Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can...

I just had a conversation with a co-worker
I questioned him about something he had asked me to do
And I had to explain to him I could not do what he was asking because of the way the software works, the way we had closed out the months, the way we close out the months, blah blah blah

So he starts lecturing me about lost revenue and outlay of cash thereby interrupting our cash flow
He’s in sales, I’m the controller/office manager

I let him go on for a couple minutes before explaining to him why there would in fact be no lost revenue and no disruption of cash flow

So he counters my points by telling me that well, the loss of revenue is not now but in two months
How? I ask

Because it will catch up he said

How? I ask I’m not sure I understand
He tries to explain
I let him finish and he stands there looking at me waiting for my response

So I say

You know you can’t bullshit a bullshitter right?

He looks taken aback for a split second and says with no resentment but with a twinge of defeat
Was I even close?

Not at all I say
Well, I tried he says

Why I asked, why did you even have to try?
Why do you always have to be right?

Sport I say, just for sport
He stands in my door, not sure what to say or how to react

I sigh

Look, I say, it’s not about always being right – I am not always right
But you know what I am? Logical and aware and responsible
All I am doing is taking the time to understand how and why everything fits together
I step back and look at the big picture and figure out how all the little moving pieces need to come together to make it work
And if we all took the time to do that and stopped trying to be smarter than one another or outdo one another, we’d probably all be better at our jobs, work together better and the mood here would dramatically improve

That’s too much work he says, it’s easier just to let you figure out how to fix it…..
He walks away

And I am left sitting here thinking he is a parent, raising a child who will someday run this country when I am an old lady…..I am totally screwed

Have we really become so complacent, so lazy, and so apathetic that we don’t want to take the time to understand?
Do we really not have the stamina to look at all the little pieces put together as the big picture?

Do we really have such a small sense of responsibility?
Do we really have so little pride in our job performance and contribution to our own success that we just let someone else do it?

Do we really feel like we have to outdo each other at work, at home, with our elaborate wedding plans or kid’s birthday parties that we have lost sight of what it means to be a community? To foster relationships?
Are we really, as a society, as a company, as co-workers, as peers, as human beings, are we really so self-absorbed that we just want to be right and someone else to be wrong?

Are we really that concerned about proving how much smarter we are than the guy sitting next to us?
You know who the smartest person in the room is?

The one who doesn’t have to tell you, show you, prove to you they are the smartest one in the room
The smartest person in the room is the one who does not do a lot of talking

And when the smartest person speaks, answers a question in 5 words instead of 15
The smartest one in the room is the one who knows, acknowledges and accepts his/her limitations

The smartest person in the room cares – cares not about being right but about doing the right thing
And sometimes, the smartest person in the room does not even realize s/he is the smartest person in the room…….

But someone else does
I don’t always want or need to be right – even though sometimes I am and sometimes, I find it amusing to say I know when someone looks at me and says you’re right – I don’t need to be right

But I do need to do the right thing
Like Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, and Danny Aiello before me….

I’m just trying to Do the Right Thing
Da Mayor: Doctor...
Mookie: C'mon, what. What?
Da Mayor: Always do the right thing.
Mookie: That's it?
Da Mayor: That's it.
Mookie: I got it, I'm gone.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Post in Which I am a Little Sad

We have a community wide yard sale coming up in June
It takes place every year

The first year we were here, we did it
We sold next to nothing
Though somehow, we did sell the two pairs of Crocs I wore the last two weeks of my pregnancy

We skipped it the following two years

But this year, we are all in
We have a bunch of stuff to unload:
Random bowls and serving pieces
Place mats we don't use anymore
A couple ugly tablecloths - which I can say since I bought them
And maybe even a small appliance or two (pizzelle iron anyone?)

Old decorations - pick any one of the ten major holidays, we have decorations for it
Why you ask?
Who the hell knows
Have you met me?

Maybe even some books, CDs and movies

In an effort to get ready for it, Sean and I have slowly been cleaning out closets and long forgotten storage tubs shoved in the back of the attic

We also cleaned out our bedroom closet, the vacuum sealed bags under the three beds (yes I said under the THREE beds) and the trunk at the end of the hall, for Goodwill
Which included, among other things, clothing we can now refer to as my Fat Clothes

And my maternity clothes
Which I had to shove in a bag without looking and Sean then had to remove said bag from the house
And go straight to the Goodwill bin
Like right then

It got worse when we pulled the tubs from the attic - 8 in total - that were filled with Lucy's old baby clothes
And by old baby clothes, I mean every single onesie, dressing gowns newborn cap,  little mitten things (which at my shower I totally thought were socks) booties, socks, bubble suits, dresses, t shirts, bibs, sweaters, sleep sacks that Lucy may have ever worn or used


It turns out, I never, NEVER threw away/donated/got rid of a stitch of clothing Lucy wore from the day she was born through 18 months

It was at 18/24 Months we stopped buying Carters and switched to the Target brand because Lucy had morphed into a Tasmanian devil and was so rough on her clothes
I was okay donating clothes after that - holes, stains, more holes, worn spots, more stains
I was not at all sentimental about her toddler clothing (the caveat being some of the outfits my mother and other family members bought her and along with her Youkilis Red Sox tee shirt)

I sifted through all those bins in an hour and when all was said and done, my uterus and ovaries were aching, my throat and eyes hurt from fighting back tears and poor Sean loaded another 6-8 bags into the car to be donated

I was an emotional basket case over onesies and dressing gowns

Onesies, dressing gowns, burp cloths, and bibs brought me to my emotional black an emotional breakdown inside and out

Mind you the temper tantrum Lucy has at 11pm last night totally tempered my breakdown....

