The Office

Hello from Absurd World, where the Wi-Fi at work hasn’t worked for over a month (wish I could say the same), despite the original estimate from the IT folks of two days. They finally got it sort of working this week, but its tenuous grasp fails a few feet from my office (and the CEO’s). There is no estimate for if or when it will work in the wilds of our work stations. Even though it used to, when my technophobe Old Boss had that office. I imagine New Boss will be less than impressed when she moves into it, especially since she lives on her iPhone.

I spent about a billion hours printing postcards last week for an upcoming fundraising event. In keeping with our technologically challenged theme, you can’t just load up the printer with postcards, enter the number you need, and say Go. It jams almost immediately, so you have to feed it a page at a time, like a particularly querulous baby. Bite-sized pieces. It makes it hard to do anything else, especially when you need to print 400 of them. And that was after I ordered 400 blank postcards from the facilities guy and got 1,000 index cards instead.

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Things are still in flux at work. The Old Boss has not finished emptying out her office of more than two decades’ worth of things and stuff to make way for the New Boss to move her two decades of things and stuff into it. The Old Boss has been coming by on the weekends to excavate, and her method seems to be shoveling paperwork from her office to mine. My desk is FEMA worthy on a Monday morning.

New Boss is still doing her old job in addition to her new job, so I am assisting with both and working on the transition, notifying the countless people who need to be notified and filling out seemingly endless forms and gracefully leaping through hoops of bureaucracy. On the bright side, I have not typed up a handwritten document all month. New Boss shares her Outlook calendar with me, so I know where she is and what she’s doing, and we even have a standing meeting on Monday morning to talk about what needs to be done that week. Hopefully she will find someone to replace her and we can get back on an even keel. It would be nice to have a year which is not so full of constant change.

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I ended a long day at work by meeting my former co-worker and current friend Richard at a charming oceanside inn’s bar, right in Hooterville. It’s a cozy place for a glass of wine on a rainy winter evening:

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We had a great time catching up, and I’m lucky I caught him when I did, because he is off to Mexico and France on business. He’s always going somewhere fabulous or just coming back from somewhere fabulous. Being with him is so fun and inspiring. We should do it more often.

A YEAR AGO: A family dinner.

Ode to an Engine Light

I just wouldn’t be Me if there wasn’t something wrong with my car.

I was driving to work one morning, listening to Bobbie Gentry* and being blinded by oncoming traffic as usual when I noticed the bright orange engine light blink to life on the console. This did not console me. I still think that they should be little dollar signs instead of engines, maybe Michelin style with $ indicating a routine repair and $$$$ indicating one you have to mortgage your house for, or possibly your soul, assuming you have one.

I texted my brother Jonathan and asked him if I could stop by his place on my way home from work to avail myself of his unpaid mechanic services, and he said yes. He recently put up the car port that used to house my beautiful old Mustang Josephine:

josephine

and when he did, he poured a concrete foundation which included a mechanic’s pit so he can work on the family cars in relative comfort. He used to lie in a ditch to do this, so it’s a big step up. The car port also houses a solar powered washer and dryer along with a body-sized freezer. Just in case.

Jonathan read the code and then looked it up while I petted his mini cat Scout. She is about 2/3 the size of a regulation cat, but her purr is twice as loud as most cats’ and her fur is twice as soft.

The code means that the engine is not getting hot enough. Apparently this is not as bad as having your engine do the opposite, but it will have to be addressed. Jonathan checked the coolant level and the hoses and it seems they are not the cause of the excess coolness. I was once again chastised for not keeping a better eye on the gauges “They aren’t there just to be pretty, Suz”) and got into further trouble when it was revealed that I had failed to procure a Chilton repair manual.

In my defense, I thought I had, but when I went to look for it, it turned out that what I thought was the manual for the current car was the one for its predecessor** and of no use at all. I ordered a new one, which should be here soon, and the considered opinion of my unpaid mechanic is that all it will probably cost to make the engine light go out (for now, anyway – I’m sure it will rear its ugly head agin sometime in the future) is a $30 thermostat for the car and a batch of my world-famous cheese biscuits for the mechanic.

*She was gorgeous and the poignant song I was listening to, “Ode to Billie Joe”, knocked the Beatles out of first place on the charts in 1967. You know your life isn’t going well when you’re listening to a lot of country music. Some of my favorite lines recently are: “Tearstains on my pillow/bottles in the trash/I’m a little bit long on sorrow and a little bit short on cash.”

****Even though I have only ever owned Fords. If they were good enough for Clyde Barrow, they are good enough for me. You can read Clyde’s (alleged) letter to Mr. Ford here. And many other fascinating missives. You’re welcome.

A YEAR AGO: Visiting the ever-fabulous Erica and Jessica.

