Monday, April 29, 2013

When "Taking a Break" Becomes "This Is How I Live Now" . . .

OK. I've had my little blogging break, while I dealt with the pile o' crazy that my work life has become, but it's time to get back to it.

Let's start with the weight-loss news:


And now the weight-gain news:


And that is something. I was moaning about my months-long plateau to a lady at church (she's kind of a crank, but I knew she's doing Weight Watchers and would sympathize), and she cheered the fact that I hadn't gained any weight back — like, she was actively excited for me! I was quite touched — and she said, "Your body really doesn't want you to lose weight. You have to fight it," and I said, "Yeah, my body's kind of a jerk," and she roared.

Bride Boy came and went in a whirlwind of awesomeness. I had a handful of besties over for a yummy dinner and scrumptious cocktails and a selection of my favorite games, and it was a night for the history books. In a flurry of thank-you e-mails the next day, Bride Boy wrote:
That was exactly the night I fantasized about when I told Lady C I wanted to meet some of her friends.  
He loved my other friends, they loved him, it was just a fabby groovy awesome time.

He also came to zumba with me (and told the Italian Spitfire what her blog name is — she didn't bat an eye), and when the Spitfire asked how long we've known each other, we both went slack-jawed and stupid and said, "Uhhh . . ." but we did the math later and realized: 24 years. Crazytown!!

And my employment star continues on its crazy rise — clients are coming out of the woodwork to request my editing, and I'm now booking into June. So — is this the sign I was looking for?!

And I'm zumba-ing two days a week faithfully, but if I continue to be gainfully employed and we get all our bills paid and I make a significant dent in what we owe on our home equity line of credit (remember my adventures with Neerja, back in the day?), then I will . . . well, probably think seriously about a new car, since my 15-year-old is beginning to wheeze and sigh a bit when I start it in the morning, plus replace our hideous couch, plus buy some pants that fit me since I'm down to one pair, but then I will add two more zumba classes to my repertoire.

There's so much more to say, but I did three editing jobs today plus Math Practice plus a handful of church calls, and I am fading fast. Bathtub calls!!

I will return to regular blogging now, even if it's just short newsy bites. Promise!

—Lady C, bathtub-bound

p.s. Check out my guest post on Kate Nested's blog!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thinking of You, In Boston

The Sox aren’t just a baseball team. They are at the heart of this city, just like Fenway itself. Loving them is the purest form of faith, one without wars or inquisitions, just love and pain. Every fan knows in his heart and in his soul that the Sox are gonna go all the way this year, the Yankees suck,* and Neil Diamond is awesome.
—from Thinking of You, a new play by Elizabeth DuPré

Last night, before the world went a new kind of crazy, Husband and I had a purely wonderful date: We drove into Boston, our beautiful city, and saw Thinking of You, a play starring two of our favorite people in the world, Mrs. Cynicletary and Handsome D. Our friends are fantastic actors and completely disappeared into their roles. The wildly attractive and cool Handsome D, who's got swag to burn, played a nerdy middle-aged nebbish with cause-of-death statistics at his fingertips, and the glowingly charismatic and universally adored Mrs. Cynicletary played an uptight petty bureaucrat, reviled by every other cast member. They blew our minds. And the play was fantastic, superbly well written and well cast. A lovely time was had by all.

The plot concerns among other things, what a leap of faith it is to be a Red Sox fan. Bostonians don't do anything half-assed; loving our team is practically an athletic event itself, we put so much heart and strength and muscle into it. And the odds are not with us, and we know that, and we know that we'll likely get our hearts broken. But we do it — because the Sox are at the heart of this city.

Listen, you know I don't care diddly squat about sports, but even I am not immune. When our boys are playing well, the local joy is infectious. You can't help but get caught up in it.

Today the feeling in our city is a little different, as you might imagine.

My plans for the day had been to purchase a floor lamp at Target. Bride Boy is coming to visit, I'm offering him two sleeping options, but one bed doesn't have a bedside lamp, and this must be rectified!

