Still life

Oh hey there. Did you know we've hired my replacement? And yet the boss still would like me to stay until October? And how there's no way in hell that's going to happen?

Also, did you know that I hate training people? And yet I still think I'll be a good massage teacher some day? And how difficult it is to bite your tongue all day to keep from yelling "Keep up! Keep up, stupid!!!!"

Anyway. (Still) too early to analyze the brother situation, and am (still) a little tired from Sunday, which basically involved waking up at 4:30 for a day of massage stuff that finally ended at 9 that night. Plus, I need to conserve my energy (and time!) so I can pack for our annual escape. We leave Thursday morning with two of the dogs- the foster devil will stay behind and help my brother destroy the house in our absence. Oh, I know I should think positively.

*Well, if the house burns down at least we won't have to pay thousands of dollars to fix the year-old plumbing issue we've been ignoring.*

How's that for positive?

Have a terrific Labor Day weekend. When I return there will be more complaining, only this time it will be in more of a god-i'm-getting-old-why-is-there-a-zero-at-the-end-of-my-age-now sort of way (hysterical sobbing to follow).


So we meet again

The route had been dismantled months ago, an "incomplete climb" looming in the upper silo (which was fine with me since I haven't been in any hurry to reacquaint myself with that bitch). Last night upon my arrival, Climbsalot greeted me with guess what! It's finished! We went up to view the route, freshly reconfigured to present even bigger problems to climbers than ever before ("It's supposed to be more of a PROJECT climb now, rather than something you do all at once," a staff member explained), thereby prompting me to wish Climbsalot good luck with that.

But, because he believes in me (and refused to climb it himself if I wasn't going to try it), and also perhaps because I really, really needed some kind of success story this week, I reluctantly faced my old nemesis (now with more swearing!). And victory was mine.

If you'd seen the overhang, the excessive sweating, and the lack of decent handholds, you'd be asking for my autograph right now. Trust me.

(I'd like to update you all on the brother-moving-in-with-us situation but I sense it's too early to start the complaining and wringing of the hands- bad form, truly. And if I start now, who's to say I'll be able to stop? And I don't think I want to begin a 4-12 month-long complaint. Plus, it's a little hard to concentrate today with all the badass in here.)


It's a boy!

When I was eight years old, my parents threw some heart-crushing disappointment at me in the form of “you have a baby brother!” Being the little pessimist that I was, this is what I actually heard: “You DO NOT have a baby sister you can torment and take advantage of the same way your older sister does you, so, no twisted reaping of karmic rewards for you. Also, boys are dumb.” Of course by the time he was two, I was his biggest fan (still am).

I like to think we were pretty close while we lived in the same house, despite the age difference. When my brother was four, he started waking up several nights a week with what can only be described as night terrors- middle of the night shrieking, screaming, etc. coming from his room. More often than not I would be the one to get up and go to him, calm him down, get him back to sleep.

I was in wood shop that year (god I miss classes like that. Can I please be 12 again?) and had the idea to make some sort of… symbolic something my brother could keep by his bed, to help ward off the night terrors. So one day I came home from school and presented my brother with this hideous square wooden head on a stick with a bunch of smaller pieces of wood painted and glued all over it as the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. “This will keep the nightmares away,” I explained to my brother that night, and he nodded solemnly as he climbed into bed. I ceremoniously placed the Nightmare Chaser next to him and tapped its 'nose' firmly. “That should do it,” I announced, “You ready to try it? No more nightmares, starting tonight.” Again my brother nodded. I pulled the covers over him with a definitive “here we go.” And wouldn’t you know:
no more night terrors.

My brother
turned 21 last November and should be looking forward to graduating this coming year and going out into the “adult world,” yadda yadda. But. Last March he had a bit of a mental breakdown and dropped out of school. Now he’s been labeled with ADD and depression and has been living with (and scaring the bejeesus out of) my parents for the last 6 months. According to them, there are manic episodes, odd blank stares, rage issues… my mother cries every night and my father’s convinced his son is one block away from CrazyTown. They've put him on medications that may or may not be helping him (and we’d find out for sure if the doctor didn’t keep playing with the dosage), he can’t keep his days straight or figure out how to manage his time, and his self-confidence is non-existent. Frame of reference: When I was 21 I’d been living (and surviving) by myself for a few years, was planning an out-of-state move and had already dealt with some pretty serious issues of my own, on my own. Whereas my brother is 21 and my mother is his alarm clock.

