Distractions – A Post About . . . Wait, What?

A Green Planet water bottle, made from vegetab...

It all starts with the water bottle (Image via Wikipedia)

I am easily distracted.  I most often notice this when I am sitting on the couch and realize my water bottle is empty so I get up to refill my water bottle.  As I walk to the kitchen I think, I might as well go to the bathroom while I’m up.  On the way to the bathroom I see the light on in the laundry room and fold a load of laundry I had forgotten about earlier in the day.  I take Tink’s clothes to her room. 

Tink’s sitting on her bed and I ask if she has everything ready for school tomorrow.  She replies “Yes and oh by the way I need you to sign my Algebra test”.  I see the grade and we have a 10 minute discussion about paying more attention in class and avoiding distractions.  (ironic right?)  Finishing our conversation I go to leave her room and then she reminds me I need to sign the test. 

This remind me, I need to pray for these kinds of grades (image by graphicsfactory.com)

So I go to my office to get a pen.  While I’m in my office I see the message light blinking on my phone.  I go ahead and listen to the voicemail.  It’s my mom telling me when my sister and her kids are coming in for a visit and she’s not begging or anything but it sure would be great if we could make it too.  So I leave my office and go check the calendar on the refrigerator.  That date should work.  I ask my husband if we have anything to do that afternoon.  He says no.  I type an email to my mom telling her we’ll be there, then I sit down on the couch and reach for my water bottle.  <sigh>  I get up and start the process all over again.

My friend Sandy mentioned the other day that she’s recently been practicing yoga and meditating and she asked me if I’d ever tried it.  Well, I do some yoga but I don’t really try to meditate.  When I meditate it turns into a to-do list in my brain and then I just start feeling anxious to get all the things on my to-do list ta-done.  Then I wind up more agitated than I was before I tried to relax.

Yoga postures halasana

I need to go to the bank, iron my pants, make Christmas cookies, call Mom . . . (Image via Wikipedia)

My Aunt Mary Alice, God rest her soul, used to say she did the same thing when she prayed.  These days I find myself doing that too.  “Dear Lord, forgive me for my sins, help Tink continue to grow strong and smart . . .”  Then . . . “What am I going to have for dinner tomorrow night?  Maybe chicken and rice.  Wait, do I have rice?  I have wild rice but do I have regular white rice?  Oh yeah, we need to eat that broccoli I bought last week.  Why didn’t we eat that?  Oh, because we had hot dogs and . . . wait . . .”  I pause just a moment, “Dear Lord forgive me for my sins and maybe help me concentrate just a little bit more?”

"Heaven Help Me" (image by graphicsfactory.com)

For another view on distractions that are more productive than mine, check out “Thieves and Poachers!” by littlesundog!

So Much For Banker’s Hours

image via graphicsfactory.com

So it’s 8:30 pm and I’m just sitting in front of the TV watching Pawn Stars and I hear a faint ringing.  [Hey – Pawn Stars is on the History channel so don’t judge me!]  I turned my cell phone down during our meeting at the bank earlier in the day and I almost didn’t hear it.  I see it’s a local exchange but not a number I have saved in my phone and therefore must be a wrong number so I didn’t answer.  Besides, they are trying to figure out how much an Olympic Torch from the 1984 Olympics should cost – this is riveting stuff!

Pawn Stars

Image via Wikipedia

As my phone rings for a second time I reluctantly answer it.  I suppose it could be an emergency but most likely a wrong number.  I flash back to a time when cell phones were not as common as they are now and occasionally I would answer a late night call and hear something like “Hey baby, watch you doin’?”  Now those were WRONG numbers!