The Office Party

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It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

With a Bang

I was at work making copies when there was a huge bang and the building shook. Before my two brain cells had processed the Big Bang, the power went out and we were cast into darkness.

Emerging shocked from the copy room, I heard the generator kick on and saw the pale emergency lights activated. Walking back toward my office, I saw a staff member entering the building, shaking. I asked her what happened, and she said that lightning struck a house right across the street. The force of the lightning had thrown her against our building. An hour later, she said she could still feel the lightning on her back*.

We rarely get thunderstorms here in our little corner of Northern California, and when we do, there’s a rumbling of thunder in the distance and a warning while it rubs its hands and gets ready to get down to work. This time, it just slammed the door open and yelled “I’m here!” It was soon joined by its good time buddies Torrential Rain and Quarter-Sized Hail, and they partied merrily for a while with Thunderstorm.

When it subsided, the sun came out, as if it were all a huge, celestial joke, and I headed home during the break in the storm, since the power was out indefinitely at work and I was powerless to work while powerless.

Sadly, I discovered that the power was also out at home, 25 miles from work. I later learned that lightning got bored and left the party in the Big Town to strike a transformer on the road where my friend Jim lives, scaring him and his dogs and casting Hooterville into darkness.

I had buckets of water ready as well as drinking water, and various lanterns and flashlights on hand. Both Clyde and Audrey were inside, thankfully, and I could heat up dinner on the gas stove. I could not, however, heat up the house, since the propane heater requires electricity to work, and the post-storm temperature had dropped by more than 10 degrees. So I put on a couple of sweaters and washed my face in icy rainwater and settled down with the latest (and last) Ruth Rendell.

The power came on that night at my house, and I was delighted with the warmth and light. The next day, I checked the outage at work online and discovered that it hadn’t been fixed yet, so I texted my bosses to say I would stay home until the power was back up. Of course, that was a couple of hours later. Arriving at work, I soon learned that computers were working, copiers weren’t (did I do something?) and there was no internet. I still got through the day, though, and from the looks of the ocean, it ain’t over yet.

A YEAR AGO: What do you know? Another storm. Though the power stayed on that time.

*When she got home, her husband asked her if she she wanted a drink. She said, “Do you have to ask?”

With a Little Help from My Friends

The Manic Monday theme carried on into last week with a vengeance. It was accessorized with a cold, which arrived on the weekend, making sure no fun could be had, and hung on like a guest that didn’t know when to leave, even when the lights were off and the chairs on the tables. The Comma made its unwelcome and inconvenient appearance as well, so my condition was already pretty weakened as I embarked on a week of what would turn out to be 10 to 12 hour days in an effort to complete the hand-written project started last week.

My efforts were hampered at every turn by my old enemy technology, partly the (government) system used to submit the project data, and partly due to the Draconian limitations on the computers at work, such as not being able to simply click on an embedded link. Instead, you have to copy it and paste it into your browser. Apparently this is for our own good. Add in the fact that we have the wrong version of the browser required by the government, and our systems will not allow us to download different versions other than the standards already installed, and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of frustration for a sick and tired girl up against a deadline.

I mentioned my less than ideal work day to my more than ideal friend Erin, and she appeared like magic with a care package of chamomile tea, aspirin, and dark chocolate drops, all in a plain brown wrapper and delivered with a hug, germs be damned:

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I used all of these secret weapons to get me through the day, and another former co-worker at the jobette gifted me with some wit and wisdom of the late, great, Yogi Berra* to get me through the long days:

To brighten your bad day:

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“When you come to a fork in the road – take it.”

“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

I laughed out loud at my paper-covered desk, and attacked the Sisyphean task with renewed energy and a brighter outlook.

Finally arriving home, I passed Rob on the driveway. We rolled down our windows to say hi, and he told me that he had dropped off a card for me on my front porch. There it was, gleaming silver in the twilight, and opening it revealed a beautiful card from my friend Joy:

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She had picked it up in Paris and thought I would enjoy it, knowing how I fell in love with Paris on my first visit there at the impressionable age of 17. Indeed, two of my favorite bookmarks are postcards she sent me from Paris, and I have laminated them so they will last longer.

As I fell into bed that night, surrounded by kitties, I felt so thankful for my friends and the life I have built in this beautiful place. With friends like these, I can do anything.

*Somehow, I never thought he would actually die. Roger Angell, one of the finest baseball writers ever (and stepson of the immortal EB White) wrote a brief and wonderful appreciation of the legend in a recent issue of The New Yorker (feel free to click on the link with wanton abandon).

A YEAR AGO: Hmm. I had a cold then, too. ‘Tis the season?

Manic Monday

Well, the week started out with a bang that made me whimper.

