Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering CJ

Hello. I've been away for quite a while, and, although I've been planning to return, this is absolutely not the way I wanted to do it.

I am one of the lucky people who knew CJ Twomey. When I first met CJ, he was still a kid. I worked with his mom, Hallie, and she invited me over to her house. I remember meeting CJ and his brother Connor, liking them immediately, and thinking to myself that they would get along great with my two boys. That is indeed what happened - my kids thought her kids were great fun, and whenever they got together, riotous laughter always resulted.

My older son, Brandon, has worked as a counselor and lifeguard of a local summer camp for 4 or 5 years, and for two glorious summers, CJ worked there, too. Brandon told me at the end of CJ's first week that CJ was a natural counselor (high praise from the veteran!) and that the kids loved him.

I find that easy to believe. Everyone loved CJ. He was smart, funny and kind. He had a way of making you feel as if you were the most important person in the world. He and I shared a sort of twisted sense of humor, and I always felt as if he 'got' me, even back when we first met. I'll never forget that night he made me laugh so hard I held my sides and begged for mercy. CJ, I'll miss your laugh most of all.

I was fortunate to know him, to see him mature into the wonderful, loving man that he became. My heart aches for his loss - for myself, for Brandon and his other friends, for everyone whose lives he touched in person or through this amazing internet, for his beautiful Danielle, but most of all for his devoted family. He leaves a void that cannot be filled, and I pray for strength and comfort for Hallie, John, Connor and their loving extended family.

It was my privilege to know this extraordinary young man. I love you, CJ.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Blog Is Sponsored By The Letter H...For HALLIE, My Amazing Friend Who Agreed to Post This Entry For Me. (She MAY Have Come Up With This Title)

Well, I’m here! I’ve been wanting to post for a long time, and I made the commitment that I would manage, come hell or high water, to post a Friday Fragments post today (Jocelyn, this one’s for you!) Friday Fragments is hosted by Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who I’m sure has completely forgotten me, but who I’m hoping will welcome me back after a much-too-long absence.

* My new job (hey, how long do I get to keep calling it my NEW job? I’ve been here 8 weeks already!) is still taking up the lion’s share of my days. Yesterday I left my house at 6:50 AM and returned at 8:30 PM. That’s a long day. The biggest problem is that I have to fit all the other things I have to do into the few short hours I have at home. My weekends are a whirlwind of chores – shopping, laundry, bank, library – and I still don’t have enough time to get it all done. It’s a good thing I like this job; actually, after 14 months of unemployment, I’m grateful every day to have a job at all.

* What do I miss the most? You – all of you out in blog land. I wonder every day how you’re all doing, and what’s going on in your lives. I absolutely hate the idea that I’m missing out on your adventures, and I’m determined to find a way to get back to the blogosphere somehow. I’m still thinking audio blogs are the way to go, but I’m not sure I have the technical knowledge to make it happen. Maybe in the meantime, we should work out a schedule: I’ll assign you each a day and time to call me during my long commute and you can read me your blogs! Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all busy too, but really, isn’t it all about me?

* You may be happy to know that the clothing crisis has been solved, at least for the time being. A very dear friend has donated to me two large boxes of professional-looking clothes that, along with what I already had, make me look good enough to go to work every day. Jacqueline, you are my angel! I could use a few things to help round out my wardrobe, so I’m watching the sales, but I can manage right now. Whew, that’s such a relief. Who knew looking good enough for your job would be such a stressful thing?

* I got a new computer set-up at my job this week, and it came with two giant flat-screen monitors and a bunch of high-tech-looking hardware. My desk now looks like the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise. The second monitor is incredibly handy, allowing me to keep my boss’s calendar open for constant monitoring while I open other applications on the other one. I was thinking, though, that maybe I should open my favorite blogs on one monitor, so that I can read a few lines at a time in between various emergencies that I seem to be constantly dealing with on the other screen. Hmmmm. Food for thought.

