Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bring on 2009!

I'm home! Just in time to ring in the New Year. I checked out of the hospital at 11:00 am yesterday, as it was not the place for me. The doctors and nurses were perfectly lovely, but there is no rest for the weary in a hospital bed and I couldn't wait to get home and sleep without interruption. 

All went well and I am happy to report that I am rid of my diseased uterus once and for all. The doctor said that it was abnormally large so you'd think my stomach would be abnormally flat, but, funny, how that is so not the case (not funny ha-ha). 

I am ready to say good-bye to 2008. Despite the lay off and the rotten uterus, 2008 was a great year. My family and I have great friends and a fabulous family and many, many could it be anything but a good year? 

But that's not going to stop me from hoping for an even better one in 2009. First and foremost, I am wishing for a healthy 2009. One night in the hospital is a good reminder that if you have your've got just about everything. 

And as long as I'm making wishes, a dream job for my husband tops this year's wish list. I know wherever he lands, his future employer will gain a tremendous asset, I just hope that he enjoys the job as much as they will enjoy him. And I certainly wouldn't turn down a job of my own, should one come my way. In fact, I think I'll just wish for a healthy economy and that will cover all of my friends and family who are looking for jobs. 

I'm not sure how I got on a wish list kick? A new year is about resolutions, not wishes. You can wish somebody a Happy New Year, but I don't think you can make a new year wish, can you? Hmm. Ok, well, let's talk resolutions. I could tell you that I'm going to lose weight, but that would be a lie. Same for the quit drinking resolution - it will never happen. Quit smoking is a good one, but I never have, nor will I ever, so that is kind of a lame one. Same with get organized...I could not be more organized. And I could vow to be a better person or volunteer more...but that's so trite. I'll let somebody else take that one. 

I think I'll vow to learn something new. Perhaps I'll learn to speak Spanish? And with that...I am off to take a pain pill and a nap. (how do you say that in Spanish?)

Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year!

I received a lot of e-mails telling me that I was a Scrooge for packing up Christmas early this year. You know what I say to that? Bah humbug. 

Not everybody disagreed; a good friend of mine called to say that her tree was on the curb by 8 am on the 26th. She admitted that if it weren't totally rude, she would have been taking down the ornaments while family opened their gifts on Christmas morning. She's a girl after my own heart. We have better things to do than sit around and wallow in the 12 days of Christmas. 

Take for instance the hysterectomy that I have scheduled for Monday, December 29th. Ideally, I would have rather had the surgery in the 1st quarter of 2009, but with insurance being somewhat of an unknown, I've decided to strike while the iron is hot and have my uterus removed before the end of the year. Granted, I would rather have a tummy tuck or a nose job or a breast lift, but unfortunately my stomach, nose and boobs are not threatening to fall off, as is my uterus, so, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. (Have I shared too much?)

My plan is to be home to ring in the New Year on the 31st (because I'm confident that it's going to be a good year and I don't want to miss the celebration). The doctor cautions that it may require two nights in the hospital, but he doesn't know how determined I am. So while he says one or two nights in the hospital...I say one and while he prescribes a six week recovery...I say three. Tops. (To his defense, he knows not of Doctors Without Degrees.)

I do plan on taking it easy in January (at least part of the month). I have several books on my bedside table that I cannot wait to devour. Santa brought me The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, so hopefully, I'll hone my blogging "skills" while recuperating. And he brought my daughter the complete DVD set of The Gilmore Girls, so surely I will be getting reacquainted with Loralai and Rory. And then there's always People Magazine (which takes me all of 6 minutes to read from cover to cover.)

I am looking forward to hibernating for a few weeks. It will be great having my husband around and at my beck and call! (Watch...he'll land a job the first week of January and leave me high and dry.) (I should be so lucky.) I will gladly relinquish the shopping, cleaning, meal preparation and carpooling for awhile. He can have at it without any input or instruction from me. (well, maybe just a little). 