But still....

Who would have thought getting rid of baby clothes would be so hard

Sure, I could have found someone who wanted them - but not everybody likes hand me downs and frankly, all my friends are way past the child bearing age

Plus I always thought we'd have more
I think we both thought we would have more
I think we both thought, when we put those clothes away 2/3 years ago that at some point, we'd pull them back out, fill up a little dresser again and Lucy would be a big sister


So it was hard
And I cried
No one knew I was crying
But the tears flowed steadily when my head hit the pillow last night

And inside, there was this little teeny tiny hole that fluttered opened
This little hole that every once in a while aches and reminds me its still there
This little hole that reminds me....

But the ache goes away
The hole closes itself back up
And I'm fine

For I know what I have
And I am grateful
I do appreciate what I have
And I know how lucky I am to have a child
I know there are so many women, so many couples out there who did not even get that
I know what I have

But it does not mean one can't long for what they don't have
It does not mean I can't miss what I don't have
And that I can't miss what I want
It's human nature
It's emotional
And it's real

And though I try not to dwell, sometimes, like when one is cleaning out tubs of baby clothes, sometimes it is hard not to dwell just for a day or two

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Open Letter

Dear Universe, Karma, Powers That Be:

What did I ever do to you?
I pick up trash when I see it on the ground
I hold the door open for people
I take my re-usable shopping bags EVERYWHERE (despite the nasty looks from the clerks at Macy's)
I let people people go in front of me at the grocery story when I have a full cart and they have a basket
I let people off the plane before me
And I always give people the parking spot or let them go before me in line if we get there at the same time
I give up my seat for the elderly and pregnant women

I say please and thank you
Probably too much
I apologize for things I didn't even do but I feel like people feel better when they hear an apology

I mail real birthday/anniversary/sympathy cards to people - like with a stamp and everything
I actually still write letters
I never forgot my parent's anniversary or birthdays.....nor my siblings' for that matter
I always RSVP on time

OK sure, sometimes I'm snarky
And I can be borderline bitchy
And sometimes I am hyper sensitive
And sometimes my temper gets the best of me
And yes, I can make snap decisions that in hindsight were not the best
And there was that time I was a liberal for a semester in college
And the other day I said, with words dripping and draped in sarcasm, people's intellectual capabilities astound and amaze me....and sometimes, the amount of logic and common sense exercised by people overwhelms me to the point of paralysis
And yes, sometimes when people look at me and say Oh, you're right, I respond with I know just because I can, and I was (right)
And yes, I hide behind doors and at corners and then jump out and scare Sean for no reason (except for sheer pleasure and a good laugh)
And sure, one time I may or may not have told my husband he had been in a coma

But we all have bad days

And I know my flaws
And I try to work on them every day
And I admit to them

Overall, I'm not as bad as I seem

So why, why is it you feel you must continue to punish me this way?

Why is it when I say to someone
Send me that in an email
You tell them it is code for
Stand in her office and give her a 13 minute dissertation on the issue and then wait for her to fix it right now

Or why, when I say to someone
Yes, I understand what you are saying and I can assure you, I will fix it but first, I need you give me that one key piece of information I need
Why do you tell them to look at me and say
I'm not sure I want to tell you anymore, you just need to fix it

Why, why when I ask someone a yes or no question do you tell them it is okay to answer with everything except yes or no

Why, why in the name of all that is holy and good when I ask someone a question
When I ask someone to clarify for me why they did what they did
Why do you tell them to tell me it's not they that are confused
But rather I am the one who does not understand their answer

And why, why when I ask them a question do you tell them its okay to give me an answer to everything but what I actually asked

Why when I am standing over someone showing them how to do something
Why when I say don't click the button which says blah blah blah
I need you to click this one over here which says yada yada yada, the one I am pointing to
Why do you insist they click that button I told them not to click
And then have them look at me and say oh, I was not sure which one you meant
And when I say why did you think I was pointing at this one over here
Why do you tell them to respond with oh so now I'm supposed to read your mind

Why when I say to people in an effort to give them a dignified way out of fucking up yet again
Maybe we did not make the process, the procedure we need you to follow, clear so let me clarify for you
Why do you tell them it is okay to look at me and say
No, you explained it just fine, I just want to do it my way

Then when I try to further explain, not tell, I take the time to explain to them why their way is not the best business practice (see, I even spare them the indignity of saying you're way is just wrong)
When I try to get them to understand the financial know, try to give them insight into the business model and how the integrated software we utilize affects, at the end of the day, our Profit and Loss Statement which is basically the financial state of the know the one we work for which allows us to pay our bills
Why, when I go through all of that do you still tell them it is okay for them to look at me and say
I don't want to do it your way, I want to do it my way

Then, I lose my patience and say
You know it's not MY way right?
You know that the way I'm asking, we're asking, you to do this is because of the way the software functions
And because of the type of company we are
And because, you know I don't know, that's the way the owners want it done!
Why, why when I get frustrated with them do they look at me all hurt and wounded and say
You didn't have to yell at me
And I say I never raised my voice
You think I'm yelling?
Well, you're being kind of mean
And I bit my tongue to keep from saying
Well, you're being dumb
Instead I find myself saying
I'm sorry I lost my patience, I'm just trying to get you to understand why we need it done this way
Why do you again tell them it is okay to look at me and say
Yeah, I still want to do it my way

