Sunday, December 30, 2007

I tumbled down the stairs yesterday.

I tumbled down and had the bookcase fall upon me.

I tumbled down because I missed a step.

I missed a step because I was having an asthma attack.

One trip to the ER. One trip home with many, much swollen and grotesque bruises and a sprained shoulder. One sleepless night because of pain. One day writhing in the green chair. I think I shall be ruing yesterday for quite a few more days.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I was ever most productive at work. That has been my goal of late. I am not sure how sustainable it can be, but I have been making a serious effort to do so.

Mostly, it is a self-preservation mechanism. Partly, it is a desire to do my work "heartily as if for the Lord."

I have been most frustrated at this job. I can do ever so much and yet everything is hurry up and wait. Design this. Oh, there is no budget for printing. Plan this. Nope, not yet. I have become skilled at mass mailings, having gotten them down from fifteen business days to five, even with doing all the writing, designing, printing, stuffing, sealing, labeling, and stamping myself. 1000 pieces of sheer boredom. I do it, because I am fettered at my own job and there is no one to do this work.

At times, I am so disheartened by doing mailings when I have a Ph.D., when I have skills and talents that are being wasted. In between the mass mailings, there are the monthly mailings to the foster and respite parents. I design, write, print, stuff, seal, label, and stamp those as well. In between the mailings, I get to research a bit, write a bit, and plan a bit. But most of that has gone ignored for the most part. My strategic plan and communications plan has been sitting for three months. I have ideas. I have skills. I have vision.

Sometimes, I feel as if I have been waiting my whole life to do that which I could do. At 40, I am running out of time.

Anyhow, I made it through that party and decided that in order to survive, I had to shift my focus to what I can do rather than what I cannot. God is sovereign. He gave me this job. While I can see no purpose and want to leave, I shall honor Him in the days I have left.

Hence, this was a most productive week. And...I shall celebrate by taking a vacation day on Monday so that I have from now until Wednesday free from my work the burden it has become.

One newsletter. One Tips, Tools & Resources. One very long weekend to rest in the satisfaction of a job well done.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christ was not born this day. I am not so foolish as to believe that He was. It is, however, a day set aside to celebrate His birth, to savor this most precious of gift God bestowed upon us.

I celebrate His birth. I rail at how commercialized this day has become, but I celebrate His birth.

However, should not we, who call upon Christ as our Savior and Lord, celebrate His birth every day? Why should one day be more important than any other. We know that the shepherds were in the field when He was born. We know that the typical time for that to have happened was Spring to Fall. I could go on and on about how man decided this arbitrary date. However, the evidence and historical path to this date really does not matter. What matters is that man decided.

I could wish that man decided a few other things about this date than those we have now. I mean, the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world is also the day by which retailers mark the health and well-being of our economy. How twisted is that? He who tells us to deny ourselves, to lay down everything we have and follow Him is celebrated by mass accumulation of goods? By people often extending themselves in to serious debt just to do so?

I received presents this year. I am thankful for them, thankful for the financial ones that have helped to whittle down my own debt from being unemployed for so many months. But, oh, I could wish I had the will power to say please do not give me a gift. I choose to honor this day for what it should be, not what it has become.

Should I? Should Christians eschew the giving and receiving of gifts? Or do they not matter since this is really an arbitrary day that holds not real place in history?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

E, B's young daughter, is gaining much skill in her application of my make-up.

She carefully spreads my moisturizer and then pats on my foundations. Her powering could use a bit more coverage, but at least she no longer feels the need to do my eyes and ears. She can swipe on my eyeshadow with good coverage and has learned to concentrate the application of blush on my cheeks. I do the eyeliner and mascara, modeling for her that when it comes to sticking things near your open eyes, you should always do it yourself.

I enjoy getting ready with E. She is oh so very serious about helping me. She is her most patient and her most gentle while doing so. When we are sitting together, peering into my mirror to check her work, I forget at times that there is nearly 37 years difference between us. In that mirror, I see the young women she might become.

I see her curiosity. I see her tenacity. I see her wonder.

Once again, I will say that I am much cared for while in B's home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I must admit that I was in grievous error: I was wrong. Yes, as difficult as it is to actually type those words, I would be remiss in not doing so.

