Perhaps a Sunlamp Is Required

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On this post-holiday rainy day, I reserve the right to be melancholy.

Holiday blues, weeping gray clouds, and general lethargy. Sure. It’s my prerogative.

I am loath to say the next seven words I’m about to say but…

I heard this great story on NPR.

You may not realize how pompous I think the people are who quote NPR. Now here I am committing the crime I rail against.

The story was of a musician named Shawn Camp who had a record set for release back in the year 1994.

Through a series of events, the record was shelved until recently. Camp met the new studio head at Reprise who gave Camp’s record a fresh listen and it was finally released in September of this year.

What’s got me going here, got me writing a whole blog post about this story, is one of Camp’s songs that they played on the air.

It was a beautifully written song about being at the funeral of his grandfather. For some reason, the words reminded me of the incredibly sad funeral I attended back in August.

Despite the passing of four months, I find I still grieve for my friend. I guess there’s still something left to grieve, because lately he’s been showing up in my dreams.

Listening to Shawn Camp’s song reminded me of a dream I had just last night.

It was me, and my friend, and we were dancing. Just a simple two-step, nothing fancy, but we danced and he was whole and healthy and grinning from ear to ear.

My best friend was there too, and before I was even done, she got the next dance with him. The three of us laughed like it was, well, 1994, and it was good.

Now, this dream was particularly odd because in real life, my friend wasn’t much of a dancer. Oh, he was long legged and tall, a perfect partner. But he had a farmer’s sensibilities and didn’t dance that much. He could, and did, but it wasn’t something he did a lot.

But there in my dream we danced. When I woke up, I remembered seeing my friend’s body laid out there in a casket inside the El Paso First Baptist Church.

The old Southern saying is “now, don’t he look natural?”

No, he didn’t look natural. In my dream smiling and laughing and giving me seventeen kinds of heck…that was natural.

I’ve always been pretty glad that at the end of the line for my dad, one afternoon when my mom had run into town for errands, my dad and I had a talk. It was uncomfortable and weird, but in that talk, a lot of things were said that needed to be said. I can happily say I have no unresolved issues there.

But with my dear friend, I have something unresolved. It niggles at the corners of my mind and sits on my chest when I have another dream in which he plays a cameo. I owed him an apology. I’d planned to deliver that apology when he came home from the surgery from which he never returned.

Perhaps in dreams I can find the way to lay my issues to rest, to lay down the burden I carry around, to feel at peace with the loss of my friend.

Or maybe we can just dance and forget about I’m sorries.

After my best friend is done (which may take awhile), I got the next waltz.

Cuz these Fat Babies were made for dancing

Photo by Karen Fayeth

Round Two: Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

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Yesterday, early in the morning, I had my weekly one on one with the boss.

He’s in the US this week, so it was nice to have a face to face meeting. I have such respect and yes, I’ll say it, affection for my boss. He’s amazing.

I had a long list of items to discuss, and we jumped right into the fray.

It was a good meeting, much cussed, much discussed. Decisions made. Strategy set.

When I’d exhausted my list of items, I said to Boss Man, “so, do you have anything for me?”

He said he did. There were a couple small items. “No problem, boss, I’m on it.”

He continued,”Also, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to put you on a development plan.”

Then the world went molasses on me.

Oooooh. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

My hearing slowed down. My head swam.

I’ve been a manager for a long time. Development plan is a cute little Human Resources euphemism for “You suck, we’re trying to fire you, but we have to do a ‘development plan’ first to document what a toad you are.”

What had I done? In four months I already blew this gig?

Sure, I was a little blunt with that supplier, but damn, they suck at invoicing! And ok, I might have made a joke in a serious meeting, but that’s just my way. Everyone seemed to appreciate the moment of levity! And fine, I might have been late to work a few times this week, but that’s mainly because I was on seven in the morning calls with India, and I took them from home.

I’m not a perfect employee! But damnit! I work hard and my intentions are right!

While the edges of my eyes went wavy, and I tried to figure out where exactly I’d screwed the pooch, I noticed my boss was still talking.

“And so we’ll be working on this over the next month. Being new, you may not know that development plans are only offered to our top performers, so be aware that not all of your coworkers will be doing this same activity.”

Wait. What?

Oh. I see. “Development plan” as used at *this* company is a good thing.

Whew.

My heart can now regain regular rhythmic activities.

(And then I almost cried….but I held it in. A girl crying at work is sooooo uncool.)

Continuing on a Theme…

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Perhaps fitting given my post from over the weekend, I read an article today in CNN with the title: “Homesickness isn’t really about ‘home’

Oh really?

