Friday, March 30, 2007

Short Term Memory

I used to be able to remember everything. My friends would say I even had a photographic memory. Useless, odd bits of trivia would get lodged in my brain and remain there until needed, to be produced when discussing weighty matters (weighty to a teenager/young adult anyway).

Now? I ask D the same question several times. He accuses me of not paying attention. Some of that might be partly true, but I think some of that has to do with the fact that my mind is racing to try to figure out the best way to accomplish the other sixty odd things that need to get done before (insert date/activity/time here).

I think I’m finally starting to understand some things. Guys are simple (maybe not exactly Forrest Gump simple) but they are tasked to do something and they do it and then move on to the next thing. Simple. They’re not thinking as they do that one thing, ok, I need to pack the karate clothes and swim suit and towel and some extra clothes, we’ll drop him off at the Y, go to breakfast, go to karate, go back to the Y then go to the grocery store, do I need a list?, is there time to get home between the grocery store and birthday party?, don’t forget the present for the party, do we have time to stop for card, would it be easier to make a card, call dad, ask about where Easter will be and what time….

Then you put that on top of the sleep deprivation that took place about five years earlier, which you are still trying to make up for, you can understand why the memory’s not what it used to be.

And yet, driving to the train station a couple mornings ago, listening to the satellite radio tuned to the 80’s station, I still remembered every single word to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I think I'm in love

As you know, my car went to the great junkyard in the sky recently. Since we really only need one car right now, there's no great pressure to replace it immediately (although I really do hate having to stop at the gas station every other day, it is cheaper than another car payment!). I've been putting off doing research on new cars, because the one pictured up there is one I really really want.

Even though VW quality may have gone downhill in recent years.

Even though it's completely impractical. (Both D and C said "get a convertible!")

And so I went to the VW website and "built" one. Sigh. Sure, it starts out at a semi-reasonable price (ok, the most I would have ever paid for a car, to date) but then when you add all the options in - because really, I'm liking the satellite radio. Then you can add a DVD player for the backseat. And, the sport package. And so on and so on until you get to your summary page and you're looking at almost a year's tuition at a private college.

Sigh. It's nice to dream though.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Fungibility of Money

I was going to post about how working in insurance makes me more aware of hazards (ie. I always check where the exits are located, I pass the 18 wheeler trucks on the highway a bit more carefully, don't get me started on permission slips) but I was even bored by that.

This weekend was another very busy weekend, per usual. Saturday we went to a birthday party at the bowling alley here in town. That wasn't so unusual. What I found interesting was in talking to a mom, one topic that came up was her way of budgeting her money. She separates her money into different enveleopes (one for gas, one for Dunkin' Donuts, etc.). I've heard of people doing this (I think my MIL does this also - is it an Italian thing?) but I've never understood the reason. The mom also didn't have a debit card. Maybe that's it? I can just debit everything I need? But why wouldn't you have a debit card? It's coming right out of your bank account, so your money stays in and earns interest until you need it. Granted, it may only be a penny of interest, but "a penny saved is a penny earned", right?

And the topic then moved to dads watching their kids - this same mom got to go to the mall - ALL BY HERSELF - on Saturday morning. Her husband called her twice! to ask questions. And not like "Our son is bleeding what should I do" type emergency questions; questions like "what is there to eat?". I guess I'm lucky - the few times I get to go do something by myself (and it's not all D's fault I don't do more on my own, it's my own darn guilt complex) D hasn't called me to ask questions. Even the very first time, when she was only about 6 weeks old, I went to the mall for Christmas shopping by myself, he didn't call.