The Target I most often go to is located in the Watertown Mall, across the street from the Arsenal Mall, in Watertown, Massachusetts.

You may have seen it on the news this morning, post-explosion.

Crazy times.

Husband couldn't go to Northeastern today to give a final exam. Good Neighbor Anne's Angel-Daughter can't leave her dad's house in Watertown, and my friend is understandably anxious and wants her cherub home. My financial guru $u$an lives five blocks from the Arsenal Mall and was awakened by the explosion, then heard pounding on her front door. (It was the police, checking that her doors and windows were secured . . . a fact that relieved her once her heart started beating again.)

But we're okay. Arlington is not considered "at risk," we got a reassuring phone call from our Town Manager this morning, I went to my scheduled meeting at Hardy School with the other Math Practice Guides and took the kids to a different Target. I told them that a fugitive does not flee to a close-knit suburban neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else. Husband and I are maintaining an air of calm.

It is scary, though. Boston is close but nonetheless – it's the city. We're the 'burbs. But Watertown — man, I could walk to Watertown if I had to.

One of our local pundits quipped, "You do not want to fuck with Boston. We shut the city down, and then we come after you."

I refuse to let the bastards get me down. We're taking the kids to Improv in Arlington tonight and then getting some ice cream, to support the local merchants who went to work as usual this morning. We will hold our children close, and we will hold our heads high.

You do not want to fuck with the Chardonnays.

Sending love and peace to all,

Lady C

 * These are the lines as written. However, this week the actor amended them slightly to say ". . . the Yankees suck — most of the time" because of New York's recent solidarity with Boston.

This week we are all one team — Yankees, Red Sox, and their hard-headed fans. Who'd'a thunk it?

 p.s. Secured a beautiful floor lamp. Bride Boy will be pleased.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Day, New 'Tude

Last night I was lying in bed post-bath, embracing my many failures. I felt fat and sluggish and deeply disappointed in myself, and it was a whale of a party, let me tell you.

I'm not losing a lick o' weight, and I know that the only strategy available to me is to add a heaping dose of Spartan to my daily living — and I just can't seem to do it.

Meant to take a walk and enjoy yesterday's beautiful sunshine. Failed.

Meant to eat a light dinner, to counterbalance the big diner breakfast the kids and I enjoyed. Failed.*

Meant to eschew alcohol, as it's helping neither my weight-loss efforts nor my mood. Failed.

Meant to get started writing my Math Practice book, which, I realize, I'm a little scared of. Failed.

Meant to be sweet and understanding and patient with every single annoyingly in-my-face member of my family, no matter how noisy and defensive and petulant and aggravating they are. Failed.

Failure failure failure!!!!!!

And then I prayed.

And then I reflected on a few key things:
  • This is a stressful time. I have A LOT on my plate. I need to be kind to myself.
  • Tomorrow is a new day.
  • I have no control over any member of my family nor the decisions they make. None. If constant nagging/gentle reminders worked, wow, wouldn't that be great? — but it doesn't. I need to let go. They will do the (ridiculous) things they do. I can roll my eyes, I can laugh, I can love them regardless.
  • I felt so good after zumba on Saturday, even though I came home and went straight back to work. If it's at all possible to squeeze in even a short walk, I must do it.
And then I painted my nails navy blue and used my white and yellow and green polishes to make a little daisy on each fingernail, and it looks freaking fantastic. I smile every time I look at my hands. I am trying so hard to love my fingers rather than ravage them and tear their flesh.

Today has been simply chock full o' nuts with success:
  • I made myself start the Math book, and it's been a piece of cake. I'll finish my draft tomorrow, just in time to hand it to my boss for our Friday meeting.
  • I took a walk around lunchtime and lifted weights and worked my core
  • Plus I'm going to zumba tonight. So much exercise, clearly I need an intervention! Ha. 
  • I really wanted a snack/cocktail at 4, but I then realized that I'm mostly just bored and edgy (I hate having the kids home when I have a ton of work to do) and I managed to keep myself out of the kitchen. 
Yay for me!

