Sunday, December 27, 2009

So, You Thought You Could Decorate

I now have a new and deep insight into some of the neurosis that is my psyche. I enter the following into evidence:

I realize that driving around, taking in the holiday decorations and ooohing and awwwing is an American tradition. And, sure, we all have our own opinions on whether or not we like this or that display. I, personally, enjoy the more traditional looking homes but I also appreciate inventiveness and creativity. My brother, on the other hand, likes it loud, bright, gaudy and glittering. Think Clark W. Griswold in Christmas Vacation.

This year, my family was making our way to the annual trip to The Nutcracker. We see it every year, at the same theatre, performed by the same company, and eat a pre-theatre meal at the same restaurant. Because my family is NOTHING if not a slave to tradition. And, on our way from restaurant to theatre, we take the back roads.

Here's a snippet of the conversation during said drive through beautiful, picturesque neighborhoods.

Scene: Large house on a hill, lit by white candles and twinkly white lights.
Mom: "Isn't that lovely!"
Dad: "Big houses. Must cost a fortune."

Scene: Two story home, outlined in colored lights
Mom: I really don't like when people just line their houses like that. It seems so tacky.
Dad: Well, they have no imagination. It's low-effort decorating. Just a few strings of lights, some staples and you're done.

Scene: Trees in front of home draped in multi-colored lights in large, looping arcs.
Dad: Ugh. I hate that. It seems so willy-nilly.
Mom: It's almost like they just toss the strings up over the branches and who cares where they land. Really, they could put SOME effort into it.

Scene: Old oaks in front of a house wrapped, root to tips, in tiny white lights.
Dad: I really don't like that look.
Mom: I don't either. Why would you want to outline a bare tree? They probably leave the lights up all year anyway.

If you've been through even half the therapy I've been through (and here's hoping you haven't had to be!) you would also sit back and observe all of this with wonder and awe appropriate for this holiday season.

I could wax on with psychobabble and therapy language here, but that would just be overkill.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Out of the blue, about two years ago, GB popped up on my AOL messenger. A few hours later, we were sharing stories over a Bud Light and Jack Daniels in a bar. He's now probably the most important person in my life. A reality that should and must change, given all that is going on.

In a completely unrelated happenstance, I spent many hours a few nights ago exchanging stories with a long lost friend. Now, our last interaction wasn't exactly the most positive. And, to be frank, he's not re-finding me on my best footing. But, still, re-find each other we did.

So, here's where this gets complicated. Long lost friend (let's call him JeepBoy) used to live in Florida. And has friends down there. So, I said, hey, fly down and meet me down there while I spend NYE with GoodBuddy.

Then GoodBuddy tells me a friend of his might actually be there as well. And I get upset.

OK - here's the back story. Last night, GB passed out and didn't answer any of the gazillion phonecalls I put in to him. I called a mutual friend and told him, "I invited a friend down to FL to meet up. And now GB isn't answering my call. Is he passed out or is he pissed?" And mutual friend said, "Look, maybe he was really looking forward to spending time with you. Alone. Quality time." And I liked that. I hung onto that.

So, when I got upset that GB mentioned our time together might be shared, I was totally and utterly hippo critical. I have absolutely no right to be upset. Still, I can't help but be a little disappointed.

Because, the stark and nekkid reality is, I miss our long talks, our honest reality-bites discussions. And we're probably not going to get to have any of those now. And, while I'm glad he will have a lot of his friends surrounding him during the holiday, the part of me that wanted to be his one and only "special" friend is really, very sad.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Burnout (Or a trip to the drycleaners)

So, yes, I am officially and totally burned out. Two weeks' vacation cannot come soon enough. I cannot stress this adequately.

I made the executive decision to Fuck It and work from home today. Here's why.

When I started w/ this jobby job, I was informed that I would be the "super user" of our new CRM database system, which was just in the process of being spec'd out. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not what one would call analytically minded. Still, turns out my key contact is a wicked nice guy from MN, complete w/ the Fargo lilt and talking to him often doesn't suck.

So, okay, fast forward to now. We're trying to roll out enhancements to our system which, in his words, "give a whole new definition to scope creep." And indeed it does.

CBL has been completely hands off on this project, to the point where, when I bring it up, she rolls her eyes and I can practically hear her thinking "just deal with it, will you?" She doesn't seem to understand that every little whim she wants to indulge or change she wants to make means a chunk of my time laying it out and an even huger chunk of MN's time getting it done. It's a matter of respect. And then, of course, when she doesn't understand or like one of the changes, she goes into her "flurry mode." So, I really do need her sign off beforehand.

Yesterday, I made it quite clear that I needed to talk to her and if we were going to get these changes out, we needed to sign off TODAY. Response? "After my conference calls, I need to head into the FedEx dropoff and the drycleaners. We can talk after."

At 3, I got an email. "On the bus now. Do you need anything? A coffee? Snack?" Reply: "Don't need anything but the chance to discuss CRMSystem with you." Could I be any more clear?

