Friday, October 18, 2019

The dream of Bonnie

I usually wake up around 4am, go to the bathroom, and go back to bed. The sleep I'm able to get between 4am and the alarm at 6:50 is usually great. My fitbit shows that I literally do not move at all, no rolling, no tossing and turning and restlessness. The best sleep of the night.

And usually, that's when the dreams happen.

This morning I had a dream about my college roommate Bonnie. I don't get to connect with her too often, but she's never far from my thoughts, especially this time of year as we've recently passed the anniversary of her dad's death two years ago. His funeral was the day that I was leaving Massachusetts, and I couldn't afford to stay at a hotel, and stay for that event, and to this day I regret not going. It stings when I think of it.

Bonnie's mom and dad were always very good to me, and from the moment I met her family, I knew it was going to be a great relationship. We met when I was 17. It always breaks my heart when I hear about friends' kids who have horrible roommate situations in college now.

So sad that they are not finding their Bonnie.


In my dream, Doug and I are at our mechanic getting a tire replaced on our car. The tire is shredded, and it is kind of ridiculous. Our mechanic Danny is explaining to Doug about how the tire doesn't need to be replaced, he can repair it. Doug wants a completely new tire, not a refurbished one, because he doesn't want Geoff getting a flat or having a problem. (Sidenote: A year or so ago, Geoff was driving to work and the tire/wheel everything on the car came flying off. No joke. It flew off, as he was driving up 95 to work. I applaud Doug for his good dadding and concern about the boy).

He and Danny are hashing it out.  I am getting anxious because we are invited to the marina across the street (mind you, there is no marina across the street from Danny's garage here in Maryland but it's a dream, ya know?) I am looking across the street at the marina, which has a restaurant with a big deck and awning. Very nice place. And I can see everyone out on the deck, and the sunshine on the water. The awning is yellow and white. Everyone is laughing. And we should go there like ... now.

Bonnie had invited us to join her family there, she had an important announcement and wanted me there. So I was jazzed, and excited, and couldn't wait to see her. I get a little snippy with Doug and Danny and ask them to just settle up on the job so we can go across the street and come back later for the car. Doug and Danny finish their discussion, and I drag him across the street.

Bonnie is very happy to see me, her kids are there, and her siblings are all there. Her dad and her mom are there. I get great hugs and lots of smiles. A glass of white wine is placed into my hand. The sunlight on the lake is bright, and it's hard to see people down the deck, so I'm shielding my eyes with my hands like a visor.

A man stands up and taps his water glass with a fork to get everyone's attention. He's someone I do not know. He is about my height (5' 7") and has dark hair. He is beaming, very happy, and he thanks everyone for coming.

He turns to Bonnie's dad and says "Walt, I really want to thank you for this day, and this being Bonnie's 50th birthday I'm letting everyone know we are getting married! Thank you for giving me her hand, and I look forward to joining your family!" and he gestures to Bonnie with cheers, and we all raise a glass in a toast.

Now, I'm completely confused. I don't get to see Bonnie too often, but these things I do know.

1. Bonnie is already married and has been for a good long time, to a guy named Duncan. I was at that wedding. It was a very good time.
2. Bonnie turned 50 three years ago.
3. Bonnie's dad is dead (so this being three years ago he'd still be alive)
4. Who the hell is this guy?

I decide I'll roll with this, and I ask Bonnie who her new fiance is. "It's Austin," she tells me. Okay then. So I realize, and yell out, "Oh! You guys can have your own hashtag for your wedding! It'll be #BAustin."

Everyone things this is great and clever. B for Bonnie. Austin for... Austin. And it sounds like Boston. I get a good round of laughs and smiles from Bonnie's clan and other friends.

Damn, I'm good.

But Austin stands there looking at me and says "I don't get it. Why would we want the hashtag #Boston?" So I explain the B for Bonnie, Austin for ... him," and he is still just looking at me like a lost dog.

Oh this guy isn't any good.

