Sunday, January 30, 2011

Swiping the Smudges

I understand not the ebb and flow. When the cloud of depression settles upon me in suffocating gloom and when it shifts, eases and floats slowly away.

I wish it were as simple as pressing a lever near the steering wheel, spritzing the washer fluid and watching the smudges and grime get swept away. But it isn't. I know my vision is obscured - that I see the world as scary and vindictive and desperately sad. I realize - even as I struggle to believe it - that what I perceive is not reality for anyone but me. I feel sick - the anger and unhappiness virulent. Contagious.

"Sometimes," I confessed to a colleague last week, "I yell at people because others yell at me and I need somewhere to put the anger. Because I'm so tired of it being my fault. Because it's so sad to know I'm failing and to have others not recognize their own flaws and failures. So I tell them."

"Katie," he sighed and I hung my head after nodding.

"I know," I whispered. "I'm not well."

I knew it was coming - tried to feebly bat at the cloud as it surrounded me and even sent Adam a helpless email in warning. But it came and settled. I canceled meetings and avoided others, huddling in bed and waiting for time to pass.

Pass it did and I woke this morning feeling better. The neurochemicals normalized or I moved past some feeling of rejection or sadness or some unknown factor shifted and I felt lighter. I cleaned a little. I walked my dog. I napped because I was tired, not because I needed the break from being painfully conscious. I did some work that seemed impossibly difficult only days ago.

Now I can see again. The internal peace allows me to extend kindness, exhibit patience, slowly allow people back into my life. There's sweet relief and gentle determination to regain ground I lost last week.

But I know the cloud waits. It lingers in the periphery, watching for a moment of weakness - after travel, when the cute boy won't call again, when I'm confused and afraid about the future - and will descend again. And I don't know how to gain additional distance from it - whether to change jobs or stop dating or get a roommate or switch medication.

It's that awful point when I don't feel like dwelling on it while I'm well and I can't handle dealing with it when I'm sick. So what the hell do I do?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Descent & Smudges

"Oh, please, no," I begged silently as the plane descended. "Turn around. Go back. I don't want to be here."

And I winced at the knowledge that something is wrong. I have no great affection for flying and a surfeit of love for my home so my reaction ran counter to expectations. I had forced myself to travel, abandoning a list of excuses that are becoming well-worn and packing my bags before dawn on Monday.

Just do the next thing - focus one step ahead and no farther, I advised myself gently. You can do this. And I did. I zipped my bags and dressed. Walked the dog and shouted when she slipped from her leash and ran away to punish me for said packing and dressing. She came home and I departed, driving to the airport with prayers that I'd actually get on the plane. I pulled my boarding pass from my bag and waited in the security line. I removed then replaced my laptop and baggie of tiny liquids as I shuffled through the line as the sky brightened by remained gray.

I bought water and checked email messages on my Blackberry. I boarded, cheered momentarily by my Zone 1 status, and sighed with relief that I was going to my Very Important Meeting. And I handled each moment the same way - just move through the next task, move to the next step and try not to think about it.

I could feel the effort sapping my strength, collapsing into mental exhaustion at the end of each day. I breathed and prayed and tried to focus on the positive. I worked and watched television and embraced distractions. I grinned when I talked to my friend staying with Chienne and decided on what gifts I could bring her as a thank you. There were moments where it didn't hurt - when a glimmer of happiness or hope would emerge and sparkle.

I retraced my steps this morning, catching a cab before 4AM and wincing as the tires slipped on the snowy streets, murmuring my agreement to the driver when he noted it was scary. We boarded on time but waiting our turn to de-ice took ages, allowing me to nearly finish the book I was reading absently. (Book-related question - do you think you'd be capable of having a relationship with two people? Is that ability like sexuality (I like men) or can it evolve over time (I like men with dark hair but used to prefer they also have beards.)?) I sipped the Diet Coke I purchased from the gift shop (because I abhor Dasani water - it tastes funny) and watched with interest as the truck arrived and fluid streamed past the windows, taking with it chunks of snow and ice.

You know when you're driving in the winter and it's wet? And the moisture is laden with dirt and salt such that it speckles the windshield as you drive along? On the way to the airport, I pulled the lever in my Jeep and watched with satisfaction as the fluid sprayed and wipers swept the grime away. Perhaps, I mused, it's like church and my soul. The latter gets smudgey over time and worship helps clean it off.

It gets tiresome - the continuous smudging and cleaning - and I liked being up there above the clouds, in the sunshine. I didn't even mind bouncing through the cloud cover, surrounded by the white mist. But when we emerged and I beheld landscape coated with snow that reflected the pale gray light, I winced and wished I could push the nose of the plane back toward the sky by sheer force of will.

Sadly enough, I cannot control much of the world around me. So I struggle to control my reaction to it, taking a nap to soothe my headache and slogging through tasks that feel irrelevant and lame even if they do comprise part of my job. I tried to think of fun things to do, sent a couple of invitations when inspired, snuggled with my dog and smoothed Sprout's stripey coat.

I'm smudgy. And while I'd rather just rest until it's easier to see outside myself, I'll continue to find cleaning methods and alternate views.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Zone 1

Dear AirTran,


I've always held you in high regard - the way you close the doors a little early and demand people board promptly so schedules stay on track. Being the impatient sort, I enjoy your attention to timely details. You also tend to go directly to where I need to be so we fly together a lot.

I did not, however, know we were buddies! But when I printed my boarding pass on Sunday, I noticed you were letting me board first. I love boarding first! I get to put my bag and coat in the overhead bins and get settled in my seat! Plus, you chose a seat for me on the aisle and left the middle seat open. I am filled with love, affection and gratitude to your airline and all it represents.

Oodles of love,

Dear Colleague,

I know Chienne is not the easiest of pets to handle. She jumps and kisses and is very cuddly while you're trying to sleep. But when I called and you sounded happy? It almost made me weepy. You giggled and chattered and said everything was fine in my house I didn't properly clean before heading east.

I know you've had rough times of late and I also know you've always said to call if I need anything. But given your reaction to this last-minute imposition that had me feeling guilty? I'm thinking of asking if you want to have sleep-overs sometimes. To keep you from being sad during the divorce and to keep me from sinking into this lurking depression. And I feel so lovely knowing that Chienne is happy and has company in the evenings. Thank you.


Dear Hotel Chains,

When I try to check in before noon and you have a room ready? I would give you hugs and kisses except that I need to freshen up after traveling. But given that you let me hang up clothes and wash my face and hands and repair hair and make-up before meetings? I would give you clean and pretty hugs and kisses.

Tell your friends!



