Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'm On to You, Claus. . .

So, tomorrow's the big night - you ready?  Well, you should be, you lucky bastard!  You've had all year to get ready!  Heh, heh. . . If you don't mind me saying so, that's a pretty sweet gig you got there; how'd you manage to land a job where you only have to work one night a year? 

I don't mean to minimize.  I know it's a big job; and it's not really "just one night a year" what will all that you must have to do ahead of time.  Supervising all those annoying elves, taking orders, managing your inventory, coaching the reindeer games - making sure the team's in good shape for the big game.  I get it, it's a lot of work.

But, c'mon, Santa, (Is it okay that I call you "Santa"?) you have to admit, it's not exactly a real job.  At least not to those of us who have to work for a living pretty much every day. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love what you do, really.  I could never do it myself.  It takes special people to do special things, and. . .well. . .to say that what you do is "special" doesn't even begin to do it justice.  You're huge!  A real rock star!

So, if you don't mind my asking, how much do they pay you?  Nah, never mind.  It's none o' my beeswax. 

Tell me somethin' though, how did you get into your line of work?  Oh. . . I see . . .you sorta just fell into it?  I can appreciate that.  Trust me.  I know.  It's tough to find a career that fits when you're someone who's. . .well. . .a little hard to fit.  Oh, no, no. . .that wasn't a "fat" joke.  Not at all.  I mean, look at me.  I don't have much room to talk.  But I've always got room for cheesecake! Ha! Ba-dum-ccchhh. . . . Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes.

Well, anywhooo. . .like I was saying, I know how tough it is finding work that works for you when you work. . .oh. . .a little. . .I don't know. . .differently.  What do mean I by that?

Well, for one thing, the way you dress.  You've obviously got your own style, and I'm not saying it doesn't completely work for you.  It's awesome; you're your own guy.  But, for example, you could never wear furry red velvet pants and a matching hat with a puffy ball at the end of it at my office.  I suppose you might be able to pull it off on Casual Day.  But it would be a stretch. 

And like I was saying, a lot of people have to work all the time.  I mean really work.  Seems like you get to take it pretty easy doin' whatever, and then BAM! You have all this energy all of a sudden and you go nuts!  Flying around the whole freakin' world in one night taking toys to like a couple billion kids.  And you don't even bother to use doors because you're so busy racing around, and stuffing cookies and milk in your face!  Wow. . .talk about hyperact. . .!  What?  Oh, nothing. . .I didn't say anything. 

Just seems like you've got an unusual amount of energy once in awhile for someone who . . .I don't know. . .what is it again that you do from December 26 through December 23?  What's that?  You don't pay much attention to dates?  Oh, true, someone does have to test out the video games before the kiddos get them.  I guess that's another thing that would make it pretty tough for you work in my world.  The Man is all about the schedule.  I'll bet your not paying attention much to dates goes over really well with Mrs. Claus on her birthday!  Haha! 

They make calendars that are pretty good, if you're interested.  I'll bet your phone might even have one.  Huh?  Oh. . .naw, I haven't seen your phone.  Sorry.  When was the last time you remember having it?  I'll let you know if I come across it, though. 

So, hey, you should probably hit the sack.  Big day tomorrow.  Oh. . .not tired?  Me neither.  I should have figured you for a night owl.  Most people would probably choose to deliver toys all over the world during first shift.  But, no. . .not you, I guess.  Yeah, I like to stay up late, too.  I guess we have some things in common, you and me.  I like to work at night.  But sometimes I just play dumb games on the Internet.  Other times, I just talk to myself. . .and pretend I'm having meaningful conversation with mythical characters. 

Oh, no. . .I didn't mean you.  Did I say you?  No, I did not.  I didn't say YOU were mythical.  Methinks "somebody" might be getting just a tad oversensitive.  I'd never say that about you.  I was talking about someone else.  You wouldn't know him. 