So . . . I'm trying to embrace Spartan-er living, one hour at a time. As a rallying cry, yes, it's a tad lacking in oomph, but it's the best I got for now.

On a more serious note —

As I said, I took a walk today; it's gorgeous here, sunny and crisp, not a cloud in the sky. I felt purely happy . . . and then rounded a corner and saw a flag at half-mast and started to cry.

It feels crazy unreal that this terrible thing has happened in my beloved, beautiful city, the cradle of American liberty (hush, Philadelphia), during a worldwide celebration. Bostonians being who we are (hard-headed, belligerent, and brimming with local pride), I expect that next year's Marathon will set a record for attendance. But right now, it is just so sad around these parts.

This is not the kind of writing I do. I hide behind better writers. And here are three of them:
It would be wrong and a cliche to say we lost our innocence on Monday afternoon as a plume of white smoke drifted high above Boylston Street, as blood pooled on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library, as severed limbs lay amid the bruised and the bloodied and the stunned, their ears ringing, their ears bleeding.
We lost our innocence on another perfect day, in September, 12 years ago. But we lost something Monday, too, and that is the idea that we will ever feel totally safe in this city again.
  • My favorite piece of writing about September 11, a poem titled "Rest In Peace," can be found here. Though it's about a different event, it feels as relevant as ever.
(About this last poem, my friend Carla Catwoman said, "Just when I thought it was safe to wear mascara again . . .")

Sad, sad time. But we will get through this. I lift my Spartan chin and hold it high.

—Lady C

* To be totally fair to myself, I did walk to the diner —a total of 1.36 miles, dude!

(In my efforts to determine this exact number, I came across the phrase "heterolifemate," which I am now in love with. Husband, how do you like your new name?)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tequila and Terrorism

t's Patriots Day (aka Marathon Day), a fabulous Boston holiday that I'd never heard of for the first 24 years of my life on the Left Coast.

(We have a few such holidays. Columbus Day is big here; Mom was always startled when she tried to call me at work on that day and no one answered.* Bunker Hill Day is another one. Likewise, Evacuation Day. But every state has its own odd days off, right? In California, we celebrated Admissions Day and probably a few others that I disremember now. Hemp Day? Poppy Day? Who knows.)

It's also April Vacation Week and the kids are home, but I'm working like a demon-possessed editrix and have barely seen them (though we did duck out for lunch together, at Jasper White's Summer Shack. Mmm, greasy-spicy calamarai, Rhode Island-style . . . But this was just a blip on the computer-shackled reality of my day). Husband, however, is moving to a new office this week, so he went in to work today to pack up the last of his stuff. Northeastern University is about half a mile from Copley Square.

You know why I'm telling you this.

I didn't know anything was wrong until my mom called from California . . . and then the calls and e-mails started pouring in from across the country. "Are you okay?" "Were you guys at the Marathon?" "Please send word."

And that's what I love about this wired world. Back in the day (the day being 1989), I remember watching the World Series with my then boyfriend (you know I don't care about sports, but two California teams? Yeah, I was interested), when suddenly we heard about this massive earthquake in Santa Cruz, California, the town where I attended college, the residence of many people who were very dear to me. We didn't have e-mail; all I had was the phone. I called my nearest and dearest . . . and then it was fascinating to see who called me. A boy who'd been on my hall senior year; I was his RA, and he still thought of me in that role. A boy I'd casually dated my sophomore year. A girl I'd been friends with junior year, who spent senior year in England and sent me enormous epistles of life among the Brits. I'm not really a phone-call person (e-mail is my perfect communication vehicle), but nonetheless: It was good to hear their voices. It was good to have this moment together, this acknowledgment of survival and of connection, across time and distance.

But if e-mail had been around, I would've talked to 20 more people, easy.

