Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What a month!

I can't ever remember a month like this one.  Since my dear friend Chuck died on January 25, life has taken all kinds of twists and turns. Losing Chuck was awful, but there have been a lot of beautiful moments in this past month, too.  And a lot of crazy ones.

Lori and Donna and Gina and I had an incredible week celebrating our 50 years of friendship. The girls have better pictures than I do, so I'll wait until I can lift them off Facebook. We went down to Palm Springs on Sunday and returned last night in time for me to win the coveted Monday Night Mayhem Championship at Scoundrel's Pub.

Tres flattering, n'est pas?  I don't know where they got that photo, and the distortion doesn't help, but all I can think is the line from the old joke, "She has more Chins than a Hong Kong phonebook."

The girls left today--back to Albany for them! I swear, I have been go-go-go since January 26 when I hopped a plane to Albany to be with my friends and family after Chuckie died.  I've had more work than I can handle and more play than should be legal. And now I can relax a bit, and yes, I will be getting back to my usual posting schedule.

Aaaaaaahhhhh....  Thank you for hanging in with me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I haven't forgotten about you...

I just truly cannot remember being more busy in my life.  I've been working like crazy, Mom and Stepdaddy came to town on Monday, I had that comedy contest on Tuesday night (NOT in the money!) and my sister Lori and our sister BFFs Donna and Gina arrived on Wednesday. 

Donna, Lori, Gina, and me -- Friends for 50 years!

 Here we are this morning, taking a little walk through the 'hood.  Tonight we're checking out my comedy coach's show at Big Al's Comedy Club in the Orleans and then we're heading to my favorite dive bar, Dino's Lounge, for some karaoke.  No, I won't be singing... Now, that would be funny. 

Tomorrow we're heading out somewhere... maybe to Palm Springs? Prescott?  LA?  Wherever the road takes us! 

Things will calm down next week.  I think.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fantastic weekend and special day today!

Guess who Mike and I saw this past weekend?

Oh, hell, yeah!  We took a little trip down to Phoenix and took in Louie's 7:00 show on Saturday night at the Celebrity Theater.  He was fantastic--a top-notch professional. They were taping his next HBO special that night, and I marveled at how he was able to deliver his material, negotiate a microphone with a cord, and address the audience in a theater-in-the-round setting.  He didn't miss a beat. What an inspiration.

The weather was gorgeous! During the day on Saturday we just lounged at the pool. It was the first I'd been able to relax in a week, and it was wonderful!  Yesterday we did some hiking in the Cave Creek recreation area north of Phoenix, up near where we stayed.  What a cool place--I love those saguaro cacti.

Look at the size of these things!

This one must have been thinking of Rosie O'Donnell.

What a great time; our Valentine's weekend of love.  Speaking of, I love this passage in the card Mike got for me.

Hahaha! I'm a lucky gal.  And speaking of love, today is a special day for two reasons. First, today is my son's birthday--my Christopher is 35 today.  How can I have a kid who's 35??? That's the only time I ever feel old, when I think of how old my kids are.

Me and my "little" boy, all 6'4" of him!

You know you're old when your kid has gray in his beard, right?

Every mother thinks the world revolves around her son, and I'm no different. Christopher is just the nicest, sweetest person and he always has been.  I love my boy!  Today is also special because it's Mom and Stepdaddy's seventh anniversary.  Don't they look beautiful? 

February 18, 2006 at the Tropicana

I have another full week ahead of me with family and friends visiting and a good amount of work on my plate (thankfully, not as much as last week).  Also, I'm one of seven finalists in the Put Up or Shut Up comedy contest, so I have that on Tuesday night at 9:00 at Scoundrel's Pub on Decatur. Life is good.  Yep.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm insane

And there's no end in sight.  I've been making up for lost time and have worked 67 hours since I got back from Albany last Thursday.  Exhausted!

Hey, the Kindle version of my book is free on Amazon today--if you haven't read it yet, go grab it now!

Will put up a proper post as soon as I can.

Monday, February 11, 2013

And life goes on...

I can't begin to tell you how swamped I am. I'll spare you the boring details; let's just say I got behind in my work a bit while I was in Albany. But you know what? It was way more important to spend quality time with my friends and family; Chuck's death left us all desperate to cling to each other. We needed to be together and we'll always remember that time of sadness and joy. The deadlines I missed won't even matter as soon as next week. Hell, they don't even matter right now.

Anyway, I have a blog post in my head, but don't have the time right now to do it justice, so I thought I'd post this (true) story I wrote a couple of years ago.  It's one of my favorites. And life goes on...

"Unhappy Friday"

Sharee greeted me with her full-of-the-devil smile as she loaded the coffee urn with a package of high test. "Good morning, Lindalicious!" she sang.

The "licious" part of my name is apparently a reference to a hip-hop song, so the twentysomething kids here tell me. As one of the oldest drones in this IT company—just marking the big 5-0—I'm flattered to have been given a nickname with such a young and flirty connotation. Better than "Crotchety Old Bat."

