The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World

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…shall be condemned to repeat the past.

fire ball

You may be wondering about how things went while I was away.  Well, there is an old military saying that the best laid plans will not survive first contact with the enemy.  My problem seems to be that I can’t predict which enemy I need to plan to defeat.  The lunch planning seems to have worked.  Both kids and my wife appear nourished and hydrated.  The things I made for them prior to departure were all used.  One battle won. The texts from wife wife throughout day one did not indicate any sort of challenges although there was an email from Milo’s modeling agency that came through and required photos and his resume be printed out.  Bed times and wake ups did not seem to pose any problems.  Kids made it to music lessons OK.  Dinner was pre-made and left for everyone.  Did you see any landmines yet?  I didn’t.  I didn’t until the phone rang during dinner that night.

RING.  RING.  RING.  I look down at the phone and see my own name looking back at me.  A shiver passes through me like I am feeling someone walk over my grave.  “Hmmm.”  I mutter, “This can’t be good.”  My friend graciously picks up his beer and looks towards the TVs.

Me:  Hi, what’s up?

Wife:  I’m trying to find Milo’s resume on the computer.  Where the hell is it?

Me:  It’s in the folder under My Documents called Resumes. (wincing at how condescending this sounds)

Wife:  I’ve looked at a bunch and there all wrong.

Me:  What do yo…

Wife:  I see all of these old copies and there is none of the updated info in any of them.  What the hell did you do last time?

Me:  (start talking and after about 45 seconds realize that the cold silence at the end of the phone line is not just from her) Oh my God.  My phone died.  My buddy starts to chuckle and hands me his phone.

Me:  Hi, my phone died.  I am so sorry.

Milo:  Hi dad.  What are you doing?

Me:  I’m trying to get a hold of your mother.  Can I speak with her?

Milo:  Hang on.  (muffled words) Um… no.

Me:  What do you mean, No?

Milo:  (getting upset)  She’s typing on the computer and she’s really mad.   Mommy.  PLEASE talk to Daddy.  She won’t do it.

Me:  Ok.  Don’t worry.  Tell her I’ll call her later.  Love you.  Bye.

My buddy:  You’re dead.  Waiter… more beer please!”

Fast forward to later that evening.  Having plugged my Blackberry in and assured myself that I can’t pull the cord out or anything, I attempted another call.  It seems that Milo got off the phone with me and ran downstairs to the kitchen.  He engaged in potentially life saving behaviour by taking the bottle of Schnapps from the freezer and pouring some into the biggest glass he could find.  He carefully approached his mother, set the glass beside her and fled.  My wife had mellowed to the point that we could smile and talk.  Oh, alcohol.  For every time you get me in trouble, you solve a problem for me.  Thank you.  Thank you again.

Here is how the evening went for her.  She got home from work and began discussing dinner with the kids.  They stood in a circle in the kitchen looking down at the pre-made dinner I’d left them disdainfully like Gods unhappy with the burnt offerings of mortals.  Unable to smite me, they chose to strike out on their own and have Kraft Mac and Cheese with a salad.  The pot is set to boil and the salad is made.  Hmm.  The water in the pot appears to still be cold.  Hey!  No flame from the burner.  Oh, yeah.  Daddy said to turn it to lite.  BOOOOOOM.  The children fling themselves to the ground.  The cats scatter.  Geese in the pond over by the golf course take flight.  Mommy is unfazed.  She knew that would happen.  Dinner gets made and the traumatized children eat every bite.  Nothing is left.  Music bags are packed and the trip to music class is unusually silent.  On the way back, the kids begin to make congratulatory comments that although well meant will eventually piss their mother off. Things like, “Oh, mom.  You stopped the car for the stop light.  Great work.” and “Wow mom, we didn’t think you knew where music class was.  Hat’s off for finding it.”  Arriving home, my wife heads to the office and plans to quickly and effortlessly print out a single page of paper and one photo.

My wife has a love-hate relationship with technology.  Mostly hate, actually.  There are times when I think that technology hates her back.  So as she begins to search through My Documents and realizes that she has no idea what the file is named.  And there may be some small, well… tiny or perhaps minuscule element of responsibility on my part since I  have a totally random naming convention for files.  It was at this point that she discovered 8 or maybe 10 versions of Milo’s resume, each different and apparently none complete.  She began to see the quick print job dissolving into a full editing job and called me.  Regrettably, I can’t remember where or what I named the last resume and may not have actually remembered to save it and to top it all off, I appeared to hang up on her.  Not so good for her temper or my future happiness.  Oh, did I mention that one of the 9 ink cartridges is almost empty and makes printing the picture a seat of the pants, nerve shattering experience.

Well, that is a glimpse of the first day.  The others got better and I made it home with gifts.  Not such a bad idea, I think.

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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.