The article is aimed at parents of new college students and tries to help worried folks get through it. For example, the article recommends that at the first sign of acute homesickness, parents might refrain from swooping and taking the kids back home.

I think that makes sense. The transition from home to college is a big one, and kids have to find their own way.

But because I’m me, and I’m here to talk about me, let’s see how this might or might not apply to my situation.

I recently had a profound bout of homesickness for New Mexico. (Refresh your memory here)

From the article: …”homesickness is defined as ‘distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.'”

Um. I moved to the Bay Area thirteen years ago. This isn’t about a new or anticipated separation.

I left my folk’s home for college about twenty two years ago, so that’s not it either.

And to be honest, I’m not sure I can rightly call New Mexico home anymore. It’s where I was raised. It’s where I’m from. It’s who I am. But I have to say that where I live now is probably best defined as home.

“…it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home.”

Yeah. But here’s the weird thing, I have a happy home. I have an amazing husband and with him I feel loved and safe every day. I have up days and down days, but taken on the average, I’m pretty content with my life. So what’s up with that?

I also know that if I didn’t live in the Bay Area, I’d suffer a profound bout of homesickness for my Bay Area home. I’d miss the amazing art and culture and the family I have made here.

“‘Yet despite the way it’s coined, homesickness isn’t necessarily about home. And neither is it exactly an illness, experts said.'”

It’s not? Then how come I *long* to sit in the kitchen of my best friend’s home, deveining green chiles, cussing and discussing and laughing with her kids? I get a pain in the center of my chest so bad it’s sometimes hard to breathe.

If that’s not a sickness, I don’t know what is.

I’m a woman torn between my two homes. I am a New Mexican. I am part of the Bay Area. I’m both. Maybe I’m neither.

I’m still caught somewhere halfway in between. (Where would that be? Barstow? Cuz ain’t no way I’m calling Barstow home, let me tell you THAT right now.)

I guess I’m what one might call blessed. Blessed to know two distinct geographic regions of the country where I have family and love and kinship and all the things that make life worth living.

So I’m still going to call it homesickness, no disrespect to the authors of the study.

Then I’m going to recycle my not very sophisticated image because it’s the best visual representation I can manage to convey how I feel.

Flash Fiction – Day Three

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I wanted to take a minute to thank my usual readers for sticking with me through this week of a bit different sort of blog post.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this challenge has been a lot harder than I expected. I compete in contests where we have 48 hours to write a thousand word story, and even then, the time feels tight. I’ve been producing the stories this week in around five to six hours.

I’m pretty pleased so far. They all could do with more time and distance to allow for extra editing, but I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written so far.

I hope at least a few of you are enjoying reading them as much as I am writing them.

My goal for this week has worked. I needed to shake things up to get back into my blogging head and it’s working. I’m looking forward to getting back into my groove next week.

For now, here’s Day Three’s story.

Today’s randomly generated is: representation

Top O’ The World, Ma!

by Karen Fayeth

Alex was on top of the world. Six months ago, he’d been promoted to Senior Director of Sales and he was rolling. He was the fair-haired boy employed at one of the fastest growing companies just shy of Fortune’s top 100.

Yesterday the Executive VP of Sales had called Alex personally to congratulate him on landing the biggest client in the history of Jackflash Software. The ink was barely dry on the deal.

Alex and his boys had properly celebrated the victory.

After just two hours of sleep, Alex now looked at himself up and down in the mirror because he knew he looked good. Not just “hey, that’s a nice suit” but “damn! You look GOOD in that Prada suit” sort of good.

Even his hair looked good and his eyes weren’t the slightest bit puffy. A little chin stubble told the tale, but hell, that would just make him look a little rugged today.

If asked, he could say he was up all night on an overseas call. They’d buy that.

This morning he had a date with the CEO of Jackflash, Bob Jackson. The invitation had come quite a few days before the new contract had settled and had been somewhat vague as to the agenda.

Jackflash was still a pretty small company, so meeting with the CEO wasn’t entirely unusual. Maybe there was another big deal in the works? Or maybe there was even a big bonus coming his way. He smiled at the thought. Oh so many toys like boats and cars he would buy…

Alex looked at himself in the mirror. “God, it’s a great day to be me,” he said to his reflection.

Turning from the mirror and picking up his car keys, he felt the burn from lack of sleep around his eyes. Unacceptable, he told his wavering body.

Revving the engine of his brighter-than-the-sun yellow Porsche, his first stop on the way into work was a 7-Eleven. Two Rockstar energy drinks should do the trick.

