(Alternatively titled: When Your Schedule and Your Significant Other's Schedule Do Not Match Up. At All.)

We haven't had a "real" date since I made dinner for Chef the Sunday after Easter, a few days after his eye surgery.

His eye is doing all right but he won't know the degree of its success for at least another month.  Additionally, he has to wear a protective eye patch.  He is sick of the pirate jokes.

Nevertheless, he works hard at both his jobs, six days a week.  As a result of circumstances at his full-time job--which is not his permanent position but rather a transitional position as the restaurant prepares to open a new location whose kitchen he will run (exciting!)--his schedule has changed.  He no longer has Sundays off, which we used to call "Date Day" (no offensive to Our Lord--we still honor Him, too, and make plans for after church).

Text messages by day and phone calls at night (most nights unless he's practically sleepwalking by the time he gets home) sustain us, but barely.

I started getting plaintive text messages like this: Come see me.

Now, I'm still getting to know the very large town in which I've been working for nearly two years.  My school sits on kind of the southeasternmost edge.  So, the first time I mapped out where Chef's work was in relation to my work, I discovered that the restaurant is a seven-minute drive from my school.

Seven minutes.

In the wrong direction from home, I might add, but still.

It's not as if I have anyone waiting for me at home (sob).

So for most of the Thursdays in the past month or so, I've been going over after school and treating myself to dinner, expertly and lovingly prepared.  I have a book and my cell phone to keep me company.  I also people-watch.  (It's an introvert thing, I guess.)

Sometimes Chef can come out and sit with me for a couple of minutes; sometimes it's a little too hectic for him to do more than say hi from the kitchen apologetically.  Like this past week, for example.  When he called me Thursday night, he opened with, "I'm sorry I was too busy to say hi, but Baby, what did you have?  Was it a tuna club? Because I only made one the entire night."  

I don't order the same thing all the time, but he knew it was mine.

Even if he can't see me, even if he's so swamped with orders (can't complain if that means business is good!) that all he can do is make my dinner, that's O.K.

Just being able to lay eyes on him, however briefly, and knowing he's just on the other side of the dining room wall is good enough for me.

At least, I think I can make it to the end of the school year.



A Post, As Promised, and Hopefully Somewhat Interesting

Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate--and for everyone, happy new week!

I've set the timer for 30 minutes so let's see what kind of thoughts and events I can get down on the page/screen. . .

Thinking about what you already know (previous posts); trying to imagine what questions you might have about what I've been doing for the past few months.

But mainly, I know what you want: stories.  Here is a good one.

A couple days after The Cat passed away, I ran out of hairspray and was picking some up after school at an ULTA store when the cashier asked me if I was interested in a free Clarisonic class on Sunday.  Well, I had one and I really liked it, I had nothing planned Sunday morning (which worried me a little), so I said why not.  I went to Mass on the earlier side and picked up a bagel and coffee on the way.  Right before I went in, Chef called and asked if I wanted to go to brunch.  He had thrown out the idea to go to the Manayunk section of Philly and said he'd call me back with details once he'd gotten a reservation.  
By the time I got out of the class (with freebies like new brush heads and travel bags), he'd left me a message saying, "I got hold of my best friend and he said come to brunch at his place!" 

This is where his best friend works.  WOW.  It was a scramble to get down there at the appointed time, but we found it, found parking, and took the elevator all the way up. . . where we ate the most delicious brunch ever (pecan smoked bacon? heavenly) and I finally tried sushi for the first time.  Sushi isn't bad but I don't think I'd choose it on my own.  We enjoyed the view--O.K., Chef isn't crazy about heights but I loved it--and had an exclusive tour of the kitchen.  We were treated like VIPs and I loved every minute of it.  Plus I met his best friend who is just a genuinely good guy.  

I still cried in Chef's arms about The Cat when we got back to my place, but even that contributed to a balanced day when it came down to it.

Additionally, I totally would have a wedding reception there if I could afford it.

This isn't so much a story as much as a summary of the Easter Sunday Hilarity that happens when you have two families and two places to be.

Chef has been working every day for the past month. No days off.  He started a new job that is sort of a transitional position as the completely new position won't begin until the restaurant's new location opens in a couple months.  So other than last Thursday's night at the movies (attended with two other guy friends of his and it was Batman vs. Superman anyway so while he loved it I maintain Wonder Woman is still the best) we have had no time together.  No dates.  In a month.  I've had dinner at his "new" work a couple of times just so we can see each other.  And late-night phone calls sometimes have been only a few minutes because we're both exhausted.

Yesterday: Easter Sunday Mass at 9:30, then brunch at his godmother's with an egg hunt for his little cousins & niece, quick stop at my place for me to change out of my dress & heels (my aching feet!!!) and bake the Brie en Croute he made to take to my parents'.  We got there just as the egg hunt was wrapping up (which Mom said my nephews did in under ten minutes).  