Flash forward to 2007. Both of my brothers and and their cool wives live in Minnesota, and one sister-in-law is pregnant — and I hear that a bridge has collapsed during rush hour. I'm able to quickly reach the St. Paul couple, who assure me that neither was anywhere near that bridge — "though," Brother 2 says, slowly, "Prickly Red [the awesomely snarky wife of Brother 1] takes that bridge to work every day." I call and call and call my brother's cell, the only number I have, and it keeps going straight to voice mail. Mom and I are beside ourselves. It's hours before he gets back to us. Everything's fine. His battery was dead. And in fact, Prickly Red didn't even go to work that day; her stomach was acting up, baby was kicking, yada yada, she stayed home.

In awe, I said, "You know what this means, right? Clearly, you are birthing the next Messiah  — or the leader of the Rebel forces." Brother 1 dutifully repeated this to the wife, who replied, "Damn straight." 

(Nephew is insanely cute and charismatic and just set a record for pre-kindergarten test scores in the fine state of Minneapolis. Time will tell . . . ) 

So. Today. My first inkling was the call from Mom, which I didn't even answer because I'm so mired in work. But then Husband called to assure me he was alive (he was busily packing, till the police pounded on his door), and then cousins, uncles, friends began calling and e-mailing.

We're fine. Husband did have an extra-long commute home. Li'l Martini spent the afternoon saying, "Is Dad home yet? Has he come home? Have we heard from Dad?" Mimosa and I headed to the kitchen, making tacos and Spanish rice and sauteed Mexican vegetables. I made her a mocktail and shook myself up a lovely margarita, squeezing limes with the bright-yellow lime squeezer that Zanzibar gifted me with me a month or so ago. When Husband got home, the three of us greeted him at the door, and we all hugged for a long time.

Our hearts break for the families of the two who died today. 

I'm treating my pain and worry with tequila, and I gotta say, it's going down goooood — but for me, the larger takeaway is this: You can build a bomb shelter, you can have a kick-ass disaster preparedness plan, you can dot every "i" and cross every "t," but when it comes right down to it, our connections with other people are what's going to save us. Not our giant rubber-band balls, not our hefty 401K. Our relationships.

Sending so much love to you all, from Canada to California, New Jersey to South Carolina, Minnesota to Washington, Israel to Tennessee, and everywhere in between.

—Lady C, slightly snockered on veryfine tequila but nonetheless ready to kum-ba-yah her heart out

* Husband was a Fulbright scholar in Iceland, and he lived a block away from an enormous statue of Leif Erickson staring off toward the New World. Here is a conversation he had with a colleague regarding Columbus Day:
  • Husband:  If I were back home, most things would be closed today. 
  • Husband: I don't imagine that Columbus gets much good press in Iceland.
  • Ole: At least Leifur knew when he wasn't wanted. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

As I Was Saying . . .

My workload has continued unabated and I'm still galloping along at a crazy pace, living hour-by-hour rather than one-day-at-a-time, but I finished some of the biggest jobs so am starting to see a hairline of blue sky through the thick clouds of responsibility, and that is something. But I'm also getting notes from people who are concerned about my long absence from the blogosphere, so I decided to quickly update y'all before diving in to this nice pile of data entry, my pre-zumba task for the morning. (Then I'll come home and do my chores and write up my notes for Clive Cussler, whose book I finished proofreading at 9:40 p.m. last night. Biggest catch: "pubic" instead of "public," an error that made it into print – oh, the ignominy! I am a rock star.)

So, as noted, I'm still working hard. This week's tasks:
  • Entering assessment data for the Math Practice boss
  • Turning the dry drug-prevention report into a jazzy Web piece (I met with the clients last week; they're great; I can totally do this)
  • Writing an overview of our Math Practice goals to give to teachers
  • Finally checking in with dear Bev on a writing project she has in mind
Plus my usual: proofread Snowy pages, call church people re: leadership positions, sell the books cluttering my dining room, plan next Sunday's OWL lesson. And also: The woman I hired to replace me at EDC has pneumonia, and my former boss has called me every day begging me to help her, which I've had to say no to so far, but this week I may be able to say yes and that will be nice; I love my former boss, and it's good money.

