December started off with a little drama. We call the week before exams “Dead week.” It has nothing to do with being deceased or wearing tie dye. It simple means the week of no class assignments, no papers due, no tests, no early exams. Nothing is supposed to be happening that week. Hence, dead. It’s an internal term not used campus wide and no one outside the library would get it. Except…my new guy posted the hours of “Dead” week on every campus announcement he could find: students, staff, faculty, admin, you name it. They all got it. Lucy, you have some ‘splaining to do! Of well. It could be worse. Last week someone thought we stole a leather chair from the Trustees room.
Anyway, December is the month I go quietly insane. I am brimming with good intentions and somehow get knocked sideways. All those intentions are knocked out of me at the 11th hour (i.e. Christmas Eve). For reading it’s not much better:
- The People’s History of the Supreme Court by Peter Irons ~ in honor of the first Chief Justice being appointed in December (John Jay).
- Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis ~ for the same reason (hey, I’m in a legal mood).
- To What End: Report from Vietnam by Ward Just in honor of Just’s birth month
- A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor ~ in honor of Southern Fiction
That’s it. That it is all I really have planned for the month. Nothing too earth shaking, shattering or whatever. I think I’ll do enough of that on my own, thank you very much.
What a weird month June ended up being! I wanted to stop borrowing books from other libraries while mine went through a transition period with it’s catalog. I chose one book to read, And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hoover Santmyer which I thought would take me the entire month of June. How wrong I was…about everything. First, the migration is delayed so I could have borrowed books from other libraries. In that one instance the library stayed the same while everything else changed: the entire building has had every light bulb changed, I’m in the process of hiring two new people (and an architect for a complete overhaul of the library’s layout), in September I will have three staff members working nights, only two people are in their same offices, and I even got new furniture. What a difference a month makes. I was also wrong about finishing And Ladies of the Club. I was bored to tears. So I moved on to:
- Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan in honor of D-Day on June 6th, 1944.
- Atonement by Ian McEwan in honor of June being Family month.
- Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe in honor of June being National Short Story month.
- Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler in honor of Food Week
Not a huge month for reading. I spent a lot of time focusing on life in the here and now…
I had to say no several times yesterday. What a weird concept. Usually I skirt around the issue, not wanting to come right out with not participating. How liberating, how honest to just say no. Not now. Nope. Why haven’t I thought about this before? Why haven’t I dared?
In the case of the work whiners it was easiest when I could look at the time and say we need to continue this tomorrow. My charges? To find out what makes some so damn inefficient. Easier said than done. No Grace under pressure. I had to admire this one administrator. In mid-sentence she was told she needed to be somewhere else. It didn’t ruin her day. It didn’t ruin her attitude. She was able to slide over to a new way of thinking. When I asked her how she managed she looked at me and deadpanned, “interruption is not a word in my vocabulary.” I love it. Word to the wise. Wise up.
It’s harder to say no to friends. I had plans to get together with someone who really means a lot to me. Yet, I need to stay on my training schedule. I couldn’t have done both successfully. It bothered me that the training won out. It bothered me to have to tell her no. After all, she is my inspiration. She is my hero. Yet, I put her off, hero or not. This is the way it had to be. No, I said. I need to train. Her graceful acceptance allowed me to walk nine miles. I got it done because I didn’t give in.
Later, an invitation to chat. Under any other circumstances I would have loved sparring with this flirty friend. He’s quick with the compliments and quicker with the innuendos. I love the sass. I love the challenge this conversation always presents to me. Who can be the most indulgent, the most daring? But, sigh of all sighs, I had to tell him and his innuendos no. I needed a warm bath and a hot cup of tea. As I let the water wrap itself around my tired legs I thought about this new no I seem to have. While I don’t necessary like it or want it, it works for now. For now.
I was invited to a Girls’ Night In last Friday. It sounded amazing. Pedicures, manicures, massage, pampering, girly time. Despite the temptation of all those pedicures and manicures I concentrated on another cure. By 5:30pm I was hitting the streets training for Just ‘Cause. I don’t think I can call walking “training” without a little smile on my face, but after five miles my hips told me differently. They gently reminded me I may not be able to finish twenty let alone times three. Doesn’t matter. I’m here for the cure. I’m broken but I’m still beautiful.