When my boss arrived on Monday, she flooded my desk with a tsunami of hand-written paper, all of which had to be typed up or made into charts:

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While I was still assessing the damage and estimating the girl hours to get it done, she asked me to come into her office and close the door.

I immediately felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, and started mentally going through the things I could have done, followed by the things I could have been caught doing, and pretty much came up blank, since all I ever do is work.

My boss then told me that she is retiring at the end of the year, aka two months from now. An internal person has agreed to take the job, and she does not have an assistant, so I’m assuming I still have a job. But it will be different, and I kind of feel like I’ve had enough new jobs and bosses over the past few months. I tried not to take it personally that she’s leaving six months after I arrived. Maybe it will be a good thing. I will almost certainly be typing fewer hand-written pieces of paper.

Later, as I sat at my desk packaging up the remains of my boss’ lunch for her to take home to her dogs (a literal doggie bag!), I thought of how weird my job is, and that was before I got the call from the woman in Hawaii who is looking to adopt and would like us to give her a heads up if any patients tell us they would like to give up their child.

When I got home, I found deconstructed bird all over the lovely living room carpet:

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Deconstructed birds are much more delightful in high end restaurants than on my floor. It was the perfect end to the perfect nine and a half hour day. After I vacuumed, I had a dose or two of Vitamin V, which always improves my outlook.

A YEAR AGO: Things were even worse. I lost my job, which I still miss every single day. And the jobette was in mortal peril. I still miss the jobette every single day, too.

A Day in the Life

Saturday was my last day of working at the jobette. For real-real, as Jessica used to say in her long-ago youth. They have hired someone to work from Tuesday through Saturday, so they will only need me on Saturdays to fill in for her if she has to work an event or something.

I walked slowly through the familiar shop after I turned out the lights, and turned the sign to “Closed”, feeling a little sad. It was just a summer job, but it kept me connected to my former work family and the visitors. I guess it’s always hard to say goodbye.

Fortunately, my brother and sister decided to have an impromptu BBQ that evening for no particular reason, so I headed over there after I went home and changed out of my work clothes and corralled the kitties.

Our good friend Lichen was there:

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Here’s a view of the canopy Rob picked up at the mall. You can see some of the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built out of redwood a couple of years ago:

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In case you’re wondering who the mystery dog is in the picture, it’s Marley. Marley is at Camp Lichen for a few days, learning valuable lessons like how not to whine his ass off when temporarily left in the car by his owner. Lichen is an excellent dog trainer, being both gentle and intolerant of nonsense.

Jonathan grilled up a simple dinner of sausages, and I thought that it won’t be long until he is manning the ‘cue for the traditional Christmas ham. This year the equally traditional split pea soup will be made of beans from the garden. I have heard rumors that I should resurrect making parsnip vichyssoise for Christmas Eve from the garden’s parsnips. And that there are plans afoot to make hard cider from all those apples.

Later, the moon rose over the garden:

moon

I suck at taking moon pictures, y’all. Even though the moon and I are pretty close after the mystical experience we shared a couple of years ago, I have never been able to take a good photo of her. Maybe she needs to start considering selfies and stop letting Kim Kardashian have all the fun.

A YEAR AGO: Bugs and fairies. You know, the usual.

Silly Rabbit

Megan stopped by my house, saying, “Rob sent you a bunny,” which is not something you hear every day. I came downstairs to find a wonderful ceramic rabbit made in 1955 (the date is etched on the base):

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He got it for $2 at a thrift store, knowing that it would both delight me and look perfect with the kitschy vintage animal planters on my balcony, and so it does:

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Rob and I share a certain aesthetic appreciation. 🙂

I didn’t plan it, but somehow I ended up with all these cute old planters up there:

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The top one is a little squirrel in a log, and underneath is another log with a saw, perfect for this area where logging is one of the biggest (legal) industries.

Here’s a look at the rest of the balcony:

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It’s the perfect place to read and drink wine.

In addition to the rabbit, Megan also brought a plant called an anthurium. Lu bought it for my office, and said the heart-shaped flowers are to remind me that I’m loved. I wasted no time in bringing it to work, where it looks perfect with my filing cabinet garden:

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I bought the sea urchin planter when Megan and I took that Saturday off together a couple of weeks ago. I love it! I brought the old vase on the right from home. I like my office garden. I have a real garden outside my window, where the courtyard is beautifully landscaped and Fred the hummingbird visits me every day.

A YEAR AGO: Things were pretty much the same, with me working all the time and Megan at Reggae on the River.

Future Girl

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Oh, future dishes – I think I love you least of all.