Anyway, I answer and the nice professional lady says, “Angry?”  Wow – what do you know, this call is for me!  “Hi, this is Lisa from the bank.  Do you have a moment to chat?”  Oh holy crap!  What could have gone so terribly wrong with our account that they are calling us at 8:32 pm??  “Um . . .” I stuttered, “Sure?”  I mean what the heck do you tell the BANK when they call you at NIGHT?  “No, I’m waiting to see how much this idiot gets for his Olympic Torch so he can go buy surf boards”?  (I just thought that line I didn’t say it to Lisa – she might judge me)  Lisa goes on to say that she’s ‘just working night and day lately’.  She’s calling me at 8:32 pm so evidently she really is.  Nothing was wrong, she just had a few questions so she could get our refinance paperwork started.  I guess when interest rates drop to 3.25%, Refinance Specialists don’t get to work banker’s hours.

Interestingly enough when we were AT the bank earlier in the day, discussing a 10 year loan and what our plans were for paying for our daughter’s college education I said to my husband, “Do you realize that in 10 years when we pay off the house, Tink will have graduated from college?”  We just sat there staring at each other.  That was a very sobering thought.  Neither of us could bring ourselves to imagine a world in which Tink was not living in our home with us.  It was a few hours later before it dawned on me that we could only HOPE that in 10 years the house is paid off , Tink has a 4-year degree in something other than Parks, Recreation and Tourism, a good paying job and her own place to live.  Equally as horrifying is if in 10, 15 or 20 years Tink, her husband Bubba and 4 children ARE living with us.

Anyway, bankers hours now last until at least 8:41 pm (when our conversation ended) and I’ve got to be prepared to write checks for college tuition in about 4.5 years.  I suppose I should tell Tink that if she’s looking for a 9 to 5 job when she grows up she should probably go ahead and scratch Banker off her list.

PS – It turns out there were quite a few 1984 Olympic Torches and it was only worth about $1200.  You know you were wondering how that turned out.

Sarajevo 1984 olympic torch, Olympic museum La...

1984 Olympic Torch Image via Wikipedia

Just How Comfortable Do We Need to Be?

I like to be comfortable.  Sometimes I’m convinced this is a part of Middle Age, but when I think back, I’ve always wanted to be comfortable.  My biggest complaint about going to church on Sunday mornings was having to get dressed up in itchy, scratchy dresses and tights and shoes that pinched my feet.  I still have an extreme aversion to wearing itchy, scratchy clothes, panty-hose and shoes that pinch my feet.

See? She looks like her shoes hurt!

I am lucky enough to be able to work from home when I’m not traveling.  So most Mondays and most Fridays I am working from my home office and the dress code is always casual in my office.  We haven’t reached the age of video phones in my work world yet so no one knows whether I’m wearing my power suit or gym clothes and the gym clothes are far more comfortable.  My co-workers and I are really glad there is no video conferencing yet.  I’ve attended conference calls with wet hair, half dressed, the make-up of one eye complete but not the other, you get the picture.  By the way, there is nothing more disturbing than having one eye made up and not the other.  What if I forget and actually go somewhere like that or even just answer the door?  Can you imagine the UPS man’s horror? 

"Um, your eyes . . . . they . . . here's your package ma'am."

One of my co-workers, Rita, who also works from home, commented to me a few months ago (via a non-video phone of course) that it was nearly noon and she was still in her work out clothes.  Rita then said, “Just to be clear, I don’t actually ‘work out’ in my work out clothes, they’re just what I wear to run my kids to daycare and any errands before I get my shower and get ready.”  Rita thought that she was the only person who did this and was quite shocked when I told her I do the same thing.  Not only that, but go to the grocery store any weekday morning and take a look around.  Every woman (and man for that matter) there is wearing exercise apparel.  I get up every day and put on my work out gear.  Several days a week I actually DO jog a few miles on the treadmill, climb half a mountain on the stair-stepper and lift some light hand weights, but lately I haven’t been doing so well with that.  My work out clothes just seem to mock me from the hamper as I do laundry.  I imagine them saying “We’re not even dirty, there’s no sweat on us why the hell are we in the dirty clothes pile?”  (I haven’t mention to other people that I imagine my clothes talking to me.  I think that’s one of the things the meds are supposed to be for.)

