Monday, December 15, 2014

What we've been doing

I haven't been writing much lately, mostly because late nights make it hard to get up in the morning, but I have been reading up a storm.

I slogged through The Goldfinch. At 700+ pages, chock full of overly-detailed descriptions for every single scene, it's not something I recommend for the faint of heart. By the time I got to the last quarter of the book I just wanted it to be over, and lost much of a night's sleep just to finish the damn thing. (The last 20 pages are excruciating, too. Like the author decided that the sheer length of the thing wasn't punishment enough, let's add insult to injury by waxing philosophic and lecture the dear reader into a coma.) Although The Goldfinch won all kinds of awards, I think people who have completed the book should be given a medal. The book is also pretty damn depressing. The protagonist starts off as a little shit and then grows to become a dreary, predictable big shit who continues to make poor decisions resulting in drug and alcohol addiction, illegality, and the severing of relationships that were the only good thing in his life. I couldn't wait to be rid of him.

From there, I launched into Where'd You Go, Bernadette. This book was recommended by several friends and the reviews I read said it was funny. It was, and so it was a welcome relief from The Goldfinch. Until two-thirds of the way through when it, too, waxed philosophic and went all deep. I'd recommend this book 10 times over The Goldfinch, though, having enjoyed it all the way through and experiencing sadness that it wasn't longer. It left me wanting to know what was going to happen to the characters, which I don't think is a bad thing.

So that's been my reading history. I've also shopped like crazy on-line (no malls yet!) and have been wrapping gifts as they arrive. There's a big pile sitting under my Christmas tree right now, which is a huge shift from every other year when I have a night or two of marathon wrapping which results in a Grinch attitude from the pity party I throw myself, feeling overwhelmed the day or two before Christmas as I stand at the kitchen counter wrapping for hours on end, with feet aching and holiday spirit flagging.

I also got my Christmas cards uploaded and ordered weeks before I usually get around to it. Last year, my order history shows that I uploaded everything on December 17, which meant that I had to pick up the envelopes early and get them addressed and stamped, then stuff and seal as soon as the cards were finished so I could hightail it to the PO for a delivery right before Christmas. This year, they're already out! And that's despite Sam's Club doing everything possible to jack up my order ("Oh, yeah. Um. Our system deleted your order? So you need to re-order? And because this happened to a bunch of people we can't tell you when you're order will be finished."), causing me to re-order the prints four days after they were supposed to be finished. I had to remind myself that with a steep discount comes the distinct possibility that things will go wrong. They eventually finished everything and my cards went out in plenty of time, and to make it right they took ten bucks off which means that I paid only $15 for 100 cards. Not too shabby.

We hosted a big ass party and lots of people came. Food, drinks and laughter abounded, despite the three trains we own all experiencing regular derailment (one upstairs, one down, and one outside). Cousins came in from Cincy and brought their adorable Yorkie, and we laughed while watching our cats get angry that we had allowed this tiny creature to invade their territory. I'm fairly convinced that the reason they got so pissed is that they thought Kweli, because of his size, was another cat, one with no tail and a strange meow.

M is out of his boot, and walking well. Usually there's not even a noticeable limp. He's much happier, as the boot was throwing off his gait and starting to wreak havoc on his back. I'm happier because he's less cranky and because he's able to drive himself around again. He's also able to drive us, as a family, around. I like driving, but I learned through this experience that I'd much rather him drive when we go out as a family, which is often. I prefer to look around and see what we're passing, instead of having to pay attention to the road and other drivers. We're back to our normal with this, and I think both of us are much happier.

We've been to birthday dinners and birthday parties and caroling parties and a monastic open house. We've had some indoor soccer games and basketball practice and a piano recital. Therapy appointments and hair cuts and doctor visits. The usual stuff.

That's about it in a nutshell. What we've been up to since I last posted. Nothing earth-shattering. There are a few topics that I'd like to explore, but I'll save those for other mornings. Today, I'm just happy I dragged my tired butt out of bed and started typing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Why I didn't get up this morning

I didn't get up and write this morning, mainly because I didn't sleep very much last night. I fell asleep fine, except that it was in my favorite chair between the fireplace and the Christmas tree and not in bed. Then, when I woke up, I made the mistake of checking my phone (email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), having a brief conversation with M, and then puttering around instead of going in and sacking out. By the time I made it into the actual bed, I was wide awake. And I stayed that way for hours.

I eventually stopped trying to sleep and used my new Amazon Prime account to stream the next Doctor Who episode. I was tempted to just keep going, binge watching, but I made myself put the device down. It didn't help. I laid there and thought about all the shit I need to do before this weekend, which caused me to grab the phone yet again and check some things on-line. I'm not sure what time I finally fell asleep, but I know it was well past 1. That meant that when the alarm went off at 5:45, I just turned it off entirely. I knew that Zoe would end up in our bed, and that he alarm at 6:30 would wake both of us. Only that didn't quite happen, either. My subconscious heard her alarm going off in the other room, but my conscious resolutely refused to budge and it took M nudging both of us to get us up and moving.

