Friday, December 30, 2005

Just A Few Notes Today

To LM: Thank you for such a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for celebrating the birth of Christ with me, for relishing the joy of giving great gifts and for enjoying our time together as much as anything. Thank you for my new plant. The one you personally picked out without any help. The one that you chose because of its “easy care”, because its blooms are blue, my favorite color, and because you know how much I love plants! What a wonderful child you are!

To my step-mom: Thank you for the best gift this year. You personally painted a picture of an autumn scene for us. You shared your talents and chose a theme that you thought best suited our lives and interests. The painting is amazing, you are truly talented! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us!

To Bear: I cannot thank you enough for buying my sister a Verizon cell phone. MY budget thanks you!!! I am so thrilled to be able to call her anytime without worrying about using my minutes now!!

To G: I hope you enjoy the album. I know it’s an emotional hurdle to work through. I know you have yet to grieve. I know that reading Mom’s words in Mom’s writing is harder than many things I’ve done lately, but I also know that nothing feels more real, nothing speaks as clearly as her own words telling you how much she loves you. Take your time, enjoy it, savor it, and someday, come sit with me and read through all the letters. Laugh, cry, and remember.

To my dad: Thank you so much for convincing me to buy an HD tv last spring when my old tv finally decided death was better than the life it was living. I have enjoyed watching nothing but football for the last many days and will continue to push the tolerance of my household this weekend on how many hours straight football can play on the tele! By the way, LM loves playing his ps2 games on the nice tele, too, and really looks forward to the bowl games being over so he can watch his new Star Wars movies (I, II, III) on the widescreen with surround sound!

To Mother Nature: Thank you for the mild winter thus far. Thank you for the moderate temperatures, the chance to enjoy the Bark Park, for LM to be out on his scooter, and for us to enjoy a touch of sunshine now and again. We are already looking forward to spring, although we know we have a couple more months of the cold to work through first.

To the Woman Who Made Me A Brunette: I'm getting used to it. This is not to say I prefer it, but I'm at least not shocked when I pass a mirror. The cut will be fantastic in about a month when I can tuck behind my ears once again, but all in all, I'm not feeling homicidal over my bad hair color. Lucky for you.

To the Lovely Folks at Wal*Mart: Standing in line with a pair of kids' sneakers, cat litter, flour and a binder, I find it so odd to think I bought all those things under one roof (all the while smelling Subway bread baking - ew). I know you aspire to be all things for all people, but seriously. It's getting to be a bit much. Especially the smell of Subway.

To the Makers of Emerald Nuts: get a new ad agency.

To Anyone Who Knows Something On the Subject: Is it possible to get an electric fireplace that doesn't need venting? Can I buy such a thing, and have Bear or G build me a beautiful mantle and never have to actually do anything to my interior or exterior walls? Can I create a "portable" fireplace that isn't permanently affixed to this condo?

To Karla: Thanks for the recommendation on the dog training book. I've read it cover to cover now. I'm not certain that it gives me the tools I was looking for, but it was reassuring to know that we're at least doing a whole lot of things right! Maybe I will have to write a book on how to train a LARGE BREED dog.

To the People Who Are Recieving Our Christmas Card Late, aka those of you who failed to inform us that you moved and the original card got returned to us: Pardon the Hannukah and Happy Birthday stamps. Apparently when the post office is in transition to a new stamp, you are given NO OPTION on what kinds you can buy in the interim.

To The New Year: Look out! This woman on a mission is really on a roll! All things are possible! I look forward to the challenges and blessings the New Year will bring to me, to this home and to my family!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I Might Be A Redneck

As you all know (or should if you’re truly a faithful, devoted reader. Ahem) I recently got a DVR. This weekend, I have been putting it to the test, recording classics like “Casablanca”, “The Philadelphia Story” and “Sunset Boulevard”. Today I decided to take a break and enjoy my time off and watch one of my recordings. I chose “The Blue Collar Comedy Tour Movie”.

Oh. My. God.

I have laughed so hard I have tears pouring down my face. I have scared the cat. I have annoyed the dog. I have truly not laughed this hard since…well…since I last spent time with my cough*redneck*cough family.

If you have not seen this, dear god, find it on Comedy Central and watch it. If you have seen it, how do you still sleep at night?! I don’t care who you are, that’s funny stuff right there!

P.S. Someone out there tell me there is a sequel to this movie.

If You Want To Hear God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans

My senior year of college I took the GRE. I was having so much fun as an Assistant Residence Director that I wanted to continue on as a Graduate Assistant in Residential Life. Only my college didn’t offer grad courses. So I took the necessary tests, and voyaged to Osh Kosh, Wisconsin for a huge interviewing weekend for GA’s in Res Life. Trouble was I had no idea or ambition as to what I wanted to STUDY while in Grad School. I just knew that academia was a cool place from which I never wanted to leave. A perpetual student I would be. Several schools offered me GA positions, but due to my upcoming marriage, and his local job, we decided to stay put and not pursue them.

I got married the day before I graduated college and my mom passed away three short months later. Having spent the summer caring for her, I had no job waiting for me when we finally settled into married life. I substitute taught trying to get a full-time teaching position, something I desperately desired, until I found out a couple years later that we were unexpectedly expecting.

I had the incredible privilege of staying home with LM until I moved out. I was grateful for not having taught before, as it made it easier to stay home having never had two full salaries in the house to begin with. When I pursued the divorce, however, not only did I have to come to terms with ending our marriage, I had to accept the fact that it meant I could no longer be home with LM. I had to support us both. I wanted to go back to school. Ultimately, I wanted to teach college English courses. I needed my masters at the very least.

It had been more than five years since my first shot at the GRE so I studied all over again and took the test with all hopes of getting high enough verbal scores to land me at a decent school. I did. But what was even more surprising to me at the time was that my analytical skills were much much higher than my verbal. In the midst of trying to secure a GA to help fund this quest back into college, my soon-to-be ex announced that he thought juggling school and a child was too much for me to handle, and he wanted full custody. Then and there I ended my dream of going to Grad school.

The funny part to me is I’m so glad I didn’t go. Teaching college English would have required me to play the tenure game; to get published routinely and in all the right places. To move about from university to college and back again until I was able to settle into a “home” that I would then work at for the rest of my life. I would never have been happy. Or so I would guess.

When I was married, I wanted a houseful of kids. Five was the number I spoke often, much to the dismay of my then husband. Now I know that had we actually had more than one, maybe not five, but even two or three, I don’t know how I would have gotten to where I am. There would be still younger ones at home, I wouldn’t be able to take this new job without paying half my salary to child care. As much as I hold out hope that more kids will come into our lives in some manner, right now today I see how having one has made more things possible.

My analytical side, shockingly well demonstrated on the GRE, has finally turned inward. I have finally taken a good long look at the forest and I have seen exactly why certain trees were planted, and why some died. I have finally realized that this life might be my own, but ultimately, it is lived harmoniously when I allow God to take the wheel. Let go, Let God. I’ve heard it, but I’m just now seeing it in my own life.

I am already looking ahead to 2006 and making my list of resolutions. They almost always say the same things. Lose weight, stop swearing, save more money, blah, blah, blah. My analytical side, however has decided the best approach is to simply let God lead. Great things have happened over the last few months since I have turned things over. This woman on a mission, empowered by God, has gotten a great grip on her finances, changed jobs and negotiated a raise in salary!

One of these days, I know that God will open my heart and my life to a new relationship. One that never would have been possible if I had stayed with my ex and played the game, shutting out my heart. I will allow God to work on that plan, and to bring that person in when we are both ready for each other. I trust that He knows far better than I do what “type” of man is best for me!

As 2006 draws near, I look forward to starting my new job, on continuing to work towards the financial goals I have set for myself. I look forward to the challenges and joys that will come as a parent this year and all the lessons LM will teach me. Most of all, I look forward to the revelations of all that God has in store for us.

Let Go, Let God.


P.S. If you haven’t read, The Five People You Meet In Heaven I urge you to do so. No one in our lives is insignificant. And perspective on life is sometimes all we need to glimpse heaven. (For those who prefer not to actually READ, it's also a movie.)

P.P.S. G is back home from his trip to my dad’s. My package is waiting at the post office for him tomorrow. I begged him not to open it at work but to wait until evening. I’ll let you know how the album goes over.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bark Park In Latin Means Mud Park

We went to the Bark Park yesterday, a visit that was long overdue. With 50 degree temperatures and snow melting as fast as it had fallen, the park was nothing but a big mud pit. We had intended to stop for a bath on the way home anyway, but this trip made a bath mandatory!

We met 'Dempsey' a 7 month old Boxer that we hope to run into again. He was as energetic as the day was long, not intimidated by Gabe in the least and just wanted to play! They tugged on each others' ears, jumped on each others' backs (in the perverted way, too) and had so much fun!

Gabe wore out finally and just layed his sorry self in the mud and let the puppers jumpe and climb all over him. It was just too cute.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Too Tired to Play, Gabe Just Laid In The Mud


Even when Gabe got so tired he had to lay down, Dempsey kept trying to get him to play! Posted by Picasa

Gabe and Dempsey (7 month old boxer)


Gabe and Dempsey (a 7 month old boxer) had a great time in the mud! Posted by Picasa

A Trip To Bark Park Means We All Need A Bath


A visit to Bark Park means we all need a bath Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

H.A.L.T.

Each evening, LM and I do “H.A.L.T” over dinner. We discuss our High’s, Lows And Thanks (I know, that's really HLAT- work with me here) we even throw in something we’re proud of that day. LM is already gone to Pittsburgh for the holiday, so tonight, you’ll have to listen to my HALT.

Low: (we always get lows out of the way first) My low was having my ex show up way earlier than I was expecting to take Jacob to Pittsburgh. I wanted a few hours with LM to just enjoy being done with my job, and getting ready for our Christmas next Wednesday.

High: Leaving my job. Being done. I feel so good about my decision to leave. The chairman of our board never ONCE said a word to me personally or even in email about me leaving. I’m glad to move on.

Thanks: I am thankful for my sister’s sense of humor. Tonight, on the phone with her, she actually said, “hold on a second” and put the phone down so she could blow dry her hair for two minutes. When she got back on the phone, to the sounds of my uproarious laughter, she said, “I know this will be in your blog later!” She doesn’t read my blog (yet) but it was heartwarming to me to see her take it all with humor!! I love my sis!!

