Posted in Community, Culture, Family, Personal, Relationships, Work

Life After Maternity Leave

Before I shared the news of my pregnancy with the world, I decided to tell my boss and co-managers first, in the form of a five person group text. They deserved that much, after all we were like family – a very, very dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. Apparently, they all found this news to be so unbelievable that not one single person responded. I waited a day before making the announcement on Facebook. That’s when the comments from co-workers flooded in. My boss even called me in to his office to confirm. He congratulated me and I assured him that after nine years of being a faithful employee, I would not be leaving.

Throughout my pregnancy, my employer was amazing. My boss never took issue with me having to leave work or schedule myself off due to doctor appointments or not feeling well. He checked in on me often and was very supportive. After my last pre-natal check-up, I returned to work. He asked how everything went. I told him Doc said I was dilated to three and 75% effaced. It would be any day now, in fact, I could go into labor that night. It was already two in the afternoon, so my boss told me to go ahead and go home. It would be my last day until after the baby was born. That was a Thursday; my daughter came into this world that Sunday morning.

I am not a salaried employee. I don’t have health, vision, or dental insurance, a 401K plan, sick days, vacation days, or paid time off. There is no maternity leave program. I earn an hourly wage and have a company provided (and paid for) cell phone. There are some pretty amazing perks at my job. My family can tent camp for free and float the river in a raft or a tube for free. We stay in cabins at an extremely reduced rate. I’m not required to wear a uniform – tank tops and flip-flops are perfectly acceptable. I have my own office with unlimited internet and little to no supervision as well as my own kitchen. We enjoy company paid for lunches in the summer and my boss is very flexible with my schedule. If you’re an outdoorsy person with no desire for material things, this is a dream job.

I am still humbled and overjoyed that my employer paid me a partial weekly salary while I took my leave. I am grateful for that.

When my daughter was two months old, I returned to work. It was the off-season and I was still nursing, so I brought her to work with me. The rock ‘n play was set up next to my desk and she slept most of the workday. When she was ready to nurse, I just closed my office door. My boss walked in and I held my breath. I was 98% sure he would be okay with my new office mate, but 2% of me still worried. (Yes, in retrospect, I should have asked first.)

He stopped by my office and we exchanged warm hellos as he welcomed me back. He had a new puppy on a leash with him that was very excited to meet my daughter. He fussed at the pup before saying to me, “I’m sorry I brought my dog to work.”
“I’m sorry I brought my baby to work,” I replied and that was the end of the discussion.

My daughter is one now and no longer sleeps most of the work day. I have exchanged the rock ‘n play with a pack ‘n play. She spends her time watching Chu-Chu TV on YouTube (and if I never hear the Mommy Finger song again, it will be too soon.) Sometimes I take her out of “baby jail” and let her crawl around my office as she tries to unplug my computer or just sit on my lap while I attempt to type one-handed. She loves for me twirl her around in my swivel chair.

My boss still brings his dog to work, too. She’s not a puppy anymore and he no longer keeps her leashed in his office. When they arrive, she promptly runs to me, licks my face, then goes to do her “job.” She has become the official “Guardian of the Baby.” She walks in circles around the pack ‘n play, making sure everything is as it should be. She licks my daughter’s feet through the netting, then settles down in place, right next to the play pen. If someone dares enter my office, she jumps up and stands at attention – her ears sticking straight up and her tail pointing straight out. Once she determines they are not threat, she lets her guard down.

Most days my daughter doesn’t interfere with my work, but some days… well, it can be tough. There are times when she is splayed across my desk as I change her diaper while she kicks and squirms. My office now reeks of fresh baby poop. Occasionally I take a call while she is saying, “Mommommomm” in the background. I get tired. So very tired. I wonder how I will ever get my work done while spoon-feeding a baby and wanting to rip my hair out after hearing the “Johnny Johnny” song for the umpteenth time today. It’s times like these that I have to remind myself she won’t always be here.

I don’t know what the cut-off age will be, but I know when she starts walking, talking, and getting into everything in sight, I’m going to need figure something out. Finding childcare makes my stomach turn. I don’t want to let her go. I want her with me until she has to go to school. I have no back-up plan and no idea where she will go while I’m at work. It’s a problem that sits in the back of my mind constantly and it weighs me down. I was not afforded this luxury with my older children and now that I am able to take my child to work with me, I can’t imagine not having her.

