Monday, August 29, 2011

Good morning America, how are you?

WOW....I knew another girl named Irene and she was mean too. So glad to hear many of our friends in the NE are ok but hope you have your mops out. And I can't imagine my home being destroyed so my heart goes out to those most negatively impacted.

I am flying to Philly today. Or I am going to the airport with all intentions and hopes to fly to Philly today. My new job is going well and guess what? I wanted something new? Exciting? Busy? Check. Check. And check. I will be traveling for approximately the next 2.5 weeks. MiniMac is going to be very sad. JMac is likely kicking his heels that he will have peace, quiet and the remote to hog entirely to himself (let's not kid. I don't even get to touch the remote. From now until SuperBowl when there is so much pre-season football analysis on? All I can say is thankfully, I don't watch much television. And double thank you that MasterChef and Next Foodnetwork Star have already wrapped.

Enjoy your week. I will be back before the week is over but comments are off today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band...

Oh, I've sang a song or two into the hairbrush. Who hasn't? I remember the lip syncing starting circa 4th grade. I had Madonna down pat and remember my first talent show as I whipped those arms, bedecked with bracelets from elbow to wrist. My little choreographed moves were soooo fluid as I mouthed every word to Holiday. It only got better from there. I would sing, and dance, and prance around to all the current hits. My girlfriends and I making up our own dance moves good enough to be on Solid Gold. My shining moment then was knowing all the words to SuperSonic as MeReeZee and I performed it in our Senior Class homecoming assembly. The stage? Oh, I embrace it.

And that type of moment never ended. I have friends who can truly perform. My skills rose exponentially when I sang along with them. My lone voice, with all of its potential pitchy mistakes, was consumed by their tenor, soprano, and harmony. Thank goodness.

Even in grad school we were not immune to this source of entertainment. We would literally put on our favorite songs and stand around in a circle and sing. For hours. (Obviously, keeping our throats moistened with wine or beer!) But this was something we loved to do. ShaNa, MarciaGarcia, and I would crank up our faves, old and new, thoroughly entertaining ourselves (and clearly no one else) on numerous nights when we should have been reading about Constitutional Law or Advocacy. And I loved it. And the countless renditions of "Pour Some Sugar on Me"... that tune might as well have been our anthem.

And then karaoke began to bloom and grow even bigger. Now, I would be a much bigger aficionado of karaoke if I could really bring it home. While I had participated in the monster group sing-a-long karaoke style to Funky Cold Medina at a bar in New Orleans, karaoke just never smacked of the "authenticity" I wanted. And in New Orleans, I don't think anyone cares how you sound. Karaoke is drunk man's Gong Show most of the time, but once in awhile, you get a show stopper. And because of that, I can not truly compete.

I am not the musician, that is all my brother, Tumbleweed.

And he has even appeased me by playing guitar while I warbled out a few tunes. I envisioned myself a real chanteuse. The first time I actually had the guts to do karaoke alone, I poured my little heart into Janis Joplin's version of Me and Bobby McGee And people were nice to me with their loud cheers and restraint from throwing bottles. Alcohol has been making people over-appreciate things for years. And it gave me courage.

At my summer birthday bash a few years ago, I hired musicians to play. My old friend and incredible musician, J., was the rockstar du jour. He, who used to let me sing 'Jane Says' with him every single time he was playing a gig and I showed up, gave me a little birthday treat. He played backup and I did my first actual gig and once again broke out M&BM. It was real instruments! Real guitar! It was uberKaraoke. And I felt like a superstar. Did you know vodka makes you sing better?

I had a main Gay in college and he was snide about, well, most things, but singing in particular. He heard me sing Me and Bobby McGee in LA one night and he, in clear and utter amazement, said it actually sounded good. Did you know vodka makes your ears work better? And I for a moment thought, I can really do this. Ahhh...daydream believer. Maybe I could also wake up tomorrow and compete in the Iditarod. Let me not posit for one nanosecond I actually think this is a new career path, but oh, it is fun to ponder. I sang Me & Bobby McGee in a ultra-dirty club in NYC one weekend. The acoustics AND music and it was SO bad, that even my own ears threatened to close up shop. I thought there were some feral cats in the alley procreating. Awful.

And then JohnnyMac got me the iPod Karaoke system for the holidays a few years ago.  BLESS YOU! I can sing the hell out of a song when I have the actual artist who recorded it singing with me. Love it! So I got to dust off my jitters and stretch those vocals full on.

