Saturday, December 29, 2012

I resolve to....

You all know I don't generally do New Year's Resolutions. Spring, Birthday and Fall seem to be my biggest times for changes. This year though I am thinking about some changes and they will happen to line up with the new year so I guess they count.

You know I love my challenges. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. Just now finishing up my third round of picture a day challenge. This last time I used a cued shot list from Fat Mum Slim. It's been interesting and a new way of looking at things. Different than the last two shot a day challenges I did where I could just take a picture of whatever struck my fancy. Now I still did a bit of that with the cued shot, I just had to get creative on how it fit the theme. She is doing lists for 2013 and I have looked but I think I will pass this year. 

The six month fit challenge from last year wasn't successful in a traditional way but I count it as a success because I did get a lesson out of it all. The lesson being that I am old. Okay, that's a little harsh, but the lesson was that I cannot push my body to do something beyond what it can do and expect good results. Because I am old. Wait, let me try that again. I'm not as young as I used to be and now I must be smarter about how I take care of myself. Moderation is even more important than it used to be. Swinging to extremes used to be something to test out, now it's something to avoid. It also was a good reminder for me to keep an out on my eating. Skinny bitch is there just waiting to pounce at any moment of weakness. I have to make sure I am not playing the "if I ate exactly my calories yesterday let's see if I can go half that today!" game. I also got back in to exercising on a more regular basis and so even if I'm not doing the crazy schedule I started with I am still more active than I was and that means a healthier me. Now this year I just have to keep repeating the "I don't need to lose weight, I just need to stay healthy" mantra.

Writing challenges are always a repeat on my cycle. Writing a new blog every day. Or every week. Writing a piece of fiction every week for you all to read. I go back to those again and again. And every time I do I think, this time it will stick and I will be more consistent with my writing! And I am...until I'm not. There are a lot of things I am still working out in my head with my writing. What do I want to do with it all? Should I do another push at getting something published? Should I self publish? Do I need to publish in any other format than this one or does this give me what I need? Money isn't a big motivator for me (obviously) and generally when something becomes actual work or a job I lose interest in it fairly quickly. I like to do things for the sake of doing them. And right now writing is firmly in that category. But I also like to have what I've written read. So publishing would push it towards that area more. I'm not sure yet. So I think I will do a few more challenges where writing is concerned and see what I discover.

Facebook. You all know I starting cutting back in August. And I have. Sort of. I am ready to cut back again though. I've noticed that if I log on in the morning then I will lose hours of my day. Brent says "Are you enjoying it?" and I am. So he says, "Then why change?" Well...because I think I am missing something. I'm not sure what just yet, but there are other things I want to do and they take time. So Facebook will get another time culling here in the new year. Which is why I won't be doing the 2013 picture challenge. One less excuse to "have to log on."

And here are some of the things I will fill my time with: 

More writing. You knew this was going to be on the list right? I am trying to work out in my head how to challenge myself to get a book done without the end game being getting it published and see how that goes. I have a collection of short stories I've been working on for years that I think will make a book. I just need to actually focus on them and get them done. Then there are two series on here that I've put out there for you all that I want to work on as well. See where they lead. So that's three fiction pieces that need time. Along with all of the other ideas that will pop in here and there, as they do. As well as the nonfiction things. I have a piece about politics/guns/critical thinking that I have been mulling in my head that needs to come out soon.

Cooking. I know right? This one is a shocker for us all but I want to cook more. I have fought it and fought it and fought it. But when I did the two week challenge last summer I actually enjoyed it, and I discovered that I would rather eat my own cooking than go out. Going out is just easy. So this is one that is going to take a shift in the way I run my life. Brent is fine with going to the grocery store so instead of feeling like I have to do this task on my own since I'm the housewife we will do it on the weekends just like when I was working outside the house. And then most days during the week he can have the car. I have what I need here at the house, my workout room is downstairs, my writing desk is right here, my kitchen will be stocked and if I need something the grocery store is within walking distance. So unless I have an errand I have to run he can drive and I will have time to cook. 

Working out. Still on the list. Just instead of twice a day 6 times a week we are looking at a good decent solid week being once a day 5 days a week. That's enough to keep my weight stable while I eat what I want and to keep my heart and brain healthy.

And the last thing I will be working on this year is deciding if I want to stay a housewife. I find myself thinking about going back to work more and more. I'm just not sure as what. I have a list of what I don't want to dos, but I really don't have a list of what I want to try nexts yet.  But with C's college loans coming due soon and thinking about selling this place and moving downtown it might just be time to close out the stay at home mom who stayed at home when her kid left challenge. Maybe. Or who knows, once I get in to the full swing of more writing and cooking I might decide I don't want to change a thing...

Yeah, right.....

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dear Sears, I can see how this could be frustrating for you....

My dryer broke this past weekend. Stopped tumbling. You could push the buttons, the lights would come on but as far as functionality goes, that was out the window. I contacted Sears to do the repairs. It's a Kenmore, we bought it there, it seemed logical that the repair would be easiest through them. Of course it was going to be a few days before they could get a technician out, that's the way it goes. So yesterday was my day. My window was from 8-12. Don't you love how we've all been trained that a 4 hour window is reasonable?

Anyway, I considered myself lucky because the repairman showed shortly after 11. He diagnosed the problem as two blown fuses which he happened to have in his truck and he fixed it right up. The entire time he was in the house was less than a half hour. I was thrilled, for one load of laundry. Then the dryer stopped heating. Still tumbling so I was ahead of where I was this weekend, but a dryer without heat is pretty worthless.  So I called the "call this number if you have any problems, it's been a pleasure helping you" number that Ahmed showed me on the receipt as he was leaving.

So I call and a nice phone operator from someplace else answered. Oh she is very sorry for my inconvenience and she understands how frustrating this could be for me. She will get a hold of the local dispatcher who will call me back. If they cannot get to me today then tomorrow might be the soonest. Fine. Just need to get it working again. Thank you for your help.  I hang up and wait for that call from the local dispatcher. Two hours later I call back. I get another very nice phone operator who apologizes for my inconvenience and understands my frustration. They will get someone local back to me right away. Thank you for being a valued customer. 

So THIS MORNING I call again. And again I get someone far far away. This time I say I want to talk to someone local now. Well, they can't do that but they will have someone call me. And they understand my frustration. So I go to their chat with a service rep function on their website. I had tried this last night but got nothing but "no service representatives are available, please try again later" Today I got someone. AH HA! Finally someone at a computer who can fix my issue. Guess what? He's very sorry for my inconvenience and understands how frustrated I must be. He pulls up my records and can schedule a follow up visit. In two weeks. TWO WEEKS.  I typed, without the extra words I said in my head, Are you kidding me? This is a second visit for a repair mistake that was done. Oh he understands how frustrating it can be to be without a dryer but that's the best they can do. I told him it was unacceptable and that I would be terminating my relationship with Sears at this point and would be telling everyone I know about my experience. His response? Sorry for your frustration. If you contact us later we cannot guarantee this appointment will still be available so would you like to go ahead and book it. I politely typed no and signed off of chat.

Then I went and checked their Facebook page, just for kicks. Every customer complaint is greeted with an apology and how they understand the frustration.Sears, I have a few words of advice for you, and for any other retail customer service oriented company out there, saying that I am a valued customer and that you understand my frustration is not the same as treating me as such.  Ignoring me, not calling me back, not dealing with the issue in a timely manner. All of those things show me that I am in fact not a valued customer. Giving your employees a script to follow (apologize, let the customer know you understand their frustration) is worthless if there is no service behind the words. 

And I understand your frustration now that I am no longer a customer at all. And I am sorry that I will be telling everyone I see why I am no longer a customer and suggesting they do the same. Signed Former Sears Customer who is BEYOND frustrated! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams....

Previously on...

Janine opened the door to the bathroom, "I'm leaving you some fresh towels and one of my robes you can wear when you are done showering. I'm getting a glass of wine, did you want one or did you just want me to wring a glass out of your dress?"

"Very very funny! I will take the wine, thank you. Be out soon."

Lori had been at the anniversary party of her ex-boyfriend Zach's parents. Janine had wanted to come along but the invitation was Lori only, no plus one, so she had been stuck waiting to hear all about it when Lori was finished for the evening. The original plan had been to meet for drinks after the event but Lori sent her a text earlier asking if she could just come over and said Janine would understand why when she got there. Fifteen minutes ago she had opened her door to find her friend Lori looking like a drowned rat and reeking of champagne. "I'll tell you all about it as soon as I get cleaned up. Can I borrow some sweats or something and your shower?" Since then Janine had cleaned up the trail of booze from her front door to her bathroom and gotten ready to hear what was bound to be a doozy of a story. 

Lori came out of the bathroom drying her hair. She took one look at the smile on her friend's face and just started laughing. "If it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't believe it!"

"Okay, details, details."

Lori settled down on the couch ready to tell Janine about her evening.  Where to even begin on what had to be one of the weirdest nights of her life?

"Okay, so you know I was debating even going and especially when I found out the invitation was just for me and I couldn't even bring a support friend I had my doubts. But Trish and Al have been so good to me and I know they really did want me there and...."

"...and you couldn't let Cassie think that hiding your invitation was okay."

