Thursday, October 21, 2021

What to do next? Don't Worry?

We've had a weird, rough, and unexpected week here at our house. 

Geoff got released from his academic/clinical program last week. 

Academically, he was doing great, but he had a couple of missteps and some issues with evaluations, and because of that, he failed the clinical portion of things. 

They let him know last Thursday and he's been an outright mess ever since. 

Can't say as I blame him. I'm kind of a mess too. 

Things were going incredibly well, but, sometimes there are issues with Geoff and his learning disability, and they reared their big ugly heads and everything got derailed. And here we are. 

Unlike when the children were younger, I would write long and detailed descriptions of the goings on in life. Here now, it's not my story to tell. It's his. 


As his mom, as any mom? I'm really sad. I'm deeply disappointed. 

In him a little bit; in the school a lot a bit. I think he got a screwed in some ways, and some of it is because of Covid.... I think the school could have done more to prevent this from happening. But in the end, it belongs to Geoff. 

I think they sucked at communicating with him. And as he has a communications based learning disorder, communication is key. And I'm not satisfied after talking with a few people so far.

Geoff and I had a meeting with the chair of the department on Tuesday after I spent repeated days trying to get someone to talk to me. Thankfully I have a good friend who understands how these things work, who works with student success, and she told me the magic word of "FERPA" to get permission for the school to talk to me. It's like Academic HIPPA. Frustratingly, they couldn't return my emails or acknowledge that I was even contacting them because reasons. Once I said FERPA, they contacted Geoff and had him to fill out a form to give me permission be talked to. 

Frustrating beyond imagination. I can't imagine anyone who doesn't know how to play the game with this getting through anything. 

I left somewhat dissatisfied, even though she was very nice and encouraged him to other programs. 

We have a meeting tomorrow morning with his academic advisor/accommodations director. He's been the go-to for Geoff to get advice and guidance through this whole academic process. He's a good person. I like him. 

There are options. There are always options. Geoff can do things. But Geoff is about as defeated as I've ever seen him. The picture above is from him just crawling into my bed, not to be with me but to be with Phineas.

We're encouraging him to pivot, think about where to go next. It's so hard to turn your head and look for another path, or another option, when you're just looking at the floor and you cannot move.

I was drawn, once again, to Frank Turner, and his song "Don't Worry." 

Please watch that video. Please listen to him. Hear his words. I sent it to Geoff but "it's not my style."

 Okay. But still. Hear what Frank has to say. Like, I want Frank to just come to our house with a guitar, and sit Geoff down, and sing into his face.  This is as close as I'm going to get that. And to be honest, this song is going to help me too going forward. 

So, we are dealing with this sadness, with this complete implosion of his plans. This time next year we'd hoped, Geoff hoped, that he would be having a full time job, his own apartment. He was on target for graduation in August of 2022. And now a dream deferred... is not a dream denied, to misquote the famous Civil Rights credo. 

As for Geoff, he has no desire to put a new plan in place. 

If nothing else in life, after twenty years of this blog, you've seen our family adjust, do that "pivot," and make things work. We have gotten good at this. The unexpected. We say when mom breaks her hip 3 weeks after we move to DC, "of course you did." And we work with the flow. 

Nothing is a showstopper for us. If anything, we wait for the show to get the curtain fixed or the lighting figured out or the fire alarm to clear and the audience to come back in, and the show goes on.

So this is wild time for us. A hard week. A very hard week. Pile on three of the wildest site launches I've done, with problems, issues, and some horrible missteps, it's been rough. 

We've gotten through worse, right? 

We'll get through this. Pray for us, for our strength, and for The Boy. Especially.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Be More Kind, or don't maybe, sometimes

This is a long and complicated post. I've rewritten it several times.  I may edit it. I may just let it be. I'm not sure.

Dear Reader, 

You know (all three of you who read this blog) I'm a fairly well adjusted and mostly rational person. I mean, once in a while here in the blog I do express my inner frustrations with life, indeed. But, for the most part, out in the world amongst other people, I do not lose my mind. 

An incident after the Frank Turner/Counting Crows show at MGM National Harbor a couple weeks ago is something I want to share because I'm still trying to process it. 

Finally getting to see Frank Turner was a dream come true for me, and my heart was so full. Counting Crows didn't disappoint, and if you read the last entry, yeah, Adam does weird things with the singing of his songs anymore, but overall, it was delightful. 

After the show, we played penny slots kind of on a lark, and won back the cost of the tickets, the crummy food we ate, and the gas we put in the car to get down there. 

I was pretty happy as we got to the elevator to head down. 

Your humble narrator was in a very good mood.

A disheveled, unmasked, older white man holding a Shake Shack take-away bag stepped on the elevator first, and held the door for us. He immediately started pressing the close door button, even though 4 black people were trying to get on. They (the 4 black people) managed to get in, and rode down 2 levels. 

We were going 2 levels further down, same floor as the old man. 

When the four other passengers stepped off on their floor, he started pounding the close door button again. 

He said "It never fails," and he shook his head. "Bunch of ni**ers sat down and fucked the table on me, it never fails. Those kind of people shouldn't be allowed in a nice place like this."

"Rough night? heh heh heh," Doug said, and I am not sure he heard what the man just said, and was just reacting to his overall demeanor.  

As for me, if I didn't have a mask on my mouth would have been visible - open as wide as my eyes. 

Dude then says, "Those c**ns do it all the time, they ..." but he didn't get much deeper into his sentiments. I put a stop to it.

"The fuck did you just say?" came out of my mouth. Loudly. 

He was muttering more things, but what I said pulled him up. He looked me straight in the eyes, and said "oh you got a mouth on you, you're worse than me!" You better fucking believe it, champ, ole buddy, ole pal, and here it comes. Get ready.

"What the fuck is wrong with you? You don't get to say that to us or anyone, you racist motherfucker!"

The elevator opens at our level in the parking garage and he exits first, fast, with me on his tail. There are 10 people in the parking garage lobby, of mixed races and appearances, all waiting for the elevator to go up to the casino. And there goes the racist, and here I come behind him, yelling. 

He says something I can't quite hear or process (because I'm screaming at the back of his dumb head) about me and "those people." 

I continued yelling at him, calling him out. Thinking of my friends, all through the years with the "those people" comment, I couldn't bear it. 

"You don't know me, and you don't know my people, you racist fuck," as he booked it out the double glass doors on one side of the lobby, and Doug waited for me by the doors on the other side of the lobby. 

"Fuck you and your racist bullshit," I screamed through my mask. Hopefully that phrase snagged the ring around the collar on the back of his filthy sweatshirt like an outraged, angry animal, biting and clawing through his skull. 

I walked over to Doug, we walked out the doors to go to our car, and we have not spoken about this at all. 

And that makes me mad, a little. 

My outburst didn't need for him to congratulate me for being harsh/right/tough with this guy. I also don't need for him to tell me "you know, you shouldn't engage with these people." 

None of this was performative. None of this was something I wanted a cookie or a pat on the head for. I know me, and maybe you know me, and I'm not going to put up with that. I wish Doug had the same outrage as I have, sometimes. But he plays it safe.

I think Doug thinks we're going to get us knived, or beat up, or murdered one of these days. 

My mouth is going to get us in trouble. Okay, yes, I get that. 

