Monday, August 29, 2011

Small change of plans

Our air conditioning broke Saturday.  So I started cleaning out my house Sunday.

You may wonder what a broken A/C unit has to do with cleaning out the house, and why on earth someone would choose to actually expend effort when there's a strong likelihood of ending up all hot and sweaty.

As many of you know, our house is broken.  Our beloved, mid-century ranch requires so much foundation and structural repair that it's simply not worth the effort of fixing.  "If we're gonna dump that much money into a house," we like to say, "It's gonna have bigger closets."

So, for the past 5 or so years (when we found out how much was required to fix the house, which followed by an evening of heavy drinking), we've been simultaneously making our dream house wish list and hoping that nothing major would go wrong in the existing house before we were ready.  Roof.  HVAC.  That sort of thing.  We've been watching the driveway crumble, wondering how long we could let it go before the neighbors started complaining. We figured we were about two years out, and interviewed an architect a few months ago.  Then I got too busy to call any more and set up appointments.

Until Saturday.

In the middle of Zozo's 6th birthday party, in between running around filling guest drinks and serving cake and unwrapping presents and trying to keep kids from beating each other with the pinata bat, M passes by, leans over and whispers, "The air conditioner just broke.  I think the compressor went out."

Well, sh*t.

Uncle Rob checked things over and confirmed it, then was gracious enough to call a few of his buddies and get over-the-phone quotes.  We scowled when we had to put in a new toilet a couple years ago and went with the cheapest one we could find at about $90, which was still painful.  (We literally don't want to put any money into the place.  Not one stinkin' cent.)  The AC would be considerably more than that.

I popped open another beer.

Later that night, after everyone was gone and all the party things were cleaned up and Zoe was bathed and sleeping off her sugar rush in bed, we talked and weighed our options.  Then we talked some more.  Then we went to bed.

Sunday morning we went out for breakfast, and talked some more, and checked our investments and budget.  Pros and cons were discussed.  I asked M, "In your gut, what do you feel?"  His reply mirrored mine: "I'm sick of dealing with this f*cking house."

Some of our gripes are the same, some different.  He can't work on anything electrical in the house without shutting the entire house down, as the wiring is so jacked up it's simply not worth the risk of turning off specific breakers.  I can clean clean clean until the cows come home, but it's never really clean.  Doors stick, walls and ceilings are cracked, and the house is so open to the outside that we ought to just open the doors wide and invite animals to come live with us.   We kill way more bugs than anyone I know, and M's already had to dig a chipmunk carcass out of my dryer.  Right now we have nightly fly quests, killing upwards of 20 to 30, and we can't figure out where in the hell they're coming from.  The house is extremely inefficient, and has a propensity to kill both radio waves and light bulbs.  It also throws pictures from the wall on a regular basis.

"We gotta do something," we agreed.  So, for now, we're accelerating our plans to design/build on our lot, after wrecking the ol' homestead.  I started cleaning out yesterday.  "I'm not moving all this crap."  I brought in 34 pounds (thirty-four pounds) of paper to my office shred bin today.  We threw away so much crap in this morning's trash, along with the party trash, that we looked like the Clampetts after a bender.

That part feels good.  I came in this morning and started calling architects on my short list.  We have a meeting tonight, and are setting another one up for next week.  We'll get some ideas of cost and go from there.  We just might be able to eek out the rest of summer with no air (it's supposed to get hot at the end of this week but we're escaping on a little trip and so it wouldn't affect us anyway), have our last Christmas in The Broken House, and start demolition in the spring.

Or we could end up just ponying up a sh*t-ton of money for an A/C unit.

Eh, well, if we end up doing that, at least we'll have a cleaned-out house to cool.

(Question for the masses: does anyone know what I can do with unwanted, barely-used stuffed animals?  We have enough to start our own store, and they gotta go.  They're in good condition - is there a charity that will take them and give them to kids or something?  I hate to add to the landfill, but I gotta start getting this junk outta my house!)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Catching up

Whew!  Life's been gettin' in the way of blogging again!

