I'm still alive...but barely

It's been a really weird two weeks. Trying to keep this brief but cover everything that's been going on I'm going to hit the highlights of recent events starting backwards.

The Cold

Everyone in my office and all my friends and family have been walking around sick. Par for course they won in the end and gave it to me. Thanks guys. For three days I've felt like shit. Back in October I got the flu shot so I've not developed the full fledged version of this crap but I got something and it's not pretty. I fell somewhat better today but far from being 100%.

The Cancer

My brother in Atlanta isn't doing well at all. In fact he's getting much worse. It's past the point of treating his cancer it's a matted of keeping him as close to pain free as they can without killing him with Morphine. He's very fortunate to have Hospice coming to the house to control his medications but he's reached the point that he so much as said that he doesn't want to die at home. I feel it's a matter of days before he makes the decision to check into a Hospice facility. He really doesn't want his wife to have deal with him dying at home and the horrible stigma their house will have for her. All I can do is pray that his suffering ends sooner than later. He isn't going to get any better and at this point he has no quality of life. I've never been extremely close to him as he was grown and out of the house by the time I was born but it's hard watching my sister and mom have to watch this happening.

While I was away

Apparently PP #2 was a real bitch to my peers and coworkers. In her true fashion she opened her damn mouth and poison poured out. Both of the women I work with came close to telling her to fuck off and quitting on the spot. I'm flattered that they jumped to my defense when the crazed PP #2 questioned whether or not someone had actually died and if I was even at a funeral. The upside to this is that before I left I called PP #1 and told him of aunts passing. He told me to go. I was needed up there more than down here and that nothing was more important than family. I just love this guy. He said he'd deal with PP #2 and deal with her he did. I suppose he got wind of her latest vicious attacks on my team and let her have it. She is no longer attending our bi-weekly meetings and is to have no contact with us unless she can "control her mouth" -- I love it! She stands to lose millions of $ if she pisses off PP #1 and he walks so I have a feeling she'll obey his (our) wishes for a while at least.

The Funeral

On the 10th I rode up to Atlanta with my mom & sister for my Baba's funeral. Not to sound weird but it was an uplifting experience for me. In the case of her passing it was more of a celebration of life as opposed to a sad occasion. She was likely the only true Christian that I've ever known. She literally lived to die. Her entire life was dedicated to her faith; loving people from every walk of life; sharing her wisdom and blessings; and eventually accepting the reward that the Big Guy had in store for her when her life on earth was over. She died at home and apparently in a matter of seconds. For the family it is hard letting her go but knowing she is now in a place of eternal joy (which she deserves) makes it easy for me to let go. While up there I was able to see many relatives and acquaintances that I'd not seen in a decade or more. It was nice seeing everyone and reliving the past a bit but I was glad to get home. I flew back in on then 12th and was back to work on the 13th.

The Cruise

It was wonderful. Great food & libations. Beautiful weather and people abound. My new favorite place in the world is Marigot Bay, St. Maarteen. It's the French side of the island and it is a place I could move to and live out my days a happy man. The only downside is that there are few if any hand rails on the shops entrances and being the klutz I am I took a nasty fall on some marble exterior stairs. I didn't actually hit the ground but I did twist the same ankle and land on the same foot that was broke/shattered about 13 years ago. Needless to say it still hurts. I didn't need crutches or anything -- just plenty of Pina Coladas to dull the pain. Eventually I'll have to have this foot/ankle operated on but no time soon. I'm putting that off as long as possible.

During the week I met some very interesting people and spent until 3:45 one morning drinking and sharing tales with Bowser from Sha Na Na. After seeing his show I was convinced this man was another cheesy has-been entertainer but meeting him later on and getting to know him changed my mind completely. He is hysterical! One of the most sarcastic, bitchy, brilliantly dry humored people I've ever met. Sans the hangover the next day it was one of the best times had on the cruise. Also, that same night, I met the owner of the spas on the Royal Caribbean line ships. Having this guy around was like being in a gay bar with the stereotypical drunken drama queen who shares WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION and passes out unsolicited advice to ANYONE who will listen. We all had a good laugh avoiding him and enduring him while he was around. A relatively nice guy but only in small doses.

So that about sums up my life over the past 3 weeks. Me and my cold are off to work in an hour. I'm finalizing the plans & design for PP #1's new office and meeting with the architect today to implement MY changes. I love it. This is truly a project I will put into my portfolio should I ever decide to jump back into full-time design again. If I do say so myself it is going to be a fabulous building. (Pats self on back)

I hope to be able to catch up on what's happening in your lives later today.

Have a great day.