I post here for all the world to know that I was wrong.

Hark, all who can hear (read)...let it be known from this day forth and forever more that I was wrong in disparaging B's culinary preferences.

She liked the spinach-stuffed triangle pasta!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I have the J magic!

I tease B rather mercilessly that I have the magic with her young son. Of course, I am telling the most absolute truth when I do!

I believe that one of my all time favorite experiences has been to get him up from his nap. From the moment I met little J, he had this magic way of smiling at me. It is a slow smile, a sweet smile that lights up the whole room. When B came to help me out when I had surgery last April, right before I had to go in, J woke from his nap. There in the waiting room, I called his name. J. J. And there it was. His beautiful smile. A moment a peace and joy to savor instead of holding on to the angst that filled me.

I think the truth of it is that I channel the magic from his smile. When we know he is awake, I volunteer to go fetch him because I know what will come of it. I peak my head into the door and call his name in a silly, sing-song fashion. J. He greets me with that smile and my heart overflows.

I scoop him up and toss him on the changing table where he is most docile for me, despite my fumbling around with those blasted snaps that seem to come on just about ALL clothing for children. He doesn't mind. I have the J magic.

Twice I have even trimmed his nails whilst he lay patiently waiting on me. And a few times I even sucked out the muck from his nose with nary a cry. Miraculous, eh?

B sometimes has to throw a leg over him just to get his diaper changed (she is a true contortionist). He throws fits when she tries to clip his nails. He vehemently protests her removal of his muck. She does not have the J magic. I do.

Now that he is a wee little man of one, we share the most special of moments whilst I am changing him after his naps. He lies there on the table, telling me all about his dreams and thoughts and wonders. He claps his hands together for emphasis at times. He smiles at me and even chuckles a time or two. It is a marvelous magical moment. One that B allows me to have as much as I want.

Now, tell me, is that not the sign of a true friend?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am resting in the bosom of my best friend and her family. I have safely arrived after driving far too tired for such a distance. I am here.

When I was leaving at Thanksgiving, B's husband G completely surprised me when he kindly observed how well I fit into his family and invited me to come again at Christmas.

Remember how that visit went? Serious asthma attack. Injured bird. He wanted me back? Surely it was that third helping of turkey and dressing talking, eh?

Well, after I returned home and sufficient time for digestion and reflection had passed, I asked B if G was serious. He was. I came.

While driving, I realized that I was quite tired. Too tired, in fact, to be behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle, especially once filled with my puppydog, my bird, and my laptop...and me, I guess. B talked with me once I realized I needed assistance, but when she asked if it was all right to pop in the shower before I arrived, I acquiesced, knowing that I would probably keep her up past her bedtime. But I was ever so tired.

Knowing my brother in CA would still be awake, I called him for help. BIG MISTAKE. After a short while, he told me he didn't want to talk to me because we had already talked that week, he belittled my need, called me ridiculous, and hung up on me. I was in tears.

I drove up to B's house in tears. I was fighting them back as I smiled and embraced her, greeted heartily by both B and G. My brother doesn't understand why I would choose to spend the holidays with B's family rather than mine. When I tried to explain, a few days ago, tried to explain that there was no fighting, no criticism and that there was love and peace, his repeated response was that our family was not perfect.

Well, neither is B's. She and G get frustrated with each other, with their children. B and G wish some things were different. But B and G don't judge. They don't weigh and measure every thing you do, how you dress, your weight, your hair, your work. They just love and accept you as you are, even celebrating those flaws (micro in my case) you might have.

I am disappointed that I let my family get to me at this special time B and G are giving me with their family. I need to wrap up my tears and set them aside.

I cannot begin to describe how wide and how deep is the love of God, nor can I describe how he has poured out His love for me through B and G and their children. Oh, how I am blessed...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

While mention of my thoughts of this day here for all to see might seem contradictory to sum of them, I shall do so anyway.

I am heartily embarrassed. In fact, I am uncomfortably so.