Our friend BigLeaguer is the lead singer in a great band in Atlanta. These are men with other full time careers but who have that rock star interest and rock star edge. One night we went to see them play and Lee invited me up to sing Pour Some Sugar on Me. Are you _____kidding me?

I hope I approached the stage with decorum when I really wanted to elbow people out of the way like the building was on fire in my haste to get up there. And it was purely magical. In my knee high boots and my Dolce and Gabbana tank top, I thought, this is how U2 must feel! Lee had no idea. And albeit ephemeral, it was glorious and I. Loved. It.

So now, even though those Superstar moments might be relegated to my living room where last night my son and I were listening to Coldplay and he turned to me and said, "No singing Mommy". Oh, Mommy is always going to sing. Better get used to it, pumpkin.

But with MiniMac's actual mic and mic stand in our house, we have already done some gigs together. And to my girlfriend who asked if I secretly bought the mic and stand for him but really so I could use it too? Really? The answer is: Of course!

Sing your heart out today. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cue the Boys II Men song...

As I frolicked around my kitchen last night in my brand new and uber-fabulous monogrammed apron, making the world’s best Mexican Chocolate Cake to bring into my office this morning, JohnnyMac came in with my favorite toddler. After a hug and kiss hello, he asked me how my day was.

And I got weepy.

Which isn’t a common occurrence. Especially when I am in the kitchen. And frolicking. And making baked goods.

But yesterday was my going away party at my office. And the beforementioned uber-fabulous monogrammed apron was a going away gift. Along with these smashing beauties: 

Seriously. Custom-made high heel shoe cookies? Por moi? I LOVE it. (Obviously, they knew this would be my reaction..)

And there was a long pause in our kitchen before he asked, “Are you ok?”

Me: I thought I was fine but it is hard to say goodbye.

Him (after another pause): Isn’t that a Boys II Men song?

Me: HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. (And back to frolicking.)

The truth is, it is hard to say goodbye. I started this job almost four years ago. When I started, I knew very little about what I was doing. I certainly made big claims and acted confident. And it turned out beautifully. And then we merged with another company. And merging is great when it is an actual merger. Most mergers are actually acquisitions dressed up pretty like a merger so people don’t get their pissy pants on. Whoops, that never works. So we merged. And we definitely had greater leverage and greater opportunity to actually be greater. And then last year my particular team merged again. And moved offices. And we saw a bit more about change management. Change management is like watching a live viewing of Who Moved My Cheese. Guess what? No one wants to watch this. I had concerns, oh plenty. But there should be a pre-merger session for people called “Zip Your Yapper.” I know change is scary but we definitely had some pills on our side making many a vocal complaint. And many a vocal complaint doesn’t win you Employee of the Month.

And once I moved offices, I found myself even happier in my role. And surrounded by a much larger group of people who were, well, basically fantastic. My previous office has great people, but this was a different kind of fantastic. More people my age. More people bringing great experiences, creativity and sassiness to the table. (And you know a table with sassiness is my kind of table.) And more people really working for the greater good of making our organization shine. And it really does shine but it does so on the backs of people who are giving far more than they are taking.

I have been very fortunate to have a short list of employers since I finished law school. I have learned so much since I graduated. I am extremely fortunate to have worked for people I truly respect during my career who have been great mentors (and friends) to me. Not everyone can say that. (Oh, I did work for one turkey, but that was short lived.)

And the past four years have been full of learning curves, opportunities, success, and some hilarious stories. (Remember the Monica Lewinsky story…that is what I am talking about.)

Today is my last day here. And it is bittersweet because my new opportunity is in-cred-i-ble. And I couldn’t pass it up. And it is time for me to stretch and grow some more.

But yes. Saying goodbye is hard. And for the record, the Boys II Men song is It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. And well, yes, yesterday was full of well wishes, really great people telling me I will be missed (and I am pretty sure my supply of baked goods is going to be missed a great deal fact, my baked goods merited their own greeting card) but also that precious apron, and those gorgeous shoe cookies so in a way, it is in fact hard to say goodbye to yesterday too. 

So thank you fabulous and old. Who now know about my blog (that has been under wraps from colleagues for well, almost exactly four years.) Those of you who I will miss the most know. And thank you for making this experience what is was for me, all the way down to the fabulous shoe cookies!

I have a great road ahead, but today won’t be weepy-free I can assure. Time to cue the Boys II Men song. And start sauntering through this office with the world’s best Mexican Chocolate Cake. If you are going to go out, go out big.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dear Cat, you suck.