Dudes. The lines. The lack of employees. I ended up having to leave and take a cab in order to make my meeting because I'd not moved at all in 30 minutes.

Streamline! Efficiency! Come on!

Talk to AirTran, Marriott or Hilton. They put you to shame.

Impatient sighs and frustrated flipping of hair -

Notes to Self -
  • Don't forget where you parked your car. Remember how stupid I feel when I wander the parking deck?
  • I know I'm struggling with the urge to withdraw. Depression is lurking. But I'm doing so well with making my trips and going to meetings and interacting with people! It's excruciating at times so good for me. Go, fight, win.
  • If I need more motivation for the going, fighting and winning, I have time on Thursday morning to sleep in.
  • Actually, go ahead and block the calendar for that just in case.
  • Getting closure does not necessarily require external input. Create closure for myself if I need it that badly.
  • Is $100 in gift cards too much for 2 nights with the dog? Probably. Do it anyway.
  • Try to sleep. 4AM is early for waking up. And you have dinner plans tomorrow night.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Questions & Suffering

"May I take a picture?" I asked my pastor, having walked to the front of the sanctuary and into the anterior room that contained the piano. A pale purple flower and a few woody stems emerged from the basket of flowers atop the instrument and the sunlight made the cloth petals translucent.

"I noticed it during the sermon," I continued when he cocked his head in confusion. "And I wanted to remember it," I explained, omitting the mention of my blog. He waved his hand in invitation and asked if I wanted to move the basket. I shook my head and snapped the picture, smiling at the horses that milled around the snowy yard outside. My church is quite charming, even in one of my miserable moods.

I had decided I wasn't going when I woke at 4:30AM. I was irritable and sad and felt heavy somehow. And when I'm like that, I sleep or wish I was sleeping. And church would get in the way of the former and be pointless in light of the latter.

Why, I decided when I woke again around 8:30, do I choose to be unhappy and unsettled? So I sighed at myself and made a face and asked Chienne if she wanted to go for a walk. She did, of course, so I bundled up and followed her down the sidewalk and onto the path by the woods. We returned home and I demanded the momentum continue, pulling on dressy clothes with ill-tempered tugs. I deliberately wore black socks with brown shoes and dared anyone to mention it. And I set off to the pretty building surrounded by snow.

I smiled when I opened the bulletin, noting the title of the sermon, 'Is Suffering Necessary?' While God can be subtle, He isn't always. So I settled and breathed and prayed for focus and peace and direction. And while it wasn't completely successful, I did manage to listen and sing and pray. And when I would lose track of worship - trip over regret or rejection or sadness or impatience - I would look at the flower atop the piano. I would ease my thoughts away from how I'm not in love and I hate parts of my job and I worry about family struggles and would instead admire the way the sun streamed through the window panes below the lacy curtains. How the flower looked so fragile but hopeful there in the bright white light.

I agree that suffering is better described by 'unavoidable' than 'necessary.' That when faced with such a thing, it does seem wise to note the lessons learned - be they obedience, character, compassion, understanding. That trials have the potential to make one stronger or better. But I tired of the stories - bad things happen to good people. Do we really need to detail person after person, struggle after struggle? I'm suffering right now! Point taken! Concept clear!

"God knows of your suffering," the pastor interrupted my silent ranting. "He did not cause it and does not want it. He loves you and suffers with you." And I blinked a few times and looked down at the hymnal I'd hugged to my chest, saying a quiet prayer of thanks for that moment - a peaceful rest from the heaviness.

I'm still moody - my sighs this morning at church were much like the ones I huffed in Doug's direction as we watched a movie last night. "I don't know!" I finally said when he asked what building that was and rewound the film three times. "And I don't really care!" He smiled and apologized and I thought about elbowing him in the side but restrained myself. It's not his fault I'm partially evil.

For today, I feel like I chose the goodness in my soul though - consciously directed myself toward light rather than darkness. So when the pastor, after watching me take a photo of a flower, asked if I wanted to join the congregation and be part of their family, I turned to him and nodded.

"I would like that very much," I replied.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Single Sentences

I could not sleep last night. I would toss and turn, turn and toss, and reach for the remote to change the channel.

"Sorry, pretty," I'd apologize to Chienne and she would blink sleepily and cuddle against me again.

I got up at 3:02AM and turned on the shower so I could wash my hair.

Freezing after I dried off and dressed again, I fell into a fitful sleep until just after 5.

I attended a series of meetings off campus, taking notes, listening carefully and offering opinions.

I presented twice, giggled at times and thought carefully about several topics of interest.

I completed the day by threatening to quit, I think.

I also wrote a note to the most important man in my section of Industry this week complaining about a specific topic, knowing it might be career suicide.

I'm unhappy.

I'm not sure why, exactly.

When miserable, I make terrible, self-destructive decisions.

I am therefore all sorts of worried about myself.

I talked to my parents on the drive home and nearly cried.

I arrived at home and picked up the dirty dishes and trash and clutter scattered about.

That made me feel a little better, so I grabbed my vase of flowers and recut their stems.

That made me feel better still.

I opened my devotional to a random page and read about how predictions are fine (Matthew 16:2-3), but it is better to trust in God's plan.

I decided to try and found some sense of peace.

So now I'll try to sleep better tonight.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Dog

I am not good with discipline. I want creatures to like me so I'm generally lenient - even when I try to enforce rules, I often change my mind in an effort to please someone.

Raised with me as her primary person, Chienne isn't so well behaved. She jumps on people and whines incessantly and demands attention she feels is her right as a pretty girl. She is much loved and very spoiled but likely obnoxious, especially to those not overly fond of pampered canines.

Still, she is my girl and I love her bunches so I waited for her to potty before we climbed in the car and made the trek across town to her eye specialist. I coaxed her on the scale (60 pounds) when we arrived and she dragged me to a room, tail wagging and demeanor happily curious.

I like her eye doctor - he's a sweetheart who seems to love dogs as much as I do - but I was nervous. She's been blind in one eye for 2 years now, I think, and I recognize that glaucoma will steal sight from the other one at some point. Going with a 'keep using eye drops' and 'ignorance is bliss' strategy, I've avoided going back to have her pressure checked.

"Ten," the doctor announced of the bad eye and I grinned at him. The seeing eye was between 12 and 14 which he pronounced acceptable but suggested doubling the dose of drops. Chienne gave him kisses on the chin and tolerated the prodding of her eyeballs with cheerful grace.

"Well, thank you," her doctor offered when I leaned to kiss her head and my lips landed on his fingers instead.

"Sorry," I replied with an embarrassed shrug. "You got in my way."

I did not much want to kiss his hand when he noted there were skin growths near her eyes, noting that he'd like to remove one of them and send it for testing. I cocked my head and peered at it myself, making a face and resting my head on Chienne's.