I'll tell you what I will daily workouts at the YMCA. In fact, it's what I fear most: the anesthesia, going under a knife, the threat of menopause....they don't scare me in the least...but the thought of not exercising gives me heart palpitations. Not to mention, I will miss my work out buddies immensely. Maybe they can all get together and work out on my front lawn while I gaze longingly through my bedroom window. 

So, y'all enjoy your depressing Christmas decorations. I have lots to do today to ready myself for hibernation. I need to get to Harris Teeter and stock my pantry with Progresso soups: pea, lentil, tomato. I know that there is a long tradition of chicken soup being good for what ails you, but I think any soup does the trick. I plan on sipping a lot of it over the next couple of weeks and in no time...I'll be feeling super!

If I don't update before the's wishing you and yours the happiest of New Years! I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be one of the best on record....

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Putting Away Christmas

I just got done putting Christmas away. Most of it, anyway. 

All the ornaments and the decorations are back in their respective boxes in the attic. The tree still stands, but only with lights and an angel on top. Outside, the bushes still think it's Christmas and will continue to glow until my husband removes the strands of lights and the timer that controls them. (I don't do lights. I don't put 'em up, and I certainly don't take 'em down.) All the gifts are in drawers, closets or in the playroom. There are no signs of wrapping paper, boxes, or bags and the stockings no longer hang by the chimney with care. 

We had a lovely Christmas Eve and a fabulous Christmas day. Santa came with a vengeance despite the recession and our employment status (or lack thereof). In fact, the whole season was magical. But all good things must come to an end, and quite frankly, I find it depressing as hell to look at Christmas decorations after Christmas. Last night as we pulled into our driveway, John Lennon was singing "another year over and a new one just begun..." and I thought it was a very fitting carol as I refuse to listen to even one more Christmas song this holiday season. 

I was talking to a friend on the phone while taking down the ornaments when she asked, "are the kids sad that you are taking down the tree so early?" to which I replied, "Um, well, to be honest with you..they are not aware that I am dismantling Christmas. They're upstairs on the 3rd floor Wii skiing and my guess is that as long as I don't make them help, they will be fine with it. In fact, I'll be surprised if they notice." 

My husband was a little surprised when he walked into the living room and saw what I was doing, but he got over it. We usually keep the decorations up until New Year's day, but this year I have different plans for New Year's day. Besides, it's bad luck to have the tree and all the trimmings up past the 12th day of Christmas and I always like to get a jump on things. I know that my gnome and the Wise Men have my back, but I'm still a sucker for superstition and don't want to tempt fate. 

Not sure when my husband will get around to taking down the lights and hauling out the tree, but I really don't care because my work is done. Well, almost, I have a few dozen more cookies to inhale before January 1st arrives and the diet begins. But I am confident that I can pull that off without a problem...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And so this is Christmas. 

In a few short hours we'll get together with neighbors and line the streets with decorative luminaries. We'll light them tonight and the whole neighborhood will take on a magical look and feel. 

After that, I still have one more killer workout to do at the Y with my Y-friends and then I'll be ready to thoroughly enjoy tonight's meal and every single cookie that comes my way. I've got a few finishing touches left to do around the kitchen and some silverware to polish. There are one or two more gifts that have to be delivered to friends and neighbors. I'm sure there is one more load of laundry calling my name (although I'm trying desperately to ignore it). But that's it...once those chores are done...I'm going to get dressed in all my finery and pour myself some eggnog. 

Before I know it, Santa will be heading down my street on the neighborhood fire truck throwing candy and ho-ho-ho's as neighbors come out of their warm homes to greet one another (and gather up the treats). I'm looking forward to it. It's the most wonderful time of the year. And I plan on enjoying every minute of it. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Facing Facts

Maybe it's because I'm too damn old to be on Facebook, but for the life of me, I just don't get it. At all. I joined the social network awhile ago, but have not thrown myself into it whole heartedly like some folks (who are undoubtedly 20 years my junior). 