Really?? I mean really??

Anyway, sometimes I think I’m just a step or two away from being one of those people who never wear real clothes but just stay in my stretchy yoga / running capris and loose, comfy t-shirts or warm-up suits.  But there’s one thing I promise to myself, and to you, that I will never do.  I will never don Pajama Jeans!  Have you seen those commercials?  Just how lazy do you have to be to wear jeans that feel like pajamas?  Are these people blind because these things do NOT look like real jeans.  Real jeans are . . . well . . .  jeans!  They are made out of denim.  That’s what makes them jeans!  Besides, I saw Pajama Jeans on sale at CVS this weekend and they are $39.99!  For $39.99 you can get a very comfy work out suit with a jacket at Old Navy.  Of course when you start talking about work out gear at Old Navy it gets that commercial ringing through my head, “Don’t jiggle it, when you wiggle it!”  Have you seen that commercial?

Sorry, I get distracted easily.  That’s probably my next post.  Anyway, I will continue to be comfortable, often dressing in my sweats or work out gear and yoga pants, but I promise that the day I seriously consider Pajama Jeans, I will seek immediate medical attention.  Now I suppose I should go get on that treadmill since I’ve got my work out clothes on . . .

Conversation with a 5-year old

Near to heaven

Heaven? (Image via Wikipedia)

A wonderful blogger, WorryWart, posted The Long Story of How Liver Becomes Pâté a few weeks ago and it gave me the idea of posting this conversation that I recorded in my journal between my daughter and I from over 8 years ago.  WorryWart is a terrific blogger and I’m sure you will love her story if you haven’t already read it.  I hope you like mine.

To give you a little background, my husband’s father passed away in February 2001.  My daughter, Tink, was not quite 2 years old at the time.  She had a vague memory of her Papa, but this particular summer she seemed to be putting together that he was “missing”.  My husband, Tink and I were visiting my sister-in-law and her family and had just returned from visiting my parents.  Here is mine and Tink’s conversation from Sunday July 27, 2003 when she was 5 years old:

Tink Age 5 - Full of questions!

T= Tink    M = Me

T – Is Nana at the beach?

M – Yes

T – Who is with her?

M – Adam and June, Alicia and Jessie and Aunt Barbara.

T – Is Papa, well you know I have a Papa at Grandmama’s house and I used to have a Papa at Nana’s house?  Is he at the beach too?

M – No he’s not

T – Well where is he?

M – He’s in heaven

T – Why?

M – Because he passed away a while back when you were a baby.

T – You mean he died?

M – Yes

T – Why?

M – His heart stopped beating.

T – It just stopped?

M – Yes

T – You mean it stopped beeping? (I made a note that Tink clasped her hands over her chest and her eyes were very big.  She also thought at this age that hearts “beeped” instead of “beat”)

M – Yes

T – Maybe he got old and got dead ’cause that happens when you get old?

M – Sometimes, yes.

T – But you’re not old Mommy, you’re not old (she was shaking her head)

M – No baby, I’m not old.  (I’m not trying to compliment myself here, but to ease the mind of my child you understand)  I say I’m old sometimes but I’m not really old.

T – You say you’re old, but you’re not really old?

M – That’s right baby.

There was a short pause while her little brain tried to wrap itself around our conversation.  Then Tink narrowed her eyes and looked at me and said:

T – You mean you LIED????

Just so you know, our conversation pattern has not changed all that much 8 years later.  Enjoy the weekend folks!  I’ll be back on Monday with more random ramblings!

I Know Something About Birthin’ Babies

A pregnant woman

Image via Wikipedia

Something has been irritating the split pea soup out of me for years and it’s come up in various TV shows over the last few weeks and gotten me all fired up again.  It aggravates me to no end when a pregnant TV or movie character’s water breaks and then they are wailing and the baby is halfway out 5 minutes later and some idiot is yelling “Push!”  If that’s how it worked, Tink might not be an only child.