Believe me, I know I am incredibly lucky to be in this position. It’s a struggle moms all over the world face when their maternity leave ends. I am so thankful. I love my job and I love living this camplife. I’m proud to raise my daughter in this environment and will probably only retire when my hands are too arthritic to type. Until then, I hope to take my daughter to work with me as long as possible.

camplife

Hashtag camplife.

Posted in Personal, Work, writing

November Now

november

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Though I am not participating in the project this year, I have (finally) completed my first book – a children’s picture book. My 720 word count story hardly compares to the 50,000 word minimum required for participation; however, it was enough to motivate me to not only complete my story, but to actually submit to a publisher.

I’ve always considered myself a writer, just not a professional one. My short story, “Bartenders Are Gods” was published in Industry Magazine years ago, but beyond that – nothing. I did once submit a blog post to the Elephant Journal only to get rejected. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I think the fear of further rejection has kept me from submitting my work elsewhere. Until now. Today is the day to “live out what’s in my heart.” It’s not too late to follow after what I really want, and getting published is what I really want.

In the last five years of writing this blog, I have learned quite a bit. Though I will occasionally write short story fiction, I prefer to write stories about my life, hopefully told in a humorous yet relatable fashion. I always thought my first book would be the same – just a longer version of my blog, told in an Erma Bombeck-ishy way. Never would I have thought I would pen a children’s book.

I awoke one morning with what I thought was a brilliant idea. Taking that idea and running with it wasn’t too difficult either. It wasn’t until after I completed my first draft that the hard work began. The editing process is brutal. I fell in love with my protagonist. Everything she said and did was important (to me.) How could I choose what gets to stay and what has to go?  Watching your ideas disappear from the screen as the delete button gets pressed over and over again causes the kind of anxiety you never knew you could feel. And the formatting, OH MY GOD, the formatting. Of course I wrote my story before doing any real research. You type up a WORD document set in default, thinking you’ll just send it off to a publisher (who will most certainly adore your story) and before you know it, you’ve got a book deal! Oh the naiveté…

Now that the research is behind me, stalking editors and literary agents social media accounts, Googling EVERYTHING, and narrowing down my options to the one publisher (who is accepting unagented work) that I think is the best fit for me and my story, I am ready. Ready to break down my wall of fear like the Berlin Wall was broken down exactly twenty-seven years ago today. Ready to submit my work and ready to wait. Ready to start my next project. It’s possible (likely, even) that I will get rejected, but I’ve decided that I would rather try and get rejected than not try and always wonder. I don’t want to live a life of, “what if?” Do you? I hope not. It’s a new day, a new era. We elected a new President last night. Please try to let go of your self-doubt…

…”You matter. Finish this year with a bang, so next year will begin with true fireworks.”
November is the month of now or never.

 

