And So It Goes…

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I am really beginning to feel at home in the new office.  The bowl of lemons were a hit.  I enjoyed watching the reactions of people as they noticed the bright yellow lemons in the bright orange bowl.  Some people stared at them, but didn’t say a word.  Other people asked, “What’s with the lemons?” as soon as they walked in my door.  I would seriously recommend that everyone have a bowl of lemons in their life!  They smelled wonderful, like a citrusy burst of sunshine.  I could feel my spirits lift whenever my I glanced in their direction.  The color was beautifully refreshing amid the drab muted colors of an office.  Thank you, Seasweetie, for this bit of spiritual advice.

I like the color of the new office, too.  It isn’t a very pretty color, kind of a dark taupe, but it is a good color to sink into.  It feels calming.  I never liked color of the old office.  It was light blue, and I always felt bad vibes from that color.  Weird, huh, but whenever I really looked at that blue color, it felt hectic.  It was a busy color, better suited for a surgical suite or an IRS office.

The coolest thing of all is that my new office is in the portion of City Hall that was once the city jail.  The picture above isn’t from my office, but it was taken in the office on the floor above mine.  The upstairs still has a couple of the original jail cell doors in place.  I’ve done a little research about the history of the building, and my office space is in what was once the women’s’ holding cell.  I love that! I wonder what would land a woman in jail in the early 1900’s?

Other than adjusting to the new office, there wasn’t a lot of  good about my day.  My intern is truly about the stupidest girl I have ever encountered.  I could do a “Post a Day” on the things that girl says and does.  The crazy, angry man was at it again today, too.  He would also qualify for a “Post a Day.”  I had a good long talk with the Chief of Police this afternoon.  I feel a lot better after talking to him, although there isn’t much that can be done at this point.  The Chief did offer some great advice to pass along to the concerned business owners.

The gloomy skies and cold weather have been  mirroring my mood these past few days.  Unsettled weather is what you would call it, and it fits.  What I need is warming sunshine and soft breezes.  I have been working too hard, not feeling well, not sleeping well, thinking too much, and it is taking its toll on me this week.  I was so tired driving home tonight. It frightened me as I struggled to stay awake.   Most days, I enjoy the drive home, but today it felt lonely.  The sky was gray.  The songs on my iPod were depressing.

My phone rang when I was almost home.  It was Emily.  My spirits lifted the moment I heard her voice.  My Emily.  My sunshine.  She was all in a dither.  She had plans tonight with the new boyfriend.  She had just found out that the plans included swimming.  She was freaking out about him seeing her in a bikini.  (REALLY…how reassuring is that!?)  This is probably the first boy who has ever made her act like this.  I’m not sure how to explain it.  She glows, giggles, frets, and worries.  This boy is sweet and cute….AND he’s an older man.  He just turned 20.  While that made T and I cringe initially, they are following our rules.  Em met him while volunteering at the Red Cross.  He is an Eagle Scout.  His mother even stopped by and talked to T at work about the “situation.”  She wanted to make sure that her son had our blessing and to let us know that she was also going to monitor things, too.

I talked to Em until I pulled into the driveway.  One thing is for sure, no matter how tired I am while driving home, I wake right up when I walk in the door.  I have no choice.  Most days, someone is out the door of the house before I’m even out of the car.  Lola ran out.  Pepper the Wondercat was sitting in the windowsill meowing at me, and Em was waiting right inside the door.  She looked so beautiful, excited, and happy.  There was nothing special to have made her so beautiful at that moment, but I was in awe.  She wasn’t dressed up, and her hair was in a messy bun, but she was glowing with happiness, which made me feel happy for the first time all day.  I took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen.  LOUD.  My house is always loud.  Everyone was there.  What’s for dinner?  Who is staying here for dinner?  Who will be coming over for dinner?  I never know from one day to the next who, what, or how many.

Andrew was leaving to play a show at a coffee house.  Em was leaving on her date.  Luke’s girlfriend would be here any moment. Tonight there were five of us for dinner.  It’s  a different mix each day.  It keeps things interesting.  There is never any monotony in this house.  I long for a day or two of monotony.

After dinner, I crept upstairs to lie down for a while.  The house had settled down.  Luke and Shannon had taken Lola into the TV room to watch Indiana Jones.  The TV room connects to my bedroom by the back staircase, and I could hear them in the room below me.  As I listened to the three of them in the TV room, I thought about what wonderful parents Luke and Shannon will someday be.  They are two amazing young people.  Best friends, first and only loves, they have been inseparable for four years now.  Shannon will be joining Luke at Marquette in the fall.  They will be living in the same dorm.  I’ve been teasing them all summer about getting married since they’re attending the same school.  It would save us a bundle in tuition!  Of course, I don’t mean it.  I’m proud of the plans they have in place for their lives.  They have it all charted and planned out.  I hope it works for them, but I also know that life rarely goes according to our plans.

Exhausted as I was, I merely drifted in and out of sleep.  I was dreaming dreams that only added to my exhaustion.  I was unable to find the peace I was seeking.  I had wanted a quick, refreshing nap while everyone was occupied, but instead my solitude only magnified  my worries.  A text from Andrew.  He was on his way home, so I went back downstairs to wait for him.

Andrew came home in a good mood.  “Want to watch a little King of the Hill before bed, Mom?”  I poured a  Special Pepsi (Bacardi and Pepsi with a nice slice of lime) and made some popcorn.  Shannon went home, and Luke joined us.  Emily wandered in, too, happy from a wonderful evening.  My kids and King of the Hill, T sleeping in a chair, that is my life right now.  Once again, I settled in and allowed Hank and Peggy to relieve my stress and lift my spirits.