For those of you who have not experienced the horror joy of childbirth first hand either by choice or because God wired you differently (perhaps with a penis instead of a vagina), the only thing your water breaking actually means is that it is time to go to the hospital.  It would be fair to compare the womb to a condemned building at this point and it is the doctor’s job to make sure everyone clears out within the 24 hour time limit. 

In my personal experience, my water broke sometime early in the morning but I really didn’t know it.  (Tink may be a teensy teen but she was a mighty big newborn)  I didn’t get to the hospital until 4:00 pm and I still wasn’t in labor.  They had to induce me and Tink made her debut at 2:00 am nearly 10 hours later.  My friend Rita just gave birth to her third (yes, that was not a typo her THIRD) child.  Her water broke and she thought, “Yea!  I’ll pop this baby out in an hour or so.”  No siree, that is not how it turned out.  Normally your third child comes rather quickly especially when she comes barely 2 years after her big brother, but Rita was in labor for 9 hours before her petite little angel flew into the world.

English: Newborn baby Română: Nou nascut

Image via Wikipedia

So there you go.  Two examples of water breaking and babies taking their sweet time to get their first glimpse of the world.  So why on earth do all these shows (just recently on NCIS for example) have a pregnant woman’s water breaking and within moments you hear, “The baby’s coming!  The baby’s coming!  I see the head!!”  No you don’t see a baby’s head you see a short time limit in which to fit your story!  I guess there wouldn’t be a lot of drama involved in a story that went something like: “Oh dear, I think my water broke.”  Hubby or strange man the pregnant woman just met who will now deliver fatherless baby and become his male role model “Oh no!  What do we do?”  Future Mom, “Oh let’s just scoot on over to the hospital, maybe stop and have a sandwich along the way and by tomorrow morning we’ll probably have a baby!”  If that were the case, the strange man might not get roped into staying and becoming a part of the story’s plot and he and might say, “Oh, um in that case I’ll just drop you off at the ER ok?  I have a . . . a . . . root canal scheduled for today.”

I guess this is why doctor’s don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, Federal Agents don’t watch NCIS and medical examiners don’t watch CSI.  TV producers may know drama, but they don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies!

Help! My Husband Is Trying to Kill Me!

It all started about 3 weeks ago when we met with our bank to talk about our financial future.  One of the questions was about life insurance.  I made the mistake of totalling up how much life insurance would fall into my husband’s hands if I were to meet an unexpected early demise.  I’m pretty certain that was the moment that he began inventing his evil plan to kill me!

Remember that I was gone for a full week on a business trip so he had plenty of time to dwell on all the subtle ways to rid himself of his spouse and collect a windfall.  We’ve both watched a lot of episodes of CSI and Law and Order, and according to those, there are hundreds of ways to off your spouse and attempt to make it look like an accident or natural causes.  I’ve often thought that Tink and my husband were trying to aggravate me to death, but I’ve grown a thick skin to some of their antics and that might be too hard.  No, I believe my husband thought and thought until he devised the perfect plan.  He would kill me with food.

But it tastes sooo good! (courtesy http://www.graphicsfactory.com)

Now I’m not the perfect eater but I do attempt to serve more healthy meals than not.  We may have meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, green beans cooked with bacon and biscuits one night but the following night’s feature will be something like broiled salmon, wild rice with sautéed zucchini and a salad.  (Before you get all excited about our evening menus I have to add that we also occasionally have Pizza night and Leftovers Night)  My husband does not believe in balance, at least when it comes to food.

When I returned from my trip he served lunch:  Tomato Soup with what only Paula Deen would call “just enough” butter along side grilled pimento cheese AND cheese sandwiches!  Of course I ate it because it was delicious, but I thought surely it was a special welcome home lunch.  Well let me describe the following day’s menu:

Breakfast:  Two fried eggs, grits, buttered toast and a side of country ham!  Country ham on the side??  Are you kidding me?  That was delicious, but surely lunch would be a salad right?  NO! 