I turn to Bonnie and say "Oh Bubble, where did you find this dipshit?"

And that's when I woke up.

My apologies to Bonnie's wonderful husband Duncan. And I guess Congratulations to the couple on their engagement three years ago. Wonder how they're doing today.

It was awful nice to have a visit with Bonnie's dad though. I guess even if Austin doesn't get how clever and smart I am, at least I know where I stand with Walt, if not Austin.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Day Off

I forgot to share this picture from the Dumbarton Oaks from last weekend. I loved it. These were pretty much the only flowers still in full bloom, along with some cosmos and some roses.

Next summer, I really want to get a pollinator garden going somewhere on our property. And these would be a lovely example of something to put in. Making a mental note for the spring.

Today is Columbus Day.

Up in Massachusetts, Columbus Day is pretty much a guaranteed holiday for most. Apologies to our first nations/indigenous friends who hate the day. I understand your feelings and recognize them, and know this is hard time of year for a lot.

When I moved to DC, I thought for sure that it would not be a holiday here at our office, but it is. It is a mixed bag here for who has today off. Federal holiday, not a county holiday, trains run on weekend/holiday schedule, banks closed. Some people are working, others are not.

Doug is working, Geoff is working.

And our trash schedule does not change.

I greatly appreciate a 4 day work week. I wish every week was a 4 day work week. I have enough vacation time stored up that I could make the entire rest of this year a 4 day work week if my boss would allow it. While Doug was unemployed for 9 months, we didn't travel anywhere really. I took a day off here and there. Recently my boss pointed out that I had reached the cap of what one is allowed to roll over into the new year already, so I should take time off. I didn't realize it was that much.

Most companies allow you 160 to 200 hours of vacation time rollover per year. It isn't intended for you to bank up and hold on to like a retirement plan. Vacation time is to be taken, says the philosophy. Otherwise, it's a financial liability for the company. Well played, company. Well played.

I worked for a company in Massachusetts, back about 20 years ago now, where they instituted this capping policy, but didn't grandfather in the fact that some people had a lot of vacation time stored up. They just capped it and "took money away," according to some. Even though we were told for a year that this was coming and were encouraged to use our hours over the X amount of the cap.

There was a guy, high up in the leadership chain, who had literally several hundred hours saved up. I think he was planning on cashing that all in when he retired.

But he was cheating the system and everyone kind of knew it, and when this announcement came a lot of things came to light.

He took off every Friday and Monday in the summer, and full weeks too, in order to go stay at his lake house in Vermont. It wasn't like he wasn't taking time off. He just was not reporting it. So when they announced this new policy he flipped the fuck out. All the way. Threw over a desk, screaming that he was getting a lawyer, that the company could not take away "his" money.

He was really wrong to do that. He got called to the carpet in a payroll audit about all the time he was out of the office and days that he didn't declare that he was out of the office. He made some big threats and ended up getting fired for his behavior.

I always thought it was dumb that I am required to do a timesheet for my hours, as a salaried employee. But the time sheets are to report those vacation hours, the sick hours, the bereavement and personal hours. And on days when I'm on vacation but actually end up doing work, you better believe I account for the time I'm working. So sometimes a vacation day is reported as 6 hours due to me getting called upon to help. And no one questions that. I'm nothing but lawful good when it comes to these things.

As today is a holiday, I am not working working. I've checked email, I looked at Slack. Several employees at the company are working (it is a 24/7 organization) so there is chatter out in the world. There is an event happening tomorrow that requires digital support so we got things ready on Friday and are standing by for any last minute changes.

But I'm not working. That's not work. That's just paying attention. Case in point, I just saw an email come up with some concerns about the thing tomorrow, and a reply from someone that I really want to jump on, but I'm literally ignoring it (and it is killing me) because it is a freaking holiday.

