Sunday, April 28, 2013


Let me tell you about my Friday afternoon: at about 2:45 I was beginning the third hour of a support web-call which should have taken just about 15 minutes but, alas, didn't.  And things were going terribly wrong.  In the midst of this panic, a customer whom I'd meant to get back in touch with two hours earlier called.  This person is someone with whom I'm also really good friends and who is, coincidentally,  the person that for some reason I always go all incompetent and awkward in front of in professional settings (and, y'all know how self-fullfilling that shit is).  At 3:00, I was due another call which I thought was a one-on-one with another customer so I sent a quick email asking if I could put that back 15, at which point I learned that this call would actually be with a roomful of people I wasn't expecting.

At this point, I had headphones in for one call, the phone in my ear for another, and was managing the third via Skype.  I was choking back tears and trying very hard to come off as coolly professional.

And the worst part of it was the nagging voice in the back of my head shouting, "Good god, woman!  You're not curing cancer!"  It was this odd compounded feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed and feeling guilty that I felt so overwhelmed and guilty over things that aren't exactly life and death stuff.

In the meantime, it seems like parents are fleeing from Laney's school right and left for reasons I can't fathom.  I'm told it's likely down to the violence of city life, which makes me think I should feel worried about the violence.  But not only do I not perceive any more violence in the world, instead it feels like rather less than when I was coming up.  And this, of course, makes me feel stressed and guilty that I'm missing something fundamental about how Laney's getting educated.

And then there's all that debt that we're working so hard to pay off.  We're halfway there, so I should feel very proud and accomplished, but instead I just feel broke because even if I were perceiving levels of violence that made me want to move Laney to the burbs, we couldn't afford to do it.  And, to continue the theme, I feel guilty that I'm feeling stressed about something that we are, in fact, handling quite well.

On top of all of that. and despite believing that the world is less dangerous than it was (a fact which is, by the way, backed up by the data), we're still living in a world where the criminally stupid like these fucking idiots think that the only thing standing between themselves and tyranny is their right to show up in a crowd of people, people who DON'T KNOW WHO THEY ARE, with the same hardware described by Samuel L Jackson in Jackie Brown as "for when you absolutely positively GOT to kill every motherfucker in the room."

And that stresses me out.  And then makes me feel stressed out that I'm letting idiots like that stress me out.

But, here's what I think: being alive is stressful.  I reckon even Ann Romney, who is the Platonic idea of blithe entitlement, probably feels stressed out a lot.  I have lots of stress tools - I like a large whiskey at the end of the day (I acknowledge this is likely not the best stress-management tool).  I thought running would be good, but goddamn if my back and knees aren't ALWAYS killing me now.  Piano helps.  I like a good book.

But in the end, I feel like I could handle the stress if I could just let go of the notion that I *should* be handling the stress.  I can't let go of feeling like I should be able to just, you know, let go of feeling like I can let it go.

It is so weird in my head.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let's Have Lunch.

I went to Au Bon Pain to get some soup since I haven't been to the grocery store since the pleistocene era.  Laney's only managed to survive since both Don and I always buy at least three boxes of pasta whenever we go to the grocery store, so we've stockpiled about 7000 boxes of whole wheat thin spaghetti. Only Laney eats the whole wheat kind.  Don and I think it's gross. This is either really good or really bad parenting.  Regardless, I went to Au Bon Pain for lunch in the hopes they would have their Corn and Green Chili bisque.  Which they did.  Score.

On the escalator going up at the Merchandise Mart, there was a woman behind me who was having one of those "Ohmigod!  I didn't see you! It's been so long!" conversations with a guy sitting at a table on the first floor.  He seemed to kind of expect her to come back down and chat but she demurred with "On my way to a business meeting."

Doesn't "business meeting" seem kind of redundant?  Are there other kinds of meetings still in the world?  So, I figured the guy at the table was one of her husband's friends and she was off to a engage in the tawdriest of lunchtime quickies with her luvaaaah.  And then I realized that the Merchandise Mart isn't probably the best place for a lunchtime quickie and also that there's a Weight Watchers meeting (see: MEETING) at the Apparel Center across the way so he was probably an ex-boyfriend and she was off to Weight Watchers.  I preferred the tawdry lunchtime quickie idea though.  Made me feel a little like an extra in a soap opera.

