Friday, December 31, 2010

Tweaks and Valleys

Christmas was on me like a speeding bullet.  I almost didn't know what hit me.  And then, suddenly, it was done, and the real countdown begins.  Within the next month, with about a million details still to be ironed out, I will be, for better or for worse, a resident of a different state for the first time in over three decades.  Unbelievable, right?  Unbelievable that I lasted three months here with my Yankee ways, let alone three decades.  But, now that I have, it's nearly unbelievable that I'm finally pulling loose.  (And I bet almost anything that my neighbors will think of me as a Southerner.)

But life decided it wasn't done tossing obstacles in my way - just to make sure, perhaps, that I really had the steely resolve (pun intended) to move away from what, for better or worse, is my comfort zone.  Most potentially tragic is our dog Tawny, who we thought for the past year merely had a bad case of early onset arthritis.  Probably not so, as her condition worsened with the first real change in the weather over Thanksgiving and then took a sharp dive off a steep cliff over Christmas.  Admittedly, the young vet who looks as though he is only 12, was nervous about her mix of symptoms from the beginning.  He made a diagnostic call originally that he was shaky about and told me as much - all her issues not fitting together into a tight little package.  It's not his fault that I was raised by a nurse and therefore taught not to be hasty about reacting to symptoms.  Mother's philosophy seemingly was "If you're head's not about to fall off your body, don't panic, we can wait it out and get better on your own or deal with it at home if you don't."  (For a woman who made a living working in hospitals, she was horribly suspicious of them.  Makes one wonder what she saw go on there.)  I've treated my own health that way and, in general, the dogs as well - all resources and energy went to other pursuits, and look where that got us.  Doctors, I concluded, mean well, but in the end are as clueless as the rest of us, just with better vocabulary and worse handwriting.  Well, for Tawny that judgment may prove deadly, as it's relatively clear now that she has a bulging disc that is so far advanced only surgery can fix it.  And the dollars we're looking at make it out of our reach.  That is, based on the fact that I've got enough money allocated to move us and keep a roof over our head long enough to find work - or so I hope - and not much more.  So, as I ply my poor dog with steroids and pain killers, searching for reasonably priced options, none of which have popped up, I'm racked with the guilt of knowing I could swing it if I weren't committed to the move.  How do I look her in the eye and justify letting her continue to suffer or, in the extreme, putting her down, because I wanted to live close enough to drive to a stupid hockey game a few times a year?

But, then on the other hand, as I was about to leave work this evening, literally right as I was about to shut down and walk out the door, a strangely timed email popped up from someone within the company spewing a badly timed, badly researched demand of my group, pronouncing us guilty of an error and demanding we fix it right away.  Turns out a co-worker followed information he provided to us.  Still stewing over it (obviously) hours later, I am sure that my reply, which pointed out his bad timing, his bad research and my co-worker's lack of clairvoyance to know when he feeds us bad information in not-so-polite terms, will land me in hot water.  But, I realize that Fate sent that to me so that I will have absolutely no regrets over handing in my resignation Monday morning.  I should really thank him - because before that, I was very worried about it for a number of reasons, not the least of which was leaving the company that had taken a chance on me coming back and being stable and productive only weeks after Kelsey died.  Now my biggest regret is not thinking of somehow throwing in my reply how the person must have mistaken the company for a stable since he is clearly such a large horse's ass. (Moral to this story: Don't try and throw me or my peeps under a bus unless you're rock solid in your information.  I will take the opening you leave for me and slap you hard with it.  I can't abide people who like to explain errors by blaming the underlings.  Crissakes, we're on the same team or supposed to be; if a situation arises, let's analyze it, decide what to do and work together to fix it.)

However, that goes on in all 50 states, I realize.  And I got a mild taste of unpleasantness from my future co-residents yesterday as well.  My Amazing Realtor emailed me about some things she's helping me with and mentioned that the furniture store where I had picked my new couches was going out of business.  What?!  I hopped online.  Sure enough, their online catalog was down, so I called the store near my house.  The salesman, whose name I did not initially catch, helped me well enough, but there was a bit of edge to it - understandably.  The business had been open and family run since 1958, it employs 350 souls who will shortly be joining me in the job market (oh joy), I would kind of expect less-than-stellar attitude to creep in.  However, what I didn't expect was this:  he asked me if I wrote down the information on the pieces I wanted.  I said, no, I didn't think to because I had no idea this was going to happen.  So, we talked it through and he was helpful, as much as possible under the circumstances, but when I asked him if they worked on commission and to give me his name, he said, "Jim.  You can write that down."  The sarcasm nearly dripped.  I decided not to react negatively, I figure he's under a lot of stress, so I said instead, "Gee, I was sorry to hear you were closing, I had heard a lot of good things about the company."  His reply?  "Yeah, well, it was mismanagement, but..." he seemed to catch himself a bit and hesitated then hastily finished with, "but thank you, I mean, thank you."  Dude.  Saying that to a customer over the phone?  Really?

Then I came home, already agitated by Mr. Horse Ass, to find a letter from Shaler Township (I finally realized that Townships are like MUD's are here in Texas - for some reason, working that out in my head made me feel better about the layering of government up there because it seemed a bit much and more than a bit confusing).  Anyway, the letter states that it has come to the writer's attention that I now reside in Shaler Township, but have "failed" to register for the mandatory 1% income tax.  It demanded that I do so by January 17.  Luckily for the individual who wrote the letter, I received it well after hours so I could not call and tell her that I'm not sure what her sources are - crystal balls, TMZ maybe, but she should get her facts straight before she starts accusing me of something.  (It had been pretty clearly explained to me by Shaler staff that I didn't pay the tax until I was a resident there.)  Again, I wonder, does anyone know what the hell they're doing?  And can anyone do it politely?  Am I leaving one state stacked full of jerks just to find another?  At least it's a smaller state.

And, of course, all of this is scraping against my currently very thin skin because I'm trying to pull off the largest move of my entire life.  I read somewhere years ago that even a positive move will engender negative emotional reactions because the stress is just so intense.  It's physically draining, financially rough, and emotionally a roller coaster ride.  For us, it's all of that and more - handling all of Kelsey's things and trying to decide what to do with them, feeling the emotions rise up with the memories, then trying to weigh that against the reality of keeping whatever it is, well, that's just tough. I could have postponed it had I not determined to move now, but eventually it had to happen.  So, at least, at the end of the process, I'll be only six miles from Consol Energy Center and about seven from Heinz Field.  Go Pens.  Go Steelers.  I'll be there soon.
Now, tell me truly, who wouldn't leave home to be six miles from this?


  1. Can't wait to hear about some of this on Monday!! Esp. the part about one of our lovely coworkers... Enjoy your 3 days.... Please!!

  2. Mom, he looks like a werewolf and you KNOW that's the only reason you're physically attracted to him. So, to tell you truthfully: I, and anyone else who is not a teenage girl (or grownup) Twilight nerd, would not leave home to be six miles from that. That being said, I will gladly leave Texas, a place I don't really consider home anymore, to be in PGH, somewhere that just happens to be six miles away from that :)