In keeping with my quest to figure out how to make my life happy and rewarding, I spent some time examining my own actions with regard to those people who are the key players in my emotional life. I wasn’t very pleased with what I observed about myself. I am an island. I have relationships that I enjoy with work colleagues, but I never let them become personal. I have relationships with my family that I love. We are a solid, steady, and kind foursome living in this house. T and I, along with the girls, enjoy each other’s company. We have created an atmosphere of harmony. Our home is a refuge of peace, and I treasure that feeling of sanctuary at the end of the day. As much as we love the boys, the four of us notice that the zen peace of our home is off kilter when they visit. As much as we love them and enjoy their company, we always treasure the return to our quiet routine of four. I suppose this is a good thing. It means we have adjusted to their absence as a daily fixture in our lives. We love visiting them in Chicago or Milwaukee. Now that we all live closer together, we see them more often. It’s when they come here, to our home of four, that we feel a shift in our peaceful routine. Continue Reading »
I have been sick going on six days now. I haven’t written, because there isn’t much to say about time spent blowing my nose, coughing, and basically being bitchy. I sat here tonight looking back over this past week, and trying to find at least a few redeeming moments. I haven’t had much success. Continue Reading »
What an odd day. I had an appointment with a wine distributer first thing this morning. I am organizing a wine tasting next month as a kick-off to our latest promotion. As much as I like wine, I’m not sure if it’s something I necessarily like to think about first thing in the morning. It ended up being fun, though. We’re going to have special give-away wine glasses and eight different selections of wine. I’m really looking forward to the kick-off party. I have had such a good time planning this event.
My favorite selection for the wine tasting is Bitch Bubbly. It has the cutest name, cutest label, and it actually tastes pretty good, too. I bought a bottle last winter when my daughter was making pink champagne cupcakes. She only needed one cup for the recipe, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the bottle.
When I got back to the office, I walked down to the conference room to get a cup of much-needed coffee. I was standing there kind of gazing out the window, when I realized that I wasn’t alone. Three people had followed me into the conference room. They had been waiting for me. They had a question for me. “So, who IS Dilbert.?” Uh oh… Yeah, I had posted a picture of Dilbert on my Facebook page with a caption that read something like, “Really ticked off at someone who looks exactly like Dilbert. There is no shame in being a team player, Dilbert.” They wanted to know who is “Dilbert ?” They were laughing, because they already knew. The said as soon as they saw my post, they knew just who I was talking about. Truthfully, I felt a bit ashamed to have put that out there. It was petty and immature of me. But hell….this guy really ticked me off!
I did end up going into his office to discuss the matter. I told him that while I did take ownership of missing the meeting, it had shocked me that he had not been considerate enough to take a moment to come back downstairs to give me a head’s up. For goodness sakes, he could have used his cell phone and called me. I would have done that (and have!!) for anyone in the building.
Turns out, there was a NEW employee in the Planning Department who also missed the meeting. She felt horrible. She was really shaken up, took it personally, and worried that it would be viewed as shoddy work. Apparently, this poor woman was a wreck when she found out that she had missed this same meeting. We both felt much better once we realized that we weren’t alone. This jerk, Dilbert, had not sent either of us a meeting request to schedule on our calendars. He hadn’t even bothered to send us agendas. So, in the end, Dilbert may have learned a lesson. We all live by our calendars and the friendly beeping meeting reminders on our phones.
I stopped by the woman’s office to try to cheer her up. I told her to please not take it as a personal affront or to worry about it being viewed as unprofessional. We are all busy as hell and juggling numerous projects simultaneously. Mistakes happen. All we can hope is that we have all learned a lesson and that we’ll do a better job of communication and organizing our time in the future.
As I said, it was an odd day. I felt unbalanced, and it seemed like those around me were also out of sorts. I met T for lunch, and he was grouchy. We argued as we made our way into the building. We hadn’t even taken our seats, and there we were arguing. He thought I was running late. He was pressed for time. He had things to do besides wait for me to get there. He almost left. Grrr…. As we waited for our food, we sat silently and breathed deeply without talking. Tentatively, we readjusted our attitudes and had our usual mundane conversation. As we got up to leave, I told him that I didn’t know if I really enjoyed meeting him for lunch today. He just laughed. I think he felt the same way.