The last time I got paid, I made the unpleasant discovery that I was overdrawn by $39. This made me realize two things: 1) Clearly, I shouldn’t have recklessly squandered $44 on gas that day; and B) I should get a summer job.

So I’m working at the jobette on Saturdays through Labor Day. Compared to the hours I work during the week (about 50), it seems like nothing to just do 6 hours. And it’s fun. I love talking to the visitors – last week, a young couple from Berkeley who are getting married here in the fall came in for visitor guides and maps to give their friends attending the wedding. I am always sentimental about brides, even though I don’t really believe in marriage, at least not for me. Go figure.

I also like feeling that I’m helping out my former colleagues, who often pop in to say hello while I’m there. It’s nice to know that I’ve left the place tidy and ready for them to start their work week on Monday.

But that only gives me one day off, and you know what that means. Chores and work preparations have to be packed in during the week somehow. So far, I have coped with this by putting out my work clothes for the next week on Wednesday or Thursday of the current week. I throw in a load of laundry when I get home from work. After work on Fridays, I invest a couple of hours making my lunches and dinners for the following week. This task is made much more pleasant by a glass or three of wine, which as Jacques Pepin so rightly said, inspires the cook.

The downside of this future food though is the present dishes, as you see above. That’s what it looked like when last Friday’s culinary marathon was complete. I left the dishes until Saturday morning. I don’t have to leave for the jobette until after 9 am, so I can sleep in until it’s light outside and still have time to get the house tidied up before I go.

Needless to say, Sundays are completely dedicated to sloth and hanging out with the kitties!

A YEAR AGO: File under Miscellaneous.

Get Back

flowersFlowers Outside My Office Door

It’s been so long since it rained that when the pattering on the roof woke me up last night, I was unable to identify the sound at first. Eventually, my sleep-fogged mind realized it was a light shower. By the time the alarm went off, the showers had departed, leaving confused yet happy birds and frogs behind. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to really water the garden or do any good, though it made the cats curious.

Speaking of cats, the boys turned 5 on Monday! Audrey is slated to turn 8 next month, and has recovered completely from her vet adventures, though my wallet may never recover. As for me, my back is still unhappy and not shy about letting me know. The irony is not lost on me that I’m limping around a medical facility like Igor, though there really isn’t anything anyone can do about it except stone me out on drugs, which a) I hate; and 2) would make it impossible for me to work. And work I have: I worked an eleven and a half hour day on Tuesday and so far this week have packed more than 30 hours into three days.

Today I finally had the sense to bring the small feather pillow from my couch as well as the heating pad to work, so I was able to sit in relative comfort at my sunny desk* during my long day. I tried to do as much as possible when trekking to the other side of the building – making it count! I still have no idea what I did to displease my dorsal region, and am displeased in turn that it’s still bothering me so much. Hopefully it will be better in time for Saturday’s celebration of Erica’s and my birthdays, so I can perch on a hay bale in reasonable comfort and sip gin cocktails. I may really need Jessica to escort me to my car that evening!

*My office has a window overlooking a courtyard landscaped with plants and flowers, like the one you see above. It’s a nice view. I usually don’t need artificial light, which is great.

A YEAR AGO: More car madness. You know, the usual.

Birthday BBQ

On Saturday, I made a special appearance at the jobette. It was Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial opening of the summer tourist season, and I decided to go in and help out, partly because I’m still on probation at the new job, so I didn’t get paid for Memorial Day, and partly to help out my former work family.

It was good to be back. I took down all the expired event postings in the lobby, refreshed the supply of visitor guides and other tourism materials, added up all the sales and visitor sheets, balanced the cash, updated the database, took out the trash, watered the inside and outside plants (which I suspect has not been done since I left), and washed the dishes. Oh, and turned off the heat, which was blasting when I arrived.

I had a great time chatting with the visitors, and sold $160 worth of art. I imagine my former employers were pleased when they arrived at the office on Tuesday.

I went home and collected the al pastor which I had put in the slow cooker on Friday night. It was my first attempt at making this, and I think from now on I will just leave it to Libby’s, even if they are almost never open. It turned out to be atomically spicy, despite the fact that I only added a teeny can of chipotles in adobo sauce to a 5 pound roast, along with an entire pineapple, a bottle of beer, some red onion, and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.

To be fair, I have a low spiciness tolerance and believe that food should come in hot, medium, mild and Suzy. But still. I texted Erica in a panic, and she suggested that I drain off the sauce and put in a can of tomato sauce. I didn’t have any tomato sauce – all I had was an extremely unhelpful jar of spicy red pepper sauce – so I went over to Megan’s, even though it was early, since I had to deal with it before heading to the jobette.