"Good morning, Ree-Ree," I answered. "Happy Friday! You going to the pub later?"

Sharee ran her fingers through her fuchsia-streaked hair, and then shimmied her sturdy build, momentarily turning the corporate kitchen into a late-night dance club. "Yay-yah!" she boomed.

Kristin, Sharee's best friend, works in the cubicle across from mine and my first order of business that day was to confirm Kri's happy hour attendance. "Oooh, yeah," she nodded.

Good. With the important stuff out of the way, I sat down to review the user interface guide I'd been working on for the past few days. With my usual zeal, I click… click… clicked through the application, making sure I captured the step-by-step processes and wondering, for the millionth time, if God would be so cruel to put someone on this earth with the explicit purpose of writing software documentation.

This job is better than the last one, I have to admit. No more schlepping 24.8 miles every morning to the northwest side of town—what a pain in the ass that was. The traffic conditions were rarely favorable; usually I'd sit trapped in an automotive cluster, bitching about being late for work because some idiot had to smash his car into a jersey wall, the 20-point rise in my diastolic blood pressure more of a concern than the possibility that someone might have been seriously injured. No, this job is much better. It's a lot closer to home and the guy I report to has no discernable mental problems, though I'd still rather be lying poolside counting the minutes until Guiding Light.

Click… click… click…

As always, I was thankful that day for the occasional distraction of Sharee's voice resonating throughout the cube farm. Whether she's gabbing about her plans for the weekend, the latest diet she's trying, or stories about her identical twin who works on the first floor, it's inevitably more interesting than the task before me. I get a kick out of my young friend and admire how she talks openly about her partner, Kimberly, just as others speak of their spouses. And why shouldn't she?

Click… click… click…

Lucky for me, my 2:00 functional spec meeting wasn't nearly as boring as it could have been due to a piece of lunch that got caught in a back molar, which gave me something to play with. I appreciated the distraction, and when my tongue finally dislodged what I determined to be a piece of chicken, I enjoyed a minor sense of accomplishment followed immediately by, so now what?

Afterward I headed back to my cell block, ready to announce that a mere hour and a half separated us from Guinness time. But as I neared my desk, I saw Sharee in Kristin's cube, her body heaving with silent sobs, too overcome with emotion to emit a sound. Kri held her in a tight embrace, a futile effort to console the inconsolable.

What the hell?

I approached them, maintaining a respectful distance so as not to interfere. As I expected, Kri gave me a nod that communicated, "I'll tell you later," and so I retreated.

I hope she didn't get fired, I thought, though it wouldn't have surprised me. Loud, colorful personalities who occasionally address customers as "you guys" generally don't go over well in the corporate world. Hmm… I knew Sharee had a wild night out earlier in the week and she called in sick the next day. Maybe that did her in.

Poor thing. It's only a stupid job, sweetie, I tried to psychically communicate to her. You'll find another one, a better one. I'll help you write your resume. You'll be fine.

Goddamn it, why did they have to get rid of her? My psychic communication shifted to corner office. Sharee's young—can't you give her a break? She's only a few steps down her career path, and she tries hard. Christ, I could think of five other people I'd ax before her.

We all mess around, I reasoned. The kids are always on MySpace and I never miss a day without checking the online obituaries of my home-town newspaper because—God forbid—what if someone from high school died and I didn't know about it?

Oh, no… What if someone died?

With that thought, I sharply reversed my initial position and hoped Sharee did, in fact, get fired, though somehow I knew at that moment it wasn't so.

I discretely tried to assess the situation in the cubicle ten feet away and through a fringe of vision, I could see Kristin leading our coworker toward the exit. A few minutes later she returned alone, her face drained. My eyes pounced on her for information. Tell me I'm wrong, they said.

"Sharee's dad died."

"Had he been sick?" I asked, as if the pain would somehow be diminished had she seen it coming.

Kri shook her head. "No. He was killed in a motorcycle accident. On his way home from work. She's going to try to get a flight to Portland tonight."

We stood enveloped in a fog of sympathy, with nothing more to say. Kristin returned to her cubicle and shuffled papers, as did I.

My heart ached for our precious Ree-Ree as I thought of what she'd face in the days ahead—the trip home, the funeral arrangements, the exhaustion from the flood of tears—and I remembered when I got word of my own father's death. I was working on the road; my sister tracked me down at my hotel to deliver the news. "You're kidding!" I cried, as if her sense of humor suddenly took a sadistic twist.

A day can take the most unexpected turn; sometimes you go to bed to a picture that has no semblance of what you woke up to.

One of the software developers from the other side of the building breezed by on his way to the weekend. "Going to the pub, ladies?" he asked. After checking each other's reaction, Kristen and I nodded in unison.

At four o'clock we logged off and headed across the street.

Life goes on.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Heading back to Vegas today!