Case in point: A few years ago we were at a hotel once in Pennsylvania where a couple good ole boys who were also staying at the hotel who were in the parking lot taunting and baiting the young black kid at the front desk to come out and fight with them off camera. 

The kid wasn't taking the invitation. I sat at the window, with it wide open, listening. I heard him say "I don't need this, I'm in college. I'm just trying to do my job. I asked you to keep it down in your room and in the parking lot because the other people staying here are blowing up my phone. I'm not going to fight you and give all that up and end up in jail." 

I wanted to go downstairs and stand with the boy. I yelled a bunch of shit out the window at the guys in the parking lot at that point. Doug yanked me back from the window as he was on the phone with the police to get them to come and respond to the situation, as I expected at that point (or at least I hoped) the cops of Center Township were on the way. 

Doug has a "let the authorities handle this" philosophy and I do respect that. Truth be told, I wouldn't be able to reason with two drunk fuckers from Alabama if their girlfriends, who were also yelling at them to knock it off and come back in the room, couldn't. 

And of course the cops came. And of course the guys were like "oh, gee officer, I'm sorry if you think that maybe there was some yelling. We're just having some fun. Nothing is happening here..." and the cops left. Only to have this all start over as soon as the tail lights approached the mall.

But. In this case. On the elevator. 

You get on an enclosed elevator with me, and you think it is okay, or "safe" to open your mouth to a couple white people and we'll be all "yeah, ni**ers, amirite?" right there with you... you picked the wrong person to lift the front of your KKK hood towards and show your face. Because I see you. 

I didn't have enough time, but I wanted to say other things. Here is my list of items I would have said if he had turned around and not tucked his ratty tail between his smelly ass cheeks and run off. 

1. Did it cross your mind it doesn't matter what color people are, that maybe you just suck at gambling? They didn't fuck the table on you, you just suck at this. Spend your money on other things like hygiene. 

2. They shouldn't let those people in a nice place like this? Have you looked at yourself, my man. You look like a fucking pig sty, you fell off the tractor and straight into the manure pile. You are filthy, dirty, motherfucker outside and inside. Why don't you use money to buy laundry detergent instead of gambling. 

3. Who do you think we are, that you're safe to get in here and open your mouth like that just because we're white. We're going to agree with you? You've made a big mistake with that kind of assumption, you fossil. You relic. You piece of shit. 

4. Too bad you didn't win some money because you could build your ass a time machine to go back to some fucking Jim Crow era bullshit southern town and hang out with those of your ilk. You can badmouth black people and give them shit at the counter at Woolworth's while they are just trying to eat some lunch. You could go yell at an elementary school girl just trying to go to class, with a police escort. Yeah, too bad. Too bad.

5. So that Shake Shack bag? I bet a person of color made you that food at 1am working their ass off.  I bet you didn't tip. And I sure hope to fuck you choke on it. Enjoy!

6. They shouldn't let those kind of people into this nice of a place? Have you taken a look at yourself, inside and out. You shouldn't be allowed in. You're the problem.

I'm still mad. This ruined the night for me. 

And I have a lot of feelings.

Frank Turner has a wonderful song about just being nice, called "Be More Kind." Here's the song if you want to go watch, and I hope you do. I picked a live version just for you. There's a little tremble in his voice in the long held notes, and you can feel a little nervousness about playing live on air at the radio station (hat tip to WNRN). 

I was happy that night. 

For me, this song is church. It is like a hymn. Like how I feel about Guster's "Hang On." Frank sang it that night and I could feel Counting Crows fans in the audience become Frank Fans. 

Before he sang it, he said something along the lines of remembering we're all human, we're all made of the same things, we're all going through stuff, and to think before we treat someone badly. 

I always try to do that, friends. You know me.

Another case in point: After the show, as we were walking around the casino, seeing all kinds of people, just having fun. We saw bridal parties, and girls nights, and old couples. Black, white, Asian, so many people. Some amazingly well dressed and some not so much like Mr. Racismpants that  I'd run into later. 

I had a smile on my face, even though the music was too loud and wasn't my style, my mask was on and I was smiling. Beaming.

We were on line to get some halfway somewhat decent food from a BBQ place in the food court, and there was a woman who was there just waiting for french fries. She'd been waiting a long time. My food came, it had fries. So she asked the girl behind the counter (very nicely) when hers were going to come. There had been a mix up. they never cooked her fries. She was a little upset, so I offered her my fries right there. 

"Can you give me that small take away container, and a fork, and we'll move my fries in there." 

The girl behind the counter was stunned, the lady said  "oh no no you don't have to do that! I'm sure it will work out here."  The girl running the food line booked it out back, and the counter girl said "we get our fries from the Crab Cakes place because they have a fryer, I'm so sorry we made a mistake, I'm so sorry..." 

I was still willing to give away my fries, they were piping hot, probably straight from the Crab Cake place... and the other girl came running back with a basket, over full, overflowing, with golden fries. She was apologizing, everyone was apologizing, and it was lovely. And there were french fries.

As we walked away with our food, the lady who finally got her fries said "that's the nicest thing I think anyone's offered to do for me in a long time."

"It's okay, really" I replied, I should save my carbs for beer, so. It wasn't the largest sacrifice I ever made.  I'm really glad you got your fries in the end!" We parted ways smiling, and I got to the table where Doug had gone ahead of me to grab a seat. I didn't have to tell him the story, I didn't need an "attagirl! Aren't you sweet!" And he ate my fries for me. 

So I was in a very good mood. I was living the Gospel of Be More Kind, the way I like to do. 

And then all this happens with the guy in the elevator, and I'm mad now. Part of me said that I could have just said "oh no dude, that's not cool. Don't be like that." Part of me said I could have just said nothing, like Mike Birbiglia's famous bit about what he should have said. 

It made me feel like I was unkind to someone who maybe needed some kindness. Would that have been a better witness for the Gospel of both Frank Turner and Jesus, when it comes down to it? Especially after Frank gave us the loving lesson, the "sermon" as it were on how we should treat others. 

I don't know this guy. I don't know his life. I could have been kind while also letting him know that what he said was unacceptable. 

And then another part of me is full of "oh, hell no, Christine. No." It had to be said. I had the opportunity. I took it. This guy has probably had through his whole life a pass on whatever he says or thinks. He's surrounded himself with hate. He sleeps with it and wears it, and expects that every other white person he encounters is on the same time. 

In doing what I did, am I doing Be More Kind on behalf of other people who weren't there to receive my kindness as I read this man to filth? 

And I probably didn't change how he thinks or feels about Black People. But I'm not taking shit like this anymore. And I don't think anyone should. And that in the end, does kindness. 

This dumb experience also reminded me of two other times in the last couple years that I've stood up to others on behalf of someone who really couldn't at the time. Perhaps I'll dip into those stories soon.  

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Frank Turner and Counting Crows, MGM National Harbor, October 1, 2021

On Friday, I got a raise. It's nice to get a raise, isn't it?  

Especially when I feel I have been working harder than I've ever worked at a job before, it's nice to be given more money as recognition of what I'm doing. Although some would say I'm working my ass off, maybe hire someone else onto the team. We did recently, so I'm working on bringing people up to speed. 

And, to be honest, I hand picked these two people because they both worked at stations, and they know how to already kind of do my job. 

