Saturday, February 27, 2010

the joys of getting older...

So I'm thinking I've had better Saturday night dinners. In fact, almost any Saturday night dinner would be better than what I'm having tonight: a cup of hot chicken broth, a glass of chilled Chardonnay and, for dessert, any kind of jello I want, so long as it's not red. I need to keep in mind that this is a feast compared to what I'm having for dinner tomorrow night: a gallon of chilled NuLytely, to which I'm welcome to add a flavor packet, if I so choose.

Yeah, it's time (again) for the dreaded colonoscopy, scheduled for bright and early Monday morning. The procedure itself is no big deal: they give you really good drugs. It's the prep that's awful. Last time I did this, 2 years ago this month, I scheduled the procedure for a Friday. That meant I was at work the two days of the clear liquid diet. This time, I scheduled the procedure for a Monday. What was I thinking? Working provided great distraction. Being at home for two days on a clear liquid diet, I just feel deprived (whine whine).

Here's the thing: a colonoscopy if recommended for everyone at age 50. I put off having one until I was 58, thinking this was yet another unpleasant, pointless, routine screening procedure.

Well, maybe not so pointless as I thought. There are polyps and there are polyps, some of which are less innocuous than others. The first colonoscopy revealed that I had some of those that are not so innocuous. They were removed, but they're classified as aggressive, which is why I'm having this procedure done again just two years later. I'm confident the results will be good, but if you're 50 and thinking of putting this off...don't. Schedule it now.

As for me, I'll savor the chicken broth tonight. Monday afternoon, I'm going out for Mexican food.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Office Space

It's 9:30 Friday night and I just got home from work about 10 minutes ago. I brought my laptop home with me, because I have work to do this weekend. The situation is really grim: more people were demoted today. The slacker wasn't demoted of course; he appears to remain bullet proof for now, although I really doubt that anyone is bullet proof in this regime. After seeing what's happening in terms of the reorg, all I can say is I used to think Office Space was a funny movie. Never having worked for a corporation when I first saw it, I didn't realize it's actually a documentary.

Two of the people who got demoted today are hard working, diligent women who have been there for years. I was happy to hear that one of them said he's going to have to fire her; she won't make it easy for him by leaving because he demoted her. I'm a foot soldier myself: an exempt employee, yes, but not high enough to qualify for those pesky bonuses or stock options. He has an army of us working for him. Most of us have master's degrees, a few have just bachelor's, and some have higher degrees. One of the women is an MD. I'd be willing to bet she's a really good doc, but her English isn't good enough to pass American boards, so she does elaborate statistical analyses for him while being the same level that I am. No bonuses or stock options for her, either. We'll probably survive, because he knows we're drones, and he knows he needs drones, but I'd imagine many of the people in management right now are feeling like the wives of Henry VIII.

I'm grateful to have a job. I know that there are many hard working, qualified people out there right now who don't have a job to complain about. But the way he has of dropping these little emotional dirty bombs late on a Friday afternoon is wearing on all of us, myself included. Whose head will he go for next, I wonder? I don't think I really want to know.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

snow dreams...

So I'm watching the Olympics and remembering how much I love snow. Well, northern snow...meaning cold, white, dry snow, and lots of it. I felt this way before I took the kids to live in Colorado for half a year a couple of light years ago. The first week there, I was enchanted with the snow, but then came the reality of living in a snowy climate, which meant spending 10 to 15 minutes every morning scraping the car windows before I could drive the kids to school...and that was assuming the driveway was plowed...and I was less enchanted at those times. And yet I remember I joined the gym, and most of the time I'd walk to the gym, a long cold trek through town, and on Fridays I'd stop for a bowl of tortilla soup, a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant on the way home, and then I'd step back out into the snowy town and trek home, and I loved that walk, always.

A friend took his family skiing in Colorado and posted pics on Facebook and I looked at those snowy slopes and thought what I think more and more these days, which is what on earth am I doing here in Texas? Two of my children live here, and I love that. I love the fact that I sometimes run into Chris at the grocery store or even on LBJ driving home (what are the chances? but it's happened), and that on Saturdays I can go see Xander play basketball...and I admit I do hate wearing socks, which is pretty much a requirement during the winter in places where there's snow.

I don't know what the answer is, but I'm spending a fair amount of time these days thinking about all of this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Dave!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVE! You're my favorite little brother (never mind that you're my only little brother)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


So work has become really weird. We're in the process of a takeover and rumors abound (of course), but beyond that...we got a 483. Well, one group in our division got a 483; not my group (huge sigh of relief). For those of you who don't work in the pharmaceutical industry, a 483 is an FDA form that's used to report compliance issues after an on site inspection. It's a big deal to get one, and at the moment, management is understandably upset about it, as a result of which everyone in our department was invited to a MANDATORY (yep, the subject line in the email was all in caps like that, and attendance was taken) spontaneous meeting last Wednesday to listen to a very bizarre lecture by our division VP that began with how embarrassing it was to have this happen and then segued into a rambling digression about how even thieves have values, and how a bank robber with a gun who hugs the teller will always get caught because he's not clear on his values; he's conflicted...

