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.