And they're great. 

I love them. My job/my life is already better for them being on the team. 

But this isn't a post about my raise. It's a post about this past Friday night. 

I've wanted to see Frank Turner for years. Going on like 10 plus years now. But our schedules have not meshed. Frank is in Boston, I'm in Pittsburgh. Frank is over there, I just left. Frank comes to Boston, I move to DC.

Regretfully, while I was living near Boston I didn't buy tickets to go see him in a split bill with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. I hadn't really yet started listening to Isbell, and didn't want to see a split bill with a band I wasn't familiar with. 

To this day, I kick myself. Because now, I'm also a Jason Isbell fan, and I desperately need to see him live too. Well. Bad decisions come back to bite.

A couple weeks ago, Frank posted on social media that he was so excited to be opening for Counting Crows. I said, well damn. I had NO idea this was happening. Heck. I'd like to go see that. 

Mostly for Frank, to be honest. 

Since hearing about the gig, both here at the Casino and southbound down in Richmond, I'd been dropping hints to Doug that I really wanted to go. 

Doug muttered "yeah that sounds interesting." 

The days went by, and I kept looking at tickets, and quietly mentioning it was happening. 

I got "Mhmm hmmm" from Doug. 

Friday came. Night of show.

The day after our really fun day trip down in southern Maryland. 

I just got the news about the raise. Doug had a bunch of heavy duty work things and a 4pm meeting come up unexpectedly on Friday. I was ready to couch my disappointment as I went downstairs to tell him about the raise. 

I pitched, again, the concept of going out to seeing a show. 

"We could, you know, go ... see Frank Turner and Counting Crows at the Casino to celebrate, maybe," I said, "or...." cringing as I think about how this could be me passing on yet another opportunity to actually see Frank Turner fer chrissake, "we could just order Chinese food or something and stay home." 

Doug said "that's today? It's .... Friday? I thought the show was Saturday."

"No, I replied," they're in Richmond on Saturday. I'd suggested that we go and stay overnight on Saturday but you said that was far and you didn't want to." (It's True. I did suggest such a thing).

"Are there tickets available?" he asked.

I showed him available seats on Ticketmaster for Verified Resale, there were two that looked really good. 

"Okay let's go," he said. He went and put on a Hawaiian Shirt, which made me laugh.

I said, "I could buy these or we could just go to the box office, and buy tickets in person and avoid Ticketmaster." He only heard me say "I could buy these..." 

And he didn't say back to me, "Yes, buy those." 

So in my mind, we were getting in the car and going, and ... I was going to check with the box office for what tickets they have, and if they are too much, buy the verified resale.

Well, we were about 5 minutes away from the venue, and I'm checking some other seats to see if the prices are dropping yet, and I told him that the 2 tickets I'd shown him... were gone. 

He flipped out. He couldn't believe I had not bought the tickets, at the house. 

He thought I bought the damn tickets. He never heard me say that I was waiting to check with the box office (they weren't answering the phone). I felt confident in my plan. He was irate. He wanted to sit in those seats because no one would be sitting up on him, they were end seats in the side balcony. WRRRAARRRRRR.

Doug and I often have the "I didn't hear you" or "I didn't understand what you meant by that" moments, but here we were barreling down the highway to a concert without tickets in hand as a result. But I was confident in my damn plan. It was going to be great. He didn't see it that way. I told him to turn around and go home, or trust me. And hell, if worse comes to worse let's play some slots, eat a dinner, get some complimentary cocktails or some shit, and maybe go over to that big ass ferris wheel on the Potomac and have a ride.

He didn't say anything and kept driving to the casino.

I felt a little sick to my stomach and looked at other tickets, some were selling for $100 plus, the floor seats 2nd row were $400 each. 

In My Head, Screaming: C'mon, man. Show is in an hour, you dicks. Drop your price to something reasonable! You're going to eat those tickets, you shitstain! Drop the price! fer chrissakes.

We got to the casino at about 7:30 for the 8pm show, found the box office, and indeed they had really good seats available for only 20 bucks more than the tickets I missed out on. 

I bought them. 

And yeahhhhh. They were incredibly good seats. Hell, if I go back to this venue, this is exactly where I am going to sit. I'll always buy tickets in this spot for the rest of my life. Worth every penny of the 20 bucks more per seat. I pointed out to him where the seats were for the other tickets and he said "Oh what the hell. You can't see half the stage from up there. How do you see anything...?" 

So glad I didn't buy them. Because then I would never hear the end of it about how shitty the seats were. 

Hell. Yes. I'm going to see Frank Turner. Finally. I could just cry.

Sad that there is no mention of him opening on this ticket, but, that's the ticket. That's the view of the stage. And we were there. 

Doug was tired - he didn't eat before we left. And when we got there and secured our tickets he opted not to buy food at one of the concessions because "14 dollars for a sandwich is ridiculous." 

Okay. so you're going to be hangry and tired. That's alright. You sleep. Frank would say "Sleep is for the Weak" but. Go on. I'm here, happy you're here with me. Alright. 

The people in front of us were discussing with the people in front of them "is there an opener? the ticket doesn't say there's an opener but I heard there is?" So of course, your humble narrator is all "oh, yes there is. Let me tell you about Frank Turner and his mandolin playing sidekick Matt Nasir." 

I tell them about how I'm actually there to see them more than the Counting Crows. They laughed. "How do you know about this guy?" the dude bro of one of the couples says to me.

Oh honey. Let me tell you. 

I tell him how I was driving to work at the cooking school a million years ago, well, 10. And the favorite radio station of everyone alternative in Boston, WFNX (RIP you wonderful station), played "If Ever I Stray." 

I got to work, pulled up youtube and watched the video. Then I told Jo, please look at this. Look at this guy. Listen to this song.

Bloody Hell. I love this. She loved it. 

The guy in front of me is beaming, whips out his phone, and says "Okay, what albums should I get." 

I told him to watch Frank first, and then I'll let him know. I wouldn't want this young man angry with me cause he dropped a bunch of cash on Amazon Music to buy albums for a guy he turned out not to like. 

Setlist link here, by the way.

Frank and Matt come out, introduced by Adam Duritz who long ago shed the dreads and now looks like a high school English teacher who is hipper than all of you. 

They start off with "Recovery" which in my heart makes me think of our friend Chris Kelly living his sober life (and they also played Not Dead Yet, which Chris says "It's about me.")  It's nice to tie thoughts of Chris to Frank Turner, especially as he is the person who introduced us to Counting Crows one late night in 1993 at a bar that had TVs in the floor, and a DJ spinning tunes to the empty space. Chris asked the guy to play "Murder of One," and he did. And I was hooked. 

Matt is a lovely mandolin player, and harmonizer to Frank. When they do songs together like "The Way I Tend To Be" it is just lovely to hear them blend. Frank sometimes "scream sings" but I love that punk energy and excitement. It makes me think of Billy Bragg in his younger years beating the snot out of his guitar and hollering "In a mail order paradise!!!!!" 

I'm sitting there, giddy as fuck, as they go into "Photosynthesis," which includes lines that make me think of Geoff in Elementary School and lines that make me think of me:

For Geoff, at the age most of the children are in this video:
"I won't sit down, and I won't shut up. And most of all I will not grow up...."