"Well, yes, that too." Lori had to admit that not going would have been a much easier decision to make if it hadn't been for Cassie trying to prevent her from going. She knew that was childish, but it didn't change that's how she felt.

"So I got there and I planned on not staying too long. Just long enough to be respectful of Trish and Al and give them my best wishes, maybe hear a toast or two and then I was going to make my exit. So I am talking to Trish and she is gesturing at someone frantically but trying to hide it from me, like she doesn't want to be obvious that she is doing it. And over walks this guy that looks sort of familiar but I can't really place him. And she tells me, 'Lori, you remember Sam don't you? Sam is my friend Adrianne's son, I believe you met once at the lake house. He's recently moved back to the city.'"


"Yes! The reason why my invitation wasn't a plus one was because Trish had plans to fix me up with her friend's son! The mother of my ex-boyfriend is trying to fix me up with the son of her friend at her anniversary party! She sent Sam to go get us both a drink and leans in to tell me all about Sam's good points. He has a good job, he comes from a good family, he doesn't want to get married right now. I couldn't believe it! My mouth must have been hanging open because then she says to me, 'It's been six months, Lori, just because you and Zach didn't work out doesn't mean I don't want you to be happy. And as soon as Zach sees the light with that girl I will find someone for him to be happy with as well. You are going to be part of my family forever, even if it's not by being married to my son.' Which was so sweet to say, and so weird to hear!"

"She really is a lovely woman. But really? Fixing you up without warning you?"

"Which is what I said and then she pointed out that if I knew it was a fix up I wouldn't have come, which is true. And being the mom she is she told me that Sam didn't know anything about the set up and that I needed to be polite and not take it out on him. And then she left me there with him as soon as he got back with the drinks."

"Oh how awkward."

"You would think so right? But it turns out he is really funny and nice and she was right we totally hit it off. And it helped that he admitted right away that he knew it was a fix-up and that it was a little odd to him that Trish would try and set him up with Zach's ex-girlfriend but that he remembered me from the lake house visit and decided it might not be that weird after all."


"Yeah, I know, it was pure flattery but it worked. So anyway, as we were talking Zach and Cassie arrive. Zach went over to hug his mother and while he was doing that Cassie notices me there. The look on her face went from pleasant to pissed back to pleasant in 3.5 seconds. If you hadn't been looking you would have missed it completely. Sam leans over to me and says, 'I'm going to go out on a limb and say she's not your biggest fan.' I had to laugh. So they come over to us to say hello."

"Oh no."

"Oh yes. Zach and Sam are friends and have been for years, so it's the whole, Hey buddy, didn't know you were in town we should get together and do manly adventure things and let me introduce you to my girlfriend Cassie. Which made her beam at me instead of looking at Sam so she missed his hand for the handshake and ended up sort of poking him in the stomach."

"Oh my god! Seriously? How funny is that?"

"Well I thought so, but apparently she did not. I got the death glare when I laughed at Sam's exaggerated Ooof! And Zach who hadn't been looking at Sam and Cassie's missed handshake had no idea what was going on at all. He just knew it wasn't going well so he made his excuses and took Cassie off to meet more people at the party. Which was then Al's cue to come check on Sam and me."

"Poor Al."

"Yep, poor guy. You know he had no idea that Trish was going to try and set Sam and I up and that the awkwardness between Trish and Cassie and Cassie and me was just almost too much for him. So anyway he comes over and shakes Sam's hand and gives me a hug and a kiss and asks how we are and all of that. Then Cassie practically drags Sam back over to see him and goes in for a hug of her own from Al. Which would have been fine if he had been paying attention instead of turning to look for Trish so Cassie's hug ended up looking like a lunge."

Janine tried not to laugh but there was nothing else really to do. "Oh gosh, it just gets worse for her doesn't it?"

"Oh yes, and here is the part that sealed her night I am sure. After she missed the lunge/hug attempt and before she and Zach could walk away his Aunt Doris came over to say hello. Now apparently Aunt Doris hadn't been informed when Zach and I split. So she starts in on how lovely it is to see us and what a great couple we are and how wonderful it is for us to see the example his parents have set for a long healthy relationship, then she turns to Sam and asks him to introduce his date, pointing at Cassie."

"She didn't!"

"She did. And Zach was too stunned to say anything so Sam introduced her to Cassie! Then she wandered back off to visit with the rest of the crowd!"

"Zach didn't clarify that Cassie was his date not you? Oh that's not going to go well for him."

"Not at all. Cassie stormed off in a huff, Sam apologized to Zach but said he felt like someone should say something to Doris. Zach apologized to Sam for putting him in that spot, told me it was nice to see me and then ran after Cassie to try and smooth things over. Which I thought he had, because a few minutes later they were back in the ballroom and she looked pacified."

"I take it she wasn't really?"

"No, not really. Every time I looked up it seemed like she was glaring at me. So I decided that I had had enough oddness for the evening and I had made a long enough appearance to be respectful of Trish and Al. Also it seemed like I needed to get out of there if there were any shot of Zach and Cassie having a good time. So I went to Trish and Al to make my goodbyes and tell them congratulations and all of that good stuff.  Sam offered to get me my coat from coat check so I went and waited in the hallway for him. So while I am out there I am watching them set up the ballroom next to Trish and Al's party for a wedding reception. I thought it was a really nice thing to have a new marriage being celebrated next to a marriage of 40 Years so I was smiling to myself. That's when Cassie walked up."

"Here were go."

"Oh yes, she was smiling but it was one of those painted on grins that almost looked painful. I said, 'Cassie, you look lovely tonight. I hope you are enjoying the party.' I was trying to be nice and think What Would Trish Do? And she drops her smile and tells me that she knows I showed up to try and make her look foolish. And that she knows Zach and I went for coffee and that I am trying to steal him back. I told her that I was glad she knew we went for coffee and that it wasn't really a big deal and that I wasn't trying to win him back at all. That I was at the party because Trish had invited me. And then she messed up. She told me that she knew I had crashed because there was no way I got an invitation."

"Uh oh."

"Yep. So then I look at her and ask why she would think that. My invitation had been delayed, but I had received it in time. I described it to her. The design, the RSVP card and asked again why she was so sure I hadn't gotten one. Did she think it had gotten lost with a little help? That's when she realized she was busted. I looked at her and said, 'He didn't tell you he found it did he? Tucked up under the couch cushion? And the funny thing is, Cassie, if you had let him mail it in the first place I probably wouldn't have come.' That's when she lost her freaking mind. She pushed me!"


"Oh yeah, pushed me and I lost my balance and fell right in to the champagne fountain they were wheeling in to the wedding reception."

Janine burst out laughing. "Oh my gosh, sorry, I just...oh my gosh I can so picture it!"

Lori laughed as well. "It was like slow motion. She pushed me I stepped back and stepped on one of the caterer's feet and then lost my balance completely and fell right in to the fountain.  Knocked it right over. Champagne went everywhere, I was soaked, the floor was soaked. And you know what? It's wasn't a stack of glasses like you would think, they are all stuck together with like glue or something. It's a giant plastic piece. I never knew that."

"Only you would notice things like that after you had been shoved in to a fountain!"

"I know, I know but that was kind of cool. And what was I going to do at that point shove her back and end up in a soap opera cat fight? Anyway Sam saw the whole thing. He had come back out with my coat and saw her shove  me and came over to help me up. He looked at her and said, 'Go back to the party, Cassie. And you should probably figure out what you are telling Zach since at least three ladies over there by the restroom saw everything and the gossip should be all over the ballroom in just a few minutes.' Then he asked the caterer if they had any extra towels I could use and walked me out to my car and put the towels down on my seat so I didn't soak my car and asked me if I wanted to go get dinner next week."

"After all of that?"

"After all of that. And that's how I came to be on your doorstep soaked in champagne. Cheers!" Lori held her glass out to Janine.

"Cheers to the best party story I've ever heard!"

Just then Lori's phone started to ring. She looked down at the caller ID and switched it to silent. "It's Zach. I need to finish drinking this glass and maybe a few more before I take that call."

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Maybe. Or Monday at the latest."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lost and found...

Part 1

Part 2

While Janine was in the kitchen getting the bottle of wine she heard Lori's phone ring. Since they hadn't really gotten going on the drinking she decided to let her answer it instead of confiscating it as she had promised her friend earlier. She came back in to the living room and caught Lori's eye as she mouthed OH MY GOD at her and then IT'S ZACH.  Well this is going to be interesting.

Janine wandered back in to the kitchen so she wouldn't be tempted to try and eaves drop on Lori's conversation. No need to eaves drop on the half she could hear when she knew Lori would spill all of the details as soon as she hung up anyway. Which didn't take long.

"OH MY GOD! You aren't going to believe this!" Came the shout from the living room.

Janine came back out with the bottle again and refilled their glasses, "Can't wait to hear what was so important he called so soon!"

"So, it seems like our visit bothered him a little."

"He told you he was stressed out over your meeting?"

"Not in so many words. You know he stress cleans right? When he is really thinking hard about something he just tears the house apart cleaning everything. I used to say I didn't Spring Clean I just picked a fight with Zach and let him handle it. Anyway...seems like after we met he went home and started cleaning. And when he took the cushions off of the couch to vacuum guess what he found?"

