Monday, September 29, 2008

simple pleasures will keep me from losing my mind, right?

Yesterday I slept in until noon, took a two-hour nap, went to bed at 11 and woke up at 8 am this morning. Why so much sleep? I have no idea. Probably to recover from overscheduling myself with work and to gear up for the late nights ahead.

Cc has been in town the last two weeks for business. For my birthday, she took me out for a FABULOUS facial/massage at Bliss Spa, we chatted till the wee hours of the morning just like old times and today I'm going to have lunch with her at the Walnut Room at what used to be Marshall Field's, where we'd go every holiday season to try and get a jump on our Christmas shopping. I'm sad she's leaving, but happy we were able to spend quality time even though both of us are so busy.

Last week, I snuck out of work to go to Daley Plaza and catch Son de Madera perform an afternoon show. I met up with My Favorite Mami and her two-year-old, Adriana. And H stepped out of the office to say hello, too. I had been so stressed out with work stuff that the extended lunch was just what I needed. Seeing those guys just made my day, and I think I was much more productive for the rest of the afternoon. I'm thinking Adriana's wanting to hold my hand for a whole city block had a lot to do with my good mood.

Last weekend, my parents and their friends were in the city for a wedding. I really like my mom's friends, and it's always nice to see them. They came to our place (unfortunately we had to hang on the patio because there were two showings) and my dad let me use his car while they were at the reception. (When you don't have a car, going to a big-box store is a treat. Sad, I know.) H keeps several boxes of his stuff from California at my parents' house, and the more it looks like we might be staying, the more he was itching to install his speaker system. So we drove to suburbia to pick it up. And visit Target, where we stayed three hours looking at EVERYTHING and spent more than we probably should have. But that's what happens anytime I go there, no matter how long it's been.

The speaker system is cool, but now there are three mind-boggling remotes to operate the television, mythbox and receiver. Only recently had I figured out how to use the two we had! But it's probably better that I can't get the sound to work on the tv—I got to work more than an hour earlier than usual because I wasn't distracted by the morning news.

So while things become even more uncertain in the coming weeks, I'm going to lean on family, friends and food to stay afloat. But it'd be really nice if I can figure out how to use the remote controls.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

me in grown-ups' clothing

It's been extremely difficult to concentrate lately. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty to do and even more to worry about (three-person operation may go to two-person in the not-so-distant future). And I'm near the beginning and definitely at the end of the line—there's no one to take any hand-offs. Oh, and in the meantime I'm supposed to be chasing down other employment accommodations for the future.

Today I've been making Very Important Decisions that my boss would have handled if she were still here. And I feel a little like a fraud telling people what to do. I mean, I get it, but I feel like a kid at the adult table—grabbing a turkey leg in my fist will get the job done, but it would destroy any credibility I have. Besides, I'm not certain which silverware to use and I'm too short to see what everyone else at the table is doing (which is my tactic in real-life dining situations). So instead I'm following Highcon's advice: Be authoritative in what you do and just figure it out as you go along. Right.

If I bury my head in a pile of yarn and mindless television, will the situation resolve itself by the time I come up for air?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy 26th, brother

Two days ago, you texted me a photo of your brand-new Alabama license. And I was thrilled—I'm always one for candid shots: especially the birthday-cake one of you and Dad that so perfectly captures the mischievous twinkle in his eye because he knows you're annoyed and your expression of Oh-my-God-DAD-I-am-not-five-years-old-anymore. That is one of my most treasured photos.

But the work of art the Department of Motor Vehicles has put onto plastic for all time is truly awesome. At first glance I thought you looked like a criminal, perhaps someone picked up for swiping a powdered munchkin from Dunkin' Donuts or loitering in a K-Mart parking lot, but after a moment I realized that this is the exact expression that comes over your face when you have had quite enough and decide to check out of the listening portion of a sermon by Mom, Dad or myself. It's precisely the face you make 2.5 seconds before you take an enormously long pause, say "Ok, I gotta go" and get the hell out of the house. I can even hear the sullenness of your making that face when I lecture you over the telephone.

Those people at the DMV must have really hassled you that day.

But you're a big boy, now. All grown up with your own life in your own region of the United States. It saddens me that I can no longer predict what you might be doing at any time of the day like I used to. Now I can only guess: 6 pm on a Tuesday? He's sitting on the couch with his cherry-flavored Sonic whateveritis and watching the Cubs game on MLB-dot-com. 8:30 am Sunday morning? Still sleeping with his eyes open and would be cranky as all hell if you try and call. 5:45 Friday evening? Probably playing bags and knocking back a beer with his friends.

Now that you're working full-time and taking care of business, there's little time for idle chit chat. I'm swamped, too. So opportunities to sit around and shoot the shit are rare. We're overscheduled and live nearly a thousand miles away from each other. And long gone are the boring summer days when you'd say, Wanna watch a movie? and tell me I could choose, and then proceed to veto everything I'd suggest. Yeah, THAT was the most frustrating thing about my day back then.

The other night, H was in the bedroom and I was on the couch and we were throwing a baseball-shaped stress ball back and forth through the doorway. I was terrible, hitting the doorjamb or the ceiling often, and I kept telling him how awesome my aim and catching skills were back in the day when you and I would toss that mini football around for hours in the family room so often that it became misshapen, looking more like a squat, rounded rectangle than a football. It got so bad that we finally had to retire it when too much stuffing came poking out of a seam that was falling apart.