Alex was guzzling the second Rockstar when he parked and walked into the office. Burping loudly from the fizzy drink and tossing the can in the trash, he put on his winningest smile when he saw people in the lobby turn to look at him with nods and waves.

News must be out, he thought. But not everyone was smiling. Jealous, probably, he thought to himself.

He smiled and made like a politician. If there was a baby in the room, he would have kissed it.

After all the schmoozing and stopping by to talk to friends along the way, it took him a half hour to get from the front door to his office. His heart was trip hammering in his chest from all the caffeine and he couldn’t sit still. He glanced briefly at email and ignored the flashing message light on his phone.

A note was taped to his monitor. Terry, his boss, wanted to see him as soon as he came in. He checked his watch, 9:45. Terry was probably already in the day’s meetings, but he figured he’d give it a try.

Alex walked so fast to the elevators, the back of his jacket trailed out behind him like a little woolen cape.

“Hey Susan! Is she in?” Alex said, putting on his charming voice for Terry’s admin. Susan wielded all the power in the organization, including whether or not Alex flew first class, so he treaded lightly.

Susan looked at Alex with a face drained of blood. “No, Alex. She’s gone.”

“Gone? You mean meetings?

“No. I mean gone. Fired.” Susan whispered the last word.

“Fired? What the hell?”

Susan shrugged.

Alex checked the Rolex on his right wrist and noted he had five minutes to get upstairs to meet Bob.

“Ok, I’m going up,” Alex said, pointing toward the ceiling, the company recognized gesture to indicate Bob’s office on the top floor.

Susan was VP of Sales. If she was gone, and with Alex coming off such a huge victory…well, the writing was on the wall. He was going to get promoted again.

Alone in the elevator, he did a little “yes!” fist pump dance/jig sort of a move.

When the elevator doors opened, he was met by Bob’s Admin, Charlene. “He’s here,” she said into her boss’ open office door, then with an out of character syrupy voice, “I believe Bob is ready for you. Go on in.”

Alex walked into the office with his head high, but faltered when he saw Ellen Banks, VP of Human Resources and Stan Ingersol, Jackflash General Counsel already seated at the conference table.

“Hello Stan,” he said, shaking the man’s hand, “Ellen,” he said, nodding. “Bob, how great to see you! You heard about the Techtron Telco deal, I assume?” Alex said, all smiles and sales training in his demeanor.

“Yes, I’ve heard. But that’s not what we’re here for. Alex, why don’t you have a seat?”

Alex was still grinning ear to ear when he sat down at the head of the table.

Alex drummed his fingers on the table impatiently and looked at Bob who turned instead to Stan. “How about you take the lead on this meeting?”

Stan cleared his throat and shuffled through the stack of paperwork in front of him. He found the page he needed and held it up.

“Alex, this is a copy of the resume you submitted when you applied to Jackflash.”

Alex leaned forward to squint at the document, then nodded.

“It was your representation at the time you were hired that you both attended and graduated from Yale School of Management. Your hiring manager failed to do a background check before extending the very generous offer. During a routine audit, Ellen’s team found the lapse in procedure and conducted the appropriate check.”

Alex swallowed. He knew what was coming next.

“Son, you never even graduated high school.”

Alex closed his eyes.

Visions of Masaratis stopped dancing in his head.

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“Top O’ The World, Ma!” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Seeing myself in a new way

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You know, looking at a photograph of myself is always an interesting and somewhat humbling experience.

In a photo, I never quite look the way that I imagine I look.

Where did those lines around the eyes come from? Do my hips really look like that?

Ah well.

The other day, I received an interesting photograph that surely has me pondering some things.

Here, I’ll share the photo with you, my fabulous readers, so you can see what I’m talking about.

It is a fun photo of me driving! Isn’t that neat! A perspective one doesn’t often get.

Look at me…intense expression on my face. Hands firmly at ten and two. Or maybe more like eleven and one, but no matter.

That’s a concentrated and skillful driver, no?

Yup, that photo was kindly mailed to me by the Superior Court of the county where I live.

Wasn’t that sweet?

It appears they are of the belief that I didn’t stop fully before making a right turn at a red light into a very busy intersection.

And so for the luxury of a faboo photo of me behind the wheel, I was charged $500.

I’m *ever* so pleased about that. Tickled pink. And other euphemisms I can’t think of right now to sarcastically convey that I’m not very pleased AT ALL!

Next step: onward to driving school. Yay me.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate red light cameras? Oh I really hate them.