And for me:
"Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what's so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
Look, I'm meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that's your road then take, it but it's not the road for me
... And if all you ever do with your life is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights that you waste wondering when you're gonna die."

By the way: Please read this wonderful write up from another Frank Fan for some feelings about this song.

All told, the setlist speaks to my heart. A newer song about his marriage and relationships in general called "The Work" made me cry a little, especially the part about memorizing your partner's family tree, and heeding the warnings about when you're close to crossing the line, and about how I didn't buy the tickets at the house but wanted to go with my plan of buying the tickets at the venue. 

He told the tale that it was his anniversary of his first video date with The Missus (Jess Guise) six years ago and that she was furious that he was on tour. 


He was on tour because he was invited to open for Counting Crows. How could he not?

Frank has often told the story about how his sister introduced him to the Counting Crows as a young lad. They made him the musician he is today. He had been mostly into hardcore and metal, and in fact his first band was a pretty hardcore band. "August and Everything After" became an obsession for him, he learned to play all the songs, and he loves this band. 

For as important as Counting Crows has been to me over the course of the last 30 years, I have never seen them live. 

There were times we could have but those were times we were rolling coins to put gas in the car so we could drive to Florida and stay for free at a friend's condo and eat Ramen noodles while looking at the ocean, just so we could go on "Vacation" with the kids.  

We just never got around to seeing them. And as time went on, they put out some live albums where when I listened to them, I said "wow. What is Duritz doing to his songs?" 

Doug refers to Adam's live performance style as "Shatnerizing." If you are familiar with William Shatner singing Dylan songs, you'll know what I mean.

He does not sing the song insomuch as he kind of does an oral interpretation of the song. He has said in interviews often that it is up to his mood the night of the show. Sometimes he's happy, sometimes sad, confused. So he just does it different every time. 

It was funny because we knew it going in, and sure enough here we are listening to him Shatnerize the hell out of "Mr. Jones." It's kind of cringeworthy, and it's also really weird to see people around us trying to sing along, and being confused by the song changes.

I get it, I get why he does it, why it happens. He's telling a story and pushing the emotional engine to a whine that you can only really do in person sometimes. 

Duritz makes his song and stagecraft into an off-Broadway show. 

He acts out his songs, the people, what they're doing and thinking. Like "walking on a wire in a circus" in "Round Here," and calming himself with hands over his face and looking up into the rafters as "she has trouble acting normal when she's NERRRRRRRRVOUS..." 

I almost feels like it is time for someone to do that, take this band's songs and make a show. Adam can star.  The new album, Butter Miracle Suite One, is full of songs that you feel would be amazing in this kind of a setting.

I feel the new stuff is so much like Bruce Springsteen: the characters; the storytelling; the craft. If you watch the film here, you'll hear and see it too. My guess is that Springsteen fans will either hate it or love it. But it feeds into my idea that Adam deserves a musical show. Just like Brue, but. Different. And only Adam can star. No one else can pull this off in a traveling show. 

The rest of the band, all of the Counting Crows, a lot of people don't know their names and all because Adam Duritz is Adam Duritz, are just amazing musicians. My favorite member of the band is Charlie Gillingham, who plays mostly the piano, the Hammond organ, and the accordion. You know his organ playing on so many of the songs like "Rain King," for sure.

As much as I love Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies when he is up there playing blue sparkly accordion on songs like "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank," seeing Charlie rule that stage like the captain of a pirate ship during "Omaha" was a truly unforgettable experience. 

His white hair and beard give him this wild salty look, straddling the stage, going from edge to edge like a pent up animal ready to escape the cage. It was tremendous. I wish I had a photo but I'll just remember the beautiful man doing his beautiful thing in my head.

Musically, this is one of the tightest bands I've ever heard, so for as much as Adam will "Shatnerize" his songs and confuse the sing-alongers, this band doesn't miss a beat, a note, a screaming chord. They took songs that are gentle on the albums and turned them into raging rock anthems. 

"Long December" never sounded better. 

Frank Turner came out at the end with Matt Nasir to sing on "Hanginaround" and you could tell he was just living his best rock and roll kid life right there.  I didn't take a lot of pictures because we were just a touch too far away for things to come out right, but: 

The white blur at the left of the shot there, that's Frank, jumping around like the world's happiest boy. 

Both Frank and Adam gave between song speeches of their mutual admiration of one another, and at the end, Adam was up on stage by himself when the house lights came up and he thanked everyone for coming out, for making them feel so good, and he said he'll see us again soon...

"...because, we're back."

And yeah. They are. 

Oh, two final things. 

The guy in front of us ended up buying "England Keep My Bones," "Positive Songs for Negative People," and "Be More Kind." He told me that during the show he was facebooking his buddies to go to youtube and look at videos for the songs, and through the show he'd turn to me and ask "what's the name of that one he just played?" His friends were all writing back and saying "WHO IS THIS GUY!!!" 

Made a convert, I think. Maybe someday I'll see him at a show of just Frank and the Sleeping Souls headlining. That'll be nice. I'll recognize him immediately because he reminded me so much of my friend Ben back home, who actually just went to see Jason Isbell the other night and said he thought of me a lot. 

And after the show, we found food. It was disappointing, but it was food. We walked around the casino and Doug took out some money for us to play some penny slots. 

We won almost $300, which basically totally covered the cost of the tickets, the food we ate, and the tank of gas for the car. 

And that, my friends, is the saga. I'll save the fight I had with a guy in the elevator for another post. 

A Thursday Adventure to Calvert and St. Mary's Counties

Doug was equally burned out with his job, if you recall my post from the other day about how burned out I am. He knew he couldn't take off Friday for a long weekend, but both of us could be free on Thursday. So we took off. We took off running. Just one day. We'll take it. I arranged to have one of my co-workers take care of a site launch, Doug finished up something that would have to be done before Friday. We were poised and ready.  After work on Wednesday, we packed up and drove to Solomon's Island. On paper it is 90 minutes but it took over two hours. 

I miss the part of Covid when we had less traffic. 

We got to town just in time to catch the remnants of the sunset, which was beautiful to see. We gazed out at the bridge and the Patuxent River. 

The kitchen at the restaurant where Doug wanted to eat was going to be closed in about 15 minutes, but right across the street was a perfect spot called the Bugeye Grill where the kitchen was open for another hour. Score.

The Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge was looking pretty as the day wound down. 

Relaxed. Happy. A lovely dinner and a couple drinks later, we headed to the hotel, which was right next to a marina. It was kind of cool that there were people there who look like they either live on their boats or at least love hanging out on their boats at night there. We saw lots of pretty lights and festooned masts, and TVs glowing through the windows. 

For the last day of September, that's a nice life. Maryland, you in September, you make me happy.

Up early the next morning, we didn't have a nice sit down brekkie but hit a BK drive through for some croissanwich and coffee action, and headed towards our morning's destination, Calvert Cliffs State Park

"It's a short hike in, mostly flat, down to the beach," says Doug. 

It was not a short hike, it was 1.8 miles on the shortest trail. And it was mostly flat yes. So we did it. Today is Sunday and I am still sore even though I've tried to not be idle and I've walked each day since. 

Way out of shape over here, kids. 

We saw this boardwalk out into the wetlands, which obviously appears to need some help. We made some jokes about my job lately like:

"Thank you for your feature request it... is.... uh. On our roadmap?"

