24 May 2008

Friday Night Fun...

It's not every Friday Night that I get to have dinner with two nice guys. I must be doing something right...or perhaps it was just my usual dumb luck?

We were surrounded by some rather strange diners, but we had a really interesting (and delicious!) meal - It's a wonderful thing to be outnumbered by males! I rather like the lopsided nature of that sort of mix.

Not only was I in fine company, but while David configured my new Blackberry and set up my e-mail account on my phone, Chris extolled me with tales of sailing on the northeast coast. Pretty cool stuff, indeed.

There are caveats to being single - it's hard to double date like this when you're "attached".

However, Karen G., in the Great State of Washington, you are still in charge of due diligence and finding me a sailor. With a boat. Who is single, fascinating, energetic, fit and seaworthy. My nautical future may well lie in your capable hands. No pressure. :-)

And a post script to David Rowe in Michigan/Toronto - you really need to head south but I have to tell you - I think we definitely need to look into sailing that great loop you were speaking of on the phone today. I hope you don't mind if I bring Cassie and Magellan (Libby will love her!). I'll definitely have to talk you into that. It's on my growing list of things to do.

18 May 2008

My Wires Got Crossed But I'm Reconnected...

While enjoying a perfectly lovely lunch at Bluewater this past Thursday with Katie, Sherry and my friend Wayne, I placed my Motorola Razr Phone on the table. It was warm out and the scenery was beautiful as it always is on Wrightsville Beach, however, while we were dining, something happened: Condensation was the culprit. The sad truth is that my Razr got soaked from the drops of water that slipped off our iced tea glasses and onto the table, pooling around my cell phone. Corrosion occurred and that's never a good thing. My phone was rendered dysfunctional. Don't you just hate it when that happens?

What I hated even more is that this necessitated a trip to Alltel which can take longer than time spent in a dentist's chair leisurely enduring a root canal.

My recent visit on Friday took three hours. Not fun. That said, it was cheaper than a root canal.

Naturally, I had to decide on a new phone and I am now the proud owner of a Blackberry Pearl. I'll pause at this point for you to be suitably impressed.

You should be finished by now. I'm trying not to let it change me too much, but it's pretty heady. At some point, I even plan on understanding the applications and what this phone can and cannot do. Any phone that comes with software and it's own USB cable definitely has my attention and maybe even a modicum of my respect. I am not intimidated though - I'd never give it the pleasure of seeing me sweat - I cooly eye it in a kind of "you think you're so smart?" sort of way. With a little applied logic and a few mumbled obscenities, I generally figure things out. It's good to have a system.

Unfortunately, Alltel couldn't transfer my stored contacts to my spiffy new ultra cool blackberry. The next best option was that the young man who took care of me, I'll call him "Larry", as that is what his name tag suggested, would e-mail my contacts to me. True to his word, Larry did e-mail me, however I am sad to report that my contacts were not attached. Where my plethora of contacts are is anybody's guess. My alltel rep took my broken former cell phone and I left without it believing I would see my contacts in an e-mail. I am not happy about this, as you might imagine. Larry, if you're reading this, I'm still waiting. I'm becoming impatient.

I am not, admittedly, a person who enjoys spending a great amount of time on the phone, but I do have a circle of friends that I enjoy keeping up with and I have no idea what their cell phone numbers are. I assign names to my contacts and never took the time to remember their numbers. DUH!

So here is my request. If you are someone that I enjoy a friendship with and we have talked in the past year, I would appreciate it if you would e-mail me your phone number so that I can store it in my new phone. I had a rather large cell phone contact list and I have cordial relations with 99% of my formerly stored contacts. You know who you are.

The other 1% (and you know who you are) were stored in there as well so that I could avoid taking calls from the handful of people I don't really have any interest in talking with and it makes it easier to ignore the call if I know who it is that's calling me. I lost those numbers and "warnings" as well, but if you're reading this and feel you are probably in that 1% portion of stored contacts that I avoid answering - no need to send me your phone number. By the way, if you are in that 1% selection, why in the world are you even reading this anyway? It might be something for you to think about.

