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Archive for January, 2010

My best friend Eileen lost her father last night. 

While this was not completely unexpected, I do think that once things settle down she will feel the loss, perhaps more keenly than she will expect. 

Is it difficult to lose a parent?  Undoubtedly.  But does the degree of difficulty vary in proportion to the relationship you did or didn’t have?  That remains to be seen. 

Eileen’s dad was a difficult man, and there’s no two ways about it.  He struggled for a good deal of his life with bipolar disorder, which alternately made him preachy and grouchy.  Never did I see the high highs, only the dark lows.  The high highs, according to Eileen, were evangelical in nature.  Mostly, though, what I saw of him was a man who grunted answers at you and snarled a lot. 

And is it any wonder Eileen is married to a difficult man herself? 

Eileen is the first of my closest friends to have lost both parents.  It’s a new territory for me, too, to feel conscious of still having both of mine.  Since Eileen’s mother passed two years ago, I have been very aware that all the time I have been complaining about this thing or that other about my mother, she has probably wished to be able to join in.  And too, with her father, when I’ve shown her the handmade clock he gave me for Christmas (pretty spiffy for a man with only one eye), I’ve been conscious of the fact that her father never did, never would have, make such a thing for her. 

So Eileen becomes the first of my friends to stand on the front lines between here and There.  It’s like peeling an onion; there will be tears. 

— Mox

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Fins.

An update to those of you waiting with bated breath to hear the outcome of my big presentation and the attendant wardrobe crisis: 

Miraculously I found a pair of pants that fit me, already in my closet.  If I lose any of this post-holiday poundage they will not fit me.  Moral of the story is:  you must try things on in the store.  I did, however, get to use some of my Christmas gift card loot to snag some great sales and ended up looking pretty polished. 

And that is just about where it ends.  Our presentation was good, but in the long run we did not get the account.  Perhaps I looked too good. 

Oh well.  I’ve had four days to work through the emotions attached to it and am now over it.  Onward. 

I’m trying a little experiment this year.  In an attempt to shore up my savings account a bit I am saving every $5 bill that comes my way.  Sounds painless, right?  And it is, until you buy something for $6 and pay with a $20 and end up getting two $5s and four ones.  So far I have resisted the temptation to ask for a $10, I’m trying to let whatever I’m supposed to get just come my way.  It may be karma’s way of keeping me honest. 

So far I’ve deposited $35 into my savings account.  This is good, considering.  I’ve always been a saver, even as a kid, though as I’ve gotten older and my responsibilities and wants have grown, it’s become harder to do.  But I get a sense of satisfaction in watching my balance grow, knowing that if I need some money for an emergency, it’s there.  It’s a trait I’ve tried to instill into Spawn, with (very) limited success.  Mostly around here we are victims of the Walmart Toy Aisle Curse. 

How long will I be able to keep this experiment going?  That would depend, I guess, on having a regular influx of cash.  2010, like so many other years, started out with a hopeful feeling and the promise of good, meaty work to come.  I hope the year holds good on its’ promises. 

— Mox

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It’s been a good long while since I’ve had to dust off my people skills in order to make a presentation to a potential client.  Time was, I did these things with some regularity, but as the economy has slid down the slippery slope, there just hasn’t been a whole lot of need to polish my dance steps.  So I’m a little rusty.  But we’ve got a presentation to make tomorrow, and rusty or not I’m going to have to sound relatively learned about my craft. 

Freakishly, however, I’m a little excited at the prospect.  It’s good to switch up every now and then, and I’ve been sitting in the office for far too long. 

And it’s the sitting that has caused a bit of a problem. 

You see, sitting on your ass all day long tends to make it spread.  Particularly post-holiday.  And I’ve been hunkered down behind the front lines just long enough that my at-work wardrobe consists of dressy but comfy jeans and knit tops.  Because, don’t you know, my “good” workwear has mysteriously shrunk. 

