Friday, January 25, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
His family was holding vigil for him for at least a week. He has a fantastic family, very loyal and loving. John stopped eating about two weeks ago and over time was drinking less liquids. It happens fast if you don't eat or drink.
I was amazed and impressed with how brave John was, and how accepting of his fate. He was ready. He was kind to his family to the very end. He made their burden easy and for all the friction that may have existed between some of the members, he, and they never showed it.
Per his wishes his brother is going to have him cremated. John's brother is a plumber and has a backhoe so Joe will bury John in one of the family plots that was bought by their father many years ago. There will be no funeral or wake and Joe promised to call me when they bury him. I'll probably take the day off work.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
OK so I work in an office. I work for a well respected, very conservative company that has a history and a reputation and a significant company culture. The way I got my job was my husband. He was an account executive for another very large, very conservative company that sold services to this company. The way I met my husband was as his driver. He was blind when I met him. His company allowed him to have a driver to take him on business trips. He had a Mercedes. Well, it was a station wagon.
Prior to meeting my husband, my work record was not all that stellar. I worked in Cleveland as a clerk for the Cuyahoga County Civil Courts, then as a receptionist at a Lort B Summer theatre company. Tom Hanks worked there too years earlier. He always mentions its where he got his start. During that same period I volunteered at the Natural History museum in University Circle, and worked downtown as a waitress at a fine Spanish restaurant that had a piano and a piano player in the lounge. Naturally, we used to date. One summer my sister and I bought a six pack every night for about a week (i think they might have cost maybe $2.50 at the time), and I couldn't pay the rent that month. That's how bad things were. Also, I had not held a job longer than six months. I was always amazed that I could show up at the bus stop on time, on schedule, five days a week. Trust me, this was an accomplishment. I was always complaining, to anyone who seemed to care, like my cousins who I'd run into downtown, or my boss at the History Museum, or the other gal I worked with there, that I needed to make more money, and I needed a better job. I had a college degree (yeah Philosophy, extremely marketable).
My husband helped me a lot. When I moved to Chicago to be his driver he helped me get a job at his company. It was low paying but a good start. All of a sudden stores gave me applications for credit cards. That was a first. Then after that, I had a friend who got me into her company, a pharmaceutical firm, as a documentation scientist. In college I dreamed of being a scientist. I would tell John's kids "I am a scientist". They were five and nine. They were impressed. It was cool.
Then my husband and I got married and he helped me get a job at my current company. We were also trying to have a baby, which took like no effort and maybe less than a week. I really wanted to get out of where I worked. It was so poorly managed. So my current company hired me at six months pregnant. I was impressed. They wouldn't let me do training in downtown Chicago second shift when I was eight months pregnant. I respect them for that, because I would have done it because then I could have avoided my brother in law on the train coming home at 5, trying to make me feel better about being fat. "So Anne, where did you find that dress TENTS by OMAR?"
That is how I ended up in Minnesota. I transferred into a new job at this location in Minnesota. We did this twice actually, with a stint in Maryland in between. I worked in the field then and all the driving to see customers made it very difficult. I hated that job. What I do is what I have done since I started. I help customers with their software problems. My customer set has changed and become exclusive. Its all about relationships and good service. To the average person, what I do might put them to sleep or drive them nuts with boredom. I pull a freight train of technical and corporate jargon, and technical and administrative tasks. The nice thing is that I can leave it at the door when I go home because no one would understand me.
Often I will look for ways to find amusement at work. Who hasn't done this? One of my favorite has to do with a gal that worked in our group and then became my manager for a brief period of time. She is not my manager any more, and she wasn't always that good managing people, but she is a brilliant person, with a very colorful vocabulary and use of the English language. Af first I was always trying to figure out where her style came from. Was it some of the places that she had lived or languages that she spoke or what? Then I watched a show on PBS about American Dialect across the United States, and I discovered the source. She is from Texas! They have some of the most creative colloquialisms and they shoot from the hip.
For the whole time that she was my manager, and anytime I know she will be a speaker at one of our meetings, I bring a pad and pencil so I can take notes. Otherwise I never do. A napkin will suffice. When she was my manager, in meetings she would look at me and say "Why are you smiling" ..well here is why:
Bulltwinkies ( bs?)
