Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Big Day at the Orr House

Today is Tuesday. A hum drum day of the week as days go. Not the pressure of Monday or the excitement of Friday. Just a Tuesday.
But not just ANY Tuesday.
Because you know what happens today? My girl is coming home. After 162 days in Alaska, after horrible co-workers, hideously long hours, some grand adventures, too many of the wrong men, and tours that included touching a glacier, holding sled dog puppies and riding in a jeep into Alaskan wilderness, she is COMING HOME. Her plane arrives at 4:38 this afternoon. We will be there, dressed up and with open arms. This time, unlike when she left in April, I won't hide my tears because this time they will be ones of joy. I have so missed this girl. We have talked on the phone for hours, written pages of letters, exchanged enough cards to keep Hallmark in business for at least another six months, texted a billion times a day, but you know what? It wasn't enough. I need to hug her and see her smile and listen to her laugh in the same room.
She is older and wiser and more experienced and will be off on another adventure within a few months, but for right now, she is coming home. And I can hardly stand the wait.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Keep Juggling, Tami

Lately, I feel like I do more juggling than anything else. I have multiple projects due at the same time and literally, I work on one for a few hours, then shift, work on another, shift, another, shift , another and then back to the first one and start all over again. It's like a constant juggle and unfortunately, lately I've had to deal with very tired arms. (I even wear a brace on the right one.) I typically have anywhere from 20 to 30 assignments in a given month and this month, as well as last and next, I have closer to 40 or even more. When combined with traveling children and pesky demands like sleeping and eating, I keep running out of time and energy long before I run out of work.

Don't misunderstand. I am unbelievably grateful. In a time where people are still struggling to find a way to get a job, I am extraordinarily lucky and I really do feel blessed, but I am also tired, overworked and wishing I had a break. So send me good thoughts and lots and lots of energy, cuz I could use some extra.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joseph's Comment on "The One"

I read my post to my bleary eyed hubby this morning. His response?

"No, it is because you're so damn sexy."

MEN. I had to edit that comment before posting, believe me.

"The One"

I was recently watching a show about a young girl angsting over whether or not her current boyfriend was "the one" and I couldn't help but take a moment to be grateful that I am married. Happily married. I know I have found "the one". He wasn't necessarily "the one" when I married him, of course. Then he was just a really sexy guy I sort of knew and he seemed right for me. I was right. Whew. Now, almost 29 years later, he still a really sexy guy but I know him very, very well.

My son Caspian also recently remarked to me that our family says, "I love you" to each other more than the average family he has been around, but, he said, "I don't see you and Dad say it as often as you used to." This observation surprised me. I am guessing, on an average day, Joseph and I say, "I love you" to each other more than a half to a dozen times. It is never said out of habit or obligation--we mean it each time. We say it consciously.

Yesterday morning we ran some errands together, including a stop at our local and favorite Goodwill. On the way in, my left shoe came untied. Joseph stopped--in the rain--went down on one knee and tied it for me. Was I not capable of doing it? Of course not. He did it cuz he loves me. Ten minutes later, in the paper aisle, my right shoe came untied. I started laughing, he looked down and saw it, and with a smirk, he tied the other one. Later, when I was hit by hot flash #4903950-3 of the day, he stood behind me in the furniture section and blew cool air across the back of my neck. (Leading to many sexual innuendo comments in the process, of course.) Then, as we were leaving and it was pouring rain, he took all of the packages and told me to wait inside while we went and got the car, which he pulled up right in front.

How do I know he loves me? He proved it to me at least four times in Goodwill yesterday. Yup, no question about it. I found "the one".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Do you know people who struggle to say "Thank you"?
I do.
And I am always somewhat amazed by it. Why is showing gratitude difficult? Honestly,I don't get it . . .
I am a gift giver. I don't do it to show off . . . . I don't do it out of guilt or obligation. . . . I honestly LOVE finding gifts for people. It brings me pleasure. I don't want a gift back. I don't want gushing. But an honest, wow, thanks . . . that's appreciated. The best part is the smile on the person's face, but the thank you is nice too.
Every month, I send off between three and ten packages to people I care about. Some are family, some are correspondents, some are friends who have moved away. I love filling up the boxes over a period of weeks and then sending them off.
But recently I have run into a few people who simply do not know how to demonstrate gratitude. (Whether or not they FEEL it, I don't know.) One person's ingratitude ended our year long correspondence (he not only didn't say thanks, he yelled at me for sending anything and returned it unopened) and another hurt my feelings last night. I had found something when I was out of town that I knew he'd like and brought it to him. Handed it to him. He looked at it, chuckled, put it in his pocket and never even LOOKED at me. No thank you. No acknowledgement whatsoever. In my book, that's just RUDE.
So you know what, I want to take this chance to say THANK YOU to all of the wonderful people in my life who have shared their love, time and life with me. That is the best gift of all and I thank you. Yes, I am exceedingly grateful--and not afraid to show it either.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A True Loss

