Where to begin? Probably my first order of business is to apologize; I hadn't really considered taking a break from these pages, it just sort of happened. As I alluded in the prior entry, which I posted one week ago today, I had a deadline on the horizon. The problem was that December 15th, my deadline, was not only a tumultuous one because of the huge amount of work I needed to complete by then, but there was and is lots surrounding my life these days that has really been an obstacle to getting here and getting the loose atoms swimming around my head down in some cognitive form. So again, I apologize for not having alerted the dedicated HoB faithful of my impending absence.
As I indicated above, it never really occurred to me -- not consciously, anyway -- to step away from the computer, bounce the HoB URL for a little, and just coast. I don't do things that way. Sure, I've got "material" in the can -- every writer does -- but my mind wouldn't let me post something about the recent election in Bolivia sometime in March. In other words, if I can't be timely and on topic -- whatever that topic might be -- I might as well pack up my shit and move to Ecuador. It might be damn hot and malaria's an issue, but they serve a bitchin' 4:00 siesta, and Cubans cost about 1/20th of what they do here.
In essence, I had to deal with a lot over the past week or so; in fact, it's been over the past couple months, actually. My grandmother's health has been in question over that period of time; she's 83, and has been experiencing some signs of aging. While she is mostly doing well, she was prescribed a new medication that has really adversely affected her, so much so that both my mother and my sister -- on separate occasions -- had to head out to be with her while she was undergoing some situations. Considering that my family is about as high on the list as it gets, the whole situation has been pretty difficult to handle; we're like boats on a quiet lake -- when one heavy wave comes out of nowhere, the resultant and residual fall-out is felt by all. Things are quieting down some, but the fall-out has been and continues to be, unfortunately, significant.
Then there's some other health-related stuff; my dad is doing very well as we approach his 65th birthday, and it's been nearly a year -- as of New Year's Eve -- that he'll have been back with us and out of danger. My mother's doing well in addition, although she too is dealing with some stuff with which we could all do without. The rest of us -- ie my sister and I -- are handling all of this excitement with the expected reactions, meaning we're both straining but bearing the load of it all. As John Lennon once wrote, "No one told me there'd be days like these." And no one told me that they'd all come at once. Ah, such is life as an adult. At least now I know -- sort of -- what John Mayer means when he wishes his life would be more like 1983.
Meanwhile, back to more recitation: two days before the deadline on the 15th, our office phones cut out. By "cut out," I mean they simply stopped functioning. We have four lines plus a fax in our office, and we've used a company for the past 18 months that conveys our phone lines via VoIP (Voice over IP), which means that they essentially use the Internet to facilitate our voice and fax calls. However, the problem with VoIP is that it's newish (aka shitty) technology and it's failed frequently. Each time it's failed in the past, however, the company has managed to get us back online relatively quickly. This time, however, we've been without office phone service for four full business days. Later today (Monday), I am hoping Verizon is able to get to our office and solve the problem -- we've pretty much ruled out all the other issues (equipment, wiring, etc.) and if Verizon can't solve it, we'll likely end up finding a new phone company and a good lawyer.
The point, of course, is that two days before a major quarterly (and end-of-year) deadline is not the best time to have a workplace catastrophe like failing phone service. And because I wear the technology hat in and around the office, I had to address it. Since we have cell phones, we've been able to keep in touch with clients; we even arranged to have our office calls routed to one of our phones so people can find us if necessary. Even that forwarding, however, was a major chore, so every time we need to handle something with this inept company, it sucks up valuable time, which has been leaking like an alcoholic with a shrinking bladder. In short, we've lost a lot of time dealing with this, and as the problems relating to the phone mount, the lost time grows exponentially. Happy fucking Chanukah.
Not to be outdone, a good friend of mine opted to come to New York this past weekend; he travels frequently for business and spent the last few months in Singapore, so he wanted to visit NYC to get some things prior to the trip he and his wife are taking to Austria in a few days. Since his trip is only a few days away, he had to come in this weekend; the problem is that I was still in the middle of wrapping up, post-deadline, some office stuff (real work) plus I had to be on site in case Verizon showed up to solve the phone problems. And while it was great to see him -- he was only in for about 36 or so hours -- it threw a monkey wrench into what little semblance of control and sanity I had in connection with all that's been going on. As they say on the weather channel, when it rains it pours.