"The picture from the cruise?"

"No, though that would have been a good one as well. He found my invitation to his parent's party. It had been tucked up under the cushion."

"Oh so it didn't get lost, it just fell out while he was working on them?"

"That's what I said, and he said it couldn't have happened that way. That he was responsible for mailing them and had them all at the house to put stamps on them, which he did, at the kitchen table, then he left them on the key table by the front door to take them in to mail them. They were never near the couch. The only way it could have gotten under the cushion is if someone put it there."


"Yep, that's what he thinks. He thinks Cassie saw it in the box, or went looking for it, and when she found it she stashed it thinking she would go back for it later and either forgot it was there or she hasn't had a chance to sneak it back out yet."

"Oh my god..."

"I know right?"

"I'm kind of surprised he told you about it."

"Me too. I think he just meant to tell me he found the invitation and then all of the rest just sort of spilled out. So he dropped it in the mail and it's on its way. Now I have to decide what to do about it when it comes."

"Does this change your mind? What do you think?"

"Well, I had pretty much decided that I wouldn't go, but how dare she take the choice away from me? And from Trish and Al? And even from Zach? So I am sort of thinking now that I will go. Maybe just for a little bit anyway. What do you think?"

"It could be tense. It could be really awkward. But I guess I just need to know one thing."


"Can I be your plus one?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am Insomnious of Borg...

Last night I discovered that my guided relaxation sleep CD ends with a long stretch of music. The night before I discovered that there is a part in there about a box under a tree that has a key in it and you unlock another box with it. The first night I only made it down the escalators and in to the field. Then in to the field and to the tree. Then to the tree but never past the part where you write Relax on the chalk board three times. Can you see what happened there? As the nights listening to it progressed I got farther and farther in to the playing. And to be honest I am fairly pleased it took over a week for it to completely stop working.

Oh yes, it could have just been last night and I could use it tonight and pass right out on the escalator again, but the odds aren't strong for that. See, I have adapted to and overcome almost every single sleep cure I have ever tried. I am an insomniac and that's just the way it goes. I have never been a good sleeper. I thought for years that everyone was like me. That we all went to bed at night and then lay awake most of it waiting until morning. It wasn't until high school that I discovered that most people actually slept all the way through the night! Like 8 or more hours! Crazy! I go to bed and stay in bed for 8, 9 on the weekends, but I sleep about 4 on a normal night. A really good night for me is 6, a bad one is 2 and I have stretches where it's pretty much nothing. The most I have gone without sleep at all is three days. Which is when the crazy starts. You start seeing and hearing things that aren't there and then your body shuts down and sleeps because it has to. But even then I will only get the few hours that I am used to.

I read an article recently that described people like me as functional insomniacs. I like that. Because I am. Unless I get absolutely the worst sleep for more than a few nights in a row I do pretty well. I am just fine on 4 though I would rather have 6. I have tried any number of things to sleep better. Down time with no electronics for an hour before bed. No TV watching in the bedroom. No caffeine after a certain time. Melatonin pills. Valerian root. Exercise  Guided relaxation. Over the counter sleep aids. And they all work. For awhile. Then my body adapts and overcomes and I am back to little sleep. And usually I get a few days of very very little sleep like my body is making up for the lack of sleep.

What you aren't seeing on the list of things I have tried are the prescription pills. I don't want to do those and my doctor agrees with me. See as a kid I was a sleep walker. I still talk in my sleep at times. And when I was younger my brother came home a few times to find me eating in my sleep. So if I do that normally can you even imagine what I would be capable of on the pills that can cause it? No thank you. That and I hate drugs like that. They tend to make me sleep, sure, but not SLEEP and then I am groggy and off my game the next day anyway, so what is the point?

I also read an article recently about how before the widespread use of electric lights broken sleep was normal. That people wrote about things they did between first and second sleep. Seems like they would sleep about 4 hours, wake up for a couple of hours and do quiet activities, sewing, reading, things by candle light in the house (or not so quiet, it was thought one of the best times for procreative sex was between first and second sleep) and then they would go back to sleep for another 3 or 4 hours. So 8 hours was the norm then as well but no one expected you to get them all at once. Which fits with my pattern more. On a good night I get to sleep by 10:30 or 11 and sleep until about 2. Then I am awake for a couple of hours. I lay still and rest and think about the world, then I fall back asleep around 4:30 or 5 and wake up either when the alarm goes off during the week or around 7 on weekends. Though the second round of sleep is usually in like 20 minute cat nap batches. I sleep, wake up, sleep, wake up over and over. 

Brent has told me for years that I should just get up when I wake up. Go write or read or knit or whatever instead of staying in bed. And I think about it. But I honestly feel like the laying still is good for me. Resting isn't as good as sleeping but it's close right? That and it just feels weird to leave the bed while he is sleeping. Rude or something. I've tried keeping a book next to the bed and reading during that stretch of time as well but then I don't ever fall back asleep. I just finish the book. Which is great for reading, lousy for resting. Oh and I don't nap. Unless I am sick or exhausted the odds of me napping aren't strong. It happens every once in awhile, but normally it's laying down and closing my eyes and staying there for as long as I can stand it then getting up again. Skipping the sleep part. 

So for now I will try the CD again. Hoping to fall asleep before the end, but I won't be shocked if I don't. And I will go back to falling asleep for the first time closer to 11 than 10. And I will figure out what to try next.

Rotating frequency on sleep systems...engage....

Monday, November 19, 2012

Storage Room

Julie walked down the rows of shelving looking for the box she needed. It shouldn't be too hard to find what she was after, she knew it was from elementary school, maybe third grade? That would be where she started to look anyway. She knew there were a lot of boxes in here, and that maybe she should get rid of a few things, but she liked keeping it all. You never knew what you might need. When she tried talking about her filing system to Dr. Brasses, he of the "Call me Chaz" fame; who wants a psychologist that wants to be called Chaz? How would she ever take any advice he gave seriously? Chaz? Anyway, Chaz told her that it was very much the same as hoarding. Even though she argued that it wasn't anything like hoarding because it was all neatly stored away. Well most of it was. There was that stuff from her mid-twenties. All of that was still in a pile in the corner, sort of half sorted. But someday when she had more time she would organize all of that as well. Just not today.

Ah! Here it is, third grade art projects. She was pretty sure there would be an easy art project for the Holiday Bazaar booth in here. As she sorted through files she came across a purple folder. What was this doing here? The purple folders were all of David's things, why would this be here? She opened the folder and saw it was a list of Christmas Cookies his mother used to make when he was little. Tucking it under her arm she walked over to the section where his things should all be kept. As she opened the file box to put it away she noticed that it was half empty. Where were the rest of his things? Turning around to look at the rows of boxes Julie noticed that some of the box lids weren't on straight. Every time she lifted the lid of one of the crooked boxes there would be a purple file tucked in with the manila ones. Here was David's file about how to fix a car in her box of files about her first car. There was the file on his first job mixed in with her college admission things.

It was going to take forever to sort these things and put them all away again. Why would they have been moved in the first place? His things needed to stay in his box. Not mixed in with hers. How frustrating. Grabbing purple files where ever she could find them she brought them back and put them in his box. They could be better organized later, that wasn't as important right now, just getting them out of her boxes was the important thing. They were everywhere it seemed like. A splash of purple here and there all over her things. Grab the file, put it away, open another box grab the file, put it away. Carefully avoiding the mess in the corner. If there were any purple files there they could just stay for awhile.  As she was finishing up she had to stop and think for a moment what she had come here to find in the first place.

Oh that's right. The crafts. Back down to the school area. Open the box for third grade and....purple file. David's favorite Christmas Cookies from when he was a child. Looking back down the row of boxes she had just sorted she could see the lids were all crooked again and knew if she opened any of those boxes there would be a purple file in them. Slouching against the shelves she thought maybe this was a bigger job than she realized.

"Julie? Julie, are you okay? You seem a little far away. What do you think about the booth idea?"

"What? Oh sorry, just thinking about some crafts we did back in third grade and got a little distracted. If you'll excuse me I need to make a quick call, I'll be right back.

This is Julie Shorens for Dr. Brasses please. Yes, I'll hold.

Dr. Brasses? Yes, sorry, Chaz, I was wondering if I could come in and talk to you about my storage issues. I seem to be having a hard time with my filing system since David left."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here we go again...

I've posted before about my very real condition of FFS, Friendly Face Syndrome. Yesterday was another seminar from the Institute for Brain Potential and another attack.

Now here are some things that are my own personal opinion and do not reflect the opinion of the management of this blog. Oh wait, yeah, they do. Okay, whatever, they are my opinions. Something I have discovered through the years is that there seems to be certain career choices that attract a percentage of freaks and I think the social sciences and healing arts are in that group. I think there are people who get into psychology because they are nuts and want to figure out why. I think there are people that are drawn to things like massage therapy because it speaks to their Woo Woo side and they are a little "off" from the rest of us. I also think that the people that tend to sit in the front and center of a room can tend to be a little off as well.

