Then I am officially on VACATION.
Vacation...all I ever wanted.
Saturday we are heading to the beach for the annual family vacation. This year we will be there an entire week and I can hardly wait to get there and forget about work for seven days. Of course, I never really forget about work. I mean, how could I? I've spent the last two days in meetings filled with people rattling off lists of things they need from me. I finally asked a co-worker yesterday if she would also like for me to have our university's mascot spin a plate on his tail while I'm taking his picture in front of the large plasma computer screen which, by the way, I need to move elsewhere...meanwhile this picture is for a project I was also assigned in conjunction with the huge responsibility I have now been given of marketing our website, which, oh by the way, requires my CONSTANT attention, and don't forget the several hundred other things on your list...really important responsibilities such as making sure the shipping and receiving team puts used pallets in the proper location...3 feet from where they typically put them because there is nothing more crucial to the millions of dollars worth of business we do than the proper placement of said pallets. Seriously. If they are not put right here and are instead put right there, well, we will have to close this place down and all of us will be miserable failures.
But no, she didn't need him to spin a plate on his tail.
Come to think of it, no one needed anything else from me for the rest of the day. Of course, by the time I lost it, there were only about 15 minutes left in the day, so the torture was coming to an end anyway.
So, I'm here at work trying to prioritize the 72 bajillion items on my Daily To-Do List. And the only items that stand out as "A" priorities (for those of you who worship Franklin-Covey like me) are the following:
Everything else? Well, who really cares? It will all be here when I get back.
Clover had her weekend completely disrupted when she found out that Bobbie Jo was keeping Coco again, after Clover has clearly indicated that this stresses her out. Clover has to be the center of attention - not just at home, but everywhere, and knowing that Coco might be getting a few more oohs and aahs or a few more treats in a day makes the poor puppy INSANELY jealous. She was very worried that Bobbie Jo might be taking pictures of Coco instead of her, and that? Well, that just won't do. Clover is the super model - not Coco.
So, to try and console her, PJ and I took Clover over to visit with Coco. Nothing doing. It does not help to play with the enemy...only makes it worse. But, they did do a nice Cagney and Lacey impersonation at one point. Clover is on the right - the one that looks like she's giving all of the orders.
In case I haven't mentioned it before, Bobbie Jo takes the majority of pictures that I post here. She is an excellent photographer and she's especially good at capturing the moods of these little dogs. It's great having such a talented friend...I've got an AWESOME collection of photos to document every event in our lives. Bobbie Jo has trained our dogs to look directly at the camera and smile, so any time I get the camera out, Clover immediately behaves. Coco is learning, too, but isn't as easy to photograph as Clover. Here's one that Bobbie Jo took of Coco playing in the water near her house this weekend. I love the details. And you know what they say: "Life is in the details."
Oh God, our help in ages past...is it 5:00 yet?
PJ used that little prayer the other day when I was tweezing his very unruly eyebows...like God would actually make me stop and let PJ continue to walk around looking like he has taped large clumps of gorilla hair above his eyes. God knows that he needed my help. I'm wondering, though, what PJ looked like before I started grooming him on a regular basis. I guess I was so completely smitten with him I didn't notice these things before we married. Now I am as obsessed with his eyebrows and nose hair as I am my own. And that, my friends, is borderline CRAZY.
PJ and I typically ride to work together since we both work in the same city about 50 miles from our house. He drops me off and picks me up, and some days he comes and takes me to lunch or to run errands or get shots or have blood drawn - all that fun stuff that I'm known for around here. We usually decide on a meeting time and I walk out to the street when he's due to pick me up. Lately, I've noticed that I am outside way before he arrives. And it's not because he is late. I walk out of the building and if he isn't there I start walking in his direction until he happens upon me as he is driving on to campus. I'm not talking about a short distance either. I've been known to walk all the way across campus in anticipation of his arrival. I was just wondering while I was walking toward him today what it says about me that I run as fast as I can out of this place when it's time to go...like I'm repelled by it. I'm not sure or I would tell you. It's a good job. I make a nice salary, I have great benefits, I like what I do for the most part, and I like most of the people I work with. So, I think it's odd that I shoot out of here like a cannon when my watch gets anywhere near my pick up time. I also don't think I will ever find the perfect job for me and I think that's sad. I need to quit worrying about it and make the most of what I have. That's easy enough to say...
So, when I got back from lunch today, a co-worker had sent me this quote that I thought was all too appropriate for my recent ponderings. (PJ, I used the word "ponderings" for you, baby.)
"I don't mind coming to work, but that eight hour wait to go home is a bitch."
The story of Eric Volz? I heard about him on Dateline back in April and I can't quit thinking about him and his family. Eric is a 28 year old American (from Nashville) who is serving a 30 year prison sentence in Nicaragua for a crime he did not commit. He was accused and convicted of raping and murdering his former girlfriend although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. It's a compelling story of how one normal, hard-working family can have their lives turned upside down in an instant.
Here's a seven minute video about the situation. If you want to read a more detailed account, then click here for the story in this month's Outside magazine. You can also listen to the story NPR ran about him in April by clicking here.
Ok, so now you know. Please pray for Eric and his family.