Last week my parents took my brother back to his Indiana university to register for the new school year. Yesterday, he arrived in Texas and moved in with us. I don’t know how (if?) Monk and I can help him, but he’s hurting and scared of what's going on in his head, and can’t deal with my parents any longer. He’s too afraid to go back to school (to face certain people and academic issues), but knows that something has to change. Soon. He’ll be staying with us for at least a semester to try to get things back on track. And while I know we’re not in the same league as bad dreams and wood shop anymore, I can’t help wondering whatever happened to that Nightmare Chaser, and wishing I could use it to ward off his demons now. We've adjusted our schedule and our budget, cleaned out closets, bought last-minute items (like FURNITURE)... I've given up my room and my privacy and any remaining bit of potential alone time for the next few months (meanwhile I'm sure Monk laments the loss of spontaneous... you know, most of all). I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I’m going to be there for my brother, middle of the night or not, for as long as he needs me.

Here we go.


Happy day

You're the most handsome, most funny, most strange, most good, most perverted, most hairy, most hyper, most artistic, most supportive, most inspiring, most sexy, most generous, most wonderful best friend a girl could ask for and I'm awfully glad I married you. Five years, baby! Time flies when you're having fun. Happy Anniversary. Thank you for being my most.


This week, on the Learning Channel

LESSON ONE: Never accept a job offer out of desperation (I could choke you, 3-years-ago-me).
Two staffing services are struggling to find us some quality candidates for my replacement. Apparently, the starting salary is "a little low." So now I'm beginning to wonder how much of a sucker I am for snapping this job up almost 3 years ago, when the starting salary was even lower, and the responsibilities were even more numerous/overwhelming. Go me. Way to practice good business sense.

LESSON TWO: Back up your cell phone address book if it happens to be the only place you have telephone numbers stored for friends, family and business contacts.
Because quite possibly, in between one massage appointment and another, you might get off the phone with someone in time to see your phone display go... blank. And even though the phone has been acting a little evil for a while, you figured you could get a few more months out of it before biting the bullet and getting a fancy shmancy one because you are stupid. And a procrastinator at heart. So for 3 days now you've been kind of blind-dialling when you use it, you can't see who's calling (which, frankly, is not a gamble I am comfortable with so guess who isn't answering their phone these days?), and text messages are coming in but too bad! You can't read them! Life is a magical mystery tour!

At first it was kind of liberating to be unplugged. That is, "liberating" in a throw-up-your-hands, laugh-like-a-crazy-person kind of way. My new phone should arrive tomorrow evening and if I can't get my address book transferred over we will all have a good laugh and toast the life lesson that keeps on giving.

LESSON THREE: To be determined
Tonight I head up to a new school to help out a former teacher with his basic class. Nope, not teaching it (but I could. I could teach the SHIT out of that class. Whoa. No more caffeine for me today). He needed a body on which to demonstrate a 60-minute massage. Since I like the sound of "free massage," I said I'd do it. But then I started thinking of 30 people watching the rubdown, in a classroom environment (complete with classroom lighting) and... Hmmm. A lesson in humility it will be. Hold me.

LESSON FOUR: Telling someone they have a place to stay if they really need it means they might actually take you up on that.
My brother may move in with us. Like, next week. For an indefinite period of time. Monk and I refuse to stress about this until we know for sure. And by "refuse to stress" I mean "Monk's being very cool" and I am quietly flipping out but keeping the mess contained to the rumpus room in my head.


We interrupt this program

I wonder what part of "NO: my patio, MY SWING" the 70-lb foster dog does not understand?

All of it, apparently.

As long as she doesn't start turning the pages before I've finished reading I think we'll be okay.