* Every day on my way to work, I pass the street where the woman I believe is my birth mother lives. I actually work only a few blocks away from her house. It feels weird. I’m not sure exactly what I think, but it’s frustrating knowing that she LIVES RIGHT THERE and yet she may as well be a million miles away. For those of you who worry that I might become a stalker, I want to assure you that I have – so far – resisted the urge to detour down her street. See? I’m maintaining my mental health. No, really, I am.

That’s all I have time for today, but I swear that I’m back, and I’ll be around to visit you very soon. I miss you all terribly, and can’t wait to spend some time catching up on your lives.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fragments - Before Dawn Edition

It’s happened again – a whole week has gone by, and it’s time for Friday Fragments again. This is the place to report all those crazy, funny and random thoughts that roam around your brain during the week. The big brain, who keeps track of all the Friday Fragmenters, is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time. Go check her out – she’s a real, conscientious blogger (unlike me, who can’t seem to get her act together!) and she’s a hoot, too.

* I’m having blogosphere withdrawal. These 11 and 12 hour days are seriously cutting into my blog time. I started blogging during my 14 months of unemployment, and it became one of my favorite parts of my day, visiting my friends around the world. Now, I’m getting home late, having to rush around getting dinner, do a few chores and falling into bed, exhausted. There just hasn’t been time to even turn on my computer. I got up an extra half hour early this morning (4:45) so that I had time to at least post my Fragments!

* Not being able to read blogs is the worst part. I feel like all my bloggy friends are on vacation, and I can only wonder what a great time they’re all having. You’re all lucky I don’t know your phone numbers, because I’m on the road for about two hours and 15 minutes every day, and I’d be calling you, insisting you READ me your blog. Hey – that’s a great idea! Let’s organize some AUDIO blogs. I could download them to my Ipod every day, and listen during my commute. That’s BRILLIANT. I’m a GENIUS. Or is it just so early that my brain isn’t working yet? Hmmm. Better think on that.

* As soon as I’m not job-shadowing my predecessor, I’m sure I’ll have time to read a few blogs throughout the day, on breaks or at lunch, and I will NOT be working 9-10 hours every day. There is no reason one can’t leave that job after 8 hours – except for the occasional event or big project – and that’s going to be my goal. I have GOT to find time for some fun and relaxation, or I’ll burn out, and I don’t want to do that. I really, really think I’m going to like this job.

* Don’t you hate things that beep for no reason? We have a couple of things in our house that beep and we don’t know why. We’ll be sitting in the living room, playing cards, and we’ll hear this beep from somewhere in the next room. Nobody’s cell phone is there, and we can’t figure out what beeped. It drives me nuts.

* On a related note, I also hate beeping on TV. All the new medical dramas have this incessant beeping throughout the show, and it makes me want to scream. I know that real hospitals have beeping, and they’re just trying to make it realistic and all, but I’m not buying that excuse. In real hospitals, the nurses do NOT all look gorgeous, with perfect hair and make-up. And the sick people don’t, either. If they’re willing to overlook the fact that normal hospitals have normal-looking doctors, nurses and patients, then let’s just agree to forgo the whole beeping thing, okay?

* Okay, that’s all I have time for. I miss you all terribly, and I promise to come and visit you soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fragments - Late for Work Edition

Friday Fragment time. It’s the place to release your random thoughts so that they my fly free like a butterfly. If they come back to you…run! Mrs. 4444 started this whole thing, and keeps track of us all over at Half Past Kissin’ Time. Come join the party.

* I started my new job on Monday, and the good news is that I think I’m going to be very happy there. The people are just terrific, and the work seems both interesting and challenging. I actually think I might have found the right position after a year of looking.

* Even though I’m liking the new job, actually working for a living is going to take some getting used to…

* My commute is about an hour (give or take 10 minutes) each way, and traffic is proving to be a daily thorn in my side. It’s a good thing I have books on my Ipod to keep me company, because sitting still – on a road where cars should be moving at 40 miles an hour – is not my idea of fun. I’m getting a lot of books read – well, read to me – and it helps keep me calm, as well as makes me feel better, since I don’t have much time to read books with pages right now.