"I don't know," I hedged. "Would she have to go under? How long would it take? Will she hurt afterward?"

And so I have ended up babysitting my bestest of friends for the past two days. She wobbled yesterday because I wanted her home as soon as possible. I finally reclined on the couch and she rested all 60 pounds of her little body on my chest, began to drool on my shoulder and went to sleep.

When she got excited by happenings outside, I closed all the shades and tried to keep her in calm darkness.

I put in drops and kissed her head and opened the sliding door when she refused to use her dog doors.

We rest. I do work distractedly. My head aches so we rest some more. And I'm damnably sad. For she grows older and will someday leave me. As others have or will. And I have dreams where I hide in terror from those who chase me or conversely accelerate toward the ground because nobody was there to catch me when I fell.

But when I wake - at least for now - there is a warm weight resting behind my knees or curled at my side. I find I miss it when I travel - that gentle nudge to remind me she wants the last bites of my dinner. The blinking greeting when I come back to bed in the middle of the night or gentle sigh as she settles against me before we sleep again.

And as conflicted as I am in general - I love my job to pieces but the one component I hate is growing ever larger and hurting me every day; I don't think I want to get married so what the hell am I doing trying to date? - there is something simple and lovely about shooing Mr Sprout away when he tries to bat at Chienne's nose, of smoothing her coat as she closes her eyes again, coaxing her to take a pill when she paws at her eye.

I do think she's doing better. And I hope I soon will be as well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


"Wow," I wrote yesterday, "this is hard."

And it was.

I had driven through the falling snow, lifting the lever that activated 4-wheel drive as I made the lengthy and laborious commute in bad weather. As I drove, my thoughts turned to Will.

Stop, I finally told myself. And when I made it home, I drafted an email I wasn't sure I'd send. But I sighed when I finished it, acknowledged it was true - I do want more than he does and it was hurting to handle the silence. So - literally aching with regret and sadness - I took a breath and pressed send.

I immediately wanted to take it back - to say that I was perfectly fine with whatever he offered whenever he offered it - but perhaps I've grown too old to lie to myself like that again. And though I dearly wish he'd prove me wrong, the likelihood is he won't. And so I made a gently dramatic exit from his life on the last day I was 31, simultaneously wishing we could have worked and that he receive everything wonderful in life.

Then I cleared the snow from my drive and sidewalk. I took a shower and listened to the snow plows scrape the street as I tossed and turned.

Today - my birthday! - was easier. I read Oh, The Places You'll Go to Little One this weekend. When I moved, I tucked my birth certificate in that graduation present, my tiny footprints nestled next to colorful illustrations and rhyming text. I smiled as I recited the words, pausing to answer questions or listen to her comment on silly words or scary pictures.

The snow was cleared from the streets and I walked Chienne around the neighborhood coated in white and sped through my commute. I started taking calls at 7 and was on the fourth one when I put a conference on hold to grin at my phone and eagerly respond to reception.

"I have to finish this meeting," I told the woman. "But I'll be there soon." And I scampered across campus, brains in my head and shoes on my feet, to fetch the gift I'd expected from Doug. I carried my package carefully as my short dress flipped around my thighs and cardigan fluttered behind me. I smiled down at it because daisies are irresistibly happy and made it to my office before examining my bouquet more carefully.

I let the ruffled petals of the carnation tickle my nose when I leaned in to sniff and gazed at the cheerful clash of colors and textures I had perched on my desk on an otherwise dreary day. I straightened the polka dot bow and poured some water from my bottle into the adorable vase. I smiled at the card and had a piece of chocolate that had arrived with the flowers.

"Look how pretty," people would say as they walked by. I would glance up to smile, deeming my gift perfect and offering it an affectionate glance before returning to work. But my attention crept to the yellows and purples, pinks and peaches again and again.

"Would you like the ice cream tempura?" the waiter asked after I'd finished lunch with my colleagues. The six of us sat at a table and talked and laughed between bites of sushi. They'd all given hugs and lovely birthday wishes and had signed a balloon in lieu of a card and attached it to still more flowers.

I ducked my head as the waiter returned with green tea ice cream encased in fried batter and I sang along with my friends before closing my eyes, making a wish and blowing out the tiny pink candle he'd lit.

The happy balloon and pretty flowers lured people to my office and I soaked in the attention like a sponge. I'm so proud of where I've been, I decided, feeling well loved and rather wonderful. And I'm so excited about where I might go.

Dad called to sing to me in the morning, Mom in the afternoon and she asked how the day had been so far.

"Kind of perfect," I replied easily. "I mean, I got here before 7 and will leave after 7 when my last meeting wraps up. But I love my job and there are people who love me and I have all these flowers and chocolate and a balloon!"

So while I may wish some things were different - and still ache a little (more than a little) from last night - overall, I'm ridiculously blessed. And suitably grateful for it.

It's a happy birthday.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I reached across Little One to take the notebook from Mom, feeling like we were in school and passing notes. Grinning at the thought, I skimmed the cursive script and frowned at its contents.

"Oh," I noted mildly and Mom nodded with an expression of resigned distaste. I made my thoughtful face and directed my attention to the girls while I puzzled over the matter at hand.

"You need marijuana," a colleague said when I complained of headaches. (I have one now and am lying on the bathroom floor, listening to the water run in the shower and debating taking a fifth pill.) I opened my mouth to reply but simply nodded instead. I do hear good things and, not having tried it, will claim ignorance rather than argue.

My issue with trying it - even if it did become legal and heavily-taxed - is that I tend to like things too much. We seem to tend toward addiction in my family so I've shied away from alcohol (I'm good for a glass or two of wine or a moderate-strength cocktail but that's about it) and never tried recreational substances or sex. It just seemed safer. Instead, I read a lot of books and got excellent grades and focused my energy on obtaining money, power and admiration. And affection - I do enjoy it when people like me.

Anyway. Brother took a different approach, drinking heavily from grade school onward and being arrested for drugs in high school, not long after he started dating his ex-wife.

I remember being viciously angry at her for that - it was just so trashy, I decided (for I was much more judgmental then). Court dates for drugs. Having children with a teenage girlfriend. Quitting community college.

Having just taken a fifth painkiller, however, and being a bit more mature (almost 32!), I realize it's not trashy so much as human. People make decisions for all sorts of reasons and the more stupid things I do and subsequently can't explain, the more tolerant I am of others and their foibles. I'm personally overly fond of food. I have a history of infatuation for emotionally-unavailable men and for rejecting those who could love me. I own not one but two vibrators. I take sleep-aids at least twice a week (and that's down from 'every single night' as a post-doc) and would take prescription narcotics often if I had access to them. (I love Vicodin - everything goes numb and relaxed and happy...)