After 12 nights in Albany, I'm flying back to Las Vegas today.  My sister and her husband have been so great to put me up again--between this trip and Christmas, I've been in Albany 25 days of the last six weeks. Albany in winter... I wouldn't want to do this every year, but it has been wonderful being able to spend so much time with family and friends. Just wish it wasn't for such a sad reason.

I'm prepared for a hellish flight back. I leave Albany at 11:45, fly to Baltimore for just a quick stop to load passengers, and then we fly to SAN DIEGO. By my calculations, that's over 8 straight hours on the plane, which wouldn't be so bad if I were flying to Ireland and the free Guinness was flowing. I know there are much more worthy causes, but I am praying it's not a packed flight and no one sits next to me. And that the flight attendant takes a liking to me and slips me some free Bailey's.  In San Diego, I have all of 25 minutes for me and my luggage to make my connection to Las Vegas, where I'm supposed to arrive at 6:15. My handsome husband will certainly be a sight for sore eyes!

Anyway, I need to get back into some kind of routine. I've been eating and drinking like I'm gonna be executed at midnight and haven't done an iota exercise since January 24. I'm swamped with and behind on my work, seriously need to check my bank account balance, and comedy? It's the furthest thing from my mind, which is not good because Tuesday night I'm in round 2 of a local comedy contest. Somehow it will all come together.

Hey, speaking of comedy, this is one of the funniest goddamn things I've seen in ages.  My grandson, Connor, turned me on to these guys. Connor LOVES comedy and loves to travel, so I'm thinking he'll make a great road comic when he gets older. He's always had a great sense of humor. Wonder where he gets that from--everyone in my family is a comedian.

How freakin' funny is that?

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Laughing and crying... it's the same release"

I don't think I've ever experienced such sadness and joy in one day.

Chuck's funeral was last Friday morning. The most moving part, and I think I speak for everyone, was the eulogy by our friend Tim. It was perfect--funny and poignant.  I can't believe he was able to maintain the composure to deliver it; he didn't choke up until the very last word.  I thought of Elton John singing "Candle in the Wind" at Princess Di's funeral--how did he do it? Tim really hit it out of the park. He gave us all a wonderful gift.

Tim relayed a story about Chuck that I think you'll get a kick out of. Unless he was at work or had a special occasion, our boy Chuckie spent his entire life wearing Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers.  Years ago, he got wind of a rumor that they were about to discontinue his favorite line of white high-tops, so Chuck got proactive. He had his wife, Carmela, get online (Chuck wasn't much for the Internet) and order something like 28 pairs, based on his calculated life expectancy.  The Converse people called the house.  "Did you really mean to order 28 pairs, all size 10?" they asked. Yup.  Chuck would be set for life. 

I think Carmela said there were nine pairs left. Chuck was buried in a new pair, and the pallbearers all got a pair to wear as they carried their brother, uncle, and friend. At 6'4", Tim had to rush order his size 12's online. I guess Converse didn't discontinue them after all, they probably thought twice after Chuck's massive order.

The final good-bye at the grave site is always the toughest, and three generations of my family--my ex and I, our kids, and our grandson sobbed together for our beloved Chuckie. After the service, Chuck's parents' house was filled with food, family and friends. As things were winding up there, we decided we'd head over to the Washington Tavern.  On the way, two carloads of us stopped at Chuck and Carmela's house so Carmela and their daughter, Jess, could change into something more comfortable.  The eight of us filed in and before we knew it, a spontaneous party had erupted. We never got out of there.

The vibe was more relaxed than the after-service gathering and the beer continued to flow.  People would laugh and cry, often at the same time, but mostly the house was filled with laughter. Some of us were in the kitchen; I mostly sat on the living room couch and took in the scene. Chuck's Homer Simpson doll wearing his New York Giants hat...  flowers replacing the oxygen tanks that had been lined up against the wall... Chuck's guitar, which had been idle for months, propped back in the corner...  That was all it took to make me tear up. But when I closed my eyes, all I heard was sounds of joy.

We broke into Chuck's album collection--yes, with an actual, operational turntable!--and blasted a good dose of Little Feat, Jackson Browne's Late for the Sky and For Everyman, and Warren Zevon's self-titled album and Excitable Boy.  Jess and Courtney have known each other their whole lives, and it touched my heart to see our daughters laughing and dancing and acting crazy.  During a slow song, Courtney took a break and sank in on the couch next to me.  "This may sound weird, Mom," she said, "but this is the greatest night of my life!"

I could see why she'd say that; she was surrounded by people who'd known and loved her since birth and she loved them as well. Forget any generation gap--we're all dear friends.  It was a magical evening.  By having such a blast, we were doing exactly what Chuck would have wanted.

Oh, Chuckie.

And the flowers... they were all over. Jess told us that the night before, she twirled around the living room, in the middle of flowers everywhere. "I felt like a princess," she said. "My dad still made me feel like a princess." 

He made us all feel like royalty, honey.