Something I am proud of: I am very proud of myself for laughing WITH and not AT my ex husband when I saw his “Support Our Troops: BoyScouts” bumper sticker on the car he just bought. The sticker belongs to the previous owner, but I just couldn’t believe J hadn’t taken it off first thing. He saw the irony and thought it was kinda funny, too. It was actually WAY FREAKING FUNNY but I showed restraint. Sorta. (If you don’t get the irony, realize my ex husband is gay and the BoyScouts are one of the most vocal organizations about their opposition to homosexuality.) See? Isn’t it kinda funny? I’m telling ya, ya gotta find the humor in the situation.

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, tell me your H.A.L.T. Better yet, if you can find a better acronym to represent highs, lows, thanks and something to be proud of, I’d love to hear it! (Some families call it thorns and roses, for example).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Quack

I’m a lame duck. Not a news flash to many of you, but with only today and a half day tomorrow left at my icky job, I’m little more than a lame duck. I sat and watched (happily mind you) as someone else in the office did my usual things (they were not nearly so happy about it). I cleaned off the walls of my cubicle. I stared at an email merge while it processed 500 emails. We went to our “holiday lunch” at 1. Talked about this woman’s son who has size 18 shoes. No one went back to the office afterwards. I made a quick stop at the comic book store (I hope to retire on the collective worth of these blasted things when I’m old. I’m paying $3 apiece now, I figure they’ll be worth about $1 then but by the sheer volume, we should have a million easily).

Cable guy came tonight. Only it was a different cable guy so I didn’t get to see his shock and disappointment when he found me to be a brunette. We now have a functioning DVR but doesn’t it figure there’s NOTHING on the tv tonight that I even want to watch more or less save for another day.

The highlight of my day tomorrow (other than of course jumping for joy at never driving over an hour to work again) is that I will finally be able to wrap several of the gifts I have and to put them all under the tree!!! I can’t wait!!

At least football will be back on in the next day or so with the 100 bowl games that will occur over the next 2 weeks. Just to forewarn you in case you don’t already see this coming, I’m no fun at all to be around after the SuperBowl is over. I start watching golf and Nascar is on in late February, but I have to go through football withdrawal and it isn’t pretty. Not. Pretty. At. All.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Marketing Pacino

I turned on the tele around 9 tonight, didn’t find much on. Looked through the guide and saw that “Scarface” with Al Pacino was on. Never saw it, now seemed as good of a time as any.

I’m used to watching shows that are outside of my demographic. I’m a single, 34 year old female with a child. Yet I never (NEVER) turn on Lifetime, H&G channel or Bravo. (except for the occasional “Actors Studio”) I’m an ESPN girl. If it’s not sports, it’s not on my tv. This year I watched Lost and Survivor but neither are normally my shows. About the only “family” show I watch is the Amazing Race.

All that is to say that I’m used to watching commercials that don’t interest me at all. They aren’t geared towards women, or mothers. But watching Scarface is more interesting for the commercials that they are showing. I’m clearly very very VERY far from the normal demographic for this movie. The commercials have been as follows: “Wolf Creek”, Sleep Number Bed, “The Ringer”, WWF, James Bond movies, Xbox, Jack Daniels, Diamonds, Axe Body Spray, Gillette razors, Sprint/Nextel, ATV’s/Dirt Bikes, Grand Theft Auto, Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Tanqueray, “Serenity”, and Victoria’s Secret.

How interesting it must be to be a man. Seriously. Violence, horror, alcohol, sex appeal, manly toys, video games full of violence and soup?

Don't get me wrong, I'll take some of that over diaper and tampon ads anyday. At least the soup and diamonds anyway.

Wednesday

Thus far, my adventures as a brown-haired girl haven’t been all that exciting. Today I was put in charge of babysitting the folding machine at work while it stuffed a mailing. Tomorrow we have two meetings and then our “holiday/goodbye lunch”. Won’t that be fun?

My dad’s Christmas package hasn’t arrived. He mailed it on December 8th from Tennessee. It should have been here by the 12th. I called and told him. He shipped through the post office, no tracking, no confirmation and no insurance. Well, that makes this so fun, doesn’t it?!

The most exciting part of my day has to be that a chamber member asked if anyone we knew would be interested in a couple of sofas. My home is so nice. I have great furniture, beautiful end tables, coffee table, etc. because my dad and brother in law have made them all for me. My couches, on the other hand, were the ones we bought when we got married (13 years ago). They have been slip covered many times which drive me absolutely insane!! Hopefully tomorrow I will get to go look at these couches. Another member was giving away a leather sectional with two reclining sections and a pull out bed. Only a year and a half old. Would have LOVED that but I can’t transport it, nor can I get it up my stairs. I’m not all that certain that drool + leather would have been a good idea (not mine, you knuckleheads, the dog’s!!) Maybe these others will be a good thing. We’ll see.

As for tonight, we have huge plans!! Let’s see, first off, we have to get the mountain of recycling out the door. They pick it up on Thursdays, usually around 3 and we always have a full bin, but last week they came before 7am and we missed them entirely so this week we have a mountain of it and I can’t wait for it to be gone! Other than that, I brought home garden veggie soup and crusty French bread from Panera’s (these are my last couple of days working right across the street from the heavenly place!) so we’ll certainly enjoy that. Don’t you envy us our great Wednesday night plans?! I thought so!

For those who will be headed out in the next couple of days to travel for the holiday, be safe, well and happy! Enjoy your journey and the people you see! If you’re going someplace warm, enjoy. If you’re going someplace miserable and cold, feel free to send me a postcard. It will make me glad to be home!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Synopsis

Day at work: three days left and counting. Boss is in complete denial or doesn’t seem to think I actually do anything as she doesn’t think she needs to ask me anything before I go. All this translates into: Amy did absolutely nothing all day at work. LOVE THIS JOB (insert high levels of sarcasm here).

Haircut after work: I went in because I’ve paid no attention to my highlights and just let them grow out and they look wretched, so I thought I’d get that taken care of now that it’s the end of December and all. The stylist was holding up the swatches to match my regular color and she says, “We’ll go with this warm brown…” I say, “um, I’m a redhead.” She says, “a redhead? Really?” wow, 34 years with this hair, you’d think I’d have the color down by now. Needless to say, I’m a little more of a brunette now than I’ve ever been.

Evening after work: I was so busy losing the appeal of being a redhead in favor of being a brunette that I missed the cable guy for our third date. Really think this guy has a thing for me. Oh no, wait, it’s just that they can’t get my DVR to work. He was supposed to bring a whole new unit tonight but I missed his visit, so they will have to come back on Thursday. Hope he’s not disappointed that I’m not a redhead anymore.

So that’s really that.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Winner Of Uncle Of The Year 2005

A huge, 43 pound box arrived tonight from my sister. Bear (her husband) had left me a voicemail the other day to call when the box arrived as he had some ‘splainin to do. I lugged the thing up the stairs and then called. Bear said, “The Christmas presents are on top. Then there is the bill holder you wanted that Jules was getting rid of (yippee!) and then the two slip covers. (They got new furniture, I got their slip covers. Nice, huh?) Wrapped in the slip covers in the bottom is something I thought LM would like. It’s an old word processor. There’s an extra cartridge but I’m not even sure if it’s good any more. If he doesn’t want it or it doesn’t work, just throw it away, I just thought he might get a kick out of it after playing with the typewriter at Papa’s house this summer.”

a) Bear is the coolest uncle ever. He’s the same man who gave LM his old Sega system for “Mission Control” up in LM’s loft.

b) The Christmas gifts weighed maybe 3 pounds total. Bear spent the money and effort to send over an outdated, used, ancient word processor ‘just for kicks’.

c) Out of anything that LM owns, plays with or wants in life, this machine just made his day. Day?! Month, year maybe! He sat right down and started typing away!

It is so true what people say about kids. Spend as much as you want on the gift, the child will be more amused with the box it came in. Price doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a great gift. If you could see LM’s face as this machine just types out what he wrote on the word processor, you’d see that this piece of throw-away technology has delighted him something silly.

I have already heard stories this season of parents spending double or triple on ebay the retail price of an item in order to secure the precious things their child put at the top of their list. I have heard of parents buying 10 year olds cell phones, ipods and even Blackberrys. (blackberries?) LM will have some nice things under the tree this year, but as Bear and I both know, the simplest things delight him. (You should see how excited he gets about having $5 to spend at Lowe’s!)

May you all have a truly delightful Christmas season and may you let your heart rejoice in the simple things in life.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Peace

I suppose I should have a lot to say. I really haven’t been writing lately. But I just don’t have much to say. I finished G’s album. It’s ready to be mailed tomorrow. All shopping is done. The work I brought home is finished. I have 4 ½ days left at my current job and then a nice week off before I start the new one. On Karla’s suggestion, I bought a new dog training book that I hope to get into this week.

That’s it. That’s the excitement.

Funny thing is, as boring as all that sounds, I am so peacefully content lately. Life is good, I am happy, LM is happy.

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Lesson Learned In The Presence of the Big Man Himself (And I Don't Mean Santa)

I sat at the table full of books welcoming each child over after they had either spoken to Santa or had hidden behind their parents out of fear (although the curiosity always brings little eyes around to peek at the man in the red suit). I explained to the parent accompanying the child that the books had been donated by a non-profit member of the chamber and each child could choose one to take with them for free. The word “free” seemed to startle some parents, it made them feel awkward, I almost wanted to ask for a small donation just to make them feel better.

I watched time after time as the parents would turn to their child and explain that they could pick out a book – “any book you want!” I watched as the child’s eyes grew big, as they would look at all the books. Pick this one up to examine it more closely. Put it down and reach for another. Puppies or cats? ABC’s or 123’s? Books about Pirates or Princesses? At some point along the way one book would choose the child. And they would take it in, close to their hearts, not opening it, not reading it there, just clutching it with sheer adoration.

And then I’d see the parent. Rifling through the books themselves. Saying, “Hmm…honey? Did you look at this one? What about Bob the Builder? Did you see this one about dinosaurs?” I wanted them to look at their child. I wanted them to look at their child and SEE.