Zoe is thriving at kindergarten.  She's remembering her teacher's name, finally.  She's meeting lots of new friends (most of whom are boys, much to M's chagrin).  She made it through two and a half days before losing her new lunch bag (it's already been recovered).  She still loves putting on her little uniform in the morning, and is doing awesome with her new routine.  The second day of school I walked her to the outer school door, then knelt down and asked for a kiss and a hug.  She obliged, then asked, "You're not going to take me all the way into the room?"  "Nope!" I replied. "You're a big girl now and you know where it is."  She paused, then her face lit up.  "Okay!  Bye!" And off she went without a backwards glance.  I was too proud of her to be upset that she's grown so independent.  Okay, maybe I was a little upset.  I only choked up for a minute, then I was okay.  She's doing just fine.

I'm out of town again.  Left last night, home tomorrow night (well, tonight technically, since it's after midnight), so it's not too bad.  I miss her like crazy, though.  I called her from the office tonight, as I'm at our North American headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas once again (this makes three times in four weeks...I asked for an office here today, and got one tentatively approved with the new build-out we're doing to take over the remaining half of our floor).  She sounded so happy, and was eager to fill me in on today's activities.

"Sit down.  This is a long story so you should get comfortable."

I heard all about how she went to the art room and drew a picture of herself for her art teacher.  But then she got to draw a picture of whatever she wanted, so she drew a purple roller coaster that was 10 miles long.  Yet another indication that she is, indeed, very much her father's daughter.  I loved hearing her little voice.  It doesn't really matter to me what she is saying, so long as I get to listen to her.  It makes my heart ache, being so far away, but I'll take it knowing that I'll get to see her and kiss her goodnight tomorrow night.

This trip has been good.  Well, most all of my trips to Lenexa are good.  Many of the folks I work with are here, so it's wonderful to get to see people face-to-face and really connect.  I'm still having so much fun at my job that it sorta makes up for having to leave so much.  Not really, but it's what I tell myself.  Being here is okay, because I'm extremely busy and engaged and having a good time with my colleagues.  It's the travel here and the travel home that I've begun to abhor.  I'm mixing it up, sometimes driving, sometimes taking the train, sometimes flying.  Doesn't matter how I get here, though.  It all sucks.

I'm not sure how much travel it will take for M to stop thinking of me as a "business travel novice."  I'm kinda hoping he'll get off his high horse soon, though, as I've had a couple things happen on my recent trips that he never experienced in all his years of travel (being held up at the gate due to one extra mystery person being on my plane, and free porn on my hotel television set - neither of which I expected nor wanted).  I had a conversation with a colleague this morning who is also in from out of town, where we compared rental cars and determined that the Kia Rio has got to be the worst rental car in the world.  I'm racking up more Hilton Honors points than him these days, and am just as sick of eating out as he used to be.  Maybe road-warriorness is measured in years or something.  If that's the case, I'm happy to relinquish the competition and let him carry the crown.  I just wish he wouldn't roll his eyes and poke fun at me when I talk about being sick of traveling, as if my mere months of travel don't warrant feeling like crap when I'm gone, or getting to share road stories with other business travelers.

Okay, it's late, and I'm tired, and it's time to turn in here at the ol' Doubletree.  Long day tomorrow, capped with a flight home and a drive straight to school for "Curriculum Night," whatever that is.  Zoe isn't the only one learning new things in kindergarten.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

K-Day Pix

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Well, today is IT.  The First Day of Kindergarten.

Zoe was already awake when I went in to get her, which didn't surprise me.  She bounded out of bed and announced that she was ready for breakfast, although she didn't eat much.

