Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where the Hell Have I Been

I’ve had an iPod for a few years now, but I’ve only used it for working out. I don’t take it in the car because then I’ll forget it somewhere, like at work, and I won’t have it for my workout. And then I won’t workout. And then I’ll eat something instead. And then I’ll see the weight creep up on the scale. And then I’ll fall into some sloth-like cycle. All because I forgot my iPod somewhere.

Yesterday I was in my car, and I looked at all the CD jewel cases all over the place—in around the emergency brake so it gets to the point where I can’t use the brake without having to move 8 dozen jewel cases. None of the correct CDs are even in those jewel cases anymore. And they’re all over the fricken place. Then I pulled into Best Buy. And then I bought the brand new iPod Nano.

I cleaned out the car, brought all those CDs into the house and plugged my new iPod in. I spent the entire evening loading CDs onto my lappy, and then dragging them onto the iPod. I still had a stack of CDs ready to go on, but there were only so many hours.

And then this morning I introduced myself to the world of podcasts. I had heard about a “Writers on Writing” podcast that I’d been wanting to check out. I subscribed to it and downloaded 6-7 episodes. I put the first one on as I drove to work, and then I put it on again as I drove over to the boat ramp at lunchtime. And then I listened to more of it on the way home.

I am in love.

And I ask, where the hell have I been.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Mimicking a Puppy

Normally I am a very good sleeper. I once slept through a tropical storm while tied to a mooring in Newport Harbor. I woke up after the storm had gone by, rubbed my eyes, looked up at the sun and said “So, did the storm miss us?” Todd shook his head and laughed. He’d tried to wake me up so I could see how the wind was blowing. No dice.

But when busy season at work hits, my brain wakes up at ridiculous o’clock and says “Now you are going to obsess about really dumb things that you cannot possibly change at this hour. Ready? And NOW!” And then I focus on things at work that I cannot possibly change. Even when I think about it and come up with a solution, I still think about it. Even after I smack myself on the forehead and say “StopitStopitStopitStopit you’ve solved the problem now go to sleep.” Boing, the eyes remain open wide.

Today was another fun busy season day. I had gotten my inbox down to 60 messages, down from a high of 108. (This is a lot for me. Normally I only leave what I am currently working on in my inbox, if it gets to 20 then that’s a lot for me.) I was on top of my game, and then all hell broke loose around 3 PM. The emails came flying in, my heart rate started to rise. The phone rang and rang. And then I found out that vendor I work very closely on a major part of my job made a very careless mistake. And of course the person in charge who works for my client got to see the result of this careless mistake. And then, of course, she cc’d my boss on the “What the hell is this???” email.

The email from the client came in as I was on the phone with the vendor. I saw it and gasped. “What’s wrong?” she asked me. “Holyshitholyshit, Holy. Shit.” I forwarded the email to my vender who also gasped and said “Holyshitholyshitsholyshit.” Then we hyperventilated as we tried to figure out what went wrong.

We hung up the phone at 5:30. We know what went wrong, but that won’t be good enough for the client as it should never ever have happened to begin with. And tomorrow morning will be messy when my boss is back from her day off and asks me what the hell went wrong.

I wonder how the obsession session will go at 3 AM tomorrow morning. I came home and jogged the better part of 4 miles. Then I ate a lot of food. If there was milk in the house I would totally drink a warm glass of it. I hope that I burned enough energy to sleep all the way through.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rushing Out the Door

What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been. Welcome to busy season! For the last 2 autumns I have been consumed by work. This year I am trying like hell not to work at all hours like I have the last two busy seasons. It’s hard not to remain glued to my seat. I force myself to log out and get the hell out of dodge at 5. I force myself out, regardless of the emails falling on me like an avalanche from clients wishing to book their flu clinics, change their flu clinics, talk about their flu clinics or have their hands held for just a few minutes.

My eyes ache from rolling them as I speak to clients on the phone and endure their silly questions. My shoulders ache from clenching them tightly as I watch the unopened email count tick higher as precious minutes are wasted on the phone. The shoulders clench again as I watch the “New Voice Mail” number on the display on my phone tick higher as I plow through my inbox.  I know that it will end.  I know that I've only got 2 hands with which to do all this work.  But it's hard to keep myself in check.

