Thursday, April 30, 2015

Momming all over it

I love my kids, and I love being their mom. I always thought I'd have more of a relationship with Jess where she'd talk to me about "stuff" but she's completely closed off from me more often than not. Getting her to talk to me makes her defensive, and I'm not sure why. Then I thought about it and realized I was often the same way with my mom.  So I look at this relationship with slight longing, but knowledge that yeah ... if she needs me she'll let me know and I have to just let that be, rather than make her feel uncomfortable.

Geoff wanted to look at a local community college last week, even though we don't have money for him to go to school. He knows this, but signed up for the tour anyway, and I didn't want to squash his dreams. We talked realistically about money, and I told him I was proud of him for looking at community colleges instead of ... Harvard. While we toured, with about 20 other parents and kids, I let him walk on his own, and I positioned myself in different places. He and I made eye contact and nodded, or raised an eyebrow when the guide told us things of interest. Afterwards I told him that I gave him that space on purpose, so that I didn't make him uncomfortable. He liked that and indirectly quoted Bart Simpson and told me that he appreciated that I didn't "Mom all over it." He noticed many of the parents were incredibly bossy or "guidey" with their kids, and he liked being on his own.

In fact, it was great to see him smiling as he walked around the campus. He told me "I can see myself going here." And that made me happy. I texted Doug while we were touring and told him that Geoff's smile alone made me want to see this happen for him.

When we dropped Jess off at college, she was confrontational, rude, and disrespectful to us. And it really pissed me off. What I didn't realize was that she didn't really want to be there. Academically, I knew she had the chops to do it, but ... she didn't want it. When we toured Buffalo, Pitt and Syracuse, I should have listened to her social cues. But I didn't. And she went for, as Ben Folds sings "three sad semesters," and dropped out and came home.

So it is different seeing Geoff wanting this, and being excited about it. I wanted Jess, and still do want her, to get a degree. She's the "smart one," I was willing to sink all the money into her that I could but she didn't want to do it.  Geoff, however, is the motivated one, and I think steering him towards something he can do vocationally, something he can do while working (and finding him a job to do while he's going to school) is a worthy goal.

One of the reasons I changed jobs was to bring in more income. I was perfectly happy in the other job with the short commute, and was getting super comfortable with the work and the people and the projects (more on these thoughts later). Being able to write a check to the local community college for Geoff over the next couple of years will be a big undertaking since we won't get any loans, we don't qualify for financial aid, and he's probably not going to receive any grants or scholarships (we're starting to apply for those).  I knew that in order to get him going we'd need more money. And ...  here we are.

Hopefully I'll be able to say to Jess "Do you want to take a class? We have the money now. Pick something, I'm more than happy to pay for it." And we'll see what happens. But... I'll do it without momming all over it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

And about Marcia

I keep thinking about Marcia, not just yesterday's Marcia but Marcia through all the years.

Doug and I have always felt that she simply has something in her makeup that no one else we know has.

She is funny, smart, down to earth, brave, unruffled, filled with amazing common sense and a kind of spirit that is just overall difficult to define. If this were the Oregon Trail, she'd be there with the wagon, a baby on her hip, leading the horse, instructing the boys how to find food, dealing with the daughter who just got her period in the wilderness, trying to come up with a plan for dinner, and maintaining a calm collected spirit. She'd be teaching them to love God, obey her and dad, but still have fun somehow. She'd be teaching them to read and what plants are poisonous. All while her husband is sick in the wagon.

Marcia is somehow like no one else I've run across in life as a human being.

When Wayne was dying, she cried, she wasn't stoic or emotionally distant. Don't get this picture in your mind of someone who was just perfect and unruffled and nonplussed. There was sadness expressed, there was difficulty for sure. A lot of tears. But she was also so present in the moment, wiping his brow with a cold facecloth, talking to him and letting him know who was there. She kissed his forehead and cheeks. She told him that she was going to miss him so much. She attended to the children's questions and needs. She encouraged them to come hold daddy's hand and be there, and if they didn't want to - she didn't pressure them. She never once lost it with them.

And then we cracked jokes, had some laughs, got some more tears all mixed in there.