And what were the kids doing while we had all these deep discussions? They were supposed to be bowling....however C rolled the ball (painfully slowly - even managed to get it stuck between the bumper and the lane!) once or twice and gave up and went to try to play pool. Silly girl! Doesn't she realize she needs at least a beer (or two or three) before she'll be any good at shooting pool (or thinking she's good at shooting pool)?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Amazing Grace

My mom absolutely hated the hymn “Amazing Grace”. For whatever reason, she just hated hearing it in church, and especially if more than one verse was sung. She said it was “Protestant” – whatever that meant in her mind. So we used to jokingly threaten we’d have it played at her funeral. She would tell us if we did that, she would come back and haunt us the rest of our lives.

A little background first – my dad comes from a Protestant family. They’re Congregational (you know, the pretty white churches usually on the town greens in most New England towns). When he and my mom got married, he converted for her (to become Catholic). I don’t think that went over well with his family (not that I ever noticed anything, just from my parents saying something when we were older).

And, the few times I’ve been in the Congregational church that most of that side of the family attends, it’s not hugely different than the Catholic mass. Sure, there’s none of the aerobics that goes on at Mass (stand, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, sit…) and they take Communion once a month (versus every Sunday if you’re a Catholic in good standing – unlike myself who is convinced that I will go up in flames since I haven’t been to confession since 1990). So, different, but not much.

When she died three years ago (March 25), my dad had to choose the readings and songs for her funeral mass (because it was so unexpected nothing (and I mean nothing) had been planned. I’m trying to get my dad to start thinking about what he would want, but that’s a whole different post). My mom’s boss had a daughter who was an opera singer and offered to sing at the mass, so the songs that my dad choose were beautiful (I shouldn’t make it sound like he made all the decisions – my brothers and I did get some input).

I lobbied hard for Amazing Grace. Why? Because it was such an emotional time I honestly wanted to see if she’d really carry through on her threat to come back and haunt us. Because to this day I am still having a hard time with how unexpected it was, and how much it hurt. And because part of me wants to have some proof there is a heaven, and God. You would think after 16 years of Catholic school (grammar, high and college) I’d be confident in that there is heaven and God, and everything else in the Baltimore Catechism. I’m not. I wish I could be. I envy my dad – he sincerely believes that my mom is in heaven and he’ll be with her someday.

I ended up getting the Ave Maria instead. At communion, I think. My memories of that whole week are pretty hazy.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Even scarier

And I totally forgot to mention in my last post, the principal got up and said that there were only 57 school days left in the school year! (56 now, since school's already out today)....C will be done with kindergarten in less than 3 months! Then she'll be in FIRST GRADE!

Probably not helping these panic-y feelings about time flying by is the fact that for the last two nights I've barely seen her before her bedtime. Tuesday night I had to go drop off the keys to the car with the mechanic we sold it to, and last night was the Home/School meeting. When I got home last night, she and D were finishing up the "cake" game (Clue JR). Tonight should be a little better - hopefully I'll arrive home close to the normal time and we can spend some time together before bed.

Time just seems to be gathering speed do I make it slow down?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

High School Never Ends

The video isn't safe for work - just warning you.

Tonight was the second Home School Association meeting of the school year. Someone owes me an hour and a half of my life back. I don't know if I could stand up there and explain things any better than the people who were trying to, but c'mon.

The treasurer was going over the financials and one parent felt the need to stand up and say things like "the Catholic High school does it this way instead of the way you're trying to do this" and "other Catholic grammar school with a larger, more wealthy parish makes X times what we do on this other thing". And why are some things counted toward the fundraising goal for the parents and others not counted (by things done by the development office)...

ARGH!! I felt like standing up and saying LOOK. This is the total amount the archdiocese says we have to raise. Either divide by the number of families attending the school or find some other way to raise it if you're that unhappy with the current structure.

And their attitude about the school needs some work too (I'm talking about the officers). "We can't really push because the parents have a choice as to where they send their kids"...Umm yeah, and they chose this school. There's only one other Catholic grammar school in the area. The elementary schools in the area are either acceptable or not and maybe that's a selling point. Let's not start on the public high school in the town....