I had her uniform laid out, which she insisted on donning herself without help or even either of us looking at her.  She likes to surprise us, even though the very act of announcing that we are not to look at her pretty much tips us off.  Without prompting, she cleared her breakfast dishes, fed the cats, brushed her teeth and her hair, and started getting dressed.  I could tell she was struggling with her little button-down, and waited.

"Mommy?  Can you help me without looking?"

The trick to this, I've learned, is to help without looking her in the eye.  I said, "Sure" and started trying to figure what she had done.  She had unbuttoned her shirt but forgot the top button, and then was trying to button the lower half around her head.  Suffice it to say, it was a pretty funny mess.  So I start getting her straightened out and she said, "You can help without looking.  How can you do that?"  "I'm a mommy.  I can do these things."  "Oh.  Okay."

She finished getting dressed, and we went out to get her backpack ready.  It's a big pack (thank you Aunt Margaret!  It's awesome!) with, this being the first day of school, very little in it.  Since she has only a half day today, the kids were instructed to bring a healthy snack and that's it.  She chose Wheat Thins and I put a little baggie of those with some bottled water in her lunch bag, and then put that in her backpack.  With Hootie, of course.  She knows not to take him out, but he's there for moral support.  Smashed in the bottom of her pack.

Then we headed outside for pictures.

Turns out it's hard to focus when your eyes keep filling with tears.

After pictures, we were off to school.  Those of you who have been to our house know that we live three houses down and across the street from our church/Zoe's school.  It's a quick walk, and this morning was just beautiful.  She headed out in front of us so I could get some more shots, which made me cry. Then we approached the crossing guard, which made me cry.  Good grief.  M said, "Quit crying!" and I took his head off.  "I'm gonna cry, so shut up!"

We headed into school, only to learn that we were a few minutes early.  They don't open the classrooms until 7:40 on the dot, so we were ushered to the playground out back where the students lined up by grade.  She stood with about five other little girls, in their uniforms with their backpacks (all with pink straps), which made me cry.  More pictures.

Finally, the bell rang and it was time to go in.  She hung her pack in her cubby, and put her snack on her desk.  Then she sat down, looked around the classroom, and asked, "What do I do now?  Homework?"  I reassured her that Mrs. K would let everyone know exactly what to do throughout the day, and with that, Mrs. K announced that they could take out their spiral notebooks and draw while waiting for the day to start.

Within minutes the room was almost completely quiet.  Each child sitting at his or her spot (there are about five kids to a table, each with a small bin underneath that holds his or her personal school supplies) and using markers from the shared caddy at the center of the table.  We parents looked at each other, surprised.  One mother commented to Mrs. K that she was quite impressed by how quickly everything gelled.  Mrs. K laughed and said, "Yeah, that won't last!  It won't always be this easy!"

Then another bell sounded and my stomach dropped.  I smiled weakly at Mrs. K, "I suppose that's our signal to go?"  She nodded gently, "Yes.  It's time."  Deep breath.

I bent over and gave my Zozer a kiss.  "Happy first day of kindergarten, Doodlebug.  I love you."  Then I slammed on my sunglasses to hide my tears and bolted.

I made M take me to Starbucks for a coffee, and he delighted in making comments like, "Do you think she got an A yet?" and "Well, the principal hasn't called, so that's a good sign."  Funny guy.

Pictures to come.  I gotta get some work done first.  If I can stop crying.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Welcome to your new life

Yesterday, we went to a morning mass because it was Packet Sunday.  This is the Sunday before school starts, and after the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. masses parents can head over to the music room in the school to pick up information for the coming school year.  I was very excited, and a little nervous, as I had been warned by veteran grade school parents that the packet is rather intimidating and requires hours of work and multiple checks.