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

I AM TIRED

tired
I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I have the most uncomfortable mattress. It is so firm, sometimes I’m convinced that I’m sleeping on concrete. I want to buy a pillow-top mattress pad, but I haven’t yet. I’ll add that to my already long to-do list. Being pregnant isn’t helping the sleeping situation. I wake up periodically through the night for no apparent reason and I never used to do that. Plus, I have to keep reminding myself that I must only sleep on my left side and that doesn’t do any favors for my neck and left shoulder.
When I finally give up, usually around 6:30 am, I get out of bed tired. I make the coffee, even though I rarely drink it (due to the baby) and even though I could really use it because I am so tired. I put away the clean dishes in the drying rack from the night before, get myself dressed, and go to work.
Once I get to work, I dive into all the emails and voicemails that came in over night. It’s our busy season so I try to do these before the phones start going berserk. I may sit all day, but my job is mentally exhausting, which, in turn, becomes physically exhausting. Sometimes I feel like it sucks the life from my soul.
After a nearly 10 hour work day, I clock out and head to the grocery store. Yes, I go shopping every day. For some it’s a chore, but I enjoy it. Generally, it is the only time of the day I get to myself and I’m the type of person that needs a little bit of “me-time.” I like to plan interesting meals for my family.
I struggle through the door, grocery bags in hand, cutting off the circulation to my brain, set the bags on the table, and take a look around. I am tired of finding a sink full of dirty dishes when the kitchen was spotless when I left for work. I am tired of seeing half full (or half empty) water bottles strewn about the place. I am tired of dishes not at least being rinsed. I am tired of trying to put the groceries away only to find the fridge and pantry in disarray, even though last nights leftovers were placed away in an organized manner.
Once I get the dishes washed and re-clean the kitchen, I get started on dinner. I review my recipes, make sure I have all my ingredients, and follow the directions. While that is going, I head to my room to make the bed. I know it seems silly to make your bed at 6:30 in the evening, but I feel better when it’s put together. I have a new bed set and I love it so much. As I arrange the pillows and comforter just perfectly so, everything looks so inviting, I want to climb in and make “sheet angels” before I drift off to slumber because I am so tired…
but I am not fooled. I know that bed won’t provide the comfort I am after.
Dinner is looking good, the house is smelling delicious, things are coming together, and I make the table. I start to look around, satisfied. Chaos replaced with normalcy.
My legs are sore and my feet are throbbing. I want to sit on the sofa and stare into space, but I know I’ll just notice the dust bunnies rapidly reproducing on the TV and stand. I’ll notice the floors need to be swept and mopped and that the chair needs my dogs slobber cleaned from the upholstery. I’ll add that to my to-do list. I keep pushing myself, but damn, I am tired.
Jose gets home from work and we all sit to eat. All my careful menu planning, selecting the perfect groceries, meticulously following the recipe directions, and carefully setting the table sometimes seems all for naught. In less than 15 minutes, the meal has been devoured, the table a mess, and a pile of dirty dishes await my washing. I desperately want to leave it all for tomorrow because I am oh-so-tired, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t, so I do.
Once everything is done, the clean dishes drying on the rack, the leftovers carefully put away in the fridge and pantry, the counters wiped down, and the kitchen spotless, I realize I need to breathe. Just as I am about to give up for the night, throw in the towel, put on my nightgown, settle in for some downtime, and hopefully get some rest, I’m caught off-guard. Maybe it’s a call from my daughter asking for a ride home from work, or a text from my son asking me to take him to Hastings, or my husband telling me about a concert in the park that night and that all our friends will be there.
Honestly, I don’t want to do any of these things. I am tired. I want to lay down, I want to relax. I want to not do anything, but I do. I fluff my hair, slap on my lipstick, hop in the car and go do what I need to do.
I know what you’re thinking. You think I should take some time for myself. You think I should learn to say “no.” You think I should sometimes let those dirty dishes wait until morning or that it’s not so bad to get into an unmade bed.
The thing is, at the end of the day, after I’ve done all these things, my reward isn’t sleep. My reward is the self-satisfaction of knowing what I’ve accomplished. My reward is the hug I get from my child, and the words, “Thank you so much, Mom! I love you.” My reward is laying my head in my husbands lap on the sofa while he massages the knot from my shoulder, even after I’ve drifted off to sleep. My reward is crawling under the covers of my recently made concrete bed, lying down (on my left side only,) me being the little spoon, my husband kissing the back of my neck, his arm around me, caressing my pregnant belly. And you know what?

…I’ll never get tired of that.

**UPDATE**
I wrote this Saturday and didn’t post it to social media. When I got home, I was exhausted. I did notice the dirty dishes in the sink and I did notice the empty water bottles strewn about the place. I knew I needed to go to the grocery store and I was aware dinner needed to be made. I sat on the bed for a moment and the next thing I knew, it was almost 8pm! Jose had come home, decided to let me nap (said he figured I needed the rest) gone to the store, washed the dishes, cleaned the fridge, made dinner, and handled business. I swear that man knows what goes on inside my head and that is something else I will never get tired of.

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

I Only Like Menudo With Ricky Martin

Let me preface this by saying,
I LOVE PREGNANT BODIES!

I do, I really do. I think pregnant women with large baby bumps are beautiful and sexy and amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t think that about myself. I am 4 months along, so the weight gain has begun. My bump isn’t an obvious baby bump (unless you know me and remember my pre-pregnant body.) It’s more like, well, extra weight. You see, I am in that weird in between stage. (Like when you are growing out your hair and it’s too short to put up, but it still awkwardly hangs in your face and there is nothing you can do but wait it out.) My clothes are snug. Anything that buttons at the waist gives me the “busted can of biscuits” look. Nothing I own is flattering, but I’m not quite far enough along to switch to maternity clothes. I hate it. That being said, being the eternal optimist, I started thinking about the bright side. It didn’t take long to figure out that blaming the baby is easy…
(It’s not as harsh as it sounds)

1) “Do you want to come to my 40th birthday bash tonight? Jello shots, kegstands, and Fireball for everybody!”
Gosh, that sounds awesome and I would LOVE to come celebrate with you, but the baby is exhausted and I need to get to bed early.