One thing I'm proud about is that a guy I've done a little work for e-mailed me and asked me to edit an article. I told him that I was now booking into mid-April and I understood if he didn't want to wait that long. (This was huge for me; I almost never say no to clients, and I really wanted this job.) He wrote back, "Sounds fine. Mid-April isn't that far, and I know we like your work." !!!!!! Score!

I also got a note from a former client who's moved to California, who wants to book me for a huge job in May. So, it sounds like I will have a nice steady stream of employment for the near future, which is awesomely cool. Is this the sign from God I was looking for?!

Sadly, this week my kids are on school break again, but I won't be able to spend much time with them. This week the village can raise them.

I'm also coming to terms with the fact that I have little to no interest in returning to my novel. I have this feeling of "tried that, not for me." This is just a glimmer of a feeling at present, and obviously I need to give it more thought. Stay tuned . . .

In happier news, my darling friend Bride Boy is coming to visit me in a couple of weeks! I haven't seen him since Mimosa was a toddler in a stroller, and I am crazy excited.

Will the books be out of my dining room by then? Place your bets now!

Diving back into it —

Lady C

p.s. Weight loss? I'm sorry, what?

Monday, April 1, 2013

It's Raining Something, All Right

Long time no blog, I know. Sorry about that! But rather than men, it's raining work work work on me, and I am caught in the unexpected downpour feeling somewhat stupefied. My little employment star is suddenly on the rise in a big way, which is thrilling, of course, but overwhelming as well — I look at what I have to do and the time available to do it, and all I can do is laugh. If only I could twitch my nose like Samantha Stephens and have it all be done . . .

So, remember that potentially lucrative job I applied for? I can't remember if I ever said what it was, but I took an editing and a proofreading test in order to be considered as an editor/proofreader for the Penguin Group, a big publishing company. And they finally got back to me, this weekend, and offered me a job! I will be proofreading a giant Clive Cussler manuscript, an author I've never read but have certainly heard of, so this is rather thrilling. Somewhat less thrilling is their hourly rate for proofreading, which is less than half my usual editing rate, sigh. I assume they'll pay more for editing, when and if they have me do that, but will they pay as much as I usually make? Is this a step forward or not?

Still, being a Penguin editor is pretty cool, n'est-ce pas?

And then I was contacted by someone I don't know who asked if I could take a 40-page dry academic manuscript and turn it into a lively and interactive piece for a website. Could I? Sure? Maybe?? I've never done this before, but it seems like something I could do. (And the preceding dialogue with all the question marks is one that only appeared in my head; to the Someone I Don't Know, I said, Sure! Of course! Happy to! I am all exclamation points and confidence with my clients, believe me.)

And I still have one more editing job to finish of the three that materialized last week (I got two done over Easter weekend — I hate working on weekends and holidays, but short of a Samantha Stephens nose twitch, what can you do), plus a fun job for my sensational blogging friend Bev, plus the book my Math Practice boss wants me to write . . .

Yeah, I'm not going to think about any of this right now. I just finished a job, six hours of sitting at my computer, and I'm going to go stretch and maybe take a hot bath or maybe just go right to sleep; either seems possible (and Mimosa's currently hogging the tub; she says that tonight's karate class comprised a lot of urchins crawling all over her, and she's bruised and sore. Maybe I don't understand karate?).

All sorts of fun goings on this weekend, including a night of drinking and games with Brunie (and a special guest appearance from Superdad), which resulted in my sweating tequila at zumba the next morning and getting the lady next to me tipsy, but I'm wilting rapidly and need to step away from this infernal screen now. Peppy life news must wait for another day.

—Lady C

p.s. I just canceled my "final" appointment with my Mohs surgeon. My enormous gaping nose wound is now smaller and less noticeable than the chicken pox scar I've sported on my forehead since age 5. I'm declaring myself healed.