(Hell, I'm just happy to be able to pick up a non-textbook book again. Also, how did I ever entertain myself before I owned a camera phone?)


In theory

Every year, roughly 30 days before her birthday, Biff begins the countdown/reminder service: “My birthday’s next month!” “My birthday’s in 18 days!” “5 days until my birthday!” and so on. (Why yes- it is, in fact, incredibly annoying, thank you for asking.) I, on the other hand, have always preferred to drift quietly toward my birthday (next month if you're wondering, not that I’m telling you to mark your calendars or anything), sans PSAs to my loved ones, just looking forward to a day of doing whatever I please and tallying up who loves me enough to remember the big event on their own (and, conversely, who I can cross off my Christmas card list). Since I’m not a big gimme-presents type of gal, simply being remembered makes my day.

I think that’s why, Sunday evening when the texts and phone calls started trickling in (turning into a veritable flood by Monday afternoon), regarding my carefully-planned (nearly two loooong years, people) Take This Job & Shove It day, my tiny blackened heart was warmed and made fuzzy (hmmm, eww, I think) then grew to end-of-The-Grinch-story proportions, and will likely stay that way all week.

Or at least until the next asshole in a Lexus cuts me off trying to get into my lane because construction has shut down half the highway and where were you when the warning signs started 2 miles ago, asshole? Did you not think that applied to you, or do you simply go through life assuming the world will make way for you and your gigantic entitlement issues, huh? HUH?!!!


Boss Lady was shocked. And “devastated.” I think there were actual tears in her eyes. She asked me if a raise would convince me to stay (I said no- will I be kicking myself in 6 months?). She said a bunch of other things to me, the gist of which being that I am perfect and no one will ever come close to doing quite the job I’ve done for her, and the fashion world will suffer a great loss the day I officially desert my Executive Assistant post (forgive me for paraphrasing but trust in its accuracy). Which, duh. And this is perhaps why the company shouldn’t have combined that raise two years ago with a side helping of morale destruction but what’s done is done.

I do regret breaking the news to her after she’d come in and happily plunked a bunch of souvenirs from her travels down on my desk. That felt a little evil, even though I knew it would happen that way (Thanks for the gifts! Now I have something special for YOU!). And I do regret not cementing an official last day, but we’re negotiating an “if necessary” part-time, flexible schedule for September to ease the transition with my replacement. So I may not, in reality, be out of the corporate world by my birthday which was supposed to be my Milestone Hella Big Present to myself, but should at least be enjoying an easy schedule and a little extra cash for the month which will help to pay for all the cake. (And by “cake,” I mean “booze” of course.)

The light at the end of the tunnel is definitely visible. Perhaps a little farther away than I would like, but it’s there. Yesterday's big event PLUS the fact that my interview last week went about twenty times better than I’d hoped (more on that later, when I’m certain I won’t jinx anything), September will be a month of change, determination (that's code for Hard Work), opportunity, challenge, and finally, finally being able to pursue a career in something I love. Happy birthday to me.


Multiple Choice

I'd love to write an interesting post today, but I have a few things on my mind at the moment. At the forefront is the interview I have in about an hour that, if all goes well (which is definitely an "if," as I don't tend to make a great first impression, especially when potential income is at stake, but hey you have to be good at something and I've made my peace with the fact that Making an Awkward First Impression is pretty much my superpower), could be a goldmine in massage jobs and contacts.

Then there's this weekend, which will be a babysitting extravaganza when Sister drops Niece and Nephew off for an overnight stay so she and Clod can have a nice anniversary dinner and go their separate ways for the rest of the night. Yes, I wondered about that too, but it seems there are quite a few ways to say Happy Anniversary around these parts.

And then on Monday the boss returns and I drop the Welcome Back, Guess What, I'm Quitting bomb. So that's great. Not losing sleep over that one at all.

Last week I thought I had a neat little party trick down with the left eye twitch, but this week? This week we are raising the stakes of this here circus act with the addition of a right eye twitch. Woo! You didn't think I could take it the next level, did you? Just wait until the hand trembling starts.