The Sunday sunshine saw me out again. This time I had kisa drop me off at the public library. I’d walk home from there. 5.5 miles if I did it right. I’m noticing my new neighborhood. My new town is beautiful but in a very broken way. Bottles dropped by alcoholics who have had more than their share. Gamblers casting off their loser scratch cards by the hundreds. Flattened things. Unrecognizable things. Dirty things. Things that make my eyes slide away. My favorite moment: a young cat peers out from under a sodden, mangled box with worry in his eyes. I smile with conspiracy. Have no fear. I won’t give you away. Stay stone still and no one will take you away to anywhere. We will walk on by. Promise.
I have decided there are more important things than worrying about what everyone else is doing. I watch people become sulky and sullen when they don’t get what they want and I’ve decided it’s none of their business anyway. Instead, I will pour my energy into something more worthwhile. Petty you is not pretty to me. Everyone will be in for a shock. Maybe I’ll get that pedicure after all. In pink. Then I can say I am living it right. Broken, but beyond beautiful.
You could say my obsession is my abode. You could say I’ve been too wrapped up in work. You might even say I have been a little fixated on health issues. All of the above I say. All of the above. Luckily, the proof is only in the house. I haven’t been keeping tabs on work or the workings of me. But, here’s the house and how it’s been:
2/23 Closing day. Breasts aside, we are a go.
2/24 Where to begin?
2/25 We have a phone
2/26 Get another truckload from the apartment
2/27 Get another truckload from the apartment
2/28 Get another truckload from the apartment
3/1 Seller here. First visitors. Washer/dryer are in
3/2 First snow storm. How do they handle snow around here?
3/3 Get another truckload from the apartment
3/4 Did first load of laundry
3/5 First cat puke – Get another truckload from the apartment
3/6 Change the freaking locks already
3/7 First day alone
3/8 Get another truckload from the apartment
3/9 Cat comes out
3/10 Ran on tread for the first time – mail didn’t go
3/11 Mail didn’t go
3/12 Mail didn’t go
3/13 mail went- get another truckload from the apartment
3/14 Double apartment trip – in-laws see the place
3/15 Dining room set came – faucet trouble
3/16 Get another truckload from the apartment
3/17 Hate not having the dish
3/18 Really hate not having the dish
3/19 Loving the microwave
3/20 Get another truckload from the apartment – Hello Coldplay
3/21 Get another truckload from the apartment – living room end tables arrive
3/22 Get another truckload from the apartment – Zeke comes home
3/23 This kitchen isn’t working
3/24 This kitchen isn’t working
3/25 This kitchen isn’t working
3/26 Thanks for the manuals
3/27 Get another truckload from the apartment
3/28 fixed the shed window – new security system
3/30 This kitchen might work
3/31 can we get rid of more boxes?
4/1 Hello chocolate for cheaper!
4/2 You shouldn’t have…
4/3 The first turtles come out. Art comes in!
4/4 More turtles
4/5 Get another truckload from the apartment (when will it end?)
4/6 Art gets its place
“I’m guilty just the same.
Sometimes you’re needed badly so please come back again…”
~Duran Duran Hold Back the Rain
The last month has been a weird sort of hell. While the house has been awesome, getting settled hasn’t been all that fun. We are still moving out at the same time as moving in. Still. We are still living out of boxes. Still. Yeah, yeah. Don’t tell me because I’ve heard it before. These Things Take Time. I should be wearing the words as a slogan across my chest. Or tattooed on my forehead. Something. Yeah, yeah. I know the words. It’s not like I haven’t moved (17 times) before. My frustration lies in the lack of time I have to dedicate. It takes time but I have no time to donate.
Last week They were on campus. They are the same They I talked about in my Entitled to Tell You So blog. They stormed the gates again and this time I took it personally. Here’s another yeah yeah moment. I KNOW they weren’t talking about MY job performance. I KNOW they weren’t talking about ME when the listed the library as a concern, as a weakness to the institution. Nothing they announced was new. So, why do I take it so personally? I’ll tell you why. I have been busting my azz to say We Need This- We Need That. My words went nowhere. But, talk is cheap. Words are well, just words. think of all those sayings – put your money where your mouth is, talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words…blahblahblah. I felt like I was screaming into the wind when I should have been learning to harness that wind and fly. DO something.
