Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Classic Family Moment

Several weeks ago I went to a meeting in town of parents looking to get some additional services in the schools for their kids. It was an interesting meeting. Afterwards, I called my mom to ask what she remembered about some similar services I received in school as a youngster. We had a good conversation, reassuringly so. My relationship with my mom can be quite a roller coaster. At the end of the conversation, she promised to think on it more and send me some links.

Late last Tuesday, I opened that email from her. I replied thanking her for her effort, and that I probably would be putting the issue on hold for a while as I looked for a new job since the company I was working for had shut down and I was laid off. I didn't hear back, but that's kind of par for the course. I figured we'd talk shortly - it's the holiday season and all that.

On Christmas Eve, my niece called to tell me about losing her front tooth. It was a funny and sweet conversation; she was so, so excited. Then she said Grandma was there and wanted to talk to me.

So Mom gets on the phone and we do our Merry Christmases and all that. I asked if she'd seen my email. Mom said, "Yes, I did."

And that was it.

She didn't say another word.

Then, "Well, I've got to go. Let me pass you on to your brother."


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Next Day

Goodness, what a 24 hours.

After the initial shock of the announcement in the boardroom yesterday morning, we all set about gathering our things, sharing contact info, downloading any personal information off our computers and saying good-bye. My exit interview was short and to the point. There is some severance and I’ll be able to file for unemployment. Just as I was leaving, several people were saying they had already received calls from recruiters, and one was “learning more” about a short-term contract.

I left the office at 1:30. I made a couple of stops on the way home and by 4PM was on the rowing machine, completing my Holiday Challenge (200K version). I let myself take a non-environmentally-friendly long, hot shower. Then it was time to pick up the kids, get them dinner, and when my husband arrived home, off to a Christmas gathering for the Sunday school teachers at church and a large cup of spiked eggnog.

I slept fitfully last night, even though I believe that it will all work out somehow. My husband is supportive.

The people with whom I was working are great people. I felt very optimistic about this team of people and what we could have accomplished. I think that optimism clouded my ability or willingness to see the signs of catastrophe from the greater organizations. Signs like not restocking the coffee in the kitchen consistently and no holiday gathering and not reprinting business cards since moving into the new (bright, shiny, no-expense-spared down to custom-made wallpaper) offices two months ago. I thought maybe we’d have a few more weeks, or maybe there would be a change in the management team. I didn’t expect it like it happened. And I wanted to believe it could and would turn around.

As I have told people about the end of my job, most people comment on the timing – just one week before Christmas. Truth is, the timing is never good for this kind of thing. No matter how it is handled, it sucks. And I think it sucks worse for other people. The guy in the cubicle next to me had been there two or three weeks, forgoing a yearly bonus at his old company to join us. And Monday was his welcome lunch. Seriously.

I feel anxious about the job search process because of my schedule. I work part-time, very specific days and hours, and it’s hard to go into an interview with that kind of need. But I’ll start working contacts I have, and try to stay positive. Tomorrow I am going to have lunch with two of my now former coworkers and hopefully our now former manager. I’ll also run a couple of errands I’d been wondering how I would complete with our usual crazy schedule.

Life goes on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Remarkably Perky

For a group of people who have just lost their jobs a week before Christmas, we are a remarkably perky bunch. At least now we know what is going on.

My company is going out of business. It was announced at 10:30 this morning, and I'll be out the door shortly.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that.


Ever feel like you have nothing of value to add, even though you are extremely busy and much is going through your brain?

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Rule!

So that gift bags may be reused (recycling!), no more writing “To Cousin Neville, Happy Festivus from Aunt Bessie” on the bag itself. Use a gift tag.


Monday, December 10, 2007


In early September, 1990, my husband (then fiance) and I adopted two kittens from the local humane society. These kittens were in adjacent cages at the shelter, but not litter mates. One, a noisy aggressive female tabby, was the last one of a litter that had been brought in by a family overrun with animals, and the other, a scrawny timid black and white male, had been a stray picked up off the streets of the nearby city. The female we named Zoe and the male we named Seymour.

Although Zoe was the bigger kitten, Seymour was the older kitten – about 12 weeks old by the shelter’s estimate to Zoe’s 8 weeks. Seymour was so skinny that you could feel every vertebra in his back. He was overrun with parasites. His coat was dull and patchy. I think our vet was surprised that we adopted him as it took literally months to get him healthy.