 "There's a problem with your CMS implementation..."

"Where my tech support dev requests go to die."

The temptation to take that above picture and make it a meme is very very strong.

The hike was lovely. Really lovely. And the beach was absolutely lovely too. 

We walked in the Chesapeake Bay, the water was warm enough that I regretted not having my bathing suit and towel to just dip in. 

We realized it was getting to be after lunch time, and we still needed to walk out. So we headed back. The hike out was more challenging for me, but the benches along the way were very appreciated, I'll tell you that! 

I was very happy to see my water bottle.

Because we didn't have a 4 day weekend to really dig in to enjoying the area one section at a time, Doug had decided there were just a few must-do things on this trip with the weather being as gorgeous as it was. 

His next item on the want-to-do list was to check out Point Lookout.  We crossed the gorgeous bridge and turned left in St. Mary's County, and headed down to the, as Doug described it, "the little spit of land that sticks out where the Potomac and Chesapeake meet."  

At the side of the road, we first stopped at a Confederate Memorial. The privately owned park next door is is "closed for renovations" so we didn't get in to check it out. But the roadside monuments nearby, dedicated by the US Government and the state of Maryland, were open and available to walk around.

Doug had done some reading about the POW camp the US government ran there, and how horrible the conditions were for the Confederate soldiers, and he was kind of curious to walk these grounds. 

It's a beautiful spot, hard to imagine thousands upon thousands of people housed there, badly, and the over 3000 dead who suffered so. Especially on such a gorgeous day. Weather and time have reduced the amount of land here. Where there were probably buildings once upon a time, there is now water. The campsites are not in restoration, except for a couple example tents at Camp Hoffman. Right now they have a lot of fishermen who hang out on the road in, and the possibility to do some really nice camping if that's your jam.

After checking out the end, and the lighthouse, I noticed on the Pokemon app that there was a gym right on the water if we turned left. Doug was getting a little cranky, but I said "c'mon man. Let's go beat those jerks up and take the Gym!" 

Glad we did.

To our right, we noticed some pickup trucks and a small John Deere tractor, and an open gate with some interpretive signs. We heard hammering, and one of the men working waved at us. The signs indicated this was Fort Lincoln, a recreation/restoration of one of the Redoubts in the park. We met three volunteers from Friends Of Point Lookout who were working on restoration and upkeep of the buildings. 

They shared their knowledge of the history, had the blueprints for the original camp, with the hospital and all the tents and everything. They were a lot of fun to chat with and we really had a nice visit with them. 

We talked about how the space would be an amazing spot for Scout troops. One of them told us about his son's troop would stay there, and that his son did his Eagle project where the hospital used to be, and he did trail markings down by the lighthouse. It was obvious they love this place, and they were looking poised to camp and spend a great weekend there working on things. 

There was a brief attempt to try and go to the Civil War museum at the park but there was a gate that required a pass code, and we didn't know how to get in, and we bailed. 

Good thing too because we're starting to get hungry. It had been a long time since that stop at BK for a brekkie sammitch. 

We drove up to "Historic St. Mary's City," where we thought there would be a restaurant or something. Instead it was like we were on a college campus, and there were a million kids there walking around. Turns out we were - basically this is St. Mary's College of Maryland, so we felt we were better off getting out of there.  

Leonardtown was the next obvious destination, and turned out to be the town with all the things we needed and wanted. Like beer. And food. There were several choices for dinner. The place we picked was packed full, which I thought was weird it being 4pm. So we turned the corner, and found a place called ble The Rex, and really enjoyed our meal and wished we didn't have to go. 

But we did. 

Geoff's work schedule has him leaving the house at 5:45am every day, except Thursday. And then after November 15th, it is every day of the week. So I'm hoping we can grab another Thursday Adventure before too long.

So this was a good adventure for us taken at a good time, weather and schedule-wise. We know we'll want to go back to St. Mary's and Calvert County and look at more things. Leonardtown looks like a good place to land and then explore from. Solomon's is super nice, especially when it isn't full season insanity. I'd like to stay there, rent a kayak, toodle aboot, relax. 

Relax. Relax. Relax.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

fire night and fire chat


This past week, the weather has been outstanding. Absolutely. Outstanding. The DC heat and humidity has gone, hopefully for the rest of the year. I worked outside the other day, with my lap desk, my feet up on one of the porch steps to give me some balance. I still want a full nice patio set, but they've been sold out or on backorder forever. I've been looking at the online neighborhood sales but haven't found one close enough. I also sort of feel wary of these sites. I love buying used stuff, but, I feel a level of sketchiness on Facebook or Nextdoor. Let's not even mention Craigslist. What a cesspool.

Last night after dinner, I said to Doug "is tonight a good night to have a fire, ya think?" He kind of made a meh face and I thought, oh. Okay. I'll.... just go back to working then? It's a bad habit, but after I finish dinner, I start working again. 

He watched the news, got up, put his sandals on and sighed. He picked up the matches, some flyers from the grocery stores, and headed out to the pit. "I guess it's as good as it's going to get." 

I finished my helpdesk ticket. I grabbed a glass of wine. I headed out to the patio. 

We had been piling up kindling and loose pieces of wood onto the fire pit for weeks. Doug crammed the grocery store flyers under the wood. I said that we should take the wood out, and build an actual good pile of kindling and give it a chance to catch, we can't just expect the paper to catch ---

He lit the paper and said "It'll start!" 

It took forever. I sat beside the fledgling flames feeding them smaller pieces of wood that I was breaking off from the pile. Twigs and thin branches, sliding them in under the bigger in the way pieces that were too damp to catch, and blocking too much airflow for the attempts at getting going. Eventually my corner of the fire pit began to catch, and we had ourselves a fire. 

Boy Scout Mom knows what she is doing.

It was glorious. Doug had kind of a crappy week, so he has been on edge, which probably is what fed into his lackadaisical attitude to actually getting it started. Maybe if it doesn't start, I can just go back inside and watch TV. I've had an incredibly stressful several weeks and I just was relieved to set that laptop down and not work another ticket. I let go of my sense of "you have to do this... because..." and let the work/life balance thing take over my brain. 

Geoff came out to sit with us, too. He had an orientation for next semester's clinical. He couldn't understand why it was so early, but didn't argue with anyone. It was in person, the first time his entire class group was in the same place at the same time since the pandemic hit, and their training had been somewhat derailed and delayed. They've  had zoom classes but no one keeps their cameras on. So he hasn't been able to make the kind of connections he's wanted to with the group. He said it was really cool to see people, and his instructor said that even though everyone had their masks on, she could tell they were smiling. 

He said when the program started, there were 24 students, but the group has dwindled to 17. He's not sure where some of the folks have gone. If they couldn't pass the classes, if they weren't doing good at clinical. He said it made him nervous. 

He did 3 weeks at a local radiology department, now he's back at Georgetown, and then in Mid November will be headed up county to a different hospital, and in the spring, sometime, he'll be at a pediatric facility. He isn't sure where but the pediatric facility is Children's National. The program tries to get everyone exposed to as many different kinds of spaces as possible. The equipment and experiences and types of offices and facilities out there is all different. At the doctor's office where he just was, their equipment was much older and he didn't know much about it, but now he does. He also said he had a huge language barrier with most of the patients. They all mostly spoke Spanish and he speaks "Bueno. Bien. Gracias."