I have stressed so much about the upcoming, inevitable failings that I have blown off friends and family. I owe my mother a phone call. I owe my nephew an apology. I owe just as much as I woe. My head has been up my azz looking for the sh!t that makes work work. If that makes any sense. Because now that it’s done I feel dumb. I worried for nothing because They didn’t tell me anything new, nothing I didn’t already know.
Now it’s done. I’m done with the rant, too. I got it out. I got over it. Now, it’s time to do something. It’s time to start flying.
I don’t think I care. Nope, can’t say as if I do. For nearly eight years I have been dealing with you and now I think, no – I know I am done. Done. Done. There have been some others I have ceremoniously said goodbye to, but none quite like this. I’ve done the sliding away, glad you haven’t called route. I’ve done the I’ll Make You Mad Enough To Leave Me routine. Been there, done that. This is different. This is me forcing you out and being really glad about it. It’s Survivor meets Lost. Get off the island and stay off. Trust me, you won’t be missed. Or looked for, much less found. This is me, giving you your walking papers.
I can’t stand mimics. Those people who try to flatter you by trying to be you. It’s just not cool. I believe in residual relationships – giving and taking. Adopting, if you will. I don’t care for copycats. Find your own voice. Your own hobby. Your own island. Let me go my own way. Without you.
Here’s the thing. I liked you. I grew fond of what you could be, until you showed me who you really are. Not who you want to be, but who really lives under your skin (and makes mine crawl). Sound the alarm. Scream bloody murder. Cry wolf. Do whatever you need to do – whatever will help you move on from me. I want you to jump ship or else someone will make you walk the plank. That someone might be me.
My sister gave me a book on awareness. At this current moment the book is nowhere near me and I’m too lazy to get it. So, I won’t be telling you the title at this time. But, I’ve added it to my January list of books to read and I will be “reviewing” it in my half-azzed manner.
What got me thinking is the idea of mind over matter. December was an awful month because I let it be. My car was in the shop no less than five times. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be such a big deal. Kisa and I carpool all the time, but it sucked something out of me. A sense of independence was lost. I lost sensibility, too – trying to make plans without transportation was just plan stupid.
We “lost” three houses. Since we never really had them, technically, I’m overreacting. I’m making a big deal out of this real estate game. I’m letting my emotions get the better of me whenever the houses get away. I guess I make it emotional because it seems like we have been losing for so long.
We lost two friends. That we did. When N died all I could focus on was 49 was too young to die. Her kids are teenagers – at that perfect age when mom just starts to become human, possibly even a friend. I couldn’t get to the point of relief that she was no longer suffering, no longer fighting a decade long battle. When T died all I could focus on was how stupid it is to be alive. Senseless and stupid. I’m angry because I’m selfish.
Death has had me mean. When someone blurted out “he’s just going to die anyway” I wanted to agree, I wanted to say, “I think you’re right” but I couldn’t . You don’t wish death on someone just because the statistics say it’s time. What is time to someone 22, 49 or 92?
December was an awful month for work, too. I vow to give reviews in November next year. To plan better. To direct better. The whining will stop. The whimpering will stop. I had a chance to talk to my boss one on one. He said the sign of a good leader is recognizing exhaustion; knowing when you are dangerously close to your breaking point and need a break. He ordered me to take the entire vacation off and do something a little less “urgent” with the time. It was the best advice someone could give me. He doesn’t need to know I didn’t refuse work from somewhere else!
So now I’ve meditated on most of what bothered me in December. Most of it was out of my control, but I let it get to me just the same. In the process I learned a valuable lesson. Let go. I didn’t send Christmas cards to people who have never sent me one. I’ve given my last gift to someone who never has the decency to say thank you. I’ve let go of superficial signs of sentiment. It’s time to pay attention to what really matters.
Truth be told, the dying days of December have been drying up my peace and goodwill. This has been a month full of disappointment, fear, sadness and anger. This weekend I was bound and determined to practice a little generosity, a little grace. It started with keeping the library open for 5 1/2 extra hours. We were supposed to close due to the pending storm but I refused to be pansy about the precipitation. If the students had be stuck I was determined to be stuck with them. It was worth every suspicious look, every odd comment.