2) “Would you like another slice of pizza?”
Yes, thank you. It’s not for me, it’s for the baby. I’m full.
*stuffs my face with pizza*

3) “Do you need anything, honey?”
Nah, I’m fine, but the baby could use some chocolate. Mind going to the store?

4) [My day off] “Can you work my shift for me today?”
I sure could use the extra money and would be happy to help, but the baby has my stomach in knots, so I think I should just stay in bed.

5) “Want to go bikini shopping/sky-diving/BASE jumping/ to a 5 year-olds birthday party?”
Geez, sounds like the time of my life, but right now my doctor says that’s not good for the baby.

6) “Here mija, have some of my homemade menudo.”
I’m sure it’s delicious and who doesn’t love tripe, but the baby seems to have an aversion to cow stomach so I’m going to have to pass.

…and then there’s this:

6) “Want to go thrift shopping/out for sushi/grub on queso?”
(I’m exhausted, dehydrated, head is throbbing, tummy is aching, and back feels broken)
*jumps in car, buckles seatbelt, and anxiously awaits to depart!*

rsz_269

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Work

If I Met Myself For The First Time

Ever since I got pregnant, I’ve been having the strangest dreams. Last night was no different. I think watching an NCIS marathon with my daughter Parker is partially to blame and the wonky hormones are mostly to blame. In my dream, I woke up in a hospital, not knowing where I was or who I was. I had been in an accident and had amnesia. I still knew that Obama was President and that 12 X 12 was a gross, but my husband and family were strangers. This was especially difficult for my youngest daughter Mikayla who was positive that upon seeing her, my memory would come back… but it didn’t. It was scary. Like in a nightmare when you are paralyzed and can’t scream, even though you try your damnedest. I remember being in my hospital gown and approaching the bathroom, headed for the mirror so I could take a look at who I was. That’s it, that’s all I remember of this dream, but I woke up wondering…
…wondering what it would be like in real life if I had been in some sort of accident that cause me to have amnesia. What would I think of myself?

Would I stand naked, under the harsh fluorescent hospital lights in the cold, white bathroom, looking down at my 40 year-old pregnant body and be happy with what I saw? Would I see the stretch marks on my belly from the three children I’ve birthed and see horrible, ugly scars or I would I see a beautiful permanent record of motherhood? Would I gaze into my own eyes through the mirror and see an aging woman with bags, lines, and wrinkles, or would I see exquisite, sparkling blue eyes? Would I look at my mouth and think I should have taken better care of my teeth or would I see a warm, genuine smile? And my hair? Would I see the roots beginning to grow out, salted with gray, or would I adore the reddish-caramel color with Bettie Page bangs? Upon seeing my tattoos, would I judge myself as trashy or think myself as artsy? Would I notice the large deep scar on my ankle where I have seven screws and a metal plate and think I must be klutz or would I assume I must be an exciting, adventurous person? If I glanced down at my breasts which are now enlarged and swollen, would I only notice the slight sag from gravity and years of breast-feeding? Would I be bothered by the now noticeable green veins and dilated nipples or would I feel blessed to have a voluptuous pair preparing milk for my baby?

Upon meeting my family…
Would I look at my husband and question his burly beard, tattooed body, and skater dude sense of fashion? Or would I get weak in the knees with butterflies in my stomach just by looking into the bedroom eyes of the man I have given my heart and soul to, enamored simply by his scent, attracted to his masculinity, infatuated with his smile, the sound of voice, the touch of his hand, his sun-kissed skin, and the mop on his head of perfect, natural curls?
When I met my children, would I feel the over-whelming sense of pride in the amazing persons they have become like I do now? Would I only notice the stretched out gauges in my sons ears or would I see my own eyes in his eyes? Would I meet my oldest and judge her for having a child at such a young age, or would I admire her for overcoming so many obstacles and doing an excellent job at raising my grandson? When my youngest daughter stood before me, would I only see a stranger or would she trigger my memory back as she predicted in my dream?