So I didn't write this morning. I'm lucky I made it to work this morning.

We had our Christmas Boutique today. I wiped out a few gifts, adding to my "purchased" list that started with the Amazon Prime membership this week. Huge dent in the gift purchases already this year, which puts me about 2.5 weeks ahead of last year. I even got my Christmas cards designed and ordered; they should be ready for pick up tomorrow. I saw on my account page that last year I ordered them on December 17. I'm feeling pretty good about being ahead of the game this year.

Now I'm off to lead a Girl Scout Brownie meeting, which means by 5 p.m. I will have hit a wall of exhaustion like no other, ears bleeding, feet aching. The girls are worth it, but I sure am glad I have so much done in advance so I can relax at home tonight and not fret over what still needs to be done.

And maybe, just maybe, I can go to bed on time and get up on time and actually write something, anything, of relevance.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Late Start

Today is the first day in a week that I was willing to get up at 5:45 a.m. to write. The other mornings were filled with anxiety and dread over what's been happening in St. Louis, snuggles with my family (which overcomes the anxiety and are therefore worth skipping the writing), opportunities to sleep in (thank you, Thanksgiving), other obligations (Scout Mass, 5-mile walk) and an ice storm. That last one was yesterday, which is a story in and of itself.

When we went to bed Sunday night, I had no idea that there was the potential for ice. No clue that there was a chance school would be called off. I set my alarm for 5:45 and went to sleep. The alarm went off at precisely the same moment that the automated call came in from Zoe's school, letting parents know that due to icy road conditions there would be a late start of 9:15. So, when I swiped the phone screen to turn off the alarm, I answered the call before it ever had a chance to ring. As I came to consciousness, I realized my phone was talking to me, only I couldn't totally understand what it was saying because a.) it was sitting on my nightstand a foot and a half away, b.) I was still mostly asleep, and c.) my phone never talks to me after I turn off the alarm. It finally dawned on me that I needed to pick the damn thing up and listen, so I scrambled to get the phone unplugged and over to my ear, while still laying down and in utter confusion. Icy road conditions? Late start? What in the hell is going on? I couldn't comprehend at all. At this point, my machinations mean that M has figured out something is happening, causing him to ask repeatedly, "Aim? What is going on? Aim? Aim? What is it? What's going on?" I had to snap at him to shut up so I could try like hell to get a handle on everything. Thankfully the automated message had an option to hit any button to repeat the principal's message, so I was able to do that and hear it again, this time at about 80% consciousness. I told M that Zoe's school had a delayed start due to ice, which caused him to get up and hop/slide with his bad leg over to the window to look out.

At this point, I was slightly less confused and still trying to figure out how the hell I answered a call without the phone ringing, how I went to bed with no idea that a late start/cancelation was even possible, and what the late start meant for my morning. It meant this: Zoe would come in and we could snuggle longer before having to get up. I made a mental note to alert people at my work that I'd be late, and wondered why I hadn't received a call from them postponing the start of our school.

Which happened a few minutes later. Thank goodness, as by this time I had finally gotten my act together and could answer the phone without a trace of confusion in my voice. "Amy? We have decided to do a late start of 9:45 a.m. Are you prepared to get the word out? Can you take it from here?" Yup. I climbed out of bed, threw on a robe, and got to work.

First, I fetched my packet of information from local media, letting me know what the login and password is for each site that posts school closings. I fired up the iPad and typed out my script for the automated call. I launched the app on my iPhone and carefully went through the prompts, recorded my message, and hit "Launch." Then I methodically went through the sites for KSDK, KMOV, and ABC30 to register our school's late start. Finally, I called KMOX's school closing line (they don't have a site-based system) and went through the voice prompts to register.

I checked the websites to ensure our late start was posted, and our own school's website to ensure that my assistant had dragged his own butt out of bed with my automated call and posted the late start in the announcements section on the home page (he had).

I have a new appreciation for snow days. No longer am I in the position of receiving an automated call, only to turn off my alarm and roll over and go back to sleep. A snow day now, for me, means that I need to get to work immediately, right here in my own great room. I don't mind it at all…it's just a different perspective. I have a new appreciation for school administrators who are up even earlier than I am, assessing the situation and making the decision to postpone or cancel school altogether. And, given that I received feedback from several colleagues that my call came five to 10 minutes too late ("I was already in the shower!" "I was already scraping the ice off my car!") I now appreciate that administrators usually never make everyone happy. They have a rough job that I don't envy. They have to make the call before I make the call, and I'm good with my position.

We're supposed to have a rough winter. We'll see how many times I get to do this…and hopefully I'll be more alert when that first call comes in, whether it's from Zoe's school or my own.