Seymour’s life on the streets must have been hard. We could not walk up to him when he was sitting on the floor for months (he’d run away terrified) and it was years before we could walk up to him when wearing shoes. His access to food clearly was sketchy when he was a stray because whenever we put food out, he ate every last morsel as if he had no idea when he’d eat again. As a result, by Christmas of 1990, Seymour was 18 pounds of black and white fur and we’d begun feeding Zoe on top of the ‘fridge (Seymour couldn’t jump he was so fat).

Seymour’s early poor nutrition also resulted in some neurological deficits. He is just the sweetest guy ever, but not the brightest bulb. We used to joke about looking in his big eyes and seeing synapses misfiring behind them. There’s just a vacancy to his gaze, but in a very adorable way.

Over the years, Seymour had his ups and downs. We tried letting the cats outside at our various residences, but Seymour was hit by a car shortly after we started that experiment. Clearly he survived that accident (summer of 1991), but he was an indoor cat from then on (in spite of escape attempts).

Seymour has lived in eight houses in three states, enduring five inter-state moves. He’s been terrified by and finally accepted three babies and a dog. He’s had tuna for Christmas dinner, and ice cream when we weren’t looking. He slimmed down, and became a mouser at the age of 14. He purrs when you look at him, and licks your hand like he’s a puppy. His coat is silky and shiny and he grooms often.

Zoe died two years ago, and since then, Seymour has relished his role as top cat. He tries to dominate the dog, swatting at her from behind the gate. He meowed more in the first six months after Zoe died than he had in the previous 15 ½ years combined. He’s taken back the top of our bed as his own personal lounging and sleeping space, sometimes giving us humans sideways sneers as we climb in at night. He’s slowly lost weight over the years to the point that he’s now on the skinny side again.

He’s lived a good life, really.

So last week when I looked at him and felt the sense that he was slowing down a bit, I wasn’t surprised, really. He is 17 ½ years old. I was feeling sadness for this turn in his life and a little acceptance, thinking about our time together. I told the kids some stories (remind me to write down the story of the squirrels and the shrimp sometime). I gave him more scratches.

Last Thursday, however, we noticed that Seymour’s lower jaw was swollen. I picked up my scrawny (again) kitty and took a close look at his mouth. A tooth was missing (lower left canine), and there was evidence of bleeding. Instantly I suspected that he had knocked out the tooth recently and some infection was making the jaw swell. This was the reason for the change in his appearance, the change in his manner.

On Friday, I took Seymour into the veterinarian’s office. While the vet agreed that the swelling could be the result of infection from the tooth, he did warn me that the tooth might have been lost due to some other underlying condition. He prescribed antibiotics, and then we talked about Seymour’s eating habits.

Seymour hasn’t been eating well for a while, but still has been a reasonable weight until recently. Neither wet nor dry food interested him much – a far change from his first six months with us. His water intake and relative hydration was fine, however. The vet tried heating up a bit of wet food to see if Seymour was interested in that – and yes, oh yes, he was. We left with some sample (ultra pricey) wet food, antibiotics, and hopes that our Seymour would be feeling better in a few days.

It didn’t take days. It took about 36 hours to see a difference. Several doses of antibiotics, several meals of warmed up wet cat food, reduction in the swelling and Seymour is a new cat. He’s 12 or 13 all over again. His eyes are brighter, though still a little vacant. He’s vocalizing and purring more loudly. It’s wonderful.

And I feel like crap.

I feel terrible that I didn’t think of the food thing, and that I didn't notice the swelling sooner. I feel so guilty that I started thinking about Seymour leaving us before his time – before it needed to be his time. I feel awful that I started letting go too soon. He’s been such a good pal to me for many years, and he deserves better than that.

I'm giving him more scratches - it seems like the only thing I can do right now. I hope he'll forgive me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Quote of the Day

C said to me in the car just now:

"I really want to get serious about cake decorating. It's my destiny."

Someone has been watching too much Duff.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here We Go Again

C has a broken toe. Another one. This one is the result of that insecure kid shoving him into a wall on Monday.