Fortunately, she had a can, so I swapped the sauces, and I think it worked just fine. Rob helped me to load the giant slow cooker into the car and we headed over to the family property, where Megan’s birthday BBQ was in full swing:

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Erica and Jessica were there, as well as Jarrett and Kalli and Dave and Jennifer. Jarrett had invited his dog Archi’s brother (and his owners), and I couldn’t get over how alike they look:

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Lichen also came, bearing rose lemonade for Jessica, and all together, there were nearly 20 people. Erica fried up samosas she had made in a special pot outside by the Waltons-sized picnic table:

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They were, of course, delicious.

Erica had also brought a giant, industrial sized jar of mayonnaise:

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It turned out to be an elaborate practical joke. Megan hates mayonnaise (we are a family of picky eaters), but Erica bet her that she would be digging into this one. Megan was horrified until she discovered that the jar actually contained vanilla bean-bourbon vanilla pudding, chocolate espresso cookie crumbs, and sea salted caramel sauce, all made from scratch by Erica the Evil Genius. It was insanely delicious.

Erica said it was the hardest dessert she had ever made, since she had to hide the cookie crumbs and sauce inside the pudding, so it still looked convincingly like mayonnaise. Only Erica!

Meanwhile, I was discussing designers with Jessica, saying that I love it that she actually knows who Charles James, Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, and Madame Grès are (she has all these and more on her Pinterest boards). She said that sometimes it seems like designers are playing a practical joke to see if people will actually wear their crazy clothes. “It’s like, ‘Go home, fashion, you’re drunk!’” Jessica said, referring to some of the more outrageous confections at Fashion Week.

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When it was time to go home, Jessica once again offered her arm and asked if she could escort “Fair Suzy” to her car. I love this tradition!

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday, of course!

The Path

“’Wilmet, when you work for your living – and I hope you may never have to – you find that there are some days when you can hardly bear to do your work, and others when you definitely cannot bear to. This has been one of those days. I woke up this morning knowing that I couldn’t bear it, so I didn’t go.’

I hardly knew what to say. Neither sympathy nor reproach seemed quite what was called for.”

Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings

I’m finding the return to working five days a definite challenge. It’s been many years since I had to do that, and when I did, I had a cleaning lady twice a month, so I didn’t have to spend my precious weekends cleaning my spacious apartment, and I (usually) finished work around 3:00 pm, so I had time to run errands and go to the gym as I walked home up and down the San Francisco hills.

Now I get up about half an hour later than I did then, but I get home around 5:00 pm if I’m lucky, and I drive about 250 miles a week to do it. Everything is closed when I go to work, and it’s closed when I leave work. It’s not easy going back to prison once you’ve escaped, and it’s been a long time since I was in the hamster cage. However, the cage is currently the best case scenario – the alternative being a tent or cardboard box on the family property – so I have had to find a way to cope. I’m working toward a sort of transcendental acceptance. Not there yet, though.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • A dear friend sent me a book on how to do yoga anywhere, including while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, in the shower, even at your desk in the hamster cage, and I’ve been doing that as much as I can. I try to be conscious of my posture and breathing, even in the car.
  • I downloaded an app called Calm to my phone, and every day I go and sit in the car and do a five minute meditation. I forgot to do it this past Saturday, but before that I did it every day for three weeks.
  • I try and jump on the treadmill at Mark’s before work, and succeed most days. Unlike the rest of the world, exercise makes me tired and hungry, but not notably more tired than I already am from getting up at 5:00 am. Not for the first time, I wish my parents had sprung for the deluxe package with the endorphins. Bonus: it’s extra reading time! So far, I have found reading is the best distraction from the horrors of exercise.
  • I savor every moment of joy, whether it’s just cuddling Roscoe in the early morning darkness before I get up, or the golden sunlight slanting through the eucalyptus trees, or the parting of the trees when I get my first glimpse of ocean for the day.
  • I spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. This is also one of my resolutions for the year, and just knowing I’m meeting Megan, Lu, and Rik for dinner and a play this weekend can help raise my spirits (even though I have to fight not to be depressed on Saturday afternoon because it’s almost Sunday and who can enjoy Sunday with prison doors yawning?) Also, you can either have fun or get things done on the weekend, but you can’t do both. Nor will you have time to recharge your aging batteries.
  • I try to be thankful for what I have: a roof over my head (admittedly quirky); a car that goes (though not paid off or even close to paid off); family and friends nearby. Angelika says she tries to be thankful for even small things, like a cup of coffee, and I’m trying to do that, too, though I’m more successful on some days than others.
  • Neither sympathy nor reproach is called for, though I’d be glad of any advice or suggestions!

    A YEAR AGO: Rob the handyman.

In Vein

Poor Change! No-one loves you, including Me.