Now, on a more positive note, my 'preferred contact list' includes good friends such as Sally, Amy, Rick E., Tim, Steve K., Michel, Mike F., Sharon, Billie, Tom F., Kathleen C., Tom and Myra, Susan and Don B., Alistair N., Ruth J., Jimi Z., Jason M., Mary Ann M., Erik R., Bruce B., Nina G., David C., Cheyenne W., Bobbi L., Glen E., David R., Fast Eddie B., Jules L., Mitch N., and a few more that aren't springing to mind at the moment. If you are on this list, PLEASE e-mail me your cell phone number so I can get you back in your proper "stored" position. I would say call me, but I have a real aversion to answering my phone when I'm unsure who is calling me, but I am finding it necessary at this time and frankly I do it with great trepidation because there are some people who I don't really want to get stuck on the phone with for an hour or so and I don't say that to be unkind, it's just the truth. Of course, I have the essentials - my parents, Katie, Justin, Pizza Hut Delivery, Papa John's, CVS, Dr. B., and Salon Beyond Basics.

Note to Michel in France - when you called Thursday, (in addition to driving, drinking tea and being newly reblonded but you have ridden enough with me to understand that), I was completely unable to answer the call because, while I could hear that someone was ringing in, I couldn't push my own answer button. It was frustrating because I could see it was you calling, but I just couldn't answer the call! Call me back this week so I can store your number and catch up!

I am happy to report that my air conditioning is a cool running machine and I am so grateful to Tom for dropping in last Saturday Night and making some logical suggestions and also to Jason for spending most of last Sunday charging it with freon and working so hard to repair it. It is a great thing to have fine friends and I am richly blessed in that department.

Now, as to the swimming pool, it is still a work in progress, but I believe progress is being made. Pool Specialists came out and are trying to affect a repair of a leak in one of my returns. We're waiting to see if their remedy worked. It's swimming season and I'm in need of some aqua therapy!

We enjoyed a wonderful week with Katie in town. Right after I arrived home from work on Monday, Katie and Justin's dad, Tim, pulled in the driveway and, soon after, Justin walked in. It was great having everyone in my kitchen and catching up.

Monday Evening, Justin prepared dinner for his Dad and Katie in his new apartment and they had a wonderful time being together. When these kids grow up, it's a special treat to get everyone in the same town at the same time and this was a golden opportunity. Tim looked great - I hadn't seen him in something like four years.

After the kids and Tim headed for Justin's apartment, I was able to make my home group Monday Evening and I had a warm and wonderful time reconnecting with my homies and finding out what everyone has been up to. I enjoyed sitting next to my buddy Steve even if he did poke me to introduce myself as a visitor, given how long it had been since I'd visited Rule 62. It was a very special meeting. But then again, I've never been to one that wasn't.

Tuesday Evening, Tim graciously invited me to join him and the kids for dinner at The Oceanic. Katie and I met them at the restaurant around 7:00 (I had already scheduled a trim and re-blonding and it's hard to get appointments!) and we had a really nice evening. It was most generous and kind of Tim to include me as the last time we'd all had dinner was quite a few years ago and under completely different circumstances. The meal was great but the company was even more fun and of course, we took photos before we left the restaurant. It's so strange to imagine these kids are all grown up. Though we have parented from two distant cities as Katie and Justin were growing up, Tim and I both affirmed that we had been blessed and were quite pleased with who Katie and Justin have grown into being. We relived some sweet memories, laughed a great deal and I couldn't have been more proud and even more grateful that we are all close and care about each other as we do. That is a priceless blessing for sure. Such a "GOD" thing. Powerful!

On Wednesday, Tim returned to West Virginia, where he is working hard in preparation of opening up a Direct Buy Store in Cross Lanes. It's a HUGE project and an exciting time for him and, as it turns out, it's going to be an exciting time for Katie and Justin. I was shocked to find out that Tim had extended an invitation to Justin to join him in this new venture. It looks as if Justin will not be lingering long in his new apartment because his father is going to buy him out of his lease and move both he and Stephanie to Charleston to work with him. Not to be left out, it would seem as if Katie is going to work remotely from NYC for her Dad as well. So I guess you could deduce that I was out with one seasoned entrepreneur and two budding aspirants on Tuesday at dinner.

I'm telling you, it was a big news week!

Naturally, this is going to be a big adjustment for everyone, but it's a crazy fantastic opportunity for Justin and Katie. It is going to be the first time that my son has moved away on his own big time. Gulp! My gosh, I'm going to miss him like crazy, as are his grandparents, but there is no way he could or should turn down a chance like this. I guess I might have to actually make a trip north to Charleston at some point in the future and, to be honest, I've never missed West Virginia for two-seconds, but now I'll have family there and I guess I'll be buying some Dramamine at some point for those twisty roads in order to visit my son. He's worth it.

Thursday was hectic. Sherry very kindly gave me the day off so that Katie and I could cram as much time as possible on her last day here. We had lunch at Bluewater with Sherry and our new friend Wayne (a native of "that" state), and then we went shopping and hung out until it was time to drive to Fayetteville late Thursday Night for Katie to make her 1:00 AM train that would deliver her back to Manhattan and John. As you can imagine, I was dreading the goodbyes.