Look, here's the thing
Whether you want to believe this or not about me
I hate being in charge
I hate being the one who is supposed to have all the answers
I hate being the one who has to tell everyone what they are doing
I hate being the one everyone comes to for the answer because they are just going to argue with me anyway
And I am so tired of arguing
I am so tired of people thinking I enjoy telling them they are doing it wrong
I don't
I really don't

I've been doing this job now for 12 years, 4 months, and 2 days
When I was hired, I received no training
No one could tell me what it was I was supposed to be doing because they weren't totally sure of what the woman I replaced used to do
I had to figure it out on my own
And it took me a good solid two years to wrap my head around sales tax reports, multiple sales tax laws, registering in states to do business, union benefits and rules, commercial insurance and claims,
employee benefits, year end reporting, credit lines, balance sheets, WIP reports, profit and loss statements, administering 401K plans, processing payroll, OSHA reporting, licensing for this industry, contractor qualification forms, workers comp audits, sales tax audits, deciphering contract requirements, learning multiple software programs our customers force us to use.....just to name a few.....

No one taught me any of this
I had to figure it out on my own
I had to seek out people who were willing to share their brains with me
Their knowledge base
I sought out people who, though not employed by our company, taught me how to to my job by teaching me what I needed to know to do my job

But I had to figure out how to apply it
I had to use logic and common sense
And I think I've done pretty well

So tell me, why, why my Dear Sweet Universe who I adore and appreciate
Why Karma whose good side I try to stay on
Why Powers That Be which I am always slightly afraid of upsetting
Why do I feel like you are holdng me to a different standard, a higher expectation?
Why do I feel like no matter what I do......
Hold on
I'm whining
I am being an absolute pip right now
What in God's good name is wrong with me
Why am I complaining about this
Why am I letting it bother me so much that I am blinded with frustration, aggravation and contempt (I'm not sure what I have contempt for but I felt like I needed a third thing there and that is what came out so I must be feeling it...could be contempt of court for all I know.....)

Because sometimes, one just has to get it out and the way things have been going for the past few weeks...

OK Universe, Karma, Powers That Be
I see your challenge
And I raise you
I raise you health, happiness, love and laughs
As I have all 4 at home

I see your challenge
And I raise you
I raise you family
For I have a wonderful immediate and extended family who makes me crazy at but I truly adore and would do what I have to do for them (OK sure, I may talk about them after I do whatever I have to do but I'll still do it)

I see your challenge
And I raise you
I raise you the unconditional love my daughter and husband have for me
I raise you the encouragement, love and support Lucy and Sean end me out the door with every morning

I see your challenge
And I raise you

So kick me when I am already down if you want
Let people say what they want to say to me when they want to say
Let people argue, tell me I'm wrong, tell me they don't want to do it my way
Let my co-worker make me cry

Because you know what?
At the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, I sleep just fine
At the end of the day, I have a clear conscience and a full heart
And when I open my eyes, I have a whole day ahead of me
And I have rainbows
I'd kill for some Skittles but after 15 weeks I've lost 32.4 lbs so I'm going to hold off on that

OK Universe, Karma, Powers That Be
Thanks for listening
I'd apologize for the rant but I feel so much better
So I won't

But, I will, I promise, keep an eye out for the rainbows I know you are sending me

Love Maria

It isn't easy being green.....

As she does every year, our friend Kristen hosted a Mother's Day Brunch/Party for her sisters and sister-in-law this past Sunday

And as always, we were included

Mother's Day, the morning of the celebration, we were getting dressed for the day so we could go help Kristen set up and get things ready

Sean headed off to the store to get ice for Kristen, I ran up to take a shower
Lucy was coloring at her table

Lucy Mummy is going up to take a shower
OK Mumma, I love you
I love you listen, when I'm done, I'll call you upstairs so we can brush your teeth and get you dressed
Sure Mumma
OK but when I call for you, I need you to come up, we need to go help Kristen set up
Sure Mumma
Luce - are you listening to me?
Yes Mumma, when you call me, I come up and we brush our teeth and get dressed - Okay?
OK Luce, thanks honey

I took a quick shower, brushed my teeth and set out our clothes
The I called Lucy up

Lucy, Mummy's all done, can you come up please?
Just a minute Mumma

And I hear her laugh, this funny little laugh
It was sort of like a cross between a giggle, a belly laugh and the laugh of a mad scientist

I start to get dressed giving her a few minutes to finish before I call down to her again

Lucy, honey, come on please
Okay Mumma! Just a second

And I hear that little laugh again
Which by now is that evil impish laugh
You know, the laugh which is code for I am totally doing something I'm not supposed to be and it is pretty stinking funny

Hang on Mumma! I'm just finishing coloring something for you for Mother's Day!
Alright baby, just come on up to the bathroom

I go back in the bathroom and can hear her running from her table to the stairs
Herbie (the cat) appears in the bathroom first so I know she is double timing it up the stairs
She is giggling and shouting at the same time

As she bounds into the bathroom, Lucy yells with great gusto, pride and love:

Happy Mother's Day!
I colored my chin green for you!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

