Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Retail Therapy

I have a common ailment: when I'm cranky or depressed, I go shopping. When I'm having a down day-- or more likely, week-- there's nothing like a new blouse or pair of shoes to cheer me up and give me that fresh outlook on life. It's true that lately I haven't felt able to indulge in my favorite type of therapy (or any other type), so it's not surprising that my irritability has been worse than usual. Building. Growing out of control, in fact. It's doubly depressing to be both depressed and unable to afford an antidote.

Let's just say that I lost my head this week. I was feeling confident, pumped up, and on top of the world a couple weeks ago. I was so gung-ho about my job and developing my career, I couldn't wait to get out of the gate. Then there was the whole "you're not ready for prime-time" chat, with its revelations that failure is inevitable. I fell flat on my face and haven't managed to get up yet. I've lost interest in my job again, and I just can't afford to do that. Somehow I've got to manage to fake it, especially for the next little while until my "troublemaker" brand fades a bit. But I can't seem to pull out of it.

I've been good for so long, not even replacing the packet of jewelry that got stolen in Vegas last fall. (Now that my foot is mangled and my body's lost its proper shape, jewelry was all I had left.) I've been so good, denying myself at every turn. But this weekend, I decided I'd had it. My boys run around singing Broadway show tunes and "Puttin' on the Ritz" all day. They're so talented and so interested. And besides, dammit, I wanted a piano!

So I bought one. Ahhhh... that feels better.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dooce or Be Dooced

Tell you what, I'm taking a risk here, but I don't care. I have a couple of things I want to get off my chest about my recent experiences with our management, and if they want to fire me, I'll have my lawyers call them (or possibly eat them) for lunch.

Here are some things that are bugging me this week:
  1. That our large group now has only one boss (let's call her PHB) running the show; she's way up in the stratosphere, everyone else is on a relatively equal level
  2. That she's running it from halfway across the country and consequently knows nothing about what any of us peons do from day to day
  3. That PHB thinks she knows better than the people who do work with me what I'm capable of
  4. PHB asked me my greatest fear and then saw to it that that fear was fulfilled (maybe we should call her Dr. Lecter)
  5. PHB can change our job descriptions at the drop of a hat, then see to it that we get demoted if we don't measure up (this is insider information as a warning to any of my coworkers who might read my blog: Look OUT!)
  6. Demotion might not mean anything anyway, since our titles are now meaningless-- not to mention useless on a resume. Catch-22.
  7. With apologies to Monty Python, this whole "every serf is equal" idea is just bogus; it's a pain for the junior worker bees who now have to run to catch up, and now that my job means nothing more than anyone else's, I feel like I've lost the past 6 years of experience and any appreciation therefor.
  8. That the job I got passed over for doesn't involve as much responsibility, work, and, well, pains in the behind as the job I have now. Yet, "they" (PHB and her devoted henchwoman) claim I'm "not ready" to do that level of job. Did I mention "What.Ever."? See #3.
  9. The current workload for all of us "equal peons" (see also: communism) is impossible to accomplish effectively, so failure is inevitable.
  10. PHB takes our concerns about the impossible workload as a complete unwillingness to work at all and tells us to stop being such slackers.
  11. In one meeting last week, PHB asked what the difference is between client-side and server-side programming. It worries me that she's the one in charge.
  12. When she was in town last week, she showed up just as a lunch meeting was ending, asked why we haven't written ourselves up for awards, then spent the next several minutes berating us for having low self-esteem. We laughed so hard we cried and pounded the table. The fact that she was serious just made it funnier. In a tragic way. AND she used this as an example of how we're always trying to get out of doing more work.
  14. The staff is leaving the sinking ship, and she doesn't seem to care.
  15. [Updated: My newly resigned boss is a total rock-star of this particular world, but as soon as she's out of the building, the PHB and company are dissing her for... are you ready? Not saying "No" to new work often enough!]

The thing I hated the most about my former "um, friend" Richard was his telling me in all seriousness, "You're special... and so's everyone else." This situation reminds me so much of that one, I feel twice as angry as I might have otherwise.

And just on an "Isn't that cute?" note, one of my coworkers (who is, yes, quitting any minute now) used the phrase "stab PHB in the eye" so many times last week that I lost count.

I just want to be the first to say,

"The Empress has no clothes!"