Fortunately, Wayne kindly offered to drive us to the train station and, because of the late hour of departure, I was happy to accept his invitation. Wayne made a great chauffeur but unfortunately, he didn't get lost and we did arrive at the Amtrack Station in Fayetteville in plenty of time for Katie to make her connection. It was hard to say goodbye. It always is, but Wayne was great at keeping the mood light so it wasn't a tear fest by any stretch of the imagination. I behaved but I hugged her quite a few times. Hey, we had a delightful week together and she's happy, healthy and doing so well and her life is now in Manhattan with John and their two cats. I am just so proud of her even if she did have to grow up and move away from home and get all independent on me. It happens.

Except for a small detour around Clinton on the way home, Wayne expertly navigated us back home and I arrived back in Wilmington a little before 4:00 AM. With Justin now moved out, this house has expanded and grown obscenely quiet. Cassie welcomed me back inside and I made my way to bed. Katie sent me some funny text messages on her trip north (my phone could receive text messages even in its altered state). I smiled with every one she sent. And after a couple of minutes, I just wanted to cry again because I missed her so terribly. I still do. Indeed I do.

Friday Morning Katie arrived back in NYC and I sat at my desk and relived the week and wondered how it is that time flies so fast when she's home yet seems to crawl between visits with this sprite of mine. I don't know how that works, but it's painfully true and unfortunately reliable. Oh well, they come, they grow and then they go. It's life. It's good stuff (yeah, right). Life goes on for all of us and the sun still shines.

I went into work for a while yesterday and then hit Barnes and Noble because a book or two are the recommended treatment for the post-Katie blues. After that, my friend kindly treated me to dinner at The Bridge Tender and it was scrumptious. After dinner we went outside and sat by the ICW and traded West Virginia stories. In fact, we closed the restaurant! I got home about 2:00 AM - still stuffed but otherwise in good shape.

So that's all the news that's fit to print! I miss Katie and I'm already in preparation to miss Justin in a couple of months. I like to get ahead of schedule on a few things and realizing my baby is going to be way way out of town will be a challenge for me. However, what a comfort it is to know he's going to be working alongside his father, learning so much and getting to know Tim even better. He'll be well taken care of and in very good hands and of this I have no doubt.

Transitions are happening everywhere and I feel like I'm caught up in this wild vortex, but these are positive changes although I reserve the right for a little maternal sadness now and then. I'm sure we'll survive these relocations and have new stories to share when we do get together about life, adventures and living our collective lives in different cities, yet inextricably intertwined by the love that binds us all.

Note to self: I need a sailboat...this house is really too quiet. My kids have either flown the coop or are in the process of filing flight plans. It's time to take to the sea.

I've just got to find a boat with a ship-shape guy.

(Karen - yes, you Karen G. - I'm assigning this project to you. I'll expect full and detailed reports on your much anticipated and expected progress :-)

11 May 2008

Happy Mother's Day...And I Am Just That...A Happy Mother!

OK, so the air conditioning in the house decided to go on the blink (on a Friday Night, of course, long after the service people had gone home). Naturally, it was like 100 degrees here yesterday.

The swimming pool would be a nice diversion, if it didn't look like a swamp or bad science experiment. It hasn't been confirmed, of course, but there may be alligators in there. We just don't know and no one is courageous enough to get too close, least of all the two pool companies I've called to check it out. They swear they'll be here on a certain day and they don't show up. What is it with pool techs?

The ABS light came on in my car and won't shut off. So now I have a rear driver's side window that refuses to go up and down, and an ABS light that tells me I probably don't have any traction. This makes Katie very nervous to ride with me but I just tell her to be quiet and get over it. My gosh, she lives in Manhattan and riding in a car that may or may not have traction should be a piece of cake, right?

My son moved into his new apartment last Wednesday. I started steaming the carpet of his old room on Friday Night. I am still, as of this writing, steaming the carpet in a quest for the water to go from black to a nice muddy color and hopefully, someday, clear, which will signal for me that I got all of the dirt out of it. Hope springs eternal.

We're under a severe thunderstorm advisory. We're excited because the rain we received overnight cooled the house down to a bearable 80 degrees. Though it still feels like a sauna, it's trending in the right direction.

And do you know what all of the above issues are? Luxury problems. I was in a bit of a snit last night, feeling as if everything was breaking down and dysfunctional, but my Dad came over to me and patted me on the head and said, "Suz, it can all be fixed. It will be fine. Look at the sunny side.".

