Tiny Bit of Crazy

A chronical of the laughter, revelations and transformations that are possible when you embrace the crazy

My First Job June 18, 2012

My first job ever was as my dad’s secretary. (This was the early 80’s – before the term Administrative Assistant came into use).

I was really little. So little in fact, I don’t remember how it started, I only know that the story goes that it was my idea, and I was around 3, maybe 4, and my main job responsibilities consisted of answering the phone (for real) and probably things like bringing stuff to my mom and moving things from one part of his office to another. But really, what I remember most in those early years is answering the phone.

Two things you should know: My dad has never been good at saying no to me, and his clients and colleagues had a very good sense of humor.  And the ones who knew my dad really well weren’t surprised he let his toddler answer the phone, and the ones who didn’t know him that well learned a lot about him from those few seconds of phone time with me. People who had a problem with me answering the phone probably weren’t going to get along with my dad very well.

As I got older I continued to be his “secretary” off and on, although it eventually became more of a running joke. When I got old enough to understand what answering the phone actually meant, I lost interest in it (an interest I’ve never really regained. Much to my current boss’s dismay).

Since I didn’t want to answer the phone anymore, my job description throughout most of elementary and middle school consisted of applying mailing labels and stamps to thousands of newsletters every month, (along with my mom and younger brother), at a rate of $.05/piece. (This was way before the days of electronic newsletters). When I got into high school I still had to help with the newsletters, but also got trained on the art of collating and using the binding machine so I could help make his training books and presentation materials. I probably got paid for that too, but I don’t remember how much. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing it for the money anyway.

I was doing it because I was really bored. I wasn’t very popular in high school.

My dad was a Sales Trainer, which meant that he trained people how to become sales people, or how to become better sales people. He was self-employed and like many self-employed people, the work spilled over into other aspects of life. Child labor issues aside, my dad often relied on the principles and methods from his sales training to inform his parenting. It worked better than you might think. At some point I’ll blog about that specifically.

When I was an adult and starting my own business, I relied on that lifetime of sales training to help me get clients and close deals, and while ultimately I learned that I’m not a natural salesperson, I also learned I can do well enough to get by, but more than anything, the philosophies of his sales system really do double as useful life lessons.

Which is why, when my dad went into semi-retirement 3 years ago, he asked me to help him write a book about his sales system.  It seemed a natural fit because he had about 30 years worth of experience in his head, but no idea how to organize it into a book, and I liked to call myself a writer, but also knew the selling system, so theoretically could easily organize the information into a book.

We estimated it would be a roughly 3 month project.

Three years later, it’s finally done. But three months, three years, whose counting, right?

The important thing is that its done! AND it’s for sale on Amazon! Right now its only available in digital format, but will be available in paper back as well within a week or so.

My original plan had been to have it go on sale on Father’s Day, and surprise my dad with it,  but technology and the space time continuum conspired against me. But given the way this project has gone, one day late is basically ahead of schedule.

And the coolest part, aside from having had the chance to do this project with my dad, is that it’s given me the opportunity to learn a lot of new things.

I’ve learned that taking a pile of information and organizing it into a coherent, organized and universally accessible book is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve learned a lot about digital printing, and Amazon specifically.  I’ve learned the basics of a graphics program, and I’ve been inspired to starting to learning basic web design and language.

It feels good to be learning again, and I feel like this could be opening some potential new doors for me down the road.

It kinda feels like the whole, secretary at 3 years old thing, has come full circle in a way.

But anyway, if you have any interest in sales, or negotiation or even strong communication, you should check out the book – Sell More Easily, by Howard Maslich (edt. by Meredith Maslich).

And if you do happen to buy it, and read it, please leave a review on the Amazon site – that’s one of the fastest ways to increase its ranking. Which is important, because after three years, the ROI on this project needs to be really high. Really, really high.

Advertisements
 

Thankful November 30, 2011

I’m big on tradition. I like the predictability. The familiarity. The control.