Yesterday, all day, I was congratulated on the party. I could not have asked for more effusive praise. Apparently--this is not my hubris speaking--it was the best party the agency has ever had. Would you believe that? After all, it truly was cobbled together at the last minute. How could it have been that good?

Well, I think the tipping point was either the musicians or the activities. The past parties were more gift exchanges rather than an actual event with things to do for all involved. Still, it was a hasty affair.

I am embarrassed because I only deserved a smidgen of it, if any. After all, it was all of our donors who made the party happen. One of them was the woman who fed me ideas for the party since I have never planned one for children and youth heretofore. Mostly, my contribution was a great big passel of organization.

I was given a standing ovation today. I was given flowers. I was awarded our weekly "Pat on the Back" that is shared within our department. I received another dozen or so congratulations.

It got to the point that I was ducking fellow employees and hiding out in the bathroom. Okay, perhaps that is a bit much, but was all a bit much.

Driving home, I spent my time praying for those children. They were worth the angst and pressure and frenzied labors. Perhaps my effort to let them know that they are loved and celebrated hit home and might inspire additional such efforts by our agency as the months and years pass. Perhaps...

Monday, December 17, 2007

I hand wrote 24 different thank you notes today at work. I found it difficult to ensure that each one was unique and personal to the recipient. It was a bit of a chore.

However, all those who came together to help out with the party...the gifts, the supplies, and the food...well, each one deserved our token of our gratitude.

I would be remiss if I did not note that much of my gratitude goes to the Lord of Lords. It was patently clear to me that God's hand was at work in creating a joyful time for children and youth who have such little joy in their lives.

I lift a paean of praise to Him!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Well, it is over.

What is IT? The blasted holiday party for the foster children that I have been cobbling together over the last four weeks. I was so tired by the time this morning arrived, I think I might have sleep-walked through the entire event.

Those who know me well will not be surprised that I had a box packed for each element of the party, complete with a packing list taped to the top. Those who were manning the activity stations, such as face painting or cookie decorating, only had to unpack their box of supplies and set them up in order to be ready to go.

Of course, the day could not have been perfect. That truly would have been too much to ask after begging and cajoling folks to help out and all my planning/creating spreadsheets and literally driving myself crazy for weeks on end in order to make this party happen. What snafu occurred? Well, when we arrived, I found that the kitchen was locked up and our food was behind a secure door as well. I did manage not to cry nor loose my cool. I did rather frenetically pursue a keeper of keys to release my hostages. The 30 minute delay did not ultimately impact the party, so all was well.

One of my donors, the one who was paying for 1/2 the pizza did not come through with his pledge. Then my phone stopped working just as I was trying to touch base with Domino's about our order. Awaiting the timely delivery of 35 pizzas was a bit nerve-wracking for me.

The pizza arrived. The activities were a hit. The musicians were phenomenal. Santa, while a bit off his rocker, entertained the children and youth. The parent raffle was a success. The food was filling and satisfying. All in all, the party went well.

I was bleary-eyed before it even began and could not really tell you much about actual events between the three hours 150 people were milling around. Nor could I describe the clean-up or the carting of supplies back to our office. And, well, frankly, I was barely conscious during the drive home.

What did I do once I arrived here? You tell me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Congress announced that it will be investigating the interrogation tapes that were destroyed.

When did Congress become law enforcement?

Perhaps if Congress focused on the problems of the country and left alleged criminal behavior to the Department of Justice, we might just might finally see some progress against the plethora of pressing issues we face in this country.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, my! How I enjoyed my trip to see Sugarland!

On the way there, my friend D and I drove through a mist that parted to reveal a herd of deer. The moment was made all the more special shared with a good friend.

D was ever so patient with me. He arrived 12 minutes early wanting to detour to Lorton. Lorton is NOT on the way to least in my opinion. I presented myriad reasonable thoughts about not going until the next day, over and over again, as I packed up my things for our road trip: two inhalers, cough medicine, EpiPen, nebulizer, Chloroseptic, cough drops, and water. By the time I was ready, he caved from his desire to take care of his errand and agreed to get on our way.

The concert ended up being 112 miles and a mere five turns from my home. Of course, turn 3 brought us to a stand still for a while. I panicked in the passenger seat until D pointed out that we only had to average 37 miles an hour to arrive by my target time and surely the next turn (in 12 miles) would bring us back up to speed. Not even once did he tell me to "chill."