My Dad is right. My Dad is almost always right. Compared to so many people facing real challenges, mine don't amount to a tiny hill of beans. It is Mother's Day. I have my son and my daughter in the same town. We still have the gift of sharing my parents company, wit and wisdom.
Katie and I had a lovely visit with Justin in his sparkling, well-appointed, tastefully decorated apartment yesterday afternoon. We had tea. We were all laughing and together and enjoying soaking up each other's company.

This morning Katie and I burst into my Mom's room and wished her "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!". My Mom smiled her beautiful smile. We laughed, we talked, and then we laughed some more. Oh my goodness we are just so very blessed.

Today is Mother's Day. It is warm, humid, stormy and my family is together. Machines break down, pools turn disturbing colors and sometimes carpet takes a lot of work to get clean. However, the most overriding feeling I am taking from this day is that I am blessed beyond measure and I am just filled with gratitude.

It's nearly impossible to go more than five minutes without a smile in this house. There's generally a cat engaged in doing something cute, a large blond dog napping on her back without a care in the world. The fish are swimming in all five aquariums that are running. Nice words are spoken, memories are relived, iced tea is flowing and blessings spring forth.

I may be too warm, longing for a nice cool swim, and sometimes I wonder why my ABS light won't go off in my car but I know one thing for certain. I feel like the luckiest Mother on the planet. Life is good and I love my family.

Thanks be to God. Oh, and Happy Mother's Day!
Posted by Picasa

03 May 2008

It's About Time...And A No-Nonsense Celebrity Endoresement...

...for a quick update!

Spring is in full bloom here on the coast - and I couldn't be happier. We are gently sliding into my favorite of all seasons - hot, humid, bright, shiny SUMMER! Yeah, baby!

Next week will be a busy one.


Check out this video: Beware: Celebrity Endorsement

OK, so I love Tom Hanks. I thought this was a very respectable, no frills, well-done endorsement that nearly slid beneath the radar. North Carolina's Primary is this Tuesday, 6 May, and it will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the two democratic candidates fare in this southern state that I call home. I have my own preferences on how I would like to see things shake out and I am cautiously optimistic, but in this primary season that has proven to have more twists and turns than a mountain road in West Virginia, nothing is a sure thing. I'll be glued to MSNBC this Tuesday Evening and will probably be engaged in swapping text-messages with my daughter as she watches from her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I'm sure we'll have more than our usual lunch-hour catch up call. I even have dinner decided for that night - I'm going to stop on my way home from work and order a mansion salad with blackened mahi-mahi and two servings of blue-cheese vinaigrette dressing to go. Of course, there will be coffee and probably a quart of jasmine iced tea to go along with it. Tuesday is already shaping up to be a real nail-biter.

But back to news closer to home...

On Wednesday, my son moves into his first apartment. I already miss him but, let's be realistic, it's only two miles away so hopefully it won't be TOO traumatic for me. As for Justin, he's way past excited.

We had a nice lunch today at Henry's and during the course of our meal, I acquiesced the love seat which currently sits in my office (at home) in exchange for his agreeing to take Sylvester and Princess with him to live in his new apartment. So not only will I be out of kids, but my cat population will be cut in half. I'll still have Magellan and Felix and, of course, my big, blond dog Cassie. And of course, with five aquariums, I'll have PLENTY of fish, however, Justin casually mentioned that an aquarium would make a nice housewarming gift. I think there was a hint in there somewhere.

On Friday, 9 May, I will drive to Fayetteville and collect my Manhattan-based daughter, KATIE! She's riding the rail (Amtrack) for a week-long visit. I have been put on notice not to arrive unless there is a LARGE, fresh sweet southern iced tea in the car. Since I don't like to live dangerously, the tea will be ready for her when she arrives. I just can't wait to see her! We're all excited!

How Katie can stand to be on a train for eight hours is beyond my comprehension. She loves "train people". She tells me they're a great group - all of them members of her "I hate flying" club. Nevermind that she could be in Wilmington, on a direct flight from La Guardia, in about an hour and thirty minutes and actually be sitting in our kitchen drinking FRESH iced tea in the time it takes that silly train to get from Penn Station to Philadelphia. I no longer even make a case for how the trip from the airport here in Wilmington is about fifteen minutes (even in Wilmington traffic!), and that the dull trip from Fayetteville to Wilmington is a whopping two hours of some of the dullest scenery I've ever been witness to. Factor in that Amtrack is rarely on time - she herself coined it quite colorfully, "A railroad of lies", due to it's inability to stay on schedule. That matters nothing to Miss Katie. As a card-carrying member of the "Infrequent Flyers Club", she only goes "wheels up" when there is no other alternative, as she will do later this summer when she and John fly to Paris for a week's vacation. But I guarantee you, if it were possible to ride a train through a tunnel beneath the Atlantic, Katie would be first in line for a ticket.