Upon walking through the door of my home…
Would I be disappointed in the scratches on the wood floors, hate the awkward layout of the jack-and-jill bathroom, be unsatisfied with the eclectic hodge-podge of new and thrift store furniture, and feel like I should have done better for myself by having a newer built, updated, and modern cookie-cutter house? What if I walked through the door and fell in love with the charm and character that a 100 year-old home possesses with high ceilings and original wood floors? Would I immediately feel the comfort of my funky style, vintage collectibles, and tchotchkes?

Upon seeing my workplace…
Would I walk through the campgrounds feeling the sticky heat, swatting at mosquitoes and other creepy flying insects, freaked out by the abundance of buzzards, squirrels, raccoons, deer, snakes, and other wildlife? Would I walk in my office and think I should have gone to college and done something better with my career? I could have been a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, an activist, a world-changer, but instead I chose to live a small, insignificant life in an office in the woods. What if I strolled through camp, serenaded by the singing birds, wooed by the sound of the river flowing, comforted by the warm sun on my shoulders and blue skies overhead? If I walked in my office, finding solace in my framed certificates and memory board? If I felt the adoration of my children on the “Mom Wall of Fame” housing nine seasons of love notes?

821

We all know our own flaws. It’s been said that we are our own worst critics and that’s probably true. I want you to ask yourself, “If I was meeting me for the first time, would I judge myself so harshly?” Would I even notice the chicken pox scar on my forehead or that stupid pimple on my nose? Probably not. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Embrace your gray hairs – they highlight your wisdom. Embrace the lines on your face – they show you have lived your life. Embrace your curves – for you are well nourished. Embrace your scars and stretchmarks – they prove that you a fierce warrior. In fact, you are a mother fucking bad ass who has possibly made some bad decisions, but decidedly made mostly right ones. Maybe you think didn’t change the world, but to your children you did. Maybe your home isn’t your dream house, but dammit, it’s yours and you worked hard for it. You didn’t grow up to be mayor of the town you love? You did grow up to become something and you work your ass off at it to support your family.
Be proud!

Mom Wall of Fame
Mom Wall of Fame
Posted in Family, Home, Music, Personal, Relationships, Work

Confession Bear Time

**I do understand that the Confession Bear meme is meant to be anonymous, so at the time of my writing this, I have yet to decide if I will publish this privately or publicly, but after all this time, I am ready to bear *ahem* I mean, bare my soul.**

It was 1988, I was 13 and my sister was 15. She worked at Physical Whimsical in Sharpstown Center Mall in southwest Houston, Texas. I admit, I was jealous. (But that is not what I am confessing.) It seemed like the coolest job ever at the time and I remember thinking that when I grew up, I would have a fun job, too. (Here I am, working on the Guadalupe River at Camp Huaco Springs in New Braunfels, now in my 7th season and I love every single day of it… so yeah, that worked out the way I planned. Sure, I thought I would be world famous actress, but this is a pretty good gig, too.)

Physical Whimsical
Physical Whimsical

Let me just say, my sister was (and still is!) beautiful. She was friendly, popular, thin, had great (80’s) hair, and was loved by everyone. I was, well… I was kinda weird. I idolized her. On top of which, she was (and still is!) my very best friend. So, along with everything else, she had a cool job and was getting paid to do it.

My sis Kat with my Dad in her Physical Whimsical work shirt.
My sis Kat with my Dad in her Physical Whimsical work shirt.

….And now, the confession….

Kat had just gotten paid, got home from work, went to the bathroom, then went to her room to change out of her bright blue “Phys Whiz” polo shirt. That’s when I walked in the bathroom and noticed her horrible blue and tan paisley wallet just sitting there on the counter. (I’m sorry Kat, it’s true. That wallet was so ugly.) What can I say? I was 13. I couldn’t resist. I peeked in her wallet and saw what seemed like a stack of brand new crisp $20 dollar bills. I knew it was wrong, especially to do that to my sister, but I took a $20 and stuffed it in the pocket of my overly baggy jeans. If she ever noticed she was missing it, she never let on to me.