Over the years, I may have been known to…react strongly to a suggestion of changing any of our holiday traditions. And by “react strongly” I basically mean pitch a fit, and as a result, I’ve probably held my family hostage in our traditions for the past 30+ years.

But now, this year, I suddenly find myself a little less concerned with traditions and more concerned with flexibility. Possibly because I have a  motivation to be flexible.

And that motivation may or may not be named Chris.

This is my first holiday being part of a real couple. We’re talking serious milestone here.

And as always, major milestones tend to cause me some level of panic – mostly born of a fear that I’ll stumble over the milestone and tear a big hole in the fabric of our relationship somehow.

This was probably one of the scarier milestones so far, because it actually requires decisions and action and involves lots of other people. With the other ones, like our 6 month anniversary, or meeting the friends, I could navigate them by just avoiding any sudden movements or major personality changes. But the holidays are a totally different ball of pine needles.

I spent a few months obsessing thinking about options.  I knew enough about his work schedule and family demands to realize he wasn’t just going to be able to jump in the car with me on the day before Thanksgiving and head to my parents house for a long weekend. Which is what I’ve done for Thanksgiving every year since I graduated from college.

And I knew enough about us to know that I wanted to spend the holiday with him if there was any way possible.  All of a sudden traditions didn’t seem as important as finding a way to balance his holiday experiences with my own.

.

I’m pretty sure that’s called growth, people.

.

But, at the same time I was struggling with a special holiday edition of  the type of fear and insecurity that accompany my milestones: If I just didn’t go home Thanksgiving, is it wrong to choose my boyfriend of not even 10 months over my family? What if I regret my choice and miss my family and we have our first bad weekend ever? What if he comes with me and realizes that my family is too overwhelming and he misses his quiet vacation days? What if I suggest a change in my family’s tradition and they all flip out the way I always did when someone suggested changes?

But then, about two weeks before Thanksgiving, when we still hadn’t made any firm plans, I got an email from my mom saying “maybe this is the year you don’t come home, maybe this is the year you have a Thanksgiving with someone else.” From some mothers that would have been a trick, a passive-aggressive plea to in fact be sure to come home for Thanksgiving. But from MY mom it was permission.  Permission to break with our family tradition, permission to experiment with a new tradition, with putting someone other than my family first.

It took away some of the fears, but didn’t completely solve the problem. I still didn’t know if our relatively young relationship could handle the weight of replacing my family.

But before I could respond I got an email from Chris confirming his work and family schedule would allow us to spend Thanksgiving day with his family and then drive the 7ish hours to see my family on Friday and stay until Monday.

I knew my mom always served a second Thanksgiving on Sunday of that weekend to use up leftovers, and so I told her we’d join her for that meal, not wanting to ask her to cook twice or for everyone else to change their plans. I figured it would mean not seeing all of my siblings, but it seemed a reasonable compromise.

A few days later I heard from my mom that everyone had jumped at the idea of moving Thanksgiving to Sunday. It turns out, everyone else was ready to experiment with new traditions as well.  One brother had a private Thanksgiving day with just his wife where they spent the day eating, sleeping and drinking on their own schedule. One sister went to her husband’s family’s Thanksgiving for the first time in years, and my other sister didn’t have to feel like she was missing her family’s celebration as she spent Thanksgiving day with her husband’s family and she was now able to invite another brother and his family to join them for a traditional Italian Thanksgiving (they serve raviolli instead of turkey!)  Basically, it worked out great for everyone to have Thanksgiving on Sunday, and I couldn’t have had a better introduction to my first attempt at making new traditions.

.

As Thanksgiving got closer and standard small talk with friends and co-workers became “what are you doing for the holidays”, I heard tale after tale of couples torn between two competing families. I heard stories of couples who skipped Thanksgiving all together and went on vacation, who had to manuever around complicated alternating year schedules and manipulative, guilt tripping parents who had no interest in sharing or experimenting with different traditions.