I'll admit that it has been fun reconnecting with old high school friends and acquaintances. But there is something so very odd about asking someone to be my friend and then waiting for an e-mail confirmation to see if I've made the cut. Updating my status and my profile picture just doesn't come naturally to me. Do people really care what I'm doing at any given moment of the day? (Do not answer that question.)

I prefer making friends the old fashioned way; I earn them. Before Facebook, I found comfort in knowing that I would never again have to cross paths with the mean girl from 6th grade. Now I'm just asking for it. What if she finds me and sends a request to be my friend? Do I accept her? Ignore her? Or do I say no? Who am I kidding, she would never want to be my friend. 

From what I can gather, to be a good Facebooker, one must be a bit narcissistic and somewhat of an exhibitionist (kind of like a blogger, but not). Not to mention the fact that I feel like a peeping Tom reading about about my "friends" and viewing their photos. 

You know that I am a huge fan of People Magazine, right? Love the photos of the stars. And yes, I've admitted to quoting People like others quote the bible. Well, I think Facebook is sort of like People Magazine for lay people. Well, no, not really because People Magazine is the cream of the crop. It's more like Us Magazine or maybe even the Inquirer. Yes, that's it...People Magazine is to the stars, as The National Inquirer is to ordinary folk. 

I know a lot of people out there love Facebook, dare I say are addicted to it, but I prefer blogging as my preferred method of electronic connection. I hope I have not offended those of you who love the social network tool. And I had better not read that "so-and-so and Laurie are no longer friends" the next time I log on to Facebook. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

And so this is Christmas...

It's not officially Christmas until you have a sick kid. And so now, it's officially Christmas. 

I am one of five girls and while I have wonderful memories of Christmases in New Jersey with my sisters, I also have memories of one of us, or two of us, or all of us...being sick. If you pull out my childhood photo albums, you will find black and white photos taken on Christmas morning that capture the smiles of 4 little girls surrounded by dolls and Easy Bake Ovens and Barbies and baby strollers and loads of wrapping paper sick little girl looming in the background on the couch with a strained smile and a bright red face on account of her raging fever. And it wasn't always the kids; I remember one year my father going to the hospital on Christmas Eve to have his appendix removed. Good times. 

I thought we were all set last week when my daughter had a bad cold and an ear infection. But a real Christmas illness involves more drama like a trip to the emergency room for breathing problems. Ours came in the form of some serious projectile puking when my son was stricken in the middle of the night. Of course, since he was asleep, it happened in his bed (as opposed to over the toilet). I think he's better now. Although, I don't know for sure because I went to bed at 5:30 last night. I, too, have been afflicted. It's now 2:57 am and I feel much better, so I'm assuming my son is on the mend, as well. 

Poor little guy. When he came home from school he showed no signs of illness. Isn't that the way it always is? One minute he's bouncing off the wall, the next minute he's hitting the wall. Hard. And while I'm holding him up over the toilet (I know, this is more graphic than you want or need) I keep thinking about how fired up he was just a few hours earlier. 

He came leaping off of the school bus announcing that his team won the Christmas trivia contest at school. In fact, he carried his team and was dubbed their "secret weapon". The King of Christmas Movie Trivia. It makes a mother proud to know that her son is a walking Guinness Book of Useless Movie Trivia. Do you know the name of the coach of the Reindeer Games in the movie Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer? No, I bet you don't, but my son knew it was Comet. And what about the name of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman movie? Yup, he knew Hocus Pocus, as well. Not only did he know that Ebeneezer was Mr. Scrooge's first name, he also knew that Jacob Marley was his dead business partner. Apparently his team wanted to go with "carrot" as the answer to "What was Frosty the Snowman's nose made out of?" He had to sing them the song to convince them that it was a button. I think that's the question that earned him the title of Secret Weapon. He's good, he's damn good. 