32 Random Things

Mama Kat, the writer's workshop I sometimes hook up with on Thursday, also promotes Vlogging 
Which is blogging via video
Which I will probably never do because

  1. I would break the camera (literally not figuratively, ask Sean how many iPods I've been though)
  2. I really don't like the sound of my voice, its husky and mannish
  3. The camera adds 10 lbs. and even though I've lost 30, I don't need the blow to my ego right now 
Much like she does writing prompts, she does Vlogging prompts, and even though I'm not Vlogging, this one amused me:

5.) 32 Random Questions Tag. (inspired by Darcy Zalewski) Questions below.
Now go make that video! (Which we have covered, I will not be, but for fun, my answers are below)

Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
I have a horrible habit
One that makes both Sean and Lucy crazy:
I open drawers, doors to cabinets, closets and I never fully close them
I close them, just not all the way
Ok fine, sometimes I don't even bother closing them
It's like a minefield in our kitchen when I'm making dinner
Cabinet doors are open
Drawers are either fully opened or partially opened
So dangerous for a 3'5" person running around
And I leave my dresser drawers open
Herbie has decided his new favorite place to nap is in the bottom drawer on top of my pants
And then I get mad my clothes are covered in cat hair
I suck
Anyway, the closet gets the same treatment I throw it open to get clothes out and the idea of closing it does not even cross my mind
The closet is on Sean's side of the bed…and I think he has gotten tired of closing them every night before he climbs into bed
So we sleep with the doors open

Do you take shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels?
I used to travel quite frequently for work and I always took the bottles from the hotels
And never used them
I would always forget they were in the closet
When I moved from IL to MA, I found so many hotels soaps, shampoos and lotions is was actually alarming
Like if the show Hoarders had been around in 2000, I would have been on it with my 100's of hotel toiletries
Suffice to say, I no longer have the desire to bring those things home
But when we stayed at the Hilton, I totally wanted to steal the bathrobe

Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
I hate making the bed
Sean does it
I just sleep in it and could not tell you if the sheets are in or out
I hate making the bed 

Have you ever stolen a street sign?
Yes, yes I have
I have alsp walked into a street sign and been injured as a direct result – I have a scar on the palm of my right hand
And lawn ornaments
One time I was run over over by a car, specifically the get away car, in the process of stealing said lawn ornaments
I've also removed For Sale signs from one house and moved it to another house
Because I could
And it was funny 

Do you cut out coupons and then never use them?
When I was a kid, I used to sit with my mother on Saturday mornings and cut out coupons with her
We'd sometimes make a list but mostly, we'd just hang out and talk and cut coupons
Then I would get to go grocery shopping with her
It was one of my favorite things to do
It was devoted time and attention from her and when there are seven kids vying for the attention of one Mum, as a kid, you take whatever devoted time you can get
To this day, I still enjoy grocery (or Target) shopping with my Mother
Nothing makes me laugh harder than acting out in the grocery store with my Mother
Makes her laugh too
So one would think I cut coupons and use them
But I don't
And I don't even really cut coupons so much as I collect them
Like the Big Blue Bed Bath and Beyond ones you get in the mail or the ones the register spits out at the end of your receipt
So I collect the coupons
And then forget to use them and they expire
And as I throw them away, I vow to use the next batch
I never do

Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?
My sister Mikel is allergic to bees

We know this because one time, a swarm of bees got into her room and stung her
She woke my parents up in the middle of the night but they sent her back to bed
A bit later, she woke them up again as she was swollen and having trouble breathing
I believe that is what the medical field calls Anaphylactic Shock
She carries an epi pen now
I also can't eat blackberries without crying – you third, fourth and fifth graders out there know what I'm talking about 
Anyway, neither is ideal but I'm thinking I have a better chance of surviving a bear attack
With a bear, if you stand still or play dead, you can usually survive
Unless if it's a polar bear
If it's a polar bear I'd rather be attacked by a swarm of long as I have my sister and her epi pen with me 

Do you always smile for pictures?
No, no I do not
I try
I really do
I always start off with a big cheesy grin
Like too much teeth and my eyes get all weird and big 
I sort of look like a horse now that I think about it
But when I smile in pictures a few things happen:
My face muscles contort and I start having face spasms and then my mouth goes crooked and people think I'm having a stroke
Then, I get all stressed out about where I am supposed to look so I start jerking my head up and down
Then, I remember I have a chubby face and the camera adds ten pounds so I try to remember to tilt my head up and I end up looking like I smelled a fart or a pizza, and I'm trying to guess which direction the smell is coming from
Also, when I smile in photos, you can totally see my lazy lidded eye
I hate having my picture taken
But I do truly try to smile

Do you ever count your steps when you walk?

Sometimes, like when I walk from my car to the office
For so many reasons I count those steps
Sometimes I wear my pedometer
But as a general rule, I do not count my steps
I don't count cards either
Or calories
I do however count how many times people ask me the same questions and I give the same answer in one sitting
The record is 7

Have you ever peed in the woods?
Who hasn't peed in the woods
I've also peed on myself while peeing in the woods as a direct result of movement in the brush that turned out to be a fox playing with a snake
Plus, we had been drinking so I was a little unsteady anyway
But my days of peeing in the woods I believe are over
No way in hell I could crouch like that
I know squat is the better word to use but I can't stand that word
Squat and ointment – those two words give me the hebejebies
Actually, I could crouch
I just can't get up without falling so even if I manage to pee without peeing on myself, I'd just fall in it anyway

Do you still watch cartoons?