I've got a few days scheduled off this year to keep under the threshold. But I promise next year that we will go do some fun stuff. Doug doesn't have a lot of earned vacation time yet. He had two days and used them in September to come down to New Orleans with me, as previously reported. I want him to save up some hours so in the spring we can do something like maybe go see Aaron in Oregon, and the new boat business.

I did take the day before my birthday and my birthday off, for the first time. I have a colleague who always takes their birthday off and they told me once that people should always do that. And if your birthday falls on a weekend, take off Friday or Monday or why not both. Treat yourself. So this year, I do not think we'll go anywhere for my birthday (like the days of old when we went to Montreal) but I'm going to stay at home and treat myself. Mimosa Monday Morning and Birthday something or other. Why the hell not?

So, what have I done so far with my day off? Well. Every six or so weeks, my dishwasher is smelly, and I get mad at it, and I clean it. I rip it apart, clean it, bleach it, swear and yell at it. I have never had a dishwasher that does this. The trap/filter area in the bottom of the dishwasher never fully drains, and I do not think the heated dry/sanitizer works because when I open the dishwasher after it runs, everything is still wet. There's something not right, and after weeks and weeks it just starts to go afoul. That got done, and things are much less stinky. My new philosophy is to leave the dishwasher door open at night so it isn't sealed up tight, and it can air out. We'll see how that goes.

 Geoff and I baked cookies.

I am about to vacuum.

I scrubbed the walls of our upstairs shower and will be scrubbing the tub next (so I can take a shower myself, in a nice clean spot).

Doug did 6 loads of laundry over the weekend. It all needs to be folded. I will get it folded.

Geoff and I gave the dog a bath. We've been here two full years and have not bathed her here. Before that it was the summer of 2017 and we would take her swimming a lot, and she was always kind of clean and nice after, even without soap, so she never really needed it. We used to take her (and the other two, Jack and Gonzo) to a DIY dog wash in Salisbury. All three of us (Doug, Geoff and I) would bring the pack up there, and wash them up, get their nails trimmed (the dude that worked there was amazing). But we didn't do this frequently. So the last time must have been somewhere in 2016. I remember he had a cinnamon soap that was a homemade concoction for flea/tick repellant and I loved it.

So right now I have a big snoring clean dog. She needs a good brushing, but as I've traumatized her pretty badly with the bath, I'll hold off on brushing her.

And I'm going to make a pie. And a Tuna Casserole for dinner.

That's the story of my day off work. It's pretty exciting. And worth it. Time off is time on, in some ways. But very differently.

Right. Time to vacuum, since the laptop is about to die. Gotta get on with my many things of doing on this non-work day.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Am I Happy

Just celebrated our 2 year anniversary of moving here to Maryland.

And by "celebrated" I mean we did nothing to mark the events. It is what it is. Doug was here September 15th, and then I followed (if you want go check my update at that time, here's the blog entry).

It's been a weird two years for sure. This time of year I'm especially homesick for fall and the beauty of New England. I wallow in photos that friends are posting on Facebook of trees and stuff.

Trees and stuff here are not doing as much stuff. In fact. It is October 12th today and the weather is just what I want. It was in the mid 70s. All our windows are open. And everyone back north is whining about rain and cold.

But our colors have not changed, our September and October have been exceptionally dry, so everything is just brown.

On Monday I took my dog out and I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. My neighbor walked by in a parka, a winter hat, gloves, sweatpants, and her dog was wearing a coat.

"A true Bostonian" she pronounced me.

"It's not cold out," I replied.

"It is 45 degrees," she countered.

"I've been waiting for this," was my retort.

Our windows are open. a sheet is finally required for a good night's sleep. It is October. And I'm happy.

I just took a short walk up to a Pokéstop for a daily requirement, and am in the same t-shirt and shorts as the other day. Some guy drove down the street and looked at me as if I were naked.

Maryland, you are ridiculous.

Someone asked me if I was happy here and to be honest after two years, I do not think so. Things could be worse, and I shouldn't be sad but there it is. There it is.