When the shit hits the fan and she's getting yelled at by Prez (and then she turns around and yells at me) because the updates aren't made, know what I'm going to say?

"You know what? I'd love to talk, but I've gotta get to my drycleaners."

Monday, December 07, 2009

The importance of being Jack

Occasionally, GB and I like to play this social experiment. We go to a bar. Sit down. The bartender comes over for our order and he says, "Bud Light in a bottle and a Jack Daniels." Then we wait to see which drink the barkeep puts down in front of which person.

Yes, folks, I'm a woman. I drink Jack. Sometimes w/ a mixer. Sometimes w/ a chaser. In some extreme circumstances, straight out of the bottle with only a bit of a shiver at the finish.

This may seem hardcore. And, in truth, it's certainly not the best of vices. But, I have to say this, it wins me a LOT of friends on the road.

Of note: At dinner with ChirpBoy in SanFran, when the very cute bartender found out the Jack was my drink, she put my pour on the house. On the plane on the way home (eight hour flight!) when the flight attendant heard that I asked for a JD to help me sleep, she told her co-worker to "put it on my tab." Tonight, on the train, I made a joke about the 14 hour day with my boss. The female conducter leaned over and whispered, "what are you drinking?" Next trip I made to the cafe car, a nip was quietly deposited into my snack box.

The reality is, women appreciate in one another a sense of strength, a sense of identity, a sense of ownership. Maybe it's about time those of us who DON'T watch Sex In the City began reclaiming ourselves. I don't know. But whatever it is, I'm psyched about it. Because it's led me to talk to people I might never have had the nerve or incentive to approach.

A round of whatever you're drinking on me!

Saturday, December 05, 2009


So, here's a little amusing story.

When I was in college, I worked summers for a very upscale Country Club. It was poorly-kept secret that this club was mafia-owned and -operated but a very evident secret that only the creme de la creme were able to afford membership. I worked in events, first staffing banquets and later managing them. Oh the things I learned - about life, business, the importance of unbuttoning just one more button to earn that tip. Still, when functions start at $75 per person for the very basic of events, you quickly learn how things are done the right way, at the right time, for the important audience.

One of the lessons I learned early off is that, when one room is used for many functions (an awards ceremony at night, a golfers outing breakfast in the morning, a wedding cocktail reception at 2) said room is constantly in "changeover." Which means, it gets stripped of old settings and replaced with new in the blink of an eye.

And that's your background.

This week, I was on the West Coast to oversee a conference at which our business unit President, and CBL's boss, was presenting the Keynote Breakfast. It was a pretty big deal.

I've been in touch with the catering manager for weeks. The menu was set. The room set-up was set. The A/V was set. It was all good to go. The breakfast was Thursday morning, I was arriving at noon on Wednesday.

Scene: Plane touches down. I power up phone and BlackBerry. Almost immediately, BB starts buzzing.

Subject: Call me
Subject: Where are you?
Subject: are you here? worried about tomorrow's breakfast. boxes have arriv....
Subject: sent [Salesguy] off to look for catering manager. don't know how we...
Subject: have you landed yet? where are you? call me!

I do my best to take ten deep breaths after seeing these - and the rest! - of the messages and then call. I submit:

Me: Heya, how's it going? I just landed, I'm in the terminal waiting for my suitcase.
CBL: I was getting worried. We don't know how we're going to set up for the breakfast.
Me: Did the boxes arrive with all of the materials?
CBL: Yes. I have them stored here at the table. But I didn't know who to talk to about getting everything set up.
Me: Well, our banquet contact is []. But you really don't need to call her, because I'll be dropping off all the stuff in the morning.
CBL: But our breakfast starts at 7:30!
Me: Yep. But they're not setting the room until the morning, so it really won't make any sense to set up our materials on unlinened tables, would it? (subtle try at humor)
CBL: But how are they going to get it all done it time?
Me: They will. Trust me. They do this all the time. It will be fine.
CBL: Yeah. I've heard that before. But [Pres] is presenting at this one so I need to make sure it's flawless.
Me: It will be. I promise.
CBL: If you say so. I don't know. I'm worried. I'll get down there by six to make sure.
Me: Really, you don't have to be down there by six. I talked to [] today and as long as she knows where the boxes are, they'll have us all set up by 7 am. She knows I'm on my way and will stop up to see her. It's all good. I promise.
CBL: If you say so. I just really don't want this screwed up with [Pres] there.

So, to humor CBL, I showed up at six. We (the banquet servers and I) had the room set and pressed by 6:30. The AV was set and checked by 6:45. When CBL showed up at 7:15, I was trading WC Fields stories with the banquet captain.

So, all's well that end well, eh?

Well, yeah. Except we were presenting at the next day's breakfast too. And you'd like to think that CBL took lessons from this experience. But you'd be wrong...

It really sucks when you succeed and succeed and someone still doesn't trust you.