Ok, easy does it Cat People...I am only joking. Or not a bit. Ok, slightly joking only.

I inherited a cat when JMac and I got married. Well, two cats. Or 2.5 since his brother's cat was "just staying there briefly" which meant his brother had no intention of ever picking that cat up again.
 When I first met Dakota and her brother Darby I thought they were siblings the way you think that Dennis and Randy Quaid are actually siblings. As in, there is NO way these two are related.

Dakota is a long-haired Persian blend. Darby was a short and stout tabby cat. Yes they are siblings. Apparently cat mommies can roll like that and make babies with multiple different dads at the same time. Its like the NBA of the feline world.  So you have one small and sleek cat with white hair and blue eyes and then you have Darby. And by short and stout, I mean to imply that Darby was very short legged but very stout in the body. Kind of like a keg. Or a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. But where Darby was a giant sweetheart (literally, 17 pounds worth of sweetheart) Dakota was a hissy pissy betch. Like, "Hey kitty cat." And she would respond with  a hiss that sounded more like an angry conversation in Russian.

Well, we had to acclimate the house to be one big Brady-esque bunch with a dog and two cats. You know my sassy whippersnapper of a boxer, Nixon, wanted to play all kinds of games with those cats ranging from chase to wrestlemania. Darby, just like a Kardashian sister, laid there proclaiming do what me with you will. Dakota gave that dog, who outweighed her by 50 pounds, one look that proclaimed, "One step closer, and I will cut you."

Dakota became nicer to me on the very day that Nixon passed away. She sauntered up to me on the couch with a delicate rub against my leg. And then hopped up and sat right next to me. Not ON me mind you, she had her limits, but she has never hissed at me again. She still hisses. Mostly in people's faces like JohnnyMac's sisters. But I am clearly no longer on her shat list. 

And then she had to acclimate to MiniMac. MiniMac was instantly committed to their developing friendship. She was not aware they had a developing friendship.  At first she would basically flee from any room in which he was present. But slowly over time, she began to tolerate. And now, in fact allow all kinds of cuddles and pets. He actually kissed her on her head this week. I thought, "Protect your face, son!" But she just purred.

But she is old. 17 years old now. And she has become downright friendly over the past five years. Especially to me. Particularly to me. And even though I do prefer friendly cat over betchy cat, we don't see eye to eye on several things:

1. Her sound. Why the painfully loud meow? Most cats meow like this: Meow meow. She meows like this: MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWWWWWW. And why does this air raid siren sound only come out of her mouth at 5 or 6 am?  I once sharply said to her, " BE QUIET " to which my tiny child responded from his own room,  "She is only a kitty, Mommy! She doesn't even know what be quiet means." Oh, got yourself an ally did you Dakota? Good. Now shut the H up.

2. The hair. I know you get a haircut every summer. You need it. There are so many piles of your long cat hair around this house that I could easily knit a Rupunzel escape braid and tether it to our 3rd floor balcony. I think you should have a haircut year round. Oh, you are one spitfire when you come back from the groomer. So what. I don't see you when I am at work which is plenty of time for you to work it out of your system.

3. You leak. Maybe it is just because you are old but WOW you seem to leak. Is it your mouth? Your eyes? Are you drooling over the delicious blackened tilapia I make? That is quite flattering actually. Lets make an arrangement shall we? Can you just leak and drool on the towel I put on the club chair for you? No, of course you can't. You can't bother yourself to sit on ANY towel. Or sheet. Or blanket. Except my favorite blanket from Nordstrom that you ruined. Why is your favorite place to sit and lay and leak my suede couches? Why why why? You know where those couches did NOT come from? The FREE bin. I had them cleaned. They looked spectacular. For three days. Thanks Faucet Cat. Maybe I need to wrap a towel around your neck.

4. Our relationship. Why did you have to get under my skin? You have turned out to be rather sweet. When MiniMac and I left for Seattle, JohnnyMac said you sat IN his room and cried for two days. Awwwww. You do have a sweet heart inside you too. SO maybe you suck because I didn't want to like you. I don't want to be a cat person. I like dogs. Bigger the better. Dogs play. Dogs wiggle. Dogs love. Cats MEEEEOWWWWWWW so you put a piece of food in their mouths. Dogs walk their happy wiggling tails over to their food bowl and help themselves.