I have a four year old
Of course I watch cartoons
The real question should be would you admit to watching cartoons when no children are around (and The Simpsons, Family Guy and Archer do not count)
And my answer would still be yes, yes I do
Nothing like an episode of Backyardigans, Wonder Pets or Mike the Knight to wash away the stink of a tough day or snap me out of a bad mood

Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?
Here's the thing, if I had treasure and buried it, I'm pretty sure I'd forget where it is and then I would have to go all Goonies trying to find it
Which that in itself could be kind of fun – I do a mean Truffle Shuffle
Even if I had a map I'd be unable to find it because I'm that guy who has trouble following the GPS (a trait I apparently inherited from my Dad)
Now if I had treasure and I were dying and people knew I had treasure, I would then of course bury it and tell them my dying wish is for them to find the treasure
I would reveal the treasure, without telling what the treasure is, has been buried somewhere between the seven continents and the seven seas
Of course anyone who knows me well would look no further than North America because they know I hate traveling outside the continental United States
Except England
I love going to England
But England doesn't count because it's pretty much the 52nd state after Canada
But for the record, I would not go to England to bury the treasure
The cost of flying the treasure would be totally ridiculous
And we all know I'm cheap
So having said that, you know the treasure will be buried within driving distance
And having said that, if you know me, you know I am not good in the car for more than 6 hours
Okay fine, 4
So you can now narrow your search down to a 250 mile radius
Now, if you really know me, you know it will not be buried in Maine because that is way too obvious
And you know it would not be buried anywhere near Fenway because that too would be too obvious
And then you might think she'll bury it at Minuteman Park or maybe even at The Old North Church as a nod to American History and her love of the 4th of July
But you would quickly realize I know that you know I am that kind of a Patriot so those places would also be obvious
So then you might think she is a Patriot….I'm going to Gillette Stadium! I bet that's where she buried it!
Bu then you would remember I hate football so no, no it would not be at Gillette

So then you might think somewhere in Boston because I love Boston
I truly do
I love Boston for its history, its art, its architecture
For the Public Garden, the Common and Quincy Market
And then it will dawn on you
Wait a minute, this is Maria we're talking about, and she is way too lazy to go to these extremes
So you'd dig in the backyard
And you'd find it

What do you drink with dinner?
If I were being cliché, I would tell you I drink my dinner (har har har)
But those days are behind me
So now, when I sit down for dinner I typically drink ice water with lemon
Sometimes I jazz it up and drink flavored water 
Unless its pizza or a burger than it's a Diet Coke with lemon (because that Diet Coke will totally offset the pizza and burger) 

What do you dip a chicken nugget in?
Believe it or not as chubby kid, I am not a fan of chicken nuggets
I've never really cared for them therefore, never really eate them
Funny thing is, Lucy does not like them either
She thinks she likes them (because all her friends eat them) but the few times we have bought them for her, you know what she asks?
Mumma, can you peel the skin (read the breading off) so I can just eat the chicken?

What movies could you watch over and over and still love?
I could write an entire blog on this
No joke
I love watching the same movie over and over again
And it's a weird range of movies
Here's a sample
Finding Nemo
Monsters Inc
Gone in 60 Seconds
Air Force One
American President
How to Train Your Dragon
The Fugitive
Patrioy Games
Clear and Present Danger
The Rock
School of Rock
The Mummy
The Lion King
Walking Tall
Legally Blonde (seriously, I love this movies)
Jumping Jack Flash
Notting Hill
Ocean's 11
Pelican Brief
The Client
The FirmSteel MagnoliasSpeed
Song of BernadettePlanet of the ApesBlues Brothers
Con Air
Die Hard
The Last Holiday
Thomas Crown Affair
Breakfast Club
Liar Liar

I could seriously keep going
But we still have a bunch to answer
And for the record, you will never catch me watching a Woody Allen film

Were you ever a girl scout?
I was a Browine

Never made it to the rank of Girl Scout
But I was a Boy Scout…sort of, okay not really
My mother was the Den Mother
But, I did all the projects they did
Including making a wooden duck with a clothes pin for a beak
I gave it to the principal at my school and he proudly displayed that duck on his desk for years
And by years I mean that my mother bumped into either his wife or his daughter and said he still had it on his desk at home and still bragged about me making it and giving it to him
See, I can be sweet and endearing when I want to be
Like once every 20 or so years

Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?
For the love of God and mankind, no

Can you change the oil on your car?
No, no I cannot
But, I know where the closest Jiffy Lube is and I can totally drive my car into the bay and center it over the big hole in the floor without falling in 
Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
I have had so many speeding tickets

I've been to traffic school – twice
At one point, the was a bench warrant out for my arrest for tickets
And one time, when I got pulled over by a Maine State Trooper, my brother, who by the way is a shitty wingman, noticed the police airplane hovering above me and never warned me to slow down Jerk
Cost me over $200

Afraid of heights?
So much so that if you watched the video from our honeymoon when we went on a Ferris wheel, you would swear you were watching a promo for The Blair Witch Project
So much so that when we got o the Mall and are on the second floor, I get queasy when Lucy approaches the "glass wall" that overlooks the first floor
So much so that I have actually been paralyzed and unable to move (again, ask Sean about our trip to Tybee Island when we went to the top of the Lighthouse and I could not even walk around the top and enjoy the view)
Yeah, I'm afraid of heights
What of it?