All that being said, I am a former massage therapist who has always been interested in the social sciences and I almost always sit in the front row. Now, I'm not crazy. I just am easily distracted and learned a long time ago that if I sit up front I can focus on the speaker more easily and not find my mind wandering as much to the hair cut of the person in front of me or if the sweater of the guy in the third row is itchy because it looks itchy and how often do they have to clean the carpets in a room like this I wonder....Okay, maybe I am a little crazy. But I manage.

So when I am in a group that I know will have a large percentage of people in these career areas I know that there will be a small percentage of them that are just off. And I know in that percentage of people I will end up sitting next to and interacting with at least one of them, if not more. Yesterday was Peter's turn.

Now I have to admit the first couple of minutes I interacted with Peter I was thrown. I thought, hmmm...maybe I have lucked out this time and it will be fine. But then it shifted, and shifted quickly and went down hill from there. I was reading the course materials when he came to sit next to me. He asked if the seat was free since I was on the end and there was a woman on the other side of the empty seat, that's where he threw me, he asked. Most crazy people don't ask, they swoop. So then he sat down and asked if I had ever seen the presenter that day, Peter had seen him before and that's why he was back. He said he was so good in his first lecture that he swore if he saw him come through again he would take the class.  Well this is nice information to have.

And then the shift....I am going to give you all of this in one long paragraph with no breaks because it's how it came to me. Though I've already organized the information in my head it actually came to me in random bits a bobs but I will give it to you a little more orderly. But still as a rush. Ready?

First Peter scopes out the table and sees that there are little cups with hard candy in them and he takes the one that was in front of the woman on his left and moves it in front of him. Then he reaches to the table behind us and grabs a cup from that table and takes it as well. Well, okay then. And then he starts to talk. He's a sociologist, but not the kind I think. What do I do? (aside: when he found out I used to be in advertising he tried to see if I knew anyone at Wieden + Kennedy I could introduce him to) Peter is 71 years old. He didn't get married until he was 39. He hadn't been really successful with women so even though his friends told him she wasn't a good idea he didn't believe them. He hadn't been really sexual active as a younger man but he embraced the times in his 30s (aside: eeeeewwww!)  He has three children 25, 29 and 32. (aside: he had to stop and really think about how old his kids were) His wife left when the oldest was 12. See, when she was growing up her mother decided when she was 12 to abdicate the raising of her siblings to her so she just thought when they turned 12 she would be done as well. Her mother was a real battle axe, but Peter had tamed her. In fact he knew there were some odd issues going on when his wife's sister told him that their mother thought that SHE should be married to Peter. After his wife left him he moved from Minnesota to Portland and moved in with his parents. He raised his kids as a single father and then for the past 10 years he took care of his aging parents who were incontinent  He now lives with his brother who he thinks has asperger's syndrome, though he is almost 80 so trying to get someone to diagnose him would be tricky. But he has these odd social habits that seem to line up with it (aside: like not noticing the social cues someone is giving you that they don't want to be having this conversation?)Anyway...his wife had never felt the need to embrace the Mexican stuff while they were married but then got in to it later, see when she came here as a child people would ask her if she was Australian or from the UK and then when she would say Argentina they labeled her a spic and the whites wanted nothing to do with her....

Did you hear the needle scratch the record or was that just me? Yes, he did in fact tell me that. I call this "feeling out your audience" he's just used an incredibly offensive racial slur and he is waiting to see my reaction. He has left the door open, see, HE didn't say it, other people said it about her, but he wants to see how I will react. Let me tell you two things, first off it's probably the first time I have heard that particular racial epitaph here in Portland. Secondly it's a pretty common one where I grew up and so I was probably more insulted than someone who had never heard it. Politely I say, "That's a horrible thing to say and it's awful she had to deal with something like that."  I also thought, "who confused Australian and Argentinian?"

Okay, so then he starts again. See, she has never embraced the Mexican stuff...I point out that Argentinian isn't the same as Mexican. He says, "yeah." then goes on that when she left when the oldest was 12 he had no clue it was coming (aside: 5 minutes in with this guy and I could have told him she was a saint for staying that long) but it turns out she was having an affair. She had started to get more in to the whole Mexica....Hispanic type stuff so she ran off with a Puerto Rican so he guesses she really decided to embrace the Mexican stuff a lot. I smile politely and point out that Puerto Ricans aren't Mexicans either. (the woman sitting behind us laughed at this).

So then he changes tactics. He had asked me earlier if I was married and had kids as the opening gambit to his story. So he starts to tell me that the reason my marriage works is because with couples who go to church together only 2% end up divorced, and couples who stay married only 2% end up in poverty and so that's why my marriage has worked. He couldn't get his wife to go to church with him and look how it ended up. I smiled again and told him he should probably double check his percentages because as we all know 80% of statistics are made up on the spot.  He didn't get it.

Okay so let me give you the rest of the "before the lecture started" run down. While he was talking to me he reached down and pulled up his zipper. Then told me an odd little joke about men and zippers. Three stages of men, first they pull it down to go, then they forget to pull it up after they go, then they stop pulling it down to go. Okay....And the point where I knew I was in trouble with a load of crazy coming my way. As he was telling me how much he enjoyed the speaker before the rest of the rant started he reached in to his little messenger bag, pulls out a yellow plastic case and removes his partial plate. WHILE HE IS TALKING TO ME.  What is it with people doing things like that in public? Go to the bathroom...ick!

Okay, on to the first break. Now during the first section of lecture Dr. Hall talked about healthcare and that there would be a change for many in the audience in 2014 when all of the Affordable Care Act is enacted. He was speaking about preventative care and the lack of it in the US and that there will most likely be a large shift happening. And he mentions he will talk about that again later. So first break comes, Peter makes a bee line for the speaker, I duck out and get coffee and some water and knowing that Peter doesn't respond to "I'm reading the course materials leave me alone" cues I pull out my phone. "And how is Denise? What are you doing?" Oh great...he's back. "I'm catching up with a few people while we are on break." And I look back to the phone.

Nope, that's not going to work either. He starts in on health care. "I will be interested to hear what he says, because now that Obama's been elected it will keep going, if Romney had been elected it would have changed." Now because I am tired, because he called his mother in law a battle axe and said he tamed her, because he used the racial slur, because it wasn't an accident since he truly believes his Argentinian ex wife preferred her Puerto Rican lover over him because she was embracing all that Mexican stuff, Bad Denise is really starting to take over more and more. "Yes, it would have gone from being called Obamacare to Romenycare and he would have kept all of the pieces that the American public wants in a healthcare bill, but just not called it something different. Like Freedom in Health."

He looks at me, and we are off..."You know it establishes 54 different federal agencies which means 54 states agencies and then 54 local agencies. All companies are going to put their employees in to a part time pool let them go on government healthcare and that's what the Democrats wanted in the first place."

"Well that's a very interesting perspective. So what you are telling me is that it's a new thing for companies to put employees on as a part time status to avoid paying benefits?"

"Well, I've not seen it before."

"Then you are in the minority. Excuse me, I need to get a refill on my water."

So I get up and walk away and when I come back he is now engaging with the woman behind me telling her how it's always interesting at these sorts of things that the percentage of women is higher than men. But here is where he stepped wrong, see, she's already heard our conversation so she is primed and ready for Peter. And he doesn't take long to step right in it. See, he doesn't just mention that there are more women than men in the health care fields it's that women have been forcing men out. Yes, forcing men out. And that because now as more women succeed in the fields more and more women are in charge of the training program and so they only admit women now. Oh my....she had just started in on him about the "forcing men out" and that if he thought that then was it fair to say that for years men "kept" women out of the work force and school.  Poor Peter. He was having a hard time finding the right ears for his pontificating...

Okay lunch break. The most treacherous time at one of these events. How do you sneak out and get some lunch without being cornered and having to share your hour with someone you don't want to? Well I'm a genius. I find a seat at the bar in the restaurant between two other people so he can't find me or sit with me and I have a whole hour to myself and he's standing right in back of me isn't he? He actually reached over my shoulder and picked up the menu I had in front of me. Then he sees an "empty" seat a few seats away, except there is an iPad on the bar in front of the seat, he says to the woman next to it, "Is this a menu or is this someone's iPad?" She says "It's an iPad, that seat is taken." He walks back to stand behind me.  Waits a bit then goes and sits in the chair anyway! The woman tells him, "Excuse me, I said this seat was taken." "Oh, okay." He comes back to stand behind me. By this point the bar manager is filling drinks and taking orders and has watched some of this interaction. He made eye contact with me and I guess didn't like what he saw because he came around the bar and directed Peter to an empty seat at a table out in the restaurant. Like actually directed, hand on his arm. Whew....

Lunch eaten, duck back to the room. He did feel the need to comment on what I had for lunch and how much it cost. To which I replied, "I have always found it best to only worry about what you are eating and paying for." One last break to go. During this break he again made a direct line for the speaker to expound on what ever brilliant idea he felt he needed to share with him. Watching Dr. Hall's face go from warm opening smile to "What the hell??" was truly amusing. So the day is over, we are filling out our evaluation sheets and I actually made sure to hide my personal information from him as I was doing it. He was well in to the creepy vibe from the crazy. I get up to leave and he starts to ask for my help with the sheet, I act like I don't hear him tell him to have a nice day and duck out get in my car and am on the road! Except I'm not. They weren't ready for the onslaught of cars leaving and there is some sort of delay so there is a mini van parked right behind me and I can't pull out. By the time it moves the line of cars in the garage from the upper levels is incredibly long and nobody wants to wait and let me out. Fine, turn off the car and wait. No sense getting stressed out when I just spent all day learning about how awful stress is for you.