There are a few things that make me happy.  I spend time thinking about this a lot.  Walking around my neighborhood tonight when I went up to the Pokéstop, I realized that while I can always hear the beltway in the distance, and sirens out on Georgia Avenue (seriously, I've never lived somewhere I can hear so many sirens) I'm in love with my sweet little quiet neighborhood.

I've gotten to know 3 of my neighbors recently. Pat and her dog Ollie are across the street and we have dog-sat for them several times. I call Ollie my fat little sausage. She is a nurse. Ollie is a 13 year old Jack Russell Terrier.

Catty Corner to us is Tony and Becky, and they had a baby in June. I've spent time with Tony more than Becky, but both of them are lovely. Tony likes jam bands and metal. And craft brewing. They helped us out with Brodie during our last trip while Geoff was out at work. We brought him back some beers and pralines from New Orleans.

And directly next door is a very old couple, only they are not a couple. Anna is the woman, and she is the caretaker for Bob. I thought they were married but she corrected me a few weeks back when they got a taxi back from the grocery.

People take walks, and a lot of people have dogs and babies or dogs or babies. Sitting out on the porch in the morning with coffee this time of year there are a lot of waves and hellos as folks walk past.

My neighborhood is delightfully quaint.

Doug continually finds things for us to do. Last weekend we went to the Dumbarton Oaks and went to the gardens. It was lovely. You had to pay admission, as opposed to the Arboretum which is free, so fewer people were there.

I loved it. I loved the grounds and the walk and the flowers and hills. I loved the building, and sitting in this pavillion reading a poem around the interior that read:

"Feathers in a row
Measured left to right -
How shall you chart the morning
How track the heels of night."

There is a library and museum there that are free, and we are saving that for a horrible winter's day for a visit.

We will for sure be back to this garden in the spring, and summer, and many more times, I'm sure.

But still, I am not at home here. I am planning Jess' Christmas trip here, and looking forward in two weeks to my sister coming to visit so we can attend a house concert at my friend Sara's place for Joe Pisapia.

I am not sure how long it takes to feel it is ... mine. Home. This. You know? I suppose that I should just let that longing go. Recently something happened at work that was people related and I was not happy about it, and my colleague asked me "what did you expect? Can you just let that go, that you want Boston while you are here?"

And I think I do need to let Boston go. But how do you do that?

So much a part of me, as the blog entry I link to reads,

17 years on Long Island. Up to Massachusetts in 1984, with little side jaunts to Oregon and Atlanta. Back to Massachusetts in 1992. There ever since.

That's a lot.

Anyway, I'm looking at the rest of the calendar year and it doesn't look like I'll end up back north before the end of 2019 unless (God Forbid it 1000 times) something happens with my parents.

So I need to embrace stuff about down here.

Here's something that makes me happy.  By my office, there is a vacant lot. Locals to the NOMA neighborhood use it as dog park of sorts. There is one a few blocks to the east that they are supposed to use but they don't.

I stop to look at dogs in the morning or the afternoon. It sometimes makes me late for work, or late for home, but, it is worth it.

There is this one guy with a yellow lab named Samson. I do not know the dog dad's name (oh I did at one point but cannot recall) and I love to talk to him. He does politics and policy and recently quit his job. He is so young and lovely. I really like him. He's so friendly, a Texan from Austin... he likes Pokémon (He's seen my phone) and we have a lovely chat when we see each other. His dog has a game he plays with two tennis balls. You throw one, he goes and gets it, and waits for you to throw the second ball and he brings both back.

This guy knows all the dogs, and will tell me their names and stories. Since he quit his job he has been walking dogs and dog sitting for his neighbors.

I have to say he's the highlight of coming to or leaving from work. I'll try and get a picture of him and/or his dog.  You have to see this DC power couple.

That's kind of a big part of my joy. I'm sitting here thinking on Samson and what's his name. How sad is it that this guy and his go are my favorite things about DC?

Maybe I need a therapist? Or maybe more time?