So much is unsettled.  So much is confusing.  So many things are on my mind.  And so it goes…

That’s What She Said…

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Know what?  I am supposed to be a professional.  That is a fact that I sometimes have to sit myself down and reprimand and remind myself of.  Most of the people who I work with on a daily basis know that I am a free spirit (i.e.  A bit loopy.)  In fact, we are a fairly irreverent group.   Most of us have a few skeletons rattling around in our closets.  There are no secrets in our office, and I mean that  NONE!  Yet, we all have a great deal of respect for each other.  Within the larger department of about a dozen people, I feel a complete sense of freedom to BE ME.  Outside of those office boundaries, however, I have to wear that veneer of professionalism.  It’s like a cape that we all put on as we head out of the door.

Today I began the move to a new office suite.  Yes.  I am giving up “The World’s Best Office.”  It is a little freaky, because I am moving back to a remodeled version of my old office.  Nothing about it looks the same, but it IS the same space.  Too many emotions and events that I would prefer NOT to remember occurred in my life during the time that I was once in that space.  (Seasweetie, I could use some advice here on smudge pots and herbs to clear the sad/negative spirits!!)  I am hoping that the NEW ME who is moving back into the newly remodeled office space will stomp down any lingering bad vibes.

My (really, really awful) intern packed up all of the files and folders.  The  IT department moved the computers at 2:30 this afternoon.  We were all ready for the union workers from  Public Works to do the heavy lifting at 3:30.  I will add here that I think this entire process has been terribly bureaucratic and inefficient.  There are plenty of us to move a few cabinets and desks, but we would catch holy hell if we were to have done it ourselves.  The union reps would have filed a grievance if salaried staff would have taken on a union task.  As it is, I am probably going to be in BIG TROUBLE because I used Windex to clean off my desk.  I was caught red-handed by Public Works staff, and I was called out on it, too!  “I would have cleaned that for you!”  Uh….I didn’t know what to say.  Well, yeah, I did.  I didn’t want to wait three hours for them to get around to it, when all I wanted to do was set my stuff back on a clean desk!

On top of the office move, which is still not complete, I had to give a presentation at City Council tonight.  Today felt like one of those days when I was going in about fifty directions all at once.  Everyone wanted something from me, and no one was giving a damn thing.  Oh…par for the course.   I wasn’t feeling all that great, and it always interests me that my brain has the ability to take over and force my body to function even when all I want to do is curl up and sleep.  When I feel like crashing, or at least taking a nap,  I somehow find the energy and strength to do what needs or must be done.  Of course, that ability has a limited duration.  That’s why I crash each weekend into the Napping Blob.

So, I got a little goofy this afternoon, or I almost did.  It was late in the afternoon.  I was frustrated, tired, and standing in the middle of a mess when all I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap.  “Where does this go?”  “Where do you want this cabinet?”  Really…I don’t care, but oh….it’s my job to care.  OK.  Act like a professional.

I stood there talking with one of the workers from Public Works.  She was measuring the wall space for a large shelf that was going to be the next item to be moved.  As we talked, she pulled the metal tape out of the tape measure over and over.  I watched her, and realized that I would have done the same thing if I had been holding it.  For some reason, her actions mesmerized me.  I made her nervous, and that made me feel bad.  Really, I could be a janitor.  There was a time when I would have thought that was ALL I could be.  She is just a woman.  So am I.  Essentially, there is no difference, but to her, there was all the difference in the world.  I hated that.  In that moment, I really hated that.  I wished I could take her out for dinner or lunch and tell her that I AM NOT LIKE THAT.  I wanted to tell her about MY history, then she would know.  I knew what it was like to feel like LESS.

For over three years I have known this woman.  I have tried to be her friend.  I admire her.  She is a breast cancer survivor.  She is a brain cancer survivor.  She is a widow.  She is a mother.  Her life is not, has not, been easy.  For three years, I have tried to show her respect.  At least I hope she feels that much.  For three years, I have tried to be her friend, but she will not allow it.  I am a different pay grade.  I am salaried.   I don’t dress like she does.  I don’t lift, and mop, and haul.  (Ha!  I do, just not at work!)  She won’t allow my friendship, and it drives me nuts.  Why?  I think I scare her.  She is always polite, but with reservations.  Why?  Believe me, I am not scary.  I don’t try to be scary!

As we stood there talking, another worker came into my office.  They debated the shelf placement.  I watched them.  She was relaxed talking to him.  Although, she still  kept pulling the tape out over and over.  She referenced the tape measure.  The previous afternoon, she had needed one as we discussed furniture placement.  She said to her co-worker, “I’m glad you brought your bag of tools over last night.”

I about lost it.  I almost burst out laughing and said, “That’s what she said!”  I had to leave the room.  In fact, I grabbed my keys and left the building.  I couldn’t hold it in!  Maybe it was because I was so damn tired, but I felt like a middle-schooler.  I had to call T.  Our family has been regularly watching The Office.  As any Office viewer knows, Micheal Scott’s favorite phrase is “That’s what she said….”  It’s now something that is heard often, no…..constantly….in our house.  We all jump at the chance to use “That’s what she said…”  It’s become the family game, and today, I almost blurted it out.

Maybe I should have said it, but it would have cracked that veneer of professionalism.  What stopped me?  I have thought about that ever since I walked away instead of just saying what popped into my head.  I chose to walk away instead of be myself.  Yes, I called T and laughed.  I called my son, Andrew, too, but why didn’t I just say it?  Why did I maintain the space between us.  I’m not sure if I am proud of myself or if I am ashamed.  Maybe tomorrow, I will tell her.  Maybe I will share my joke.  I know it would make her smile.  As I think about it, I wonder if it is me who is afraid.  Maybe I am afraid that I will not be accepted back into the world where I once felt that I belonged.