But it isn't his useless movie trivia that impresses me most. It's his understanding of his mother that makes me the proudest. When we got home from the bus, he unpacked his enormous backpack. He put his homework in a pile, he emptied his lunchbox and he gathered up all of the Christmas projects and artwork that he had been working on in school for the past few weeks. Then he handed me the pile and said, "This is all ready for the recycle bin, Mom." Now most mothers would hang on to the artwork and get all sentimental over the letter to Santa, but not me. I am a no-clutter kind of gal. I am not opposed to framing a nice piece of child's art, in fact, my kitchen is covered with my children's masterpieces. But most of the stuff they bring home goes directly into the recycle bin. And I love that he knows that about me. 

Hopefully, he'll be fully recovered when he wakes up in 3 hours. He missed his Christmas party at school yesterday and was very upset. Today is the Holiday Sing and he doesn't want to miss the opportunity to sing about his knowledge of Frosty and Rudolph. Surely, he'll come home with a few more items for the recycle bin. 

I just hope he leaves the Christmas germs at school...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good Luck

I'm not sure how it came about and if it really is a legitimate superstition (or just something that my mother and I made up) but ever year, for as long as I can remember, my mother sends me a Christmas card of the three wise men and I hang it on the inside of my front door. It's supposed to bring good luck and good health. Maybe it's just supposed to bring good health, I'm not really sure of the specifics. All I can tell you is that the card is pinned to my front door for a year until it's replacement arrives the following December with another dose of good luck or good health or good fortune. Goodness in general; let's just say that the card brings lots of goodness in general and leave it at that.

Like clockwork, the three wise men arrived in the mail last week. "Did the three wise guys arrive yet, Love?" my mother asked when I spoke to her the other day. "Yes, indeed, " I told her, "bring on the good luck!" We both can breath a little easier knowing that goodness is on it's way. And we're hoping for goodness in the form of a job, rather than goodness in the form of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

And as if that wasn't good enough, a good friend of mine bought me a gnome for Christmas this year. Did you know that according to Old German lore, the gnome is a good luck charm? They are a symbol that the forces of nature are on your side. According to legend, gnomes help with chores around the house like sweeping the barn and feeding the chickens. Neither of which I need a lot of help with at the moment, but I could use an extra hand loading the dishwasher. Yet, I don't want to use up all of my good luck on household chores. I'd rather the little fella work with the forces of nature that create job opportunities. 

I need to find a place for my gnome in my home. Should he be in the same room as the three wise men? Or should I spread the luck throughout the house? My friend seems to think that I need to keep moving the gnome from room to room. She also suggested that if he is indeed magical, he might just move himself. Hmm. I may have to research the best possible feng shui use of gnomes and wise men. Regardless, I feel that good things are brewing...

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Favorite Gift

Yesterday was my birthday, and in keeping with the philosophy of putting my head in the sand, my BFF kept up the tradition of presenting me with a subscription to People Magazine. I believe it's the 5th year receiving the gift and I'm happy to report that it remains my all-time favorite. It never grows old (unlike me). 

My head has officially entered hibernation. I'm ready to hunker down with a stack of mindless magazines and a glass of eggnog. I will not reemerge until early January. Hopefully, by that time the stock market will be ready to do some serious climbing and Oprah will have slimfasted her way back to her fighting weight. 

My husband also gave me a great birthday gift. (no, he did not find a job.) He made me a beautiful card and wrote a sweet poem: Roses are red, Violets are blog, I'll get you a gift, When I get a job. And I thought I was the one in the family with all the talent? Wrong, again. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

Apparently the recession is to blame for American Idol not giving back this season. 

Word on the street is that the show has decided to do away with its "Idol Gives Back" charity special. I suppose it seems like a rational response to the worst economic crisis that this country has experienced since the Great Depression. Frequent readers of this blog know that "Idol Gives Back" is my least favorite week of the Idol season (that's putting it mildly), so I'm somewhat relieved. But I can't help but think that there will be more people this year who need help than ever before. I could almost stomach the schmaltz and drama that comes with the absurd production that is Idol Gives Back. But apparently I won't be subjected this year. And it almost makes me sad. (almost.)