It does not help that we are trying to put weight on Spawn, who grew an inch and a half over the summer but did not pick up any weight.  So it’s been warm chocolate chip cookies most every night.  I defy anyone to resist warm cookies.  I’m not sure it can be done. 

Unfortunately I do not have the metabolism of a hummingbird. 

I’m a bit panicked, to tell the truth.  I mean, I’ve got to look nice, and professional, and would prefer to not look like I have been sewn into my garments.  Which means a trip to the mall this afternoon is in the offing.  And it is there that my newly expanded backside will confront the sins of the holidays.  It looks to be a very unhappy meeting. 

— Mox

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Double duty.

Well, folks, it’s happened. 

The Powers That Be at my company have decided, in a redesign of our website, to add a blogging feature for the agency principles.  Of which I am one. 

Which means, in theory, that I will be getting paid to blog.  W00t! 

However, there will be quite a few things different.  For one, I’ll be blogging under my real name, meaning I’ll have to watch my mouth.  And my subject matter.  And my grammar and spelling and punctuation and all that rot. 

~sigh~ Parameters restrict creativity. 

It’s going to be a few days before our new site redesign goes live, so I’ve got some time to consider what my first post will be.  In the tradition of “begin as you mean to go on” I have given this some serious thought.  Which has resulted in analysis paralysis.  Of course.  I mean, what if the end result is that I really don’t have anything worthwhile to say?  It will confirm to that nagging voice at the back of my brain that I have passed my prime, am no longer on the forefront of the industry.  That all those young upstart college kids are way more employable than me. 

Yes, I’m overthinking it.  It’s What I Do. 

At least here I will continue to be free to be me.  In all my anonymous glory. 

— Mox

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Springtime in Siberia

As I went out this morning to start my car and begin the process of warming it up enough to drive it without my hands freezing to the steering wheel, I thought to myself, “hm, seems a bit balmy out here.”  And it was.  At all of about 19 degrees. 

Perspective can be a useful thing. 

The kids went back to school today, and just in time, because I had run out of magic tricks to keep the natives from being restless.  When it broke into a furious snow shower at about lunchtime, I was very glad that it was the teachers who had to deal with the giddy kids.  Fortunately the shower was short-lived and followed by glorious (if cold) sunshine. 

I, on the other hand, have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger.  Two days missing from the office last week, plus a big presentation coming up at the end of this week, makes for crunch time. 

The good news is, on Wednesday the temps should be above freezing.  And a good thing, because the snow is desperately tracked up and needs to be gone.  It’s no longer “pretty” (and I use that term loosely) (because to me “pretty” snow is on a postcard). 

Keepin’ on keepin’ on. 

— Mox

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Yeah, so we got the snow.  Not quite the cataclysm the forecasters predicted, but enough to cause Spawn to be up and dressed at 6am, asking, “can I go out now?” 

Yes, 6am.  My child is a rooster. 

As it turns out, we only got a couple of inches, and at that it’s a miserable couple of inches.  It’s been so cold here that the snow that did fall was the dry, powdery kind, the kind that’s good for sledding or skiing but not for snowman-making.  Following that has been frigid temps and 10-20mph winds, which has led to windchills preceded by a -. 

I don’t even have to tell you that’s not my idea of fun. 

I’m trying to see the positive in this, so I will say this:  dry powdery snow is at least easy to sweep off the steps and sidewalks. 

(Wow.  I think I just exhausted myself.) 

Spawn and I have been home yesterday and today, venturing out only to get some lunch and hit Walmart yesterday.  I don’t look to be nearly that energetic today. 

The problem with being stuck in the house all day long is that you start to see things in your home that need to be addressed.  Already I have decided to repaint at least one room.  I also filled a sink with warm soapy water and washed down the walls in the hallway, since at right about the three-foot level it was grimy filthy.  (No idea where that came from, no sir.)  I hung a few pictures, moved a few more around.  Attempted to clean the hairball stain off my couch (semi-successfully).  Assembled a few more items to go to St. Vincent de Paul.  At this rate I’m going to have to go back to work to get some rest. 