"She's not a horrible person," I told Mom after the Ones had gone to sleep and I was sure they weren't listening to us discuss their mother. "And she's always smoked so I guess it's not that unexpected that she'd test positive during random checks at work."

"But she's suspended," Mom replied, scandalized. "And if she doesn't pass next week, she'll be fired!"

I smiled and reached for her hand. If my blog were revealed at work, I may well be suspended. Doug dealt with the snow on my driveway and sidewalks when I was traveling last week - a gesture that made me teary with its sweetness even as I doubt I'm capable of loving him as he deserves. I missed a meeting on Friday because I just didn't feel like going. People do dumb stuff. And, God willing, get the chance to fit in some reasonable choices and modest accomplishments before screwing up again.

"He's 100 pounds overweight," a colleague said of his best friend who just had triple bypass surgery.

"We loaned him money to claim bankruptcy," Dad sighed over Brother and his financial issues that continue to make me cringe a little.

"I just can't divorce him," a friend told me, despite years of emotional abuse from her husband.

"He never helps!" Mom says of Dad while she glares in his direction as he sits on the couch.

"She always yells!" Dad complains when there's a commercial and he realizes everyone is working on something but him.

"And yet you've been married for 42 years," I tell them both.

"I'm sure she's not doing it before this next test," I offered of Brother's ex-wife, thinking it's not easy to realize being blonde and pretty begins many relationships but men will leave for someone even prettier. That having children - even wonderful, smart, adorable girls - is work. That parents who spoil you will eventually lose patience. "It will all be fine - she'll figure herself out." I soothed Mom and reminded her to be gracious and loving.

But then Little One gave back the Oreo she requested this morning, saying it would be terrible if she got fat. And I looked at my darling six-year-old niece and consigned her mother straight to Hell. Then I winced when I remembered I'd forgotten my morning prayers and would probably see her there.

But it's all a process, I suppose. And as that fifth pill is working, I think the pain has eased enough for me to sleep so that I can awaken tomorrow and try again.


In response to recent comments...

Flora & Fauna
ScienceGeeka - My house makes me happy in general, but I do enjoy my plants a great deal. I've had most of them since grad school - some from undergrad - and try hard to remember to water them each weekend.

I am rather good at tending things - I like rhythm and routine and plants (and animals and some people) feel the same. So it works out - I water and feed; They grow and look happily out the windows.

Yappy Dogs
Seeking Solace - Aw. Thank you for offering to whap my commenter on the nose. But I'm fine.

I think of this particular individual as I do the tiny canines who live in the townhouses down the street. With far more energy than ways to expend it usefully, they stand at their windows and bark their little heads off when anyone dares wander by. Anonymous commenter is harmless but if something bothersome is said, I delete it. But - for the most part - ignoring him will leave him to chase his tail.

Falling Down
Amelie & Anthea - The shoes are a lost cause. (But so pretty!) I did try to stumble around my house, arms fully extended to my sides and taking teeny-tiny steps to attempt stability. I just can't do it.

Little One did try on the red dress while playing dress up in my closet. Each visit yields one of these fashion shows and reminds me I do have some nice clothes - those I wear, and those I just admire when I'm by myself.

Birthday Wishes
Alice - Thank you! I too hope my wishes come true. I shall keep you posted. The family weekend has ended and left me time for a selfish Sunday afternoon.

Voice of Reason
Soon-to-be - You could be right about the read-rather-than-write boys. I suppose some concern over whether I'll speak of them is understandable. I suppose I rationalize the situation by thinking that my audience is fairly small and I'm mostly protected by my pseudonym. And only the men in question would know if I was referring to them or if I exaggerated or outright lied.

But... if you were to date me and you read this beforehand, you'd know I was quirky. And if anyone requested I not mention him, I would pout but try to adhere to those wishes. (I like writing about people - people are fun and I like to remember specific interactions.) But mostly I just like email and despise being ignored. I'm getting over it though - it seems like a smaller and smaller deal as time goes by.

Next Steps
Many thanks to your encouragement re: Paris. I have a meeting with the man who currently has the job next week to discuss roles and responsibilities and pros and cons. I've not mentioned it to my parents - they'd worry. But I'm mulling. And eager to do the trip to meet the teams and job shadow a bit. And wander Paris. And think about love and life and happiness and wishes.

But the process, if the past is prologue, will be very slow. But I like the idea - of dreaming of possibilities without the pressure of actually deciding whether or not to go. So...maybe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's My Party

People & Presents
My family has arrived, full of kisses and cuddles (coughs and sniffles), to celebrate my upcoming birthday this weekend.

"Here you go!" Dad offered proudly, handing me the shopping bag with the throw pillows I'd selected after Christmas and told them to give me later. I smiled and Smallest One helped me arrange them on the sectional (pretty!) until deciding to throw all the pillows on the floor and leap off the furniture onto them.

The girls were shockingly well-behaved at dinner and we went shopping afterward, wandering about the big box store to fetch a few groceries and other must-have items. Little One debated cut flowers for me with utter seriousness as Smallest One and I went to look at cupcakes.

"I like green," she told me.

"I know, love," I replied. "It's your favorite color!" She nodded and selected the package frosted in vivid green, leaving her sister - once roses and a mixed bouquet were placed carefully in the cart - to decide between pink and yellow.

"I like these," Dad said, playing with the Sing-a-ma-jigs. I had frowned at them when walking past, thinking them rather freaky. But once they started to sing, puffy lips moving to display teeth and tongue, I was somehow charmed and ended up with two of the creatures.

At the demands of the Smallest One, I perched a tealight candle atop a miniature yellow cupcake and set fire to the wick. As we all sang Happy Birthday, I considered wishes frantically, wishing I'd done some pre-work so I'd know what I wanted. As the remaining notes dwindled, I thought through choices - true love, great sex, financial gain, travel and adventure, world peace? But as we held the last "you..." the flame sputtered and died, leaving me to blink in surprise and then smile.

It is, I decided, hard to get what you want when you can't decide what that is.

"We'll sing again," Mom said firmly when my eyes remained on the extinguished candle. I glanced up and nodded, relighting it before we started the song again. I did make a wish, closing my eyes before pursing my lips to blow out the candle. Then we clapped and I smiled, wondering if my wish (which - per tradition - I shall keep secret) will come true.

Look; Don't Touch?
When I date, I use my blog email. My reasons are twofold - 1) Protection of my last name which is associated with all other accounts, 2) implied permission to read this journal and either admire the wonder or avoid the craziness that is Katie.