I know I’ve heard these stories in past years. In fact, I know that one of my best friends has endured guilt from her mother for the entire length of her marriage for every holiday she’s spent with her husband’s family, even after the marriage ended. So I know this is a thing. But I never really heard those stories until now.

And now I know that what I have to be thankful for this year, beyond all of the obvious things, is that I have a family that cheerfully got behind moving Thanksgiving from Thursday to Sunday, and that I have a boyfriend who was willing to spend two days in the car to let me spend time with my family.

I know that part of my family’s flexibility comes from the fact that I’m the last person in this big old family to need a change. Until now I’ve been static as all around me things have changed: marriages have ended and started; people have moved houses and states; babies have been born and teenagers have appeared fully formed.

I was always the least flexible because I had the least motivation to want change. In some families that would be the kind of thing that comes back to bite you. But not in my family. And for that, I am grateful.

.

Of course, we still have Christmas to figure out. To me that’s a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving, so its still a new milestone.  I think its something to do with the presents. So it may turn out that my family has exhausted its flexibility reserves and any attempt to change our Christmas traditions will be met with rigidity.

.

Or maybe this blog post will be enough positive reinforcement to grease the wheels for Christmas. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

 

The Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Super Hero August 11, 2011

Remember a few weeks ago when I was all “I’m a guest blogger!” ? over at Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy? (Btw, the answer is, “li’l bit”)

So now its Tara’s turn to be a guest blogger on my page.  And she’s not holding back.

But before you read it, I’d just like to say that while I know its hilarious, and hilarious always equals “totally true”, there are a few things I would just like to comment on before you start reading why I’d make a terrible super hero.

First of all, I did not watch every episode of 90210. I totally missed like at least half of the final season because I was in college with my own “for real” drama, which it turns out is way more interesting than TV drama. (But only because they didn’t have reality TV back then, cause that shit beats real life every time.) However, Luke Perry is probably at least 70% to blame for me failing 9th grade math.

Second, yes my boyfriend is super cute, isn’t he? (But um, pssst, Tara? Even though I love you like a sister and I’d do anything for you, get too friendly with him and I’ll cut you and not feel bad.  Just sayin’).

Third, I would argue that points 4 and 9 actually are super powers, not anti-super powers, as Tara believes.

Here’s why: #4 keeps people off-balance and often leads to great spontaneous comedic moments. Especially when small children repeat me. And funny is always good.

Always.

And worth corrupting minors and offending grandmothers and priests for.

As for #9 – this pretty much means I get whatever I want. In high school I had a TV and VCR,  in my room, along with a phone and a double bed that was perfect for sleep overs. Tara was always jealous of my sweet set up (made more sweet, I like to believe, by the gray and pink early 90’s inspired design elements), but did she ever think to wonder how I got all that? And all the traffic tickets I’ve gotten out of, the jobs I’ve kept despite gross incompetence? You’d be surprised what a few tears can do…they even led to Eunice Kennedy Shriver being nice to me for 5 whole minutes.  If that’s not a super power, I don’t know what is…

Anyway…I’ll let you all read her post and see what you think, because now that she’s reminded me about the squirrels, I have to figure out where the bathroom is in my office building (again), so I cry in private.

————

Remember a few weeks ago, when Mer was a guest contributor on my blog?  She was all, “Tara almost starved her children because she’d rather see their cold, dead, emaciated bodies lying on the floor than crack an egg or risk getting burned on the stove top.  So I had to drive down there just to make those sweet babies some pancakes and rice krispie treats.”

Um, that was an exaggeration.  They’re not that sweet.  And they’re no longer babies who can be fed via my breastmilk, fully saturated with chocolate and caffeine, which is why they are in a constant state of near malnutrition.  Finally, they certainly weren’t near death, as several friends had dropped off some treats in the last month or so and we hadn’t even resorted to picking the last of the strawberries out of my neighbor’s garden.

So don’t go thinking Mer’s some sort of superhero or anything.