Go ahead: Dooce me, baby.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh, goody...

I get to keep my job, plus some. And all for the same salary I had before. With-- get this-- no upward career path!

But they didn't make me cry. Not yet...

Oh damn.

Waiting for the Hammer to Fall...

Tick... tick... tick....

Any minute now, I'll find out...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Pianist Envy

I've had a lifelong love affair with pianos. Maybe in hopes of raising up a new Mozart, someone gave me this little gem when I was just old enough to stand:

(I still have that picture, but not the piano, more's the pity.)

I never really understood at this age why my playing didn't sound as good as my mom's. But she let me join her whenever she didn't have students over.

We never had much, but we always had music in our house. The year I was 6, my dad bought my mom a Baldwin and managed to sneak it into the house as a surprise. It was the best present EVER!

(The fashions in the 70s, however...)

You can't see it in this picture, but we didn't have any other furniture in our living room. We had cheap (ugly!) cotton sheets in our window. Our Christmas ornaments (and clothes) were all homemade. But we had a piano. My musical mother decided within a week to trade this one in on a model with better sound, and she's had that Baldwin Hamilton upright ever since. And it still sounds wonderful.

She managed to give me about one piano lesson before throwing up her hands in despair. Undaunted, I got out her old Schirmer manuals and taught myself the rest. Not the best way to learn, but it worked. I'd lie awake every night and listen to her play "Claire de Lune" and "Moonlight Sonata"; it was the most lovely, peaceful, relaxing feeling. Eventually, I learned to play those songs pretty well myself. But then I left home and since then, I haven't had a piano.

Now, what made me think of all this right now? My husband, ever anxious to make his wife happy, has been on a piano spree lately. Just investigating the market, gasping and collapsing upon hearing how much they cost, etc. But not giving up on the idea. (He's really cute when he's obsessive.) And it just so happened that we were out shopping for orthopedic chairs yesterday right across the street from a HUGE piano store. So we figured, why not check it out? I could give him an idea what I'd want (so as to avoid the situation my parents had all those million years ago), and he could get an idea of what pianos even look like, what a good model would cost, and maybe he'd give it up. (HA!)

So we went in. Our children ran amuck. I fingered the keyboards and whimpered. And the sales guy tried to tell us that electronic pianos are just as tasty as the real thing. What. Ever. As I moved into the "used" section, one piano caught my eye. It didn't have a price tag on, and it looked for all the world like... my mom's old Baldwin Hamilton upright. Same honey-colored wood, same smoothness of keys, everything... The sales guy looked a bit confused. He didn't seem to know where it had come from, but eventually told us that he hadn't had a chance to inspect and tune it yet, and that it would probably run about $2400.

Now, $2400 isn't nearly as much as most of the others cost; there was a grand out front (not even full-size) that was priced at $35,000. But this one might as well have cost a million. I wanted it, though. I really wanted that piano. I still want it. My boys are getting old enough that they could start playing-- and probably should. I suspect the youngest will be really good at it eventually.

But now I have to ask myself: What else can I do without? We cut our expenses to the bone when my husband quit working to stay home with the kids. As of August, he's going to be in school full-time, which means we pay for daycare till we bleed, and there's no more wiggle room in our budget. Oh yes, and room room. We don't have any of that, either. So maybe I should stop whining for a few years until The Man is out of school and into the workforce. I just hate for my kids to miss out on what I had.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hair on Fire

I keep meaning to post an update, summarize what's going on in our lives this past week or so, you know, but there's just too much. So let me just spew a few items.

First, my doctor has begun supplying me with BIG bottles of Percocet, and I do need it. My company will buy me a spiffy orthopedic chair if I get a prescription for it, so I need to pick one out and tell my doc what to write. He's awesome, and his strings aren't even visible except in really bright light.

Punkin Baby had the time of his young life on his second birthday. Blue's Clues pawprint cake, of course. Lots of Little People. And balloons, which he held in his mouth while jumping up and down. Don't ask; I don't get it either! With the money Auntie sent him, our little man went shopping-- very big-- and bought (wait for it) a sword, of course. OK, you knew he would. Of course, Pirate Boy became insanely jealous and was awarded a (different but also spiffy) swashbuckling sword as an early birthday present by parents who were tired of yelling, "Will you PUT DOWN that SWORD, for the last time!"