In an attempt to at least “think” warm, I’ve got a Jimmy Buffet CD playing and am burning my “Sun & Sand” candle, which smells wonderfully like suntan lotion.  It’s a stretch considering I’m wearing longjohns and boots, and my fingers are cold even though I haven’t ventured outside.  And it’s still snowing.  Bah. 

In the meantime, this is one of the pictures I hung: 

~sigh~

— Mox

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Cat people and dog people. 

As I have written in this space before, we tend to be cat people at our house.  Even though my husband is allergic, and stupidly refuses to take allergy medicine, and then proceeds to make my life miserable with the hacking and the sniffling and the blowing. 

Of the myriad reasons we are cat people, the main reason is:  we are lazy.  Cats are a lazy man’s companion.  Keep food and water set out, provide a relatively clean litter box, and you’re pretty much good to go.  And if you forget to put food out, a cat is resourceful enough to either catch its’ own food or (and you don’t want this) get into the garbage for a meal.  Try forgetting to feed a goldfish, see what happens.  Cats are also (mostly) clean and (mostly) quiet, and those are two qualities I admire most in a pet. 

My husband and I, as newlyweds, got a little kitten.  This was before we knew about my husband’s cat allergy, since his own parents are not cat people and did not allow cats as pets when he was a kid.  I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said they hate cats.  So, yeah, they thought their baby boy had lost his mind when he allowed his new bride to talk him into getting a cat.  But that cat was undoubtedly the best cat we’ve ever had.  He wasn’t a lot of trouble, he was better behaved than most children, and he was a true friend and companion. 

The rest of the felines in our lives… not so much.  When we took in an orphaned waif a few years later — what can I say, it was two days before Christmas and snowing, how could I refuse — it set into motion our reputation on the Underground Cat Railroad as a station.  That waif, a cute little tortoiseshell calico, became The Cat Who Will Not Die, aka A Pain In The Arse Who Hates Everyone But Me.  But somehow cats find their way to us, and we have taken them in.  Some I’ve managed to pawn off on others, and none have I ever taken to the Humane Society.  I dutifully pack each and every one of them off to the vet to have them spayed or neutered, which keeps my problems from multiplying quite so quickly.  I think I have put at least one of my vet’s kids through school. 

It helps that Spawn is an animal lover, too, because it helps me to keep everyone fed.  Pets are a great foray into responsibility.  Spawn started early on feeding the cats, and we have since graduated into a full tank of fish and one very lucky turtle.  If it were up to the kid we’d have a zoo here at the house, but I have drawn the line at snakes, lizards, ferrets, rabbits, and hedgehogs.  Other pets, such as birds and hamsters/gerbils/mice I have decreed as “a very expensive snack” and that has been a good enough excuse for not adding them to the household. 

Which leads me to the point of this post.  Spawn has decided we need a dog. 

But we are cat people, I say. 

We live in a pretty doggy neighborhood.  Most of our neighbors have dogs, and Spawn has overcome that basic childhood fear of dogs, and thinks that a dog would make our family complete.  While I like dogs, and have entertained the idea in some of my idler moments, I have one great big objection.  Dogs seem to me to be a lot of work. 

We. are. cat. people. 

The other day as I was returning home at the end of the day, a strung out kid in the back seat and a cargo full of groceries, my headlights cut across the sidewalk and illumined my neighbor, out walking his dog for the nth time that day.  Now, y’all, it was pretty damned cold, it was dark, and those are two atmospheric conditions I don’t particularly love, and here was my neighbor, wrapped up like Nanook of the North, out in it with a dog on a leash. 

Um, no.  Not my idea of a good time.  And I’m not naive enough to think that someone else in our household would take the responsibility of walking a dog every blessed day.  It would become my responsibility, and quite frankly I have enough of that. 

I. am. a. cat. person. 

— Mox

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