Truly, she’d make the worst superhero ever.   I mean, sure, she could rock a pair of thigh-high boots and her cleavage would look majestic in a sequined spandex top.  But that’s where the likeness ends, folks.

And because she was so focused on bragging about how she can melt butter and marshmallows together in a single pot, she didn’t stop to think about how I know approximately 134,577 secrets about her.  I’ve known her since we were twelve years old and we’re now, like, 100. I know that she once owned a Thighmaster.  I know that if a clown even looks at her, she’ll cry. I know that she’s watched every single episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and lusted after Dylan McKay and his scarred eyebrow so hard that she almost failed ninth grade math.  I even know how and with whom she lost her virginity.  The first, second, and third time, mind you.

(Dry spells that last longer than 1 year = renewed virginity, y’all.)

See, she forgot about my extraordinary knowledge base in her quest to showcase her ability to hypnotize my hungry children with her fancy pancake shaper-thingies and a liberal use of sprinkles.  She also failed to consider that I have an underdeveloped conscience, a verbal filter that crapped out on me the day my husband ran for the hills, and an active aversion to the delete key on my laptop.

As an additional factor, she’s got this really cute boyfriend whom she’s still trying to impress.

(Hiiiiiii, Chris.)

Anyway, let’s talk about the Top 10 Reasons Why Mer Would Make a Spectacularly Awful Superhero:

1)      She has absolutely no sense of direction.  None.  I’m not just talking about east vs. west.  No, I mean left/right and up/down, too.

2)      She has no pain tolerance.  Like, she can barely handle a hang nail without excessive whining, an unveiling of her wound as though she’s displaying a newborn baby, and at least three phone calls to her mom, who studied homeopathic medicine for this very reason.

3)      She loses stuff.  Aside from obvious stuff, like her virginity and self-control around M&Ms, she has also lost tickets to an awesome concert, at least 50 dollars in cash, all her tax records from 2008 and 2009, and the left shoe from a pair of kick-ass heels that she once wore to an event attended by the Kennedy family.

4)      She really enjoys using the word “f*ck”.  In front of children, preferably.  And it’s done in a sneaky, non-angry way, so you don’t even have any warning.

5)      She absolutely falls apart when she’s around someone who is in a crisis situation.  Like, if you are ever in a life-threatening situation, please understand that you will die.  And as you are taking your final breath, there’s a decent chance she might reach out to you for comfort, as watching you die is obviously very traumatizing and will linger in her mind long after your wretched death.

6)      She doesn’t like being too hot.  Or too cold.  Or wet.  Basically, she really can’t handle the elements.  Like, if she could fly, instead of being all, “Omg, I can fly”, she’d just get super pissed if a bug flew in her mouth or she got sunburn.   Oh, and “camping” is not a term that she’s ever going to look favorably upon, no matter what she tells her ex-military boyfriend.

7)      She’s not brave.  At all.  Once she became nearly catatonic for several hours after watching a momma squirrel eat her baby squirrels on her back porch.  We were all super worried about her and ended up having to stop making little baby-squirrel-screaming noises every time she walked into the room.

8)      I can’t even bear to discuss the concept of “Mer” and “weapons” in the same sentence.

9)      She’s a crier.  Big time.  She tries to normalize it by saying that my ability to hold my shit together when I watch the final scene in romantic comedies means I’m “dead inside”, but my extensive experience as her friend tells me that this girl is a crier who can be tipped into hysterics about as quickly as it takes a momma squirrel to eat her first baby.

10)   She’s a little bit racist, so she’d probably only be willing to save white people or Asian babies. Okay, that’s a lie.  She’s not racist at all and she has no particular affinity toward Asian babies.  But when she read this, she was probably like, “What the f*ck?  If I could stop crying long enough to find my left shoe and figure out which way was south, I’d totally kick her ass.”

There.  You see?

I’m super confident that this list has thoroughly convinced you that Mer should never, ever, EVER be considered a superhero.  Well, not for the general public anyway.

