I was going to ask my doctor about arthritis, RA or osteo, because both run in my family.

Upon arrival home Thursday night, after an exceptionally stressful (and knee pain filled) commute home, I had to run out to deliver wreaths to some folks who had ordered them from Geoff's BSA  Troop.

I got to one house, stepped up on the first porch step and heard the pop, felt the pop, and crumbled to the next step on my left knee.

My knee basically exploded in pain - I thought for a second as I pulled myself up to a standing position "well, I hope that was just something out of place and now it has corrected itself."

But no. It wasn't. I stood on the porch having a conversation with the person who had ordered the wreath, smiled and said I had to go pick Geoff up at Scouts and limped down the steps back to the truck.

I couldn't put any pressure on my leg, I kind of skip/hopped to the car door and was panting in pain as I lifted my leg into the vehicle. I couldn't pull myself up in, so I took my leg out, rotated and hopped butt-first into the seat to then swing my legs in.

Holy crap, pain.

Driving wasn't hard -- I could use my foot ok and shifting my leg to the brakes was no problem... I made it to Scouts, got Geoff, and we headed home.

Doug and I discussed whether or not I should go to the emergency room or just RICE (or, ECRI as the order was that we approached the first aid) the knee and I'd sleep on the couch. We opted for the latter, because spending 4 hours in the emergency room with a 100 dollar copay to maybe be told to go home and RICE it sounded stupid.

We got in first thing to see our PCP, and she thinks I have an enclosed dislocation of the patella.  Meaning somehow that my patella has moved... she thinks possibly from a build up of fluids behind it that burst (hence the popping). She doesn't think I have a strained or torn ACL, MCL, PCL or any other L, or torn tendons or anything. I have good range of motion, it's all in the standing and walking.

She referred me to an orthopaedist. And they can't see me until Monday. Had we gone to the emergency room, we would have at least had X-rays done so she could see them, and maybe be able to tell more because I don't know if I have an enclosed dislocation of my patella. But I'm not a doctor. What do I know?

So, short term means I am in Knee Jail. My doctor told me I am not to leave the house, and am to stay off the foot, the leg, the knee, the walking until I leave for the orthopaedist on Monday morning.

I'm on the couch, sleeping with my knee elevated, and feeling the pain when I walk around. Doug bought me a cane, which was nice of him but I feel like a big huge fat old crippled lady. I'm really pissed off because I had gotten into a great nice routine of walking (unless it was pouring/icy rain) every day to and from the subway and train. I was going to the gym at least once a week, usually with Geoff on Sundays if the 4pm football games did not include Patriots or Steelers. I'd gotten back on track with losing some weight.

Isn't it always right when you join a gym that you go and injure the hell out of yourself? jeesh.

I'm sure that this will all be okay, a temporary set back. I'm just kind of frustrated because I missed work Friday, will miss work Monday, and who knows what the ortho is going to say.

My big fear is that maybe I will need to have PT three times a week and God only knows when that is going to fit into a life schedule. I should research if there is a PT place close to my office. I know there is one across the street from North Station.

And an even bigger fear is the possibility of surgery. Good grief. I've put off having surgery on my abdomen until maybe this summer (based on trying to save money, pay bills, get ahead now that I have this contract job) so I don't know if they will keep me if I have to have outpatient surgery and 2 weeks recovery or some shit.


Anyway. They used to say "Calgon, take me away," but today I'll say "Vicodin, take me away" and take a big assed nap. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

And like that, Thanksgiving happened

So here we are, Tuesday after Thanksgiving. December already. Having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I'm out of sorts a little, because Thanksgiving and Hanukkah happened at the same time instead of Hanukkah happening closer to Christmas. I feel my Away in a Manger has been robbed of its Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech a o'lam as it were.

It is so weird.

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents, and it was a really nice time. Mom ordered everything out from Stop n Shop, which was very unlike her, but I guess I should get used to her wanting to scale back the hosting and entertaining portion of things since they are getting on. My dad's health issues this past year have put a toll on them, and it was great to be hosted. My dad didn't feel like coming up here, and they had an offer to go to my great uncle's down the Cape, but they passed on it because even though it is just 10 miles from their house, my dad just felt it was too much.

We had a lovely visit. Some great laughs. I microwaved all the side dishes. I incorrectly loaded the dishwasher and my mom reloaded it when she thought I was not looking.

I wonder where we will be this time next year and I shudder to think.

So, rather than think about that, we went to the New England Aquarium on Saturday. You may remember I gave a woman 13 bucks for her groceries, and she gave me four passes to the Aquarium. I had wanted to go the weekend before my birthday, but it didn't work out. Mostly because I slept that Saturday until 10:30am.

But beside that.

The passes expired on the 30th, which was this Saturday and damnit, the hell I was gonna lose out on that 13 dollars worth of nice that I gave out! That lady gave me passes to the Aquarium and even if I had to take three strangers I was gonna go to the freaking Aquarium.

On Thanksgiving when I told Geoff that's what we were gonna do he said "The Aquarium is for little kids and slow adults." It took me a minute or five to realize he was insulting my enthusiasm for the institution, and we all had one of those good laughs but I told myself that he'd enjoy himself. Oh yes. He would.

Shakes fist softly at The Boy.

We all were up and out the door, ready to go at like 11 am which is pretty damn good for the four of us. I made bacon and omelets for everyone. It was a great way to start the day!

The passes were accepted (to be honest, in the back of my mind I was scared that they wouldn't be, but all went well) and we made our way in. The seals outside were adorable as always. And the trek up around the giant central tank was lovely. It was nice to watch all the people silhouetted against the gorgeous blue of the tank.

And most notably, my son.

Who is the little kid or slow adult now, eh?

Before I left I mentioned on FB that we were headed that way and our "son" Byron's girlfriend squeed with delight that they were also headed there.

For those who remember, Byron was in "Hamlet" with Jess (Byron, Jess and Nick were the kids from her HS who did Hamlet that year and I think it was a wonderful experience for the three of them together... I know it was for me, and I'll never forget the time I spent with them being Mamma G to that cast).

We were there for quite a while and I was worried that we wouldn't connect with B and his girlfriend M but they found us. It was a joyous reunion next to the penguins.

Several extra visits to the Skate and Shark petting tank later and we were on our way home.

I don't think we'd been to the Aquarium since Geoff was in diapers, so this was a lot of fun.

For thankfulness, Thanksgiving time a lot of people talk about what they are thankful for. Some folks did 30 days of Thankfulness on their blogs or on their FB statuses.

I didn't participate in that. I've had a shit year. I recognize and embrace that. But even in the middle of a year that is "all a lot of oysters but no pearls," I need to pause and stop and be thankful.


I'm thankful that my kids have some friends, and that we have time continued with my dad after the shenanigans of health he's perpetuated on us over the past several months. I'm thankful that I got called out of nowhere to this temporary gig at the beginning of October that is running through at least the end of January and hopefully will turn into a real job. I'm so thankful for my Girl C for her kindness to me and for someone to always talk to and walk with when I have the time. I'm thankful for my dear friend Beth who now is my across the street neighbor, and gives me free chicken eggs. I'm thankful for my church, even with the flaws of the people within. I'm thankful for Guster. No seriously, I am. I think their music gets me through so very much.

And I am thankful for Jellyfish. Because they are bad ass ...