At the end of the night, after everyone else had hit the road, we helped finish off the cleaning up--I felt bad I couldn't have been there earlier to help set up but there was zero time.

So my mom asked me to wrap up the leftover pie and take it out to the fridge in the garage.  Chef follows along.

And while we're taking a couple of minutes to smooch in the dark of the garage, my dad locks the back door and we have to knock to get back in.

I don't think Dad suspected anything.

(And my mom will kindly pretend she never read this.  Hi, Mom!  Dinner was great.  That's all you need to know.)

 For most of 1988, I was twelve and Chef was nine. 
And we were riding the school bus together every day,
oblivious to the future.  Hee.



Update Coming Soon!

It's the start of Holy Week and it actually looks as if I will have some time off at Easter (unlike years before).  I will have time at last to catch up all of my (remaining) readers on what has been happening.

All you need to know for now is. . .

  • I still miss The Cat, very much (and no, there's no replacement)
  • I still am dating Chef (Saturday marks one year and three months since our first date!)
  • My work is still challenging as ever (surprise).

Catch you up on more soon!


Missing My Little Furry Friend

On the night of the 10th, I said goodbye to my dear sweet Cat.  She had taken to lying behind the armchair in the living room the week before, and as she came out from there less and less, all signs pointed to the end stages of her kidney failure.  I kind of knew the Saturday before, and we had a heart-to-heart. . . her behind the armchair, me with my head wedged between the chair and the wall.  The day before she passed, she surprised me by coming into the bedroom and sleeping on my feet.  But I had a feeling that was her way of telling me that was the last time.

The vet and the technicians were very compassionate and kind--I mean, I called as they were supposed to be closing and they said bring her anyway--and when we got to the office, I took a couple of minutes in the car to explain to The Cat why I'd taken her there, that it was going to be O.K., and that I was really sure I'd see her again.  My mom was waiting inside which was really kind of her.  (Chef was stuck at work.  He said he didn't even need to listen to the voicemail I left him, because I never call him while he's working, only text.  He called me later and cried with me.)

I walked into the office with The Cat and came out with an empty carrier, an envelope with a little clipping of her pretty fur, my receipt (sticker shock), and a copy of the Rainbow Bridge story (sob).  My mom said to come over for a cup of tea, and after that I went home for a drink and to put in for a day off from work.  Because I knew I wasn't going to sleep well after that.

Honestly, I'm still not sleeping great.  It feels like being in a fog most of the day.  I cry at least twice a day (privately).  I keep catching myself thinking about doing something I would do for her, or even catch myself doing something I normally did for her that I don't need to do anymore.  I also sometimes catch myself operating as if she's still here in the apartment.  

The big, empty apartment I don't really want to go home to just about every night.

My sister sent flowers, people offered condolences on Twitter and Facebook--it took me some time to even get on there and say that it happened--and I got some cards from friends and family.  It's a kindness I'm almost embarrassed about, because she was a cat. . . but at the same time, she was my constant companion for over eighteen years.  We had a routine.  We had a friendship.  A huge friendship I don't know I'll ever find again.

But I did tell her, during that heart-to-heart, that it was O.K. to go.  I didn't want her to feel bad anymore. And even more than that, I reassured her that I wasn't going to be alone.  There had been times in the past that she really was just about all I had, the only one who cared if I was around or not.  (And certainly not just because I was the only one who could open the fridge.)

My friend the marriage counselor said that it's all normal, that when you lose a loved one, you have what's like a big hole in your heart.  There's no way to fix it; you just have to go on and eventually it does get smaller.  The hole doesn't ever close up completely, but a lot of it gets filled up with love from others and the happiness from new experiences.

Just right now--I miss her incredibly.  Napping on my lap (and purring like a motorboat). Eating half my dinner if it was chicken.  Settling down on the other side of the bed as I fell asleep.  I miss talking to her, singing to her, petting her soft fur.  

I definitely miss her "singing" to me.

This past week, I had to go back to the vet to pick up her ashes.  (Mom and Dad said there's a spot in their yard where I can bury the ashes.  I just have to get there sometime when it's actually light out.)  I opened the shipping box when I got to my parents' and the ashes are in a nice cherry-wood box and a brass plate engraved with her name is on the lid. 

I never used her name in the blog, because it's a very distinctive name and I did find at one point people were searching for my blog using her name as part of the search terms.  But, if you're curious, she was named (somewhat) after
  this song.  I think you can pick it out.  But please don't mention it in the comments or I'll have to delete it (sorry). . . Did you get it?  Now you understand about the singing, huh?

Needless to say, it's been a rough couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to having a few days off for Thanksgiving.  (Naturally, I'm working at the public library this weekend! Just like last year!)  But in spite of how sad I am and how much I miss her, I think I still can take a moment on Thursday and be grateful for having such a special feline friend and all the great times I had with her.

