When Pop Stars Tell You What To Do

It was a rough day.  I’m guessing most of my problem was just my own reaction to the frustrations of life, but still.  I can’t get out of my skin… or my head… so, it was a rough day.

It started out with a fight with Jane.  One of those fights that I don’t understand what happened.  I just know it’s ridiculous and I don’t know how we got there.  I just know I’m being yelled at because I said something to my husband that she thought was directed at her and she interpreted as about her when it wasn’t at all.  And since we weren’t on the same page, we continued to frustrate each other until we were yelling.

Then my husband yelled over the yelling for me to get in the shower.  Which ticked me off further.  I fumed through my shower.  I fumed through my morning routine.  I was still fuming when he came home from taking the kids to school.  I had turned on some music in an attempt to calm my nerves, but maybe my running playlist isn’t the best for settling a person.

Or maybe I’m just stubborn.

Because as he tried to help me see her side of things, as he confirmed that I hadn’t been wrong but couldn’t I see where she was?  As he tried to remind me that I was the adult and had to find a way to respond differently to her (the same talk I had given him the night before), I noticed that P!nk was trying to help too.  In complete context with my husband telling me to not give up and withdraw, she was belting out, “Try!  Try!  Try!  You gotta try!  Try!  Try!”

I sighed and tried to ignore her.  I expressed my frustration that I could be kind and supportive and loving and perfectly calm for days and then after one fight, I’m someone my daughter “just can’t talk to.”  All that good?  Poof!  Right out the window.  Counts for nothing.

“She isn’t carrying around a scorecard,” he said.  “She’s a two year old.  She’s living in the now.  She doesn’t remember what happened the day before.  She’s here now and that’s where you have to be.”

{Side note: not completely true… anything bad I might have done in the preceding days, weeks, months are brought up regularly.}

Anyway, as he tried to sooth my frazzled nerves, Steven Tyler provided his two cents as he crooned that we should “Come Together… Right now…”.  I began to think that P!nk and Aerosmith were conspiring.  I tried to absorb what they said – and what my husband said – but I was simply too heartbroken and defeated.  I went to work with my head hung low.

Which probably explains why my work day was no better.  I became frustrated with asinine emails coming my way.  I remembered why I never wear the shirt I had chosen and resigned myself to a day of tucking my bra straps back under the edges of the too-wide neckline.  I became frustrated with the new-to-me structure I was trying to work in and my feelings that the veterans grew tired of my questions and lack of understanding.  I felt trapped.

I took a break and as I was in the bathroom washing my hands, Demi Lovato came over the speakers and encouraged me to “Let it go!  Let it go!”  Now, I know that if I were to truly follow the full advice of the song, I suppose I’d be “not holding back anymore” and really letting everyone hear what I’m thinking.  But that wasn’t the message I heard.

And I tried to listen.  Really, I did.  I mean, those are some pretty famous people trying to help me out.  Now if I could only find a way to apply messages from pop stars to my state of mind, I might be able to get somewhere.  But like I said, I’m stubborn.  I don’t know how to let it go.

And then I got so busy working that I lost track of time and missed my yoga class, which was really my one big chance at letting it go.  You know, some days it’s all one can do to keep from running home and curling up in a little ball somewhere quiet and waiting for the world to move on without you.


UPDATE:  {Yes, yes, I get the irony of ‘updating’ a post that hadn’t yet been published.}  My craptastic day continued with my husband ranting to me about a failing program at the school that we are heavily invested in, which got me even more depressed.  More frustrations with my assigned task.  And then I noticed a coworker had mis-dated a log entry.  I went to tell him about it and he asked if I had changed it for him.  When I said I hadn’t, he was like, “Oh, so you just wanted to come rub my nose in it huh?”  When I clarified that no, I was just having a crappy day and wasn’t motivated to make momentous decisions like whether to fix his date in the log book, he asked, “You are having a crappy day?!”  And that’s when I remembered that his (brand new) pants had ripped right down the back, it was our boss’s boss who had brought it to his attention, folks had been giving him grief for a solid hour about it, and he was now walking around with strips of duct tape holding the seat of his pants together.  Suddenly, I felt worlds better.  More crappy stuff followed, but all I had to do after that was think about his pants and the world felt just a bit brighter.  For me, at least.

Good Morning

Did I mention that all three kids were gone last week?  I have a post planned about how I think we will handle the empty nest based on our time last week, but for now I want to talk about my relationship with Hal.

Hal went to visit grandparents while his older siblings were at summer camp.  They left a week ago Sunday; he left Monday.  They returned Saturday; he returned Sunday.  We met my mom halfway to retrieve him.  I saw them exit the restaurant we were meeting at so I hopped out.

He saw me and raced toward me.  I scooped him up and gave (and received) a big hug.  Before I had a chance to ask how he was doing, he had spotted something behind me and was squirming to get down.

That something was his Daddy.

My reunion with my son was done.  There was Daddy, after all.