Other quotes flying around our house lately: "No throwing dinosaurs, please..." (I forget when I'm on the phone that not everyone has kids.) As well as:

Hubby, on getting Punkin Boy up from his nap: "Hey, buddy, need a diaper change?"
Punkin Baby (eyes wide, head nodding): "HOLY COW!" (I'm thinking that means "duh!" in toddler-speak.)

These are mainly the small items. Big items include:
  1. I've had about a million interviews in the past week for a great job (my former boss's) that they aren't really going to give me because I "need room for a career path"-- so I'll just get all the work and none of the pay, even if I don't technically get the job. Especially if I don't. Sounds complicated, but it's pretty standard. Gack.
  2. We found a really great school for our kids, which they can't get into because it's such a great (and therefore popular) school. Yep.
  3. We have to find a new daycare for our youngest; the one we were going to put him into turns out to be a hive of scum and villainy and recently let a toddler choke to death while supposedly being supervised. Um, no thanks.
  4. #1 Son has become a victim of bullying and other violence at his school. Totally uncool. But unless he's brave enough to talk to his principal about it, the school can't (or won't) do anything about it. And if he does? Catch-22.

Have I mentioned that my back is killing me?

Monday, May 09, 2005

On the Brink

In the bizarre borderlands of "the waiting place." Our family is on the edge of some really good possibilities right now. We've done all we can so far, and in the next few days we could be in a very, very good place indeed. Good job for me, good school for the kids, enough money to do what we need to and get the husband through school. Very good. Or not. It's up to other people now; all we can do is wait and have faith.

Accepting donations of prayers, good wishes, positive vibes, and other mystical devices in our favor. Thanks.

-The Management

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Sure, It Was My Fault

I skipped last month's Blogging for Books ("meanest thing I've ever done") for reasons best known to me but related to this post. This month's topic is actually a choice of three: lies, fornication, or going home. It occurred to me immediately that I could do a helluva trifecta. It took me a few days to decide whether to admit to this garbage in public. But what's life without drama? So without further ado...

Richard left on Tuesday morning, kissing me goodbye outside my apartment. I tried to smile and keep it light, so he’d be sure I understood there were no promises between us. Not up for a long-distance relationship right now, he said; we lived hundreds of miles apart. But maybe someday… I understood. I’d tried the long-distance thing before, and I knew how it went. Too many things change while you’re apart. I understood—or thought I did.

I also believed that this just might be love. He treated me so wonderfully, respected me totally, was more fun and intelligent than any man I’d dated recently—and we got along. That was the most beautiful thing about being with him. We’d spent Saturday in Baltimore, strolling around the Inner Harbor, trying new foods, climbing to the top of buildings just for the view, laughing at everything, snuggling on a bench, and just talking. And talking. And not arguing at all.

It probably sounds strange, but I first realized this was something special during a completely ordinary conversation that afternoon. I’d been divorced for a while, but I still smoldered with the anger and frustration I had always felt when talking about any subject in the world with my first husband. Our whole relationship, start to finish, had been one big argument. We couldn’t decide where to vacation, where to eat, or even what to do on a rainy afternoon. Let’s leave aside the discussion of why I ever married him in the first place. I'd finally come to my senses and now was looking for a change. And here, right next to me, was his total opposite.

What a gorgeous feeling to be with someone I got along with so completely! He gave me flowers, but that wasn’t so special. The kisses weren’t anything special, either—lots of guys had given me those. But Richard cleaned my apartment for me. This was my second clue that he was someone extraordinary. I wanted to pursue this relationship, but not at a distance. That would be no problem; I had no real ties where I was and I could get a transfer to his location in a snap. I went through the next several days humming contentedly and considering the future through rose-colored glasses.

After he left my place, he headed home for a visit with his mom in a small North Carolina town. He was a devoted son who took good care of his ol’ Ma. (Not a mama’s boy, though. Third clue: check.) I’d talked to his mom a few times; what a great woman she was. I got along with her, too. I started to really believe that this could work out, despite the distance.

I was pleased when he called me from his mom’s house; he said he missed me, though it had only been a day. He also said they (whoever “they” were) had thrown him a party there, so he was a bit tipsy on the phone, but mostly coherent. Still good. He’d call when he got back home. I went back to humming contentedly. And he did call.