Boy, where they right!  We had letters from the kindergarten teachers, letters from the specialty teachers (art, music, Spanish), letters from the principle.  We had forms galore (health and medical, emergency contact, emergency dismissal arrangements, hot lunch program) and calendars up the wazoo (playground duty, general school calendar, lunch calendar).  We have fees for this, that, and the other, and a separate check is required for each.  I cleared off the couch, got my my favorite pen and my checkbook, and set to work.  It was really quite manageable, once I got into it.  And a little frightening with the realization of how independent Zozo will be.  Once she hits those school doors, she's expected to take care of herself.  I won't be delivering her to her room, chatting with her teacher on a daily basis, and picking her up from that room.  She'll have to either take her lunch or show her card to buy her meal, instead of just sitting down at a table in her classroom and having her food served.

Our commitment level goes up, too.  We are expected to report for playground duty three times throughout the school year.  That's not too bad, but it's obvious they take it seriously.  We have to submit a $100 check post-dated for the end of the school year.  We show up for our three turns, they shred the check.  We miss a day, they cash it.  We can switch with other parents if we need to, or we can call a sub, to whom we'll pay $30.  Holy smokes.

We found out which teacher she has (Mrs. K.) and who will be in her room (11 boys, 9 girls...which made M scowl of course).  Zoe ran around the music room with her new friends, and we had to pry her out from under the risers to leave.  It's going to be great.

After we got home and farted around for a few hours, we ran to the hardware store (yes, the boy is working on Christmas!) and lunch.  Upon arrival home, I spotted a yard sign in front of our house.  It has the school logo and says, "WELCOME TO _____________" with the school name.  (For privacy reasons, I'm not posting her school.)  Someone had also drawn her name on the front with a flowery circle around it.

"Look, Zozo!  It's a sign just for you!  It says welcome to your new school!"  She squealed, delighted, and M beamed.  And then I burst into tears.  Again.

Good grief.  I really hope this passes after Thursday.  It's getting ridiculous.  It always comes when I least expect it.  I have seen her school place signs in other kids' yards, but had forgotten about it.  It is such a great idea, and I love all the positive messages it sends.  It's just fantastic, and I'm so pleased.  We took her picture with her sign, of course.  She wanted shots with her to the left, to the right, and behind.  She wants to know how long we can leave it out there.  I think it'll end up in her room eventually.

I just think that if they're gonna put a sign like that in a kindergartner's lawn, they should at least leave behind a box of tissues for the mommy.  Or valium.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Day

For me, anyway. I dropped her off for the last time at preschool today. M takes her on Friday as I'll be in KC on business again. That's probably a good thing since I burst into tears upon leaving school this morning. I called M, sobbing. He laughed gently, and made me laugh, and predicted that I'll be a complete mess Thursday when she starts kindergarten.
All I keep thinking about are big steps in her life. The day she was born. The first day she walked. The first day of preschool. Where did it go? And will it ever slow down?
Even if it doesn't, I'm just happy I'm along for the ride. "Parent" is the best job title I will ever hold.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

License to thrill

This morning, after six long years, I got a new driver's license.  Normally getting a new license isn't cause for celebration, but consider this: when I got my license renewed six years ago, I was 8.5 months pregnant.  And in desperate need of a haircut.  And pre-LASIK.  Essentially, for about six years, I've carried a license that looks nothing like me.  I've dealt with tons of skeptical TSA agents who take twice as long to scour my license and my face, trying to make the match before whistling, "Wow.  This doesn't look like you at all."  I know.  I've dealt with overzealous Kohl's cashiers checking to ensure my license matches my credit card.  "You cut your hair!"  I know.  I've had friends laugh their asses off when entering bars, "Holy crap!  Look at that!"  I know, already.

Yes, I know this doesn't look like me.  Thank goodness.

So today was a momentous day.  The day when I can hand over my license and remain silent, not having to offer the obligatory, "I was eight and a half months pregnant, okay?"