After our magic mist moment, our next adventure was a stop at Taco Bell since we were making such good time. It was an adventure because D has an allergy to gluten and he had never eaten at a Taco Bell before. We had to check out the ingredients on a half dozen menu items with the manager before D felt safe to consume some food.

On our way again, we were able to slip into the parking garage and make our way into the arena with 45 minutes to spare before the concert!

If you look really carefully, you can see Sugarland in the white blob on the stage. It is easier to see Jennifer Nettles on the main screen above the stage. She was singing their song "Stay."

Jake Owen opened the concert. I cared not for his music, but found the row of screaming young girls behind me who were fawning over him the entire span of his performance a bit amusing.

Next came Little Big Town. I do enjoy their least most of it. One of the pure highlights of the concert was when they sang "Boondocks." The whole arena of people were on their feet singing and clapping, dancing and swaying to the music. Old and young, male and female. It was an incredible moment of camaraderie, of fellowship in the human condition.

That moment came again and again with several of Sugarland's songs. Of course, by then, I was singing along with my crowdmates. I tried not singing. I tried to be careful about my still sore throat and my asthma. But two songs into their set, I was lost in the music and singing at the top of my voice. Perhaps the fact that I used both inhalers and the cough medicine just prior to singing saved me another trip to the ER, eh?

The Sugarland merchandise truck had broken down on the way to Charlottesville, but it did arrive by the end of the concert. D spotted the shirt I wanted immediately. you think I choose the red one, the blue one, or the GREEN one? He called it a Jolly Rancher shirt because of the font on it, but I cared not.

My one disappointment was the fact that there was something wrong with the sound during Sugarland's performance. I am rather loathe to admit that for much of the time, Jennifer Nettles sounded like a chipmunk any time she hit the higher notes. We had listen to their cd's on the way home to remind ourselves what a great voice she has. I guess I could not expect a perfect evening.

Besides, I told D that the sound issue meant that we will need to go to another Sugarland concert! I also told him I wondered just how far he would travel for me to get my Sugarland fix. My stepmother, when she learned that we were going on a road trip for the concert, commented that he must really like the band. She didn't quite understand my response: D didn't travel for Sugarland; he traveled for me!

Do you have a D in your life? Do you have someone who will do something that he/she is absolutely not interested in doing just because you want to do it? Twice now, D has chauffeured and accompanied me to sit through a concert by a band he cares not for. He cares not for Sugarland, but he does care for me.

Such blessing there can be in true friendship...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In less than two hours, I shall be on the road to see Sugarland for a second time. I am hoping another ER trip will not be a part of this venture, but I am ever the weeist bit worried. I have been ill since before Thanksgiving, and I just cannot seem to get well.

I must admit that I am also a wee bit disappointed that I will not be able to sing. I mean, standing in a crowd of thousands who are all singing with abandon is kind of great. I won't get to join them...unless I want that ER trip.

My voice, while back, is still rough. I cough all night long. I am still quite congested. And I have ferociously sore throat. However, I am going to this concert!

Cross your fingers for me...

Friday, December 07, 2007

When do you draw the line and say that your ethical integrity is more important than a salary? When is who you are as a person more important than ensuring you have enough money to cover your prescriptions? I will never, ever understand how people can solicit funds for a children's event and then say internally that they want to use the money otherwise. How can I be a part of that?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I found a most tasty item at Costco today. However, to my sorrow, I am certain I could not share it with my friend B. You see, what I found was triangle ravioli stuffed with spinach and mozzarella cheese topped with savory herbs and a bit of olive oil.

I confess that I went back to the tasting booth five times, even though I had already put a package into my cart.

B just does not appreciate food stuffed with spinach. While I do not care for spinach by itself, paired with cheese I find the green vegetable most tasty. In this pasta dish, it is altogether satisfying.

I suppose I shall have to eat the entire bag of ravioli myself rather than share it with B and G when I return at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My dear puppydog has been ardently guarding my gloves from the moment I came into the house and accidentally dropped them on the floor. Oh, how I have forgotten his deep abiding affinity for my winter gloves!