Rebecca’s show couldn’t have come at a worse time. We had barely cleaned up from one storm when we were slapped with another. All day I watched the snow come down, relentless in his drive to cover every sidewalk, every street and every vehicle. I shoveled my in-laws walkway, our sidewalk, and most of our driveways twice before giving up, giving in to the cold, wet exhaustion. I couldn’t keep up. In a way it was a good thing. I caught my mother’s phone call. She wanted to talk out her nervousness. Her father’s surgery is mere weeks away. She’s a little more blunt, “did you tell them he’s getting his leg cut off?” I winced at her harshness. I know it’s her way of coping but it still bites. To change the subject we talked of cancer and motherless children. I still can’t make sense of dying 10 days before Christmas. That iron determination just couldn’t hold on. I tell mom about the obituary taped to my computer. It smiles at me every morning. A reminder that life is sweet and oh so short.
Finally it was time to head to Rebecca’s show. My mother-in-law drove. No one else came yet strangers packed the Iron Horse. I watched my phone and worried about the roads. An unused ticket sat waiting at the counter. I only relaxed when I got word no one else would be coming. Safe and sound was all I cared about until Rebecca started to sing. Here’s the short but sweet setlist:
- On Your Way Down
- Miss You
- Bring on the Rain (with comments about not needing any more precipitation)
- Tell Kyle (“a true story about mixing business with pleasure. I don’t recommend it.”)
- Home (a song about being on the rebound. I still call this Cowboy Christmas.)
- Hold Me (I love the way Rebecca introduces this song. It’s beautiful.)
What made this show so special was this was the first time Rebecca didn’t have to sell a certain number of tickets in advance. For the first time ever the Iron Horse was able to comp her tickets, too. She tried to give me one but, but! But, I had already bought two in advance. Woops. I assured her I would never, ever accept a free ticket unless she was the headlining act. We made a deal. On the day that she becomes the big show, she could comp me a ticket – until then, I pay my own way.
The past week has been a little on the hellish side, without the heat – if you know what I mean. Two major storms; one with weather and one in my personal life. I’ve managed to dig out from both.
Thank you to the students who were so appreciative of the extra library hours. Staying open an extra 5.5 hours for you was my pleasure. I had nowhere to go and, apparently, neither did you.
Thank you to my mother-in-law for braving the weather to see Miss Rebecca sing last night. I couldn’t have asked for a better pilot. Now that we know how parking works we should do it again.
Thank you to Rebecca for making the four hour trek to Northampton. You and your funnier than all get out father are amazing. Thank you for singing your heart out. I must insist that you stop saving ‘Hold Me’ as your last song. I couldn’t hold my camera steady thanks to the tears. I’m sure the video is going to reflect that grief. Don’t worry, I will blog about the entire thing…maybe even post a snippet of the video (depending on how shaky it is).
Thank you to my friend. I understand your absence. I missed you just the same.
What is it about this time of year that makes me move slower than molasses, feel heavier than heartache? Something is weighing me down and I haven’t found the fortitude to figure it out. What comes across as apathy is closer to personal panic. I had missed dinner with a friend by minutes and exhaustion still hasn’t allowed me to catch up with anything since.
We went to this company dinner last night, kisa and I – one of those coat and tie, heels and finery things. A nod to the powers that be, a thanks for the employment kind of thing. Before going we fussed over what to wear. Boot won out over heels. Black won out over red. We ate, chatted, and left. Just like that. It took longer to pick out clothes than it did to attend. I felt fat. I had nothing to say, nothing charming to hold anyones attention with. I’m not reading Twilight. I’m not a Harry Potter groupie and I don’t have kids to tuck in at night. Nothing to bitch about unless you count houses. It’s too bad they don’t seat people by interest. I felt like I could have started with the soup, slipped out during the salad, missed the main course, and upon rejoining everyone during dessert, not missed a thing; nor been missed myself. Like the movie kisa was watching. I left during the gangster bloody beating, talked to my mother for nearly two hours, and when I returned the movie was still in progress only this time the gangster was getting arrested. Like I couldn’t have predicted that. I didn’t miss a thing.
Somehow, somewhere along the way I pressed pause. I feel as though I am suspended from my life. Hanging inches above what I want to be doing; where I want to be. I’m sure it’s a mild melancholy of some sort. Kinda sorta maybe?
I should have been listening to Sean Rowe’s Wrong Side of the Bed because that was me yesterday. I think I said it more than thrice, this thing is bigger than a bed – I got up on the wrong side of life yesterday. Where, on this map of negative, do I start? If I had written this in the midst of my mindless rage I would have ranted incoherently. I barely remember the phone conversation I had with one of my oldest friends. I felt out of control, swerving off sanity and veering into trouble, dangerously close to a nervous breakdown lane. Choking back tears I couldn’t find clarity. A real crack up.