Especially when it includes working eight five days a week. It’s been fifteen years or so since I did that, meaning that I was younger and, as Jessica put it when she herself was much younger, “fresher*”. I also did not have to drive more than an hour a day to do it (in fact, my car problem then consisted mostly of finding parking for my 1966 Mustang convertible, Josephine). And I had a wonderful cleaning lady who came every other week and cost a mere $50 a pop.

Alas, none of these things are still the case, so I’m leaving the house around 7 am and getting back around 5, if I’m lucky. Unfortunately, the person I now work for is a night owl and tends to get to work around 10, whereas my preference is to get in early and get it over with, so I’m hoping we can find something that works for both of us.

Having said that, though, she is very nice, and I actually have an office again, though it is a mess:

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I am hoping that I can bring some order to the chaos and prettify it soon.

One of the things about working at a medical facility, even in administration, is that you have to be up to date on your immunizations. They scheduled me for a series that is required for all women under 40, and when I revealed the Awful Truth, they revised it to a blood test to make sure that I was immune to whatever these things are.

So I went over to get my blood taken, but the Calamity Suzy Factor made sure that it did not go as planned. It turns out that my veins are the only things about me that are not shallow, so the poor nurse spent a lot of time prospecting for a useful one with no result, much like a botched execution. Also? Those tourniquet things hurt. I don’t know how junkies do it.

As the search continued, I began to feel a little light headed and then nauseous, so the search was called off. The nurse gave me juice and peanut butter crackers and sat me by an open window until I felt better. To be fair, I hadn’t eaten in about 16 hours, but it was still a little on the embarrassing side. She was really nice about it, and apparently we will try again another day. Wish me luck!

*When Jessica was small, she noticed the difference in the energy level between Schatzi and my mother’s much older dog. Megan explained that Schatzi was younger, and Jessica nodded, saying, “Schatzi is much fresher!”

A YEAR AGO: An evening at the theater.

Lucky

Stop me (or try and stop me) if you’ve hard this before, but I have a new job!

Yes, another one. But this one is permanent, unlike the other new job, where I learned on my first day that it was not, as I had been told, an indefinite assignment, but rather I was covering for someone on medical leave. So it’s a permanent job with more money, actual benefits, and someone on hand to train me from Day One (the person I’ll be replacing is moving into a management position within the same organization). Imagine.

The reason I’ve been writing so much about the past lately here is that I couldn’t write about the present, other than the fun I packed into the weekends so I could face the rest of the week. Let’s just say it was challenging.

Despite that, it will be hard to walk in there and quit this morning, because the work they are doing is so important and the people who do it are so nice. They told me every day how wonderful I was, so it will be really hard to tell them I’m leaving. Even though I could have been on the other side of this equation at any time.

I am just about the luckiest girl in the world, you know. When I lost my job back in October, my family rallied around me. I passed the tests and interviews for the county job, and when I left the jobette, I was showered in love and appreciation. When I interviewed for this new job, I also got that. How lucky can one girl be?

First & Last Day

Well, it’s been quite a day.

I left home in the foggy, grey dawn, making my way to the county seat for orientation and paperwork for my brand-new job. I gave myself two hours to get there, and I needed most of it, partly for the curvaceous drive and partly to locate the building, which was new to me, and parking, which was far away.

The actual paperwork and proceedings went relatively quickly, and then I set off for the Big Town, another hour and a half away. I got there around 12:30, and thought it would be a good idea to call my new boss and ask if I could grab some lunch and then report to work.

She was surprised by my call, and also by the idea that I was supposed to work today. She herself was headed to the county seat for the rest of the day, and the person who is supposed to train me will not be in until Thursday. She said she’d call me about coming in tomorrow, but as of 6:30 this evening, she hasn’t called me, so I’m not sure what’s happening other than my not getting up at 4:30 tomorrow. Clearly they are in dire need of my services. 🙂

Not being at work freed me up to meet Megan and Rob over at the family property to bury Ramona, their beloved thirteen year old cat. Megan stayed with me after bringing* Ramona and her sister home from San Diego when they were just babies, so it seems fitting that I was also there at the end.

Ramona had health issues for some time, but had taken a dramatic turn for the worse over the past day or so, and it was time to let her go. Dr. Carl took care of her in his compassionate but no nonsense way, and Rob brought her home to the family property late this afternoon, where we said goodbye. Ramona looked so peaceful and so beautiful. We petted her, kissed her farewell, and laid her to rest near little Henry Etta James and Jed the Wonder Dog. She is in good company and will always be with us.

A YEAR AGO: A look around the garden.

*Bonus: the pop up pictures in this very old post still work, unlike most of them, so you can delight in the cuteosity of baby Ramona and Harriet. Enjoy!