Brutal Realizations

I had an amazing dinner/conversation with an amazing friend last night. I can't remember if he yet has an alias on this blog (I'll have to investigate, but for now I will call him ChirpBoy (see about 5 minutes into the vid for the reference.). But, it was wonderful to see him - he is thoughtful and insightful and generous and caring. We talked for hours and it was really wonderful to know that there are people out there that I can talk with and neither of us is "waiting for a chance to talk." We're just there, hearing the other person, taking it in, caring about what's said and being honest in our response. ChirpBoy is a stellar friend and there aren't enough words in this world to thank him for his friendship. But the outlying theme of the evening, despite all the back and forth was: He's worried about me and with good reason.

I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'm working myself into the ground. I have said - and without pretense or exaggeration - that I'm probably going to keep on working until I have a nervous breakdown. And I'm not really that far off. Witness the drama of the Turkey Day Holiday Visit. (I didn't post about that - some things are actually private.) I am fully aware that I am teetering on a ledge and it's only a matter of time before I fall off. Here's hoping I fall in the right direction. (I'll post some examples soon - promise!)

Still, during our conversation, ChirpBoy said something along the lines of the following: "Maybe you should think about taking a vacation and going to see GoodBuddy. I'm still not sure that he's a good influence on you, but it's clear that this separation is hard on you. You need to be able to talk to someone who will validate your feelings, unlike [I purposefully leave this out as it could come to no good to anyone]. And, it's clear that you care about him a lot. And it sounds like he cares about you, too. So, take some time, have some fun and figure out how you're going to handle this new situation with the two of you."

It's a thought.

I have to take a serious hard look at the finances. And my travel schedule. I'm on the road more these days than off. And the new year doesn't look much slower. Still, as much as I miss my home and my kitties when I travel, I miss curling up into GB's shoulder and drifting off to sleep.

So even if the finances look tight, I might seriously consider the trip. And here's why:

I do not want to sacrifice my sanity at the altar of CBL. I know that I have to do my job and - in this economy - I have to do it extremely well every day and every way. But I am also not responsible for keeping her afloat. The reality is, CBL relies on me to manage her own anxieties and her own personal boundaries. And that is not something that I should be, nor - any longer - can be responsible for. Because she is so insecure, she desperately wants to outperform what can reasonably expected. And, because everyone else on the team has a life and a family, they either can't or won't give in to her outrageous demands. But not me. I'm continually picking up the slack of others who drop the ball or take their qualified and legitimate days off. I have about 17 personal days coming to me and I still feel bad about taking them. But it's becoming increasingly clear that I need to take time to "sharpen the saw."

And, yes, the reality is this: I miss the days when GB and I would spend hours bantering back and forth. We usually hung out in my bathroom, which seems weird until you realize I was (in vain) trying to minimize the residue his smoking habit left in my home. But I cannot tell you how many memories I have of him, sitting on my bathroom floor, hand lifted, lit Newport Light pointed out the open window. Me sitting on the bathtub ledge or perched onto the vanity. Both of us talking miles an hour. Arguing. Laughing. Competing. Agreeing. Challenging one another. Enlightening one another. Hitting high fives and fist bumps when we hit upon the A-Ha statement.

Phonecalls just don't cut it. He's tired, I'm tired, we don't translate, we can't really hear each other or its just not a good time. We can give lip service as much as we want to staying in touch across the miles. But nothing will ever make up for in person communique.

So, yes, I desperately miss him. In a very physical way, but of course, also in a very tangible way (and they are different things). I want to kiss him and smell him and, hey, let's be honest, he's not that difficult to look at (fill in the blanks here as you wish.) But I am also distinctly and very massively feeling the need to re-establish our connection. Because, as much as we argue and as many times as I want to tell him to go to hell, no one on this planet understands me the way GB does. And sometimes there are just too many things to say to get them all out in a phonecall.

I do realize that I need to make a serious and concerted effort to establish real and grounded connections here at home. And that once I do, my reliance on these distant relations will lesson, over time.

But I cannot imagine, after all we've been through - the losing one another and seeking out each other again - that GB and I will ever NOT be in one another's life. I cannot imagine it and I will not imagine it. It's just too painful a thought.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Miles and miles

I honestly didn't know the novel Up In The Air was coming out as a George Clooney movie. I saw it in the airport the other day and had to pick it up. (I'm still avoiding reading Winter's Tale after three unsuccessful starts...) I have to say that I am really enjoying it. I find the writing crisp and intriguing. And, yes, the dialogue was pretty much written for George Clooney's wry, sarcastic persona. But, again, I didn't know that when I bought it. I jut thought it would be a fitting read given that:

I came home from NJ on Sunday.

I left on Wednesday for San Francisco

I return home late Saturday night.

Tuesday night I either train or plane down to New York.

Wednesday night or Thursday morning, I fly to Chicago.

Thursday night or Friday morning I return home.

I'm home from Thursday/Friday through until the following Monday!

Monday the 21st head to NJ for the whole week.

I return home December 26th.

January 4th I fly to Dallas, TX.

January 7th I fly to Minneapolis.

January 9th I return home.

January 30th I fly to London.

February 4th I fly home.

I'm not sure what happens then. We haven't planned it out that far. Haven't exactly had time.

So much for setting down roots.