I therefore truly don't mind men reading posts. It's certainly not mandatory, but I'm generally flattered when they show enough interest to spend time skimming what I've written. And given people typically send email very close to the times when they visit Minor Revisions, I know who they are on site statistics.

So here is my issue - and I realize I caused it and am responsible for it and should just stop being neurotic already. But if men have decided not to interact with me - are not sending email or making plans (for now or forever), why read what I write? I can understand curiosity but I'd much rather have time used to write to me rather than read me. And if I decided not to see someone again (and I have), I'm not really interested in what's going on with him anymore. I just wish him well and disengage.

So I don't get it and I think about it and blech. Am I hurt and won't admit it? Or just confused and can't stop puzzling through it?

Fun & Games
"It's fun day!" Little One announced when she and her sister joined me downstairs while I was drinking coffee. I finished making my tissue paper flower (we'd started them last night and I didn't complete mine) and went to fetch juice and pink milk and cereal. Then we played Ants in Your Pants, Spongebob edition (I won). Uno (Little One emerged victorious), a Toy Story 3 Alien Claw game (Smallest One had the best record), played in the snow (it was cold), played in the bathtub, played school with Care Bears, drew pictures, sculpted Play-doh, watched television and built my bathroom organizer presents.

I've been surprisingly content through the chaos. And though I do look forward to peace and quiet when they depart tomorrow, the fun and games are rather delightful for now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I returned from a short trip west, spending a migraine-miserable night in a hotel and battling through meetings yesterday and today despite the pain. I felt proud of myself when I departed the city, watching the sunset glow red in my rearview mirror as I sped east toward home.

The journey was challenging, though I've traveled it several times before. I counted six SUVs in various medians, perched on their roofs - wheels pointing upward as a cautionary tale in the snowy weather. I scowled at people driving too slowly, wishing they could hear my lecture on why we wanted to be careful but not cause accidents by disrupting the flow of traffic. I realized my jaw ached from clenching my teeth and hands cramped from gripping the wheel.

"I made it," I told Mom when, at her request, I called upon entering my kitchen from the garage. I greeted my puppy-dog and poured kibble in Sprout's bowl. I kicked my bags out of the way and looked at email.

After fetching 2 packages off the porch, I opened them and grinned. I had ordered a birthday outfit - a flirty red dress and ridiculously high heels. Eager to see, I opened the boxes and cooed over the stilettos.

"You're my first pair," I beamed at the little ruffle atop the peep toes. I slipped them on and turned my feet to admire them. Then I stood and immediately clutched at the wall and began to giggle. The four-plus inches of heel had me too unbalanced to stand, let alone walk. Holding my arms out for balance, I took two mincing steps before leaning against the wall again. "It's worse than ice skating!" I told Chienne who had wisely moved away so as not to be involved if and when I took a tumble. I took the shoes off and set them aside.

Remaining amused, I shimmied out of my gray pants and red sweater and into the wisp of a red dress from the second box. "Oh, goodness," I said to my reflection when I stepped into the bathroom to look. I tugged at the top, thinking there should be far more of it. I knew it was sleeveless and was aware there was a slit at the bust, but I somehow pictured it being less blatant. "Wow," I shook my head and tried to remember if I had a minimizing bra somewhere. Maybe I could wear a fluffy sweater though! With a turtleneck!

I couldn't see the bottom in the mirror above the sink so I put on my high, high heels and balanced myself with a hand on each wall of the powder room. The draping is nice and the color pretty. But the hem skimmed above my knees and while I don't mind (relatively) short skirts, I don't normally pair them with 'look at my breasts!' tops. There was no balance in this dress - no contrast of sexy with sweet. Even my favorite gray cardigan didn't do much to lessen the impact and I'd had to take off the shoes to walk the 10 steps to fetch said sweater.

I smiled before I carefully removed the outfit and slipped into comfortable pajamas. I wished - just for a moment - I were the type to wear it as I glanced at the red fabric across the room. Maybe someday, I decided, realizing it had been well over a year before I wore the silver dress on New Year's Day with Doug and about that long between its purchase and when the short black dress had gone on a first date with Will. "Maybe someday," I told the outfit out loud when I placed it on the steps so I could hang it in the back of my closet before going to bed. "At least you can be friends with the black and silver dresses."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Whom It May (Still) Concern:

"Let me see what you have," I requested as we sat at the bar and waited for lunch. I sipped my soda and nodded as I read what he had written. I thought for a moment, swiveled my stool and faced him. "Why do you want the job?" I asked and sighed when he blinked at me in surprise. "What we need," I mused when he still didn't answer, "is a template." Then I grinned and realized I might be able to create one for my blog. I have, after all, done so before.

The Basic Version
Dear Prospective Employer,

Here's my CV. You should hire me. That'd be great - thanks.



The Detailed Version
Prospective Employer
Prospective Employer's Address (which seems weird since these are emailed, but OK)


Dear You:

My super-famous and important friend/colleague/neighbor, Dr. Famous Awesome, saw your job posting entitled "Job Super-Cool," and I am pleased to submit my materials for your consideration. While I am proud/happy/amazing in my current role, this new opportunity would enable me to rule the world/fight crime/support world peace.

Let me show you I understand the job posting and have super-relevant skills and experience. I'm going to do that using a numbered list containing 3 items because 3 is easy to remember and I am very memorable. 1) People like me. 2) I know stuff. 3) I am able to tell the people who like me about the stuff I know. See how simple I make this? And how much I care about your needs (and hopes and dreams)? This should, I think, convince you that I am so right for the job. Because I am. Honest.

Now let's talk about me specifically. Through my esteemed/glorious/delightful career, I have established a broad skill set very relevant to your needs. (1) Adam likes me. He said so. You can call him - he'll tell you. (2) I've presented polar bear topics at these places, done well in these classes and worked with these people. I have proof. (3) My communication skills are unreal. I mean, look at this letter! Notice how I separated these facts into a numbered list so they'll be easy for you to follow. I'm nice like that.

My qualifications are unique because they focus on some problem or represent some required value. A given audience - hopefully the same one who works with/for you - will so totally become part of Team 'people who like me'. Trust me. It'll be super-awesome. Thank you.


My contact information

"This is great," my colleague said after I'd coached him through drafting a new letter and then made him move so I could revise it on his computer.

"Happy to help," I replied.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


If asked to pick a favorite law, I would quickly and consistently select Hooke's.

Newton's second law is more impressive and equally elegant. I'm equally fond of the concept of inertia* and contrast** but who doesn't love Isaac Newton? I will instead spend my affection on Robert Hooke. For as soon as I turned to his page in the textbook or began an experiment with elasticity, I would smile.

Because I know springs.