I got to the license office right at 8, when they open.  There were two people ahead of me, both of whom went to the right, the white numbers, for vehicle plates.  I was directed to the left, and the blue numbers, for driver's licenses.  There was one woman staffing the driver's license desk, and she looked at me, nonplussed.  I took a number.  And waited for a good 10 seconds.  "Fifteen?"  "Here."  It was straight out of John Belushi's book in Samurai Delicatessen.

She asked all the questions:
"Would you like to donate your organs?"
"Do you still live at this address?"
"Are you still five feet, seven inches?"

(Yes, she yelled it.  B*tch.)

Um, no.  Let's nudge that up a bit.  I still whacked 25 pounds off my actual, current weight, but it's a little more realistic now.

I let her know that I had LASIK done and so no longer require glasses or contacts.  She had me look in the vision machine, read the top row, and identify the signs.  Then she asked, "Do you wear contacts?"

After everything was processed, she told me to have a seat while my new license was being made.  I sat, while the two people I came in with continued to have their vehicle plates registered.  There was no one else in the office.  After 45 seconds, she yelled, "AMY?!"  You know, to be heard over the crowd.

It took everything I had not to burst out laughing.  The whole thing seemed straight out of a sitcom.  I walked away, thrilled.  My new license picture isn't great, but holy smokes, is it better than what I had.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Things I think about when I can't sleep

This has been a rough week for me.  Personally, professionally...every which way.  Sleepless nights and tears and questions that, at least for now, seem unanswerable.

But through it all, I know this: I am okay.  And I know this because despite what happens to me, what is currently going on in my life, I know that I have the most amazing people that will be there for me no matter what.  I was trying to sleep tonight, unsuccessfully again, and I started thinking about how I have an unbelievably long list of people who I could call if I was in real, serious trouble, and get instant help, even if I haven't talked to them in six months.  People who, when I invariably apologize for being distant, always respond with, "Hey, no worries.  You're okay.  I'm okay.  We're okay."  People who, when they apologize to me for being distant, I can say the same thing with understanding and empathy.  Thinking about these people always warms my heart and makes me smile.  And I send gratitude into the universe for having you make up the rich fabric of my life.

You all know who you are.  I thank you, and I love you.

To those of you who don't get it, who don't get me, and who make no effort to understand me or what I might be facing, yet feel capable of casting judgment, well...that's a whole other story.

Unlike Facebook where I can simply bar you from sharing my life with the click of a mouse, my blog is more open.  I can't control who comes to my space and reads about my life.  All I can do is say this: F*ck you.  You're not welcome here any more.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Zoe Question

Watching Little House on the Prairie with Zozer tonight. Laura runs out of the house to a small wooden structure.
Zoe: "Is she going to the owl house?"
Me: "Um, no, she's going to the OUT house!"

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I grabbed the pile of invitations and Zoe's new school calendar off my home desk this morning and brought them into the office.  I need to plug everything into my work calendar, which gets boosted to my phone, as that's the only way to keep my family on track.

Holy shit.

Turns out kindergarten, or "real school," is a whole new ballgame, folks.  My personal calendar now rivals my work calendar.  And the two aren't playing together in the sandbox as I'd hoped.  I typed in only the next two months, got queasy about the growing number of conflicts and the prospect of evening school meetings followed by early morning flights to barely make important work meetings, and quit.  I'll input the rest later.

This big, new step for Zoe will also be a big, new step for me, and for M.  We are at the next stage of evolution in our family life.  It seems to be working well, although I do still need to find some balance.  M's lack of business travel has freed him to do things like regularly pick up Zoe from school, and he's just volunteered to coach her soccer team.  He could never have committed to that even a few short months ago.  Meanwhile, I find myself doing things like choosing to drive to Kansas City for a business meeting so I can leave at 8:20 p.m. and avoid missing Zoe an extra night.  (My good intentions were foiled, however, upon arrival in KC and discovering the next morning, at 8:45, that my 9 o'clock meeting had been canceled.  D'oh!)