Last Day

deskMy desk on my last day at the jobette

Wednesday marked my last day at the jobette, just days after the fourth anniversary of my first day.

Fortunately, I was really busy tying up loose ends and making sure that my co-workers had everything they needed to endure my eternal absence, so time flew by and I was unable to dwell on and well up, which I had feared.

We got fantastic pizza for lunch, after which I was presented with a beautiful card and a piece of artwork. I had admired this artist’s work when she was our featured artist for the month, and I was touched that my co-workers remembered this (it’s the agave collage on the left hand side of the photo above). The things they wrote in the card were so beautiful! I now have written proof that I am in fact awesome. 🙂

The day brought a stream of well wishers, gifts, and flowers. I was amazed by how many people made the effort to tell me how much I meant to them, and how lucky I was to work with such a wonderful people. They really were my work family, and sometimes, I could hardly believe I was paid to hang out with them. They will now be my real life friends instead of my work family, but I will miss the days we spent together.

I should be looking toward the future and the new job, but for a few minutes, I’ll think about the past with love and gratitude.

A YEAR AGO: A shower of petals.

Wild Weather

Stormageddon III blew into town on Sunday night, taking the power with it. In keeping with the truism that sequels get progressively worse, III was much worse than II. The wind was a fearsome gale, shaking the sliding glass doors and howling around my hippie hovel, sounding much like I imagine a hurricane. I tried not to look out the skylight, where the trees were tossed wildly in the wind as the light faded.

It was a scary night and I didn’t sleep much. Megan texted me that she heard trees falling in her garden. One of them just barely missed Megan’s car and the house – in fact some of it is actually touching the porch roof:

trees1

Another one took down another tree:

trees2

And a third tore some jasmine and passion flower vines from the side of Megan and Rob’s house, while smashing into a tree which had fallen earlier. At my house, a tree broke off, but house, car, kitties and Self were unscathed.

On Monday morning, I got up in the cold, dark house and boiled water on the gas stove to make coffee in my little French press. Then I set off for the jobette.

The Ridge was scattered with branches and debris, not to mention five fallen trees. I was able to negotiate my way around them, and I may have driven over some fallen power lines, remembering how Dad always said that tires ground your car and make it perfectly safe during a thunderstorm. Storm damage was everywhere, and the ocean was wild and crazy. Little River had definitely gotten the brunt of the storm, with a shattered power pole and several big trees down by the side of the highway.

The traffic lights were blinking as I entered the Big Town, my first clue that all was not well. I pulled into the hotel parking lot (I had left my hat there), and checked in with the owner, who gave me my hat and the fun news that the entire Big Town was out of power.

I still went to the jobette, though, just to make sure, and sure enough, there was no power. I put a sign on the door saying we were closed until the power came back on, and took out the trash and recycling (I’m assuming the power outage won’t stop Waste Management from its appointed rounds).
So I drove all the way to the jobette for nothing. It’s really been a weird few days, with the interview on Thursday, the scary, stormy drive to the jobette on Friday (again, for no reason, really), the seemingly endless power outage, more storms, more power outages. I’m sensing a theme here.

As I write on Tuesday morning, power is still out in Hooterville and might, just might, be back on around 7:00 pm, which I’m pretty sure you all know is located after dark. And darkness is the enemy. I am so tired of the dark and the cold. I can see my breath in my living room, which is just wrong. It’s been five days of cold and dark with just one little break of heat and light. I miss civilization!

Update: Came home to find power and civilization restored! Celebrated with lights, heat, and a glass of wine.

A YEAR AGO: It was raining then, too.

Stormy Weather

As sequels usually are, Stormageddon II was much worse than Stormageddon I, which did not live up to the hype. II didn’t get the hype, but it packed the punch.

The power went out at my house at 9:30 am on Friday morning. I made sure all the kitties were in, equipped with food and water, and that the many doors were as secure as possible before heading out to the Big Town for my special guest appearance at the jobette. It was an alarming drive, with heavy rain, high winds, and roads scattered with tree bits, pine needles, nascent rock- and mud-slides, and the deep ditches close to overflowing.

I planned ahead, though, and checked in at the harborside hotel which is my home away from home in the Big Town. I figured I would not want to drive back to Hooverville in the stormy dark at 8:30 pm, and the hotel owner gave me a great deal on the room.

The rain was blowing sideways as First Friday began. On the first Friday of each month, shops and art galleries in the Big Town stay open late, pouring wine and serving nibbles as people mingle and shop. In the jobette’s case, we also have the artist on hand to meet the public and answer questions. But with the weather being so bad, the public mostly stayed home, so I was sent home earlier than expected.