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean

      This is a "just for me" post - to see if this really will show some info about the new Pirates movie coming in May....


      Saturday, March 17, 2007

      Happy St. Patrick's Day

      Can you believe, on Wednesday it was 70 degrees here??

      After clearing the driveway, we called the Y to see if swimming lessons were cancelled (they weren't). Now we're making lamb stew in honor of the holiday, watching the parade from NYC, and making a special cake for dessert (green food coloring in the cake mix!)...

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      Friday, March 16, 2007

      Thought this was cool (can you tell I'm not at work?)

      One of my favorite St Patrick's Day songs

      It's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, and one of my fondest memories of the day involves friends, a pub and some sing along songs. We even had a whole routine that went along with the words (we're teaching C, of course. She shouldn't have to wait until college to learn this stuff! And as songs go, this one is "safe" to teach her.)


      A long time ago, when the Earth was green
      There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen
      They'd run around free while the Earth was being born
      And the loveliest of all was the unicorn

      There was green alligators and long-necked geese
      Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
      Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
      The loveliest of all was the unicorn

      The Lord seen some sinning and it gave Him pain
      And He says, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain"
      He says, "Hey Noah, I'll tell you what to do
      Build me a floating zoo,
      and take some of those...

      Green alligators and long-necked geese
      Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
      Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
      Don't you forget My unicorns

      Old Noah was there to answer the call
      He finished up making the ark just as the rain started to fall
      He marched the animals two by two
      And he called out as they came through
      Hey Lord,

      I've got green alligators and long-necked geese
      Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
      Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn
      I just can't find no unicorns"

      And Noah looked out through the driving rain
      Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games
      Kicking and splashing while the rain was falling
      Oh, them silly unicorns

      There was green alligators and long-necked geese
      Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
      Noah cried, "Close the door because the rain is falling
      And we just can't wait for no unicorns"

      The ark started moving, it drifted with the tide
      The unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried
      And the waters came down and sort of floated them away
      That's why you never see unicorns to this very day

      You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese
      Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
      Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
      You're never gonna see no unicorns


      Thursday, March 15, 2007

      Beware the ides of March, or, RIP Hans....

      As if this week weren't stressful enough, this morning, as I'm racing to the train station, the car loses power. Of course I'm in the left lane. It was only by some divine intervention there wasn't a massive accident (that, and the fact that there's not a lot of traffic at the hour I'm out).

      Coasting to the side of the road, trying desparately to make it down the exit ramp, my thoughts are already racing. "Great, as if there wasn't enough reason for my big boss to hate me, now I'm going to miss his monthly meeting." Try as I might, the car would not start. Put the flashers on, start making calls. Call my boss, leave him a message (not like he'd actually be in his office at 7!), call D, tell him the situation, call a tow truck.

      Waiting for the tow truck, a state cop pulls up behind me. Actually, she was very nice - just wanted to be sure I was ok, and she said she could call and tell them to hurry the tow truck up. But the tow truck pulled up about 5 minutes after she did (after I had already spent the better part of an hour sitting by myself!)....Hook the car up, hop in the tow truck and off we go!

      Flash forward to lunch time. In addition to my not being at work, our laptops were switched yesterday and for some reason I can't even access my email from home. Blackberry still works luckily, so I can accomplish a couple things. My phone rings, and it's the mechanic. If they ask if you're sitting down, that's not usually a good sign.

      The timing belt broke and blah blah cylinder heads, blah blah blah....$3800 estimate, and that's just an estimate (they make sure to emphasize that). I was hoping for something around $1,000 - just something so I could justify the expense since I really only need the car to last one more year.

      Alas, with 195,600 miles on it, it appears the car is totalled. Kelly Blue Book estimates the value at 3,000 (for a fair condition vehicle)...since mine doesn't run, obviously it's worth less. was a good car.