But as you sat next to MiniMac's chair this morining (before you hopped up on my couch to sleep, shed and leak) maybe you won me over. Just a little. Dang you. I can assure you I will never be the lady with 40 cats but there is room around here for 1 little Dakota (provided you keep that haircut).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't bite the hand that feeds you...

I have previously shared tidbits from the first summer I stayed with my parents in their house in Alaska; one story involving Jimmy Buffett and one involving, well, nothing remotely as cool.

In addition to good comic fodder, I also learned some valuable lessons on subsequent visits. One: Don't wear low cut necklines in a city with a population of 97% men (believe me, you merely had to have a feminine voice and little else going for you to get attention there. Seriously. Ten hairs on your chin? Humpback? A proclivity towards chewing tobacco? These traits would make you a TEN. I am not talking about the men which comprised the business community. I am talking about all the other men, the other 90% of the total 97%. Also, your Dad does NOT like anything but turtlenecks on his daughter. Now go the way of Laura Ingalls and button up.) But I also learned some valuable lessons that would later become part of my business acumen.

My Mom took an idea and with that idea and countless hours are hard work, created a thriving successful business. It seemed a genius idea to be employed by her one summer. It was a revelation to see my Mom in a business setting. Oh, I had paid visits to many an office before but this particular summer, I was submerged in seeing my Mom in action every day in a fast-paced and hectic environment. She is the woman everyone liked because she consistently treated people well, she could make all kinds of things happen that other people could not and she refrained from joining the locker room mentality ever-present in this wild place. She also had a fabulous girl working for her at the time who was just a few years older than me.

One afternoon when I was asked to deliver a check, I thought it would be a great time to drive my parents Trooper with the radio blasting Robert Palmer and light myself a clove cigarette (we have already talked about the clove cigarettes.) I was about to learn an indirect lesson: Do NOT drive your parents car and commit a single infraction in a city smaller than Mayberry. I had not even returned before I discovered my deed had already been telecommunicated. WOW, word travels faster than Mrs. Roper in this place. Good to know. Guess what blabbermouths? Don't let the potpourri candy cigarette mislead you. I am just about the most innocent girl in this place.

But one afternoon, me all bundled up in my JCrew boots (long before JCrew was cool) and my giant college sweatshirt tucked into my jeans) was chatting on the phone with one of my sorority sisters back in Seattle. I was enjoying this leisurely chat (on company time) when my Mom came into the office to ask me a question. I think I gave the "Shhhh" sign and then a wink and then a point to the telephone. I went back to my call. Well, I went back to the call for about 2.4 seconds before my Mom came and disconnected the line. Whoa there, Lou Grant. No need for hammer time at the office. But my Mom wanted to make a point: Get OFF the phone. Second and more important point: Every dollar in your pocket is put there by one of your parents. Be respectful of how it got there. Alright. Point taken.

Point quickly lost in the weeks after. A group of vessel owners and companies called an emergency meeting and asked to use the large meeting space adjacent to my Mom's office. The fishing industry in Alaska is very big business and at this time in the 90's, very high dollar and lucrative. There was a major problem brewing and people who are making this level of income want no hiccups, hence the emergency meeting.

Day and hour of the meeting, she sent me in to take some documents and while I was putting them down, I hear "snap, snap." I sort the documents out and hear another "snap, snap" followed by "snap, snap, snap, snap, snap." I glance toward the large group of men, and one of them, from his chair, is snapping his fingers. Since there is no band of any kind, he is clearly not snapping his fingers in anticipation of a hoe down. He is snapping his fingers at me.

I am quite certain I made a slight face before asking, "Yes?" He then said, "Excuse me, WHERE is the COFFEE?" I gave a slight shrug because I had NO idea WHERE the COFEE was. He is grumpy. I turn back to my task. I now hear the double clap, CLAP CLAP followed by "Miss, I am GOING to NEED some COFFEE."

"Well, sir," I smile, "There is a coffee shop down the street."
"You do NOT have COFFEE here?"

Maybe it was the snapping. Maybe it was the tone. Maybe it was the added extra claps he provided. Maybe it was the Hostile Brand Jeans he was wearing.  Why the enunciation of the word coffee? Saying it louder is not going to make it magically appear David Copperfield. (Incidentally, if you are going to make something magically appear by simply saying it with flourish I am pretty confident you also have to use jazz hands when you do it.) Maybe it was the lack of courtesy. Lack of manners. Or the lack of appreciation for my giant hair and JCrew boots but I was simply not down with the exchange.