So. . um . . . not to change the subject, but do you really know whether everyone's been naughty or nice?  Seriously?  That's a pretty crazy talent you've got there.  How do you do that?  It's like you'd have to be paying attention to everybody all at once. . .all the time!  Seriously? You do? And no one ever taught you how to do that? Your brain just picks up on it, whether you want it to or not. That's pretty hilarious.  Your school teachers must have "loved" you! Heh!

Okay, quick! Close your eyes!  What color is the shirt I'm wearing?  Ha ha! Nope, it's green.  No, seriously, it's green.  You can look now.  How did you not know that?  I'm standing right in front of you.  Yeah, okay. . .I guess you've got your mind on other things.  What?  Oh, my god!  I WAS totally naughty that day!  But that was like 35 years ago!  Man, that is just creepy.  How do you even know that, much less remember it 35 years later?  But I'm standing right in front of you, and you have no idea my shirt is green. 

And they actually gave you a license to fly a reindeer-driven magic sleigh, did they?  Well, I'll be sure to stay out of the clouds tomorrow night.  No offense.  Oh, I'm just kidding around with you.  Lighten up.  You're awesome at what you do.  Like I said, I could never do it.  I have all the respect in the world for you.

But now really.  HOW do you manage to pull it off.  Even if it's only one night of actual work (no offense).  That's a pretty intense night. 

Aaaahhhh!  The List!  I forgot about the List.  And you check it not once, but twice!  Right. I remember.  Five times?  Ha!  You really check it five times?  That's hilarious!  I check mine at least that many too. . . But why lie about - why not tell people you check it five times?  Oh. . .it doesn't fit the rhyme scheme of the song.  Sure, I get that.  Naw, don't worry about it.  I won't tell anyone.  Your secret's safe with me. 

Wow, I'm starting to feel a little tired now finally.  We really ought to wrap this up so you can get some rest and get ready to share all those gifts of yours with the world.  The world needs them.

Yeah, thanks,  it was nice talking to you also. 

Backatcha, Santa--you have yourself a happy Christmas, too.  And a good night.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This is Not Your Typical Holiday Greeting

My cat is a metabolic marvel.  My sweet kitty is nearly 13 years old.  Still playful and young at heart, the old gal is skinnier than she used to be.  She enjoys a healthy appetite, and her domesticated life pretty much revolves around Her Bowl, centered atop a rubber mat that proudly declares "Cats Rule!"  But she doesn't eat excessively.  I feed her no more than recommended for her petite frame, as indicated on the cans and bags.  And this is why I'm amazed by her metabolism.  I simply can't believe how much this cat poops. 

My cat is, in fact, named after her poop.  It wasn't intentional; it just worked out that way.  My precious feline companion was my first real pet.  She was a gift from my husband for my birthday in the first year of our marriage.  When we brought the little kitty home, I had no idea what to call her.  I had a friend who was a Wiccan priestess, and I remembered her telling me once that pets should name themselves.  So I decided that I would let the kitty name herself.  I didn't exactly how or when that would happen; but I figured that since she was the only cat in the house, there should be no basis for identity confusion, and therefore no reason to rush on calling her anything other than "Kitty."

Kitty spent the first 3 days in her new home under my bed.  She was terrified.  I was able to coax her out for short periods of time with one of those feather-on-a-stick toys.  But as soon as she tired of trying to catch the feather, she'd head back under the bed and remain there for hours.  I was worried about her.  Her Bowl was full of food, but she wouldn't touch it.  I had set up for her a brand new litter box, filled with delightfully scented fresh litter.  But she didn't go near it.  As far as I could tell, for the first several days after she moved in, she didn't go at all. 

Like a nervous young mother of a newborn, I became mildly obsessed with her litterbox.  I'd check it hourly to see if she'd used it.  And hour after hour, nothing.  I worried that she had a blockage.  That she was constipated.  That her tummy hurt.  That she would injure herself mortally in a passive-aggressive, anal-retentive act of rebellion over having been adopted by this couple of losers whom she clearly despised. 