I confess the VP who delivered this little gem of a lecture sort of lost me there, because I was wondering what on earth robbing banks has to do with compliance issues, but then it got even more weird, and threatening. The VP said he knows who each and everyone of us is and if he sees us walking around looking happy, then he knows that we're not doing our jobs, because we should not look happy at work, and if we're walking slowly he knows we're not doing our jobs, because there is work to be done, yada yada yada. Uh-huh. Sitting there listening to this very unpleasant lecture, I consoled myself with the thought that after making Fortune Magazine's "One of the 100 best companies to work for" list every year for over 10 years, the company didn't make it to the list this year.

And I also thought about the bozo in our little group who is out at least one day a week, week in and week out; who, despite the fact that we're swamped with work, stayed home a couple of weeks ago to celebrate his dog's birthday; and who was at work for a total of maybe 9 hours this week. Most of the time when he's out he just no-shows. On two of the days he was out this week, he was seen sitting in his truck in the parking lot, the engine running, early in the morning, after which he turned around and left. On one of those days he called our boss, and said he was sitting in his truck in the parking lot "but y'all don't wanna be around me today so I'm goin' home". When my boss told me this (she thought it was funny) I said, "Shoot, we don't want to be around him every day; why doesn't he get the message and just stay home?" If any of the rest of us did this, we'd get fired, but he's apparently bullet proof. In spite of the fact that has absolutely no work ethic, he's several pay grades above most of us, which means in addition to being paid more, he gets stock options and bonuses. Did I mention that his Daddy was big man in the company several years ago? Which is why he gets by with this stuff. Although he's closer to 50 than to any other birthday, he always refers to his father as Daddy, and he spends a lot of time talking about Daddy.

He missed the mandatory meeting (of course). But he walks fast and looks unhappy and he's clear on his values: he doesn't want to be there. I guess that means he'll continue to survive...

Monday, February 15, 2010

pulled kicking and screaming into the 21st century...

So in January I switched from a PC to Mac, and bit by bit, I've been figuring out how to use it and how to do things like download pics from my digital camera and edit them and post them to Facebook and Flickr, etc. But just when I was thinking I was fairly with it, I hit a major bump in the road.

This happened last week, when I went back to the gym for the first time in a LONG time. Getting ready to go, I dug around in my closet until I found my gym bag, abandoned in a corner where it was sadly covered in dust and looking the worse for wear. I pulled it out and still lying inside, after all this time, (reminding me a little creepily of the childhood poem by Eugene Field that begins, "The little toy dog is covered in dust...") I found my clipboard with my charts of sets and reps for when I lift (yeah, I'm totally OCD at the gym). I also found my lifting gloves; half a dozen laminated guest passes; a black nylon Gap fanny pack that contained an ancient chap stick, some spare change, a comb and some AA batteries in various pockets and...the reason for the AA portable CD player, still in its Case Logic case, complete with some CD's for working out, the best of which were The Pretenders Last of the Independents and Tina Turner's What's Love Got to Do With It.

Well, I may be out of it, but even I knew that I couldn't go into a gym in 2010 with a portable CD player strapped to my body...not unless I were wearing a sweatshirt with DORK printed in big, black letters across my I left it behind. Somehow, I managed to have a good workout on the elliptical cross trainer despite the lack of personal music. But the experience made me realize that I need to get up to speed, so to speak, on what options are available for listening to music these days...and here's where I had a real Rip Van Winkle experience. I knew about MP3 players and iPods, sort of...well, it would be more accurate to say that I knew that they exist, in the same way that you might be aware that people go to the Galapagos, without having actually been to the Galapagos yourself. But that is all that I knew, that such things existed; I really had no idea of how they worked.

So I did what I always do in these situations: I called up Kath, who's the family wizard when it comes to fancy electronics, and confessed my ignorance to her. Luckily for me, she laughed and took pity and promised to help me out. On Valentine's Day I stopped by her house and she gave me a tiny MP3 player, about the size of a couple of tubes of lipstick, to play with until I figure out what exactly I want in an MP3 player. She also emailed links to a site explaining what I needed to do to sync the player with iTunes (a week ago the word iTunes wasn't in my vocabulary) and a link to where I could download the manual. Last night I went to those links and played around until I got everything working, YES!!!! :) And then I went to the iTunes site and redeemed a gift that my son-in-law Chris gave me for Christmas: Dusty Springfield's Dusty in London CD. Whoa. On Amazon, that CD is $50 new, but it's available as an MP3 album for a fraction of that cost, and as if that weren't enough, here is the really cool thing that I'm so happy about: I can buy individual songs and make my own mix collections! Woo hoo!