You might think I’m bitter, but really, I’m not.  He’s a Daddy’s boy and I understand why.  I mean, they spend all day nearly every day home with Daddy over the summer.  Daddy takes them to school.  I go to work.

Hal is remarkably devoted to seeing me off properly when I do leave for work.  Take Monday morning after his return, for instance.  I entered his room and gently rubbed his back to wake him up before I left.  I rubbed and rubbed and then gave him a kiss on the cheek.  He didn’t really stir until I said, “Hal, I’m heading to work now.”

He hurried to an upright position and wrapped my neck in a tight hug.  “I love you, Mommy.  Have a good day at work.”

As I prepared to walk out the front door a few minutes later, he called out, “Wait, Mommy!  I want more hugs and kisses!”

He could have stayed in bed – that’s what the other two would have done.  But instead, he ran down the hall to repeat the farewells.  And then he opened the door as I walked down the sidewalk and repeated all his well wishes, adding that he would lock the door behind me (a request I make frequently when leaving).  He opened the door again to ask me what it is I do at work.

I could almost see the little wheels in his head turning as it dawned on him that he really had no clue what I do at work.  Pausing to consider how to explain to someone so young, I finally said, “I write programs that run on computers.”

“Oh, ok.  Have a good day, Mommy.  I love you!”

We had to do double and triple good night hugs that night because I was leaving for the airport early the next morning.  I would not be going into his room to say goodbye.  This didn’t sit very well with him.

My first day of travel was such that it was well into the evening before I had a chance to call home.  While talking to my husband, I could hear Hal in the background yelling something about Good Morning.  “Why are you saying Good Morning?” my husband asked.

Eventually, Hal got on the phone and he told me Good Morning and suddenly, I understood.  This was his first opportunity to speak to me that day.  And it is very, very important to him that he tells his Mommy Good Morning.  It’s the first thing said to each other every day.  It’s why I never sneak out unless it’s unquestionably too early to wake him.  It’s part of how I know just how much he loves me.

Good Morning, Hal.  Mommy misses you very much.

Away From Home

I rarely have to travel for work. Maybe once every couple of years or so. Well, last week was one of those times. I left Monday morning with three people from my workplace (although not direct coworkers) and returned Friday morning, a day earlier than everyone else.

When I woke up Friday morning, I was surprised by the dominant emotion. It was regret,  not joy. That surprised me. And upset me.

As I dressed and packed,  I examined how I felt and why. Why would I be sad about leaving here and returning to my family?

First and foremost,  I’m a creature of habit and resistant to change. Life had fallen into a very simple routine. But surely that alone couldn’t explain it?  I also don’t like the thought that the group I’ve been “hanging with” is still hanging but I won’t be part of it.  But surely that couldn’t be it?  Surely my family is a better group than these guys?

So what was I doing while here that might make me reluctant to leave? Well,  the work environment was very relaxed and low key. No one was pushing or rushing me. I only had a small assignment with dead time while I waited on other people. I didn’t have to find something else to keep me busy during those times. I could relax,  visit with folks,  whatever. And it was all OK.

The work day was longer that my standard work day but still easier. And then, after work,  I’d go back to the hotel and chill. About an hour later, I’d go out to eat with my travel mates. They were a quirky lot but still fun to hang out with. Everyone had a good sense of humor. Our last dinner had been particularly enjoyable. And then I’d return to my room and read. Or blog. Or talk to my family on the phone. Whatever I wanted.

Home is chaos. Responsibility. Stress. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s,  but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard.

I’m an elder in my church,  currently serving on the governing body. My kids have many activities. There’s a lot to do.  But while away,  those responsibilities were distant. I had an out. But,  as I packed my bags,  I knew I was heading back to a busier,  more stressful life. I was mourning the loss of the quiet,  easy,  selfish *me* time.

I was still pondering my feelings when I was dropped off at the airport. I was early so opted to walk down to the gift shop. I strolled through the racks looking for just the right items for my family. I smiled as I found things they’d like at reasonable prices. I called my husband to ask his opinion on one.

As we talked, he said to me,  in response to a remark from one of the kids,  “Daryl says he loves you. He’s the only one though.”

There was some commotion and other comments.

“Jane says she doesn’t love you.”

Indignant protests in the background.

“Hal loves you and he’s the only one.”

I could hear Daryl’s sharp outcry.

The conversation,  rife with my husband’s trademark misrepresentations of what people were saying made me feel at home. I walked away from the gift shop,  thinking over my purchases. I felt my throat constrict. Tears began to well in my eyes. I’m going home. And there’s no place I’d rather be.

Help Me Rhonda

Some folks recently moved into an area near my work area.  Quite a few of them, actually.  Now there’s a lot more people in the halls, bathrooms, and break rooms.  Some of them are completely new to me, but some I recognize from other projects in times gone by.

I encountered one of the latter on a recent morning and a name jumped front and center. Tim Smith.

Immediately behind the name was a strong sense of doubt.  That is not Tim Smith.