Tonight was our usual Thursday night dinner at the local tavern. We take the kids and whoever else happens to be around. Tonight it was just the girls and one friend. The place was packed. We ordered our food at the counter and then realized that there was nowhere for all of us to sit. The kids all took a high bar table while T and I sat down with a couple of guys we knew from high school. Well, I guess we’ve known them forever. They were happy enough to have us join them and sat drinking beer while T and I ate our dinner.
It’s funny to go from a high-stress day to an evening at a local bar with a couple of beer drinking rednecks. I laughed all night as they told their stories. One of them is a carpenter and the other (toothless, I might add) installs hot tubs for a living. As we sat there, I felt the stress drain away. I looked around at the people. I knew almost everyone. It was unusual to see any man who was not wearing a baseball hat of some kind. (Thank God, T does NOT wear a hat!) There were John Deere caps, lots of hats supporting our high school, and plenty of folks displaying their Nascar preferences. There were a lot of flannel shirts, plenty black t-shirts, and not one necktie to be seen.
I love my life in Hillbilly Heaven. I told this to T when we were sitting at the table alone. He asked me why. Remember the phase, “She needs to get off her high horse?” Well, it’s tough to stay on that high horse too long in Redneck Country.
Well, I got through the bout of depression yesterday. I didn’t take more Lexapro. The Chick-fil-A helped. A lot. Closing the door to my office for a while helped. Mostly what helped was identifying that there was something, a lot of somethings, bothering me.
While I had lunch, I sat and thought about it. What in the heck was wrong with me? I was overwhelmed. Expanding the program is a huge job. All morning, I had been asked for information (as if had the answers!) What tax rate increase was I proposing? HA! ME….proposing a tax increase! Who was I to propose a tax increase? Who was I to create a budget of this magnitude? How in the world did I get that authority? Whatever I did, I knew that I would have to take ownership of my actions. Eyes were on me, expecting me to know the answers. Did I have answers? Well, at that point, I just wanted to go home, be pregnant, and work in the garden. I wanted to run away, but that was really not an option.
Also, there were things in my personal life that were weighing on my mind. Often, the choices in front of us are not easy. What might seem like a great idea in the short-term, may end up being a damaging choice in the long run. It’s easy to pick those short-term fixes. Those are the choices that get you through the day…..or the week….or….on and on, but in the end, thoughtless choices will turn around and bite you in the butt. What might make you feel good or happy in the present is often the same thing that will cause you pain in the long run. I was facing one of those personal choices yesterday. On the surface, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I could have fooled myself into believing that, but my gut and my heart were giving me different advice.
I had needed the quiet time at lunch to break all of these issues down into more manageable pieces. First, I tackled the work issues. The information was out there. If I didn’t know the answers, then I knew how to get them. I made some phone calls. I called my contacts at the state level. I called a friend who did my same job in another city. I called a professor in New Jersey. By the time I was done making phone calls, I had a fairly good idea what direction I was heading. There is still more work to be done before I make a recommendation, but at least I am feeling confident in the process of arriving at a decision. Taking some positive action on this matter helped tremendously.
Then the personal issues needed to be addressed. I left my office to make a phone call. A friend, I needed the support of a friend. The funny thing was, I called my “sister from a different mother,” but she didn’t answer. This woman I have never met, but know in my heart. She is a fellow blogger, and our lives are on a parallel path. We have known each other for an eternity it seems. I called her, but she didn’t answer. I left a long and rambling voicemail. (I’m good at that!) By the time I finished leaving my message, I had worked through the greatest part of my issue on my own. I had simply needed to say it out loud. I returned to my office feeling as if a weight had been lifted.
On my own, I had chopped down to the root. I hacked away at the cloud of depression bit by bit. I fought back against what was swallowing me up. I’ve learned something over these past horrible months. If you don’t fight back against it, it WILL win. Yesterday, I won. A small, but much-needed, victory for me.
Solace of Home
I was so happy to be driving home last night. I was happy to leave the city. I needed to see the wide fields beginning to turn green. I needed the sky and the peace. I was happy to see T home from his day at work. We took a moment to talk in the kitchen. I told him my problems of the day. He listened. That was it. Listening was all I needed.