But over the next few weeks, things started to change between us. (You’re not surprised, are you?) We didn’t talk as often, and when we did, he seemed more professional, less affectionate. I stopped humming and started frowning. He urged me to date a friend of his instead. I was hurt and puzzled, but thought he was probably just being gallant, not realizing that I was willing to wait. If it was a good thing, it would stand the test of time, right? Right? Right…

A few months after that wonderful weekend in Baltimore, a guy I knew talked to Richard’s roommate, got a serious look on his face, then came to talk to me. “Hey, um, it looks like Richard’s getting married.” He what?! “To this girl named Stephanie…” He WHAT?!?! I knew about Stephanie. She was the girl with the squeaky voice who was always chasing him whenever he went back to his hometown. He’d told me about her and laughed at what a dumb redneck airhead she was, how completely annoying she was, how she would never in a million years catch him… How? “Um, apparently she’s pregnant…” @#&$(&*#!!!!!

Words cannot describe the white-hot anger that exploded in my head at that moment. Livid? Enraged? I don't think they're close. He was lucky that there was such a long distance between us at that moment, because I’d have ripped his lungs out and made her eat them. Raw. Then tap-danced on her face with spiky stiletto shoes. I would have, I swear. And that's just for a warm-up.

As soon as I could speak coherently again, I tracked him down and asked if what I’d heard was true. Oh yeah. That night he’d called me to say how much he missed me? He slept with the b****. Why? Well, he was drunk. Sure, that’s a perfectly good way to initiate a long-term (not to mention long-distance) relationship. I have to admit I did throw the long-distance thing in his face. And the little speech he’d given me about not wanting to risk a paternity situation. Oh, how I wished for something more lethal to throw.

At that point, I didn’t so much swear off men as swear at them, about them, and just plain swear. I sulked for a while. Swore some more. Then I dated his friend.

Friday, May 06, 2005

My Life in Pictures

OK, you're probably wondering why I keep posting pictures of myself instead of showing off my babies. Well, it's not entirely Internet paranoia; I've tried to get some posted lately, but Picasa won't let me. Or rather, I get an error every time I try to upload photos of the kids-- but just of the kids. Weird. But my kids look a lot like me at varying ages, and what the heck. I'll get pics of the kids up when I've beaten Picasa into submission.

Meanwhile... here's one of my favorite pictures, and not because it's from my wedding. Well, not only that.

To me, it just breathes the romance of that sultry summer afternoon in Hawaii. And I think that my dad (who's a much better photographer than the official one we had) managed to capture the essence of our love in this one pre-kiss moment. It was a good moment.

Compare that to this one, taken 5 years earlier:

This was the result of my first husband's stupidity. He thought it would be nice to get me in for some glamour photography so they could teach me how to do my hair and makeup. In this shot, I was looking directly at him and thinking, "You complete moron, I already know how to look like this, I just don't have the 2 hours and endless cosmetics budget to do it with. Jackass." Well, that and trying to look as cool-yet-hot as possible. Alas for wasted youth.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dramatic Entrance

Ok, I was wrong about Punkin Boy and what a ham he is. Witness his after-bath antics tonight:

Wrapped in a towel, dripping through the house, he tiptoes up to the door of the bedroom where Mama is lying down reading (TechNet Magazine--ugh!). He carefully peeks his head around the doorframe & giggles. When he's got his Mama's attention, he jumps into the room, throws off the towel, and shouts, "Ta-DA! Punkin Boy!" Whereupon his Mama collapses in a fit of laughter and the boy hops around the room singing the theme song to "Have Gun, Will Travel." (HA! I'm giggling again just writing about it.)

This is me, about his age; I was a little more modest after the bath. (Oh, and there's my mom, too. Love the hair and the cat-eye glasses.)

The extra cute thing about Punkin Boy lately is that he's traded in his Scottish accent for that of a Transylvanian count: "I vant some vater" quoth he. Goodness.

Meanwhile, Pirate Boy quietly observes everything around him, and this afternoon, when nobody's looking... he writes a book. Sheez! I know he's still four years old! And my Punkin Baby's not yet two. Turn my back for a few hours, and they grow up all of a sudden...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Glamor Girl Grows Up

I can't believe my punkin baby turns 2 next week! He's growing so fast, talking so well, and wow, what a cutie he is! Not as much of a ham as I was at that age, though. (This is me on my second birthday. My parents were in stitches!)