Just the way I like 'em! (www.graphicsfactory.com)

Lunch:  Homemade Grilled Hamburgers and french fries on buttered and toasted bakery buns.  Dinner would be light, right? 

Dinner:  Fried Cubed Steak, Fried Yellow Squash with onions, white rice, gravy and biscuits. 

The next morning when he asked if I wanted some breakfast I said, “For the love of humanity can I just have a yogurt?”  See part of the problem is that my husband did all the shopping while I was gone so he bought food he knows how to cook.  My husband is an excellent cook, BUT he cooks like our Mama’s did and that is the primary reason that our entire extended family is on blood pressure and cholesterol meds.  I’m certain my arteries are clogging as I’m typing.  Because he’s not done yet.  He intends to serve hot dogs with potato chips tonight, BBQ pork ribs with coleslaw and potato salad tomorrow night and meatloaf the next.  Someone pass the Tums?

But you know what?  I’m not having to cook and he’s having the time of his life cooking all his favorites.  So, if I can survive the next 5 days, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride on the fried buffet train.  Maybe this heavy food will make those salads all that more appealing come January 1!  And if I die eating a big pile of fried squash at least I’ll die doing something I love.  Maybe I don’t want that help after all.

A Camel, A Donkey and a Golf Cart

Courtesy of Wikipedia - my picture was of the camel's rear-end

Sometimes I wonder if my husband and daughter do things on purpose to foster my delusion that they cannot function without me or if it really does come naturally to them.  I’m 600 miles away on a week long business trip last week and I see an email from my daughter’s cheerleading coach.  It reads “There have been a few changes to our plans for Sunday’s Parade.”  Hmm, changes?  plans??  So there was a plan before today?  This is the first I’ve heard of this plan and today is FRIDAY!

It turns out that the Cheerleading Squad was to ride on the Chamber of Commerce’s float in the annual Christmas Parade on Sunday.  Oh good – because after a full week out of town I needed something to do with my Sunday afternoon.  Lying around napping on the couch is overrated anyway.  But it’s a Christmas Parade after all.  It will be fun right?  Have you BEEN to a small town Christmas parade?

First, you have to understand that in a small town if you have a convertible, a golf cart or a tractor you can and evidently should, be in the parade.  If you are “Miss” anything you should also be in the parade.  So you will see a 1995 Blue Mustang convertible with Miss Teen Terminx 2011 sitting on top waiving with a magnet on the side of the car advertising the local shoe repair shop.  It’s best if you can attach tinsel to your golf cart, tractor or convertible or maybe some garland because that makes it more festive. 

There are a few floats in the parade – as I mentioned my daughter was riding on one.  They were performing cheers and throwing candy although they looked as if they were throwing shoes at rabid dogs rather than tossing Tootsie rolls to antsy toddlers.  I think some of the cheerleaders should go out for softball.  Anyway, there was one very disturbing float with a handful of women my age in sweats dancing the same exact dance the entire student body of my high school did at the prom.  I said to my husband, “What the hell is that?”  As the float went by I finally saw the sign on the back for the locally offered Zumba classes.  I don’t know how many free classes those women got for agreeing to do that in public on a float in a small town Christmas Parade but it cannot possibly be enough.

Duck and cover - Tootsie Rolls Incoming!

Another interesting float was the Good Aim Baptist Church Nativity Scene.  I am not making up the name of that church, I so wish I was.  Joseph was dangling baby Jesus precariously over the edge of the float much to the annoyance of Little Mary.  I’m not positive, but I think further down in the procession, once Mary got Baby Jesus back in her hands, she beat Joseph with him.  Following behind them was a camel and a donkey.  I feel it prudent to point out there were no wise men in connection with this float.  If there had been wise men, they would have changed the name of that church!