Because I want to be fair and balanced with my reports from the field, I should have mentioned in that last post that my other super cute niece (known by the code name of "Smudge") has learned to spell and write her name. Oh, and type it, too, she says, but she was unable to demonstrate the typing over at Grandma's.
See, we're just a family full of smart girls!
For months I've been trying to get Banana to say my name. I typically sit her in my lap, get her focused, look her in the eye and ask her to say, "Aunt Mandy" to which she always has replied "Biiiirrrrrrrd." No matter what I tried, what I bribed her with, her response remained the same. "Biiiirrrrrrd." Since I'm deathly afraid of birds, her fascination with the word more than troubled me.
Today when Banana walked in over at my mom's, I didn't even bother asking her to say anything. But, she looked right at me and said, "Hi, Aunt Mandy." She then pointed to PJ and said, "That's PG." Before I could grab her up and smother her with kisses, she laughed and said again, "Aunt Mandy." Just like that. Plain as day.
Banana knows I always have my camera, so the minute she sees me, she starts jibber jabbering about "pitcheeers." She wanted to take one of me today. Here it is. Cheese.
Last night I was in Chicago waiting to board my flight home when I was suddenly aware of a man sitting across from me talking on his cell phone. Everyone was aware of him, really, because he was just that loud. He was wearing one of those ear piece Bluetooth things that always freak me out because I think the person is talking to me or to themselves since I never notice the contraption in the ear at first glance. He was making all of us pretending not to hear him very uncomfortable with his conversation. Seems he had spent the week in D.C. and wasn't happy with the bed in the hotel room and was complaining to this person on the phone about it. The person he was talking to was obviously giving him all sorts of reasons why the week would have been better and the bed would not have mattered had she been there. This sexually charged banter continued for several minutes until I had just enough to get irritated with him. I looked up to check him out and to try to get his attention. I had planned to give him a nasty "get off the phone or get away from me" face but he never looked directly at me.
So here was this unattractive middle-aged overweight man with eyebrows in bad need of repair and a greasy balding head wearing khaki pants that had way too much polyester content and brown pleather loafers practically having phone sex right there in front of God and everyone. He was giggling and blushing like a teenager, hooting and howling, laughing just a little too loudly at everything this person on the other line said to him. I realized he wearing a wedding ring at about the same time I realized he was not talking to his wife. He was explaining to this person, without ever being real specific so that anyone else would understand, that his wife was picking him up at the airport when he got back to Birmingham, so he wouldn't be able to call back then. But, he assured her, it would only be 35 days now until they saw each other again and he would, of course, call her in the morning.
I continued to stare at him and somewhat listen to him for several more minutes. He knew I was looking at him. I know he could feel it, but he would not make eye contact with me. He was going on and on with this "other woman" about how successful his work week had been, how he had gotten glowing evaluations from the people he trained that week and how his boss was so lucky to have someone as willing and able as he is to make things look so easy. The more he talked, the more I hated him. And the more upset I got. I spent the majority of the wait and most of the flight home trying to figure out why the whole thing bothered me so much.
I was married to Chris for 11 years and for the last couple of years, he lied to me on a daily, probably hourly, basis. He was sleeping with two other women (those are the only two I know about) during this time, but was also pretending that things with us were fine. When I discovered his infidelity, had it checked out and verified by a private investigator, and appeared to be the last one in town to know about it, I confronted Chris. He continued to lie; continued for many weeks and months to deny anything was going on and to insist that I was paranoid and hysterical. During his period of ignoring the elephant that had parked its big ass in our living room, I began to look back and retrace the steps that led him and therefore us down that path. And although this was a good exercise in theory, it didn't solve the problem.
I didn't like Chris very much then. He was becoming a man in midlife crisis and I had always thought he was better than that. He was becoming cocky and belligerent and was beginning to brag about how successful he was and how lucky all of us were to know him and work with him. I remember one particular afternoon when we had picked up the dogs from the vet and were standing outside the animal hospital waiting for them to relieve themselves. It was hot and muggy and I was tired and weepy. I looked over at Chris and saw he had a hickey on his neck. Right then and there, I decided I hated him. And the more he talked to me after that, the more I hated him. Just like that - I was done. What I know now is that I don't hate Chris. I never did. But I hated his behavior and I hated the fact that I had allowed it to continue for even a second longer than I had known about it.
So about last night...I'm thinking that Rico Suave reminded me of a time in my life when I was less confident, less able to defend myself and so desperate to maintain the status quo, I allowed someone like him to make me miserable and vulnerable. After Rico finished his phone conversation he got up to walk toward the gate. I watched him for a long while and told myself that I would look for him at baggage claim in Birmingham so I could check out his wife and possibly give her an understanding look. But by the time I got to Birmingham, I was so delighted to know that PJ was waiting just outside baggage claim for me; waiting to hug me and kiss me and tell me he missed me and tell me how beautiful I am (even though I looked like I had walked home from Nebraska); waiting with a big cup of Milo's unsweet tea and good stories about his week with the dogs, I forgot all about Rico and his poor wife and the woman on the other end. All I could think about was how lucky I am to have kicked the elephant to the curb.