As Wayne was dying, at the very end in those last 15 minutes or so, she didn't ask anyone to leave the room, go away... I know a lot of people would. She told me he would have wanted us all to be there if he could tell us. She knew her husband, knew his wishes, knew exactly the person he was. And she abided by that so beautifully. 

As you and God are my witnesses, I swear... please allow me in this universe to be a small portion as strong as this woman was on that day in anything I can come up against. Let me keep my cool. Let me assess and reflect, not attack and react. Let me release selfishness and embrace some selflessness. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The greatest of these is love

Yesterday, my good friend Wayne died.

Sunday night at about 10pm he passed out in his bathroom, his wife is a physical therapist and is well trained in medical response, so she tried to revive him. He was completely unresponsive. He suffered a bleed in his brain stem. Surgery was not an option. He was fully unresponsive. He never regained consciousness.

She and her son used Facebook to get the word out to friends. So this was really weird, it was the first experience I had with Facebook being the method of communication for people sharing this kind of experience.

I woke up in the morning on Monday and while drinking my morning coffee checked in on the news feed and got the report. I called Doug who was on his way to a meeting, and let him know he should come home as soon as the meeting was over.

We were by Wayne's side by 2:30pm. And he was gone 3 hours later.

He was surrounded, about 20 people were in the room... we told stories, we laughed, cried and prayed. Laurel sang and forgot the words. But it was okay because it was pretty. And he would have laughed.

Wayne and Marcia have six kids. I've written about them here before, we have spent many fun days with them. This was not something I expected we'd all be doing on the first really super spectacularly beautiful day of the year... but there we were, saying goodbye. Suddenly.

It was surreal. Watching the numbers on the monitor. The beeping, the sounds. Every breath he took with the assisted device was a struggle. And then it was over.

When I got to the hospital, I got a sharpie from the computer in his room, and wrote a heart on each of the kids' hands. And I put one on my own. I wanted to put one on everyone. I wanted them to have a mark to be reminded when they left there that "the greatest of these is love..." Natalie took the above picture for me this morning. And I hope they remember always that they have each other, from age 20 to 7 down the line.

A friend of mine had said that as Christians we believe in heaven, we'll see him again. Death has lost its sting, but no ... it really hasn't. I rejoice in his faith and the fact we believe we will be together again. What I mourn is the now. The future events he will be notably missing from. The fact that while I'm here, I won't have him to joke around with.  And that I really didn't do enough joking around with him this last year.

So if you have a friend that you say "you know, we really should get together sometime," why don't you go ahead and set that up. Life is short, kids. And it gets shorter all the time.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Newburyport Walk

In about 2 weeks from now I'll be back in the Seaport in Boston. I'm having a hard time really grasping that.

On my last contract and the contract before that, going back to early 2013, the offices I was working in were in the heart of things. Not too far from South Station, near the courthouse, off Congress. In December the office I was in moved and we landed a bit further down towards South Boston, down A Street. I feel like that took us out of the heart of things. Not as many great places to go grab a quick coffee, or lunch to go.

The new office is forever away from anything quick and tasty. There are a couple of nice bars/restaurants, but not your grab a sandwich and be on your way to sit by the channel kinds of spaces. I really liked being right off Congress Street and Seaport Boulevard. There were so many options... The Metro, Bee's Knees, Flour, and then the wonderful Bon Me brick & mortar cafe opened up right before my contract ended. Not to mention the food trucks. Oh, the food trucks. And just the nice walkies, the park, the canal, the Children's Museum. I greatly enjoyed being over there. I'm not in love with the new neighborhood.

Working in Newburyport for the past several weeks, I was waiting for it to get warmer and nicer. March has just been a wasteland and so far April is not shaping up for early spring goodness.   The worst winter in the history of the universe has left the sidewalks impassable in many places, so getting out for a walk to one of the many sandwich shops was not happening.

I brought my lunch just about every day. There have been only a handful of dayswhere I ventured outside.