Of course, it doesn't really matter how she gets here or where I have to drive to collect her because, in the end, it's all about seeing Katie and having her in our midst for a glorious week. As I drive to Fayetteville Friday Afternoon, I will remind myself that the trip back to Wilmington will be far more interesting with her delightful and ascerbic company and I'm sure we'll sing to her iTunes, gossip, exchange news and views and, well, it doesn't get much better than that, so of course, I'll be right there in unlovely Fayetteville to meet her as she steps off that silly train and into my hug. Even with gas currently topping out at $3.60/gallon, she's more than worth a tank of liquid gold. You can bet everything you own that I'll be more than thrilled to be her chauffeur.

On Sunday, 11 May, Tim will be coming down and he will be able to see both kids at the same time in the same place! I guess it will be a family reunion of sorts. He will be staying at Justin's new apartment and Justin's excited to host his first house guest. I know both kids will enjoy catching up with their dad.

As for me, I have been working, working and WORKING and loving it. Sherry and I have been moving furniture, rearranging desks, hanging art and making the office feel more casual and down right beachy! Yes, it's still a drug and alcohol assessment office, but it feels more "fun" and while most of our clients are never happy to find themselves forced to consent to a clinical evaluation of their substance abuse, we really do try and make it as painless as possible. I'm lobbying for the addition of an aquarium to the waiting room. I think I'm wearing Sherry down (and plying her with chocolate) so it could happen.

I am happy to announce that I have health insurance! Thanks to Vicki, who patiently steered me toward the best choice, I can now afford to get sick and/or injured, but she advised against it. Even with health insurance, she felt it's still best never to have to make use of it and, quite frankly, I have to agree with her. But I do have to tell you, it's one less thing to worry about at night right before I fall asleep - wondering how I'm going to afford some looming catastrophic illness without health insurance. I'm so blessed that David C. steered me to Vicki. She's been so fun and wonderful to visit with during our many conversations, and several sets of phone tag, that not only did I find a trustworthy broker, but I made a new friend in the process. Not a bad deal at all!

In other medical news, my mother is still in the midst of testing, evaluations and attending various appointments to determine the best course of action for her degenerating spine but, in between all of that, she still has managed to keep fresh iced tea at the ready and there's always wonderful food in the kitchen. I guess it's true that you just can't keep a good woman down. My mother is not only a good woman, but a dynamo. I hope it's genetic.

My father has been busy working on the lawn and the yard looks like velvet. He replaced a couple of sprinkler heads, with the assist from our wonderful neighbor Tom, and so now the sprinklers are back in action and spraying in the right direction, at the right time. I also have a pool specialist trying to find the source of the leak in our pool so hopefully it won't be too long before that problem is taken care of and I'm so ready for a nice long swim.

No luck yet on finding a nice sailboat that comes equipped with a knowledgeable, handsome captain, but hey, it's early in the season. I'm keeping my eyes open and you never know when the right boat might come along. I remain optimistic.

So that's what's been going on in our neck of the woods. I wish I could tell you that I had found the perfect man and been on a string of dazzling dates, but the truth is, my life has consisted of working and tinkering with my aquariums. I haven't even managed to do any real writing in the past few weeks. I have, however, found time to enjoy some fun lunches with friends, make some great AA meetings recently, and I always love meeting our clients.

Actually, I feel so blessed. For the first time in something like FOREVER, even at the end of a long day, I come out feeling so amazed I get to work with a wonderful woman who teaches me something new every single day, and there is this deep sense of peace because I truly do believe that the work we do means something. It's a sense of satisfaction I've never really known before, but for as painful as it often is to have to confront diseases of addiction, miracles can, and do, happen. Seeds are planted.

The clients I see after attending 20 or 40 hours of treatment are often vastly changed from the downcast folks who arrive in our office for their substance abuse assessment and prepare to attend, generally with much trepidation, their first class. Smiles appear and people share during our group sessions of positive changes and they report to us some of the early gifts that living sober can and does deliver. For many of these people, it is essentially a life or death proposition. No one is hopeless. Miracles are possible and probable if we stay the course. Love is a powerful force and in some form or fashion, this is illustrated to me every single day. What a gift. What an abundant, priceless gift.