The thing is . . . she’s kind of my superhero.  Sure, she might not be brave, or organized, or particularly good at problem-solving in a crisis, but she is stellar at feeding my little ones, driving seven hours in order to spend New Year’s Eve making me margaritas and watching Redbox movies, reading all the drivel I write on the internet, listening to me whine about my failed marriage, lending me her Thighmaster, letting me making fun of her guest post on her blog, and agreeing that I’m smarter and prettier.

Okay, I may have made that last part up.

Regardless, she’s mine.  So, hands off.

 

Yeah…I’m Kind of a Big Deal…. July 5, 2011

I’m a guest blogger!

This is like, a big deal in the blogging world. Especially when you area  lower case “b” blogger who isn’t sure if she wants to become an upper case “B” Blogger, but might, because like, Bloggers have a shot at making some money or at least getting free stuff once in a while, while bloggers just get friends saying “Cute blog post. I mean, I didn’t finish it, but I’m sure it had a great ending,” or their mom’s heavy sighing when you write about how you keep forgetting your house keys when you go out with your boyfriend. But Blogging is a commitment, and takes work. You have to be serious about it, and frankly I don’t do serious all that well.  So I’m just hanging as a blogger, but flirting at the edges of making the leap to Blogger.

But I have this BFF, Tara, who is totally a Blogger, like she has tons of people who read her and she’s sorta famous in the area where she lives. Strangers stop her at the gym and her kid’s school and stuff to say they like her blog.  Because she’s totally hilarious. And now she’s hanging around with all the other cool super popular mommy Blogger chics and they  all follow each other and comment on each others blogs and are always like “OMG you’re SO funny,” “NO YOU’RE so funny,”  “I worship you.” “I want to BE you.”

Not that I care.  I’m all “whateves, I could be at the popular kids table if I wanted to be. I just don’t want to be.”

It’s exactly like when Tara and I were in high school, except then she was in Honor Society and I wasn’t. Which meant she got to go to the cafeteria in the mornings with all the other Honor Society kids and have orange juice and donuts while braiding each others hair. Or something, I don’t really know because I wasn’t there. But as I always told Tara when she’d ask why I didn’t join:  “I could be in it if I wanted to be, I just don’t want to be.” And I really didn’t want to be. Everyone was so serious all the time, and I didn’t much see the point, aside from the donuts, but my mom would totally have bought me donuts for breakfast if I asked her to. And this way I got to watch Beverly Hills 90210 instead of doing my math homework.

Anyway, Tara and I have been friends for like, a billion years or so and in that time our friendship has renewed or reinvented itself like a million times. We’re really more like sisters at this point, in the sense that she couldn’t get rid of me if she tried.

I was calling myself a writer and blogging long before she was, but then she jumped into the world of over-sharing and thinking every detail of your life is worth sharing, and it turns out, we’re BOTH writers.

I mean, who could have seen that coming? (although we did co-write two short stories for extra credit in high school English, which I still have, and one day will scan in and post on one of our blogs for the world to see our early genius).

I happen to think its pretty awesome that given the divergent paths our lives have taken that they are intersecting in this way at this time in our lives. Hence the excitement over the guest blogging.

(It’s so awesome, in fact, that its possible we might, maybe, be working on a book of personal essays together… possibly. Nothing for sure yet. But how cool would that be, right? But for now, lets just keep it between us.)

But enough about that.  Go read my blog on her site – Do These Kids Make Me Look Crazy?

And then go through her site and read her other posts. But first promise you’ll come back to my blog and still read my ramblings even though I don’t have ridiculously cute kids to feed me content all the time… Pinky swear. Ok, thanks. Now go.

 

Since When Is 35 The New 65? May 17, 2011

When I was little, the date May 17th glowed on the page of every calendar.  Anything else that occurred on that date, no matter how mundane or unrelated to me, would sparkle with a reflected glow.