My husband assured me that she was just fine - just needing some time to get used to her surroundings.  And of course, as he usually is about things like this, he was right.  By around Day Four, Kitty emerged from her Under-Bed sanctuary, and started exploring our apartment, which included sampling the fare in Her Bowl.  I continued to check her box for deposits, and for another day or so, I continued to walk away disappointed.

Finally, one morning, I checked her box, and to my joy, I discovered one tiny little poop ball.  As I scooped it out, Kitty stood by and watched me.  I wanted to encourage her good excretory behavior, so I praised her enthusiastically, saying in an annoying baby-talkie voice, "What a good little girl you are, Kitty!  You finally left Mama a little nugget!"  Meow.  "Yes! My sweet girl finally dropped us a little nugget!"  Meow, meow.  "You're talking to me!  You must be happy too!  I'll bet your tummy feels better now!  Eat some more so you can give us another nugget."  Meow. 

I was finally starting to relax and have fun with my new kitty friend.  As I prattled on excitedly about her poop nugget, Kitty rubbed her head on me, and meowed.  ". . .nugget."  Meow.  "nugget?"  Meow, meow.  "Oh, I get it!  Nugget!  Your name is Nugget!"  Meow, meow, meowww. . .

And that is how Miss Nugget P. Nuggbert, a.k.a. "Nuggie" came to name herself after feces.  And from that day forward, Nuggie was the productive little metabolizer that she continues to be today. 

In her senior years, Nuggie has become rather curmudgeonly, with lots of opinions, including critical opinions regarding the state of her litter box.  So to prevent her from taking it upon herself to find more appealing facilities among the stored items in the basement, I scoop Nuggie's box multiple times a day, whenever I can.  There is always poop to scoop.

Today, I had an Inattentive Poster Girl morning, the likes of which I had not experienced for months.  It started when my alarm when off, and I didn't know where I was.  Then, I couldn't figure out how to turn off my alarm - the same alarm that blares at me every single morning just before I turn it off.  Somehow I managed to get my kids ready for the school bus in time.  But moments after they left, I wondered why the house was so quiet, and I looked around for my little boy.  Oh, riiiight.  He just got on the school bus. 

It was at that point that I decided to head to the basement for the morning ritual of scooping out the litter boxes, which were no doubt needing some attention by now. (As a good operations manager, I've recently brought in a second box to handle heavy production demands).  I walked down the steps carefully so as not to fall, as I was still feeling a bit out of sorts.  Once at the bottom of the steps, I grabbed a plastic poop bag, glanced around, and . . .

...Ooooh, christmas lights!!

I grabbed the lights from on top of the box sitting next to the steps, and turned to head back upstairs.  As I climbed the steps, I considered options for where I could hang them.  I still had to get my shower in before work, so I was going to have to move quickly on these lights.  For some weird reason, I had a plastic bag in my hand, so I dropped that to free my hands for light hanging, which I would do just as soon as I took a few big gulps of coffee. 

"Look what I found!  Where should I hang them?"  I asked my husband.  "Wherever you want," he replied agreeably.  "You can put them up over here, or up there, or up there across the cabinets."

Like a woman possessed by a low-budget Martha Stewart, I grabbed a kitchen chair and dragged it over to the cupboards so I could stand on it and festoon the cabinets with the long string of pretty twinkly lights.  I couldn't quite reach, even standing on the chair. (FYI, IPG is super short; not as short as Snookie - but short.)  I struggled to reach the top of the cupboards and drape the lights up there.  As soon as I managed to land the lights on the end of the row of cupboards and try to start draping them across, the lights would fall down.  And then I would try again. . .and again, failing to achieve my goal each time.  I saw no reason to. . .oh, I don't know. . .try a different method.  This one was perfect.  I just needed to try. . .ugh. . .ugh. . harder. . .one. . .more. . .time.  Shit. 

With every failed attempt, I became more and more determined.  These lights HAD to go up.  Now.  Before my shower.  Before I could go to work.  I wanted my house to be pretty and festive and illuminated.  I wanted my children to come home from school and experience a joyous surprise of beautiful lights.  I just wanted. . .nope, needed. . .these lights to happen.