That cash was burning a hole in my pocket and I was dying to spend it. I got my mom to drop me off at the mall. Before exiting the car, she handed me the usual $20 bill. Now I had $40 and a guilty conscience. I met up with my girlfriends, grabbed a slice of  Sbarro pizza, had a scoop of peanut butter ‘n chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and headed to the promised land in the mall – the record store. Now that was a place I could see myself happily working for the rest of my life, or at least until I got my big break and ended up on the big screen.

After probably hours of wandering around the store, I made my final selections, went to the checkout, spent the rest of my (stolen) money and from that point on…
my life was changed forever.
I walked out with the ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ album from the Cure, the ‘Music For the Masses’ album from Depeche Mode, and the ‘Something So Strong’ single from Crowded House. Up until then, the majority of my music collection was mainstream pop radio artists like Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, The Go-Go’s, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper. (All of whom I still listen to, btw.) But my first taste of “alternative” (God, I despise that label) music in the comfort of my room, on my record player, that I could play whenever I wanted, as often as I wanted and I was hooked for life. (Yes, I know many songs from those albums were radio-played, but they weren’t “pop” in the 80’s sense of pop music.

Thus began my love affair.

So, I owe more than an apology to my sister. I owe her a thank you for unwittingly providing me with the opportunity (and the cash) to explore my musical tastes and listen to what was considered outside the norm. I’ve carried the guilt of this theft for 25 years. I want to tell my sister I’m sorry. I know her, she will forgive without thinking. I can imagine her laughing at the situation so hard she will probably snort. But that is the beauty of her, she wouldn’t have held it against me back then and certainly wouldn’t today. In fact, if I had just asked her, she probably would’ve given me the twenty bucks. So, in the famous last words of Kurt Cobain, to my sister Kat, I say this…

“All Apologies.”Confession Bear

1

Posted in Relationships, Work

Happy Admininstrative Professionals Day

No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others.  The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
admin1
I’m excited to start training my new hire today. Usually I am already fully staffed for the season with a least a couple returnees from last season. Not this year. I am having to start over from scratch. Sure, I have Kat helping me from time to time, but soon she will open the River Store for the season and I won’t have her at all. I also have my side-kick, Sandy Pants, but that is only every other Saturday so she can keep her float status.
I’ve been asking for applicants, especially from Scooter Store employees who had been furloughed then eventually permanently laid off. I’d like to offer those in need first priority. I even made the Texas Citizen! (Which was very cool, but if I’m going to get published, I’d prefer it be with better written work than a plea for office help.)

TXWith none of my girls returning this year, I’ve put thought in to where they have all gone. Some have graduated college and moved on to get “real jobs.” Some have gotten married, had children and moved away. I have a couple in Grad School. One has switched majors mid-schooling while another has gone on to become a fabulous hair stylist. I have one that has retired and sadly another has passed away. I’ve seen my girls grow throughout the years, gain confidence in themselves, get comfortable in their own skin, fall in love, get heart-broken and sometimes fall flat on their face. Most of us keep in touch regularly, even if it is just through Facebook. I watch them from afar, keeping an eye on them…
I’m a proud momma hen!

So today, Administrative Professionals Day, I want all of my past Office Goddesses to know that I am thankful to have had them in the office and in my life. Although they are no longer here on payroll, they are here in spirit and I see pieces of them each day. I’ll run across an envelope they’ve written on, find a note on a reservation, or see their name in the system. I miss each of them in a different and special way. I wish them the very best, not only today, but every day.
Mad love to all of you!

~Miss Liz

Posted in Personal, Work

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Having the name Elizabeth, I’ve been called every derivative of it my entire 38 years. People are too lazy to enunciate 4 syllables. I’ve introduced myself as Elizabeth only to be asked, “Oh, do you go by Liz? (Or Beth, Betsy, Lizzy, Liz, Lizbeth, etc)”
Um, no. I feel like if I went by something other than what I am introducing myself as, I would probably have just said that in the first place. But that is neither here nor there. I’ve gone by several in my lifetime and am usually happy to not get called something derogatory.

All of that being said, I don’t know if I am the one not properly pronouncing, if it’s my shitty phone reception at work, or if people just don’t listen, but this happened yesterday:

(Answering calls)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Liz.”
Caller: “Hi Lou, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Did I not verbalize that “z” correctly?)

(Let’s try a different tactic)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Elizabeth.”
Caller: “Hi Melissa, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Who the fuck is Melissa?)