If you count all the time we spent dropping Tink off at her designated location, finding a parking space, waiting for the parade to start, waiting for it to be over and returning home, we spent about three and a half hours doing “parade activities”.  That’s a lot of time spent to see a camel, a donkey and a few golf carts!

The Night Before Christmas? I Think Not!

If I heard one more person say, “What’s with all this Christmas stuff?  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” I was going to start decking more than halls.  A few short weeks ago, every person I came in contact with uttered that phrase.  The only people who think that there’s this mysterious endless supply of time to prepare for Christmas are the people who don’t have to.

It was barely 2 days after Halloween before I was planning ‘The Set Up’.  “You’ll bring the boxes down from the attic,” I told my husband.  “I’ll put the tree together and,” I turned to my daughter, “you’ll decorate it!”  “Why don’t we get a real tree this year?” my daughter asked.  When my wicked laughter stopped, I replied, “I’m barely keeping you, your Dad and the cat alive you think I”m going to tackle a tree??”

There’s a pressure on Moms to put on The Perfect Christmas.  This pressure is mostly thrust upon us by our own selves.  (Warning:  Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, say this to a Mom.  If you do, I am not responsible for what happens to you afterwards!)  We want to experience that perfect moment on Christmas Day when everyone in our family opens that gift they’ve been wanting most for all time.  Or at least the gift they’ve been wanting most for a month and a half.  Everyone will get along that day and the turkey on the table will look like the ones they always have on TV.  Miracles will happen in our own homes like they do in cheesy Christmas specials and we will actually hear the Angels singing.  It will be perfect and glorious.  Instead, no matter how hard I work, my Christmas’es always seem to turn out more like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Anyway, this pressure that I put on myself seems to begin with getting the house decorated for the holiday.  My mom followed a pretty strict timeline which included putting the tree up on December 15th and I always thought that was good, but I don’t follow that one.  Don’t mistake my rush to decorate for Christmas as enthusiasm.  It’s actually a defense mechanism because the longer I take to decorate, the more I have to listen to my daughter and the neighbors and my co-workers ask me when I’m going to decorate.  So if I get this out of the way by the day after Thanksgiving, well, that’s something I can check off the list.

Decorating the house is the first outward appearance of preparing for the holiday, but by Thanksgiving Day if I’m not 3/4 complete with my Christmas shopping I’m seriously behind.  By the time the turkey’s coming out of the oven, I’ve been writing down notes of what gifts my daughter and husband have mentioned they would like to have or want for months.  I’ve also spent hours on eBay, Amazon and Google tracking it down.  I have been asking them for weeks for a Christmas list.  I don’t go out on Black Friday.  I may get crazy and delusional during the Holidays but not that crazy!  I’m too old to get trampled by 500 antsy, caffeine crazed loonies over a $5 Barbie, a $9 coffee maker or a $99 Plasma TV – especially since there’s only 3 of each hidden throughout the store.

Then there’s the endless discussions with my family and my husband’s family to determine dates for the family parties.  There was probably less tension during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This negotiation is followed by the search for perfect gifts for extended family members, neighbors, teachers, my husband’s boss, my employees, gymnastics coaches and my own boss.  Cooking falls in there somewhere.  My daughter and I bake Monster Cookies which is a recipe I stole from my 7th grade home economics teacher – that takes up a whole day.  There’s also the annual Christmas Eve gathering of the neighbors which is a lot of fun because it includes wine.  I wish my in-laws gathering included wine.  Well, now that I think about it I guess it’s better that there isn’t any alcohol near those family gatherings.