* I need to get my stamina up. Being home, working on the computer in my pajamas, taking a break whenever I felt like it – is a lot different that leaving your house at 6:50 AM and returning home at 6:30 PM. I’m so tired – mentally and physically – that I can hardly talk by the time I get home. By the time I’ve done dishes, laundry, and gotten my clothes ready for the next day, I’m exhausted. Hopefully I’ll get back in the swing soon.

* I wonder what the record is for highest number of individual blisters on one foot? I never would have guessed this, but the issue of what shoes to wear has become the biggest challenge of all. I’ve been wearing flip-flops or those stretchy clogs for a year. I pulled out my dressier shoes, but they don’t fit my left foot anymore (if you missed the earlier post, I injured my foot last winter, and somehow ended up with a left foot that is significantly wider than my right). I bought a couple of pairs of new shoes, and they probably would have been fine, except that this job has a lot of walking in it (something I would NEVER have guessed). I must have walked 5 miles or more at least two separate days this week. I have blisters everywhere – yesterday I had 7 band-aids on one foot and 5 on the other. When I got out of my car at home last night, I was saying “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow” every time I took a step.

* I have had no blog-reading time. None. I haven't even checked my email. I can't stand it - I'm wondering how everyone is. I hope I can catch up this weekend.

* As a bonus to my new job, I have also discovered the true nature of love (and I’m willing to share the secret with you!) Love is…

Standing in a cold, dark, nearly-deserted parking lot at 9:30 at night, even though you are bone-tired, alternately pretending to be the curb or a vehicle, so that your child can practice parallel parking for his driving test. It still counts as love, even if you are praying “don’t hit me…don’t hit me…” the whole time.

* By the way – Alex passed his driving test! Congrats, honey. I knew you could do it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fragments - Random is my middle name

Time again for Friday Fragments – although I’m so late today, I bet nobody reads it! For fragment perfection, one has to get up pretty early in the morning! FF is the place to dump all your random thought globules so as to keep them from coagulating and clogging your more productive brain activity. The big brain behind this whole thing is Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin’ Time, who keeps track of everyone’s randomness, so check her, and all the other FF-ers, out!

* I went down to the university yesterday to fill out some paperwork and get processed (wait, that sounds like I’m a salami) so that I can start work on Monday. I’m starting to believe it now, and I’m excited (and nervous) beyond words. The biggest issue continues to be my wardrobe, but I’m just going to have to make it work somehow. Maybe if I start wearing the same things twice in the same week, they’ll give me a clothing allowance.

* It’s funny that working actually COSTS money, and until I start actually getting paid, this is a bit of a dilemma. I need clothes and shoes, gas for the hour commute, money for a parking permit, and probably other things I haven’t even thought of yet. I did find out that I’ll get paid bi-weekly, which is not my favorite thing, but the benefits are very good. I’m just so grateful to have a job, I doubt I’ll be complaining about anything.

* I just read somewhere that it’s healthier to breathe through your nose. Evidently, a lot of people breathe through their mouths, which causes them to take shallow breaths. Shallow breaths signal the brain that you’re anxious, so it puts out stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When you breathe through your nose, your stress levels measurably drop, and you get more oxygen in your blood, which gives you more energy and makes everything in your body work better. I’m going to work on this by trying to keep my mouth shut more. Anybody who knows me knows what a challenge this is going to be.

* I am being overrun by these things, which I call Chinese Lanterns, but I have no idea if that’s their actual name. They grow all up inside my rose bushes, and sometimes up the side of my house. I think they’re a weed, but one of my friends loves them, and is always wanting to dig them up and transplant them to her house. I have to admit that they’re colorful, and they do appear – appropriately – in the early fall. Still, I’d like them better if they were a little more well-mannered in where they choose to grow. Here’s a picture of them (try to imagine zillions of them, all tangled up in roses and such)

* My current card-making obsession:

This card has a cool removable bookmark in it, so you can keep the pretty part of the card instead of throwing it away. The bookmark has magnetic strips on it, so it grips either side of the page securely, and looks good at the same time. I mean, who can't use a nice bookmark? Here’s a blurry picture of the bookmark:

* I’m going to get a bunch of them done – in different designs – this weekend while I’m still inspired. Of course, that requires me to finish the 101 chores I’ve also got on my list. I guess I better get started. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weave Me the Sunshine

We've lost another talented performer. Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary passed away yesterday after a long battle with leukemia.

