Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh, and...

...I'm pretty sure I sauntered up to my old boss (the regional VP) last night at the hotel bar in Boston, wrapped an arm around him, and demanded he sing karaoke with me (despite no karaoke machine anywhere to be found). Using my Miller Lite as a mic, I proceeded to sing a few bars of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'". I was reassured this morning that he really enjoyed my performance.

The moral of the story?

I'm awesome.

When People Stop Being Polite...

J and I had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. In fact, as I watched my brother light sparklers at Grandpop's house on Sunday at dusk, my heart swelled. I watched all the kids in the front yard and thought: One day they'll remember these picnics fondly as the best days of their lives. It was a scene you'd recognize from a movie montage, with "What a wonderful world" playing in the background as the children scrambled around, laughing and playing.

And then, I was brought promptly back to reality.

Lord, I wish I could write it here. But it's personal stuff. Suffice it to say that a typical bbq broke off into a much-needed extended family therapy session, complete with tears and truth-telling, and "I love yous" had by all. And for all of the pain that was discussed, it was a very hopeful conversation. We said things the things you don't talk about; the unpleasantness that is typically swept under the proverbial rug. It was really very liberating, and I hope the conversation affected the others so profoundly.

And if I haven't said it here before, I'll say it now. Happiness? Is hard work. You can't sit on your ass all of your days, waiting for it to find you. As if you spend all of your life in misery - moaning about your job, your family, your friends, and Mondays - and suddenly Senor Happiness drops by your home unexpectedly, and you're all: Finally! Man - it's about fucking time you showed up!

I have been unhappy. I have been through pain. Sometimes, I wonder if I am able to remain optimistic because I haven't quite gone through enough pain yet; and then I begin to worry about impending doom, and then I say Shut up, brain! You mustn't worry about the things you can't control. And that actually works. Mostly.

I am so very grateful for the life that I have. Possibly I am obtuse. Most days, I feel lucky and blessed. And this is a very bold statement, but I think you should to. Even if you're not happy, I say, pretend you are. Then do the thing(s) that will make you happy. Then eventually, you will be happy. The end. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

J and I got home on Sunday night and, as I absently watched Hitch on TNT, I couldn't stop thinking about the important conversation I had had earlier. I wondered what I could do to help; how could I be supportive? I started to feel awful before I realized that I cannot take all of this on. It's not mine. I can help; but I can't obsess.

Happiness is a choice. For some, I believe other barriers (chemical, emotional, trauma) make that choice much more difficult. For me, I wake up most days with the steely intent to enjoy my life. To be nice to others. To be grateful for all the wonderful things. To love my husband and family and friends.

Some days, I suck at all of those things. So I wake up the next day and try again. It's simple to me, and I hope you see it Secret Person(s) That I Am Speaking of Incredibly Vaguely Whom I Love Unconditionally, or SPTIASOIVWILU.

Always here for you.

In other news that is incredibly humbling, J and I went to visit his Nana in her new home, a "nursing and rehabilitation center". Nana is 91 years old and remaining strong. She can still speak, though it's difficult for her, and J's mom worries that she is in pain. Dyke (I am sure he hasn't heard that one before), J's pop-pop and Nana's husband of 68 years, sits dutifully by her side each day, holding her hand and keeping her comfortable.

Her neighbor, the incorrigible Victor, sits in the hall with a towel wrapped around his head. He moans, "Oh God! Oh God!" repeatedly. He snaps at young children and nurses who walk by: "What have you got to EAT! I'm hungry!" As J and I sat visiting with Nana on Saturday, he finally wheeled himself to the doorway, smiled and waved to me.

"Hi," he said kindly. "Say, you got anything to eat in there?"

Humble and grateful. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ballin', but Greasy.

Was it my gorgeous, greasy hair? Was it my bloodshot eyes, bedazzled by gray, puffy circles, thanks to an utter lack of sleep? (Shot bolt right up in bed last night about 1:30, and, wide awake, finished the third Sookie Stackhouse novel) (Addicted!) (Digression.)

Whatever it was, there was something about the way I sashayed into the Columbus Northwest Marriott this eve that screamed: baller. The young man at the front desk took heed! He looked me over and then stated plainly: “I’m gonna hook you up.” He told me I’d be on the top floor (“use your key to get up in the elevator”), and, with a wink, warned me: “Don’t get lost in your room.”


And so I greet you from the the concierge floor, which is really quite a snoozefest without my sidekick J (though the tub is divine) AND the real concern here is mah greasy hair. My. Greasy. Hair. Do you know how celebrity stylists are constantly berating us to skip the shampoo? That our hair will be so much more manageable and lovely if we go a few days between washings?

Lo, I am not that girl.

For shame!

Sexy greasy!

Does not do Grease justice.