Yesterday was one of them. It was cold, but I needed to get out of here and get a walk in. I have had a horrible cold, and going to the gym has not been on my agenda, sleep has. So ... I went for a stroll around town, walking up the bullnose past my favorite usual sandwich shop. I wasn't ready to sit down and eat just yet. I ventured past Jewel in the Crown and thought about a giant Tandoori Chicken lunch. I was starting to get hungry, but I kept going.

I ended up at 17 State Street cafe. It used to be the newspaper stand and kind of a sandwich shop called Fowles. People still call it Fowles. When I told my co-worker where I had lunch, she had no idea what I meant when I said 17 State, but ... I corrected myself and she knew. My girl C and I meet there for breakfast some mornings. They do a great job, if you're ever in the market for a meal.

The burger was delicious, the place was packed, even though it was on the very late end of the lunch shift. I read the paper and thought to myself... this is what I was hoping for being in this town and having lunch.

I'm on the verge of regret when I think about going back to the office in the city that doesn't have any really good choices for a meal. I can walk out my door here and in a few steps be at about six great sandwich shops, a bagel shop, several bakeries, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican... pizza. without breaking a sweat.

I think it is my fault the weather has been so crummy. I'm being prevented from falling a little too much in love with where I am geographically, so I can make the transition back to Boston.

Today is not a walk-around day. It is snowing/raining/something, about 30 degrees. Cold, windy, horrible. I'm happy I brought leftovers. But I'm hoping tomorrow is a good go out for a walk and eats kind of day. And certainly I hope next week will be as well. We shall see.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

What's done is done, and cannot be undone

I gave my notice at work on Friday. I felt really anxious and horrible about it. My former future boss told me not to give notice until I had the offer letter in my email, and I wanted to give at least 2 weeks notice, so on Thursday morning I was ready to do it but could not connect with the current future former boss easily. I had to grab him on his way out the door Friday afternoon.

On Thursday he told me that he was so happy he had hired me, so it made me feel extra awful knowing that I had to tell him goodbye.

I kind of felt like the average girl who dated that really hot BMOC for a few months, but he then broke up with her.... and there I was with this nice new boy friend, someone adequate, kind, a little needy but in all respects nice. And the BMOC comes calling saying "baby, I shouldn't have broken up with you. Come back..."

I also felt like I was kicking a puppy. I felt that uncomfortable about it. And I still do a little bit.

My current future former boss didn't try to talk me out of it. He basically said "you're sure that this is the job you want to take and you've made up your mind..." and I said yes. I told him that I deliberated long and hard, and what it really boiled down to was money, and I didn't expect him to try and match the pay offered to me. I'd be doing something totally different, not web-development, and I don't think I'm worth that money here.

So he went home for the day on Friday and then sent me the job description and asked me to help him revise it and make it better so we can get the best candidate in.

I told him I'm super happy to train this new incoming person, whenever he or she is found, but I can't really go past April 22nd, I don't think. My former future boss wanted me to start as soon as possible, and the 2 weeks notice means I would start on the 20th (Monday) in her best world.

But I kind of feel like if the person moving into this seat needs me for an extra day, or two, I'd like to help that person out. Plus, that is April School Vacation week. what if I wanted to do something fun with my kid (who am I kidding. We'll just sleep until noon each day now that he's not in Boy Scouts).

In our staff meeting yesterday afternoon everything seemed to go well, we made jokes, everyone seemed happy. He had made some decisions on things a few weeks ago that he then completely changed, which changes how I did something that I thought was done but that's okay. I'll change it to the way he wants it. Everything will be okay here. I know it.

So in making that decision, my husband is very happy that we will be able to dig upwards out of debt. I'll be making about 300 dollars more a week, every week, and this particular salary is pretty much what I was making when I lost my last full time job in 2010.

It has been an exceptionally long time working for little money, and combined with losing the house and all the other crap that has happened I can breathe a little sign of relief. Maybe things can get better and more awesome. Maybe we can get a used car that isn't from the auto auction and might last longer than a couple months. Maybe we can get a new couch.

Hopefully this will be a job I'll want to stay at for quite some time. I think that if my last job hadn't folded 5 years ago last month, maybe I would have still been working there. Who knows. I just know that what's done is done, and cannot be undone.