But then it happens. I hear singing and I think, who the hell would walk through a parking garage singing? Oh of course....I literally ducked down, turned my head and hid my face behind my hair hoping that the dark car, dark lot, shadow combination would keep him from seeing me! It was like a horror movie, just waiting for the knock on the window....

It didn't come. Thank goodness.

The seminar was very good. The speaker was engaging. The information was dense. And I got a great blog story. After winding up the day with a pedicure and an arugula pear salad I am calling it an over all brilliant day.

And I have to admit I sort of want to meet Peter's ex-wife.....

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's a depressing one...

This past weekend a friend of a friend killed himself. Or I guess I should say allegedly because though the first reports were suicide now the news is saying that they are withholding details until they can reach his family. But I am going to talk about it as a suicide. He was suffering from depression over lost dreams and failed plans from letters he wrote before his death. His health wasn't the greatest anymore and he had already lived an incredibly difficult life. He was a street performer who had bigger dreams on what he wanted to do and they just never worked out.

We knew him through another friend of ours and C was even a guest on his cable access show when he was younger. We saw him over the years at parties at our mutual friend's house as well as downtown where he performed for the commuters for money. His story has been on all three news sites as well as OPB today. People are shocked. People are stunned and saddened that this clown of a man, always smiling, always performing isn't going to be here anymore. And I have to wonder to myself if he even realized how many people he touched in his day to day life? How his death would sadden so many who didn't even know his real name.

And that's the way suicide works. I am not going to say I don't understand it, I do. I wrote about the one time I seriously considered it here.  My grandfather killed himself (long before I was born), my sister's first husband's father killed himself. Both of them had serious addiction issues and probably did it by accident. Her second husband suffered from depression and threatened it. You all know I worried about my nephew while he was growing up. The epidemic of young gay men killing themselves might have only recently gotten press but it's not a new issue. Being raised that you were born wrong is a heavy burden and not everyone made it out okay. He did. And as far as I know he never even considered it, for that I am grateful.

I have known friends who have lost family members this way as well. For a variety of reasons. Health issues. Money problems. Depression. The list goes on and on. But I understand that feeling of this isn't going to get better. I know what causes people to feel that suicide is their only option. That they can't see a way out of the mess they are in. But the trick is that it doesn't just make the current problem go away, it makes everything go away. Forever. You are done. And your family and friends are left behind wondering what happened. Why you left them. Trying to pick up pieces of their shattered life and you aren't there to ask why. Why would you do this? What could have ever been so bad that you didn't think I would understand?

It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

So today Portland mourns one of it's own. And I hope that where ever he is he is playing his trumpet, entertaining the crowd and understanding how many people he touched and how he will be missed.  And today I ask that anyone thinking about this stops and thinks again. No matter how bleak it seems right this second, it will move on. Life changes, make sure you are there to see it through. I know that is sometimes easier said than done. But try. For the people who will be left to pick up the pieces if you don't. Try.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Too old for this....

The alarm clock started its incessant blaring about ten minutes after Charles' head hit the pillow. At least that's what it felt like to him. Three nights on call added on top of his busy days had worn him out. As he stretched and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes he thought to himself, "I am getting too old for this shit." The bright spot this morning was after today he had two weeks vacation planned. No midnight calls, no day time emergencies. No fires to put out, no board meetings to attend, nothing but sunshine, beaches and sleep.

As he waited for the shower to heat up he spotted his suit laying across the chair where he had left it before crawling in to bed a few hours ago. He wasn't sure what he had gotten on it but that was definitely going to have to go to the cleaners before it could be worn again. Stepping in to the flow of hot water he wondered if he had any clean suits in the closet. When was the last time he had picked up his clothes?  For that matter when was the last time he had dropped off clothes to be cleaned? Fighting through the fog in his brain he thought again about how great a vacation would be.

Charles made his way to the kitchen for coffee. One of the best investments of his life was the automatic machine that meant he always had a fresh pot waiting in the morning. As he poured his first of many cups to come he heard the chiming of an incoming call on his computer. Clicking the button to answer, the face of his assistant Holly appeared on screen.

"Good morning, Boss.  How are you doing today?"

"Tired, but alive and so I am counting it as a win. How are you doing?"

"If I was any better I would have to be two people."

"As long as I didn't have to pay you double I guess that would be okay."

Holly was a true gift to Charles. She had been with him for years and ran his day to day business so efficiently he wondered sometimes if anyone would notice if he just stopped showing up. But he had never understood how she could be so cheery in the mornings. Oh well, everyone has their flaws.

"So what's on my plate today, Holly?"

"You have a board meeting at 10 to review applications for new members, I have the video conference information for you. You have a luncheon with The Make a Wish Foundation at 1. That should run at least two hours but I have booked in three. Then you have time to clear some paperwork and pack before your daughters pick you up at 7 for dinner."

"Did you review the applications, Holly?"

"I did. I put them in what I felt was the correct order. There were only three that were a possibility in my opinion. The top prospect has everything you are looking for. Talent, skill, aptitude. He's also based in our region so he would be a great help covering here since we have been shorthanded since Scarlet retired. The next applicant has less raw talent but she has worked incredibly hard to hone her skills. She also seems to have the right attitude for the job. She is based out of Texas right now but stated she is willing to move. The third file I pulled is trickier. He has huge levels of talent. I haven't seen anyone with more raw skill since, well, you. But his attitude isn't there. He comes across as a glory hound. Not interested in the philanthropic nature of the business as much as the perks. I could be wrong, but that is how he struck me. However the talent is so high I couldn't completely disregard him."

As Holly was giving her impressions of the latest batch of applicants Charles had been reading his own notes from when he first reviewed them. Everything Holly said lined up with his impressions. Now to see what the rest of the board thought.

"Thank you, Holly. Also, could you check to see if I have any clean suits to pick up?"

"Check the garage. I dropped off a batch of cleaning yesterday as well as some paperwork that needs your review before you leave for your luncheon."

"Ah, you're a lifesaver!"

"I know I am. Oh and one more thing."


"Happy Birthday, Boss."

"Thank you, Holly. I'll be in touch later. Call me if you need anything."

Charles walked to the garage to pick up his dry cleaning and any notes Holly left for him in the alcove. It was a good system. She had the code to the garage door and would leave items for him on her way to or from the office. All he had to do was remember to check for them. Which was where the system sometimes broke down, but a quick call reminder from Holly usually cleared that right up. Five clean suits for the closet, an empty dry cleaning bag to fill with clothes before he left on vacation and a stack of paperwork were waiting. And a Happy Birthday balloon. As much as he was feeling his age this morning Charles couldn't help but smile at the thoughtful gesture from his assistant.

After reviewing the paperwork for Holly and placing it back out in the garage drop box Charles settled in for his weekly board meeting. Nobody would ever believe the amount of meetings he attended and the number of moving parts they covered. Who was working too much, who wasn't working enough, what areas of the country were feeling neglected. Who needed better PR or less PR. What the local political scene was, what the weather forecast was. There was a lot of information to cover and they were all busy people. Though today it would be mostly focused on the new applications.

Steven called the meeting to order and asked if they had all had a chance to review the current list of applicants. "I believe there were only three out of this batch that are worth considering at this time. I think the bulk should get a recommendation for a mentor-ship program at the local level and there are a couple here who should get a visit by the local authorities to strongly suggest they look in to another line of work."

Charles wondered if Steven's top three would be the same as his and Holly's three. He knew the two that Steven was concerned about. Kids really, trying to do things that were over their heads to impress the board and were going to get them in trouble sooner rather than later. If they had been in his region he would have already paid them a visit to outline other areas where they could do more good.

Steven pushed a button on the desk in front of him and the view on Charles' computer changed from the collage of the board members to the face of Alicia Lestin. "This is my top prospect. Her skills still need sharpened but I am impressed with her resume. She has a degree in business management and has worked with various charitable organizations throughout her life. She's young. And lord knows we need some youth here at the National level. She's based out of Texas right now but I could see her fitting in nicely in the South Eastern region working under your watch, Frank."

The view screen changed again to show Franks's face. "I have her in my top three as well and I think she would be a fine addition to our organization as a whole and to my region as well. She's done a lot of work with youth charities and I could see her being very helpful in that area. I think she would fit in with the group working out of Orlando."

"Any one have any objections to Alicia?" When none were voiced Steven put her file to the side.

"Next we have Gray Stone. Yes, that's his real name. I know it sounds made up but we did have him investigated. Seems his parents were clever. Poor kid. Anyway, he is one of the most well rounded applicants I have seen in awhile. Nothing terribly flashy about him, but overall he seems to be very solid. Hmm...maybe his name fits after all? Charles, he's based in your region and I know you've been shorthanded up there for awhile. What do you think?"

"He was actually my top pick in this group. I agree, he's got a good base to start from and I think with the proper coaching and training he could be a valuable member of our organization. I would be pleased to have him in my area."