Yesterday afternoon I went into our neighborhood Border's . . . .the last trip into the store to see what they had at 90 percent off . . . and I put my head down and cried. There was nothing left other than empty bookshelves and bare walls. Men were taking furniture apart and carting out tables and display stands.

Crying over a store seems a little stupid, I know. In this economy, a closing store is certainly nothing new. Let me explain why this is so sad to me.

I love books. Don't like 'em . . .LOVE 'em. Probably a little addicted to them, in fact. My family teases me that if I live long enough to read all of the books I have in the house, I will break all longevity records. When I was a teenager, loving books meant begging Mom to go to the mall and hanging out in Walden's while she distracted herself at the fabric store next door. It meant smiling at my dad, my sweet dad, and asking him to put up another set of bookshelves for me. (He always did.) Years later, that same smile worked on my father in law and he hand made me some lovely bookcases I still have stuffed full today.

It's little surprise that I went into English. Less of a surprise that I grew up to be an author myself. When I say I love books, I mean it! I love reading them, but I also love lining them up on a shelf and just looking at them. In my dream house, I have a library where they are all together in alphabetical order and I have one of those rolling ladders from one section to the next. . . . Anyway . . .

When we lived in Indiana, we were more than a little lonely. Joseph and I and whatever kids we had would often travel about an hour east to the larger city of Ft. Wayne. They had good restaurants, a mall and . . . yes. . . . glory be . . . a Border's. I still remember the first time I walked in. I thought maybe heaven existed after all and I had finally found it (without dying first, how clever of me!). I became somewhat addicted to the place and we went there often. No one there asked us what church we went to. They didn't ostracize us for not attending one. That was a welcome relief, believe me.

Fast forward to 2001 and I am in Oregon, alone . .. kids and husband back home . . . and I am being shown nine houses for sale. I've never stepped foot in Oregon before so I don't know neighborhoods or anything at all about the city . . . overwhelmed? Yeah, a bit. What house should I choose? Where should we live? As I tried to take in everything the realtor was telling me about areas and prices and taxes, I looked out the window and I saw it ... Border's!! Wait, I said . . . .there is a Border's only seven minutes from the house you just showed me? I'll take that one. Yes, I really said that. Yes, we made an offer on that house and yes, we got it. Still live there today . . . but now the Border's isn't going to be seven minutes away.

Over the years, I cannot tell you how much time (or money!) we spent in that store. I met friends for coffee, conducted interviews and was interviewed and attended meetings in their coffee shop area. My entire family went there almost every Saturday night to listen to music. They read, I wrote letters and we soaked up the incredibly different musicians, from xylophone bands to brown jug bands and everything in between. When my mother visited from Indiana, we took her there to listen to music and meet our friends.

Friends? Yes, friends. Because over the years, we had met the people who worked at Border's and they had become friends. We went to their weddings. We meet their children. We went out for a drink. At one point, when my writing workload took a nosedive, I even worked at Border's. I knew the store forwards and backwards anyway, so thought I would give it a try. I worked the (shudder) holiday season and learned that retail is not the job path for me. People are just. .. . strange. But I learned even more about the store and the people who worked there. I had some amazing times and when I had to suddenly leave my job for a few days because my dad was in the hospital in Indiana and very sick, the single sympathy card I was sent when he died was from the staff at Border's.

Now, they are closing and yes, it breaks my heart. My kids grew up here. I can point to almost every corner and tell you a story about it. Nicole asked a guy out there. Caspian met a friend in that aisle. Coryn read a billion books in one sitting here. My mom was here. Nicole's ex was here. My friend who died a few years ago sat at this table with me.

So, thank you Border's for some of the favorite times of my life. You helped me feed my addiction, you gave me a social place to hang out, you introduced me to some fun people, you facilitated spending time with my family and you will be terribly, terribly missed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Like many, many people across the world today, I am pausing to take a moment to think about this anniversary. Like every one else, I too have one of those stories about where I was when it happened, how I responded and so on. I didn't know anyone killed in the tragedy, but wept along with them because I recognized this was one of those events where your life, perspectives, politics, and country would change. It was a before/after situation and forever changed the world. It changed my world in subtler ways.

