Thursday, June 07, 2012

Awakened from Slumber


*Knock* *Knock*

This thing on?

Amazing how long one stays away when one forgets certain passwords . . .

There may be life in this old blog yet! We've got some catching up to do.

Give a shout if anyone is actually listening . . .

Randomly yours,
Random Kath :-)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Another Year Older . . .

During the time I was out dealing with planning the memorial service for Mr. Random's mom, I turned 39 years old. One year closer to the big 4-0.

I guess my feeling is encapsulated by the incident below . . .

After the memorial service was over, Mr. Random, his sister, his cousin and I were all cleaning up the hall and gathering everything together to go home. All of the guests had left at this point, and it was just the four of us - all around the same age: late 30's-early 40's. I looked around and thought to myself, "Aren't there any grown-ups around here to help?"

Then came the realization. Wow. We're the grown-ups now.

I guess this is one of the experiences that marks one's true entry into adulthood - when you look around and you find yourself having to be the one to answer the questions and do the hard work. No longer can you look up to "an adult" because . . . well . . . you're it.

It is very scary and very sad and very empowering at the same time. Mr. Random no longer has parents around to help him. And while my parents are still alive (and have been awesome at offering Mr. Random advice and support, and are truly taking him under their wing), they are getting older and one day I'm going to have to go through all of this wrenching, emotional turmoil again.

I am not looking forward to it at all. I hope the day is very far away. Mr. Random said that he is certain that his parents raised him to be prepared for this day - and I think that is what most parents want for their children. But this experience has taught me that my awesome parents have given me the tools to handle it too.

And I am very thankful for that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wearing Black

Yesterday morning, Mr. Random's mother died.

While she had been in the hospital for a week, by all accounts she had been improving, so this was quite a shock to us all . . . and is still quite a shock.

She was a lovely, lovely woman - quite brilliant, very kind, very loving, very proud of her son . . . and she was rather fond of me and was quite encouraging of my returning to school.

Mr. Random's father died rather young about 15 years ago.

Please send good thoughts our way. This is going to be very hard.

It is very hard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fall Day

I am standing in front of my office window, leaning with my head pressed against the glass, looking out of the tops of the swaying trees - far in the distance are more office buildings and construction.
It's a cool, cloudy day and the wind whips up every now and then, blowing the treetops back and forth like blades of grass. I look down, down several floors to the ground, where the lawn is dark and littered with dead leaves and broken acorns.
My eyes look up to the clouds. Big gray clouds with shafts of light shining through, here and there.
I close my eyes. And pretend for a moment that I am not where I am. Now I am outside feeling the strong breezes, walking on the grass with acorns crunching under my shoes. I am not inside the dark, quiet office with the oppressive negative energy.
The day after Labor Day, everyone at the Random Non-profit returned from the holiday - rested, ready to work, having dropped little ones off on their first day of school or having made a committment to have a positive attitude this Fall. We'd gotten used to the furlough and the loss in income, and while not happy, at least a normalness was starting to settle in . . .
By the end of the day, seven people were no longer working here: Told behind closed doors their services were no longer required. Only one day to pack up and leave. Some people had celebrated their eighth anniversary with the organization and were moving towards nine. Some people's spouses were unemployed too. One was the admin person in our department of three. Many tears were shed. People packed and went away.
On the third day, those people were gone. The halls were quieter. Those who were left felt hollow and dead and fragile. Then - so quickly - that morning three more people were let go - some of the supervisors of the other folks, people who had just caught their breath and were beginning to try to figure out what to do next, how to get on with fewer people.
Ten people were let go in total. Plus two others who left shortly after - lucky people! They had found other jobs! - now we are down by twelve. One third of the staff - gone. Same work though. Just get it done, we are told. Figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go. Double up. Be glad you still have a job.
Scary stressful. Heartbreakingly sad. Mission? What's the new goal? Is there any? Why are we here? Head down, keep going. Think positive! New opportunities!
I am too tired to do this anymore. I cannot keep a happy face. I have tried for almost a month. Not happening. My schoolwork suffers. I cannot concentrate. Walking though the door is hurtful. Trying to pick up where other left off - trying to figure out *what* was left off - overwhelming. Difficult. Draining.
I am at the window, looking out into the gray skies. Looking down at the trees and the ground. It's so far down to the ground, to the acorns, to the grass. A black squirrel scampers up the branches in front of me and grabs an acorn off the very top of one of the limbs. He cracks it open, gobbles it down, and then races back down to the ground. Life is out there. Life is not in here. I do well to remember that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just In Hibernation, Not in Hiding

Hi, everyone!
I know that I've been scarce for several months and you all have wondered what the heck's been going on with me.
Short answer: A lot.
Longer answer: So many things have been going on that it has been overwhleming to write about AND process. Good things have happened, but also worrisome things.
Good things: Finished my summer class, saw King Lear with Stacy Keach, saw 6 plays at the DC Fringe Festival, been to Shenandoah National Park, found an awesome new used book store, will be taking two classes starting next week.
Worrisome things: At the Random Nonprofit, we all received 20% salary cuts and are furloughed one day a week. May be facing layoffs in the next month. Did not get enough money in student loans to go full time this year. Money is a huge concern.
So that's what's been going on with me . . . I will try to write more (I have been dying to write a review of this year's Fringe experience!) and maybe even try to freshen up the blog a little.
I do hope you all are doing well and that you are looking forward to the Fall! Until I type again . . .
Waving madly :-)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Smell of Charcoal


Today is Memorial Day. In my family, it was always a weekend of family reunions, of groups of people coming down to Virginia and hanging out at my family's house for three days. The barbecue grills (my dad has two) seemed to be perpetually cooking *something* from Friday night through Monday afternoon. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, hot sausages, spareribs: all of these things went on the grill and came off of the grill, heaped on platters, placed on the dining room table as various family members waited in anticipation with paper plates ready, buns open. Around the platters sat bags of chips, containers of condiments, various bags of buns, piles of paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks. In the kitchen on the stove, pots of baked beans, collard greens, corn-on-the-cob in buttery water, sat simmering on the stove. In the refrigerator, there were large bowls of homemade potato salad, macaroni salad and the usual iceberg-lettuce-with-tomatoes-and cucumbers. For dessert, in the freezer sat boxes of popsicles – both the creamy kind and the colored sugar-water kind – and on the counters sat cupcakes and pies and the occasional sheet cake, usually to commemorate one of my many cousins' graduations from high school or college.