Remember soap operas?  I was a Guiding Light gal.  Now soap operas are gone and everyone just watches the goddamn Housewives.  I can't with those shows.  I barely tolerate amateur assholes.  Once they turn professional, I'm done.  I miss the Quartermaines*.

On the way back to my office I passed a lady who was wearing a long denim skirt and I thought she might have been a sister wife, but she was wearing too much makeup.  So, I guess there's no heinous fashion trend from the 80s that doesn't eventually make it back around.  I'm just going to start wearing my blush like Pat Benatar.

There.  Now it's just like we had lunch together!

*I know the Quartermaines were General Hospital.  But I couldn't think of the big family name on Guiding Light.  Or All My Children.  And, by god,  I watched them ALL.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Internet Down... Wrote This on my Phone

Shortly after my father died...

Look, I'm taking an aside to tell you this is not going to be one of those weepy introspective dead father posts. I aim neither to depress you nor impress you by waxing rhapsodic over the acmes of my grief. There will be no tears tonight. I haven't cried all week, as a matter of fact, which is some kind of record for me. Of course, it's my birthday week. That's right. I said "week." There's no crying during my birthday week. During my birthday week, everyone is supposed to tell me I'm pretty and buy me drinks. Good drinks, you understand? You can keep your Budweiser and off-brand vodka. I'll have something expensive, bitches! (I'm actually not sure how this migrated from reassuring my three readers that I'm not going to get all depressing to ordering them to buy me drinks. But, let's go with it because, hey, free drinks!).

Where was I?

...Ah yes.

Shortly after my father died, I went to his office to pick up some of his stuff. After we left, one of his colleagues walked us out to the car and stood patiently waiting for me to get a hold of myself (FYI: when your parent dies, people will stand patiently and wait until you're ready to wipe all the runny mascara and snot off your face. They will not even comment when you remain snotty). Once I was done, he said "I just wanted to tell you that your father always made time for the people he worked with. If someone came into his office with a question, he would stop and listen. He was a really good man and we're going to miss him a lot." (all right, I'm getting a little weepy now... but in a minute I'm turning this ship around to focus it back on me, and then we'll all be just delighted because it is my birthday week and you are constitutionally obliged to find me delightful. Look it up. I'm pretty sure it's in the same version of the Constitution that Michelle Bachman uses because that is one cuh-razy Constitution!)

Roger Ebert, who you know died yesterday, had a similarly kind, collegial reputation. Check out this great great great article about him from Will Leitch (

Both of those men really lived good lives. They both lived up to Charlotte's Web. Of course, you know what I'm talking about... that quote at the end that I like so much? You know. You don't know? Jesus Christ, you guys, I don't write this stuff for my health. I expect you to remember it. God. I bet you haven't bought my birthday drink yet either. I just don't know what .... Fine. Here's the quote:

"We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.”

(FYI - you just got a little taste of what it's like to live with me. You might want to buy Don a drink while you're at it)

I've thought about this a lot since I grew up (I grew up around 40... now I'm just growing out! HAHAHAHA! Middle-age jokes are the best): I'd really like to be in a profession where I'm lifting myself up by helping people. I often wish I were doing good, important work like my father did. Like Roger Ebert did. But instead I do a job in which I draw a salary that enables me to continue paying down the massive debt we accrued adopting Laney.

Poor, poor me, right?

Oof - so much bullshit, such slight bloggery! Because even if I'm not making my living taking care of the mentally ill like my father, or writing about art like Roger Ebert, or teaching like my mother did, I can still strive for honest collegiality. I can still aim to be kind and open and willing to help the people around me. We all can.

It's something I'll try harder to do. Next week. As I think I've made it abundantly clear that this week is my birthday week so it's on you to do the heavy lifting. And drink buying. I've heard good things about the Moscow Mule! Let's get on it! (