The girl he was working with spoke fluent Spanish, but was not a native speaker. She was a white chick. I asked what he took away from that. What should he be thinking of doing, possibly, to make his professional experience more meaningful or to make himself more attractive to employers. For the last two years I have been encouraging him to take a second language, even if he just plays with Duolingo. 

You don't have to have the whole Medical Spanish thing down, but leg, arm, hand, head, turn to the left, turn to the right, sit up, thank you, I'm sorry, these things will make the patient's experience much better. 

I told him when I went in to the doctor last year for my mammogram, there was a tech there who was in the waiting room talking casually in Spanish to a husband and wife. He brought me out back to get set up and I told him I was impressed with his language skills. He told me he was Pakistani, grew up near Karachi. When he was growing up, they all spoke Urdu and Punjabi, and a few other regional languages because of the nature of Karachi. He learned English in school and then went to medical school, and it was incredibly helpful for him to know as much English as he did. He came to the United states and saw the need to learn Spanish very quickly. Now he dabbles in French to speak with the Haitian patients. "There are a lot of people in our city here who are from Ethiopia so Amharic is what he'll be learning next. 

I shared his story with Geoff, and of course Geoff's response was "why don't people just learn English while they are here." I said that is a good question, and maybe they should, but, if you're in a care position, you don't know how long someone has been here, how much they know, how they learn, if they've been successful in learning. Communities of people surround each other, keep their languages, and keep each other safe. The priority of learning English for a lot of people is minimized because they are doing just fine with their people. 

"You should look at people with empathy, not disdain. You don't know what their journey has been. Meet them where they are, and show them you care for them."

Hopefully a year from right now he'll be hired somewhere. And he's thinking about further certification in CT scans or "flouro" as it were. And hopefully some Spanish, or something.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Neighborino 2

My son was putting out the recycling tonight. We have a milk crate inside, and a couple of times a week, because we are so diligent and it fills up fast, he takes the contents outside and dumps stuff in the actual county bin that we put out on the curb on Tuesdays. 

I could hear her voice. And Geoff saying "Huh?"

I was making dinner, and could hear her rattling at him, and he wasn't answering. So I wiped my hands and went out back. 

"Oh! Christine! I have not seen you in a while."

"Yes, I know. I've been busy, and haven't been hanging out outside."

"Oh! What are you busy with?"

"I work from home. I work all day. Sometimes late hours. So I'm here, I just have not been outside in the back here, mostly up front with the garden, or with the dog."

"Oh! What do you do?" 

"I do technical support." 

"Oh, I need technical support with some things!"


She told me that she noticed Geoff was doing the recycling. She was explaining to Geoff that she was hoping we would save the pull tabs off of our beer cans. And he didn't understand what she meant by pull tabs.

I figured it out rather quickly.

"You have a lot of beer cans. And I collect those tabs for charity."

Oh we have a lot of beer cans, do we?

...Yeah, that's not a lie, I guess. 

But are you saying we drink a lot? 

...No you're not. You're just noticing we have cans and...cans have tabs so you're just asking.

"Sure thing, we can grab the pull tabs and save them for you. I'll do that, no problem." 

Then she starts going on about the firewood. Again. That she went at Doug the other day about. 

"It's been too hot to burn," I said, "and if it isn't too hot it's pouring rain. We'll get to it."

"Yes yes, your husband said that."

So what's your point, lady. What he told you is what stands. We. Will. Get. To. Burning. All. The. Damn. Wood. When. It. Is. Wood. Burning. Time. 

She then went on a mystical explanation journey. 

"I had my driveway redone a few years ago, and I had some concrete stacked up here, and the neighbor, he is fussy, he called the county on me! My brother, he was so sick with the cancer, he couldn't do anything. And the company was supposed to come get the concrete and they did not, for weeks! And this man calls the county... and......."

"So what." I replied. "You know what? That's your business, and no one else's. You could have a giant pile of concrete, and that's no one's business. That could be an art installation. It's not anything to worry about. It's yours. You deal with it when you can." 

She started laughing.

"I'm totally serious. If it is your concrete, it's your concrete. If you needed time, that's no one's business. He could talk to you, ask you, offer help if it is something you need help with. And if anyone comes at you, you tell them you'll take care of it when you can take care of it." 

I'm thinking to myself so help me God if you call the county because I have firewood for a fire pit I will lose my mind. 

We exchanged some more chit chat and I went inside to continue prepping dinner. 

I really wanted to go out and grill, but I had Doug do it instead because I didn't want to deal with her. And Doug understood so he handled it with no neighbor sightings. 

One thing I forgot to mention in the last entry was the recycling bin that we had. 

When we moved in here, every house in the county has recycling bins. There are these gianormous bins for cardboard and paper, and a small bin (should be the other way around, really) for cans and glass. 

We had the one at the last house in the kitchen, but at this house there isn't enough room so we keep it under the back steps, and Geoff uses that milk crate that we keep in the kitchen to do the transfer.

The county glass/plastic bin, the small one, was cracked. It looked like it had been hit by a car. We taped it up, it was fine. It worked. You put recycling in it. It doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, a busted up and duct taped bin is kind of the definition of recycling in a way.

There was nothing wrong with the bin. 

One day in the spring, I was outside with the dog and she came over calling to me. 

"I called the county about your broken recycling bin. They are coming to take it away."

I'm thinking, what is your deal lady?

"Well, there's nothing wrong with it."

"It is broken," she says.

"But it works. We put tape on it. It holds garbage, recycling, it isn't something that needs to be beautiful, I mean. What?" 

"You can take one of mine. Leave your broken one here by my driveway because I called the county. They are bringing a new one and they will pick it up here at my driveway."

"You have more than one recycling bin?" 

"Yes, I have a basement apartment. It is totally legal. So I have two bins. Take one, and the broken one will be picked up by the county this week." 

I'm thinking to myself, what is wrong with you, you old busybody. The people who lived here before us used this bin did you give them grief? Or did you wait for us to get here so you could fuss. Also, why didn't you just say something like "hey I noticed your bin is busted? Have you thought about calling the county?"

So I took the bin and walked away. Later I told Doug and he was like "what is her deal?" Both of us were dumbfounded. 

Every exchange I have makes me miss our folks up the block. 

Hopefully the weather will be nice and acceptable, this weekend, we burn things. 

Geoff went to the beer store yesterday afternoon, after the discussion about pull tabs. 

He bought bottled beer. I don't know if he did that on purpose. If that was a deliberate shade throwing act on his part. But it sure made me laugh.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Burn Out

So I'm feeling burned out. Burned the fuck out. It's my own fault but also because I don't really have a clear backup for other people to actually do my job. I was telling a friend of mine that a few months ago, I got assigned a task I really actually love, very much, while a colleague was on family leave. 

It takes me an hour per each task, so that can be only 3 hours or 4 hours a week. And I love doing it. I don't want to give it up.

I also host calls with stations before they launch, so that's another couple hours a week. And I love doing that. 

And once in a while, we have a station that is a little extra, and needy, and I do those calls. And I love doing those.

But I also don't really want to always be doing my actual job. I have grown to hate my actual job. 