It's really such a terrible, oily tragedy, just one day sans washing. Do not let this happen to you! Lather-rinse-repeat, as needed. Indeed.

In other non-news, I could get used to nonsense blogging!

Monday, May 18, 2009

HomeValley's Helpful Hints!

If you have forgotten your mobile phone charger at home, and if you have subsequently forgotten to buy a back-up charger at the Providence Place mall (despite that being the reason you went to the mall in the first place but oh Forever 21 is there!), fear not! Just go to the front desk at your hotel and ask to borrow one of the 89803 forgotten chargers they have stored behind the desk. That's because of people like me! You're welcome.

This has been a HomeValley Helpful Hint!

Doin' It Badly.

Has it really been nearly a month since I've written anything?

Aye, it has.

I have been very busy perfecting my life and ignoring my blog. Case-in-point, last week I bought an audio CD: 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, by Steve Chandler. And you know something? It's actually quite effective! Consider that Steve says that one of the reasons we avoid doing a particular task is because we are afraid we'll do it badly. The solution, then, is to just do it, and embrace doing it poorly! In fact, do it as badly as you must, as long as you are doing it. I liked this one a lot. I hope you do as well, as I present an exceptional foray into mediocre blogging. Won't you come along?

I have spent a lot of time and energy making lists, setting deadlines, and trying to achieve my goals - the lofty ones, and the daily ones. To date, I've:

  • Made a bonfide chore chart! It's true. I brainstormed and jotted down all of the chores that need to be done on a weekly, bimonthly, and quarterly basis (no seriously) and created an excel spreadsheet, which I printed and fill in whenever I manage to get something done around the house. Yes, there are still more "J"s on my chart than "M"s, but this is progress.

  • Run, a lot. I was completely overwhelmed on the eve of Mother's Day, as per usual. Each year, J and I prepare a lovely meal for our immediate families to celebrate our mums, which means we host roughly 10 people. I am always consumed by the task, though this year I vowed to be calm by preparing to-do lists well in advance, and having a test run of the proposed meal the week prior. When the test meal wasn't quite excellent enough, I was in panic mode. I whined to J out of frustration, and silently thought that I would have to nix the Susan G. Komen 5K that Sunday morning. Now, because of my lack of preparedness, I've foregone the 5K for the past two years. The fact that I even entertained the idea of bailing a third year made me angry. So I stopped moaning; J and I went to the grocery store and resigned ourselves to a meal of pasta and meat sauce. I rose the next morning at 5:30 AM, caught the 6:11 train for Center City, and made my way through the race festivities, alone. And it was glorious. It's quite humbling to stand among breast cancer survivors, feeling their hopeful energy. It makes it impossible to complain about your trivial troubles. By the time I started the race, I felt positively giddy. I made it through the course in 30 minutes and 2 seconds, which was good enough for me. More exciting was the turning point; the decision to take action, and the subsequent feeling of triumph. I could do it! Since, I've run roughly every other day, 2 or 3 miles at a time, and I am committed to running the Philadelphia Half-Marathon on November 22nd. And you know what? This time feels different. This time, I know I can stop making excuses and accomplish a damn goal already. I'm ready.

  • Made lists, and then more lists. For work, I made a list of what I need to do on Monday mornings (shit- must do those things ASAP); I made a list of what to do on Friday afternoons. I hung it up in front of my desk, and, when I am working from my office (i.e., not now), I know what needs to be done (change VM to accurately reflect weekly travel; return emails/VMs, etc.) It's all terribly mundane but conversely very exciting to me, because it alleviates the pressure. I don't have to hide or cower; I just have to do these things. Brilliant! I also created a Master List of things to accomplish in the month of May, which I have been attacking little by little. Again: progress.

  • Developed a new found respect for Arnold Schwartenegger. I am not being facetious. In 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself, Chandler discusses the time he interviewed Arnold in the mid-70s, around the time his first movie flopped at the box office. He asked the future Terminator: "Now that you've retired from professional body-building, what are you going to do next?" To which Ahnuld responded calmly: "I am going to be Hollywood's biggest box office star." I, along with Chandler, was floored by that; here is an Austrian man who had an extremely successful career as a body-builder; a massive career as an actor; and an equally impressive career as a governor of one of the largest states in the country. And yet, seemingly, he had it in him all along. He told himself it would be so, and it was. Respek.

So, that's the gist. I am trying to get my affairs in order, and also trying to ascertain where my writing fits into it all. J and I spent last weekend in DC with lovely friends Matt and Maria, and at one point Matt asked me if I was still blogging. I wasn't sure how to respond to that; nor could I expostulate on exactly why I have been so reticent to write lately. I am sure all will become clearer as I continue in my odyssey of organization and self-actualization. Stay tuned.