It wasn’t just that May 17th was my birthday. It was MY day and mine alone. Which is no small thing when you have an immediate family consisting of 5 other kids and 4 adults (the unique makeup of my family is story for another time. Let’s stay focused on me here).

When it was your birthday, you got to pick the meal that would be served on the Sunday nearest your birthday. I know this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but it totally was. Especially for me and my two younger brothers, affectionatly (I assume) known as “the little kids” (while our older sisters and brother were known as “the big kids”). When it was your birthday you were also allowed to stay at the table as long as you wanted, even after the time when he little kids would normally be encouraged to go play while the grown ups (and big kids) talked. For me this was huge, and I’d often stay for a while, even though I didn’t understand or care what anyone was talking about, just because I could.

Since my birthday was in mid-May, it came to symbolize the official beginning of summer for my family, and my meal choice was hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, with chips and macaroni and potato salad, and we’d eat out on the porch instead of the dining room, and play frisbee and tag in the yard.

In my memory it was sunny and warm for every single birthday.

At some point in the last 2-3 years it occurred to me that is statistically impossible since I lived in upstate NY and meteorological records would prove it was probably cold, rainy and possibly even snowy more often than not.

But in my memory, every single year it was a day with my whole family laughing in the sunshine eating picnic food and strawberry cake, with me at the center.

But then I grew up and I went away to college. Birthdays were celebrated, and always enjoyed, but slowly I came to accept that the day would no longer entail me being the center of everyone’s universe. There are actually people, I eventually learned, who don’t know, or care, that May 17th is my birthday. By the time I was in my 30’s I was comfortable with this fact. Which isn’t to say I haven’t always enjoyed my birthday. I’ve always had wonderful friends and family who  have made the day special in some way. But the truth is that adult birthdays are rarely as special as childhood birthdays. It’s not a bad thing per se, just a reality thing.

.

Today I turn 35. And I am aware of my birthday as a signal of the passage of time in new way. Suddenly today isn’t just about me getting more than a normal amount of attention, but about me moving into a new phase of my life.

As marked by the rapid deterioration of my body.

However, one upshot to getting older is that my appearance is catching up to my actual age. I used to consistently look 10-12 years younger than I actually was. Now the gap has closed to about 6 years.

When I was in my 20’s and looked like a teenager, or when I was in college and routinely mistaken for a visiting high school student, I hated my youthful appearance. Teachers, parents and random strangers would routinely tell me I’d be thankful for these genetics someday.

I was always pretty sure I wouldn’t.

But now while I might not love it, I don’t hate it anymore. And I can already tell that when the gap closes even more, I’m going to miss it…

However.

While my face appears to be that of a carefree 20-something, my body appears to be that of a retiree.

To wit:

My arches have fallen.

Which means I have to wear special inserts in my sneakers, and ideally my non-sneaker footwear will also have arch support.

.

Let me restate that, to make sure we’re all on the same page here. Only a few hour into my 35th year and the concept of arch support is front of mind for me. Take a moment and digest that.

.

The falling arch issue was discovered while I was being treated for a badly pulled Achilles tendon.

How’d I do that, you ask? Well that’s a funny story… wait, actually it’s not a story at all since I have NO IDEA how I did this.  Because that’s what happens when you get old. YOU HURT YOURSELF BY WALKING.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the next time I stumble while walking through Target it’ll be my hip that goes.

When I commented on how slow my recovery has been, my physical therapist, who is 25, said “These kinds of injuries take a long time to heal at your age.”

.

Also, my metabolism, which took a nose dive when I turned 30, has slowed down even more. Now just looking at cake makes it show up on my ass.

Also, this morning I discovered a mole on my leg with a hair growing out of it. That wasn’t there yesterday…you know, back when I was a spring chicken of 34.