I played it safe and gave a cheery and familiar, “Good morning!  How are you today?”

He said he was good.  We went our separate ways.  I conjured up my mental image of Tim Smith.  Yep.  Not Tim Smith.  I couldn’t remember who this guy actually was.  No matter.

That afternoon, we quickly passed each other as we rounded a corner from opposite directions.

“Hey, Rhonda,” he said. “How are you?”

“Fine.  And you?”

Rhonda?!  Who’s Rhonda?

I stifled my laughter until I was a safe distance away. At least I hadn’t called him Tim.

Checked Out

I usually get off work at 4:30. My schedule is flexible though so this week, I’ve been working until 5:30 so I could get some extra time in to compensate for some planned vacation time. Today being Friday and me having wrapped up all my obligations, however, I decided to leave at my usual time.

About 4:15, I began to prepare for my departure. I sent a document to the printer a little bit later and while I waited for the printout, I looked at my watch to see if it was already half past the hour. It wasn’t. The watch said 4:20 and I was confused. It should be 5:30, I thought. When did my watch stop? I tried pushing the wind-up nob back in but it was already in. And the second hand was still moving. That’s strange. I must have bumped it off for a little while and then bumped it back.

With a shrug, I took off my watch and reset it to read 5:30. I reminded myself that I would need to verify I had the minutes right, grabbed the printout, and returned to my desk.

I gathered up my things and then walked to the equipment room to turn off my equipment before leaving. I remembered that I didn’t know how close to 5:30 it was so I glanced at my watch. Idiot, I thought. You don’t know if the minutes are right. You’ll have to check it somewhere else.

When I got to the equipment room, I glanced at the phone on the wall. 4:23.

What?! I panicked. You mean I don’t get to leave for another hour?! I don’t want to stay another hour! I’m ready to go now! That’s when I remembered that I had been planning to leave at 4:30 all along. Which means my watch had been right and I had reset it to the wrong time.

I corrected it as I returned to my desk to retrieve the printout that was supposed to go home with me but I had left sitting on the desk. My brain had clearly already checked out for the day. It’s amazing I was able to drive home safely.

Renegade 7-Up

While getting ready for school and work this morning:

There’s a muffled crash followed by some things tumbling and another crash somewhere down the hall.

Then a hushed “Hal!”

We begin our journey toward the noises when we hear a strangled and quiet call: “Help?!”

Turns out that a bottle of 7-up fell out of the fridge, knocking the retaining bar off one of the door shelves, which in turn caused all the salad dressings and other items to tumble to the ground.

Daryl apparently attempted to resolve the situation quietly before deciding he needed some help.

One of Those Days

You ever have one of those days? You know… the one where you put your toothpaste on your toothbrush and then rinse it off even though you didn’t brush your teeth? Your brain goes out to lunch and leaves you hanging? Sure you have. Ever had a dozen of those days all at once?

I got in the shower after my morning run one recent morning. Like everyone else, I have a routine. First I shave my legs (if that’s on the agenda), then I wash my body, ending with my face, then I shave my armpits (if needed), then wash my hair.

This particular morning was to see the entire order of operations, but for some reason, after washing the rest of my body, I opted to shave my pits before washing my face. I don’t know why. When I then washed my face, I congratulated myself on a quick and efficient shower and turned off the water.

I stood there dripping while my mind went blank. When it returned, I realized that I had not washed my hair.

Before I go into the shower, I bring my clothes into the bathroom. Then I dress before leaving the room. On this day, however, after donning only my undergarments, I chose to return to the bedroom to make a phone call.

After hanging up the phone, I sat blankly on my bed. What should I do next? Ah, yes, I thought, looking down at myself, I should get dressed. With that thought, I stood and returned to the bathroom, where I put on my pants and picked up my shirt.

Something didn’t feel right. I don’t wear this shirt with a bra on. Why not? I looked at the shirt in my hands and then the pants I was wearing. I was putting my pajamas on! Oh, sheesh! What is going on?!

I finally succeeded in getting dressed in the appropriate clothing. Returning to the bedroom, I put on my makeup and applied deodorant. With a confident nod that I was almost ready to head to work, I walked down the hall to brush my teeth. (Still no sink in our bathroom). I’d almost reached the hall bathroom when I realized that my hair was still wet and unbrushed.

The fun continued at work. When I unlocked my screen, I was reminded that I needed to change my password. Fine. I’ll take care of that now.

I thought up a new one and entered it twice. It told me they didn’t match. Puzzled, I tried again. Same result. I studied the screen closer and realized I had entered it in the “old password” box and the first “new password” box.

With a sigh, I filled out all the boxes correctly. I was then informed that I did not have the authority to change my password. I had to call the help desk and by the time she was ready for me to enter my new password, I had forgotten it.

Needless to say, I bought a Mountain Dew that day. And warned my coworkers I wasn’t in the sharpest mental state. And eagerly awaited the end of the day.