Off again

Unfortunately I'm going to have to postpone my review/recap of the cruise for a few days. Yesterday, when we arrived back at port, I received a message on my cell phone telling me that my favorite aunt, a precious little lady, had passed away the previous day. Baba was 93 years old and had one of the youngest, brightest spirits of anyone I've ever known. She passed at home and suddenly which exactly as she said she'd always prayed for. Obviously, in her case, God was listening.

In all likelihood I am heading up to Atlanta in the morning and back on Wednesday after the service. Seeing as #2 PP has absolutely no regard for her own family, much less anyone else's, I'm not even going to bother telling her I'm going. As soon as she popped off something smart I'd probably slap the shit out of her.

Anyway, I will keep you posted and hopefully be sharing my tales & observations from the sea shortly.


Last day at sea

Tomorrow I return home and I am ready. It's been a very fun week but it's time to get back into my routine. Too much rich food (yesterday for lunch I ate plain rice & fresh steamed broccoli) and way too many cocktails (Thursday night I got back to the cabin at 3:30 am!) so home and domestic bliss is looking real good.

I'll post the highlights when I get back. You can look forward to reading about my winning in the casino twice; getting drunk with several "C" celebrities; the sad lady in the red dress at the piano bar; my new Versace sweater (deep discount of course); "Johnny Rockets Boy" from Romania who makes me feel sexy; and how my mother still thinks of my sister and I as children. ISSUES!

The cabin internet connection has been hit or miss all week -- VERY slow at best -- so I'm looking forward to reading all my fave blogs (hearing Jay's first audio post!) and leaving profound and witty comments for everyone.

Hugs & Kisses!



Bon Voyage, Pookie

This time tomorrow I'll be about an hour away from Port Canaveral and boarding this lovely ship for my cruise. If I'm not mistaken my cabin is 3 rows up and directly above the third life boat on the left. If you fast forward time and look real close you can almost see me standing on my balcony (with an overpriced but yummy drink in hand) waving to you. The way the balconies are situated I may very well be butt naked so if you look close enough you may be privy to a real treat.

I am so ready for this trip. More ready to get way than I've ever been for a vacation. Physically and mentally I need this and I am going to take full advantage of every moment I'm away. And I'm really excited to explore some new places like St. Maarten and St. Thomas. I could care less about the Bahamas -- been there done that but I do look forward to the beach mat I've reserved and sucking down countless libations.

Did I mention the casino? And the sex that is inevitable when staying in a strange bed? Nothing better than travel sex. Hell yes. I am so ready for this trip.

We are going to have unlimited internet in our cabin but not sure how reliable it is so I may or may not updating my blog next week. If I am able to connect you can expect greetings from a slightly drunken and well rested Pookie.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Cleanliness is next to sanity or Pledge saved my life

First off things are going well in the office. Drama free but super busy. I've been working non-stop, every day since that fateful meeting a week ago. By the time we head for the port on Sunday for the cruise I will have worked 10 straight days. If you remember I normally work 15-18 days a MONTH. This has been a shock to my system. I love the work and can live with the long, extra days seeing as something good has come from all the drama. But I am running out of time and have done nothing to prepare for my trip.

Thankfully, I got GNW (Gorgeous New Housekeeper) on the phone last night and she's coming in the morning, 5 days early, to help out. OK, some reading this may think me petty and spoiled relying on a housekeeper but with mine & T's schedules (even with my old schedule) it is impossible for us to keep this house clean and this place running smoothly. I am truly happiest when everything in my home is perfect. It's almost spiritual to me knowing that there isn't dust hiding on top of the pictures & mirrors and that everything is in its place. I've always been a neat/clean freak (I blame my mother, "Miss Perfect Homemaker" for raising me in a spotless home) but it became even more important to me several years ago when I was at the height of a full-fledged depression. I'd closed a business that I poured my heart & soul into and was virtually left with nothing to do with myself; a depleted bank account; and tens & thousands of dollars in debt. Add to this that I had just started to allow myself to grieve for the death of my father -- 4 years after the fact.

At my lowest point the only option I saw for myself was death. Sad but true. It literally took me finding myself on the floor of my den one afternoon holding my father's antique pistol (loaded) and completely broken down before I made a call to a shrink and decided to make a change. It was life or death for me. I wisely chose the former. I remember this moment as if it were 5 minutes ago. It’s said that there is a changing moment in everyone’s life that decided who they will become and this was mine. Slowly I pulled myself back up to walk among the living. With medication, therapy, and tons of free time I threw myself into my home. It was all I had left -- or so I thought anyway. Part of my grieving process was cleaning and organizing. I was obsessed but in a good way as I had a mission….something to strive for. And at the end of the day the glean and shine, the smell and feel, of a clean home was like being held by a loved one -- something back then I wouldn't(couldn't) allow a real person to do. I had to do this alone.