And as if all of that weren’t enough, I also have Endometriosis. Which basically means that my body, much like my grandmother, has given up on the idea that my reproductive organs will ever be used for their intended purpose, and so my uterus has begun to look like that spare room in your house, with random cells and uterine tissue just tossed in there like last year’s Halloween decorations and that futon you can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

And it would be fine if those junk cells just sat in there collecting dust behind a closed door. But they don’t. They are wreaking havoc in my body. Kinda like a family of mice that takes up residence in the futon and now runs amok through the whole house, eating through your power bar wrappers, making tiny teeth marks in the fresh fruit , and leaving poo all over every surface…

.

My hormones are out of control. I’m as likely to cry from a credit card commercial (no interest for the WHOLE year?!) as from hitting a red light.

I’m retaining water. Specially, I have swollen ankles. But on the bright side, if there’s one thing that looks good with orthopedic shoes, its cankles.

I’m frequently exhausted. Which is actually ok, because I need to spend a lot of time with my injured tendon elevated and iced.

.

And yet…

I’m not all that unhappy about my birthday. Maybe its just the crazy hormones talking, but I find myself feeling a bit warm and fuzzy, a bit optimistic about life as I enter into the second half of my third decade.

.

Turns out there are certain perks that come with advanced age.

Like the fact that I have acquired an almost embarrassingly wonderful list of friends and family who love me.  Before 10am I’d received heartfelt birthday wishes via text, phone, email, in person, and on Facebook by more than 30 people. And this is outside of birthday wishes and a present that I got on Sunday, cupcakes from my co-workers yesterday, a birthday dinner with my wonderful boyfriend planned for tonight, and a full on birthday party on Sunday, which is being planned by one of these wonderful friends. And I haven’t even checked my mailbox in a few days…  

I am humbled by this out pouring of love. And grateful that at various points in my life I’ve had whatever combination of luck, wisdom and heart to make the decisions that allowed me to make, build, and maintain these relationships with both friends and family members.

And then there’s the boyfriend.

My friends and family make me feel loved, but he has managed to make me feel special on a level I haven’t felt since those childhood birthdaydays.  

Tuesday night is not usually a night we see each other, and I was perfectly comfortable with celebrating my birthday with him on Wednesday night, our standard date night.

But he said he wanted to see me on my birthday, so we made dinner plans. Which was enough of a treat for me.

Then he called me at work this morning , which he’s never done before, to say Happy Birthdaywhich was a wonderful surprise and great way to start my day. It was already one of my best birthdays in recent memory.

And THEN, he showed up at my office in the middle of the day carrying roses, a balloon, and 2 slices of cake, complete with candles and matches.

.

Sorry Mom and Dad, but I think this just officially become the best birthday I’ve ever had.

The possibility that he would be walking through my office door with flowers and a balloon and cake was so far from my mind, that it actually took me around three seconds to realize I recognized the delivery guy.

I was so stunned, my memory of the first few minutes of him walking in and setting the flowers and cake on my desk and me hugging and kissing him hello plays back like watching a YouTube video on a slow internet connection – all jerky movements and missed dialogue.

I’m actually still a little speechless. Which to some people may be the most impressive part about the whole thing.

All I can say at this point is that, so far, being 35 has kind of rocked.

 

Born This Way April 13, 2011

When I was 6 years old, my parents started allowing me  to go down the street and around the corner to my friend’s house by myself. I had a Strawberry Shortcake digital watch and my parents would tell me what time to be home and expect that I would look at that watch often enough to note the passing of time and thus be able to return home on time. 

I understood the watch to be more of a fashion accessory than a tool…

I frequently came home late.

I don’t remember specifically, but my guess is that I was often late coming home for dinner, which was a major crime in my house.

So one afternoon, I asked my dad if I could go to my friend’s house, and he said “Yes, but be home by 6:00.  And if you aren’t home at exactly 6:00, then I’m going to come down there and find you and then bring you home and lock you in the basement forever.”

My dad was a funny guy.

No really, he was a very funny guy. He was always making jokes and being silly and by the ripe old age of 6, I knew that very little of what he said was to be taken literally.

(My mom was the disciplinarian.)