I am truly excited about this new phase of our life.  I am thrilled with my career.  After years of "paying my dues" I've finally reached a level for which I feel suited.  I'm defining my job every single day, working with people at all levels through my organization (include the c-suite!).  I'm being compensated as I should, and am traveling like a fiend (which is both good and bad).  I am so excited for Zoe as she moves into her grade school years.  New friends, new experiences, and 9 years at a school that resonates so strongly with our family that it feels like an extension of home.  M's decision to coach her team makes me want to cry with happiness.  Last year, I watched my brother-in-law lovingly coach my nephew's football team - there's just something about a guy who coaches kids that makes them even more awesome than they are normally.

And I'm fully aware that none of this would be possible without the love and support of our family and friends.  I love you, guys, even if I don't always have a chance to show it.  Thank you for understanding that we're navigating this crazy journey as best we can.  We love that you're on the ride with us!

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011


I used the excuse that I hadn't brought a lunch to leave work and come home.  "Be back later in time to pick up the rental car for my trip to KC!" I said cheerfully, as I breezed out the door.

Then I removed Zoe's school magnet from the back of my car, climbed behind the wheel, and took a breath.

I'm didn't come home because I forgot my lunch.  Normally that's a great excuse to pop out and get something from one of our local restaurants.  I came home because, even though the physical shaking has subsided, I still feel frightened.  Upset and nervous, shaken right down to my core.

I drove home hyper aware of every car around me.  Colors, makes and models.  Drivers.  I saw one silver BMW and felt my pulse quicken.  It was driven by a small Asian woman.  Not a large, shaved-head goon dressed in business casual who screams "I will follow you...I will get you."

My friend told me I should switch cars with M for a week or two.  Because chances are since that is my normal daily route, it's his, too.  And since the man chased me through a parking lot he knows what my car looks like.  What I look like.

I hate the fact that my 10-minute commute to work is now lined with fear.  That I actually have to change my lifestyle to avoid another confrontation.  The asshole has probably moved on and intimidated multiple people since our encounter this morning.  They tend to do that, I think.  But the victims do not.

I drove all the way down my street checking the rearview mirror incessantly, thinking, "If I see anything that remotely resembles a silver BMW, I won't pull into the driveway.  Just keep going."  What a ridiculous way to live.

The car is in the garage. I feel safer because the door is closed and no one can see it.  I can hide in here and feel secure.  He doesn't know where I live.  He doesn't know my name.  He can't find me.  I will never see him again.

I just need to convince myself of that.

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So that's what road rage looks like

Apparently, there really are crazy drivers who harass people.

Now that I have experienced that, I will no longer joke about road rage.  Because it's. not. funny.

I had dropped off Zoe (I will be eternally grateful that she wasn't in the car) and was headed to work, thinking about a concall I had scheduled at 8.  At that part of my commute, there are three lanes on the road.  The far right lane ends as a turn-only lane.  I was in the far left lane.  I'm always aware of other cars around me, so he must have come up pretty fast for me not to realize that he was in that far right lane.  I used my signal, checked my blind spot, and began to move to the middle lane.  Simultaneously, he moved from the right lane to the middle lane.  Halfway over, I spotted him, and hit the gas so as to avoid cutting him off.  Oddly, instead of braking, he too hit the gas, almost hit my car, and then laid on the horn.

Okay, that happens.  I get stuff like that.  We both want to be in the lane at the same time.  He's in the back, I'm in the front.  I speed up, he slows down, we both get the lane.

That, apparently, was not suitable for him.

He whipped his car into the far left lane and came up alongside me.  With my windows rolled up, and the radio on, I could hear him screaming expletives.  Okay.  Dude.  I didn't look at him.  Usually that's enough to diffuse a situation.  He didn't go away, though.  I slowed down, and he slowed down.  I sped up, and he sped up.  Holy jeez.