Do you sing in the car?

At the top of my lungs with the windows rolled down
And I don't even stop singing at the red lights when I know the person in the line of traffic beside me also has his windows rolled down
I actually turn and start singing to them
And one time, I was applauded

Is Christmas stressful?

I don't think so
But then again, I do my Christmas shopping year round
I'm usually done by August/September
You know why?
So I can enjoy the holiday season
Beacuse really, what is so stressful about the birth of Baby Jesus?
Although I will admit this past Christmas was stressful

But only because Sean tried to die on me   

Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid

A Nun
John Travolta's Girlfriend
An on air reporter (like the anchor not the nitwit standing in the middle of a beach during a hurricane) A journalist
A teacher
And in college, the semester I was a liberal? I wanted to be a lobbyist for the Unions or the Farmers in upstate New York (I thought they needed me)

Do you believe in ghosts?

I never did
And I don't think I do
But, when we were in Savannah, we stayed at the Marshall House
It was used as a hospital in the Civil War
We were told that when the hotel was renovated, it was discovered that the subfloor in the basement had been used as a burial ground for the Union Soldiers who were treated at the hospital
And by burial ground, I mean the bodies were thrown in a pile, covered up and not discovered until major renovations were done in the hotel
As legend has it, and so the staff says, guests have reported seeing soldiers walking (read limping) through the hallways
They have heard moans and shouts and calls of distress
At night, they go to bed leaving their glasses on the nightstand and in the morning, the glasses are clear across the room on the desk
Anyway, Sean and I check in and the first day we were there, the TV turns itself on
And then the channels start changing randomly
Then, I think it was the second or third night, we were in bed sleeping when I felt the weight of someone at the foot of the bed
I sit up thinking its Sean but he is asleep HORIZONTALLY BESIDE ME
Then I felt the weight getting up off the bed
But I never saw anything

The first concert you ever went to
The first proper concert I went to (not at the State Fair or the front lawn of the Bangor Auditorium) was Huey Lewis and The News (thank you Karen Smith)
Certain events took place that night that should never be spoken of again
And Karen and I do not speak of them, we simply hide in the pop up camper playing Uno until whatever threat of our past coming back to haunt us passes

Walmart, Target, or Kmart?
When I moved to Illinois, I discovered Target
There was one right across the street from my office Target became my go to place
I took my mother to Target many years ago when she came to visit me in IL, it was like the Mecca for her
Her eyes lit up, there was a bounce in her step and no aisle was left out of her whirlwind tour
I love Target
I love Target so much that last weekend I complained to Sean I haven't been to Target for two weeks! I need to go….like ASAP honey before my blood pressure drops and my heart rate slows down
An hour and $250 later, my needs were met

Nike or Adidas?
I don't think we ever had either as a kid, we had Zips
Or Saucony as the Saucony outlet was in Bangor
I also vaguely remembering owning a pair of Pumas and thinking I was pretty hot shit because no one else had Pumas
In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I was way less cool than I realized
As an adult, I always bought Saucony although the last pair of sneakers I bought were in fact Nikes and are sooo comfortable
So Nike
Besides, what I remember from being a kid was you wore Adidas, you got teased because it really means "All day I dream about sex"
I get picked on enough, I don't need that hassle as well

Can you curl your tongue?
I can
Sean can too
Lucy can't which for some reason drives me crazy

Have you ever cried because you were so happy?
Yes, yes I have

When Sean proposed
When we got married
I cried when Lucy was born
I cried when Cousin Kay handed me the two pictures I drew almost 40 years ago that Aunt Nell saved
I cry every time I think of Aunt Nell and those are always happy thoughts
I cried when my youngest sister told me she was pregnant
I also cried when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004T
hat still chokes me up
And I cried the first time I finally met Nanny Claire in England
She and Aunt Nell could have been the best of friends

The last concert you saw?
I used to go to concerts all the time in my 20s

I've seen ZZ Top, the Indigo Girls, Sting, Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet (a number of times) Celine Dion (for like $10 in Toronto before she was all big and famous), Shania Twain, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, The Hooters (again, blame Karen Smith)
But I'm pretty sure the last concert I went to was Neil Diamond
Sean surprised me with tickets
It was either 2005 or 2006
And it was awesome
I adore Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond is awesome

Can you swim well?
I can swim well enough that my head is above water at all times and I have no fear of drowning

But I still have a fear of riptides
And if I had to out swim a shark or pirates, I'm not sure I could do it 

Can you knit or crochet?
And I have tried both
When I tried to crochet, I cut the circulation off in my fingers and when I tried to knit, I poked myself with the needles…a lot…twice in the face

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
We have two cats
I'm still not even sure how that happened
And while I like them well enough, I never considered myself a cat person
They poop in box and then walk all over the place on the same feet that were standing in the poop box
And they can be so persnickety
I do like dogs, but when I think about owning one, it stresses me out – the cost, the care they need, the fact we have a small house and work all day
But I like other people's dogs
And other people's cats
Let me put it to you like this:
You will never see me driving around town with a bumper sticker that says I Love my (insert breed of animal here)
Nor will you see me with a sticker that says Cat Lady or Dogs Rule
You will never catch me wearing a cat sweatshirt or refer to any pet as my daughter's brother or sister
But I do like it when Ziggy curls up on my feet at night
And it amuses me when he follows me around like a dog
And even though Herbie is a bit dim, he is quite a loveable cat
And I do like it when he snuggles on my lap while I'm watching TV (though I am not a fan when he wraps his little 12lb body around my neck)
And I do like waking up to him snoozing on my pillow
So yeah, I like cats and I like dogs
But I am not really a cat or a dog person
But I do happen to be a person who has two cats
And a fish
Called Dodo
Who might actually be my favorite pet
Maybe I'm a fish person