“How about this one, dear? How about this “Pooch on the Loose?” Or how about Thomas the Tank Engine?”

And then they might turn and see that their child has allowed a book to choose them, they would see the child holding this book near and dear to them. And they would say, “oh, sweetie, hm…not that book. How about THIS book?”

One parent even got into a tug-of-war trying to take a book out of her daughter’s arms. Parents tried to do a quick swap, or to give their child a cookie and offer to hold the book the child had so they could swap it for another.

Why is it necessary to take away the voices of our children? Why do we start so early on convincing them that they cannot make good decisions on their own? Why do we offer up the right – “choose any book YOU want to!” and then take it away – “Oh no, not that book!”



After 5 hours and two different locations with Santa and his entourage, as I wore thin of parents forcing screaming children into the laps of the man who is the source of their fear; as I watched parents embarrass their children by bringing them when they are 15 years old, or by taking more of the free handouts than they were supposed to; after a long day of dealing with the exact part of the holiday I detest and have boycotted myself, there came a mother.

She was Caucasian with an Asian daughter. They were both beautiful. They had the Big Guy all to themselves as it was late in the day and there were no lines left. They were taking their time. They had watched outside the room, through the glass for awhile and had now come in a little closer. Mom helped daughter off with her coat- she was maybe 3 years old. They stood for a few moments together and just watched Santa. Mom explained to me that her daughter was a little shy about it, a little unsure. I said, “There’s absolutely no rush, take your time.” They finally walked slowly up and mom suggested that the daughter shake hands with Santa. Which she did just fine, and she talked to him a little and eventually sat on his lap. Mom was able to back up and take a couple photos that were picture-perfect.

And when it was all said and done and we had given the little girl her “goodie bag” and she had picked out her one free book, she and her mom sat right down on the floor together to look at the things that she had in her bag, to stick stickers on themselves, to eat some of the candy cane and to hug the little bear. They read the book they had picked out.

I noticed even later that they were still reading books together in the library, munching on the cookies.

They had made an afternoon out of it. It was the daughter’s agenda, not Mom’s. There was no rushing off to the next stop, no store they had to get to right now, nothing else in the world that needed to get done except enjoy the moment.

All the parents will go home with a photograph of their child (screaming or not) on Santa’s lap. The picture seeming to be the actual event. “Sit right there – no, over there. Wait, move your coat. Hold on, don’t move. Wait, let me hold that book. Okay, smile! No, not your cheesy smile, give me a real smile! Okay one more! Okay, now, tell Santa what you want and get your bag, there are other kids waiting!”

This child will go home with a memory of the event etched in her heart - a memory far more about her relationship with her mother than one with Mr. Claus. And I came home with a sweet reminder of how to show my child that I love him more than anything. By simply paying attention.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

News!

The job is officially mine.

You'll pardon me if I go do an evening-long happy dance, won't you?

Houston, We Have A Problem

Dads will be dads. Whatever that means, it apparently includes being a bit overly concerned about his middle child’s track record.

Last night, after calling my dad with the news about the job offer, I received three emails from him with suggestions and advice about negotiations and concerns. I’m 34, I’m fairly certain I can handle it, but I understand his need to be needed and his desire for me not to sell myself short.

The first two emails were innocent enough. Ideas on trade-offs that I might make to help negotiations (mind you, I’m asking for an incredibly minimal change to their offer).

The third email concerned me that maybe his blood thinners are affecting his brain.

This new job requires a security clearance. Not a big deal, the employer said, and certainly nothing they’ve made any sort of a fuss over or expressed any kind of concern for. But Dad, in all of his infinite wisdom says, and I’ll quote directly, “Worrier that I am, is there any concern about what would happen if you didn't pass your security clearance? Could you be in a position of having quit one job and not be eligible for the other? I cannot imagine what could prevent the security clearance. I had one (Top Secret). However, what if J has contact with something questionable or S, not being a citizen, had something in his background. You don't have to answer this; I am just asking the what if questions”

Let me clarify. My Dad. Thinks. I might not want to quit my current job. Until. I know if I can pass security clearance on the new job. Because. I have a gay ex husband. And. I dated a Canuck.

While these two events in and of themselves might fall into the “mistake” category, they certainly aren’t CRIMINAL. (Are they?)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Exhale

An offer is on the table. Formalities now really until it's absolultely official but it does look as if I might be able to give notice on Friday! I cannot begin to explain how good this feels! I'm writing my counter-proposal tonight (minor, MINOR suggestions - it's really just an exercise in me asserting myself than anything. That and I understand the importance of always negotiating SOMETHING on a new job. - Did you know that over your lifetime you could lose over $1M by NOT negotiating your first job out of college?)

Anyways, thanks to all for your prayers and well-wishes. This is the best Christmas gift ever!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Still Waiting

To everyone out there who are saying prayers, crossing fingers, making a wish, and whatnot on my behalf, don’t think I’ve been leaving you hanging on purpose. The gist is this: I interviewed for a new job the Friday before Thanksgiving week. They told me a dozen times how impressed they were with me and my resume. They introduced me to all the head honchos. They had two more interviews and they’d be deciding.

Then I didn’t hear anything.

Last week after an email on my part, they said they had their last interview that day and would be in contact. The next day they sent me an email asking me (if I was still interested) to send 3 references to them. I sent 4 about 2 hours later.

Yesterday they called one reference. Today they spoke with another.

I know companies are busy, but do they not look at it from the other point of view? I have other resumes out there, I don’t know what to say to other offers right now, because this is the one I’m really interested in. And I REALLY REALLY HATE my current job and would like to give notice before I have to start the New Year in the same crappy job.

Anyways, a HUGE thanks to everyone out there thinking about me and the situation. Everything looks good and promising, but I have nothing solid yet to go on. I WILL let you know whenever I know. I promise. In the meantime, I won’t hold it against you to uncross those fingers, they’ve probably gone numb long ago.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

A long, long time ago..I can still remember, how that music used to make me smile.. oh wait, sorry. (Aren't you glad you have that stuck in your head now?) Awhile back I remember chatting with this guy online. Not so much in the “let’s hook up later” sort of a chatting way, just a hey, you have a mastiff and I have a mastiff and isn’t that cool, kind of a way. But he was cute, and had FOUR mastiffs and we chatted off and on for a couple of months or so. He definitely seemed interested, and the conversation wasn’t always just about the dogs, but neither of us really ever took the next step to meet or anything. I don’t recall being THAT interested. But I might have met him had he asked. Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed just meeting his dogs!

Anyways, wouldn’t ya know it, on the cover of the local paper today is this guy’s picture with two of his mastiffs. They won the Philly dog show for best in breed. I wouldn’t forget a cute face (the mastiff’s) nor this guy, I’m certain.

And interestingly enough right next to him in the photo is his WIFE. Hmm…certainly don’t ever remember having heard the word “wife” anywhere in conversation. Hmm…

I’m so suddenly glad that I never asked to meet this guy or his cool dogs, even if I could say, ‘Ahh, I knew Wyatt the Mastiff when…”

Saturday, December 03, 2005

O Christmas Tree


O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree Posted by Picasa

Christmas Spirit

Tree is up, lit and decorated. It looks beautiful. Garland adorns the deck and the stairwell. Christmas decorations are placed throughout the house and Martina sang all afternoon. Ahhh….Christmas is coming! No presents under the tree until we see how Gabe handles the whole thing.

Tonight is movie night. We’ll be watching Madagascar and enjoying homemade pizza again. A tradition in its own right.

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday as much as we are enjoying ours!

Friday, December 02, 2005

O Holy Night

Tomorrow we are braving the Closet Of Death to get out the Christmas decorations. Despite having my shopping done and cards in the mail, the spirit of Christmas has still thus far eluded me. Tomorrow, however, I will dig out the Christmas music and try my best to get into the spirit of it all.

I love music. I do. And I love Christmas music. Mostly. I just really hate made-up Christmas songs sung my famous singers who ought to stick to lip-syncing on SNL. I like traditional Christmas music. But it seems that on every CD they have to stick some comical Santa-ish song just to be fun and cute and original. I don’t want original.

All that said, a few years ago I discovered what would quickly become my all-time favorite Christmas CD. There isn’t a single, solitary hokey song on the whole thing. Martina McBride's "White Christmas". I know, she’s “country”. I love country music, but I understand that many people don’t. Please know that there is absolutely nothing about her amazing voice or the incredible traditional songs that would ever make you say “um, sweetums, cuhd ya pass me dat der banjo?”

What do you listen to around the holidays? What are your favorite songs? Do you have a favorite CD that you play over and over endlessly?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nine

I forgot today. I really did. Even in the midst of the tears it took me awhile to remember it. He seemed far more emotional than was warranted for the events he was telling me about. Until I remembered. Fourth grade is hard. It really is. I don’t mean that sarcastically, I know it’s hard to tell in typed words. Here I sat, with LM sobbing and sobbing because we had an altercation and he was just crying far more than seemed appropriate.

We sat down to talk and he immediately declares the whole day as bad. Not just the evening where we had an issue, but the. whole. day.

They played basketball in gym and his team couldn’t even score one basket. LM is the furthest thing from an athletic child. He has no interest in it, and so very little ability follows. But here he was upset at his whole team not being able to put together ONE shot at the basket that would go in. I kept saying, “it’s only a game, honey, it’s only PE” he kept saying, “I know, Mom, I kept telling myself that…” but still he sobbed.

I had forgotten how high the hoops are when you are nine. I had forgotten how big the ball is, and how heavy it seems to bounce and pass. The whole game seems awkward when you’re that age, and ‘team work’ is something you hear but nothing anyone knows how to actually do well, not in PE.

And then he had lied to me. Lying is a crime punishable by death or near-death-torture in my house. Okay, no, not really, but he KNOWS I have huge issues with it, mainly because he is allowed to be home for bits of time alone and such things and I HAVE to be able to trust him. He truly is a great kid, a very moral child, but every once in awhile, he feels the need to lie. His lies aren’t even manipulative. He doesn’t tell me he lost his lunch money so I give him more and he actually buys comic books with the cash. His lies are more along the “I already practiced trumpet, did my homework and vacuumed the stairs, can I read?” when in fact, I learned tonight, that neither the trumpet practice nor the chore had actually been done. All he wanted to do was read.

