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Observations from my Mixed Up World


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Business Travel (also traveling alone)

I’m getting ready to head out of town for a couple of nights on business.  Under normal conditions getting ready to be away takes a certain amount of both mental and physical preparation.  With my current personal challenges preparing myself to be away is much harder than I’d like to admit.  I’ve been letting the nerves get the most of me too much lately and have canceled at least 3 overnights in the past few months.  I’d like to thank Marriott for having a cancellation policy that lets me cancel up to 6 pm the day of travel.  Then again, maybe some day, I’ll sue them for enabling me to avoid my problems.  That sounds better, doesn’t it?

Getting ready to travel means I need to anticipate everything  I might need to do while I’m gone and arrange for it in advance.  Things like getting garbage out to the curb or cleaning up the house can be easily done ahead of time.  There are other things more tedious however.  Since I make everyone’s lunches, it means I need to clear space in the fridge to lay out everything for each person in nice straight lines.  Not so hard for one day, but this time I’m away for two.  So sandwiches need to be pre-made, juice boxes staggered, spoons balanced a top yogurt cups and fresh fruit needs to find logical spaces to dwell.  Two nights away also means two dinners I won’t be home to make.  I try to encourage my wife to eat at her mother’s or to go out for dinner when I’m away.  It tends to reduce the number of phone calls around dinner time asking where the fuck do I hide the ketchup or letting me know what an asshole I am because I didn’t specify which of the 2 fridges something was in.  The worst phone call I ever got went something like this:

Wife:  I’m making macaroni and cheese for the kids tonight.

Me:  Why?

Wife:  They laughed at me when I said we were going to Tim Hortons.  They teased me and said I couldn’t cook.

Me:  Oh.  So what’s up?

Wife:  I can’t get the stove top to light. (Gas stove)  How do I do it?

Me:  Turn the knob to light and then  (BOOOOOOM!  Massive explosion echos through the phone.  Screams.  Shock wave creates a tsunami my beer glass 150 kilometers away)

Me:  (frantic)  What happened, what happened?

Wife:  I had it on high while I called you.  It’s ok now.  I was just scared.

Me:  (cancelling auto dial to my insurance agent my other phone)  Jesus Christ!!!  You were scared?  You’ve got to stop letting pride fuck with you that way.

So you can see why I need to be better prepared with meals.  I’ll make a big dinner tonight and leave left overs for tomorrow.  Microwaves are safe.  I may also take the knobs off the stove.  The next night I’ve already called my in-laws and launched a preemptive dinner.  As for me, I’ve got to get myself prepared too.

Generally, work travel also includes after-work social time.  Having established myself as not afraid to stay until the last drink has been drunk, it is going to stand out that I am not drinking (that much) and I’d prefer to avoid explanations.  Admittedly, there is a perverse imp that wants to shout “because drinking on my meds will leave me a gibbering idiot all day tomorrow, OK?”  But, it’s my problem not theirs.  So for now, I will attend socials and not host them.  It really breaks up a good party when you throw everyone out at 9:30 pm.

Those of you that do travel will also appreciate the importance of the check in phone call.  I’ve been traveling for about 9 years now and not once have I ever manage to schedule a call home, when the kids are still up and my wife can still speak civilly, that isn’t when I’m still out at dinner or at a social.  So, I generally end up standing outside a Toronto restaurant in the freezing cold trying to catch the gist of whatever the Hell Maya did at school that day.  Oh, how traffic noise, gusting winds and street people make it easier to listen to a 6 year old try to talk over the TV.  I can’t figure out why my colleagues need to have 3 hour dinners beginning at 7 pm.  I guess they’ve already paid a retainer to their divorce lawyers.

Anyways, wish me luck.  If anything interesting happens, I assure you, it will end up blogged here.


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Sharing Family Experiences

It seems odd to state, but our family has shared all of the exciting things that have happened together at the same time.  What I mean is, when big things happen in our family, we are all together when they happen.  Vacations are all together.  School plays, swim tests, piano recitals have all been family events and thus, family experiences.  Milo’s new career as an actor and a model is changing our family dynamic.  More and more, only one of his mother or I are able to be with him when new things are happening.  So it is becoming more about how well we can communicate what happened as opposed to communicating about how we felt about what happened.

It would be easier if we were better story tellers.  Milo’s idea of telling a story is to start at the end.  “It was cool.  Yeah, that’s it.”  Or he’ll tell the story in a random order, very free form.

“Yeah, so I went in and after we were done the lady put on her hat.  I wanted to sit down when we were practicing but the other guy had a drink and I like coke so I kinda wanted one.  I’m hungry.  Are we going home?”  What a clear picture of what happened.

If he doesn’t want to share, which is often.  He just gets mad at my probing questions.

“What did you learn tonight at the seminar?”

“Um, eye contact is important and you’re always being judged.”

“Is that all?”

“yeah, pretty much.”

“You were there for 2 and a half hours.  All you got was eye contact?”

“You wouldn’t understand!!!  I can’t explain it.”

“Well, try.  Please?”

“We did an exercise.  She taught us how to never say no.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, like if I was a grandmother who was sitting outside of her birthday party cause she didn’t like it.”

“Do you expect to ever become a grandmother that doesn’t like the birthday party being thrown for you?”

“AAAHHH!!! I hate you.  You never understand!”

I hope we get better over time or we’ll never have anything to talk about.