So on this day, I laughed at my dad’s funny joke, perfectly secure in the knowledge that he had no real plans to relocate my bedroom, or to install a lock on the basement door, and set off to my friend’s house.  

Around 6:15 he showed up at my friend’s house and I happily assumed he’d come to keep me company on my walk home.

When I came out on the porch where he was waiting he said “Why are you still here? Why didn’t you come home at 6 like I told you to?” He wasn’t angry so much as bewildered. I wasn’t the kid who flagrantly ignored my parents -that was my little brother.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to,” I said.

“But I told you, 6:00, and I explained that this was your last chance to not be late before we stopped letting you come here by yourself.” That’s when it dawned on me that there had been real information mixed in with his jokes. It was a shocking revelation.

“Daddy,” I said “Sometimes I don’t know when you’re being serious and when you’re kidding.”

“Oh,” my dad said. “Well, I guess I can see how that could happen. So from now on, when you aren’t sure you ask, and when its important I’ll make sure you know, ok?”

I agreed and we had a lovely walk back home wherein I also confessed that I didn’t know how to know when it was time to come home, and then learned that Strawberry Shortcake could be more than an accessory.  

.

.

When my parents went to my third grade parent/teacher conference they were told that I had a very wry sense of humor.

I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it as a positive thing. I’m pretty sure she thought she’d found a gentle way of saying I was a pain in the ass.  

She had no way of knowing that her words would make my dad burst with pride. I’m pretty sure that of my entire academic career, that was my dad’s proudest moment.  Which isn’t to say that he and my mom both weren’t totally proud when I made honor roll in high school, Deans List in college, or earned a Master’s Degree.  But those achievements were no less than they had come to expect.  Both of my parents are very intelligent and put heavy emphasis on education, doing all the things parents are supposed to do to support their children in school – dedicated supervised homework time, joining PTA, giving me answers on my math homework etc etc.  But they couldn’t be sure I’d develop a good sense of humor (here good = witty, sarcastic and ironic) despite the constant exposure, until they had outside confirmation.

I think that my sense of humor has become one of my best known and appreciated personality traits, and in general has served me well in my life. Probably better than my education when you consider my popularity in storytelling, blogging, and social invitations, compared to my career path…

.

So…yesterday I had my one year review for this mindless job that I’ve had for, god help me, an entire year. I had to do a self eval answering questions about my professional goals and development, and I was actually expected to take it seriously.

It took every once of my self-control, and the supervision of a co-worker, for me to avoid writing “I HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE AND I’M A RECEPTIONIST. CLEARLY MY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS HAVE GONE A BIT ASKEW.” Instead I found a balance between being realistic and playing the game:

Q: What is the most interesting part of your job?

A: I’m a receptionist. And while I love my job, nothing is interesting about it. (This is pretty true – I do enjoy my job. It’s not hard or stressful, and leaves me time to blog and write and surf the internet a lot. What’s not to love? But I didn’t think that “Huffington Post” would have been acceptable as the most interesting part of my job.)

Q: Where do you want to be in a year?

A: I wish I had an answer for this question.

During the official review meeting where we discussed my self eval, he was fine with those answers. I also threw in some “real” answers to make it look like I at least gave a tiny crap about my job since I’d like to keep it at for a while now that I’ve been rejected by every grad school I applied to.

He had only one real point of feedback in terms of areas for improvement. His exact quote?

“Sometimes it’s not clear if you’re being serious or sarcastic.”

I said “On the phone? With staff?” Because I thought I did a pretty good job of hiding my personality at work, and by personality I mean sense of humor.

He said “Yes.”

I said “I’ve suspected for a while that I’ve lost the ability to sound sincere, even when I totally am.”

He looked at me for a moment, probably trying to decide if I was being sarcastic. (I wasn’t, seriously.) Finally he just gave a shrug and said “Well, just…do what you can.”

I fear this might be a losing battle, given how many years of positive reinforcement I’ve had for my sense of humor.

But I’ll do what I can…

 

 
%d bloggers like this: