Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The wi-fi facade

Hello, folks. Yes, I've been MIA once again. Sickness has descended on our humble home and has made its miserable way through each and every family member. Yet, we have not entirely succumbed, work has continued, life has continued, school tomorrow will continue, and life goes on. Cough, cough, snot, snot, HONK. (That last honk was me blowing my nose.)

So, I know I'm really old when the whole "wi-fi" train has left me behind at the station. Wi-fi in your house? Yes, that makes some sense. You can check various fronts from the comfort of your couch, or from the handy-dandy kitchen office that really swank, huge homes feature (which we lack here). You can be working online while your kids are playing games with kids in other countries. It's all good.

But wi-fi at coffee shops? At bagel stores? Why? I am flummoxed. I know it's cool. I know it's hip. I know that people shouldn't feel confined to office spaces anymore. How limiting. How very 90s. Still, I fear that performing online work tasks at Panera is doing to work what talking on cell phones at all hours in all places has done to the quality of telephone communications. (Hint: REDUCING QUALITY SIGNIFICANTLY.)

Work is work. It takes space most of the time. It takes quiet sometimes. It takes thought-space, ponder room, concentration. It takes a place where you can have a conversation with a person and not be concerned about the undisciplined brat sitting at the next table, throwing a fit over butter instead of jelly. It takes a "professional" atmosphere (do those still exist?!), as it should.

Yes, I visited Panera Bread recently. And yes, I wondered once again how much meaningful work could honestly be performed in such a setting. There are workers taking calls, typing on their laptops, spreading various papers all around them, looking terribly important. Come on, you couldn't do this in your hotel room, if you're traveling? In your own bedroom, if you are self-employed? How much work can honestly be accomplished in such a public, noisy, unregulated environment?

So, yes, I'm old. Yes, I don't take my laptop to a coffee shop to do work. I don't even have a laptop. So call me names. Laugh at me. You know what? When I have real work to do, I get it done. Fast. Efficiently. In a purposeful and focused manner. And no one on a work-related call with me ever has to wonder who is screaming in the background, or why my office features an out-of-control milk steamer.

Thoughts? I know I'm a dinosaur... I can take it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No longer

Without much warning, after nearly 13 years, I find myself petless.

My trusted kitty, whom I adopted all those years ago from a shelter, has left this spinning orb.

He hadn't been himself lately, and the last visit to the vet revealed some serious things amiss. And he was already 4 when I brought him home. That means, in people years, my sweet cat was probably around 92 or 93 years old. Growing thinner by the day, intestinal issues, digestive issues, kidney issues all confirmed. We went round in circles and finally decided that waiting for the inevitable wouldn't make it any easier when it came. Yet I still struggle with it, this evening, in our too-quiet home that no longer needs food and water dishes at the bottom of the steps: Did we do the right thing? I think we did. But I know that none of us truly has that right, to aid the natural process, to assist the permanent vacation from the body. Am I suddenly a Kevorkian who avoided a sentence because my victim was animal, not human? Do I still have to right to express pro-life beliefs? Should I ever be entrusted with another animal?

I hope that somehow, my good ol' cat understood how hard it was. I hope, on some level at least, he was ready to go. I know that recently, he didn't much resemble the cat I loved all those years. I know that he was not at all well. I know he was, short of a miracle, not getting better. I know he was really, really old. And I know he had a good life.

It doesn't make it any easier. Tonight, the world, our little world, is absent one soft, fuzzy orange mass of fur accompanied by a purr like a rumbling motor. Tonight I will not feed the insistently mewing creature. Tonight, he will rest in our yard and not in his favorite spot in the hall, where we all tripped over him at first and then gingerly stepped over him of late.

There is a hole here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shoe, fly

Lately, I've become increasingly aware of a strange phenomenon on America's roadways. (Perhaps it also exists on exotic roadways, but since I'm a continental gal, my awareness is decidedly limited.) You may have noticed it, too. It's definitely more prevalent in the warm months, but I've seen it all though the year: Random shoes on the side of the road. Or lying, hapless, on the median.

These lost shoes are not the "pair of sneakers over the wire" stunt. That is a foolish but more traditional shoe folly that I've never attempted, yet it makes at least a little bit of sense to me; apparently, the point of that little trick is to remove the shoes from the owner and cause consternation and frustration in said owner. Like I said, stupid—but meant to achieve an end. Petty, but purposeful.

This is not so with the roadside shoe. In all cases, the shoe is a single footwear item, separated from its mate. It usually appears to be in good repair, and the style of shoe I've seen abandoned in recent months is quite often a heavier, more formal style—sometimes a sneaker, more times an oxford style. (My informal statistics have proven that most often, these orphans appear to be big boys' or men's shoes.)

Now, flip-flops are just an invitation for shoe loss. They don't fit snugly to the foot, there's nothing secure or stable about them, they fly off even as people attempt to walk on level ground sometimes... but oddly, the flip-flop is not a frequent roadside shoe.

I despise waste, and seeing those single shoes makes me sad and angry. It is inarguably wasteful to toss a perfectly good shoe out of a window, thus rendering the other shoe absolutely useless unless the hurler happens to have a peg-leg. (Even prosthetic legs usually sport a matching shoe.)

I try to envision how the loss happened. Was there a battle within a car's confines? Were shoes used as weapons? Was a threat made, a blow delivered before the shoe sailed away? Or were these shoes perhaps someone's favorites that happened to be in the back seat when a cruel passenger flung them so thoughtlessly? Were they meant to be returned to a store and then not accepted, and thus thrown in anger? And if so, why not throw both of them? Or, better yet, donate them to Goodwill so some other unfortunate sod can wear them?

You see what I mean? It doesn't keep me awake, but it bothers me. A small matter, in this big world—but a matter than I cannot let rest.

Keep your shoes on, folks. And if you have insights about this, please feel free to share them.

Friday, September 11, 2009


If you can remember how you felt 8 years ago today—the shock, the sick feeling that washed over you as you viewed the scenes on television, the horror of realizing how many lives were being lost, the uncertainty from minute to minute as to what might happen next—then please display your flag today.

Even if you can't remember, hang it. Please. Do not let the memory blur. Do not let your guard down. Do not ever choose to forget that we live in a fallen world, full of people who are ruled by evil.

And frankly, I still think it's cool to be a patriot and love America and be proud of her. In spite of what our first lady thinks.

P.S. Hey, does anyone else think it's odd that, for all the stupid anniversaries that Google celebrates, they are not observing this one AT ALL? No special Google logo, no mention... Hmmmmmm. Who owns Google? A bunch of frothing libs? Fascists? Reds? Can we tell Google that we think they're lame? Even if they're hosting this very site? Yes, I think we can.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Identifying with Martha

I'll be honest: there are many heavy things on my heart lately. Missing time with my son, missing the predictability of life that I enjoyed for so long, feeling sad for all the children who are hurt or killed in the world every day, sad for the people who want children desperately and have none, sad for every person who suffers pain and ill health regularly, sad for everyone who's lost someone they love. I just don't feel sufficiently stable to tackle any of those sullen subjects right now. I might not be ready for a long time. So, I'm selecting a more simple subject.

Since I started working—nay, since my husband has been home more—I've had an increasingly hard time keeping up with the house. This is partly because it's a tiny house, which in theory should make the task easier but instead makes it even more difficult. It's also partly because three people make more mess than two. And when that third person has an entirely different set of cleanliness standards, the result will almost certainly be a swift shift in the home's state of repair. Add to that truth the fact that I'm now gone for hours and hours several days each week, and the other two family members are home unsupervised... I'm sure you can guess that the condition of the house is becoming noticeably askew.

I'm trying to let my standards drop a bit. Again. I've been doing that since I got married. The standards dipped more steeply when a baby turned toddler turned preschooler joined us. But now? All of us at home? Or, worse yet, them home without me? I'm losing the war, people. Losing it. As a result, I'm losing more than the war; I'm losing my sanity a bit. Because I suspect that, if tested, I'd qualify for a whole lot of lovely alphabetical letters that label me a certain restless, frenetic type who loves to busy herself with tidying tasks—but these days, my tidying is for naught. I just can't keep up. And not only does no one else care as much as is do, they really, truly do not even notice the horror. It fazes them not one bit.

I start to become a tad bitter. Now, realistically, I can't expect a 4-year-old to notice this sort of thing (although thankfully, he does notice sometimes. There is hope.) So, really, I'm mostly amazed at my husband's ability to tune out. Why doesn't he notice? How can he not see? Can't he smell the cat litter? (Yes, but only if he's very close to it. Women have more delicate olfactory senses.) Can't he feel his feet sticking to the kitchen floor? (No.) Does he not see the color of the toilet bowl? (Apparently not.) How can he not be aware that the sink is stacked full of dishes, which could be loaded into the dishwasher if someone were kind enough to relieve it of all the clean dishes therein? (They're clean?!)

And I don't like the fact that we neatniks are labeled nags if we speak up and draw attention to the dilapidation surrounding us. I've tried to explain to my husband that I literally am physically uneasy when surrounded by stacks of stuff. Clutter makes me feel short of breath. My explanation falls on deaf ears. "It doesn't matter." I've been told that so many times, by so many people. Or, worse yet, "It'll just get messed up again. What's the point?"

Then I think of Mary and Martha in the Bible. You're probably familiar with the story: Mary and Martha, sisters, hanging out with Jesus at Martha's house. Mary is sitting, absorbing every word He speaks, and Martha is puttering about readying the house, perhaps working on the meal, simply trying to make things nice. Because it's Jesus in her house, which is sort of a bit deal. (The scene is described in Luke 10, and again in the book of John.) I'm sure there were many preparations to be made—it seems like every home that hosted Jesus was overrun with guests, unexpected visitors, etc., so I'm sure there was much to do.

And yet, there sits Mary. Not helping. Not setting the table. Not slicing fruit or checking the wine and oil supplies. And I have to confess, people, that most of the time I feel a lot more like Martha. I wonder why people aren't noticing the need for hands. I mean, this is Jesus! It's a huge deal to host Jesus! HUGE! There's Mary, like a lump. An honoring, adoring, worshipful lump, but still... Yet when Martha tries to engage Jesus and get some sympathy, she hits a brick wall; Jesus sides with Mary and makes it clear she is in the right. I'll bet that hurt. Martha wanted everything to be perfect and wonderful for Jesus, and He brushed it off. He made it clear that He was the more important matter, not the preparations. Not the meal. Not the condition of the house.

And that is true. Very true. I know it's true.

At the same time, God created me to be a freak about tidiness. He created Martha to be concerned and busy and wanting everything to be just right. He created us, and He also created lazy—I mean, worshipful Mary.

So, where do I draw the line? Where do I let things slide and not worry? Do I wait until the house is so messy that I'm feeling my psychologically induced lung capacity reduction? Do I go acquire some kind of medication that allows me to never be short of breath but also changes me into someone else just so I don't annoy others with my obsessive tidiness? When does one acknowledge one's weirdness, and when does one call it a problem?

I'll keep working on not worrying about the tidiness of the house, because honestly, if even Jesus didn't care about the state of the the place, then I know I don't need to worry about impressing anyone. It truly does not matter to the Creator; therefore, it does not matter. But what if I'm the one to hate it? What if it makes me really unhappy? What is that worth? Should I change who I am, even if I'm not being that way to impress others? Should I call it an issue and try to be different, or should I embrace my inner neatnik and acknowledge, instead, her usefulness and purpose in a cluttered world of too much crap?

This is, obviously, not my biggest concern in the world this evening. Yet it is a concern.