But I am not going to complain. I was speaking to a client just today who I’ve become friendly with. Normally when we start a conversation I ask her how she’s doing and she launches into her complaint du jour. It bums me out when ever I talk to her, but I try to be upbeat. “It could be worse,” I once said to her, “You could be on fire.” She said that being on fire would put her out of her misery. I guess some people can’t be cheered up, no matter how much you try.

Today she said to me “I love talking to you, you’re so upbeat. I just don’t have it in me.” I asked her why not, and she said she just didn’t. I said “I dare you to try it for one day. Just be positive and don’t let work drag you down for one day. You’ll see how much better your day will go.” She was not convinced. I guess some people cannot be saved, no matter how much you try.

But that’s OK. I don’t need to be saving whiny clients. Know why? Because I am in full-on-post-awesome-concert-bliss mode. Last night we schlepped up to Boston to see Rush in concert.

I cannot describe how wonderfully awesome the show was. They’re calling this tour the Time Machine Tour, and it truly was like going into a time machine. They played a lot of the old favorites… Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto… Tom Sawyer, Limelight, YYZ, Free Will… Closer. To. The. Heart. Need I say more? And of course, the gratuitous Neil Peart drum solo. As you guys might now, I’ve been nursing a mild obsession with Neil Peart since I read his books last spring. I clutched my closed fist to my mouth and watched his show in silent reverence. Only Neil Peart could make a drum solo sound melodic. It wasn’t as melodic as “The Rhythm Method” solo from ‘A Show of Hands,’ but still… damn, Neil!

Now I will take off in a time machine of my own. The last time I saw Rush in concert was in November 1991 in Hartford, Connecticut. It was my senior year of high school and I went with my boyfriend whom I’ll call Pedro (only because if he’d ever read this he’d look at me and say ‘Pedro? Really? Come on, now!’) Pedro was a few years older than me, and I tried like hell not to look and act high school-ish around him. But really, we had nothing in common. We spent way too much time in his basement watching really bad action movies with his National Guard buddies, with whom I also had nothing in common. (“Escape from New York” is not a good movie. At all. These yahoos were totally into it.)

It was an awkward relationship in which he never really said anything about how he felt about me. He completely ignored my 18th birthday, and every makeout session was an exercise in agony where it would take the entire night to get up to the point where he’d kiss me, and it was just so uncosmic and uncomfortable when he finally did. And did I mention that he was shorter than me? It was so hard to feel like I could be myself around him. After all, I am 5’8”, broad shouldered, and felt like I towered over him. I am boisterous. He’s quiet. Yet, I chased him. And looking back I really wish I knew why.

So, Pedro and I went to the show. We sat off to the side. Pedro wasn’t much for expressing anything at all, like I mentioned. So we just sat there and watched the show. It was a really great show, I remember that. But I felt stupid about getting up and dancing. So I didn’t. I felt stupid about cheering with abandon, like I normally would. So I didn’t. Just sat there with him watching.

I drove him home after the show. We’d been hanging out together for months at that point and never managed to kiss. But that night I held out hope. I got out of the car, it was cold. We stood in his driveway under the glow of the security light over the doors, and didn’t talk. There was no “Man, that was an awesome show.” Silence. I kicked at a pebble on the driveway and shivered under the leather jacket I’d borrowed from my sister. I looked up at him. He looked back at me. There was no leaning in toward each other, no music welling up in the background. Nothing. I cleared my throat. He looked down.

Then he threw his arms around me. And it was the world’s longest hug. I totally blew my curfew standing there with his arms wrapped around me for some ungodly length of time. I ended the night by telling him I liked him. He didn’t say anything back and went in the house. It was a few weeks later when his brother asked me “So, what’s up with you and Pedro?” I asked him what he knew and he told me “After the Rush concert he came inside and said ‘She likes me’ and I said ‘You’re just figuring that out now? She’s been pretty clear about that for months.’” I just shrugged. And then he shrugged. And the “That’s just how Pedro is” passed between us. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.

