Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Year in Review

There is an odd disconnect.  

I attended a conference recently (ish) and found myself embracing colleagues I'd not seen in over a year.  

"Hello," I'd say, sometimes still holding tight.  

"I'm fine," I'd answer when asked and would elaborate that I was quite good at my new job and, yes, it could be viewed as a stumble back when most expected me to pounce forward.

"My parents got cancer," I'd explain, trying to remember the Katie who existed before March, 2012.  "And we lost my dad."  Sometimes I'd cry.  Others I could blink back tears.  Mourning, I think, not only Daddy and for Mom - who just hasn't been happy since - but me.  That brightness that I seem to recall but may be getting wrong.

When I think back over 2013, I recognize that I was aware of days passing.  I sign a lot of documents so I'm aware of the progression of days.  But considering events?  Moments of joy or surprise or laughter or that sharpness of longing?  I look up and to the left expectantly, hoping my brain is embarrassed at my prompting gaze and comes up with something I could write down.

I turned 34...  Oh!  They decorated my desk at work - my second of three spots since taking this job - with balloons and streamers and magnets.  I got flowers.  It was actually really lovely.  (Good job, brain!)

I'm pretty sure I was in Europe.  I say that because my desktop photo on this AirBook I rarely open is of Zurich.  So I think that was when I did a Switzerland, France, Germany swing.  I threw up all over a hotel room outside Paris - I remember that more than I wish I did.  

I recall the train from Zurich to Paris though - of staring out the window as the countryside rushed by and thinking that it was still amazing to be in Europe.  Exciting.  Beautiful.  

As I spoke to new colleagues in the airport, I realized I didn't want my old job anymore.  And I was walked through Munich in the snow with my new boss, searching for beer and sausages and pretzels, I watched the snowflakes fall on old fountains and swirl around ornate steeples and smiled, even as I rushed to catch up with him.  

Mom turned 64.  I think we started seriously considering having her move in with me around then.  Otherwise, I probably played on my iPad.

Worked?  More playing on iPad?

Might have gone on a short business trip?

Please see April.  

We were launching a new process that I was to manage.  So I was working a lot.  (Still found time to play on iPad.)

Alaskan Cruise!  With the otters and elderly people and gospel singers!  I actually had a really lovely time - marveled at nature, learned songs about Jesus, hung out with my mom.

Mom and the Ones (my nieces) were here for the day Dad died.  We stayed busy.  Took a tour of a nearby city on a boat and bus.  Did projects.  Took long walks.  It was actually far less terrible than I expected.

Then the girls went back to school and Mom moved in.  Sort of.  She still goes back and forth fairly regularly but rarely stays at my parents' house.  She'll mostly be here or with Aunt and Uncle.  But it's going reasonably well.  Mostly.

"My son had on a stained shirt this morning for school," NewBoss sighed while we were waiting for everyone to join a conference call.

"My son had to have Nike socks so I spent a fortune on Nike socks and then he wouldn't wear the Nike socks today!" A colleague exclaimed.  

After we'd laughed for a minute, I offered that my mom had asked if I was really going to wear this top with this skirt as I'd walked out the door.  "So maybe you parents should calm down about us kids," I decided.  

I visited Friend!  It was long-overdue and probably too short but we talked and ate and shopped and visited the waterfall-that-wasn't.  (I think those 2 sentences cover the extent of my socialization in 2013.)

Massive documentation exercise in owning this new program.  So Many Forms.  

Audit on September's work.  

Audits are tough - I've now had three.  With a good auditor, I understand the benefit.  She may have ideas on how to better manage certain sub-processes.  Can identify common errors and make some off-the-record suggestions on how to correct those.  May mix encouraging statements in with the demeaning "this is how you failed at your job" listing of offenses.  

With a bad auditor?  It's soul-sucking - makes me want to stab someone with a pencil, make sarcastic comments and list my qualifications because I get so miserably defensive.  

Depression.  Visited new doctor to get more medication.  With Dad's birthday and my parents' anniversary looming near the end of the month, I was down-down-down.  Luckily, my new job is way flexible and I can work on projects when I can't sleep at night or fuss with documentation even when I'm blank and sad.  So while I was down, I wasn't self-destructive.  And that was a comfort.  

Mom and I have settled in at a new church - by far the most liberal religious institution I've ever experienced - but it's nice.  I think I like it.  

Mom had the main floor of my house painted as a Christmas gift - it's Navajo white with some accents of Ivoire.  We left the ceilings white so the contrast - while very gentle - makes me happy.  

We had a nice, low-key Christmas.  We did go back to Illinois for a day to spend time with my Aunt's family - we'd skipped it last year so the kids look so old to me.  (They're in 3rd grade.)  I cuddled with the puppies (!!!) and kept asking them when they'd become dogs.  

The Ones returned to the frozen north with us and convinced me to give them their gifts.  (I had purchased Saige and Emily from American Girl.  Even though they creep me out a little bit - they really are lovely dolls.)  

[Side Note:  Little One is beautiful.  Quiet and smart and bookish like her Aunt Katie.  (Also selfish and overly sensitive.  Like her Aunt Katie...)  She loves to read and plays with dolls and went hunting (WTF?!) this year with her mom's boyfriend.  But that's OK - nobody needs to be exactly like Aunt Katie (obviously) - so I'm proud of her for exploring.  I just wish there were less dead animals in said exploration.

[Smallest One is a character.  Precocious and charming and quick and ever-so-funny.  She's learning karate and made Mom cry when - after breaking a board with a backward kick - she presented the pieces to her grandmother as a sign of respect and love.  She still drinks pink milk and watches my SpongeBob DVDs when she comes to visit.]

Brother followed the next day, having managed one more shift before heading north.  He's largely the same - doing well at work and I'm proud of his stability and talent.  He's funny and loving yet still has the quick temper that we try to work around.  

They all resent me a bit for taking Mom away, which I understand and accept without comment.  The truth is that she needs someone around regularly and Brother and the Ones aren't able to offer that.  Their Years-in-Review would be too full already and occasional visits are no longer enough.  Mom is without part of herself.  And I'm obviously in a position to offer support and attention and my regular presence and I'm honored to do that.  

But perhaps that's a story for another time.

January 1, 2014
After moving all the furniture for painting, we reorganized.  I moved a chaise into my office and relocated my oft-ignored Mac to the room with my books.  

Today, I moved some large pillows to said chaise to make it more inviting.  Then I sat and began to type.  Perhaps I want to remember more.  Or try to find that person I was before.  Be a better person - more centered and thoughtful and loving.  

So without grand promises or resolutions, I hope I find that here.  And that - for any of you left - you have a happy and blessed New Year.