In my house, we refer to this sort of thing as my "buffoonery."  I was Lucy and Ethel all rolled into one.  Any casual observer could have pointed out that there was no way in hell those lights were getting up there like that unless I suddenly acquired the wingspan of a California Condor.  Luckily, Inattentive Poster Girl is smart, and she would figure this out. . .eventually.

"Honey! Come help me put these lights up here!" I called to my husband.  He walked into the kitchen chuckling.  He mumbled something about "buffoonery."  I don't know what he was talking about.  In any event, my White Knight - much taller, handier, and more coordinated than me - graciously took the tangled lights from my sweaty tense hands, and like a competent foreman, took over the job, instructing me on my part.  As he reached up and placed the lights, my husband commented, "You know, this really isn't the time to be doing this."  Low-Budget-Martha-Bot turned to him slowly, and replied in monotone, "This is exactly the time to be doing this."

Thanks to my adept husband of normal height, the job was completed within a minute or two after that.  I stood back to admire the lights.  I smiled and started breathing again, inhaling deeply.  Along with much needed oxygen, composure began to flow through me once again. 

It was then that I realized what had just happened.  Inattentive Poster Girl, joined by her identical twin, Hyperactive Poster Girl, and their mutual best friends, Hyperfocusing Chick and Impulsive Lady, just had a raucous party in my head.  A raucous decorating party, to be exact.  And now. . . poof. . .it was over. 

"Jeez," I said, looking at the clock.  "I have to get ready to go to work.  I'm late."  I explained to my husband that I was having a super duper IPG morning.  Now reading news on the Internet, my hubby replied without looking up, "No kidding.  You'd better take your pill."

"Yeah, yeah, I know," I chuckled as I started to head for the upstairs to get ready.  What should I wear?  Oh, I know!  I'll wear. . .

. . . POOOOP!!
The poop!  I forgot all about the poop!  I hurried down to the basement to scoop poop.  Whew!  I'm not too late - the poop is still there. Not only was the poop still there, patiently waiting to be scooped, but my little girl was standing by, waiting for me to get out of the way so she could replace what I just removed.  Good girl.  As my dad used to say, "Everyone needs to have a profession."

By the time I made it into my car to drive to work, I was grinning from ear to ear.  What started off as a horrible morning turned out to be a happy one.  My home became a little brighter; I enjoyed a few laughs, some companionship, and a little sense of accomplishment; and I knew that my joy would pass to my children - even if only for a brief moment - when they saw the beautiful new lights.  I felt refreshed and hopeful, ready to take on the day.

As I drove down the highway, I tried to make sense of my morning.  While I pondered, a verse from the Gospel of Matthew came to mind:  So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. (Mathew 6:34).  I love this passage.  It's one of the few I know and invoke often because it is so relevant to the human experience, in all its facets.

Like now, it kinda reminds me of poop.  As distasteful and unpleasant as it can be, poop is an inevitable byproduct of life.  There's not much point in getting all twisted up about poop. You can scoop and scoop like crazy; but tomorrow will bring its own poop anyway.  And if you have a cat like Nugget, tomorrow is always just a couple of hours away. 

So, why knock yourself out?  Drop the plastic baggie for a little while and put up some Christmas lights.

And, as I continued down the Interstate toward my office, I was further reminded of Advent, the days of waiting and anticipation before Christmas that began a few days ago.  (I'm reminded of lots of random stuff while I drive.) 

In case you haven't noticed, I love a metaphor.  I decided that my morning buffoonery would be my personal metaphor for what the season of Advent is about - focusing our hearts and minds on the Light to come.  Setting aside the darkness of tedium and fear to make room for joy and hope.  To prepare a Manger in which Love is born. 

To all of you, I wish you an abundance of Light this season and always.  I hope your worries and poop will be small and managable.  I hope the Spirit moves you to hang your lights, kindle your menorahs, and share your light with others.  Most of all, I wish you. . .

Peace and Blessings