I think I've told you at some point that I used to jump on my bed. My grandparents frowned when I was scolded and instead of forbidding the bouncing, went to purchase a mini-trampoline more suited for such activities. Therefore, for as long as I can remember, I have bounced. When I'm happy or sad, stressed or tired, I turn on loud music and jump up and down, weight balanced on a mat surrounded by metallic springs.

It has been a necessary escape from reality, those moments where I pretend I am beautiful and graceful, admired and elegant, sexy and sophisticated. And by the time I press the button to pause my iPod and slip the headphones off, I feel better about being me - cute and clumsy. I have no idea why it works on an emotional level. But from the physical perspective, it's quite simple.

Hooke's Law states that a force, F (in Newtons), is required to move the free end of a deformable object a distance, x (in meters) from equilibrium. The force and distance are proportional, related by a spring constant, k (N/m). So when I bounce, the springs stretch and energy is both created and released, physical for the springs, emotional for me, and there is a certain loveliness inherent in that concept.

Still, friction is as inescapable as it is problematic. And as I bounce, the springs sometimes squeak and stretch or snap - the reality of their construction not matching the ideal theory in textbooks. We therefore threw away multiple trampolines over the years - the large hoop of the frame resting forlornly next to the trash or tossed in a dumpster.

"If you'd replace the broken spring right away," Dad always says, "the other springs wouldn't have to compensate for the missing one and the trampoline would last longer. You're just throwing money away by being lazy."

"Yes," I'd agree and then ignore him. He and Mom had tried for years to stop the bouncing. But I would not be deterred - it is not, after all, drugs or alcohol or something illegal or immoral. It's odd, sure, and I'm suitably embarrassed, but if it helps erase anger or ease stress, it seems fairly harmless.

Not completely harmless though as my left ankle has been prone to injury of late. (I turned it again last week.) I realized - after hopping downstairs to do laundry - that my bouncy habit was partially to blame. Some springs had elongated past being useful. Others lay in pieces on the carpeted floor. I wrinkled my nose, bothered both because I couldn't jump now (my ankle is better but still hurts) and repairing the weak spots could be hard.

It took all of five minutes, making a mockery of my procrastination, and I rolled my eyes while slipping the broken pieces from their loops and snapping the new ones in place with the help of a screwdriver (acting as a lever - more Physics!) and beaming at the perfect springs circling the bouncy mat. I placed the broken springs in my shirt, holding the hem of my oversized top up to make a pouch from the fabric, and made my way carefully upstairs.

"They're kind of pretty," I told Chienne as she sat to scratch her ear as I slowly moved up the stairs. "Damaged, of course, but far more interesting and unique than the new ones." She sighed at me, pouting as she'd not been on her walks of late and I shrugged and told her that maybe we'd go tomorrow.

Summary Points
  1. Tasks are easier, and tend to be smaller, if I don't procrastinate.
  2. Repetitive stress may damage people and objects, but it also can make them rather fascinating.
  3. Robert Hooke, like me, knew springs.
  4. My ankle hurts; I don't feel well; I'm very bored.

*"Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed."
**"Law III: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions."

Thursday, January 06, 2011


"Yes," I said immediately to Adam's question. He nodded and opened his mouth but I interrupted before he could. "No!" I contradicted myself loudly. "Wait! Yes. No. Crap - I don't know. Maybe?"

He nodded again and smiled. "So you'll think about it," he decided. "I think you'd be great - it's a very good role for you and I do want to keep you on the team - but it would mean spending considerable time in Paris."

I've been looking at my photos from Paris, taken nearly a year ago when I spent the first weeks of my 32nd year flitting about western Europe. Despite my mad crush on London, shivering memories of Stockholm and admiration for Barcelona, Paris was the most compelling place I've been. Drenched in beauty, undeniably dramatic - I am enchanted with the very idea of having a flat there. Wandering the streets, eating the food, watching the people.

I want the job - Adam is correct in his assessment that I'd be quite good at it for it plays to all my strengths and removes exposure to a couple of my known weaknesses. I'd expand my visibility and learn important skills.

"It's very appealing," I concluded my conversation with my boss.

  • Chienne and Sprout couldn't go.
  • I love where I live - proximity to family, this pretty house, my easy commute and treasured routine.
  • I don't speak French.
  • I'm not very fancy - I doubt I'd fit in well in Paris.
  • There are a lot of unknowns - it'd be crazy-stressful to make the transition to living abroad.
  • I'm not sure I could even find guacamole there. Doesn't seem very French.
But, wait - Yes
"I'm open to various arrangements," Adam replied to my question of how it would be structured. "Let's say you go there for six months and get to know the teams very well. Get exposed to the role and learn what you need to know. Then you'd come back here - same house, same office, same team - and visit Europe frequently."

I could buy art. And shoes! Drink fabulous wine. Explore the countryside. Take photos and have adventures.

Hang said art and wear said shoes, casually offering replies to compliments that, "Oh, these? I picked them up when I lived in Paris." The very thought makes me want to twirl in delight.

I think also of the access to the rest of Europe. Weekends in Italy or Spain or Greece. Taking trains and soaking in culture. Developing a more global view of work and life and love.

I'm young - well, relatively. I'm talented but grow self-destructive when I feel bored or trapped. I crave beauty and power and risk even as I shy from all of them. And think of the quality blog posts! Of all that I'd learn and experience and think about!

Hold on, though - No
  • What if something happened to my parents?
  • What if something happened to me? I grew ill with depression while separated from all that is familiar and comforting? I'm not great with change - it takes time for me to adjust and wriggle into comfort again and that transition can send me into spirals of despair.
  • Something Bad Could Happen! I know not what, but it could be Bad.
  • I need stability and routine and comfort. Craving beauty and power and risk is one thing, but it must be balanced against the vital environmental traits.
  • I would be scared.
"When would this happen?" I asked and Adam shrugged.

"July?" he guessed and my stomach flipped with excitement and clenched with apprehension. I patted my tummy sympathetically as I felt myself grow a little sick.

"I don't know," I finally said. "I'll obviously consider it."

I find it very appealing. But I'm not sure how realistic it would be to actually do it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


"You look like a Disney character," a colleague said as we met in the lobby and walked down the hall. We went a few more steps while I looked down at my outfit.

"Wicked witch or evil stepmother?" I finally asked and grinned proudly at my own humorous nature.

"Snow White," she replied after rolling her eyes. "With your dark hair and pale skin and the red top and flowy sweater."

"Oh," I sighed, reaching to cuddle her with grateful affection as we continued to walk.


"I know," Adam said as we held my end of year review. "But I guess you'll eventually be less emotionally involved. Focus on family and kids and, um, a dog."