(This will work for sure)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, this is Beth.”
Caller: “Hi Bess, I’d like to make a reservation…”
(Seriously?! The only Bess I know is at the River Road Ice House and that gal is awesome & a one of a kind. Is Bess REALLY that common?)

(Fuck this, who needs a name?)
Me: “Camp Huaco Springs, how may I help you?”
Caller: “Yes, who am I speaking with?”
(…fuckity, shit, shit, fuck and willy. Willy, shit and fuck and… tits.)
*suddenly, I’m a character from the ‘The King’s Speech’*

I’M THE GODDAMN RESERVATION FAIRY.
MY NAME IS UNIMPORTANT.

keep-calm-and-whats-my-name-again

Posted in Personal, Work

Don’t Pass the Buck

River Road is a curious place to be. When you first turn down it, you might be convinced you’re headed the wrong way. “How can this barren wasteland of nothingness possibly lead to the river?” Then, you make some windy turns all the while driving 20 mph because that’s the speed limit and you never know what is around the next corner. Suddenly, you take the hard core bend by Slumber Falls rapids at the low water crossing and (RELIEF!) you see the majestic Guadalupe River in all her glory flowing through a beautiful campground. That’s Camp Huaco Springs to be exact and that is where I work.
The 5 mile stretch I drive daily from Loop 337 to the entrance of the campgrounds is usually devoid of cars or people during the off-season and can seem off-putting and eerie. During the prime-season, the narrow twisty road can be full of cyclists (bastards) cars, trucks, RV’s, campers, motorhomes, pop-ups, and tourists tootling along for the scenic drive all the way up to Canyon Lake.
In between all this human activity, there is wildlife – and A LOT of it. There are buzzards buzzing, squirrels on a suicide mission, (I swear they run out in front of you on purpose just to watch you panic!) slithering snakes, road runners running, mountain goats just chillin’ on the cliffs defying gravity and shit, cows – yes, cows – mooing along without a care in the world. There are more alien-like insects than all 3 MIB movies combined, and finally…
Deer. A shit ton of deer. Does, fawns, bucks… Bambi’s entire family seemingly domesticated as they meander across River Road practically daring you to speed up.
…and that’s where this story begins.

I got off work yesterday at the usual 4pm and pulled onto River Road. Everything was nice and normal, nothing odd or out of place – until I took the bend at Slumber Falls. I eased the curve slowly, knowing that some asshole may be hurtling around the curve at too fast a pace, most likely straddling the double yellow line and at any moment I could be facing a head-on collision, (yeah, that happens way too often) but instead I found a huge buck standing in the middle of the road. This was the kind of a buck a Texan would have stuffed and mounted on the wall. A trophy buck, and he scared the hell outta me! Now, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with deer before. Once, with all 3 of my kids in the backseat and another time on the way home from picking up my mom at the airport (Mother was NOT impressed.) With all this experience, I knew my truck was no match for that buck so I came to a complete stop. (Dangerous, I know. But really, there was NOBODY around.)

So there we were, me and the buck engaged in a staring contest. He didn’t look scared or intimidated by me as we locked eyes. It was weird; it was surreal. That buck was mad-dogging me like I’d shot and ate his fawn. This went on for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was probably about 30 seconds before I felt uncomfortable and looked down.
When I looked back up, he was standing next to my door, facing the same I was. I started to ease forward and so did he. I sped up a little, he sped up. I slowed down, he slowed down. I was terrified if I drove too fast, he would run out in front of me so we just kept each others pace as we passed the entrance to the Judge’s property.
I had my window cracked so I looked at him and said, “You want to race, buck?” as I revved my engine a little. He looked down, tapped his hoof (do deer have hooves, paws, or feet? I just don’t know these things) and I swear, smoke flared from his nostrils like a bull about to charge at the matador. “Oh my God, what have I done!?”
We started going faster and faster and that buck stayed right next to me all the way up to the River Road Icehouse where he quickly ran into the woods and out if sight. That’s also where I stopped and had a beer because you know, after an encounter like that – one deserves a cold beer.

index

Moral of the story:
Don’t pass the buck. If you handle your shit yourself, in the end you’ll be rewarded with a cold beer.