So I answered: "We don't have coffee here sir because this company is called _______ ________ ________ and not Mel's Diner."

I spun on my boot heel in a bit of a fume wrapped in sass and indignation. I relayed the story to my Mom and her employee, Jodi. I really only like Jodi's reaction because she laughed her ____ off. I then told my Mom that Mr. Snappy Clappy Hands was awful. Jodi loved the new nickname and would say it and then laugh uncontrollably. Guess who was not laughing? Well, there are only three of us present and you know which fools were laughing.

My Mom politely explained that yes, this was not the way to ask for something however, the meeting was a very tense. I state, "Then I am certain the drug of caffeine isn't wise for that particular person, now is it?"

My Mom laughed. How could she resist right? And when she was done laughing, she said, "Now go over there and MAKE THE COFFEE."

Whaaaaaaaat? I had not made a pot of coffee in my life. Why? Because I don't drink it. I never have. So why learn, right? RIGHT. Except that day. I explained my lack of skills and expertise. Her response, "You have a 4.0 GPA. Go and figure it out." More indignation. I stalled. She gave me a slight head tilt and a smile, "I am not asking you again."  I reply, "That will solve the whole problem then."
She replied, "Jennifer...."

I know that voice. Uh oh. Get to hopping.

So I went back. Tossing my early 90s hair all the way. I made the coffee. I am sure it was the worst known to man. Did I care? SURE I did.  But later, when my Mom actually had a good laugh over it, she did remind me that this is her company and I am to be a good ambassador of this companpy at all times. Agreed. And then she imparted one of the best pieces of wisdom I have carried with me for life: Treat every company you work at like one your parents own and you will never, ever fail to be successful.

So in a way, I suppose I have Mr. Snappy Clappy Hands to thank. So thanks, jack arse. Because of you, I got reprimanded but did have a great mother-daughter moment in which I learned a lesson that has helped me my entire career. But I am a tiny bit hopeful  that your cup of coffee tasted like dirt.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I had a beaver once...

Oh what a blast we had in, fun, friends, dancing, wine and fabulous dinners. Oh, and my new favorite summer cocktail: The Moscow, lime juice, ginger beer.  Today vacation is over and the chore list is as long as Yao Ming. But, in the spirit of a lot of laughter the past 12 days and some great reminiscing, I would love to share one of my favorite stories about my Mom. Originally posted in August of 2009, this story never fails to make me laugh (or tease my Mom...) 

A tiny brown beaver

A funny scenario at the park last Sunday prompted the memory of a comical family story from my childhood. I will post the park story soon but first let me share the memory it dished up.

When we were kids, our nightly family dinner was a great gathering fest. My older brother, Tumbleweed, and I frequently had our two BFFs over. The four of us would typically join my Mom and Stepdad (SD) for dinner.

One night Tumbleweed determined nothing could possibly pair better with the family dinner than an inappropriate joke. He was a freshman in high school so inappropriate jokes were likely all he knew. For nostalgia purposes, and for good story-telling, let me share the joke now.

What is the bellybutton for?
A place to put your gum on the way down.

My mom, sweet as a daisy I presumed, didn't quite get the joke. She asked for clarification. Down where? While the quartet of youngsters howled like monkeys, after some delay my SD provided a euphemism. His choice was "beaver". My mom, tilted her head and said, "I had a beaver once."

Now, I was only a kid at the time but I promise you I knew a historical moment when it presented itself. So I buckled in, and was certain it would be a story I would be telling for decades to come.

Our mom, went on to explain that her beautiful beaver was a pet. And how it was tiny and brown. And her brother unfortunately set it loose in the woods. Can you image telling a group of silly juveniles about your tiny brown beaver that got set loose in the woods? Immaturity knows no boundaries.

As we choked on laughter and meatloaf, my mom was surprised and dismayed by our reaction to her missing pet. Oh boy.

As we continued to carry on, she finally demanded to know what was so funny. So SD told her that he didn't really mean beaver as in the primarily nocturnal, semi-aquatic member of the rodent family. He explained the joke, and why we were cackling like jackals.

And once she realized, out of the kitchen she went as fast as her legs could carry her.

Ahhhh...Momcatt. Thanks for such a great memory.

And my mom is not Mrs. Ingalls. In fact, she is cool as hell so the fact she didn't get the joke, or know a very 80's slang term for the nether region, well, it was surprising.

So watch your words today, and if you find a loose beaver, you can airmail it back to my parents house. I am sure my Mom misses it.