The economic news goes from bad to worse with each passing day. It's overwhelming and it seems as if there is nothing I can do about it. But maybe I can? I've decided that I'm going to put my head in the sand and leave it there throughout the holiday season. I'll take it back out on New Year's day. But between now and then I will remain blissfully unaware of what is happening in Detroit and on Wall Street and in uptown Charlotte. 

I saw a cartoon in the paper today that summed it up quite nicely for me...a man sitting on a couch reading a newspaper while his wife stands behind him yelling, "Who cares about Detroit cars, I want to hear 'bout Oprah's weight!" Me, too. Skip the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikay Index. I don't want to hear how much the stock market is down or even up in a given day. Spare me the unemployment figures and the housing starts, the only number I want reported is the one Oprah sees when she steps on a scale. And quite honestly, I don't care if it goes up or down. (but if I were a betting girl, I'd put my money on "up".)

Ignorance is bliss...and I plan on being blissful this holiday season. Won't you join me...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Most people who hear that my husband was laid off immediately ask if we will relocate. Ideally, we'd like to stay in Charlotte. But we have grown accustom to eating and turning on the lights and so, I suppose, if faced with the choice, we'd opt for relocation (or maybe a long commute). 

I have to be honest with you, on one hand, the thought of a fresh start in new surroundings is a bit exciting. Think about it - nobody would know me - I could reinvent myself. I could dye my hair blonde. Or I wouldn't have to dye my hair: I could go to the grocery store as the brunette that I am and be incognito. I could wake up, throw on a pair of sweatpants and walk over to Starbucks for coffee. Wait, a minute, cross that off of the list; I do that now. But, if I were in a town where nobody knew me, I wouldn't feel like a complete loser. Right? I mean, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it - does it make a sound? Same theory. 

On the other hand, it doesn't sound exciting at all. I barely like the people I've known for years, the thought of making new friends is just plain overwhelming. I'm kidding, of course I like y'all (most of you, anyway). When I was young, making friends came easy. Now that I am old, it seems that everything, including making friends, is a chore. I guess what I'm saying is...being lovely doesn't come naturally for me anymore. Who knew? 

I moved to Charlotte in 1987, for all intents and purposes...I am a native. Not to mention that my parents relocated here, as did three of my four sisters. Charlotte is our family's hub. And my BFF of 20 years lives a few minutes away. I love my neighborhood and the climate and our school and my friends and the YMCA and just about everything else in my world. So why would I want to leave? I wouldn't. 

But let's pretend that my husband is offered the opportunity of a lifetime somewhere else? Somewhere more than 3 hours away (because, really, anything under 3 hours is still a manageable commute). Well, truth be told, I'd stand by my man and encourage him to seize the day. Where he leads, I will follow because a good opportunity for him is a good opportunity for our family. 

And hopefully I'll have it in me to be lovely for a few more years...

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Blog, Therefore I am

A friend of mine called this morning to ask how my weekend was and wondered if we'd put up our tree. "Um, apparently you haven't been reading my blog?" I snapped, "Because if you had, you would have known that the tree went up last weekend, thank you very much." 

"What is up with you blogging, anyway?" she asked, "And what makes you think that you are so fascinating that people are going to want to read about your experiences?" I know, I know, with friends like that, who needs enemies? But she really is hysterical; I keep her around because she makes me laugh (not because she's supportive and sweet.)

But I totally get where she is coming from and understand that some people don't get the blogging business. For me, it's therapy. My keyboard is the place I go to think, plan and reflect. It often surprises me what comes out when I let my fingers take over. My friend really is a bitch. (Like that sentence, for instance, I have no idea where that just came from? Totally surprised me. Took me off-guard. Wow.) 

Being a blogger is a bit like being an internet exhibitionist, I suppose. But it's good, clean fun. And the e-mails and comments that I receive about my posts inspire me to write more. Hopefully, I am lending a little humor to an otherwise tragic situation. 