So, the Rush concert started the hug stage of our relationship. This dude would literally hug me for 20 minutes at a time while standing on his damn driveway at his parents’ house. This nonsense went on for months without him making a move beyond that. I would go home and search my face in the mirror to see if there was some booger lurking in my nose that scared him off.

After the next summer I went off to college. He wrote me letters, careful not to tell me how he felt about me. I wrote back and told him what a fun time I was having. He called up my dorm room, upset about how I was basically moving on without him. And I was. I met new friends who actually, you know, spoke. I met a boyfriend who liked me and told me so.

During winter break he’d look for me at work. I would spot him; hide behind the displays until I could safely stash myself in the stockroom where JCPenney civilians were not allowed. And thus ended the huglationship I’d endured for way too long.

Years later Pedro and I became friends. He learned how to communicate and we actually had a really great time hanging out that summer before I moved to Boston. I didn’t know he could talk that much. That summer I couldn’t get him to shut up. And it was fun. We also made out a lot. And that was fun too. Turns out, back when we were together when I was in high school he had very deep feelings for me (Is that why I saw him pace and glance at his watch when he attended my high school graduation?). Since then he hadn’t been able to listen to a Rush song because his heart was so broken after I’d went to college and moved on. (Sorry Neil, I cost you a fan.  Forgive me?)  He’s married and has 2 kids now. And I am happy for him. And I wonder if “Tom Sawyer” or “Limelight” on the radio is still intolerable for him.

But last night was different. Todd’s not much of a Rush fan, but he tolerated me bouncing up and down in the car seat on the way to Boston. He smiled patiently at me as I practically skipped through the parking garage on the way into the venue. He didn’t complain when I slapped his arm repeatedly with an “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” every time the band played one of my favorites. And I did that a lot last night, because it was a fantastic show where they played a lot of my faves. I cheered loudly without caring. I sang along to “Time Stand Still”, which is my favorite Rush song, and he cheered right along with me after every song. And he totally made out with me after the show was over too.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010


Thursday night Todd came back from his trip to San Francisco. Usually while he’s gone I try to cook. I am not known for my cooking. When Todd calls on his way home from work I hear the trepidation in his voice after I say “I am trying out a new recipe…” But while he’s gone I try new recipes, and I learn something new about cooking every time, and I don’t feel the pressure of needing to make him something actually edible.

Today is Saturday on Labor Day weekend. I am sitting in Todd’s office while he works. I have been working on my book, and I’ve read the Providence Phoenix and completed the crossword.

Originally the plan was I’d drop him at his office then go bomb around Providence. I haven’t been in Providence all summer. I left here after lunch and drove up to Thayer Street, which is near Brown University. Thayer Street has funky little shops that are always fun to kill time in.

I walked down the street and popped into a few shops. I crossed the street and made my way back. I stopped for a frozen yogurt, sat at an outdoor café table and people watched for awhile. But really? I was bored.

I used to go everywhere on my own. Hell, I traveled all over Australia on my own. If my friends didn’t want to go somewhere, but I did, I went anyway. And I didn’t mind. I would explore on my own, meet new people, walk around and do my thing.

After about an hour or so I went back to Todd’s office. He asked why I was back so early, and I said “I’ve been without you all week, and it was boring walking around without you.”

I never thought that I wouldn’t want to walk around alone in the city.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

I Am a Dork. Big Time.

I can't keep my dorkitude a secret. It comes out most times when I open my mouth. And then there are the times when I shouldn't be let out in public without a chaperone that will clamp my mouth shut at just the right time.

Years ago I was working at a company that had a cafeteria in the building. My co-worker Kristin and I went to get lunch one day. I said to her, "I am going to check out the soup." She didn't say anything back. For some reason I'd just assumed she'd follow me to check out the soup too. I mean, why wouldn't she? This is my story, after all. I am the main character, and the other characters are supposed to hover around me at all times.

Not so. Kristin, a person in real life and not a character in this story, went to the salad bar. But I swore she was just behind my left shoulder. After all, she was wearing a white shirt that day. She's tall and has dark hair. I turned to Kristin and put on my best Homer Simpson voice and said something scintillating like "Lentil soup.... uh huh huh huh..."