At that point, we were coming up on a red light and the last thing I wanted was to be stopped at a light with this asshole.  We had cars in front and behind us, so I'd effectively be trapped.  Right before the light, there's a quick turn into a shopping plaza.  OfficeMax, Home Depot, an empty Wal-Mart store, etc.  I checked my blind spot and turned into the parking lot.  I figured he'd keep on going down the main road and I'd come back out and continue to work and that would be that.

Except he didn't continue down the road.  From the left lane, he cut people off to take the next entrance into the parking lot.  With me.

As I'm driving around this parking lot, trying to evade a crazy person who is determined to do something (and not knowing what, exactly, he intended made it even scarier), I started to panic.  My hands began to shake and my heart was pounding and all I could think was, "What do I do now?  What do I do now?"  I don't know where any of the police stations are around here, but there is a fire station just across the road.  All I wanted to do was get there.  The lot we were in was completely empty, as none of the stores had opened yet.  Not a great choice for me to go in there, but I really didn't believe that he would actually follow me.  Cut people off, which, now that I think about it, was what I think started this whole thing to begin with - he thought I cut him off - to come after me.  I turned the car around and headed toward the exit that would allow me to get to the fire station.

Which is when he flew across the parking lot (I had misjudged where the medians were, and thought he'd have to go around and remain behind me), and blocked my car from exiting.  When he got out of his car and started coming towards me is when I wondered if I would actually have to hit him, with my car, to save myself.  I wondered if he had a gun.  I wondered how this was all going to end.  I wondered an awful lot in a very short amount of time.

As he's screaming, and I'm trying desperately to remain calm, all I could think of was the only weapon I had besides my car.

My phone.

I held it up in the windshield, where he could see it, pointed to it, and started obviously dialing.  He panicked, got back in his car, and tore out of the parking lot.

Which is when I thought, "I need to get his license plate number."

Since I was shaking, hyperventilating, crying, and too scared to get anywhere close to him, I got the numbers wrong.


The police officer told me that without witnesses, even if I had gotten the plate right there wasn't much they could do.  It comes down to one word against another, with no evidence.  I thought that at least a phone call from the police would maybe scare him enough to not harass anyone else again, but I don't even have that comfort.

I have to drive to Kansas City tonight, by myself.  I don't really want to even drive home, much less across the state.

I will get over it.  People always do.  But for right now, I'll just sit quietly at my desk and cry, and try to stop shaking so damn much.  Needless to say, I missed the 8 a.m. concall.

The police officer was so nice.  He said, "I know it's upsetting that we can't do anything.  But guys like catches up with them.  It always does.  And I hope I'm there when it happens."  Yeah, I do, too.  With a bunch of your cop friends.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Silver lining

Today is a momentous day.  First, it's my best friend's birthday.  (O Happy Day, Pookie!)  Second, our nation's political leaders are narrowly averting financial ruin by passing a marginally acceptable debt package that pleases no one and is likely to hurt many.  (Way to go, asshats.)  Third, this morning, I spotted my first gray hair.  And then my second.  And then I made myself stop looking.

I am taking some comfort in the fact that they weren't a dull gray, but that shimmery silver that lends distinguished wisdom and charm to an otherwise youthful appearance.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.

M has been sprouting the silver for quite some time now.  I think it's been a combination of a stressful career and an elevated amount of estrogen in his domicile.  He blames his wife entirely.  Funny man.

I have very clear signs that I am, indeed, aging.  At least in body (not in spirit!).  First, a large container of Benefiber resides on my counter.  Second, I seem to be visiting doctors with increasing regularity.  The last trip was for episcleritis, which is usually idiopathic and easily cleared up with drops, but c'mon already. Third, my body makes creaking and popping noises during simple, routine maneuvers such as standing up from a seated position.

Not all signs of aging are horrible.  I have reached the point in my career where I reap the benefits of being in management.  I have figured out, for the most part, who I am and what I like, and am pretty unapologetic about it.  M and I have developed a sound fiscal policy for our family that allows us to save  for retirement while living a perfectly lovely day-to-day existence where we want for little.