I don't often comment on the passing of well-known personalities, but this time it feels like a personal loss. I grew up on the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. Their songs are so entangled with my youth, it's almost like a soundtrack to my memories. We sang their songs around the campfire - Lemon Tree, 500 miles, If I Had a Hammer, Puff the Magic Dragon.

We often speculated on the true meaning of Puff - did it refer to marijuana smoke, perhaps? - but I was lucky enough to meet Noel "Paul" Stookey when I was in college, and got the chance to ask him. He said that it was simply a song about the bittersweet experience of growing up, and wondered why we all had become so cynical. We are proud to include Stookey as a Maine resident. He and his wife live in Blue Hill, Maine and operate a recording studio out of their converted chicken coop.

My favorite Peter, Paul and Mary song is one of my go-to songs when I need a mood adjustment: Weave Me the Sunshine. It is on my Ipod, and my kids and I sing along with great abandon whenever we hear it.

Weave, weave, weave me the sunshine out of the fallin' rain!
Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow and fill my cup again!

I loved Peter, Paul and Mary for their thoughtful lyrics and expressed convictions, which they performed with such beautiful harmony. Stookey told me that the most important ingredient in their success was their deep love and respect for each other. It showed.

Rest in peace, Mary. And thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Worst Blogger Ever

I can't seem to get my act together. I've been trying to get a job for so long, I almost don't quite know what to do.

Looking for a job in this day and age has meant being on the computer for hours every day, researching, scouring websites, revamping resumes and writing carefully-worded cover letters. I've been doing that for about a year now, and I'd gotten into a routine: Get up, make coffee (decaf, of course), check email, check the job-search sites, read some blogs, write a blog, do some more job searching, check a few more blogs. I'd basically repeat this pattern all day, with breaks for household chores or errands or my daily walk.

I was in the rhythm of it. It worked for me - all except the not having enough money to pay my bills. That part sucked.

Anyway, now that I know I'm starting work next Monday, I'm all of sudden in panic mode. Here's what it sounds like in my head:

What am I going to wear? Do I have 5 suitable outfits to get me through the first week? What about shoes? Should I clean out and wash my car? What if the president of the university parks next to me? The inside of my car looks like a giant purse. Speaking of purses, what purse should I carry? I have only one nice purse, but it's getting old. Maybe I should clean it with that leather stuff. Where is that leather stuff, anyway?

I need to clean the house. Why the heck didn't I get more stuff done while I've been unemployed? I was going to rip up this miserable carpet, and repair the screens and paint the kitchen. I should make some extra meals and get them into the freezer so it won't be too hard to get dinner on at a decent hour. I wonder what time I'll get home every day?

I should get a lot of walking in this week before I can't do it anymore. I'm going to miss being able to be outside as much as I have been. The weather has finally been beautiful for the last few weeks, and I'm going to be inside a building all day. I wonder if I'll feel like walking after work? Maybe I can walk at lunch time. I wonder what time I'll get lunch? Oh, geez, I'll have to pack a lunch. What do we have that I will be able to pack a lunch with? I wonder if there's a refrigerator. What about water? I can't stand drinking city water. I wonder if they have a bubbler or if they drink tap water? Will it seem weird if I carry my own drinking water? Oh, and what about coffee? I can't drink regular coffee. I hope it's not a coffee machine. I hate coffee machine coffee.

Anyway, you get the idea. I'm feeling completely scattered and nervous and excited, and I can't seem to sit down at the computer for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I'm going to try to get around to visit everyone this week - I want to know how you are all doing and what's up in your lives. And I'm sure you're dying to hear what I have to say about whatever you've said. Right?