Maria the Mum


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Suck it cancer, she's going to win

I know this young woman, I’ve written about her before, who is one of my favorite people in the world
I don’t see her often, don’t talk to her very much but there is something about her that is so endearing you can’t help but fall for her the moment you meet her

And once you fall for her, she is always “there”

I met her through her Aunt who is a cherished and dear friend
I don’t even really remember the first time I “officially” met her

I just remember that from the first moment I met her, she made me laugh and I was in awe and maybe even a bit intimidated by her
I was intimidated by her because at such a young age, she was stoic, strong, mature, confident and so genuine, and has an inner beauty that rivals her outer beauty

She lit up the room with this huge smile and had a laugh that filled every corner of the space she stood in – and it made everyone laugh just as hard as she was  
She is quick witted and has a sense of humor that is as sarcastic, sardonic and self deprecating as my own

She is fiercely loyal to her mother and her family
She displays with ease her unconditional love, admiration, and adoration for her now husband

She is devoted to her friends and is the kind of friend who is there for them before they even realize they need her
She has a heart so big, so open, so pure……..

She has a heart so big and so strong and so forgiving and understanding, it amazes me one person can harness all it has to offer……all its energy, all its love
And she has cancer

She has cancer

When my friend told me of her niece’s diagnosis, I had no idea what to do or say

My instinct was to pick up the phone and call this young woman
But I figured at that moment in time she was probably overwhelmed and inundated with family and friends much closer to her than me

And I felt she needed them, and they needed her, more than I did at that moment
So I just prayed for her

For her, for her husband, and for her mother

For her family and friends
But mostly, I prayed for her

She has cancer
And her family, a family who would move heaven and earth for one another, is behind her

Loving her
Praying for her

Hoping for her

And yes, suffering with her
And her friends, a close knit group I’ve only witnessed from afar and heard so many stories about, is behind her

Loving her
Praying for her

Hoping for her

And yes, suffering with her

And her husband….her husband is as amazing as she is 
And there he is too is behind her, beside her

Loving her
Praying for her

Hoping for her
And yes, suffering with her in ways none of us could probably imagine

So I just keep praying for her
I keep praying for her, hoping for her….for she and her husband

I pray that their happily ever after will be forever and always  
A couple weeks ago, I saw her Aunt

How is she I asked
Her Aunt, my dear friend, with a smile said Oh, you know her…..she’s doing what she has to do and she’s doing it as only she can

And would you believe, my friend continued, would you believe she is more worried about the kids (in the family)….how it will impact them, how they’ll react when they see her, than she is herself
Yes, yes I can I said

I believe it because of who this young woman is, because of how she was raised, because her Grandmother was the woman she was, because she is the wife she is to her husband
I believe she has thought of so many others before she has thought of herself

And I believe she does not even think twice about it because that is who she is
I believe this young woman is fighting with every ounce of energy, love and support she has

And I believe because of that, she will be fine
And I believe she’ll win

She has cancer
But cancer does not have her

It doesn’t deserve her

Her husband, her family, her friends….they deserve her
And she deserves them

So suck it cancer

She’s going to win

 Maria the Mum


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Co-Worker Made Me Cry

A co-worker made me cry yesterday

I'm pretty sure my professional friend Christine.....and by professional I don't mean she is a prostitute
I mean she is someone I met at a conference and though we do not work together, she is a professional work colleague who has befriended me and she is my secret mentor

Anyway, I bet Christine read that line and her first thought was who was it? I will kick their ass...
It's how she rolls

So a co-worker made me really hard

And not in the good "he did something nice like had Lucy's baby shoes bronzed for me (do they still do that)" way but in the "mean malicious yelling" kind of way

I was on the phone with him trying to help him with something when he lost his temper and just went all out on me
I was so caught off guard that I stumbled over my final thoughts and words and to be honest, I'm not even sure how the call ended
After I hung up, I sat there for a second, rubbed my forehead and felt the tears welling up in my eyes

And I was fine until another co-worker down the hall came on over my phone intercom to let me know I had a call on line 1
When I went to answer him, my words got caught in my throat and I lost all ability to speak

Are you OK he demanded?
Fine I croaked
You don't sound fine
I'm fine I say, can you just give me a minute?
I hung up and spun around in my chair so no one would see me if they walked by my office

Within 15 seconds, I hear my co-worker come storming into my office again demanding to know what had happened

I'm fine I say with tears streaming down my face but refusing to turn around
Maria, look at me
No thank you I say
Turn around please
Umm, no, I’m good thanks, I’m fine
You are not fine

He came around the desk, stood in front of me

Is Lucy okay? Sean's okay?
I nod
Then tell me what happened
I can't, I'm fine
I think its Mike on the phone for you.....

I take a deep breath try to regain composure and snap up the phone so as not to keep my boss waiting any longer than he has been

But, it was not my boss; it was the co-worker who had just been yelling at me
He started talking and when I realized it was him, I could not hold it any longer
I tried to answer his questions but my voice was cracking, hands were shaking and tears were flowing

Uhh, I can't really...I'm, not able...can I call you back please?