It’s hard (and I mean HARD) to punish a child for reading, believe me. But Jacob reads for hours a day. It is not as if he never has time, or isn’t allowed, or never has new books. When we talked later, we established that having done the things he was supposed to do, he would have had nearly 4 hours to read tonight and almost any night if he so chooses.

But it’s hard to be nine. It’s hard to go practice your trumpet or vacuum the stairs when there’s a new Star Wars book that you’ve gotten half way into and it’s just begging to be finished. It really is a hard choice.

I had forgotten how hard those things can be.

Privileges were revoked, stern words were said, conversations were held, hugs were given, kisses and “I love you’s” exchanged and a compromise reached to salvage the privilege of Movie Night this week.

Being single, I sometimes forget that just because I’m the only adult in the house, it doesn’t mean I’m the only one who has had a bad day. LM is an easy going, laid back, great kid. He doesn’t get riled up often. Today was a very bad, no good, rotten to the core day. I hope I remember it for a long while to come so that I might always give him the same latitude I would want afforded to me on my very bad days. It doesn’t make it okay to lie, but it certainly helps to remember how small things can trigger a lot when the world has piled it on. Even in fourth grade.

Tomorrow will surely be better, if for no other reason than it's not a PE day, it's an Art day. That might make all the difference.

The Much Anticipated Christmas Letter

ESPN SportsCenter with Chris Berman December 2005

Good evening Everyone and welcome to SportsCenter! I’m Chris Berman, glad to be with ya. Tonight, I’m going to take you back, back, back to early last year when the FFL (Family Football League) welcomed a new expansion team, The W/F's. Pre-season critics were especially skeptical of the W/F team’s potential for success due to a complete lack of athletic ability and only sideline knowledge of the game, but the team has taken the league by surprise and has proven to be leaders in their division. Tonight we’ll take a look at what makes this team so successful.

The W/F team is lead by their indisputable coach, God, and includes quarterback, Amy, aka “The Mominator” and lead receiver, Jacob, aka “Bocaj”. The entire defensive line has been taken over by Gabriel, “The Mighty Mastiff”, and felines Jonah and Scout provide offensive support predominantly in the litter box section. The W/F team plays all home games at the Purina Pet Food Stadium in PA.

A season-long challenge for the team has been “The Mominator’s” job. Local interviews have been held, but to date, a sufficient offer has not yet been made. The team is hoping for a smooth transition into something that better fulfills Amy’s career aspirations off the field.

Lead receiver, “Bocaj” went early in the draft to the team showing excellence in the local Elementary School’s 4th grade program. I was impressed during a mid-season interview with “Bocaj”, when he expressed his ambitions of pursing a career in Science once his FFL career is over. Unlike many other athletes, Jacob is learning to play the trumpet and enjoys inventing, creating and training on his bike. He leads the FFL in NBC (number of books completed) and his stats are equally impressive in LAN (laps around the neighborhood). This guy’s a full package and is only nine! Watch out FFL, you’re going to have your hands full defending this one! With an incentive in his contract for new Star Wars Comic books, Jacob could-go-all-the-way!

Gabriel has left his mark during the season thus far, mainly on the couch, pillows, shoes and toilet paper, but fortunately gets along well with his other teammates, even Jonah and Scout (most of the time). He came into the season a little undersized, but has since tipped the scales at 200 pounds. His season on the field was most noted for BSN’s (Between Snap Naps). He is utilizing this success in contract negotiations with management. He wishes to relocate the team to Bark Park Stadium and add peanut butter sandwiches as a signing bonus. His manager, Drew Rosenthal, is good, but I don’t think he’s that good. Next Question!

The team traveled to Michigan last Christmas for an inner-league tournament over the holidays. It was a fight to just get to the field with bad weather conditions and traffic, but teams C, W, and Brother “G” were all in attendance. Although some disputes remain concerning an illegal on-side kick and an “encroachment” challenge during overtime, all agree that the tourney was a great success.

For off-season training, Jacob spent the summer months away from the team, working with trainers in Tennessee and Pittsburgh. Many hours of biking and swimming helped to get Jacob into fine football condition. The Quarterback and Lead Receiver were glad to be reunited at summer’s end in time for the start of the season and, in my humble opinion, are more united than ever.

The team has had a successful season to date and is already preparing for next year. The Swami predicts this W/F team will achieve even higher goals in 2006, including reaching the Disney Cruise Bowl next December.

From ESPN studios, I am Chris Berman, wishing you and yours a very blessed Christmas from all of us at Sports Center.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fourth and Long

I had almost given up. I had nearly given in. My Christmas cards were going to win this year. It would be the first year in over 20 that I wasn’t able to come up with some creative, catchy, thematic, homemade original card/picture/letter to send to my friends and fam. I nearly admitted defeat.

I had made cards over the holiday weekend. I wasn’t happy with them at all, but I had spent hours cutting and stamping and coloring and gluing and hating every second of it. I had tried a couple of rough drafts at a letter but nothing came from them. I had helped my brother write his (which he never does) and I thought for certain it had sapped all my creativity and now I would be left with none for my own.

So last night I was sitting on the floor with my puppy who seemed ill and I was watching football and chatting with G on messenger and I was complaining about not having my card idea. They are ALWAYS in the mail by December 1st and it was really getting close. I watched the Colts, I talked to G. I cheered for the Steelers, I responded to G. And it finally hit me….football.

G wasn’t too excited about the idea initially but today I improved greatly upon the rough notion that existed in my head last night and he threw in a few great lines that helped it even more.

I stopped at the craft store on my way home from work and invest FAR more money than you can imagine in MORE supplies to make NEW cards that will go with the football theme. LM and I worked on them tonight and they’re crafty but cute. The letter will get polished and printed tomorrow, the picture will be taken tomorrow night and duplicated at nauseum on Thursday and then the cards will be stuffed, sealed, stamped and mailed. ON TIME!!

THE DID NOT BEAT ME!!!

(Note to anyone out there toying with the idea of stepping it up a notch and doing more than just signing their store-bought cards this year: DO NOT DO IT. Once you start, you can’t stop. Relatives write and say how much they look forward to your cards every year. Grandparents show you the box where they have saved each and every one. Complete strangers on the street say, “ooooh you’re the one…”)

Oh, and if you were thinking that I was going to show you what the cards look like or copy the letter here for you to read YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! December 1st they are released. Not a moment sooner. You’ll have to stand in line outside the door until then.



On a completely different note, I need some advice from any dog-owners out there. I live in an upstairs condo. I have to physically take my dog out when he needs to go which means I need shoes in this kind of weather. It would be oh-so-handy for said shoes to live at the bottom of the stairs on the mat where the mud and grime can drip off instead of tracking up my stairs, but poocherooski here thinks he needs to chew on my shoes if I leave them when I go to work. I have tried spraying them with bitter spray. I have tried moving them up the stairs but in an open-faced cabinet. I don’t know what to do!! I need shoes in a convenient spot down there, but he EATS them. I dare not say how many shoes he has eaten for fear of proving how much of a slow-learner I am. I just keep thinking he’ll quit. But he doesn’t. He never ever chews them when I’m home. But he knows he has done something wrong as the moment I come home, he’ll peek at me at the top of the stairs and then run into the living room. HELP!!

Can You Hear Me Now?

Last night I stopped by the Verizon Wireless store and visited with the technical service dude. I had brought my cell phone in about a month ago - the screen had a bad habit of freezing up each time someone called, so my brother might call at 10am and at 2pm the phone would still declare "G is calling!" They uploaded new software at the time, but over the last week or so it has regressed to its old ways again. The guy working tech support was nice, looked up my account and said they'd just replace the phone. Told me to hang on for a moment which I thought meant I'd have some paperwork to sign, but the next thing I know he's handing me a brand new phone, just like my old one and he's converted all my contacts and such into the new one. Good to go, he says! WOW!

Later, I logged onto Verizon.com to renew my wireless dsl service. They were offering me another year at the same price I had paid this year, which was fine with me (no increase is a rarity, it seems) and so I wanted to just log on and seal the deal. When I did, I found out that staying at my same price actually got me more speed at this point. OR I could stay at the same speed I have now and save $15 a month! Yep! Do that!

All I have to say is that Verizon impressed me. And in the customer service realm it seems like I spend more time pissed off than I do impressed, so well done Verizon. Good customer service. Un. Believe. Able.

They can send me a few bucks for the free advertisement now.

A Lengthy Blog About Being At A Loss For Words

Last week, a woman called to place an ad in the newsletter I publish. She’s a psychotherapist and wanted to get her contact information into a business card-sized ad. I offered my assistance and in so doing found myself roped into a lengthy conversation. She specializes in bi-polar and depression therapy but when I asked if she wanted that listed on the ad she adamantly declined saying, “then you get all these suicidal people and they need you 24/7.” Well, yeah. So she asks me, “What do you think people turn to therapy for nowadays?” Um…isn’t SHE the therapist? And is she implying I should BE in therapy? So I say, “I guess from my experience and the friends that I know that have pursued counseling, it’s mainly for marital help.” “Oh yes!” She says, “Marital help!” and I swear I could hear her taking notes. (Is the thought of doing marital counseling a new one to her?) She says, “Did you find your marital counseling to be successful?” Is she looking for me to become a client? Is this not a bit too personal of a question? I try to avoid actually answering by saying, “It depends on how you measure success, I suppose.” “What do you mean?” she says. I say, “Well, it didn’t save the marriage, but it helped me to see that it wasn’t a marriage that could be saved.” “Oh! Why couldn’t it…” and before she can say another word I tell her I have the layout of her ad finished and I’ll email it right over, if she has any further questions, please let me know.