Work has never had me as frustrated as now. People breaking down, barely held together with kind words and calls to 911. Complaints about the heat are followed by silence when something was finally done. When the head of maintenance asked for feedback it was all I could do but shrug. No news is good news, I guess. I won’t share the new complaints. Why bring his day down to my level?
There’s more. My car. My future. My family. It seems to be all about me, myself and moi these days. I think when you sink this low it’s hard to see anything but what hurts.
I learned a valuable lesson today. You have to take the trouble to be the trouble. Originally, I wanted to think I had all the answers. I came armed with what I considered reasonable solutions, reasonable requests. Instead I was met with words like “not strict enough” and “doormat” and “fantasy land.” It was hard to believe I was being described in this way, especially after the month I’ve had (or thought I’d been having).
I’m not fierce enough. This isn’t a popularity contest. No one should like their boss. Not one that should be respected anyway. I let people make the same mistakes a billion and one times, and if I include today, a billion and two. How do I say You Can’t Communicate in any other way? “There has to be a penalty for the mistakes” I was told. Okay.
I’m not diligent enough. I don’t watch the clock and add up the minutes. I don’t pay close enough attention to the comings and goings, the called out, come in lates. You can be late a dozen times on my lax watch. “There has to be a penalty for tardiness” I was told. Okay. Okay.
I don’t hold my cards “close enough to the vest” as they- no, as she said. I need to learn phrases like “when it concerns you I’ll let you know.” I need to recognize situations; situations that cost money like when people waste time wondering about something that has nothing to do with the responsibility. I need to re-prioritize people. Reorganize people. Re-everything. Okay, okay, okay!
So, I took a crash course in management. I took criticism on the chin. It made me stronger. It made me think clearer. It made going back to the office to work on the dreaded schedule a whole lot easier. I didn’t try to juggle the birthdays as closely; didn’t try to dodge the anniversaries; didn’t cave in whimsical requests. Like it or lump it I changed things up for the better. Finally. Finally, I’m taking the trouble to be the trouble. I like a challenge. I like confrontation and I like change. So, I changed me. When I handed the whole schedule – all 12 months of it- off to a trusted coworker I felt justified in my reasonings. It was a relief to let it go.
then I went home.
I got an email yesterday that made me smile. It wasn’t the email from my realtor preparing me for a showing of 11 houses today. It wasn’t the sweet comments from my friends. It wasn’t the approval to bring in volunteers (read: replacements) at work. It wasn’t my insurance agent’s new claim request. It was the announcement that my friend Rebecca will be bringing her amazing voice back to Northampton next month! She had even more good news – she doesn’t need to sell tickets in advance!
Here’s what I know: Iron Horse 12/21. More details to come.
Now I’m off to see (gulp) 11 houses.
I have always had a touch of social somethingness. Call it anxiety, call it timidness, call it what you will, but I’ve always had it. Lately, it’s gotten worse in a weird way. I’m starting to avoid other things besides odd people. Case in point: I didn’t miss my nephew’s birthday. I was aware of his two-ness all Sunday long yet never got around to sending him anything. I didn’t forget. I just didn’t do. Same with a grandmother. It’s remembering without reaction. Three anniversaries went by and while I thought of the lovebirds, every one of them, I didn’t acknowledge them. What is wrong with me? Those well meaning phrases, “I meant to…” “I wanted to…” don’t mean a thing. And I’ve never liked “It’s the thought that counts” because it’s a copout and besides, no one’s reading my mind as of late. I can assure you that.
Maybe it’s the househunt and the inexplicable want to live just shy of gangland. Maybe it’s the fact I *just* got my car back (today!) and it still needs more work. Maybe it’s the job and the disappointment that I don’t have the most enthusiastic team. Maybe it’s the family and the guilt of not making the trek to see them for the holidays. I can’t even pat myself on the back for running 5.25 miles today.
I feel as though I am slip sliding away from my heart. Some will read this and call me over reactive. Prima-donna dramatic. I think it’s just the opposite. I don’t have the energy to care. My enthusiasm has flat lined.It’s as if I am dead to me.