9/11 changed our world in Indiana. Four airplane tickets in my hand suddenly become null and void and I would have never been able to put my kids on a plane with me at that time anyway. We were supposed to come out to Oregon via the plane just a handful of days after the disaster. Instead we came out on the train--a better choice in hindsight.

A writing assignment given to me in late August, to write a book about a terrorist group I had never even heard of, suddenly turned into a totally different project in September. Al Queda went from a foreign term to the number one phrase used in the world overnite and certainly make the writing job more complicated.

Writing assessment materials for a dozen different companies changed .. . when writing, we could not use the words airplane or skyscraper for two years. Might upset the test takers, you know.

9/11 changed the world in countless ways. More than anything, for me, it rattled my belief in safety and made me look at the world with a more jaded, cautious eye. Today, ten years later, my heart goes out to those who are not just mourning the way the event affected our country, but who lost someone they cared about in the tragedy. Find peace in whatever way you can and hold those lost souls close to your hearts.

2 a.m. Post

In about 46 hours, our time alone as a couple will return to being time as a family. We are eager to start welcoming home our kids . . . one on Monday, one on Thursday and one on the 27th, but I admit to sadness that our time is coming to an end . . . for a while. I know years and years of that time is down the road waiting for us.

Today, we had a wonderful Portland day. We went to the Saturday Market and came home loaded down with melons and berries. We had coffee. We went to two Goodwills. During the afternoon, he worked on the bus and I worked on meeting another deadline and then, in the evening, we met on the couch and watched a surprisingly good movie. Just as I thought the day was coming to an end, he said, "Hey, let's go for a drive." So, we left at 12:30 a.m. and headed to VooDoo Donuts, a Portland all night spot. We each got a donut and ate it outside on a bench under the streetlights. Then, we came back home, a leisurely drive in the summer night air, under an almost full moon. It's 2 a.m. and I'm whipped, but I'm heading to bed smiling. I just am not sure it gets much better than this.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Second Honeymoon?

So. . . . first, apologies for taking so very long to post. Life has been kicking my butt lately with keeping me busy, but still.

Right now, we have NO CHILDREN at home. NONE. One is in Indiana visiting family and friends. One is at Not Back to School Camp. One is still in Alaska. Joseph and I spent the first 48 hours or so really missing them and bemoaning the quiet house and then. . . . well then, . . . we got a little giddy with freedom. We began acting like we did 27 plus years ago when we were childless. A little slower perhaps . . but still . . . it has been rather wonderful. We leave when we want, go where we want and return when we want without worrying about hungry kids, places they need to go or get picked up and so on. It has been wonderful. We've hit multiple Goodwills, garage sales, coffee shops, bookstores and food carts. We have teased and flirted and laughed and talked and I have loved every moment. Children will start returning next week but until then, I love being just "us".

I also wanted to blog about . . . . wrong numbers. My friend Amimental says I seem to attract odd wrong numbers and this is true. I had one guy call a few years ago and we started chatting and he ended up asking me out. (Yes, I turned him down, but flattering nonetheless.) I had a woman from an Asian restaurant call and believe I was a woman named Doris who had ordered food and then never come to get it or pay for it. When I attempted to tell her she had the wrong number, she proclaimed me a "RYING BEECH" in very screechy tones. I finally hung up. To this day, someone in family will still stop and call me a "rying beech".

Yesterday, I got another one. At 11 pm, I got a phone call on my cell from a local number. I answered but no one was there. I hung up and then called the number back but no answer. I dismissed it.

At 5:20 that morning, my phone rang again. (I was sound asleep, naturally.) I answered it (with three kids out of state, you bet I answer any calls) and an irritated young woman said, "My boyfriend's cell was called by you last night and I want to know why you called him." I paused, trying to remember and thought, oh yeaaaa. So I said, "He called me and wasn't there when I answered, so I called him back but got no answer." She said, "You called him at 11 PM?" and I said, "Yes, since that is when he called me."

"So you mean you don't know . . . . a . . Cuban guy?"

I sighed and said, "Honey, I'm 52, been married for 29 years and have four kids . . . I do not need or want a Cuban guy."

And she said, "OK, sorry for waking you then." And hung up.

And I wanted to say, "I do not need or want a Cuban guy . . . because I am on a second honeymoon with my husband and I'm very, very happy."

And I am. Children, I miss you every single day, but life with your dad is simply wonderful.