Today, a woman at my office asked me about my Thanksgiving. I said I had enjoyed a quiet, peaceful weekend. She asked if I had my son for the holiday and I explained that no, he was with his father. She asked, “Is your ex husband good with your son?” I answer dismissively, “yes, he’s a good dad” hoping we can be done with the topic, but no, she continues. “Is he remarried?” Well, that’s an interesting question considering the circumstances, so I say, “He’s involved with someone, yes.” I turn back to my desk hoping she seriously drops the subject at this point. But, no, I was not to be so lucky. She says, “Does she have kids?” Well, she is a HE, but “yes” was my only answer. “Does she try to be a mom to your son?” Well, since he’s a DAD, “No, not at all.” “Oh, that’s good….my ex’s wife thinks she’s the grandmother of our kids! Can you imagine?” Well, step-grandmother, yes. My step-mom is a grandmother to my kids, but I shake my head in the politically correct way and say, “No, I can’t imagine!” And off she trots, happy with herself.

I have been out on a date with a new guy before, (imagine that!) and at some point the conversation will turn to why I’m divorced (naturally). I remember one guy seemed to be stunned that I am so amicable with my ex. He finally said that he didn’t understand why I was divorced if I could be such good friends with him. So I explained. He seriously slapped the table and shouted, “he is NOT!!! No freaking way! You are making this up!” Dude, if I could make it up, I promise it’d be better than that.

I have been known, when prodded in a less innocent manner by a less pleasant individual to simply state “My ex husband is gay” and just lay it out there for all its awkwardness (for the person asking, I’m over it -mostly ). But in normal conversation I guess I try to just bite my tongue. It would just be too much of a topic for the situation, I suppose. I realize it’s not common enough for people to be careful about what they say, but I’m not certain of how I’m supposed to respond anymore. I’m not one who is prone to lie, but I have also been known to be too blunt in some cases, so I try to hold my tongue and not make people choke when I reply. I really don’t want to be standing there with their jaw on the floor as I try to explain that it’s all really okay and it’s not that big of a deal or something to help them recover.

We live in such an interesting world anymore where assumptions are more often wrong than right. There seems to be nothing “safe” left to say. And yet, as I can recognize that none of these people, or any of the many many others I’ve encountered have meant any harm, it doesn’t make the situation any easier on my part. I feel like I’m continually trying to make the asker more comfortable, to save them from unforeseen pain and embarrassment, and yet, I was the one who was in the wretched position to begin with. I was the one who had to battle to come to terms with all of it, full of pain and embarrassment.

Maybe I just need a witty retort that would save us both from continuing the conversation. I just find myself on emotional eggshells at any hint of the topic that I can’t be clever about it anymore. That and some days it doesn’t feel very funny.

I wonder how LM will answer when put in similar situations. I know right now he answers with the innocence of a child who doesn’t understand the reaction he might get to his unique situation, but that will change. All too soon that will change.

I know that homosexuality in America is ‘every day’ enough to be on prime time TV (not to say that I think that makes it “right” but I’m not forging that argument here today) but in my town, in LM’s elementary school, in my circle of friends, family, co-workers, I do not know one single soul who has gay ex spouse. My situation isn’t responded to as commonplace, it’s the sort of situation that gets you a free flight to the Jerry Springer show. For years I have been able to handle the innocent questions about my “mom and dad” from someone who doesn’t know my mom passed away a dozen years ago. They don’t know, I understand that. But somehow, to explain that she passed away is simply understood. It’s a normal situation. It’s not so out of the blue that it leaves the person speechless. I don’t know how to handle these questions with such ease.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nothin' But The Facts, Ma'am

The good: when I balanced my checkbook tonight to pay bills I discovered a math error in the thereabouts of $250 in my own favor. WOOHOOO!! (How I missed it to begin with, I’ll never know).

The bad: still haven't heard back on my interview. Not hearing can't be good news.

The ugly: my puppy puked. eeeeewwwwwwwww

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Want To Play A Game?

Last night as I was watching football an IM popped up on my computer from my Little Man. He was in Pittsburgh with his dad and had logged onto the computer to play one of his games. We got to chat back and forth for a little bit and then he wanted to play chess through messenger with me. I'm very rusty at the game, I learned it to teach him a number of years ago when a friend of mine suggested that LM might love to play it, and now LM plays far more often than I do. But we played a couple of games and it just touched my soul. He is so smart, and so gifted and just 'gets' this stuff. I need a cheat sheet to remember how the rook can move and what the bishop can do and even then I'm making horrible choices. At one point, he types, "Move the queen, Mom. The queen." I about died laughing. He's trying to help his poor mom be a better chess player. He's NINE.

Today he called on his way home to say he and his dad had just been in a car accident. Everyone was okay, but it shook him up and shook me up, too. I miss him so. Sometimes being a mom is harder than I ever imagined.

He'll be home on Tuesday. One more day.

P.S. extra credit points for anyone who knows what movie the title is from. (LM would know!)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Party Of One

I know the holiday season can be difficult when you’re single. I know. I’ve been single for five years now. Because of our shared custody and with relatives on both sides living at least 6 hours away if not further, we don’t “split” holidays, we just give the holiday entirely to one or the other.

What this translates into is that I spend either Christmas or Thanksgiving alone each year. The first few years I used the time for major projects (catching up on years of scrapbooking or painting my condo, for example) other times I used the time to watch “classic” movies and their sequels that I had never gotten around to before. Godfather was the film choice one year.

But I’ve steadily become so accustomed to spending the time alone that I don’t think twice about it. People around me seem to have more difficulty with the notion than I do. I thought perhaps I could highlight some of the reasons why I enjoy the time so much. Don’t misunderstand me, I would LOVE to have LM for every day and every holiday but if he can’t be here then I’ll try to take advantage and enjoy the time.

Here is Amy’s list of why it’s GREAT to be single for the holidays:

1. It’s 9:30pm and I just got now got out of my jammies, took a bath and put on clean jammies.
2. There was nothing on the television today besides SportsCenter and football. I didn’t have to surrender the remote ONCE.
3. I had three meals today that required absolutely no cooking; I ate them whenever I was hungry and with no consideration to anything else and I ate all three of them in the living room while watching tv.
4. The kitchen table is covered with the necessary supplies for G’s album. I feel no need to clear it off before a meal or before going to bed for the day.
5. I was able to properly ogle a pair of rustic brown leather boots in the Boston Proper catalogue that lace up the front but have a hidden side zipper for those of us with calves that aren’t supermodel thin. The cost of over $200 did deter me from actually buying them, but I was able to ogle them for a little while at least, without any guilt or anyone accusing me of being ridiculous.
6. “Jammies” means a soft, worn in, tattered t-shirt and sweats. I haven’t given a single thought to looking sexy for bed in years. It’s all about comfort and warmth!
7. When football ended earlier this evening, I picked up the latest book from my favorite author and started reading without a single interruption. I’ll finish the book before I’ll close my eyes tonight.
8. I have finished all my Christmas shopping. There was no one here to contradict my choices, to ensure I adhered to a spending policy other than my own or to suggest that I overdid for my family and underdid for theirs.
9. I didn't have to be nice to anyone I didn't feel like being nice to.
10. I didn’t make my bed today. Even better, I put my sheets in the wash and never moved them to the dryer so tonight I’m sleeping on blankets and under blankets. Doesn’t bother me at all, but it’d be a pain in the neck if I had to share.

Maybe it’s just because being selfish feels so indulgent that I treasure these days. I would rather be with my son and with my family, don’t get me wrong, but the distance and the finances don’t allow that to happen each and every time. It’s just times like these when I like to see all the simple joys I’ve gained and not the pieces that are still missing.

So You Say You're From Where?

Sooooo…I turn on SportCenter this morning to get my daily fix of news and humor from yesterday’s athletics and I’m half paying attention while I work on G’s scrapbook and munch on a few crackers and I hear “Huntley, Illinois” which is a tiny little town in northern Illinois significant only because I grew up about 10 miles north of there. I wonder, “Why is Huntley, Illinois on SportsCenter?” and then they tell me. It was the Annual Turkey Testicle Festival. For $3 you could contribute to local charities by partaking in the Midwest’s version of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

And people ask me what brought me to Pennsylvania.

Need I say more?

(P.S. Aren't you glad I can't post pictures?!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Put Some Gratitude In Your Attitude

I am thankful for:

Little Man. I could make a whole list of reasons why but my life isn’t long enough.
My sister, Bear, Little Bird and George.
My brother, G.
My dad, whom I miss today.
My step-mom
My G’ma and G’pa that are in Illinois
The people that help care for my G’ma and G’pa
My friends and all the states they live in
My mother, whom I miss everyday
My home
Gabriel, Scout and Jonah
My job and my hopes at finding a new one
My dependable car
Music
Freedom
A table full of Christmas gifts to wrap
Photographs
Email
Books
Heat
Sunshine
Plants and flowers
My faith
Laughter
Hugs
Warm, soft sweatshirts
Days off
My family's woodworking talents
that I have known true love
my education
a stocked fridge
birdfeeders
football
high def
the holiday spirit
my friendship with my ex husband
the real reasons why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas
my mom’s letters



Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Take time to count your blessings and say thanks today and everyday! May God Bless!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Naturally

It’s Tuesday night but I’m not watching the Amazing Race. Since I’m still able to sit on my couch and puppers hasn’t floated up to the ceiling I’m certain the earth is still rotating on its axis just fine. I flipped on “The Natural” earlier, a movie I have never seen and I am so hooked on at this hour that I haven’t switched over to my favorite show, Race. Maybe it’s because it’s about baseball. Maybe it’s because it’s about integrity. Maybe it’s the wrinkles around Robert Redford’s eyes that I can see even though they’re not yet there. Maybe it’s just because watching something classic, something romantic in essence has captivated me tonight.

In any case, consider me enraptured.

Monday, November 21, 2005

With a Side Of Shampoo

Upon the realization that a holiday is actually just days away, I made it a point to stop by the groc (short for ‘grocery store’ and pronounced, ‘grosh’) to stock up. I have previously made the mistake of not stocking up prior to a holiday when I didn’t have Jacob and realizing the only thing open that day for food was the Wawa (like a 7-11, but way better!)

It’s just me for the duration so my cart was full of soup, frozen dinners, cereal, popcorn and soda. I get to the checkout and the woman says “So, are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?” Um, yeah, and I’m serving garden vegetable soup with a side of Golden Grahams and natural light popcorn for dessert. Come on over!!