Those moments didn’t last very long. Soon, we were Mom and Dad again. Our energies were consumed by the needs of those around us. Whatever dilemmas we had faced during our days didn’t/couldn’t matter now. We are the parents. We are the ones in charge. We prepare the food, listen to the stories our children need to share each day. We put our own issues, trials, and feelings aside for the “good of the whole.” That’s what parents do.
When I climbed into bed last night, T was already there waiting. He had been sleeping, but he woke up when I laid down. I was facing him, when he rolled over towards me. He rubbed my back. There was nothing sexual in his touch. It was simply peaceful and calming. I felt the tension that I didn’t even know existed begin to leave the muscles in my back and shoulders. Solace. My muscles softly twitched as I began to relax. As I fell asleep, I thought of a horse, a high-strung animal like myself, high-strung and twitchy. T was reaching that high-strung animal inside of me. He didn’t know it, but he was calming some primal fear that had been rippling beneath my surface all day. This time, I allowed myself to sink into the calm. I let go of my need to control, and I allowed myself to be calmed.
T and I have been married for almost 27 years. We dated for four years before getting married. I was 15 years old when we started dating. He was 17. You can do the math on that one. I often wonder how many times we have done certain things, said certain things. How many meals have we shared?
Meals are very important to us and to our entire family. From the beginning of our marriage, we have shared the evening meal together whenever possible. As the kids began coming along, that evening meal became even more important. It was the one time each day when we were all gathered together without any distractions. We shared our days, and our lives, with each other.
Now with our kids growing up and having busy schedules of their own, we never know from day-to-day how many people will be at our dinner table. Some days, it is just T and I with little Lola. Other days, our table is full with all of our kids and a variety of their friends. Either way, there is a daily gathering at our table each evening. During good times and bad, our family shares the evening meal each day.
T and I have been finding it increasingly difficult to have private conversations. There are always interruptions, second opinions, and distractions when we try to talk to each other at home. By the time we find ourselves alone at the end of the day, we are often too tired to care about talking. This past year, we have started meeting each other for lunch a few times each week.
This has been a stressful week for me. I am juggling way too many balls at work right now, and preparing for work-related travel next week. Tonight, I am giving a presentation at City Council, and I will miss that important evening meal. I was engrossed in my work this morning when my phone buzzed with an incoming text. T asked me, “Do you have your hat on?” I just smiled. I had told him this morning that I had on my “Bitch Hat,” and I wasn’t even out of my robe yet. Before I was even out of bed, I was responding to work emails via phone.
It’s kind of an amazing thing to me whenever I get a text from him. I know the effort it takes him to compose a text. T is NOT a techno geek. 🙂 He sent another text asking me to meet him for lunch, but that I better not be wearing the hat around him. T always has a way of reminding me of who I am and where I come from. He brings me back down to Earth. T is my past. He is green grass and days spent fishing. He keeps me grounded and reminds me of the things that I truly hold dear in my heart.
I enjoy the lunches T and I share. We are two different people when we meet during the work day. We are both in “work mode,” not Mom and Dad or Husband and Wife mode. We don’t talk about the kids. We don’t talk about household matters. We talk about our mornings, what we did at work so far, or what our afternoons hold. We are T and Pam. We meet for a few moments several times each week just as ourselves.
(or….It’s The Thought That Counts…)
It had been weeks since my husband and I had been able to go out together (alone) on a weekend night. A few weeks ago, there had been Prom, which kept us busy all weekend. Two kids had attended. Luke was home from college. Neither of us mind putting our romantic life on hold to spend time with the kids and watch them as they enjoy these rites of passage in their lives. It was a fun, but busy time. The house was FULL of kids in and out at all hours. There was plenty of laughter, lots of running around, and very little sleep.
Last weekend, we were busy yet again. It was Easter weekend. Luke was home again, which always means not only is he here, but so is his girlfriend! That’s OK, though. She’s a nice girl. Also, when younger son is home, the other kids and their friends, are here, too. It’s feast or famine around here. We are either home by ourselves with little Lola, or the house is full of people. Both husband and I were definitely ready for a little household famine.
To add to our Easter mix, we took my mother with us out for brunch. There were ten of us at the table that day, and T’s eyebrows shot up upon seeing the bill. I reminded him that it was worth every penny not to have to cook for everyone!