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      Monday, March 12, 2007

      Insert Witty Title Here

      It’s review time at work and while I’ve known what my raise and bonus would be for a few days, I haven’t seen the actual review itself until this morning. Full of buzz words. Actually, full is a stretch. For some reason, I get remarks when my reports are brief, but this review is more like a short list! “Pro-active”….I need to be more “pro-active”…and some of it might be warranted (because let’s face it, who wants to stir up "trouble"? Or perhaps the better buzz word there might be “issues”) but, I don’t see where I do anything differently than any of the other guys I work with.

      So I screw up my courage (because I don’t like confrontation unless I’m sure I’m 100% correct) and go to talk to my boss. Can that man tap-dance or what? He should teach classes on how to say something with out actually saying something. He’s ‘in my corner’, and ‘so is dotted line boss type’ and my personal favorite: ‘vent – that’s what I’m here for’. As far as I can tell, the bottom line is something like “You stay on top of things and you are the star!” Ummm ok, so basically I need to be working at an above average level to be promoted to where everyone else is (as far as I can tell) average?

      Sigh. And here’s where it gets all wound up inside. Once upon a time, I really did want to be an executive vice president. There was enough room at the top of the organization chart of the company I was with at the time to even see how it could happen. Then, I had C, and well, my priorities shifted. I had to decide – EVP or her? How could I not choose her? And I thought I was doing ok with my decision (less travel, a less demanding job in the same field with more pay) but every so often something like this happens and I get all COMPETITIVE.

      And yes, I could say “screw you company, if you don’t appreciate me I’ll find someone who does”. Except, that would mean moving somewhere else. And I don’t want to uproot again if we absolutely don’t have to. And other than this, because even the miniscule salary increase and bonus are still enough for us to maintain our lavish lifestyle (that last part’s a bit sarcastic, k?) the company is actually very good about time off for doing things at C’s school, etc. I can’t complain about that. So while the grass may be greener, being fat dumb and lazy is wonderful for my 401(k)…

      Then (because really, did you expect it to be an either/or situation? This is me – must overanalyze everything. To death.), I start thinking, someday C’s going to be in the business world and hopefully things will be different, as long as I keep making some noise about things…..

      Some days I wish I could just be a pirate. Drink rum and sail the Caribbean. It’s got to be better than insurance.

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      Friday, March 09, 2007

      Just asking...

      Why is it, when I'm having a particularly tough day at work, and take 5 minutes to shoe shop at, the only shoes that call my name cost the most?


      Wednesday, March 07, 2007

      Play Ball

      It's been cold here the last couple days...and we're forecast for a few more days before we turn the corner and hit the 40-50 degree mark...but tonight, for an hour and a half, it was summer. The local PBS station showed a documentary about the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. We've tried to go to at least one of those games during the regular season (easier before the tickets got wicked hard to buy, and before we had C).

      I don't know what it is about baseball. Maybe it's sitting outside, in the sun, with a hot dog and a beer. Maybe it's that sometimes, you can actually see the Little Leaguer in the professional ballplayer. Or maybe it's the show that the fans put on in the stands. Sometimes that's even better than the game itself (especially in the Bronx).

      My brother is a huge Red Sox fan. My dad gave up after having his heart broken by the Sox time and again. D is a Yankee fan. Has been his whole life. Me? I just like the sitting outside with a beer, watching people.

      But, the 2004 Series still makes me cry.

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      Saturday, March 03, 2007

      When did this happen?

      D and I are watching the Travel Channel with their "Beach Blast Weekend" this weekend....and one hour is devoted to Florida's Best Beaches. Number 8 was Panama City Beach, which is apparently a huge spring break destination (population goes from 5,000 or so to 500,000).

      The big place to stay is a Holiday Inn right on the beach. D says "how many kids have gotten hurt falling off those balconies?"

      Next is a club where all the spring breakers go to party when they're not at the beach. Shown is this huge pool filled with spring breakers drinking. I remark "You might as well swim in the toilet"....

      When did we get this old?