Some contact with school administration has been initiated.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Too Far

No one is so important that they need to bring their Blackberry into the restroom and continue working on it.

I'm just saying.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Persona Non Grata

If the GM really does trade away my favorite rookie, I (and many others) will be seriously pissed off. If the trade goes through this week, the GM should just stay in Nashville and manage from afar. He will not be welcome in his own hometown.

This isn't like 2004 when he traded away Mr. Superstitious. Sure, that one was stunning at the start, but the validity of that trade became apparent within days. And rumors of discord in the locker room had been leaking for quite sometime. It was something that had to happen eventually.

This time, however, there is only love in the Nation for this rookie, and a very good one at that. So much joy for the game, so much energy, so much potential. He is so good for baseball in general and our team in particular. And since he'll still technically be a rookie next season, we might be able to have back-to-back rookies of the year.

I'm not saying the ace in question isn't worth trading for - he is. But not a trade at any price. And the rookie from Oregon is too high a price.

Maybe the GM is worried about the pressure on the rookie to live up to potential as a player and as a franchise symbol, especially in such a sports-crazy town. It's a valid concern. But let the kid prove himself, because my gut says he will - and with class and dignity. Give him the whole shot at the Big Show.

Kid Bits


C was in a choral performance on Saturday night. The local community chorus is directed by the music director from our church, so he asked the youth choir to sing with the community choir in one of their twice yearly concerts.

The concert was really lovely. I was and am very proud of him. Melodies are still gliding around in my head.

Choir music is not something with which I am very familiar. Although my mother has/had a lovely operatic voice, our church growing up didn’t have a choir or anything. Sure, hymns were sung, and the main service had a soloist, but no groups of church members singing, young or old. One of my favorite things about our church now is the music program. C really enjoys it, M can’t wait to join junior choir next year, and I love sitting in the pews listening. That C can have the experience of singing with a larger, more accomplished group and in front of a fairly sizable audience is wonderful. And next Sunday they are heading up into the city to sing at a downtown church as part of the outreach program.


On Friday night, M slept over at a friends house. The next morning, A, the mom, told me a funny story. I should preface this by saying that we tend to be a pretty snugly family, and we know this family quite well.

(Several years ago, when P and M were still in preschool, A and my husband arrived at about the same time for pick up. P spotted his mom and his friend’s dad first and went running toward them. M followed close behind. A held out her arms for a hug. My husband did, too. P zoomed right past A and literally jumped into my husband’s arms before anyone realized what was happening. We still laugh about that day.)

Friday night was quite windy. M and his friend P had set up for the night in the playroom. They had made a fort and slept in sleeping bags. Sometime in the wee hours, M got up, walked upstairs and crawled into bed next to A (J, the dad, was out of town). A barely roused and assumed that it was her own P climbing in with her and went back to sleep. Sometime later, P appeared at the bedside and woke up A. P told his mom that he really wanted to be with her, but also didn’t want to leave M downstairs alone. At this point A roused slightly more, looked over and saw my M in his bright striped PJs next to her. Surprised but still mostly asleep, A pulled P in between her and M and they all went back to sleep.

A was very amused when she really woke up the next morning, and had to really think back to what happened. P and M woke up with P tightly hugging M. P thought it was his brother next to him.

It’s so sweet to see that they are still little boys, not growing up too, too fast.


We’ve been having some bedtime struggles with S. I think it’s related to it being about time to give up the afternoon nap (*I* am not ready for that), or it could be something else. Regardless, we’ve been having issues with her making lots of noise in her room well past lights-out.

One night last week, S started calling out around 9:00. Lights had been out for about half an hour already, and I was a little annoyed. After a few minutes, I went in, ready to be fairly stern. S said, “I just want my stingray,” and pointed to a plush stingray on the high shelf above her bed on which we put most stuffed animals and such. Rather than fight her, I decided to just get it and give it to her. As I gave her the stingray, I told her it was time for sleep, no more playing, I love you and good-night.

S clutched the stuffed stingray tightly to her chest and started saying in her high, sing-songy voice, “Oooh, stingray. Nice stingray. I love you soooo much, stingray.”

I never knew a fish could be so cuddly.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Not Ready

Last night when I picked up C from the middle school dance, I saw a boy and girl walking down the hall holding hands.

I am so not ready for this.