Of course, it wasn't Kristin standing there. Of course it was some impossibly handsome man. And of course he looked at me as if I was a complete weirdo. Because why wouldn't he? Then this is the part where the main character of the story says something very witty that intrigues the impossibly handsome man. Then he woos me with floral arrangements, and we end up together under a setting sun.

My witty response didn't come out so well. Mouth dry, I let out a squeak of some sort and then ran away from impossibly handsome man. I found Kristin selecting lettuce, and I immediately doubled over in laughter. Then of course I had to tell her what happened. And she laughed too. Then all of our co-workers laughed back at the office just after she finished the sentence starting with "Guess what Beej did at lunch today..." They all leaned in to listen, because I am always doing or saying something dorky. For months I was asked whether I wanted to go to the cafeteria to get some lentil soup.

Just the other day I was driving home from work. I stopped in at the convenience store at the truck stop to get an ingredient for dinner. There were a few people milling around near the cash register. The radio in the store was blasting and they were talking about the music. I joined the conversation, and a few minutes later s Sheryl Crow song came on.

I hate Sheryl Crow's music. I have often wondered how the hell she managed to get so famous with that scratchy and whiny voice of hers.

"Ugh. Sheryl Crow," I groaned. "She makes my teeth itch."

One of the men I was talking to laughed, "Makes my teeth itch? That's a good one. I'll have to remember that..."

The kicker? When the man opened his mouth to laugh he had one tooth in his mouth. One.

And then I may have let out a squeak and ran out of the store.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Island

Wasn't there some horror movie called 'The Island'? Let me tell you about a happy and peaceful island where we anchored on Thursday night of our vacation. Now that I have a computer again I can resume being a good blogger and actually, you know, post.
Thursday morning found us still moored in Plattsburgh with a disassembled shower drain pump. Luckily the Plattsburgh Boat Basin has a really good ship's store. (Where the hell did they get those rolls of paper towels from? I never seen any that large. I'll have them until the end of time!) Todd had ripped out the old and malfunctioning pump and replaced it. Then we learned that we needed to replace the drain hose for fear that it's clogged with coagulated hair and soap. And what the hell, while we're in there let's just rewire the thing and call it done.  We've gotten pretty good at projects like this. We can do them relatively quickly and we know exactly how to accomplish these tasks. We untied our self-made mooring and headed south.

We picked Spoon Bay on the northeast corner of the island for our spot to anchor on Thursday night. The wind either blows dead north or dead south on Champlain because the lake is so narrow and it has mountains on either side. As we were headed to Valcour Island it was coming out of the south, but we knew that over night it would pull a 180 and come out of the north overnight. But we are confident in our anchor and miles of chain and knew it wouldn't be a problem.

We settled in for the night. Todd occasionally gets up to check on the anchor while I am asleep. (And then he has to shove me back to my side of the bed because sleeping me always sprawls the moment he leaves our bed.) I woke up and felt Sabine rocking harder than when we went to sleep.

"It's really blowing out there, wind's changed direction," Todd whispered to me. I grumbled "Mmmm hmmmm..." and probably said "Shhhh.... sleeping" because that's what I always say when he wakes me up in the middle of the night.

At around 5 in the morning Sabine was getting tossed around like a bathtub toy. Our bed is in the very back of the boat. If you picture a boat rocking on waves you'll see that the very center of the boat moves the least, and the very back and the very front move up and down with greater frequency. I couldn't fall back asleep with all the motion. I wanted to. I burrowed deeper into the covers willing the wind to die down until I drifted off again.

Sunrise came, we took the dogs ashore for their morning business meeting. We met a woman walking her dogs and asked her what was on the island. "Nothing but trails. It's beautiful. You really need to check it out." We shrugged, knowing we had some miles to cover that day to get closer to Chipman Point on the southern part of the lake. And then the "When are we going to be here next?" question hung between us.

We walked the shortest trail while the dogs raced out in front, then ran back to see what was taking us so long. They do this when we hike. They run out in front on the trail, and come back and circle us in their excitement. They probably hike four times the actual distance we cover every time we're in the woods.

Once back in the dinghy we marveled at the pristine, uninhabited paradise we were leaving that morning and wished we could stay longer. We pulled up the anchor and headed south to Cole Bay, instead.

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