Bottom line: I enjoy writing.  And I guess I'm a bit narcissistic because if I didn't care about people reading my posts, I suppose I'd just send myself e-mails or open a Word document and have at it. I guess I'd rather write than watch TV or talk to my "friend" on the phone. (Again, I have no idea where those quotes around the word "friend" came from? My fingers typed them before I could even form a complete thought. I guess I don't really consider her a friend? Truly a surprise. Whoa.) 

There are about 100 million blogs out there and I'm sure that if you asked the writers what inspires them, they would say that it's fun, or they do it to express themselves, or to connect with others, or to give advice or educate. But me? As I told my friend, she hit the nail on the head. I blog because I am fascinating. And then she promptly told me to get over my badself. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spaving 101

In an attempt to keep expenses down, we've stopped going out for dinner. Not that we ate out every night, but, if I'm being perfectly honest, I'd have to admit that I rarely, if ever, cooked on a Friday or Saturday night. That is not to imply that we were dining at five-star restaurants several times a month, but we were certainly no strangers to take-out. But I've put an end to that tomfoolery.

And so now it seems that my dishwasher runs constantly. And I pretty much live at the grocery store. In fact, this past week, the check-out girl at my local Harris Teeter (I know, I know, there are less expensive places to shop) gave me a standing ovation for saving $60 on my grocery bill. Not really saving, but rather "spaving" (which means the more you spend, the more you save). It sounds like twisted mathematics to the layperson, but those of us in the know understand the secret behind spaving. That is, to purchase something (ideally an item that you need) at a reduced price, in bulk quantities.

Having my husband around comes in handy when it comes to preparing all of these additional meals. Because, again, if I am being perfectly honest, I'd have to admit that he's a far better cook than I. Tonight he made ribs (which I purchased on special this week - buy one, get one free) that were beyond scrumptious.

He boiled them in a special secret sauce that included lots of beer and brown sugar and then finished them on the grill to crispy perfection. I felt a little bit like Fred Flintstone when he brought them to the table (which reminds me, I have some freezer burned chop meat that I can turn into brontosaurus burgers later this week. Wilma would be impressed.)

The ribs were a huge hit with my son and husband, but my near-vegetarian, finicky daughter just about dry heaved as she choked down a few bites. She cannot tolerate the leanest of meats, much less a fatty piece of pork coated in a thick, sugary glaze. Luckily, my contribution to the meal was mashed potatoes and so she made a meal out of our starchy side item.

Unfortunately for my daughter, since the ribs were a BOGOF special, they will show up one more time before the year is out. Perhaps "we'll" make them again when she has dinner plans elsewhere and we'll invite the Rubbles.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Even during the best of times, it takes me awhile to feel the Christmas spirit. I figured this year was going to take me longer than most to get there. So I'm doing everything that I possibly can to jump start that Christmas feeling. 

Our tree has been up for almost a week. We've hung wreaths on our doors and stockings on our mantle. We've strung garland on our front porch and colored lights on the bushes. We've made our family's traditional sugar cookies and decorated them while listening to Christmas carols. Our cards are not only written, but mailed. My shopping is done and there are wrapped packages in the attic. Holiday invitations arrive almost daily in the mail. And sign of the spirit. 

I am not a total Grinch. Believe me, I realize that Christmas comes without ribbons, and it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes and bags. I totally get that it doesn't come from a store or from an oven or via e-mail....or does it?

I have a confession: while I'm happy to buy a gift for a teacher, a coach or bus driver, I must admit that sometimes I get more satisfaction from crossing it off of my to-do list, than I do from the actual act of giving. So when an e-mail arrived the other day from a neighbor saying that she was trying to arrange a neighborhood gift for our postman, I immediately sent her one back saying that I was in, and then promptly added it to my to-do list. (And was looking forward to getting it off of my to-do list.)

I am the keeper of our neighborhood network (which is basically a collection of neighbor's e-mail addresses) so I offered to forward her e-mail to the rest of the neighbors on the street. Those who were interested, the e-mail stated, were to place a holiday greeting or envelope in their mailbox marked for our postman on December 19th. The note went on to say that he is a great postman, a wonderful person and always brightens our day; wouldn't it be nice if we could all pick the same day to let him know how much he is appreciated.