After brunch, our day was scheduled down to the minute. My mother wanted to go to her house, which we are readying for sale. She wanted to look through a few of her things. She is adjusting well to her assisted living facility, but not so well to letting go of the contents of the house. I had spent most of the previous day cleaning the house in preparation of my mother’s visit. For some reason, lady bugs have invaded the vacant house. I spent hours vacuuming up their carcasses. I knew if my mom had seen them lying around, it would have horrified her…and somehow I would have been to blame. 🙂
The day proved to be too much for my mom. By the time we got her out to the house, she was sick. As she was in the bathroom vomiting, T and I looked at each other in horror. Here we were, with a half hour drive to get her back to her apartment, and now she was sick. We let her rest for a while, and she revived a bit. As painful as the experience was for all of us, it was probably needed. She realized that she is NOT able to assist in going through the contents of the house. She has been gone for a year now, and she has managed quite well to live without anything left behind. She was able to see the stacks of boxes of things that we are keeping and things that will be sold. She feels relieved that we are going through everything with care. As difficult as the day had been, it was necessary. We are all ready now to move forward with the sale.
With the responsibilities of life draining both of us, T and I decided early this past week to carve out a date night for the upcoming weekend. We asked Emily if she would please plan on babysitting on Saturday night. She doesn’t mind doing this as long as we don’t ask her last-minute once she already has made plans. She’s a great kid. 🙂 She and her friend Austin made plans to bake cupcakes with Lola while we were gone. Everything was falling into place.
We woke up yesterday morning happy and anticipating a night out. T told me several times during the day how much he was looking forward to our night out. Sweet! We spent the day puttering around and cleaning. It was quiet around the house. Andrew was at work. Emily had taken Lola to the zoo. We cranked up OUR music and did our various chores. Even thought we were both working around the house, it was relaxing and enjoyable. We were relaxed. We were sipping on beers. We were getting stuff done.
Around 5:00, we called it a day and got ready for our “date.” I was soaking in the tub when T came in the bathroom. “Uh…are you going to wear a skirt?” I didn’t really understand why he would want me to get so dressed up. I have to get dressed up everyday for work! I was planning on wearing jeans. I’m dense, OK? When I asked him why, he just smiled. Oh… Well, I didn’t wear a skirt. It was too cold, and I don’t think a skirt and tights was what he had in mind. I did promise him, however, that as soon as the weather warmed up, I would wear nothing but skirts.
Moon River Supper Club
T and I have fallen in love with this little place along the river. Sure, there are classier places to go in the city, but none of them can beat the food at Moon River. It is truly fabulous. The ambiance is second to none, and I mean NONE. It’s like a 1960’s supper club gone horribly wrong! That is one reason we love it so much. The hostess is about 75 years old. Last night, she was dressed in a gold lame jumpsuit. I am not kidding! She is the friendliest old gal, but her voice sounds like 50 years of rough life. It’s a combination of nails on a chalkboard and a sabre saw. I’m fascinated by it, and I smile each time I hear her talking to someone, which is all night long. To make things even better, there is a woman named Darlene who plays a grand piano in the middle of the room. She is a fantastic jazz pianist. Unfortunately, she also sings. 🙂 Darlene is also well into her 70’s. Last night she was shining in a sequin dress. Ah…it was beautiful. T and sat for a while and imagined a list of movies in which the Moon River Supper Club should appear. We had a lovely dinner. Delicious. When we finished, we took a stroll down to look at the river. The water is still very high, and it intrigued us both.
I love to gamble. Those of you who read my previous blog will not be surprised by that! 🙂 T is not much of a gambler, but he does enjoy watching me play slots. I’m not sure why, but that’s OK with me, so off we drove to the casino. Yes, we have a Vegas-style casino plunked down right in the middle of farm country. It’s pathetic. It looks like a Vegas casino from the outside, but when you enter, you immediately know that this isn’t Vegas, baby. What you’ll see is a sea of retired farmers. John Deere hats abound. Almost everyone in attendance is elderly. Yes, there are even showgirls wandering around in their skimpy outfits and huge feathered hats. The poor girls look self-conscious and embarrassed. Sweet girls right off the farm all dressed up on costumes. The whole casino is a bit Twilight Zone-esque. I promptly lost $40 (although I was once up $60) and we decided to leave.
T reminded me several times that I should have quit while I was ahead. Yeah….should have. I never know when to quit.
North Shore Inn
We left the casino and discovered that it had rained in though the sunroof. We had no choice but to plop down on the wet seats. We weren’t ready to go home yet, so we decided to go to another hole in the wall that we like, The North Shore Inn. I guess we were river hopping last night! We had been on the Mississippi, and now we were headed for the Rock River. The North Shore Inn is a cute little place in an unincorporated area of the city. It’s a local hangout, but T and I were not one of the locals.
Our butts were soaking wet by the time we got there. We both looked lke we had wet ourselves. That made us laugh. We went in and sat down at the bar with the locals. As soon as we were seated, a couple came over and asked us if we wanted some mushrooms. uh….. Well, we said no thank you. When they headed out the door, everyone told us that we had made a wise decision not to take their mushrooms. Why?? We were still wondering what kind of mushrooms we had been offered. They were morel mushrooms, but everyone said this couple was charging too much for them. Oh! We enjoyed talking with everyone about the best places to mushroom hunt, and before you know it, a guy was offering us some of his homemade beef jerky. We declined that, too.
It was a funny night of people watching. T and I were enjoying ourselves. While this may not have been the night we had planned, it was turning out to be a lot of fun. That’s when the texts began. Emily wondered when we were heading home. Andrew let us know that he was home from work. Then again, “When are you guys going to be home?” And again… I sent Andrew a text telling him that we will be heading home soon, and he replied, “That’s the third time you have said that. LOL” I guess Mom and Dad were missed at home.
We drove home holding hands and talking. We had had a nice time together. We were happy and not really ready for the night to be over. We were going to head right upstairs to bed once we got home. 🙂
Ah….there’s the rub. Our home. Our home is not conducive to a lovely ending to a lovely night. “Hey! Mom and Dad are home!” Coming home to the kids is worse than coming home many years ago as a teenager to my parents. “C’mon, Mom and Dad. It’s still early. Let’s make some popcorn and watch something together.” Oh boy. How can you deny your kids when they are genuinely happy to see you home?
We didn’t head upstairs to bed. We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and joined the kids in the living room for some family time.
Maybe next weekend…
Late yesterday afternoon, the phone rang in my office. The voice on the other end started right in. She said, “I was calling to get some information on the talk you are presenting on the Mayan calendar.” I had to ask her to repeat herself. She had been talking quite quickly. Did she really say, “Mayan calendar?” Yes, she repeated it all back to me again. “I’m calling about the lecture you’re giving on the Mayan calendar.” Hmmm… What an interesting concept! I wish I would have thought of it. I had to tell her that she had the wrong person. I was NOT giving a talk on the Mayan calendar, but suddenly, I wished that I was.
After I hung up the phone, I went back to what I had been working on, but my mind kept drifting back to the Mayan calendar. What did I know about it? I wondered. Who was the person giving this talk. It sounded interesting, maybe even something I would like to attend.
The bottom drawer of my desk is full of snacks. Currently, I have a box of Hostess Coffee Cakes, a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano Melts, Godiva Chocolate Strawberries, Peanut M&M’s, and Ferrero Rocher. I don’t buy it all, just some of it belongs to me. Several of my colleagues are dieting. They buy their snacks and keep them in my desk drawer. (I’m an enabler.) 🙂 They say it helps them to have to come all the way into my office and only take one thing at a time. I do what I can to help!
After the phone call yesterday, one of the snackers stopped by. I told her about the phone call, and she said, “Well, you’re a microphone whore….(true)…and you’re into the apocalypse….(also true.) Why don’t you go ahead and do it?”
Interesting…. Once I was alone with my thoughts again, I was back to thinking about the Mayan calendar.
Home with the Fam
I told the story of my odd phone call during dinner last night. Before I could even finish, my oldest son interrupted. “Cool, Mom. When are you giving this talk?” Strange… He thought I was actually talking about something that I was going to do! I went on to explain that the phone call had been a mistake, and he seemed disappointed. My oldest daughter chimed in. “Yeah, that would have been so cool, Mom.”
The kids and I began to discuss the subject further. We have decided to do a little research on the subject together. Maybe I eventually will give a talk on the Mayan calendar. I believe it may be my destiny. 🙂 Of course, my husband looked on with that look on his face. He has an amazing tolerance for the craziness that surrounds him. “Oh, the wife and kids are going to study the Mayan calendar. Hey, I think The Bulls are on tonight….” And off he goes.