I realize that to most of the people reading this, this is probably the equivalent of saying that I went to the grocery store and discovered they sell loaves of bread, already sliced! Yeah, I know, but bear with me. I don't know where I've been, but this is all new to me, and I'm thrilled to discover it. I also discovered so now if I'm in the mood to hear something obscure I can go there and search and listen and decide whether I want to buy that song or not. This is SO incredibly cool...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!



The snow is melting; there's still quite a bit left on grassy areas, but no trace of the magic that was there when I woke two days ago. It's time to look forward to spring, so when I went to Central Market and saw one of my favorite harbingers of spring, pussy willows, I bought a bunch, and for Valentine's Day, a bunch of pink tulips too. This was money well spent: I smile every time I walk into my kitchen and see them.

A lot of women (and most of the men I know) hate Valentine's Day. It's sort of an odd day. It's supposed to be a day when lovers express their love for each other. I think that everyone who celebrates it with that in mind enjoys Valentine's Day; but for many people, Valentine's Day has become a day when men give gifts to women, and women give...well, whatever the gift inspires them to give, I guess. That's more than a little twisted.

I decided when I was very young that I wasn't going to sit around waiting and hoping for things to happen; I was going to take charge of my life. To that end I was on my own in Chicago when I was 17; I learned to drive at 30; I finished college and went on to grad school in my 40's; and part of that early decision is why I found myself getting divorced at 50. When I was younger, taking these steps was sometimes frightening but usually exhilarating, but as I get older, I find that a lot of the time what it actually entails to take charge of my life leaves me feeling like Sisyphus; especially when it comes to big things like refinancing the house, or buying a new car, but also for more mundane things, like realizing when the power went out during the snowstorm two nights ago, tripping a smoke alarm upstairs, that turning the thing off in the dark was up to me, and only me. I can laugh now at the fact that I managed to get the thing off the ceiling and remove the batteries while standing on a step stool in the dark, using my cell phone for light, but it didn't seem so funny at the time.

So, being the independent, take charge sort of woman that I am, I decided a few years ago that if Valentine's Day is a day for lovers to express their love for each other, then maybe those of us who aren't in a relationship on Valentine's Day should use it as a day to express our love for ourselves; to treat ourselves to some things in which we might not otherwise indulge ourselves. The first year I did this I wanted to commemorate it, so I bought myself a beautiful pair of garnet and pearl earrings. Since then I've kept it simple.

Tonight, wearing those earrings, I'll pour myself a glass of wine and make myself a really nice dinner: grilled scallops; a salad of mixed greens with chevre, walnuts, strawberries and blueberries, tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette; and for dessert, a bunch of grapes with two cheeses, white stilton with lemon, and brie.

If you're in a relationship, use this day to celebrate your love for each other, and if you're alone, don't miss out on the opportunity to use it as a day to celebrate your love for yourself. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day




I don't know how much snow we got officially, but it started snowing early this morning; when I got up at 4:45 the ground was already white, and now it's after midnight and it still hasn't stopped. I've lived in Dallas for 26 years and I've never seen anything close to this much snow here. Tonight I went out to walk in it, a real pleasure for a transplanted Minnesotan like myself, and I hadn't gone half a block before I saw part of a huge live oak down in the street, from the weight of the snow. Finally, I understand why so many live oaks have rather elaborate wires running in their branches...

I worked from home today, and it was a long day of work: I was online at 7:15 and worked pretty much straight through until 6:00, when I took a break to walk through the neighborhood, then I went back on for another 45 minutes, from 7:30 until 8:15. Dreary.

But then I went out into the snow, and everything was muted, not so muted as the twenty inch snowfalls I remember from my childhood in Minnesota, but muted, softened, and it took me back. Down the street, where the live oak had fallen, neighbors were out with a chainsaw, cutting it up and clearing it for the family on whose lawn it stood, because they were away and didn't even know about it. This tree was huge; this was not a small amount of work, but these neighbors were cheerfully sawing up and hauling away this tree in the snow. I took pics for them to give to the insurance company. It was sort of festive, all things considered.

And then I came home and went back to work for a bit in my gameroom, which is where I worked today. It's a great room with a tall pitched ceiling, dark wood wainscoting, a wall of bookcases, and floor to ceiling, dark wood plantation shutters. Today and tonight I've had the shutters open and to look out from that cozy room through the dark wood shutters onto is so beautiful. I can't get over it. I've taken lots of pics, but have yet to figure out how to download and post them on my mac, so they won't accompany this post, and I don't know if they'd convey the magic anyway. But it was sort of an "Aha!" moment for me: it's so beautiful to look out, through the shutters, and see snow.

And my unhappiness with work, and the soft beauty of the snow has got me thinking: Why Dallas? Why stay here?

Maybe it's time to think about moving on.