All in all, I'll take the creaking joints and enhanced doctoral relationships and yes, even the silver hair, for the perks that come with increasing age.  I've earned each and every one of these years, dammit, and I claim them all proudly.

Although I do reserve the right to color my hair should the silvers turn to true gray and start to make me look like an old bag.  A girl has her limits.


Monday, August 01, 2011


Fantastic weekend.  The sheer mediocrity...plainness...unscheduled except for those mundane tasks of housecleaning, laundry and grocery shopping.  It was heaven.  It was what I needed to feel like a normal person again.  Getting clothes out of a drawer instead of a suitcase, and sitting at my vanity instead of standing at a generic bathroom sink wondering what funky stuff is growing everywhere.

Our refrigerator was woefully bare, as were our cupboards.  We had decided over a month ago to "eat down" the house, which is necessary every once in awhile to keep food from going bad and to declutter the kitchen.  When we go in to eat-down mode, we buy only perishables like milk, cheese, eggs and fruit.  Then we make ourselves eat the pork loin that's been in the freezer since gawd knows when, and the noodle packet that could probably withstand a nuclear holocaust.  Eat-down, combined with being gone several weekends in a row, meant that unless we went grocery shopping, Saturday night dinner would consist of croutons of a questionable age, a dented can of cream of mushroom soup, and a frozen doughnut.

The house was an absolute wreck.  We all had stuff everywhere, and there were enough tumblefurs floating around to build an extra cat or two.  My desk had become a paper wasteland again, and we hadn't seen the top of Zoe's dresser in months.

We chose Saturday to get out, and Sunday to stay in.  We went to the grocery store, and Sam's.  Filled the car up with gas.  Visited my gran in the nursing home.  Popped in to see my folks for a bit.  After we left there, I was quiet.  Which, for those of you who know me, knows this is odd.  M picked up on it immediately and asked, but I couldn't tell him why.  I realized, only after noodling it around for awhile and figuring it out for myself, that I hadn't seen my folks in forever and I miss them.  Which is when I figured out there are a whole lot of people I miss.  I haven't seen my best friend in months, and we're both so busy our conversations are usually little spurts of texting.  I haven't spent any real time with a dear friend from my old job in probably a year.  The list goes on and on.

But if I can't find time to keep my house clean, and buy milk for my family, how do I keep these relationships going?  For the time being, until I figure out how to balance it all, I need your help.  I need to not be the person responsible for keeping things going for awhile.  I need you to call me.  I need you to invite me to dinner or lunch or drinks.  I'm in purely reactive mode right now.  If I get invited somewhere, I go.  I've got too much on my plate right now to plan and issue invitations myself.  I realize this is unfair...a relationship goes both ways, and both people need to make an effort.  I get that.  But I'm also grounded enough to realize when I need help, and I'm not embarrassed to ask for it.

What I also need is to be understood.  We all go through periods of insanity with work, kids, etc.  We all ebb and flow, and are more present and less present in different amounts every day.  And no one is perfect.  Ever.

Yesterday, M gave me exactly what I needed.  He asked, and I told him, and he understood perfectly.  He took Zozer swimming and left me alone, in the house, to get done what I needed to.  I cleaned (and cleaned, and cleaned), did laundry, organized, sorted, got rid of things I should have months ago.  I listened to whatever music I wanted to (LOUD), and danced while I vacuumed.  I sang (LOUD), and cleaned up the basement, and stood at the kitchen sink and ate tuna out of a can for lunch.  They came back relaxed and happy, and I was thrilled to welcome them back to a house I could be proud of.  All horizontal surfaces are clean and uncluttered again.  Laundry is done, folded and put away.  Litterbox empty, floors scrubbed, couches de-furred.  Bliss.

I know the house won't stay like this for very long.  But damn, it's nice while it lasts!

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