"Any objections? No? Well this is going quite smoothly today. Let me see if I can put a wrench in the works." And with that the screen image changed again to Adam Farris. Charles wasn't too surprised to see his face on screen, after all both he and Holly had deemed him top three worthy, but from the collection of gasps and no ways he was hearing from the other board members he was realizing that he was in the minority on this kid.

"Well I can tell from the reaction that Mr. Farris is not going to be a slam dunk. Let me start by saying I understand the hesitation. I feel it myself. He's a bit of a show off, a show boater. But you cannot deny his resume. He has the skills we need."

"But he doesn't have the attitude! Give me someone with less skill and more passion for the job and I can work with them, but someone who doesn't care? I can't work with that." Angela spoke up. Representing the North East region Charles hadn't even been sure she would make the meeting today. They had their hands full right now.

"But look at the level of skill he possess. The raw talent is there. He just has never had someone to help him build his character." This from James, representing the Great Lakes region. He was basic good mid-western stock who honestly saw the decent in everyone.

"Charles, Frank, what do you both say?" Steven switched the monitor to Frank first.

"I went back and forth on the kid. I couldn't ever settle on if he was a heck yes,  maybe yes, no or hell no." Frank's rating system for applicants had always followed this pattern. "He ended up in his own, who the hell knows pile. I'm impressed with his education, with his skill, even with his volunteer work. But I am put off by the arrogance he seems to display. The sense of entitlement. The glory seeking. Some of us who have been in the business for 20 or 30 years haven't amassed the press coverage this kid has garnered for himself working solo. So I just don't know. He could be great or he could be a disaster. Sorry I'm not more help."

The viewfinder switched so Charles was looking at the faces of all of the other board members so he knew that all they could see right now was him.

"I had him in my top three picks. His talent is so much that I think we ignore him at our own peril. He isn't going to go away. He likes the spotlight. So the way I view it we either take him in and try to train him right or we regret it later. I wouldn't offer him a full membership like I would Alicia or Gray, I would approach him with a national level mentor-ship. And I'd have him work under Earl."

The view changed briefly to Earl. The oldest member of the board. He had, in fact, trained half of the members sitting there today including Charles. Earl was the head of the Southwestern Region. It wasn't an area for glory seekers. It was an area that meant hard, hot, sweaty work without a lot of press. People weren't impressed with the Board there like they tended to be in other parts of the country. Earl was also very old school in his approach to work. There were no shortcuts allowed. Things were done by the book or you paid a price. If you made it out of training under Earl you made it out a changed person.

"If he accepts then we know he's serious. If he lasts through the training then we have a valuable team member. If he doesn't, then we have another problem we will need to solve. That level of talent and skill can't work rogue."

"Thank you, Charles, I think that's actually a brilliant idea. I would, of course, much rather be working with Mr. Farris instead of against him. Earl, would you be willing to take this young man on?"

The screen changed back to Earl. He nodded slowly. "I doubt he would be the worst of the bunch I've trained. Send him to me. My team will bring him up right."

Steven called for final votes on the three applicants that had passed muster. And then passed their paperwork on to his assistant to start the final approval process. Offers would be made and the round of testing would begin. Then the board covered the normal business of the week before wrapping up. "Is there any further business that needs tended to today? No? Then I have one last thing."

The view changed to the entire board again, now wearing birthday hats as they sang Happy Birthday to Charles and tossed confetti in the air. Once he stopped laughing at the site of these venerable men and women in their hats with the confetti falling everywhere he thanked them all profusely. And even got a little teary eyed at the thoughtfulness. These were not only the men and women he worked with but he admired them greatly and felt that only they truly understood each other and what it meant to be like them.

Checking his watch after logging off from the board meeting Charles realized he had just enough time to get in to a nice clean suit and get to his luncheon. As he got dressed he wondered if he should change out his classic cut suits for one of the newer styles. He had been wearing the same cut since he became head of the PNW region longer ago than he liked to think about. He knew the younger generation liked to change things up a bit more, different colors and styles but as he looked at his reflection in the mirror he decided that sometimes the classics really were the best. Lowering his mask over his eyes and putting on his cape he headed out to lunch with Make a Wish.

A Super Hero's work is never done. Not even on their birthday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Did you want some more wine?

Janine met Lori at the door with a glass of wine in hand. "Here, take this, go sit down. I've been dying to hear what happened!"

Lori laughed, she could just imagine Janine staring at her phone all day waiting to hear that Lori was through meeting with Zach and ready to come over to debrief. She had to admit there were times while she was talking to Zach all she could think was, "Janine isn't going to believe this!" She put her glass of wine down on the side table slipped her shoes off and made herself comfortable on the couch.

"And how was your day?"

"Stop it! Tell me before I burst! Were you right? Are they getting engaged?"

"No. Not yet anyway, it might still happen but it's not what he wanted to see me about. Though it was about weddings in a way."

"Are you relieved? Did you tell him you thought it was about him being engaged? What wedding?"

"Okay, slow down, I will tell you everything then you can ask questions, how's that?"

"Perfect! And go!"

Lori took a big drink of wine and settled even further down on the couch. It was good to be able to relax. She hadn't realized until after she left Zach at the coffee shop how tightly she had been holding herself together. It felt like she had been working out all afternoon instead of sitting drinking coffee.

"Well, I got there early thinking if I was able to sit down and start my coffee before he got there I would be able to relax a little bit and feel more comfortable. Seems he had the same idea since he beat me there by long enough to have already gone through a half a cup by the time I sat down. We did an awkward do we shake hands? do we hug? do we high five? hello greeting. "

"Did you settle on the high five? I think that's the traditional post break up first meeting greet right?"

"Ha! No, we went in for the half hug one shoulder touching light pat on the back. Totally awkward. Anyway then we did the how are you's, how have you beens. Light chit chat. Finally I just asked why he wanted to meet. I figured we should get down to it. He sort of laughed and shook his head, 'Typical Lori. Stop with the pleasantries and get down to business.' I told him I can't help who I am and asked him again. Turns out he needs my help."

"Your help?"

"Yep, seems like his mother and Cassie got off to a bad start and he wanted my help in smoothing things over."

"Why does he think you could help with that?"

"Well Trish and I still see each other. We've had lunch a few times since the break up. She even took me out for drinks for my birthday. We've always been close and she made it very clear when Zach and I broke up that she didn't expect that to be the end of our relationship. We never talk about him, she didn't even tell me about Cassie, let alone that she didn't like her. Which Zach found hard to believe."

"I can see that. It's not weird being friends with his mother?"

"Not as weird as you would think. When my mom died Trish was really there for me. She stepped in and helped me fill that void. Gave me that motherly advice thing that I missed so much. She wasn't happy when Zach and I split, but she never took sides around me or even pressured me for my reasons. She's been a good friend.

Anyway, it seems as though Cassie overstepped her boundaries the first time they met and it set Trish off. You know the picture I told you about? Well, seems as though the first time Cassie saw it she and Zach were over to feed the fish and water the plants while his parents were out of town. Zach said he didn't even know she saw it, he hadn't even noticed it was still out and guessed that his mom had forgotten as well. Well when his folks got back they had the family over for dinner to share vacation pictures and Zach brought Cassie. This was the first time they had met her, though they had heard about her."

Lori took another drink of wine and thought about how Zach had looked at the table, the window, the pictures on the wall, anyplace but at her as he told the story of Cassie and Trish meeting for the first time. Lori couldn't help but remember the first time she had met Zach's parents and how nervous she had been. It had been 6 years ago and they went to dinner at his parent's country club. Lori had never seen a place setting with so much silverware before and could feel the flop sweat starting to gather on her upper lip as she realized she had no clue what to do. Trish had leaned over at that point and whispered, "Outside in, top down, follow me if you get confused." This was the way Trish handled everything. She was gracious and giving and kind to a fault. She couldn't imagine what had happened to set Trish against Cassie.

"Dinner went well, Zach said, but after they were done looking through the vacation pictures and hearing all about the adventures they had had Cassie announced that she had brought a gift for his parents."

"Oh well, that's very nice."

"Oh wait...just wait. So Cassie reaches in to her bag and pulls out a framed picture of her and Zach and tells Trish that she thought Trish would want to replace the old picture on the piano with this one."

"She didn't!"

"Oh she did. Zach said at first his mother was confused which makes him believe that she really had forgotten about the photo still being out but then she was livid. He said you could see her face just change. She gave Cassie a cold smile and thanked her for the gift but she only put pictures of family on the piano and she would find someplace else to stick this picture."

"Oh no!"

"Oh yes. Zach said from there on out Cassie has been 'that girl' when his mother talks about her, if she talks about her at all. 'Are you bringing that girl to dinner on Sunday? Will that girl be at your BBQ?' He said she's polite to Cassie when they are together, never rude, but not warm at all. Which makes it worse for Cassie. She just doesn't know what to do to win her over and the more she tries the more she seems to make it worse."

"And he wants your help fixing it?"

"At least in not making it worse. He wants me to turn down the invitation to his parent's 40th Wedding Anniversary party. He said he had noticed I hadn't sent back my RSVP yet and was hoping that meant I wasn't planning on going but just couldn't figure out how to tell Trish."

"Were you planning on going?"