"Wait," I replied, leaning forward across the table. "I ask you for advice on how to conduct my professional life - be effective while remaining sane - and you give me 'enjoy your dog'?!" And we laughed.

"I'll give you this," he said after a moment. "You are exceptionally talented - smart and passionate and focused and willing to lie, steal and cheat to get your way." I ducked my head in thanks and he replied I was just like him. "But you have this innate goodness that's offended when people are wrong. Or they disagree with you."

"Disagreeing with me is wrong," I protested quietly and he winked at me.

"I love working for you," I offered before winking back.

"You need to do something important outside of here," he advised. "As someone who likes you personally as much if not more than I value you professionally, I'm saying you need to find joy in your family or faith or something and let all these work problems be more peripheral."

"I don't know if I can," I told him.

"I know," he replied.


"Katie?" Sibling called from across the cafeteria.

"Sibling?" I called in return.

"Did you pick a date in March for your thing? she asked.

"No," I replied.

"Do you think it will be near the beginning or near the end of March?"

"I know not," I shrugged. "I haven't asked. Maybe the middle of March! Why?"

"Because I didn't want you to pick the middle of March," she sighed and I giggled before asking her why she didn't just start with that statement.


"I feel like you're herding me," I told Doug. "Like I'm a sheep," I paused to decide I'd make an excellent sheep, "and you're a border collie and you keep nudging and nudging until I give up and go where you want."

He nodded thoughtfully and tightened his arm around my shoulder, demonstrating some of the behavior to which I was referring as he tried to pull me closer.

"Eventually I will bite you," I warned then decided I might not make such an excellent sheep after all. "I have control issues," I offered, slightly apologetic.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Up & Down (& Up)

I returned to my house precisely 12 hours after I departed from it. I blinked at the clock and wondered if that was a good or bad sign. I smiled and kissed Chienne's nose as she offered ecstatic greetings and decided not everything was a sign. Sometimes things just...are.

I woke up too early but, fearful of sleeping too late if I drifted off again, I came downstairs and drank coffee and watched the news. I winced because I was dreading going back to work, leaving my haven of quiet safety by my cozy fire for an unforgiving office.

The pretty ribbon on my sleepy pants fell in the toilet when I was using the bathroom, leaving me mute with horror and carrying the pants - pinched between two fingers and held as far away as possible - down to put in the laundry. I decided that if a load of laundry by themselves was insufficient, I'd throw them away.

I climbed both flights of steps to stand in my closet and stare at my clothes. I pulled on gray pants and one of my many black tops and wrinkled my nose over looking like a cloud of doom. I shrugged into a sweater - the shade hovering between peach and pink - and beamed at my new ring when the color matched said sweater perfectly. It made me happy all day, the silly flower made of beads perched atop my left hand.

I drove to the airport, undaunted by the morning traffic, and looked forward to seeing Sibling again.

I had Work It (Missy Elliott) stuck in my head for the trip. Which was really not the best.

"Hi!" I greeted Sibling after taking two conference calls from the cell phone waiting area. "Welcome back!" And Missy Elliott was silent at last while I heard about vacation and shrugged over boys.

"Are you OK?" she asked and I nodded. "You're not often quiet," she offered gently and I laughed.

"I'm fine. Honestly," I assured her. "I'm just a little sad. A bit confused. And somehow slightly frightened. But I'll bounce back. Promise." She nodded and patted my arm and I smiled over at her. "I'm thinking of looking for a new job," I offered, though the idea was mere moments old.

"If you go, I'm coming with you," she replied and with that comment, I settled. I was happier and more certain and peaceful.

My first difficult meeting went better than expected - I didn't even have to talk very much.

I had an interesting - if passionate - conversation with Adam about the pool party. It's so completely crappy. And I'm right at the center of it.

"This is so bad," I told Will of another professional situation last night. "Bad, bad, bad," I noted, repetitive when nervous or worried. I happened to be both in that moment. And after two meetings and three phone calls to discuss it, I realized it's as awful as I expected. Completely predictable and equally unavoidable.

But in the midst of dealing with problems that have no happy solutions, colleagues would stop in to chat. I would ask how they were and care about the answer. We would talk and laugh and exchange holiday stories. I teased someone about his new beard and then laughed until my stomach hurt.

"Lunch?" I asked Sibling when I was hungry and tired at noon. So we escaped to Panera for soups and sandwiches while we talked some more. I nodded when she asked if I wanted part of her cookie and went back to the office feeling better than when I'd left.

"Oops," I chuckled when I leaned back to talk to one of our most important leaders in the hallway. "Thought we were done kissing after the first one," I murmured, turning my head to brush my opposite cheek with his. "Oh, one more!" I giggled when he kissed my first cheek again and leaned forward to nuzzle him affectionately as he joined my laughter.

"No worries," I assured a colleague when she sat in one of my chairs and looked near tears. "My fault," I assured her though we both knew it wasn't true. "I'll take care of it," I told her, patting her shoulder and sending her on her way. And then I did, having a difficult conversation, but feeling rather responsible about the whole thing.

I decided I was on a roll when someone else came to ask my advice. Magnanimous, I wandered to her desk and reviewed a document over her shoulder, asking smart questions and offering insightful advice.

Growing bored as daylight began to disappear, I checked personal email (for the first time ever at work) and read a dramatic and fascinating message from my bestest grad school friend. When she asked if I wanted to take a trip - Vegas, perhaps? - I immediately tapped out an eager acceptance.

Sibling took me to dinner, a cute place downtown where we could share small plates. When I couldn't decide between braised mushrooms and patatas bravas, I got both. And over caprese and beef medallions, I admired photos of her vacation and said I had no plans after dinner.

Shrugging out of my pink sweater in my closet upstairs, Chienne pracing at my heels, I put on clean pajamas and tightened my ponytail. Settling happily in my favorite spot on the loveseat, I sighed with relief that spending time out of my house has gotten me out of my head. And, feeling rather blessed, I'm using my evening prayer to offer thanks for colleagues I respect and enjoy. A job I find important and interesting. And an early night before a very early meeting tomorrow morning.

It's good to be back.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Compensation or Contagious?

"What's that mean?" Little One asked as we sat at my parents' table and played Magic Fabric.

"Try to center the foam in the middle of the kitty, love," I advised, nudging the creature-in-the-making and nodding encouragingly when she glanced up at me. "Compensation is..." I paused, trying to think of how to explain. "Well, when I help you make this cat, you do most of the work because you want to and you're old enough to do a good job." She nodded in response and her tongue stuck out the corner of her mouth in concentration when she placed the top of the body atop the foam. "But when it's Smallest's turn, I have to work harder and do more because she's not as interested or skilled as you are."