Each year, my husband and daughter take off a day or two before Christmas and go out in search of my gifts.  I don’t venture out during the “End of Days” as I call it.  I’m so stressed by a day or two before Christmas that if someone wrenched the last faux cashmere scarf out of my hands I might attempt to strangle them with it.  Last year was a strange one for our family.  I was gone for a week on a business trip in early December (just like this year) and my husband was working several hundred miles away and home only every other weekend.  So, I bought my own gifts last year – but I made my husband wrap them.  Because last year was extra stressful, it culminated with me loudly declaring on December 26th that if my family wanted to have Christmas in 2011 they would do it themselves!  I quote, “I’m done with Christmas.  I.  AM.  NOT.  DOING IT!”  And I meant it! 

I’m not the only one who reacted this way.  My friend Michelle told me that last year when she open the boxes of Christmas decorations, more than half of them were smushed and broken.  Then she remembered that she was having a complete meltdown as she ripped down the decorations and shoved them into boxes.  For some strange reason that made me feel better.

I was firm in this resolution of “not doing Christmas” into the shiny new year . . . until Halloween came.  As families around the country were getting dressed up as vampires and mummies, I said to my daughter, “It’s Halloween so you know what that means . . . It’s time for your Christmas list!”  I distinctly heard my husband say, “Oh no, not again” even though he denies it.

Yes, it will be the same thing all over again.  Because despite the stress, headaches, family drama, exhaustion and lack of appreciation for all the behind the scenes work, it is worth it.  Christmas Day is perfect because by then I’ve found the true holiday spirit.  I am thankful that I have my daughter and husband, extended family and friends to fuss over so much.  It really does feel like a Christmas miracle.

But by golly on December 26th, everyone better help me pack all this red and green junk back into the attic because I’ll be over it for another 10 months!

The Devil Made Me Do It

The Devil Made Me Do It (by graphicsfactory.com)

Have you ever done something you knew you shouldn’t do?  Something that before you even got started, you knew was wrong.  But that little devil with the pitchfork on your left shoulder won over the haloed angel on your right?  So you did it anyway and then said to yourself, “I shouldn’t have done that.”

Seriously, NOW you change?? (image via graphicsfactory.com)

Traffic was horrible the other afternoon and the particular red light at which I was stopped was taking forever to change to green.  A notification that I have two voicemails has been displayed on my cell phone for 5 days.  One of the voicemails was left by someone who I tried to avoid, but after they called my office, my cell, and my office again I reluctantly accepted the call at 4:59 pm on a Friday.  It turned into a 10-minute conversation about the fact that the gentleman was going to send me an email.  He could have sent it, I could have read it, and we all could have started our weekend on time if he’d just sent the damn email instead of calling to talk about it first!

Anyway, back to the red-light, I want this notification off my phone and all I have to do is listen to the voicemails.  I shouldn’t be on my cell phone in traffic, but I’m at the red light sitting still.  What’s the harm?  So I pull up the voicemail and it begins to play “Hi Angry, I just wanted to let you know that I was about to send you an email but I wanted to give you a —”  Then I begin to hear ringing as if I’ve called someone.  I glance at my phone but at that moment the light turns green and traffic begins to move.  Oh crap!  I’m taking an on-ramp onto the highway – I can’t be looking at my phone!  But I remember that when you are listening to a voicemail there’s a BIG button that when pressed CALLS BACK THE PERSON WHO LEFT THE MESSAGE!!!!!  Crap, CRAP, CRAAAPPPPP!!!!!

What the !@#$ is that???

I’m still navigating my way through the traffic blindly jabbing at the phone trying to end the call and then I hear Matt pick up, “Hello?” pause “Hello???”  I’m still trying to merge into traffic.  I risk hundreds of lives and glance at my phone only to discover it’s on a screen I’ve never seen before and I have no idea how to hang up.  Oh dear Lord in Heaven it has finally happened.  I have finally aged to the point that I’ve become technologically inept.  I have become my mother-in-law!

Now a reasonable person would just say, “Oh hi Matt, it’s me, Angry, I called you by mistake.  Sorry about that.”  But no one has accused me of being a reasonable person in a long, long time.  What if he wanted to discuss more upcoming emails???  Oh for the love of Pete!  So I did what any semi-reasonable person would do.  I stayed very, very quiet . . . until he gave up and hung up.