"I didn't know I was invited. I knew they were having a party, Trish and I talked about it months ago but I never got an invitation so I assumed that she felt it would be too hard for Zach for me to attend. I completely understood so I haven't said anything about it. But I guess I was on the list, I just didn't get the invitation."

"That's weird, right?"

"Things get lost in the mail all the time right? But now Zach wants me to call Trish and let her know I can't come so it's not bad for Cassie. And I'm not sure I want to. I mean if Trish and Al put me on the guest list then they want me to attend right? And it's their night not Cassie's. But I'm not dating Zach anymore and Cassie is so I should be the good person and step aside so Trish and Cassie have a chance at mending fences. But then would Trish be madder if she thought that Cassie was the reason I didn't come? And am I completely over thinking this?"

"You over think something? Never."

Lori tossed a pillow at her friend, "Hey! Be nice or I won't tell you the rest!"

"There's more? Go on, go on!"

"So I tell him that I will think about it, but I'm not sure. He says that's all he can ask. Then he asked me what I thought he wanted to tell me. So I told him."

"You told him? Oh wow, what did he say?"

"He said he was a little insulted. That we had been together for 6 years and he thought it was odd I would think he would propose to someone after just a few months. I told him I would have thought it was odd that he would start dating someone a week after we broke up but he did that so odd things happen. He asked how I knew when they started dating so I confessed to looking up her page after our meeting. I told him that she really was lovely and it did look like she cared deeply about him and that I was glad he was happy but that it had still hurt to see how soon he moved on."

"What did he say to that?"

"That I had made the choice to leave so he really didn't have any other options but to move on. I told him I understood logically but that it still hurt. He said he hadn't intended to start dating so soon it had just happened. And that he had never meant for me to find out like that."

Lori teared up a little while she told Janine. Just like she had when Zach had told her. She hadn't wanted to but couldn't help it. It had hurt. And she knew she had no right to the pain, but it still was there. She would have been okay if Zach had been more of an asshole about it all but when he saw that she really had been hurt he had softened his face and reached out to touch her hand while they talked.

"Awww, honey, I'm sorry."

Lori pulled herself back together, "It's okay. It was the right decision to break up. I know it and he knows it. We just want different things right now, he is ready to settle down and have kids and I am not sure I ever will be. It's too big of a difference to have between us. I needed to let him go so he can find that family he wants since I am not going to be the one to give it to him. But anyway, that was the big meeting. More wine!"

As Janine went to get the bottle Lori thought about the last thing she and Zach said to each other as they left the coffee shop. She had promised to consider his request and he thanked her. Then he took a deep breath and looked like he was steeling himself against a coming attack and asked her when she had stopped loving him. Lori reached out to touch his cheek and told him, "I will let you know when it happens." Then she turned and walked away.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nice to meet you....

Janine pulled a bottle of white out of the fridge and turned to her friend Lori, "Did you want a glass of wine?"

"No, thanks. After last night I think I will be sticking with water today."

"That bad?"

Lori shook her head, "Worse. Just worse."

"Okay, tell me about it." Janine settled in on the couch across from her best friend waiting to hear the gory details of whatever had happened. She was completely in the dark except for a text message earlier in the day saying, "I need an intervention. Help!"

"Okay, brace yourself, it's a long story, and it ends badly."

"Oh it can't be that bad. Just spill it all." Janine had a hard time imagining what it could be. Lori was the most level headed of her friends.

"So, yesterday morning I had a client meeting downtown and then a lunch meeting after that, so when my morning meeting finished early I decided instead of going back in to the office I would just go over my notes at Starbucks. I'm sitting there reviewing everything and I get that feeling that someone is staring at me. I look up and there is this girl a few tables over and when she notices I have seen her staring she looks away really quickly. There is something sort of familiar about her but I just can't place her. So this keeps happening. I look up she looks away.

Finally I just get up and walk over to her. I tell her, 'This probably sounds weird but have we met? You just look familiar and I cannot place where I know you from.' And she says, 'Well, sort of. I know who you are, Lori, and you probably know who I am. I'm Cassie. Zach's girlfriend.'"

"Oh, shit! You have to be kidding me?"

"Nope, not at all. And that's when it clicked. Last week Zach commented on James and Kathy's picture of their new puppy and she was in his profile picture with him. That's why she looked familiar! Not that I went and stared at that picture or anything..."

"Are you sure you don't want wine?"

"Thanks but it gets worse. Just wait. So I try to play it off like I'm not sort of shocked that she knows who I am. So I put out my hand and say 'nice to meet you.' Who does that? Nice to meet you? It's not nice to meet you, it's awkward and uncomfortable and I wish I could turn around and walk away like this never happened! But no...not me, I shake her hand and tell her it's nice to meet her. Which leads her to be relieved that I am not some sort of nut job and she starts talking to me! She tells me that she recognized me right away because the light coming in the window behind me made me look just like I looked in the picture from the Mexican Riviera cruise. Then she says, 'I know, it's weird right? But I went and looked at your Facebook page and your pictures and I just wanted to you know, like, see who you were.' So I just smile at her like an idiot then say, 'Well I'm glad we got a chance to meet face to face, I've got a meeting I need to get to, but it was nice meeting you.' AGAIN with the nice meeting you! What the hell is wrong with me?"

"You're polite. It's okay. And you were shocked right? Who would expect to run in to your ex's new girlfriend like that?"

"I know, right? I mean it's been 6 months since we broke up so I knew it would be just a matter of time before he started seeing someone but to go from seeing the picture last week to seeing her face to face this week? And knowing that she knew who I was when I had no clue who she was? It just put me off my game a little. So anyway, I was rattled all day so last night I got home and poured myself a glass of wine and logged on to Facebook...."

"Oh you didn't..."

"I did. I stalked her page. I had gone and looked at Zach's profile picture when I first saw it, I was curious but I didn't poke any further. Why do that to yourself right? There is no point. But I just hated that she knew me and I didn't know her so..."

"Oh, didn't send her a friend request did you??"

"Oh god no! I might be crazy but I'm not that crazy! But I did go to her page. Her banner picture? It's from the big Skyy Vodka taster party and when you look at the comments it's where she and Zach met and they have been together ever since. Janine, that party was a week after we broke up. I got him the fucking tickets to the party through work before we split. A week! He started seeing her a week after we broke up."


"No, no wine. I had wine last night. After I saw the picture and read all of her friends 'how cute!' comments I went and grabbed the bottle and had plenty of wine. I'm not proud of it but I looked through every last picture on her page. And then I went to his page to look at his pictures. Which he has locked down so I couldn't see what he posted. So I did the next logical thing and sent him a text."

"Oh, Lori, you didn't..."

"Oh yes I did. I told him I had run in to Cassie and that she was just lovely and that I hoped he was happy because he truly deserved it."

"Well, that's not too bad...."

"Then he texted me back. He said he had been meaning to call me. He wants to have coffee tomorrow."

"What? Why?"

"I think he's going to tell me they are engaged."


"So, I started thinking after I went to Zach's page and couldn't see his pictures, my page is locked down too. You can't see anything except my profile picture. And then I started thinking about it and I don't have any pictures from the Mexican Riviera trip on my page anyway. The picture she is talking about is on Zach's mom's piano, not on Facebook. She's met his parents. He wouldn't introduce her if he wasn't serious. And he would feel the need to tell me face to face before I heard it from someone else. What am I supposed to do with that? Can't he just tell me via text or just not tell me at all?"

"It might not be that at all. I mean, if his mom still has a picture of you at their house then she can't think he and Cassie are that serious right?"

"That picture has been on the piano since we all took that trip together, like what? Three years ago? I bet she didn't even think about it. You know how you stop noticing things that you see all of the time. For her it had to have become background stuff. She would never have left it there if she had remembered it, just because she is much too nice to make Cassie feel weird like that."

"So are you going to have coffee with him?"

"That's what I'm here for. I need advice. I said yes, but I so don't want to go. Would it be awful if I cancelled?"

"Maybe a little. It couldn't have been easy on him to ask you."

"I sort of forced his hand though with my drunken text. I just feel like I should text him and tell him I don't think it would be a good idea and he can tell me anything he needs to this way. But then I feel like I shouldn't be such a coward and just get it over with. God, I hate these sorts of things. He always wanted to have the big emotional discussions and I always wanted to ignore things and hope they would go away on their own. I bet Cassie loves to talk about her feelings...."

"Don't do this to yourself. No comparisons to Cassie."

"Too late, I did that all last night. She's too adorable. Little blond blue eyed thing. Like a fucking kewpie doll. And the way she looks at him in pictures? Like he hung the moon. She obviously adores him, and I am happy for him for that. I really am. I do want him to be happy, but she is so different from me...I just can't wrap my brain around it."

"You did break his heart."

" much so that he started seeing her a week after we broke up. I am so afraid I am going to pick a fight with him about that. And it happened 6 months ago so it's really too late for that fight. And I have no room to pick it anyway. I'm the one who left. I knew it was coming, but it just seems so soon. And why the hell didn't anyone tell me? Everyone must have known he was dating someone else, why didn't anyone say anything?"

"What were they going to say? Anyone who stayed friends with both of you knows that there is a grace period where you don't mention the other one if you are out with one. And no joint invites for at least a year."