Aside from my therapist I wouldn’t allow a person to get close to me during this time but dust rag and a can of Pledge became my best friend. I couldn’t open my heart up to a friend or family member but I exposed my soul to the tops of the cabinets and the underside of my household appliances. Organizing drawers and closets was healing for me and carefully vacuuming a treasured Persian rug was like confessing my sins and secrets to a priest.

I remember one day vividly. I was cleaning the antique piano (circa 1890) that my father had bought and refurbished for me shortly after I was born. It is a gorgeous Tiger Oak upright piece with a contradiction of bold, thick curves and delicate carvings and detail. As I painstakingly cleaned each key and polished each notch in the fine carvings I allowed myself to let go of some of the sorrow and worthlessness that was consuming me and simply enjoy being alive. When I was finished with this task I sat down and began to play. Nothing elaborate by any means but rather a little song that to this day makes me laugh, “The Happy Little Robin”. It is Beginner piece that my piano teacher, Miss Clara Goddard, taught me to broaden the agility of my young fingers and accustom myself to the keys. It is basically a series of scales, a heavy pedal, and a repetitious chorus. My mother HATED this song as I would play it over and over and over. I would practice for 2 hours a day and 50% of the time it was this song. “My GOD can’t you play something else?!?!", she’d scream out from the kitchen or “Are you really sure you want to take piano lessons?” Anyway, I played The Happy Little Robin on my perfectly cleaned/polished piano and the healing began.

Back to the theme of this post…each spotless mirror, painting, surface, wall, or perfectly polished piece of glass or silver represented an achievement of mine and proved to me that I was worth something again. Eventually I lowered the wall I’d built around myself and began to allow people back into my life. But only when I deemed my home perfect.

Obviously things changed for me fiscally and emotionally over time and I'm happy to say that the long, hard road that got me where I am today was the best thing that ever happened to me. Coming up from my emotional bottom was a humbling, growing, test of self worth. I emerged stronger, happier, and well-adjusted than I'd ever been in my entire life. The small things in life -- such as a clean home for example -- were something I'd never take for granted again. I am thankful for this dark period in my life as it opened my eyes and heart to what was/is truly important to my existence.

Eventually, the cleaning became slightly less important and living each day as if it were my last took its place. But it’s through this experience that to this day I want my home…the core of my being to be as perfect as possible. I can’t do it all myself and “live” a normal life but I “need” it as a reminder of where I have been and who I’ve become. That’s why I hire a housekeeper. I still get that warm, tingly feeling when I come home at the end of the day and my home shines – it’s a reflection that I now shine as well. That and quite frankly I spent WAY too damn much time cleaning! J It's my hard earned money that I part with bi-weekly for a housekeeper and one of the few real indulgences in my life. So I'll not defend it to anyone. As long as I have someone who takes enough pride in their work and is trustworthy enough for to trust them in my home alone and I can continue to afford their services I will have a housekeeper. It’s a hell of a lot less expensive than my therapist was and it makes me truly happy.

Anyway GNW is coming Friday morning so I will have a clean home when I leave town and a clean home when I return. It’s a win-win for me all around!
You know what? I think before I leave for the office this morning I’ll actually play The Happy Little Robin on my soon-to-be cleaned piano.


Keep your fingers crossed for me

In a little over an hour & 1/2 I have a meeting. Yes, dears, and this time I'm the one who called it. Well, actually I asked that a meeting be moved up a week in order to accommodate MY schedule and all the PP's agreed.

It's been 4 days of sheer bliss in that there have no harsh emails, hateful phone calls, or people quitting their jobs. I've a feeling that this meeting will go pretty nicely. #1 PP and RHM have gone out of their way to assure those of us left in the office how much they love us. OK, so we didn't get flowers, candy, or fat bonus checks left on our desks but each of us has been called by the big-wigs "to make sure that we're all doing OK and happy". Enough said. All I've ever wanted is to be appreciated, compensated, and occasionally told what a good job we do.

Not a peep out of my "close friend" and #2 PP. This isn't unusual because anytime they stir up shit they tend to avoid me. This is fine by me.

I had the meeting moved up because I will be gone next week and given all that has happened didn't feel it would be in my best interest to miss it. Thankfully I won't have to.

Now, I do have a little excitement to bring to the table and that's 4 more sets of plans that I've changed so much that they look like large red maps. Yippee for me!

I'll let ya know how it goes.