I’m sure he has caller ID and knows it was me, but somehow having him think that I butt-dialed him unknowingly makes me feel better.  That right there is probably a sign that I need stronger meds.  <Sigh>  Anyway, next time I’m listening to the guy with the halo on the right.  At least chances are I’ll look less like an idiot!

Prisoner of War or a Business Meeting??

Please let me out!!!! (photo from ibtimes.com)

I dread this week every year.  This is the most terrible, awful, horrible week of the entire year!!  It’s the week of my company’s annual budget reviews.  At this point you would expect the “Dum, dum, dum, DUMMMM!!” of the organ music to play.  Words cannot express how much I dread this process.  This is the time when each of the Regional Managers (I am one of four) defend the amount of money we are requesting to spend and how much we are projecting to make during the upcoming year.

Now from my dread you must have concluded that this is a tense, grueling process including water boarding and other tortuous techniques outlawed by the Geneva Convention, but no, it really isn’t.  Years ago, it was much closer to that description but we are a fairly small company and the President (who is also the Owner’s son) believes in fostering a casual relationship with his minions employees.  So all in all it isn’t too bad anymore.  There is the occasional spirited discussion, but I no longer enter the meeting fearing for my job or terrified that I might sound stupid.  Now I know that I’m going to say something stupid or forget some important detail so that suspense doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. 

No, the real problem with this process is that it takes up an entire week . . . in December!!  I am trapped in a hotel room somewhere in Baltimore, MD (it changes every year) with no vehicle or means to escape.  I’m at the mercy of my superiors as to what time I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I have these 3 meals with the same people with whom I’ve just sat in budget meetings for 8 hours!  At that point there is nothing they have to say that I want to hear (unless it’s “Hey Angry, here’s a raise” and that’s never happened)  What if I need to run out and grab a gift card for my niece’s fiance that she’s just decided to bring to Christmas dinner?  What if I need more contact solution because my eyes have been crossing looking at all these numbers?  What if I need some Preparation H because this whole process is a royal pain in the @**??  I’m like Locke on Lost – “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

I need a lot of freedom.  It’s vital to my well being.  I don’t do well with any type of restrictions.  I remember being in elementary school and the janitor came to the room to tell the teacher that the water would be off to the building for about an hour so.  During that time the children couldn’t use the bathroom or the water fountain.  The horror!!  I was immediately thirsty, if I’d known what dehydrated meant at the time I would have been that too.  And I had to tinkle.  Right then.  It could NOT wait.  Five minutes previously when I lived in a world with unlimited water availability, I was perfectly fine.  Flash forward (a lot of years) later to the other day when the power went out.  This is the conversation that occurred in my head:  “Oh no!  I need to use my computer!”  Reasonable me responded “You have a laptop with an hour and a half of battery life”  The real me, “But I need to use the internet!”  Reasonable, “You have a wireless card and if that’s dead your phone is its own ‘hot spot’.”  Real me, “But I want a cup of coffee and there’s no power.”  Reasonable, “It’s 4:00 pm and you never have coffee in the afternoon.  Why in the world would you decide you want coffee today of all days?”  Real me, “Um . . . because I can’t?”  It was about that time that the power came back on.

"Must . . . have . . . water . . . "

So anyway, this is the week that I dread the other 51 weeks of the year.  It’s filled with excellent food and culminates with our annual Holiday Party on Friday evening, but all I can think about is getting “my life” back.  I’ll gladly eat Taco Bell instead of Maryland crab cakes if I can go there on my own and eat that 99 cent taco when I want!  Well, let me have at least one of those crab cakes first.

(Please forgive me if my posts are a little drab this week.  These meetings suck the life out of you quicker than a teenage vampire.  Take care everyone!)