When I started working here the joke was no one lasts at this job for longer than 18 months, or 2 years max. But I've been at it for 7. I believed enough in it to relocate the family. 

And now I hate it and don't want it anymore. Someone, come take it.

Thankfully we've hired a couple new people, and I've been assigning tickets to other people on my team a lot more.

But the tickets don't stop coming.  They just don't. 

I've been kind of a pissy bitch about a few things and was talking to a colleague. I asked her if I could unload about something, she gave me the grace to do so. I was mad about someone neglecting to do something, ignoring something, and I feel that he doesn't want to do the thing because he isn't interested in the thing. 

"You know," she said, "he reports to me." 

Oh. No I didn't know that. Shit.

She was happy to hear this, and we talked about what we can do to get the thing the attention it needs from this person. 

I said I didn't appreciate that he gives off the impression that this isn't something he values. He wants to do the other thing, or do product research, or come up with something else that is shiny, rather than take care of the thing that needs to be taken care of. I told her it makes me feel unvalued, puts the pressure on me constantly to apologize for the thing that doesn't work. I echoed the words of an old friend that I've always tried to take to heart, "no one can make you feel anything. How you decide to feel is up to you." and for a long time, I've felt really shitty about this situation. 

Knowing that one of my greatest allies is now his manager, this is helpful to me.

She told me that I can read a room, and I am spot on with my assessment. She told me her idea of support is "relationship" building and maintaining, not let's list a bunch of things to do that are maybe needed, and get to them eventually. 

It was a good chat. And in the end I don't feel he's in trouble or anything, and maybe I'll get some of the help I need. 

I've expressed my frustration to my manager and he has asked me to hang in there. He knows I'm a tired bean. 

Good things are overall my team is poised and ready to go. A lot of what is exhausting is that we have to wait on other teams. Things are broken, we don't fix them but we report to the other teams and they fix them. And sometimes not fast enough. So more things come in. And then those are not getting fixed fast enough. 

Someone asked me what would make things better. The answer is, and always has been, other people not getting things done the way we need in the time we need it. 

Another problem I've had is that I feel compelled to make sure all the new tickets that come in during the day are touched before I'm done for the day. And sometimes, after meetings and everything, it is 6pm and I still have to do tickets. 

My company talks a lot about Work/Life balance and when I try to hit that work/life balance thing, and not work after 6pm, the next day is a total shit show. 

Right now, on Thursday night, I'm kind of caught up. I'm looking to go into Friday with a meeting light day, hopefully nothing will super break (like last Friday) and I can totally catch up, and feel going into the weekend I've got a grip. 

I also feel like I need a week off, with a cabin, and sunsets, and a lake, and a kayak, or a beach house, and the ocean.

Doug is feeling the same. Maybe we'll get a day or two away and not work. I'd like that. A lot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


 When we moved, we met our new neighbor behind us. She's an elderly woman, and she's a little fussy. She doesn't like the dog barking. She complained that we let climbing vines grow all over the back fence, and on a section of the fence along the street. It's ivy. It's pretty. It's protective and gives us privacy.

"That's where rats live. In the vines," she complained. 

No, honey. Rats don't live in vines that grow along a fence. 

She doesn't like that we let our garden grow wild. She recommended her landscaping service. No thank you, I'm not interested in paying for gardening when I have a 24 yr old who likes to mow the lawn. 

The first time we used the firepit, she commented the next day that the previous tenants "didn't do that."

"Do you like having camp fires?" 

Uh, yes we do.

What are you saying. Do you not want us doing camp fires? Did this bother you somehow? 

"Oh, no. It's just that sometimes woodsmoke is smelly. It's okay, it's okay," and she walked away.

Tonight she came over and complained about the pile of wood we have in the backyard, and the wood behind our shed, which she can see from her backyard. 

"I have to look at it," she said to Doug. "It may be your yard, but it touches my yard. And I do not like to see it.

The wood behind the shed was was there when we got here. God only knows how long it was there. We obtained the pile of wood on our patio earlier in the summer, for using in the fire pit. Before it turned 900 degrees. 

"I do plan on burning it," Doug told her. "I'm waiting for it to be cooler at night. It'll be taken care of. " 

"Oh. in a camp fire?" 

"Yes," Doug replied. "It's just been too hot to do that, and we are waiting. But I'm going to take care of it." 


We can tell this does not please her. I emailed my property management company to give a heads up that the neighborlady was fussin' at us. Took pictures of the wood behind the shed, and our wood pile. I just told her that "we feel there's no need to fuss, but if she does, let us know. We'll deal with it." 

The neighbors across the street got a new porch light this past weekend and it is the kind of thing I feel like I should go fuss. 

Now, compared to the wood behind the shed that my back neighbor has to "look at," I'm dealing with this raggedy nonsense that can be seen from the international space station, shining into my livingroom and my bedroom at all hours. 

I'm not fussing at them, though.

My neighbor sees the value in having a safe spotlight for his front porch (and ... the whole damn street).  I'm not sure if they are turning it on intentionally or if there is a motion sensor, because it will be off all night and then turn on at 3am. And then my dog thinks it is morning, and time to eat.

We're going to go buy better curtains - it's something we've wanted to do for the bedroom anyway, since the window faces East and boy oh boy is Juliet the Sun. Our old bedroom face west and it was never a problem in the mornings because heck, no sun shining in your face through the blinds. 

There are neighbor things that you fuss over, or choose not to fuss over, or fuss without like a truly valid reason to fuss. 

It makes me miss our neighbors up the street, who were always down to come over for a camp fire, who have the coolest baby. 

Here's to hoping it is about 70 degrees on Saturday, that Tony & Betsy are free to come over, that we can stream a bunch of JRAD, Guster and RatDog on the portable speaker, and deplete the pile of wood that annoys the back neighbor, before the light turns on for the front neighbor's sun display.

Alone for a change

Sidenote: Several updates to the Shenanigans With Dave beer blog have been posted in the past couple weeks, if yinz wanna read about our adventures, with beer. I had decided to rekindle the storytelling there, and am enjoying it. 

Today, Doug had to go to the office for a big meeting thing. In person. Everyone. Required. Presentations! Powerpoint! Suit! Tie! The whole thing! This is the first time (well, second?) since March 2020 that he's had to go in for work. He went in to get his brand new laptop and screens, and to get his first and second vaccination shots, but this is like Big Work Day vibes. 

He left this morning at 6:15am, the "meet and greet" part of the meeting started at 7 and his boss' boss said they should be there. He was happy to go then, because he would beat the traffic. Good reason. I fell back asleep after Geoff's Uber got here to get him. 

Since we have one car, Geoff had to head to clinical via ride share. If Doug has to start going back in regularly, we may have to evaluate our one-car lifestyle, especially if Geoff is assigned to a place where Public Transportation isn't going to get him there in a timely fashion. 

Anyway. sound asleep, there I was. It might have been a good idea to just get up, but sometimes I do my best sleepies between 7am and 8:30am, when my alarm usually goes off. Today though, the trash truck woke me up just before 9am, luckily. Not the first time I've been saved by the noisy contraption and its joyous crew. I forgot to set my alarm after the one I set  for Doug went off. Thank you Tuesday.

The dog and I are home here by ourselves.

For the first time. 

In months.