So THIS is why I usually do the self check-out!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ah Yes, The Happy Holidays

After trying to drive home from the movie yesterday in surprisingly (to me) heavy traffic with drivers that were making driving a fourth priority on their list of things to do at the moment I realized: Holiday shopping is upon us. With no travel plans (heck, no plans whatsoever) for the Thanksgiving holiday I had somehow lost track of the fact that here in America we are on the cusp of the worst five weeks of the year. Worst in the did-you-really-want-to-just-go-to-the-store-for-necessities kind of a way. From here on out, a simple trip to get bread and milk will take four times as long. I’ll have to battle for any available pump at the gas station and God forbid I need to actually go to a store NEAR the mall (I rarely have use for the mall itself) I will never find a parking spot even if my needs have nothing to do with the holiday.

I got down to business this morning to alleviate my need to ever leave my house again until after Christmas is over.

LM and I logged onto our favorite website, the great and powerful, Amazon.com and looked up the gifts we wanted for my niece and nephew. Little Bird has a birthday in early December so we were on double-duty for her. Offering free shipping we thought we had hit the ultimate in jackpots! We would have them gift wrap the presents for the cost we’d normally spend on shipping and have them sent directly to my sister’s door and we’d have taken care of the whole of it from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed at all to putting time into a great gift. Not in the least (i.e. my brother’s scrapbook) I do however HATE having to fight the Wal*Mart rednecks for wrapping paper and the hour-long wait at the post office just to mail ONE box. This was my ticket to holiday paradise.

Only our gifts didn’t qualify for free shipping after all. So, we trudged off to Wal*Mart and found half of the things we wanted. Darted over to Kmart and found the rest of what we needed. Upon returning home, I set LM down at the computer to order his gift for ME. You need to understand that as a single mom, with all my relatives living far away, it’s difficult for LM to buy something for ME without ME there. We used to go to his store of choice, and I’d find a salesperson to help him pick out some things, bag them and then I’d just come up to pay the total, but somehow last year the sales woman seemed to think it was completely reasonable for an 8 year old to spend $94 on one person and so we had quite a time at check out with me explaining that she would have to UNpackage several of the items as I wasn’t paying nearly that much for ME.

So, LM was given a couple of websites of stores he knows I like. But apparently he stumbled upon something totally different and got so excited about it that I couldn’t tell him no. When his dad arrived (at noon to pick him up to go to Pittsburgh. I ask, what part of noon is “first thing Sunday morning” as he had said earlier in the week?! Ahhh, ex husbands…) he helped him through the check-out process on the website as I was forbidden to see any of it and they even decided to have it shipped to his dad’s so I couldn’t see the return address on the box. I’m afraid. I’m very very afraid. But I promise not to peek at the my bank account statement when it arrives.

BUT, this is to say, we are very close to having what we need to have done. I picked out several items for LM today as well and have an idea of a couple stops to make early this week to get some of the rest.

I might actually enjoy the season after all. Now, if I could just think of my clever, catchy, one-of-a-kind, self-created Christmas card theme/card/picture/letter deal, I’d be all set!


P.S. just to add to the irony that is my life, my sister tells me today after all my dilemmas and agonizing yesterday over Harry Potter that they bought LM a collectible HP magic wand for Christmas from the Skymall on the plane. Read that: no return option. I cannot catch a break on this, it would seem.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lessons Learned

I have tried to blog four times already tonight and I'm really struggling with it. I’m writing with constant thought to the arguments that will be put against me and that’s not why I blog. I blog because I want to express myself only for my own benefit. Not for an audience.

So if you came here to rail against me, please take it elsewhere. If you read the following and feel the need to correct me in my opinion I will ask that you keep in mind I’m not writing this for you. I just need to spell it out for me. I need to remember today.

I have struggled today with anguish and heartache, guilt and shame. I have had to come to my knees tonight to find the resolution that brings peace to my heart again. I believe there is no higher priority in my own life than to raise a moral child. Today I saw how far off-track I had allowed myself to get by indulging in something that seems so “innocent”. I am constantly reminded of how the indulgences we permit our children when they are young can germinate and grow into bigger, unintended evils later in life. I do not indulge in Halloween. My son is clear on all the why’s and understands my beliefs on the subject. I have an inability to rationalize the violence and destruction of college students (and adults) on Mischief Night without taking it back to its roots as an “innocent” holiday tradition. I have never believed that any single aspect of witchcraft, sorcery or magic is ever simply “innocent imagination”.

Which is why, today, I am utterly ashamed that I gave in to the Harry Potter phenomenon. I did not give in without a fight. I was valiantly opposed initially. For all the above reasons, and all the reasons the Christian Voice stated over and over at the time of the first and subsequent book releases. My sister battled me heavily. She did not understand how I could let LM enjoy Star Wars and not let him read Harry Potter. I still did not give in. LM can state a hundred examples of the analogy of Star Wars to the Christian teachings; good v. evil, light v. dark, etc. He can make the leap to understand why Annakin thought the dark side SEEMED powerful and enticing and how it led him to his death and the Hell that was graphically demonstrated in Sith. He gets it. Very clearly.

I gave in to HP when LM came home from school and said the kids were playing “Harry Potter” on the playground and LM didn’t know the characters and felt left out. I felt horrible. I have such a soft place in my heart for being “left out” in school and I didn’t want to contribute to that.

Today, we watched the fourth movie. I had read parts of the first book long ago, and have listened to LM talk about the subsequent books but I was ill-prepared today. The lines that seem so clear in SW seem so grey in HP to me. Everyone is a part of the magic. Everyone is a bit of a sorcerer. I left the theater with an extremely heavy heart. I spent the day cranky and irritable and found myself arguing with my sister once again on the phone.

What I know to be true is that HP does not fit into the moral teachings that I bring to this home. It may work for others, it may not seem nearly so evil to anyone else, but I cannot sit peacefully by and excuse it or forgive it. I can’t. LM and I spent quite awhile this evening talking this all through. I explained exactly how I felt about it and gave all the reasons why. I explained peer pressure and how it caused me to give in when I had originally stood firm. And I handed the choice over to him. I told him that he was going to need to think about it and decide for himself what he thinks God thinks on the subject. He could choose for himself whether or not HP was innocent or whether it planted seeds that were not in accordance with Christian teachings. I explained how God spoke to me through the guilt on my heart today and how he needed to listen to his own heart and decide. Not an easy thing, not by a long shot, but deciding religion and beliefs for yourself is a lifelong struggle but learning to take ownership of those beliefs and not accepting them for the sake of your upbringing is something I think is best learned early. He may very well make the decision not to read the books anymore because he knows I’m morally opposed. He might. But I hope to help him decide it for himself. I have expressed to him the right for us to disagree, and that I will not ban the books or movies from the house as I believe he can decide that for himself. It’s a start.

I am headed to bed tonight with the voice of a woman I knew years ago ringing loudly in my mind. I remember talking with her when LM was but an “itty” and her children were pre-teens. She remarked at how ‘easy’ it was when they were so tiny. Sleep-deprived, starving, exhausted, harried, and skeptical I questioned her on how she could ever think so when her children were now remarkably independent and could certainly feed, dress, clean and entertain themselves. She explained to me that the ‘itties’ are so physically demanding, but as they get older they are so emotionally demanding. Raising children is a daunting task in and of itself. Raising moral children can feel impossible. Providing food, clothing and shelter is nothing compared to providing them with a moral compass on their heart that will guide them when they are no longer under your watch. Letting them learn the lessons and the reasons behind the lessons can be far more exhausting than any sleepless night with an infant.

She was absolutely right.

I will never get it all right. I will never be a perfect parent. But I pray that God continues to steer me and speak to my heart when I get off-course. And I pray that I continue to listen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Profile Pic

Knock On Wood

I’m not superstitious. Not in the least. I own a black cat. I walk under ladders. I don’t throw salt over my shoulders and I don’t have a lucky pair of anything that I wear when I cheer on my favorite team. All that said, I don’t want to talk about my day today just yet. Hopefully I’ll talk about it next week and tell you the whole kit n’ caboodle but for today I just want to shush about it and hold onto my hopes.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Monday, Monday, Can't Trust That Day

Today was a Monday. The calendar may say otherwise, but I know that it was.

Yesterday, I sent out five resumes. In this world of technology, it took two of the companies only 24 hours to email me the news that I still suck and they do not wish to even speak to me about employment. Another called and started to leave a message on my machine but was cut off before I know what company or what she had to say about it.

Today was inspection day for my vehicle. For those unfamiliar, like I was before moving to Pennsylvania, the state enjoys mandating an annual inspection and emissions test that alone will cost nearly $80, but the joy is that the lucky mechanic can also decide your tires are too bald, your brakes are too worn, your transmission is in need of overhaul, or maybe your blinkers just need blinker fluid. So the total bill is never to come under $100, but must at the very least triple that. So, despite driving a relatively new car (an ’03) and faithfully rotating my tires, I still had to replace two of them today and very nearly all four but the other two passed by the hair of a flea and I was saved that much. For now. I left $300 poor-er but with all the necessary stickers and paperwork to keep the police from pulling me over. At least for that reason.

In addition, the appraiser came by tonight. It’s all an effort to show my mortgage company that I do, in fact, own more than the necessary 20% of my home (I stand firm that I must own the bath AND the closet by now) and no longer need to carry the accompanying insurance that I’m paying through the nose for. The man was seriously not in my house for more than 3 minutes, took pictures of my kitchen and bathrooms, asked many a quick question about my dog and left with my $300 check in hand. I need a job that pays $100 a minute.

In about a half hour, a notary is stopping by for my John Hancock on paperwork to officially seal the deal on getting my finances in better shape. Although it would seem from today’s activities that they are getting worse by the second.

I have paid the bills and found myself to have about enough again for a coke. A small one, at that. I am grateful that I at least can pay the bills, and the mechanic and the appraiser, although one of those will have to be truly paid at a later date. But I am wondering how I am going to get through the holidays with only one small coke to share.

Ah, sigh. A Monday, certainly. I do hope that somehow the world rights itself by morning and I find it to truly feel like a Friday. If you can keep a secret, I have tickets (free, even!) to the premier of Harry Potter on Saturday. LM doesn’t know a thing about it. Shhh…don’t ruin the surprise. On Sunday he leaves to go with his dad for the Thanksgiving holiday. I won’t see him for a week. That week will surely feel full of Mondays without him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wednesday Evening

I could blog. I could.