I don't even know what you tell people your favorite movie is anymore (but we both know it really still is Home Alone). All these years, you've had little to do with the Indian stuff that I hold so dear, but you called Mom the other day to ask how to make tea, and I laughed. It's only a matter of time before the call about how to make dal. I wonder if you still hold your mug around the barrel instead of by the handle, like you do at home to keep your hands warm on chilly mornings. Or if you ever hover over the floor vent like you did every time the central heat would kick in. But I guess those habits are probably not necessary in a land where it never snows.

I'm immensely proud of you and all that you've accomplished so far. I'm happy that you're steady on your own two feet and I know you'll continue to make us proud. But I miss you, brother. And I wish I could say Happy Birthday to you in person with a hug. Because no matter how grown-up and successful you get, this is how you'll always look to me:

Sometime in late 1983 or early 1984, at our 316 house with the long gravel driveway, before it had that crazy neon green siding. You were a tiny one-year-old (look how big that pacifier is in comparison!), running past the rosebush toward the camera and holding something you probably weren't supposed to have.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

seeing a rainbow through the downpour

Last Thursday, as my boss was packing up her stuff, helping interview candidates for her position and saying goodbye, our biggest client called to say that it's canceling its use of our product. This is devastating news for a now-three-person startup that relies on that client for nearly 100% of its overhead costs. There are some other avenues that can still be pursued, but in the worst-case scenario, I'll need a new job by November.

It's last year, all over again, except without the cushion of savings to fall back on.

This morning I read a post by Anne, who's going through a very rough time in her life right now and could easily despair. But instead, she took 15 minutes to list the things that she's grateful for. It was a good reminder that losing a job is one thing, but I shouldn't lose sight of the wonderful things I do have:

My brother is healthy; his leg surgery seems to have healed well, and he's turning 26 on Friday!

My parents have their health, they are safe, secure and would do anything for me. I pray that I will never be forced to ask.

has been reassuring, even physically shaking me out of believing this is some kind of karmic retaliation I had coming. His family even called in concern when they saw my twitter about the bad news.

My friends have been incredibly wonderful and supportive. My freak-out email was met with concerned phone calls, job-opening recommendations and requests for my resume.

I am in good health.

I have a roof over my head and food to eat and a lot of modern luxuries in daily life. I don't have a car payment, and can walk pretty much wherever I need to go.

Even if I must switch careers, I have worked in several facets of my industry, including a place I visited during school and said, "I'm going to work here someday." So I can leave with no regrets.

I don't have any poisonous relationships, and have done my best to reduce the baggage I carry from those I've had in the past.

I'm grateful for all of you, who have offered up so much support over the years. You're the best.

There are many more, but unfortunately we won't be hiring another person, so I have more work to do and it's not going anywhere. If posting here is sporadic, forgive me, but it's likely to be more frequent: This is where I like to come and complain. So forgive me for that, too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

be nice: that intern could have a say in hiring you someday

I'm no stranger to working holidays. The dungeon never sleeps, so I spent nearly every holiday of the two years I worked there at the office. That was especially hard on Christmas Eve, but people do what they have to do to pay the mortgage. I can't say that I miss that schedule, but I do sort of miss being able to get sympathy over it.

At my first job out of college, we worked Tuesdays through Saturdays. On a holiday weekend, there was twice as much to do for the Saturday crew because we'd be working ahead, doing Monday's work so no one would have to come into the office on the holiday. And Cc and I sometimes found ourselves—through a twist of politics and bad luck—stuck there on those Saturdays-before-a-holiday with a skeleton staff, trying to do twice as much work with half as many people.

One Saturday before Labor Day, cc and I were in for a doozy: There was only one other person besides the two of us, and although the workload had been reduced, we still had to finish Monday's stuff before we could go home. We usually would leave around 3 p.m., but this day it looked like we were going to be in the office until at least 8. On top of that, some system that we had no idea how to use but relied upon crapped out and we had to call in the boss.

The boss, who had taken over for my other, awesome boss when she got another position, reluctantly came in because he was the only one who knew that system. He wasn't happy about it, but we weren't ecstatic about three people having to do the work of 12, either. He headed straight for a back corner of the mothership, fixed the program and passed our desks on his way out, pausing to ask how it was going. As if the harried looks on our faces and the piles of paper on our desks weren't obvious, I answered that we were extremely behind and it looked as though we'd be there till about 8 p.m. that night.

He responded, "Oh. Well, would you like some wood to knock on?" and sailed out the door.

We were completely stunned. Then outraged. Our old boss would never have let that happen, let alone leave us like that. But after awhile it became clear that he was useless to us and that the work on our desks wasn't going anywhere, so we grumbled and finished up. I don't remember how late we ended up staying.

That was only one of the spirit-stomping comments that boss made to me during my time there with him. I was a bit of an envelope-pusher when it came to creativity, and I don't think he liked that very much. Another senior person pulled me aside a few months into that boss's tenure and asked why he didn't see that sparkle in my eye when we were discussing ideas anymore and if I'd like, he could talk to my boss. That was very kind, but I didn't take him up on it. I wasn't at that job too much longer, and neither was cc.

Last week, we got a whole lot of responses for my current boss's soon-to-be vacant position, including the knock-on-wood guy's resume. He wouldn't be a good fit for the job anyway, but needless to say, he didn't get my recommendation.