Within an hour my inbox was filled with notes from neighbors expressing their joy at this simple gesture. "He is such a lovely man and what a beautiful surprise this will be for him." wrote one neighbor. "Can you imagine an envelope in the majority of mailboxes for HIM!" wrote another. And from another neighbor came, "For some reason this e-mail made me choke up. He is our favorite postman of all time and we love him dearly. I am so touched that everyone else feels the same way. This is what Christmas is all about." 

Maybe, just maybe, my small heart grew three sizes that day? And the minute my heart didn't feel quite so tight...the spirit of Christmas finally felt right! Perhaps I had to spread a little of the spirit before I could actually feel it? Regardless, I think I'm more excited about December 19th than I am about December 25th...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Comfort over Style

My husband had a video-conference scheduled this afternoon with an out of town recruiter. I had no doubt that he would impress them with his knowledge and skills. And while I couldn't help him sell his experience, I could (and would) help him with his appearance. 

He tried on one of those great new shirts that we bought yesterday at the mall and it fit like a glove. It was tapered and slim fitting with clean lines. (Just like something Justin Timberlake would wear to an interview.) But he opted to go with a basic blue, button-down oxford citing comfort as the main reason. Since when do we go with comfort over style and fashion?

He tried to convince me that it didn't matter what he wore because this was a recruiter, not a potential employer. And then he added, "Besides, it's a video-conference, the resolution isn't going to good enough for them to be able to see me." Spoken like a true engineer. I had to remind him that the reason it was a video conference and not your basic phone call was because the recruiter wanted to check him out and make sure that he didn't have a third eye or a weird facial tic. "Of course they are going to be checking you out! And every recruiter is crazy about a sharp dressed man." And so he agreed to wear the new camel hair blazer that we bought for "business casual" meetings. 

So imagine my surprise when I arrived home to find him still at the meeting and the camel hair coat on my bed. Later, when he got home I immediately asked how it went followed by, "And more importantly, why aren't you sporting the blazer?" Yup, he opted not to wear it. But, as luck would have it, the video conference room was far too hot to be wearing layers. Again, I ask, I implore...since when do we chose comfort over style and fashion?

He assured me that all went well and that he wooed them with his knowledge and skills. He appeared very confident and impressed with his performance. So I breathed a sigh of relief.

Luckily, he had that third eye removed last year, or it could have been a disaster. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dapper Dan

We spent a few hours at the mall today doing our part for the economy. Y'all are very welcome.

We went interview suit shopping and came home with a beaut. Well, we came home with part of a beaut; the pants have to be hemmed and creased and whatnot. Initially, the salesman told us that the pants would be ready on December 19th. Two and half weeks to get a pair of pants hemmed? Leads me to believe that the demand is greater than the supply. I'm not an economist, but that smells like a job opportunity for somebody. (Not me. Somebody else. It would take me two and a half years to hem a pair of pants.)

So Jim told the salesman that December 19th would not do - he needed them sooner. I shot him a look that said, "Are you going to a wedding that I don't know about?" and he shot one back that said, "Hey, you never know when I might have an interview." Love that about him. Always the optimist. Always looking at the glass half full, while I chug whatever is in the glass and then spew my cynical views. So the pants will be ready next week. 

And then we picked out a couple of new shirts and ties. And we bought a pair of shiny, black shoes. And we purchased some new socks. And by George, I think he's ready! Bring on the interviews...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Different Kind of Welcome Wagon

Believe it or not, that pit in my stomach that was the size of the Grand Canyon actually stopped gnawing at my insides for awhile. I managed to get through several days without feeling like I was going to hurl. And then, just when I thought it was safe to start breathing normally again, the pit returned. With a vengeance. It really is like riding a roller coaster; one minute I am cautiously optimistic and the next, my stomach is doing somersaults and I begin to imagine the bottom falling out. 