But I’d rather listen to Anna Nalick tonight.

Besides, Lost is on in two hours. It’s far more entertaining than this blog. Go watch it. You’ll see.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

And To Think She Called ME!

Call me a slow learner.

My sister called tonight. We hadn’t talked all weekend and she wanted to chit chat and catch up.

Exactly two minutes into the conversation she starts talking to Bear. Apparently he has lost his cell phone. So, my sister picks up the house phone and starts dialing his cell number so they can listen to it ring. But they don’t hear it. So then she has to call her friend that they went to dinner with tonight to see if it’s at her house and ringing. But it’s not. So this whole time she back and forth with me on the phone, “Sorry, I’ll be right there….I’m so sorry…” Bear decides maybe the phone is outside since he was working on the wood pile today. So she goes back to dialing and dialing and dialing. And then she’s yelling at him through the windows because he’s flashing the light at her and she doesn’t know if that means he found it or what. I say, “I think if he found it, he’d answer it.” Just a thought. After much yelling back and forth to tell her to keep dialing, he finds it. In the leaves. Which he nearly wiped out on cause they’re slick and all.
And silly me, I thought we were back to our conversation after this 15 minute intermission.

But I was wrong. Remember, despite my four point in college, I’m a Slow. Learner. The oven timer goes off and she needs to get the nuts out of the oven. She’s in charge of snacks for Little Bird’s class tomorrow, so she makes these yummy nut things. And then she starts yelling at George because he wants a cookie, but she’s in the middle of taking hot stuff out of the oven. And then she explodes the sauce in the microwave and it goes all over the place. George still wants a cookie and she screams that she’ll be with him in FIVE minutes.

We try to have a conversation. I try to introduce a couple of things from my life to her. (With an eldest sister, I’ve found it’s best to ease into the ‘big’ ticket items in your life. She’ll come around to the concept easier that way.) But I can’t even spit three words out and we’re interrupted, so here I am trying to say something significant like…”So, Jules, there’s this guy that wants me to move to Aruba…” and she’s not even hearing me. Ugh.

She asks, after all of this, if she can call me right back. George is hysterical and she can’t find Bear. Sure, why not, call me right back. I’m SURE it will be better then.

She calls back, talks to me for about three minutes to finish up the story of my Saturday night (worthy of a blog in and of itself), she tells about how they went to three different Lowe’s to find Christmas candles for their windows and put them all together only to discover she doesn’t like them and now she has to take them all apart and return them. And her friend calls to find out if they ever found the phone. And then she has to go. Little Bird’s hair isn’t dry and George needs to be rocked and she’s got her hands full…..

Ah, yes, always nice catching up with Jules…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Gift

To say I’m crying wouldn’t even scratch the surface. It’s been so long since tears have poured like this.

My brother, G was 13 when my mom died. He has spent the years since begging for us to tell the stories again and again, trying to find memories of her locked in his mind, envious of my sister and me for the long memories we have of her, including the years before cancer. He doesn’t have those, he was only two when her world and ours changed.

I decided this summer that I wanted to do something, create something to give him parts of her that I have only from the luxury of being 8 years older. I decided I would make a scrapbook and include photos of mainly him and of him and Mom. I would write down some of the favorite stories for him to read anytime he wanted to. I would give him this book, this collection of memories to call his own. For him to own and hold and pour over and read and cry upon, and grieve. To finally grieve.

I had to ask for help. I asked my sister and my dad for any photos that they might have that would be useful to this purpose. Neither of them is nearly as sentimental as my brother or I am, but they were more helpful than I had anticipated and both sent me boxes of photos about a month ago.

Just this past week I worked up the courage to open them. I know this is for G, but I knew it meant digging through photos of when I was little, and when she was healthy and it’s all I can do to get through it sometimes. To cope with seeing her. It’s been 12 years, but sometimes it only feels like a day ago that I heard her laughing.

In my sister’s box were 20 photos or so and a stack of envelopes. There must be 100 letters in this box that my mom wrote to her parents over the course of 10 years or so. I’m sure it’s not all of them, but it covers an enormous span of time. I have been pouring over them with the objective to find snippets about G that I can copy and include in his book.

As I sat her tonight reading letter after letter in no particular order at all, many not even dated, I realized that these pages are absolutely the greatest gift I will ever hold in my hands. They tell me of things I never knew and things I know all too well. They tell her side of the story. They tell of things she found important and things she found joy in. They tell of her faith and her struggles with it at times. They tell of us kids and how she felt as a mom. These letters have become the scrapbook more so than the photos. These are her words, and G will treasure them as much as I do.

I just sat and wrote a letter to my grandmother. God bless her, she has buried two of her three children. I told her what an incredible gift these letters are. I thanked her for saving them for all of these years and for giving them to us that we might know Mom this way.

And with the tears still rolling, as I was writing to G’ma, I realized that if my mom were alive, she would have a stack of letters from me about my life, and my child and my loves and my faith. And someday she’d give them to my kids.

I miss her so much tonight. Having her writing in my hands brings her so close I can almost hear her voice. I can almost see her expression. I know she’s in Heaven, and while I don’t know that she’s spending her time watching all of us down here, I know that God had a hand in these letters all along. God made her talk through writing for a reason. God gave her such a warm, tender, caring mom for her to turn to, and He moved them far enough apart to have record of their conversations on paper. He knew I would need them someday.

It’s all I can do not to call G and fly him up here from Atlanta this very minute and sit on the floor and read through every single one of these letters. Just him, and me, and Mom.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Well, That's One Solution

My sister called a bit ago. She was planting daffodil bulbs alongside her driveway (using Bear’s drill to dig the holes – THAT will not be a wise choice when he finds out) and talking on the phone to me. Such an over-achiever. She was telling me about how their mailbox has been knocked down for about the 10th time since they moved in last year. Bear hollered for George and off they went down the driveway to fix it. When they came in there seemed to be some giggling and some whispering and when she asked what they had been up to, they both said “nothing” with a little too much practice behind it. When pressed, little 5 year old George said, “Daddy and I put boards with nails sticking up around the mailbox and hid them with leaves.” Julie said, as calmly as possible, “Why did you two do that?” George said, “So that when the people try to knock our mailbox down again they will get a flat tire!” and laughed and laughed. Julie glared at Bear and George said, “Daddy wants them to get a flat tire so he can SMACK them!” Julie gasped, “WHAT?” Bear looked all stern at George, knowing he had just shared a bit too much with Mom, and George, knowing he had said something wrong tried to save himself and said, “He didn’t say he’d ‘smack the CRAP’ out of them, Mom, he’d just said he'd smack ‘em!”

I told her she had officially achieved White Trash status as far as I was concerned.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's All Percolating

I wish I liked coffee. Or tea. To me they both taste like you plucked something off the ground, crushed it up, ran boiling water over it and strained it. Oh, wait, that IS what you do. At any rate, I have moments when I envy those who relax with a cup of hot bean water.

This morning, due to the shift in the clocks this weekend, I am up earlier than necessary again. My body didn’t get the memo that the time has moved so I find it difficult to keep my eyes open long enough to watch football at night, and difficult to believe the alarm clock when I wake before it does. I’m sitting here this morning, fresh out of the shower with oodles of time to get dressed, watching the birds at the feeders and enjoying the morning light. A cup of joe seems to be all that’s lacking for a more picturesque moment. Coffee is like the wine of the morning.

Today feels filled with promise. Slowly but surely I am getting things in my life sorted out and arranged better. Last night Edmund in Texas helped me get one step closer financially to some of my goals. Today I will make another phone call that will help in that regard. Pieces to the bigger picture.

All in all, I know that life is good. I know that the things I want to accomplish are attainable. But I recognize the time between now and the realization of some of those goals. I might want a house in the country with all my heart, but I know that I’m a few years from being able to make that happen. I might want to plan a vacation of my own choosing, but I know that won’t happen in 2006.

I might also want to be in a relationship again, but I am well aware that I’m not even close to being ready for one. I have a great dislike for myself and an extreme mistrust of others that makes a relationship more than just a challenge, it makes it impossible. I am the queen of sabotage for anyone that tries. I will get there. I will get to the place where I feel like I have a lot to offer someone again, but I’m not there now. While we are all works in progress, I’m still building the foundation. I need time. I don’t want to carry all my issues into a new relationship. I want to resolve them first.

Winter is coming. Far from my favorite season, but this year it reminds me of the self-inflicted hibernation I’m in. It’s a season of the year and of my life when stepping back and regrouping leads to an incredible springtime. I look forward to the day when I feel like I have some of my ducks in a row. When I feel prepared to face the world knowing I have already faced my demons and won.

To that, I raise my non-existent cup of java and say “cheers!”

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So That Would Make Me How Old, Exactly?

This morning over breakfast, LM was telling me about a project his class was working on in Art. It involved creating quadrants of the same image by using printer’s blocks and rolling ink across them. I started to tell him a story about how my dad used to take me up to the high school printing room and layout posters for school plays and “print” them using that very same technique. I said, “This was all before computers and such.” LM said, “Before electricity, you mean?”

I put the sign out for the gypsies this morning. “Free. One nine year old boy. Slightly beaten.”

Monday, October 31, 2005

It's Only One In Seven - Right?

I do not want to blog today.
I have nothing good at all to say.
I’m tired, I’m sick, I’m grumpy, I’m mean.
I’m so sick and tired I’d like to scream.

My job still sucks, that’s nothing new.
I’d like to have something fun to do.
I finish my work in ten minutes flat
The rest of the day is spent bored off my ass.

It might be payday but I’m already broke
I have enough left for the month to buy me a coke
Bills to pay, presents to buy
My visa bill makes me want to cry.

The dog wants out, the kid wants fed
There’s a pain in my side and one in my head.
I can’t go to bed it’s only ten past eight
But it’s dark outside and it feels so late.

I wish someone were here to bring me some snacks
To hold my hand and rub my back
To bring me some soup, say it’ll be okay
It’s almost over, it’s just a Monday.

Tomorrow will be better, it has to be I’m sure
But for this case of the doldrums, I’m afraid there’s no cure
I’ll suffer through, I’ll try to survive
A better blog tomorrow, at least I promise to strive

So goodnight fellow bloggers, goodnight to you all
Sleep well on Hallow’s Eve, sleep well through it all
Tomorrow is a fair Tuesday, a better day I hope
If nothing else it’s not Monday, and with that, I can cope.