Funky & Kinky to describe a technical process
poodle in a springtime shower
shmooze up the yang yang
goat rodeo and headless chicken parade
pain in the buns
scottish Japanese flavor (to describe an account)
up our neighborhood (like up your ass)
hounds at bay
I'll keep my cook out of the kitchen
whammy sticks (you can get hit)
blooming blazes - as in where the blooming blazes
gate guard - like gate keeper
whammy - system goes whammy
drink a lot of fluids but keep it below the knees
the whole shooting' caboodle = the whole nine yards
These are just some of the expressions she would use when discussing pie charts and service contracts and business strategy. I wish you could hear the context. I even have a few of my office mates collecting phrases for me. Occasionally they will come out of a meeting and hand me a little scrap of paper with some wonderful turn of the english language from this person. Eventually I plan to show her the list that I have been compiling, like when her manager asks for letters for her twenty fifth service anniversary. Not sure how I'll put it together though so she won't get the wrong idea. She might think I am well how do I put this nicely, weird (but not creepy - NEVER).
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The big concern for my husband was that the meteors would fall to the earth. Just recently a woman who signed up to volunteer for Pine Area Home Services has been coming to our house and walking with John down our driveway in the afternoon. She is a wonderful person, very chatty, and about forty-five. The perfect age and extraction for my husband. Well my husband was worried that the meteors would be problem while they went for a walk. He was afraid he would be hit like in a hale storm or worse. He also was sharing his concern with anybody who came over plus everyone else he could think of, to warn them. He was suggesting to my son's girlfriend that she find shelter in a basement, and bring food and water to survive the event. We discussed the impact it might have to the house, but since we do have a "bomb shelter" in our basement (under the porch; my husband had a small room excavated that has walls of cinder block under the cement porch and we use it for cold storage) John wasn't worried about this family.
I have to give my son's girlfriend a lot of credit. She listened attentively while I put in my two cents of [good-natured] teasing. Most meteors burn up before they reach the Earth's atmosphere. I did tell my husband this, but he disagreed. My husband suffers from dimentia due to various health issues, so I think he has forgotten some of the things he probably learned in Science class. And he continues to be firm on his opinion. My main argument as to the seriousness of the concern was that meteors only fall to the earth in the southwest, Oregon or New Jersey so the probability of one landing here is small. Tonite my husband's elder son, who lives in Phoenix, Az, called to see how we survived the weather.
Note: Someone (see comments) has reminded me that most meteors burn up before they reach the earths' atmosphere. I do know this, so i revised my discussion above. Sometimes John comes up with the darndest ideas. This one I just had to share.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
This is Brutus. He lives in greater Chicago area with my sister Laura and her family. My sister's husband, Jim, found him one day in the parking lot of the building where he worked. The dog had a cut on his forehead but otherwise he was in good shape. They ran an ad in the local newspaper and posted signs around the area, but no one ever stepped forward to claim the dog. The dog has now resided with my sister's family for the last two years.
When I visit with them, I have observed over time, every family photo now includes the dog. Brutus has many individual portraits as well, including the one you see above. They adorn the walls and tables in various rooms all around the house. They multiply like rabbits, the pictures I mean. This dog weighs less than eight pounds but his presence in the household is enormous.
Whenever they come up to my house now they always bring Brutus. Its a given. I have no problem with this, and we've determined that Brutus and my cats have an understanding, so its ok. And the cats are ok with Brutus playing with their toys, and if he leaves some behind well it works both ways.
Brutus was up at Thanksgiving, but then Jim left early with my nephew Billy and they took Brutus with them. When Brutus got home he stopped eating and peeing. Now this never happens unless its serious. I was thinking that perhaps this dog had a more complicated emotional landscape than I ever gave him credit for. I thought he missed my sister. Actually, I never considered the dog was all that smart, although one time my sister told me the story of how she showed Brutus her son's hamster. The hamster cage was located on a shelf above her son's bed and the dog may not have been in the room when Laura took it out of the cage. Laura just let the dog sniff noses with the hamster. Well the next day the hamster cage was knocked off the shelf and empty, so Brutus found it.
So, it turns out Brutus' behavior was a result of a muscle spasm in his back. He has got a lot of back. I visited at Christmas and now they have a fancy set of steps to get up onto the bed in my sister's room, one of his favourite spots to sleep. There are books and boxes for the dog to step up onto all the furniture in the house practically, particularily those well chosen spots with views out the front and back windows. They are going on vacation over Christmas and rented a house with a fenced in yard with Brutus' comfort and convenience in mind. They bought a special "under the seat" bag so that Brutus doesn't have to fly in baggage. I've heard that will really mess a dog up. They have dog insurance too.
If anything ever happens to that dog I hope they invite me to the funeral. I think it will be quite the par-tay.