Friday, January 30, 2009

Old friends are best friends

Twenty years ago, I cut my journalistic/public relations teeth in a job I wasn't much prepared for at another St. Paul college -- my alma mater, at that. I was all of 26 years old when I started, and I think I made a grand sum of about $16,500 a year. I had been a golden child as a student: honors in English, a practically perfect G.P.A., faculty who showered me in adulation. What I didn't know: They'd treat me like crap as soon as I joined the administration. And the place ran like a harem with PMS. Three presidents, three bosses and seven years of loyalty later, my job -- and my salary -- was sheared by half in a fit of cost-cutting. That was the beginning of the end of that journey.

But along the way, I had worked with some really lovely and talented people who, like me, needed jobs to survive and endured no small amount of abuse to put food on their tables. One, Barb, a graphic designer, had a houseful of kids ranging from teens to preschoolers. She was enormously talented and, of course, she could hardly wait to get outta there. After she lost a child in an auto accident and her husband to a heart attack, she designed books for a small local press. Today, she paints. After unspeakable tragedy (she doesn't remember most of it, she says protectively), she still smiles.

I had lunch with Barb today -- our first in 20 years. We're going to do it again. Life is short, so I might as well spend it with people I really, really like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The dad of the whole country!

I enjoyed a lunchtime jaunt with my grandsons. Their dad is away on business today, so I drove them from school to daycare. I've always found "cartime" to be a great conversation. Today's topic: Our new president, "Rock Obama." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Me: "So, Owen, what does a president DO?"
O: "Well he's like the dad to the whole country. And he gets to ride in a helicopter!"

That just about sums up the job. Good luck, "Rock." Don't disappoint us.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Insomnia, again

I remember when I used to have to set my alarm clock halfway across a room so it'd annoy me just enough to get me out of bed. My sleep-coma produced spots of drool on my pillowcase. More often than not, one of my arms would "fall asleep" so profoundly that I'd have to use the other arm to pick it up and shake it awake. If you asked me my name when I opened my eyes each morning, I'd have no recollection. Then I became a mother.

After 25 years or so of retraining myself, now I am a perfect insomniac. I wake if light enters my field of vision, if the clock radio clicks softly just before the radio alarm goes on, if my husband breathes heavily in his sleep, if the bell on the cat's collar tings as she slinks down the hall. I swear a feather drifting to the sidewalk could wake me. Permanently.

Why is it that every little anxiety, discomfort or obsession magnifies to the height of Mount Everest when you can't sleep? Here's the short rundown of my latest four hours of frets a few nights ago:

-- That we'd lose our house to the bank and end up living in Nate and Sara's basement. Mind you, we've never even had a late payment on the mortgage in our 20-some years of having one. Besides, Sara would never make me live in the basement, would you, dear?

-- That I really need a haircut and I bet Shannon, my hairdresser, is going to raise her prices again, damn her all to hell. She's worth every cent she earns, and she's much nicer than the priest in the confessional and has better breath too.

-- That this funny backache that's irritating me is probably the beginning of some fatal disease I can't pronounce. Except a Tylenol licked it in no time, and I hardly ever work out four days in a row like I did this week.

-- That someone in my office will find out about this blog, forward it to some powerful administrator and have me fired on the spot, and then we would (you guessed it) lose the house to the bank and end up living in Nate and Sara's basement. But my co-workers who read the blog have told me they enjoy it. Don't give me up, girls.

-- That I will never, ever again have acrylic nails, and I really like them but they cost too much every month to maintain. In reality: Who gives a rat's patootie about fingernails?

-- That I need a new swimsuit, and I hate to shop, but we're going to Florida in February and I don't want to look like an idiot. Yeah ... but will a swimsuit really change that? And who the heck there knows me and cares what I look like? As my grandma would say, "Who's going to be stopping their horses to gaze at you?"

-- That someday, when I'm dead, nobody will really care one way or the other, unlike the case of my friend Emilie who just died and hundreds, literally hundreds, of people went to her funeral and love just poured forth. Well, she earned that the hard way. I, on the other hand, hope to get run over by a truck when I'm 85 or so. And my kids will cry, won't you, kids? God knows, you know how.

-- That my pillowcase has a hole in it, and who has holes in their pillowcases? That's just plain neglect. And that's no invented fret; it's the truth, I'm afraid. And don't get me started on FEARS.