"Seriously? There's a protocol for this sort of thing? How do I not know this sort of stuff."

"Anyway. You should go. You don't know that they are getting engaged, you just think that's it. Maybe he just wanted to check in and see how you were doing. You know nobody is telling him anything about you either. He must be curious. And even if it's the other then at least you would know right?"

"Can I come here right after? And will you have wine?"

"Yes and of course. You can tell me all about it. I will keep you off of Facebook and take away your phone before we really start drinking."

"Okay, fine....but seriously. Have lots of wine."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I always say that I love the rain the way only a kid raised in the desert but moved to a rain forest loves the rain. I think I have realized that I love Halloween the way only a Christian Conservative Reformed can love Halloween. For years it was my number 2 holiday and closing in on Christmas quickly. Some of that has died off because of where we live. Year after year of putting out my cool Halloween decorations to only get a dozen trick-or-treaters starts to suck the holiday joy. But I still love to see everyone's costumes and decorations.

Growing up there wasn't a lot of Halloween love. We did "Harvest Festival" at church and at school. I didn't trick-or-treat for the first time until High School when I took my nephew on the rounds. No scary costumes or decorations allowed. Nobody believes in the Occult like Christians. You have to have a bad guy for your good guy. And if you are raised super conservative you are forbidden from experiencing all of that Halloween spookiness. No ghosts, witches, vampires, Ouja boards, voodoo dolls...nothing like that. So of course once I hit high school my costumes started to shift from cute to scary pretty quickly. Sophomore year I was a Court Jester (much to the chagrin of my much cooler locker-mate, Jane). Senior Year I was a freshly turned Vampire wearing a dress that was about two sizes too small in the bust and cut so high I had to watch the way I walked.

From there it was a collection of witches, and vampires anything I could wear all black and tease my hair and put on extra make up. Now this was before the days where Whoreween really took off so though costumes could be and often were sexier than normal you didn't have the porn star quality to all of them that you seem to have now. Think Elvira instead of Sexy Children's Book Character. Seriously, that shit creeps me out. What are you going to do in a few years when you are reading Little Mermaid to your darling daughter and have the flash back that it was mommy dressing as Slutty Ariel that caused you to have your daughter in the first place? Just ewww....

Anyway...back to loving Halloween. Part of it is the dress up. I was a theater kid in school and nobody loves a dress up day more than theater kids. And we make a big deal out of it. The freshly made Vampire my senior year? Well there was a story. See Brent dressed as a Vampire for a party the weekend before and we umm...we spent a little time together at that party. Get your minds out of the gutter, it wasn't THAT sort of time. It was a few bases back from THAT sort of time. Anyway....he was supposed to come to this party and I thought it would be fun to dress as a Vamp myself. Of course it gave me an excuse to make a sexy costume (Goodwill, god love them, outfitting Halloween for years!) and it gave my friends and I an idea for a grand entrance. I was wheeled in to the party in a coffin. My friend Cinnamon was dressed as Morgan la Fey (theater kids don't always make common choices either) and she would call upon the black arts to raise the dead. So the lights are dimmed, candles are lit, she does her spell and I bang open the lid and rise from the dead. We got people to jump and scream. It was awesome. Turns out Brent never made it to that party so the sexy costume to get his attention again was in vain. Well for his attention anyway.

I love companies that do dress up days. I have friends back in Louisville that work for an agency that does it up right. Each department competes with the others. I get pictures each year from them. Peter Pan and crew. The Scooby Gang including a real Great Dane. This year there was even a video clip. They dressed up Gangnam style complete with choreography. They were fabulous!

I love the little ones whose parents dress them up as peas in a pod or burritos. This year my new best friend Gigi is dressed up as a box of pop corn while Daddy is Orville Redenbacher. It's too sweet for words. I loved watching C decide what he wanted to be each year, and how that reflected what he thought was cool. He went to a creative arts high school so they dressed up every year and picking him up on Halloween was always fun. To see what kids who wore the most interesting things on a day to day basis would choose for a costume? Fabulous!

This year we have a hockey game on Halloween so I didn't bother pulling the skulls and gravestones out and putting them up. No outside decorations, no inside decorations. I did "decorate" my Facebook page and dressed up there. But the holiday will be about dropping the puck instead of passing out candy this year.  Though I have decided on a costume.....

I'm going as a sexy hockey fan. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What did you just say to me?

You all know I have a lot of friends on Facebook that I talk to on a daily basis. And for the most part most of you do as well. And you know those times when you are looking through your news feed and you see a quote or a post that seems to be just what you needed to hear that day? That makes you smile. Or makes you think. Or someone posts something on your wall at just the time you needed it most. I have a good friend who is a master at this. She seems to know just when I need a little encouragement or shot of good will and will post just a quick note to let me know she is thinking of me and she loves me. I try to return the favor but as you all know I am pretty lousy at that sort of thing. I think about it, but I don't always remember to follow through (excuse me for a minute while I dash off to post something to her while I am thinking about it).

You all also know those conversations that happen on Facebook where a friend posts something, a link, their status, and everyone comments. And sometimes you end up talking with friends of friends that you wouldn't normally ever meet. Sort of like a party at their house. All of their friends are there but you might only know them or a few other people. But you still all talk. And then there is that line where you aren't sure if you should comment or not. Like when someone posts something on your friend's wall. It's a message from them personally and you wonder, it like eavesdropping if I pop in here and say something? I usually look at it as the same party atmosphere. If I was at a party and saw two friends talking I would go up and join the conversation. If I saw my friend talking to someone I didn't know and it looked like a serious conversation I wouldn't. 

Now you are all wondering where this is headed right? Well that's because I am stalling. You all know I write about pretty much every momentous thing in my life. It's kind of a joke. If it happened and I didn't blog about it did it really happen? I write about good stuff and bad. I write about happy days and sad days. I sort of feel compelled to write it down to sort it all out and then move on. This is something I've been debating about writing about since it happened and I kept pushing it off. I didn't feel like I had fully worked through all of the ramifications, and I'm still not positive that I have. But it's time. So here we go...

A year ago I was having an online conversation with a friend of mine and a friend of theirs said the vilest thing to me. I'm not going to repeat it, because I've given it too much head space already, but just know that it was bad enough I had a physical reaction when I read it. I actually recoiled. I was reading Facebook on my phone and shut off my phone and put it down away from me. It was a strong enough reaction that Brent asked what was wrong. And when I told him what was said I could feel myself going pale. It was just shocking to me. I logged back on and deleted the entire wall post from my friend's wall because I didn't want anyone else to see it. It was that ugly.

Not because someone said something mean. People say mean things all the time. Especially online. But because this person didn't know me but didn't hesitate for a second in posting something that was beyond mean and well in to vile. They are a friend of my friend. They came in on a conversation we were having and felt the need to be deeply nasty to me out of the blue. I sent my friend a private message that basically said, "Did she say what I think she just said?" and yes, that's what she said. Now here's the thing, I can give you every excuse for why she said what she did. She was drunk. She was trying to be tough. She wasn't looking me in the eye so it was easy to spit venom at me. But all of those are excuses for bad behavior. And that's what it was. Bad online behavior. Because being slightly anonymous makes people brave. I say slightly in this case because I could see her name, I know she is a friend of my friend, so she wasn't totally in the clear, like most internet trolls are. But she didn't know me. She had never met me, so I wasn't real to her.

And the other thing is that I am sure that if you were to talk to her today about it she wouldn't even remember it. It wouldn't have made that big of a difference in her life. And for me it actually changed my view on part of my world. Like I told you earlier it happened a year ago. I don't mean last Fall, or around this time. I mean a year ago today. I know the day it happened. I know the time of night it happened. I know what was said, I know how I reacted, I know how my friend reacted and I know what else it set in motion and what the aftermath of it was. It was that profound to me. It was that big of a deal. To me. Not to everyone. To me.

And over the past year it's popped in to my head at random times. At first every time it did I was shocked all over again. Then I was mad. Then madder still. Since this person actually lives in my area of the country there was a stretch a few months after she said what she she did that I thought about driving over and visiting with her. Just to look her in the face and ask her to say it again. To see if she could. Once I was real. As you know Bad Denise was well in favor of this plan, Good Denise talked her down from the ledge. Because once the mad started to wear off the sad hit. Sad that she would feel the need to say something horrible to a stranger. And sad that I might have been guilty of the same sort of thing.

You all know I look for the lessons in life. There were a few with this one. Like I said, it changed the way I viewed the world in a few ways. One of those ways was to wonder if I had ever done something like that. Obviously not on the scale she did. But have I ever popped off something snarky to someone that then left my head as not important but stuck with them? That caused them pain or doubt or changed them in some way? I know when I was younger I did. Have I done it as a grown ass woman? Have I ever let my tongue get ahead of my heart? Probably.

So a year later I look back and I realize she did me a favor. She reminded me that everyone, no matter how well they think they have it together, no matter how set they are in their ways, no matter how comfortable in their skin they are, no matter how awesome their theme music is, everyone can be hurt by the right combination of words. And that I need to make sure I am doing my best to watch mine.

And I need to hide the car keys when Bad Denise wants to go for a drive....