To top all THAT off, my father's birthday is fast approaching, and we've pretty much settled on his gift: he and my mom decided to upgrade their twenty-five year old television with a 50' plasma, so my sister and I are handling everything beyond the TV: we'll get them a new DVD player, a new remote control (that goes through cabinet doors and around walls) and a bunch of DVD's, including the reworking of the family movies (which we had converted to DVD awhile back). As I mentioned earlier in these pages, I've been working on getting them combined onto a couple of discs; once that's completed, I'll package 'em up and be ready for the holidays once they're here.
The remaining stuff -- ie the incredible variation and extreme temperatures in NYC plus the impending transit strike -- aren't even making the top page of my problem blotter these days. That should pretty much impart a sense of the degree and the quantity of bullshit I've been juggling recently.
Of course, the one bright spot on the horizon is Kaia's upcoming visit; she's going to be spending the Christmas holiday in San Fran with her parents, as her sister and their family are out of town. She would have come sooner than the 29th, which is the plan, but she wanted to make sure her parents weren't alone for the holiday. She'll stay here through New Year's, and probably make her way back home sometime a few weeks thereafter. We've both been really excited about spending our first new year's together; last year, with all the tumult happening (sensing a trend?), I had her stay in San Fran and party with her friends. So this year will be our first of many happy new years together.
However, to complete this hellish circle I've been spinning, we had originally planned on having a quiet dinner downtown and then spending a few hours alone either in a hotel downtown or in midtown or at my place. However, since our original plans -- me heading out there for New Year's -- changed to her being here, friends asked us if they could spend New Year's with us. So we agreed, thinking that it would be fun to be with a small group of friends until the ball dropped, and then we could retire to a corner, a couch or a bed somewhere and bring in the new year -- um, privately.
Little did I know, of course, that one couple turned into another couple plus a friend of their plus a few more people and then a few more people and then another couple of people we know. Basically, it went from 2 to 15 in a matter of three days. And it's bulging at the seams since: it went from Boogie and Kaia to Boogie's New Year's Party before I could even say "fuck it, we're goin' to IHOP." And with the change in status comes added responsibility: now I need to arrange changes in our reservations, allowing for some guy coming in from Cleveland and another friend from Toronto, and then two more people who might wanna show up afterwards...in short, while it's going to be fun -- it's a hassle I didn't need nor want. The people we've invited are great -- and I really dig hanging out with each and every one of them. It's just that our original plan -- the two of us, a quiet dinner, an anchor for the future, the first of many happy occasions -- sort of got perverted without our consent. It's great to have friends, and I don't really regret it; but at the same time, coupled with all the other aforementioned shit floating above me, it's just not where we wanted to head.
Speaking specifically about New Year's Eve, I do want to acknowledge again, as I did earlier, that December 31st will mark one year since my father was released from the rehab center. So certainly, while this holiday is a special one for many people, it will be especially important for my family and I. And while all the aggravation I've endured recently has been incredibly intense (not to mention poorly-timed), it does occur to me that things are getting better. So while there are lots of frenetic, frantic swirls of chaos, I'm trying to keep my personal and professional lives as stable as I can, and sometimes it feels like it's a losing battle. On the other side of the coin, however, I try -- sometimes unsuccessfully -- to keep in mind the things in life that make me smile, and even if my happiness is short-lived, I'm still able to crack one every now and then. So the year's not a total loss.
In either case, to paraphrase the ending credits of the James Bond movies, I am here for awhile. But I do apologize again for the delay leading to this entry, and I appreciate you, the HoB faithful (and even those of you tied up and forced to digest this drivel), managing to make it to the end of this long-winded entry. It's just that I think, on some level, everyone goes through peaks and valleys, and the trick is to keep your head whether you're riding a peak or smack-dab at the bottom of a valley. It's the friends, family and people we love in life that keep us sane -- or in my case, as close to sane as possible.
Thanks again for stopping by.