"Oh," she nodded, asking me to unstick an eye sticker from the sheet.

"So my behavior is somewhat defined by the characteristics of which of you is making a Magic Fabric creature. I don't think you have to use this bow - do you want it?"

She did and as she decided where to place it, I glanced at Mom and returned to my original point. "So my observation is that it's a relationship feedback loop."

"Give me an example," she requested, reaching to scoop up Smallest One so she could watch Little One finish the cat, ensuring it was her turn next to make a dog.

"Well, what if Doug is so attentive and sweet and wonderful because I sometimes have a headache or don't want to drive in the snow or consider canceling plans? And Will is a bit of a bunny because he knows I like him enough to let him jerk me around? They react to what I do and I do the same and we hit this odd cycle of behavior where one person does more work. Compensation."

"I want to make the bunny!" Smallest One cried, plucking the sheet from those scattered across the table and hugging it to her chest while Little One protested fervently and said it was her bunny.

"See?" I noted as Mom shook her head. "Bunny is irresistible."

"Momentarily," Mom agreed, for she is rather wise. But that moment? It's so very good. I'm breathless when he walks in the door, which is absolutely delightful (and perhaps a tiny bit annoying).

"How does it feel?" Will asked when I told him he caused this immediate, strong reaction without any effort at all.

"Aroused," I decided after a moment and that's pretty much it. Sensitive skin, dilated pupils, trembling excitement. "And you're so 'take it or leave it' about the whole thing! Like you'd be equally happy if I told you to leave as soon as you walked in as if you ended the evening naked and between my legs." And he reacted either with vague amusement or a thoughtful hum - I don't remember.

But - I don't know - something felt different this evening. We talked and I loved it - he asks insightful questions and has a way of putting thoughts together I find both fascinating and funny. We went upstairs and he's completely sexy and I whimpered when lacing my fingers through his and sighed at the scrape of his stubble on my neck. But when he left this time, I was slightly surprised at my lack of wistfulness.

'Go ahead,' I told myself while I stood at the door and watched him scrape a layer of snow from his car. 'Pine over him. Wonder when you'll see him next. If he likes you a little. If he'll send email or respond if I send him 3 in the next 2 days.' But I didn't pine or wonder or start composing messages in my head. I just watched with a surprised sense of curiosity. (And admired his efficiency and arms. A little.)

After I waved goodnight and closed my door, I ran upstairs to put on pajamas and cheerfully jogged back down.

"I caught his attitude!" I told Chienne and she blinked at me with exhaustion having cried over being ignored for a couple hours. "I'd be happy to see him again, of course, but I'm honestly fine with hearing from him again in a month. Or never." I paused, trying to decide if that was true. "Let's say a month for now," I informed my dog. "And we'll see how I feel about 'never' later."

A similar concept holds for Doug. I would miss him terribly if he went away. He has plans for my birthday that have me feeling rather special and eager. His interest is contagious though doubts remain as to our future past the next month or so.

I'm not sure if this represents progress or regression. Screw it, I just decided - my relationship theories seem completely contradictory anyway.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Keeping It Simple

"Resolutions," I mused after Doug asked over dinner. I don't like to set myself up for failure and there are moments where I think I'm a pretty wonderful version of myself, but there are some simple resolutions for 2011.

  1. Begin and end each day in prayer. [I keep a Christmas gift from Mom in a basket by my loveseat and have The Upper Room bookmarked.]
  2. Keep my toenails painted. [I rarely wear socks at home and it pleases me to have pretty toes.]
  3. Pause to listen after asking someone how he/she is. [If I've no time or don't care, don't ask. I tend to use it as an automatic greeting and want to stop that.]
That's it.

I have a firm belief that small changes can make a difference. Whether it's a focus on God and a hope that I will be more peaceful and loving or red toenails that remind me that I can be pretty and worthy of attention, both professional and personal, I need something easy to remember and easier to accomplish.

So if I toss a "Hi! How are you?" over my shoulder when walking past you, feel free to throw something at me. Because it's nice to ask, but far more important to care. (That's going to be the hardest one - as I think about it, that's always what I say.)


"Go," I ordered. Imperative sentence.

"I can't," Mom replied. "I like Destin because we always go there and I know what to expect. But it's not warm enough for your dad and our normal condos are under renovation and it's too hard to decide on a new place. And you're traveling and we watch Smallest One and we'll just stay home. Maybe next year."

"Mother," I said sternly, "you and Dad want to go to Florida. You can afford it. You're both retired and have time. You're both healthy, which almost never happens! I'll figure out my dog and Brother can figure out his child. And even if it's not utter perfection, it's Florida! It's warmer than home even if it isn't the perfect temperature! It's the ocean rather than the neighbor's tree, even if the balcony isn't the ideal size! You'll watch the water and Dad will watch TV and you'll sleep and eat fish and collect shells. Go."

When she continued to waver, I found a suitable condo with lots of windows and patios and balconies perched right on the beach. I threatened to book it myself if she didn't do it. And nodded with satisfaction when she called to report that they'd go the last week in January, now filled with happy anticipation.


"Silver shoes!" I told Chienne in the middle of the night, having discarded the idea of black heels with black tights. I have red but the heels are too much and the flats not enough. I was playing with the idea of purple when I fell asleep but awakened with the memory of silvery flats and smiled at their perfection before going back to sleep.

"Did you see my shoes?" I asked Doug as we sat on his sofa last night, nodding across the living room where the flats rested by his front door.

"I did," he confirmed and I grinned before reminding him of how ridiculously good my hair looked. I spent the evening with a 'look how pretty I am!' glow with my new lip gloss (that happened to match my blood orange champagne cocktail) and revealing silvery dress. His eyes strayed to the deep V of my neckline gratifyingly often as we enjoyed excellent service at an early seating.

Of course, I'm still Katie. So I confided that I almost fell down when we arrived, my perfect silver shoes slipping on the gleaming wood floor. And I ended the meal by peering down my front, trying to find the bit of shared cheesecake that had slipped from my fork.

One of the best moments - apart from tilting my head for a goodnight kiss and talking to a man of whom I'm growing excessively fond - was my quick stop at CVS before dinner. I glanced at the short line of three women and realized I have always been the one in jeans and ponytail. Picking up chocolate and telling myself I didn't want to go out anyway - I liked being at home and was comfortable with my lack of companionship.

Last night, I glanced down at my silver shoes and brushed a perfect curl back in place. I moved forward and placed my hairspray and lip gloss, nail polish and Advil on the counter and realized I felt a general happy anticipation as well.

So Happy New Year! May you notice small moments of profound progress in 2011.