People filled the house. People were everywhere. You could barely find a quiet corner, people were in almost every room – a crowd of six older women in the hot kitchen, huddled around the kitchen table gossiping. A group of six to eight younger women sit and stand in the living room doing the same, but on different topics. A group of uncles in the basement – some watching some sort of sports or movies on TV, four sitting at a card table by the sliding glass doors leading into the yard, playing numerous games of pinochle, occasionally arguing and yelling. My dad would flit in and out of the yard, checking on the contents of the grills and conversing with the folks at the table. My mom would be wandering back and forth, making sure everyone was taken care of, and that no one needed anything else. My sisters would either be hanging out with one of the groups or outside, with still yet another group of young cousins, running around in the front yard. Older relatives would be in our bedrooms taking naps, leaving yet another part of the house off limits to hide from the noise and the hustle and bustle.


I was not fond of the groups and the noise, you see. It was always so overwhelming being around so many family members at once, all asking the same questions of me all the time – about school, about what I was doing – and me hating to answer because most of the time I really had nothing to say. Especially when I was younger, what could one say? Yes, school is fine. I'm doing OK. Until it wasn't, and then I didn't want to talk about it, or my job which was not very interesting and I hated to explain about. I would much rather have been in the corner with a book, using the few totally free holiday days that I had to not have to do something that I didn't want to do. It seemed every day I was doing things I didn't want to do, in places I didn't want to be, with people who didn't seem to understand why I didn't like any of the above. People may have thought that I thought I was too good to speak to anyone, but the real reason is that I didn't have anything to talk about. It was painful for me to talk about me. And talking to everyone else, hearing their tales of midnight bowling in the city, or trips to the mall for shopping, or hanging out at their houses with other cousins and friends . . . I couldn't relate to any of it. I was always broke and hated shopping. By the time I did start taking myself to museums, no one seemed interested and no one wanted to come along.


So the family cookouts became times where my feelings of alienation and misery were amplified. I dreaded them with a passion.


Fast forward 20 years to today. This Memorial Day I spent remembering the fallen soldiers of wars past and present and being thankful that my Army sister is back in the States, safe and sound. So much loss. So many young men and women who aren't here today and should be. That is the most important thing about today and all other problems are secondary.


I am married now and have don't have to go to those cookouts anymore. The long weekend is still a rare time when I can catch my breath and take a moment to not have to do the long lists of things that need always need to be done during the week. But today I also got nostalgic to have a grill of my own to throw some burgers and chicken on, to invite my friends over and have them fill my house with noise and conversation while I fill them with meats and potato salad and baked beans. But at this point in my life I still have no yard, no room for a grill, no room to have mobs of people in the small condo. I always dreamed of having my own people over, on my own terms, and yet it still feels like a dream . . . so close and yet so far away.


It seems so petty to write . . . but it is a part of me and where I am today and I need to be open to it, I guess.


I hope your weekends were happy ones . . .



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Random Rumination on the Concept of Worth


OK, this is one of the more annoying things I have read today. It's a blog post from a supposed marketing guru who has sold tons of books and has loads of devoted followers who hang on his every utterance. I think he's full of soup, as my grandma would say, definitely chunky-style, but whatever. (I'm not big on business-type books because they all pretty much say the same obvious things or tout some business fad that five years later will seem ridiculous.)


Yes, I do understand the idea of sunk costs , but there are also cases where the "rational" decision isn't necessarily the "right" decision for a person. For some decisions, it isn't about the money . . . and, you know, that should be OK.


In his Springsteen tickets example, you've bought the perfect tickets for a pretty decent price. Someone comes up to you and offers you a ton of money for them. Do you sell? Well, that depends on how big a fan you are and if you want to go through all the trouble of trying to find another pair of perfect tickets. Do I want the money over having the experience? If I took the money, what if I wasn't able to find another pair of "perfect tickets" because even with the extra dollars the remaining "good" tickets are going for $1200? Would I really benefit? What if I then miss the concert but have the money and then (heaven forbid!) something happened to Bruce and there were no more concerts? (Which is fairly likely: all of these guys are getting older, the road is hard, and they sometimes don't take the best care of themselves . . .)


And no, the tickets are not now worth $500, in so much as my condo is not worth $300K. Just because people were dumb enough to pay that much for similar ones at one point, doesn't mean that that's what it is really worth. I mean my condo will be worth whatever people what to pay for it *when I decide to sell it*. That's partly the cause of the economic collapse – people basing assumptions on assets gaining ever-increasing value and procuring loans and selling securities on what people *thought* things should be worth and not what they*actually* were. (They also weren't taking into consideration that values can and do go down. So. Freaking. Stupid.)


OK, that's been my economic rant for the day. There do seem to be larger questions that tease themselves out of this scenario, such as "What is something's true worth?" and "Are experiences worth more than money?" and "Is the most efficient thing to do necessarily to right thing to do, depending on the person?" And now we're getting in the realm of philosophy, which I think I need to study a lot more of . . .


Ugh. There's so much that I don't know! It gets frustrating sometimes . . .