I'm not sure what triggered the return of the pit. It may have been this morning's headline that confirmed that we are officially in recession. In fact, we may just be in the midst of the longest slump in the post-World War II era. Job losses are mounting and credit is drying up. Good times. 

I need to put on my entrepreneur hat and get creative. So, times are tough, how can I capitalize on that fact? What will there be a market for in the coming year? Stress management. That's the ticket, my friends. I can tell you firsthand that people are going to need help putting a lid on the stress. 

And I have just what the doctor ordered...

Do you remember the Welcome Wagon? When I was a kid, a "hostess" (a woman who was friendly and knowledgeable about her neighborhood) from the Welcome Wagon would show up at the door of a new homeowner and deliver baskets of gifts supplied by local businesses. And over a cup of coffee, the hostess would tell the new home buyer all about the 'hood. 

My goal is to embody this same spirit of warm hospitality, but here's my twist...instead of the new homeowner, you have the newly unemployed and instead of the hostess - you have me! So let's say your friend or your neighbor or your sister gets laid off, well, you call me and for a price I show up at your loved one's door and deliver the goods. But instead of coupons for local restaurants, I provide therapy (and maybe some muffins). 

I know what you're thinking...I am not qualified to be a therapist. But that's where you're wrong. I have always fancied myself a doctor. And psychology just happens to be my specialty. Surely you've heard of Doctors Without Borders? Well I am going to start a group called Doctors Without Degrees. They will be similar in the sense that both organizations are committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. But different in the sense that the members of Doctors Without Borders have been schooled and trained and I was simply born with a gift. So why not put the gift to good use, right?

I'll show up offering tips and insights and I'll have my listening ears on, for sure. We'll laugh, we'll cry (perhaps have a cocktail) and we'll get through it. I know all about pits in the stomach and roller coaster rides and I'm ready to lend a helping hand. For a price. 

I have an idea, now I need a business plan. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree!

Those of you who subscribe to my blog via e-mail had some old entries delivered to your in-box yesterday. Sorry about that, I bet you thought I was losing my mind. Not a chance; I simply changed the look of my blog and I suppose that triggered some sort of malfunction. Really, I have no idea what happened. I'm sure that my friend, Peter, would say that it was caused by "user error" which is code for: you screwed up. But rest assured that is not the case, as I am never at fault. 

I'm happy to report that our Christmas tree is up and decorated and all is merry and bright! It's the earliest we've ever put up our tree (which is one of the benefits of having my husband home for the holidays). The Grinch thought he could stop Christmas from coming this year, but he was sadly mistaken. 

So, we had plans to get the tree first thing in the morning, but we awoke to the first significant rainfall in three months. At the first sign that it was letting up, we put on our coats and our smiles and made a bee line for the minivan and headed over to the Christmas tree lot. And on the way over, as luck would have it, it started raining like the hammers of hell. The kids immediately began moaning and groaning, but I told them to channel some of that Christmas magic and make believe it was snow (as I cursed under my breath). We waded through puddles the size of small oceans, but we pretended that we were traversing fluffy mounds of snow. Just like a picture print from Currier and Ives. That is, until Beck submerged his entire foot in a freezing puddle...and then, sadly, the fun was over. 

It's usually quite an ordeal to get my family to agree on a tree. There have been years where we stood in that lot for almost an hour arguing about the height, width, color and firmness of the branches. It usually comes down to me maneuvering for a manageable size tree (ideally I like the Charlie Brown variety) and the three of them pushing for a tree that would rival the one at Rockefeller Center. We usually meet somewhere in the middle (because I'm the first one to cry uncle.)

But this year, thanks in part to Mother Nature's foul mood (and Beck's soaking wet foot), the second tree I suggested received a unanimous round of ayes. Within ten minutes of arriving, we had that thing strapped to our minivan and were hightailing it out of the parking lot and back to our warm, dry house. Now granted, when we got it home and decorated, the tree looked more like a snowman than a Christmas tree, but that's neither here nor there. Who said the bottom of a Christmas tree has to be wider than the top? Probably the Grinch; but again, he was sadly mistaken.