For Love of The Game

The Pats pulled off the win. Not that there weren’t a few tense moments in there, but even if they had lost, the return of Tedy Bruschi to the line up tonight was a lesson to be savored. As Tedy put it, “Life’s biggest regrets aren’t things that we did, but things we didn’t do.” Death does not always announce it’s arrival at our doorstep. As Tedy teaches us, let it at least catch us doing what we love. And doing what we love with passion. Thanks for the reminder, Tedy. Even if the Patriots' season doesn't improve, even if they are unable to defend their Super Bowl championship in Detroit this year, we have been reminded of what it all should really be about.

(For those of you who don’t follow football, Tedy Bruschi is a defensive lineman for the Patriots who suffered a minor stroke three days after the Super Bowl last year caused from a small hole in his heart. He had surgery to repair the hole and had not intended to return to the playing field this year, but instead was cleared by more than 10 doctors to return to the game that he loves. Tedy is the heart, the soul, the attitude, the leadership, the wisdom, the direction and the passion of the Patriots Defensive Line.)

Welcome Back, Tedy!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Perfect Day

What a great day! First of all, getting an extra hour just for the sake of some daylight rocks! It means sleeping in without really even trying. I finished up the work that I brought home this morning, took a shower and headed to the Bark Park with Gabers. We saw Tucker, Molly, Mackenzie, Killian, Cole, a whole bunch of newbies and three miniature Pinschers with hoodies on! It was a GREAT day at the park. Gabe impressed everyone with his ability to drool, winning the “gross award” from three brothers that were there. Job well done, Gabe!

On the way home we stopped for a quick dog-bath. It was gorgeous outside, the perfect day for a quick scrub down. For the rest of the day, Gabe has not moved from his spot next to the couch, snoring so loudly at one point that I could feel the vibration through the furniture. THAT is a happy dog.

Came home for some Nascar and football. Despite his busy schedule with Halloween and walking under ladders and such, my big ball of black fur, Jonah, snuggled up with me on the couch and convinced me a nap was in order for the day. Great idea!

Now I’m watching the Eagles lose, a precursor to the Patriots great win tonight, I hope. (There is no better day in football for a Pats fan living near Philly than when the Eagles lose and the Pats win.) If nothing else, it’s the return of Tedy Bruschi on Sunday Night Football. It doesn’t get any better than that.

It’s time to light some candles, light the pumpkins, fix some dinner and um…oh, more football! I hope everyone out there enjoys their Sunday as much as we are!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Top Twenty Tuesday

It’s raining again. But, I thought I’d focus on the positive today.

Things about my day that I found a new found adoration for:
1. The little button on my keychain that unlocks my car doors before I’m even there.
2. An umbrella that not only pops open with the push of a button, but collapses with the same push of a button.
3. The internet on my office computer
4. A hottie in line at Panera’s.
5. Making LM blissfully happy by spending $3 on a new Star Wars comic book.
6. Dropping off the mail and depositing money in the bank without ever leaving my warm, dry car.
7. Frozen dinners that cook almost on their own and are ready to eat in 20 minutes or less with little to no effort.
8. A phone call from George thanking me for the movie “Wobots” for his birthday.
9. A voice on the phone that tickles my soul.
10. Watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” for the first time when I’m 34 and my kid is at his dad’s.
11. Knowing payday is 24 hours away.
12. Warm, soft, comfortable jammies, a blanket and kitties to curl up with.
13. Watching The Amazing Race.
14. Not having to do the dreaded work I thought I would be doing tonight.
15. A dog with a big enough bladder to handle only going out a couple of times in the cold and rain.
16. Did I mention the hottie in line at Panera’s?
17. Half a tank of gas.
18. New wellies for walking the dog in the rain.
19. A hot bowl of popcorn.
20. Going to bed early.

Chicken: It's For Lunch

If I had feathers and a beak it wouldn’t be any more obvious.

I’m a chicken.

Our secretary is out with a bad back today. And I forgot my lunch. Which means I had to go out in the pouring rain to get a lunch today and since the secretary is out, I had to pick up lunch for my boss, too. I went across the street to Panera Bread. I had called the order in a half hour ago, but when I arrived I still had to stand 5 deep in line to pick up my food. And that was just the “take out” line. The line for eating in was about 25 people long and ran into my line.

Which is how I noticed him. While I hate to admit it, it was his resemblance to a past boyfriend from the back that caught my attention. Except that he was taller. And had a bigger ass and totally the wrong jeans on for it. But when he turned in my direction (out of boredom knowing he was never actually going to eat until somewhere around 3pm at the rate the line was moving) he was beautiful. Ahhh, the very short dark hair, the goatee and amazing blue eyes, long sleeved dress shirt with a thermal vest – the kind of man who eases into winter with grace - and no wedding ring. Sigh.

So, I started debating. How do I go from the “take out” line to the “dine in” line even though I’ve already called in my order? He already had 5 people behind him in line, so I couldn’t even get close enough to really strike up a conversation anyways. And what to say, “Uh, I, Uh…”

I gawk at the back of his head until it’s my turn to pay and it turns out my lunches are still not ready and I need to go down to the other end of the restaurant to pick them up. Aha! Now I have an excuse to at least go near the man. And I do. I even touch him. I tap his shoulder as slightly as possible and say “excuse me” as I walk past to get on down to the other end. Where I have to wait again. But to watch him now would mean I’d have to stare straight at him and that seems rude. He’s 20 feet away now, I can’t talk to him here.

So they give me my lunches at long last and I see there’s no good way back through that line even if I wanted to bump into him again, so I slip out the back door, back into the rain and back to the dreadful office.

I will never meet a great guy because I’m too busy pecking corn kernels off the ground.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Name Game

When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a nickname. She was the only one who ever called me by that name and she used it through all the years it was cute, then embarrassing, until it was endearing to hear it. After she passed, my dad, who had never called me that name before, called me that once, and the moment it came out, we all knew it could never be said again. Last year, when my sister was building her house, she called me on my birthday and said, “you’ll never believe what came up on our porch today and made itself at home.” I knew right off it had to be a cat, and the poor thing had picked the house of the most cat-hating people in the world. I immediately felt so sorry for it, as I always did for all the kitties I’ve ever met. For the few days that the kitty stayed on their porch, my sister called it by my nickname. It WAS my birthday that it had shown up on, after all, she said. (By the way, the nickname is the name of this blog)

Somehow, giving people nicknames has been something I’ve always done. At least to the people that really matter. My brother is called by either his full name or “G.J” to most of my family, but to me, he’s usually “Bud” or “Buddy” and sometimes, “G”. I like to find my own special name for people, somehow demonstrating the uniqueness of the relationship. My brother in law has always been “Bear” to me. Little Man even calls him “Uncle Bear”.

I am the proud Aunt of one niece and one nephew, Emily and Robby. Emily will be 9 in December and Robby will be 5 on Tuesday. I live 12 hours from my sister and her family but I still strive to be the “cool aunt”. It’s actually not very difficult considering their other two aunts, but I still take it upon myself to lead them to great mischief, to sleep in the kids’ room and eat at the kids’ table when we’re all together and to give the best (read that “most annoying to parents”) gifts of all time. Emily and Robby have 3 aunts. To make the competition fiercer, we are all named, "Amy". Three Aunt Amys.

Emily was the girl name I had picked out when Jacob was born. My sister seemed to think it was fair game since I had a boy, never considering that I might still want that name for future children. (Let’s not dwell on the fact that I’ve had no children since.) I wasn’t all too happy about this decision, but I must say I handled it with Grace. Oh no, wait, that’s her Emily’s middle name. Emily Grace. Right. I did handle it well, though. I just handled it silently. So, when Emily was born 7 months after my Little Man, I felt the need to call her anything BUT Emily. Quite honestly, her nickname came so easily I couldn’t avoid it. I have a picture of her somewhere as a very very newborn baby with this head of dark hair, and she’s lying on the table screaming her head off. She looked to me very much like a little bird waiting to be fed. Honestly. You’d have to see the picture, but you’d totally agree. So, from that point forward, Emily has been “Little Bird”.

I’ve called my son a number of things over the years, but for the longest time he was “Bocaj.” He only recently graduated to “Little Man”. Bocaj arrived when he started preschool and he would write his name at the top of all his papers in beautiful lettering, only it was totally backwards, so I would say to my Jacob, ‘Wow!! This Bocaj really did a great job on this paper!” And it stuck. As all good nicknames do. I still call him Bocaj, and I write it on his brown bag lunches when they have field trips and such and it’s still part of why he thinks I need medication. I even do his last name backwards. It’s very clever. His schoolmates think he’s got a psycho mom. Maybe that came from me writing “Monkey Brains” on the lunches. Hmm…

When Robby was born five years ago, no nickname jumped right out at me. He was all boy right from the start, but I knew it would take awhile for a great name to form.

A couple years ago, we all gathered at my dad’s house in Tennessee for Christmas. It had been many months since I had seen the kids, so when I saw Robby I was teasing him that I couldn’t remember his name. “Who are you?” I kept asking him. So I started making up names. “Are you Bill?” “Nooooooo!” “Are you Benjamin?” “Noooooooo!” and on and on it went. For hours. I’d ask, he’d answer, “no!” and then run off giggling. So pretty soon I just declared that his name MUST be George. It MUST be, I said. I was certain of it. And since he wouldn’t tell me his real name, I just proceeded to call him George. And of course, to sing the “George of the Jungle” song at every turn. Being the cool-Aunt-that-teases, that’s what I’m supposed to do. So George decides he doesn’t like this. He runs off to tell his mom that I’m calling him “George”. His mom tells him to call me something silly back.

And that is how I became “Aunt Fred”.

To this day, on all correspondence, when I talk to them on the phone, at all times, they are Little Bird and George. And the kids just eat it up. They love their special names. I get an earful of giggles and fighting over who gets to talk to Aunt Fred. It’s absolute joy to have made my name as their favorite Aunt, even if it is as “Fred.”

My mom would be so proud.

P.S. Happy Birthday George!