I'll never forget you, little girl.



Just Barely Stopping to Blog

School is rolling along, very different with fewer students--and yet, more students crammed into some sections to accommodate the schedule.  It's a crazy thing.

Speaking of crazy, we're just about hitting crazy time with Younger Sister's wedding, so head over my other blog for an update if you're interested.

I will be back with a birthday post as soon as I can.  (And probably dependent on whether it's good or bad.)



Back in School

Sad that summer is unofficially over, but a lot (good and bad) did happen.  I'm more upset about the things that did not happen, like the total inside-out cleaning of my apartment, but I'll work on that this weekend.  Chef is at the shore for the "bachelor weekend" for his cousin whose wedding we will attend in a few weeks.  

And no, I'm not worried he's doing anything bad.  In fact, I'm feeling a little bummed for him because he's sort of "babysitting" his relatives while they're drinking--he doesn't drink, for medical reasons mostly.  It's not fun being the only sober one in the room, I know that much.  And frankly I think these guys (most of them a few years his senior--and mine) are too old for that kind of "partying."  It bothers me no one's trying to make sure everyone has a good time.  Kind of rude.

I struggled with bad anxiety before the first in-service on Wednesday, and having bad PMS did not help the situation.  In a few months I expect the PMS will lessen as the result of the progesterone treatments, but we'll see.  The most anxious thing was the class schedule was up in the air for days--and was looking as if I might have to go teach kindergarten library classes at another school to help out, ridiculous because we're still the biggest elementary--but today it all got ironed out and it appears I actually have a tiny bit more breathing room in my schedule.  That's an answer to prayers right there.

Will I be ready for classes to start Tuesday? Probably not.  I was out all day at meetings today, and I have an off-site meeting Monday morning.  So Monday afternoon is it--and remember, I just got my schedule (after already having planned out three weeks of lessons which I now have to "fix").  My assistant was in yesterday and half of today, and won't be in Monday.  

On top of that, they re-drew the school boundaries so I've "lost" some students (mostly good ones, a couple of pests) and have some new ones.  The proportion of students in poverty and/or not speaking English as a first language has risen.  But I'm kind of excited about the challenge and I hope that encouraging them to embrace literacy will open doors for them here and in the future.

When I was putting away some extra packs of scratch paper under the Circ desk, I found an old dusty mug.  Inside it was a weird piece of plastic, a crusted-on, disintegrated rubber band, and a penny.

The penny's year was my birth year.

I try not to look for signs, but I really think it was a somewhat-needed confirmation that I'm in the right place.




For me, and for the car.

Me: Eight blood tests later, my GYN called me with the results.  "You definitely have low progesterone," she told me. "Very low, actually."  (Interesting article here but just so you're not startled, there's a big ol' medical photo in the middle of it.)

Kind of a bummer and a relief at the same time, you know?  I didn't want something to be wrong with me, but really I knew something was and at least now that it's been identified we can move on to treatment.

I'm starting off with the doc's recommended progesterone supplement, taken in the latter half of my cycle.  It's being compounded at a pharmacy downtown and will be sent to me.  I also decided to go back to acupuncture because I think it will be complimentary, and the practicioners specialize in women's health.  I'm going Tuesday.  Basically, I just want to talk to somone and see what I can do to get myself back on track.  

The sooner the better--school's starting again soon, the wedding's not far behind, and just generally I can't wait to start feeling good. Really good.

The car: $400 later there are new brakes and an oil change.  My parents picked up the car for me as I'd been called in to the public library for coverage (horrible reason, I can't even go into it, just keep praying for the co-worker's family).  Dad gave me the receipt and under "Recommendations" it said "Left side cam seal, leaking oil."

Fantastic.  Things are just never-ending with this car.

The other reason the bill was so high was that I had the headlights sanded.  13-plus years of being outside had clouded up the headlights to the point that my mechanic said the visibility was starting to be compromised.  I believe it because I swear I've been cut off so many times in the past year I was starting to wonder if I was invisible.  Supposed to cost me 60 but I saw it was 80 on the receipt (grrr) but OH MY GOSH they are bright and shiny.

After I gave my mom back her car and took mine home, I parked in my usual area in the lot behind my building.  There were two boys on bikes, just tooling around (in the dark, I grumbled to myself, grateful I was able to see them with the brighter headlights).  As I crossed the lot to go up the steps to the building door, one of the kids buzzed by and then circled back.

"Nice car!  Is it, uh, used?"

"No, honey, it's pretty old," I replied without missing a beat.

Fending off the advances of what was starting to sound like Korean Eddie Haskell Notices a Lady Because She's Wearing a Skirt.

You might want to try working on your smoothness, kid.