I was glad that I only had to drive a few blocks in the driving rain and then dash to my cozy hotel room, where I could have a hot bath with a cold glass of wine and then lounge in bed watching “Gilmore Girls”. Alas, this heaven of civilization came to a crashing halt when the power went out around 10:00 pm.

I soon heard a generator start up, but it soon became clear that the generator was only powering the office, not the guest rooms. So I was in the unlovely position of being kept up all night by generator noise which was not doing me one iota of good. Even ear plugs and a feather pillow couldn’t block it out, and I was unable to convince myself that it was white noise and should be soothing.

The power came back on right before check out time, when I learned that PG&E had booked 20 rooms for repair personnel. I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or a bad sign.

It was a much easier drive home, during a break from the rain, though the power was still out when I got there. There was 5 inches of rain in the gauge, which is its maximum, so there may have been more. Later, Mark went to the Big Town to rent a generator so we could all have water, which was great. I wasted no time in washing dishes and filling up pots with water. Living in one smallish room with the kitchen at one end and only three feet of counter space means that dishes pile up quickly and look terrible really fast.

Megan had put together a macaroni and cheese casserole on Friday, but didn’t have time to bake it before the power went out (her oven like my heater, needs electricity to light, so both are totally useless in the inevitable power outages). So she brought it over and put it in my oven (which lights with a match), and we played Clue by candle and lantern (she and Rob have nice oil lanterns) light until dinner was ready.

The power finally came back at 11:00 pm last night, so this morning I had a quick shower and did a load of laundry before the power could go out again. It’s raining and windy again, Round 2 of Stormageddon 2. I really hope the power stays on and it blows over quickly.

A YEAR AGO: A trip the city gets a little too exciting for all concerned.

Round Two

So I had the interview for the permanent job yesterday.

Fortunately, it was only in the Big Town, aka my usual commute, so I was spared trekking to the county seat. Luck was with me, since the forecasters were predicting another Stormageddon, and I feared the effect on my hair and make-up, but there were just a few sprinkles and my beauty remained intact. We haven’t had a drop of rain since the Christmas Eve storm with its power outage, and it was the driest January in recorded California history, so we need it, but it seems to be feast or famine this winter: pouring or nothing.

I arrived early for the interview, and was surprised that they also started the interview early. This time, I knew that it would be a panel interview, so I was better prepared, and I had spent some time thinking about my answers to the questions that had stymied me last time. At least I didn’t blush this time!

I was so relieved when it was over that I totally forgot to ask what the next steps were and when they might reach a decision. There are two jobs, so I’m hoping that will increase my chances of getting one of them. I have the indefinite temp job starting on the 17th, so I do have a fall back position and money coming in while I wait for or find a permanent job.

As I write, it’s pouring and windy out, and I feel as if we’re trembling on the verge of a power outage. The cats ran out and ran back in this morning, soaked and indignant.

Will our heroine get a job? Will the drought end? Will the cats wreck the house out of total boredom? Stay tuned ’til next time for As the Suzy Turns…

A YEAR AGO: Shopping with the lovely Miss Stella.

New Job

I have a new job!

Sort of.

Remember the county job I interviewed for, way back before Christmas? Apparently I did not blow the interview after all. They called me to (a) tell me I’m still in the running for the permanent job in the Big Town; and (2) ask me if I’d be willing to work in a sort of temp job in the same department.

The temp job will go on indefinitely, maybe forever, and I’d be working with the same people as in the permanent job. These people will also compose the interview panel, so hopefully I can impress them with my fabulous work ethic before the interview takes place. Also, I now know what to expect, and will have some time to think up kickass answers to “tell me about yourself”. All suggestions, advice, and opinions gratefully accepted.

So I took the temp job, contingent on my passing fingerprinting on Monday in the county seat. Let’s hope my prints don’t somehow match those of a career criminal. So far, my run-ins with the law have been limited to Grand Jury testifying, getting divorced, and trying to help out my neighbors, so I should be OK here.

Given the fact that my old job’s paychecks give out at the end of February, and the possibility of shopping for a cardboard box big enough to live in and/or pitching a tent over at my brother’s place were a little too real for comfort, you’d think I’d be elated. And I was excited when I was talking to the county. But when I hung up and realized I had to quit the jobette, I felt really sad.

Quitting was so hard. My last day is three days after the fourth anniversary of my first day there. I am going to miss seeing my friends there almost every day. They have all been so kind and supportive of me, and I know we will still be friends and stay in each other’s lives. As one of them emailed me, “There is a lot of joy to be had in that job. But I hope your coming work is incredibly fulfilling, and full of its own little joys that make it an integral part of your life. I know you’ll do amazingly at it!”

Update: I have an interview set up on Thursday, February 5 at 9:30 am. Wish me luck!

A YEAR AGO: A welcome visit from an old friend.