I don't think he had a clue of how I was feeling
By now, I am sobbing, like heaving and sobbing, and snot is running down my face and I don't even have any tissues and my dear sweet co-worker is just trying to get out of me what's wrong

I'm fine I just kept repeating....I'm tired
I'm just tired I say, it’s been a rough few weeks, you know that
Yeah, I know that but you've not gotten this upset....something happened...what happened?

The intercom on my phone beeped and a voice informed me the yelling co-worker was on the phone...again

Could you tell him I'll call him back please?

Tears keep streaming, might have actually started falling harder

What did he do to you my co-worker asks? It was him wasn't it?
I'm fine I say, I’m just tired.....I was up till almost 2am doing work...I'm just tired 
What did he do to you?
I shake my head
Nothing I say, I'm fine, it’s fine, I'm fine
I'm calling him! I'm calling him to find out what the hell he did and to tell him whatever he did was wrong
Please don't call him I say, I’m fine...I'm just a bit overwhelmed, tired...I wish I could blame my cycle but I can' let's just chalk it up to my being overwhelmed and tired.....
No, he says, you tell me now what happened!

He was standing with his hands on his hips jiggling his leg and frankly, looking like he wanted to tell the other guy to meet him at the bike racks after school so he could beat him up

Maria, you won't tell me?
No, I does not matter and please, don't call him, no need to make a big deal out of it....I think he's just frustrated and I clearly sent him over the edge
Ok well that does not make it okay for him to talk to you the way he did....and I'm not even sure what he did or said but clearly it was enough to get you to this....

He sort of waves his hand in my general direction

He must have said something.....Maria this is not okay, I want to know....he needs to be spoken to...I'm calling him...this is not right what he's done to you

This went on for 20 minutes - his demanding, my assuring him I was fine and not to worry
He finally relented and said he would not call our co-worker as I asked him not to and he agreed he would not take it any farther
We spoke for a few more minutes and he begrudgingly left my office

Around 4, he came up to my office and told me he had spoken with our co-worker
I narrowed my eyes at him
You promised you would not...
I didn't! I swear! We were talking about something else and he blurted out he had yelled at you....
He said he yelled because you were being condescending and he had just had it
Oh, ok, well, yeah, I can see that....

Sure……the nature of my job is to tell people what they are doing wrong and no matter how I say it, it will always be one wants to be told they are doing something wrong….or that they are not doing something they should be doing.....and when you have to tell people that, and when you have to tell the same person the same thing multiple times....well, there is no way to sound except condescending...even when you are not trying to be.....and we both know he's been, well, he's struggling, trying to keep his head above water....but just won't listen to anyone long enough to learn anything

He shrugs his shoulders....

Yeah, I suppose....your job sucks
I know I say
And your eyes are still puffy
I know
I don't know what to say to you...he trailed off
It's okay, I'm fine
I'm sorry it happened
Me too

This morning, he popped his head in to check on me
I'm fine I say
I know, it's just I've never seen you so upset
I'm good  - thanks for checking on me, for asking
Sure...but just so you know, if it happens again, I'm saying something...and I still want to punch him in the face
Thanks I say

I've been with the company over 12 years now
When I was hired, I remember in my interview telling the accountant doing the hiring I was not qualified for the job
But he told the owner I made him laugh, that there was something about me that told him I could do the job
So they offered, I accepted and the rest, as they say is history

My job started as one thing and has changed so many times over the years I'm not 100% sure what it is all the time
All I know is there is a whole lot of stuff that needs to get done so I just do it
And I think I do it well.....but it took me a long time to get here

In 12 years, work has made me cry a few times
I don't know anyone who does not get overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and angry with work..its human nature
But I have to tell you, I was genuinely shocked at my reaction
I have no idea why I was so distraught, so bothered, so hurt by this co-worker yelling at me
And I'm not even sure those are the right words - but I'm not sure how else to describe how or why I was moved me to tears

If I were about to start my period, it would make total sense to me but I'm not so it doesn't

Funnily enough, I just had a conversation with one of my bosses Monday and he asked me why I don't push back on people when I know they are dong something wrong  - why don't I hold them to the higher expectation I hold myself to

Because, I said when I push back, when I hold people to a certain expectation, no matter how I do it or say it, people take it totally the wrong way
The issue then becomes the fact that I told them they did something wrong, not that they actually did something wrong

Good point he mused
But you're right he said, when you tell them it was wrong, you are right
I  know, I said, that's the sad thing

I'm not sure what set my co-worker off
But if I had to guess, it was when I said to him  “logic would tell you to do xyz”
I could have said something as simple as “the next step we should take to get to that outcome is to do xyz…”

But that was not what I said
I implied he was not being logical
So I get it
I really do
And I’m sorry about that

But here's the thing
At no time was I malicious
At no time did I attack him
I never called him a name
I never raised my voice 
And if I appeared to him to be condescending, I'm guessing maybe I was but it was not intentional

My point? Where I'm going with all this?
I don't know, I just needed someplace to go with it - and this seemed as good a place as any

But do me favor

Next time you start to raise your voice, next time you think someone deserves to be yelled at
Don't open your mouth
Count as high as you can before you have to speak
And when you do speak, soften your tone, lower your voice and smile

It will make all the difference in the you and the person on the receiving end

Maria the Mum