This solitude is weird. I have not experienced this in quite some time. It used to be like this every Tuesday for me, in the "before times" when I had my WFH day, one day a week. 

I'm hoping to have time in between the work things I want to do, like maybe vacuum, or do something around the house that I can't usually do because Doug is always up my butt or in my way. 

Doug and I don't work in the same spaces usually. He works downstairs, has 2 monitors and a laptop all set up in a workstation. Most of the time I am upstairs. I do a lot of zoom calls and the lighting is better up here, so I prefer sitting on the couch with my lap desk. 

When I have to do something that requires my second monitor, like today when I launch a station site at 3pm, I'll go downstairs. 

Sometimes Doug puts on headphones (he says I talk very loudly, and I do... I know) and sometimes he comes upstairs and plays a game on his phone while he's waiting for me to clear out of his space. 

Pandemic WFH life has been interesting, being together all of the time. 

We're sometimes in each others' spaces, but it hasn't been too bad. We have space that we can walk away to. We also have nice times where we make each other lunch. We have a puzzle table and we'll each take turns to work the puzzle pieces as a break from work. We take turns taking the dog out. We have chats. It's nice to not be alone-alone all the time. 

But I'm enjoying today and the solitude of the morning. I am going to unload the dishwasher and reload it  (I baked cookies last night and all of those dishes are waiting to go in). I will get to vacuum. I will ponder dinner. 

It's almost like what my WFH Tuesdays used to be like when we were still in Boston. It's lunchtime, and I may make myself some tuna fish, play some music, and work the puzzle for a few. 

Here's  a picture of the latest puzzle. It's actually going very fast so I'm worried we'll be done by the weekend at this rate!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Nice to see you, goodbye

Last week, I got invited to a goodbye party for a former college roommate. She and her husband have sent the kids off to their next stages in life, the house is huge and rambling, too much for them and their needs. Her parents are in need of support and care back home, he has a job here in DC. So she's moving up there, he's moving into an apartment close to work. 

It was also their birthday - their shared birthday, which I always thought was cute. So they had a birthday party/goodbye party. 

Since I moved down here in 2017, she and I had discussed getting together. They live over an hour west, and it always feels insurmountable with I-66 being such a nightmare to drive on. And with me working full time. And then the pandemic, like, no. I can't really go anywhere. 

But with her imminent departure from the area, and uncertainty about when we'd even get the chance to see each other, I figured, well. This is your chance to go see them, and spend some time, and make up for the years since moving here in 2017 and the years since we last saw each other - at a wedding in 1993. Jess was 14 months old. I still have a beautiful picture of them playing on a blanket with the Noah's Ark little people bath toy that we brought along, sweaty curls, flushed skin, big smile. 

Thankfully Doug came with me, see my feelings on driving on I-66 above. The party was at a beer farm in Virginia, and it was a beautiful setting for some fun. And there was beer. We got there late, because we both had to work, and didn't manage to get our shit together to get out the door until 5 when the party started at 4. We knew it'd be at least an hour before we got there. I warned her we'd be late and not to leave. We were coming.  

She said they'd wait.

Folks were in the process of leaving when we rolled up. She was thrilled when we walked up into the pavilion to join the gathering, and he acted like we were his very best friends that he hadn't seen in forever, which is weird because in College we didn't have any connection other than the fact he was dating my roommate and would sometimes be in our room. We were embraced with enthusiasm, brought to the bar to get beer on his tab. We talked mostly with him for quite a while as she was social butterflying around people, and he was more than happy to talk about Boston and how much he missed living there.

We had a good time catching up with them both and meeting a couple of their friends. The brewery closed at 9 and I believe we were the last people there. 

I don't really want to write in depth about some of the things her husband told me and Doug (which Doug could not believe he was saying). But suffice to say, it became obvious the sale of the house, and moving to separate locations isn't  just them making a plan for the next stage of their relationship and family care, there isn't a relationship between them any longer. 

Not only was this a shared birthday party for their shared birthday, and a bon voyage party for them moving, it was an end to the marriage send-off. This was it.

As we were some of the last people there (two other local friends stuck around to make sure they got home safe) it got teary but it never got snipey or ugly. A few burning glances across the table from her when he'd say something stupid. 

But there wasn't a level of drama brought to a drunken end of a gathering that say my family would have turned up to 11. It just was. It is what it is. 

Their friends drove them home, to the house they'd lived in for 5 years, where her stuff was packed in to her car for the morning departure. He was in charge of the rest of the move, and his own relocation. 

They'd stay one more night before she left, probably not speaking to each other. Maybe they would have harsh words then, having kept everything from boiling over at the party. Doubtful they'd sleep together (that vibe was pretty strong) and she'd be gone in the morning.

In college, she and I weren't really close or good friends. We lived in the same room and that's the extent of it. 

I am a few years older than she and our other roommate are (see the wedding above). The two of them had a tight closeness, I was on the periphery and that was okay. They were freshmen or maybe sophomores, I was a third time senior at that point.  

She was an only child, her parents older than mine (for instance, her dad is about to turn 90. My dad is 81 and my mom is in her late 70s). She was spoiled, and rich. She would come into the room at all hours of the night after hanging out with friends, and her "only child" behaviours were apparent. The overhead lights would be flung on instead gently of walking over to her desk and turning on the low light. The other roommate and I were usually already in bed, fast asleep. And then she'd talk in not a whisper but a loud and boisterous tone with the other roomie, who didn't mind getting woken up as much as I did. After all, there were stories to tell about her late night shenanigans. She'd turn on music. She listened to French music, having lived in France for a while. She'd sing. Jesus, God, help me she'd be over there singing in French and I had an 8am class.

It was at times brutal to live with someone who had literally never had to share time and space with others. We would have arguments about it, the other roomie and I trying to convince her how to act like other people were on the planet too. 

Eventually she started to get it, but I often was overwhelmed with the concepts of what selfishness does to relationships. The other roommate was the middle child of three girls (funnily enough, she then had 3 girls herself!) so she was always sensitive to space sharing and quiet time. We established guidelines: If it's after 11? Do not turn on the overhead lights. Try not to crank up the tunes and sing out loud and turn every light in the room on. And for fucks sake, do not sing a bunch of French pop songs. 

Especially if your roommate works full time to try and pay for college, and has to go to classes, and everything. You'll thank me later when I bring home a buttload of Croissants from the bakery I worked night shift at. If you want to enjoy the things I bring back, start acting like I matter. We left college on good terms. And that was nice, because at the bottom of everything, she indeed was nice, smart, and fun.

When Doug and I got to the party, after we found out about their separation, she pulled me aside and asked me "was it weird of me to include him? To invite him to this?" 

I told her that no I didn't think it was at all.  It was as much his birthday as hers, as much his last hurrah as hers, and it was obvious that these were his friends too.  

The most selfish person I'd known at one time had done something inclusive, for someone she probably can't stand being around at all anymore. And I thought that was pretty amazing.

So she's off. She's with her parents. She posted pictures on Facebook of taking her dad out for ice cream. It was quite adorable. She messaged me yesterday to thank us for coming to the party, apologized if it was weird or awkward for us. I told her it sort of was, but I get it and it does not diminish my love for her. 

Maybe let's not wait 30 something years to spend some time together again. 

Nice to see you. Bye, roomie. See you again some other time.