He lies couchant, gloves between his two paws, for hours on end. Should I dare walk near him, or even cast an eyeball in his direction, Kashi will lower his head to cover them and growls menacingly.

Although he is loathe to do so, Kashi will eventually ask to go outside. During a snowstorm, as we have had this evening, my habit is to follow him outside and shovel snow off the deck and stairs whilst he attends to his business. As soon as he is done, Kashi casts all thoughts of lingering in the yard aside and bolts for the back door, where he waits rather impatiently for me to let him back inside. When I do open the door, he pushes past me, races around the corner, slips and slides across the floor, and flings himself down to protect "his" gloves once more.

It will be a wily move on my part should I actually be able to retrieve them so that I can wear them again tomorrow. Serves me right for dropping them in the first place!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Still half frozen from being left at the metro earlier this morning, I managed to turn one interview into three! I do believe that by the new year I very well may have a new job! I did manage to parlay one visit into a second one some time next week. More people to meet. Another opportunity to see if I might be a good fit for a job where I will actually be using my skills, even if it means walking away from messaging and communications. I am trying to remain nonchalant by the prospect.

After such a heady experience where not one, nor even two, but three people told me that they were impressed by the diversity of my skills sets (finally someone who does not want me to fit into a box), I was buoyed enough to attend a roundtable discussion following by a holiday networking affair.

At the roundtable, I was emboldened to share my ideas about the need for shared messaging about affordable housing in the area. Instead of promoting the "I," the developers and community groups needs to start sharing the "we." The messaging also needs to focus on how affordable housing is an important cog in the wheel of a healthy community. So many people do not really understand what affordable housing is and who needs it. The faces of affordable housing are not merely drug addicts or welfare mothers with a passel of children. In this region, if you look around the community, you will find scores of folk who cannot afford a place to live without one or two or three salaries in the household. Teachers, administrative assistants, nurses, wait staff, sales people...they all struggle to find housing where they work, adding to the traffic congestion, increasing the cost of doing business, and decreasing quality of life--all blows to a region's economy.

Anyhow, off my soapbox and on to my evening. I actually stayed and mingled, having several conversations. One was with the man who cut me from my last job. He cares not a whit about what he put me through nor how his company has suffered from a lack of communications effort (two replacements have left, neither of them capable of doing half the work I did).

I was thoughtful. I was bold. I gave voice to my ideas. I was sought out. I was appreciated. A good day, eh?

You know what made it a great day? Fancy was not screaming as I walked up to the house. She did huddle on my shoulder for the remainder of the evening, but nary a cry!

I wonder if I shall be a sufficient flock mate for her. I would think she needs a new companion, but how shall I know who is the right one for her. Apparantly, her pairing with Madison was a felitious one. Oft times, it goes badly. I guess birdy marriages are not that different from human ones!

Monday, December 03, 2007

93 grams

Sunday, December 02, 2007

B is fired. Or a least her baby J is. That whole family is overly generous with its germs, but given the fact that B has had these colds that last for decades ever since her first pregnancy, I blame the children, most particularly J.

My stinking cold is clinging with a vicious grip! Two weeks of sleep interrupted by coughing and breathing blocked by a stuffy nose stinks. I want my throat to stop hurting. I want to fatigue to disappear. I want my voice back. I want to feel better!

Trying to work days and nights and weekends is rather difficult when you feel like death warmed over.

Why, I've barely had the energy to celebrate the fact that my 'Boys are 11/1! And how in the world will I be able to accompany Sugarland at the concert on Saturday if my chords are all messed up?

Just because he's a bare year old doesn't excuse J from his social responsibility. Germs belong to yourself, J. No sharing allowed!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I am trying to restrain myself from plunking Fancy down on the scale hourly. Even daily might be a bit much. She was underweight from the stress of her recent molt. All my Googling about Cockatiel mates' death has resulted in alarming information of how easily the surviving bird dies of starvation born of grief.

She was 90 at B's house. She was 94 when we arrived home. She is 88 now. Her normal, chunky self is 114 grams. I would settle for anything over 100.