Posted in Family, Home, Personal, Relationships, Television, Work

The Curious Case of Phone E Cates

Diary of a Mad Woman

Friday November 9, 2012 11:11pm (Make a Wish!)
I wish I knew where my phone was. I have retraced my steps since I remember having it last. We were at Spring Loaded Indoor Trampoline Park at the Texas Ski Ranch and I checked in on Yelp. I remember regretting that I hadn’t taken a picture of my delicious fish tacos from Wahoo’s. God, I’m so glad they opened a location here. Their tacos are the bees knees! Anyway, we had a great time, jumped around like Kris Kross, (except we didn’t have our clothes on backwards) ate tacos, and headed back to the casa. I’ve been home for about half an hour now, and spent 28 of those minutes searching for my phone. Her name is Phone E Cates (a play on Phoebe Cates, but all my dirty friends think it’s because it sounds like “fornicates.” Pervs.) All the trampolining got me sweaty. I’m going to jump in the shower and resume my search once I’m clean.

 

Friday 11:48 November 9, 2012
Still no sign of my phone. I have dumped the entire contents of my purse out on my bed. I found half a pack of gum, a ring I thought was lost, countless receipts, $2.21 in coins, an old wristband from I show I can’t remember, but no Phone E Cates. That totally sucks too, because I just thought of something brilliant that is less than 140 characters so it’s perfect Twitter material. (I’ll just add that to the Twitter-bank for future use.) I’m down, but not out. I shall resume the search tomorrow. Tonight I will rest up, (my legs are still wobbly from the trampoline) sleep like a baby without the constant interruption of my phone alerts, and wake up ready to take on the world. Good night.

 

Saturday 2:03 am November 10, 2012
Woke up and reached for Phone E Cates to check the time; she wasn’t there. Oh yeah, now I remember… I wandered into the kitchen to check the time on the microwave. It’s 2:03 am, or maybe not. Could be 2 minutes, 3 seconds left that nobody bothered to clear. Truth is, you can’t trust microwave time. Nobody ever bothers to set that shit correctly anymore. I am reminded that it drives my family crazy when I leave leftover minutes on the microwave instead of just clearing it out. I guess some people are OCD that way. I decide to go back to bed but now the wheels are spinning and I can’t stop thinking about microwaves. It was probably me that left the 2:03 when I popped that bag of kettle corn. Mmmmm, kettle corn. *yawn*

 

Saturday 10:00am November 10, 2012
Woke up tired. I had strange dreams of kettle corn popping up and down on trampolines with the sound of a microwave incessantly beeping in the background. Weird. I’m feeling a little shaky and the butterflies are swirling a bit in my belly. Maybe I should take the kayak out on the lake and just forget the world? That sounds relaxing and it is a gorgeous day outside. Bet we won’t have too many more of those. Yep, that sounds just like what the doctor ordered!

 

Saturday 11:11am November 10, 2012 (Make a Wish!)
I wish I had never gone out on the lake! The sun was shining, Lake Dunlap was calm, the water glistening like glass. There I was alone in my thoughts on the open water, feeling free and trapped at the same time. I wanted to take a picture for Instagram of the sereneness in front of me, I wanted to check in on Yelp, I wanted to tweet and Facebook, but alas, no phone. Is it possible for me to stay unplugged and just enjoy God’s gifts and the beauty in nature that surrounds me? That remains to be seen.

 

Saturday 1:44pm November 10, 2012
Just got home from HEB grocery store. I had a list with me, but wanted to call the kids to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I did. Turns out, we need garbage bags. Fuck. I refuse to leave the house the rest of the day. I can feel my emotions spiraling into a really dark place. I’m feeling a little lightheaded and maybe even a bit nauseous. Is it possible to suffer from phone withdrawals? I think I’m going to lie down for now.

 

Saturday 5:23pm November 10, 2012
Wowzers! Woke up in a cold sweat, head throbbing and really out of it. I couldn’t tell if it was the middle of the day or the middle of the night. I still feel loopy, but the kids were promised a fish fry and I won’t let them down! On the menu: catfish nuggets, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, hush puppies, stuffed clams, steak fries, cole slaw, and homemade tarter. Yes! This should improve my outlook. Off the computer and on with the apron!

 

Saturday 10:05pm November 10, 2012
Dinner was a smashing success, my kitchen is destroyed, the house has a faint fishy smell, the kids are lazying around on the sofa, and I’m going to curl up in bed and watch Saturday Night Live. I can’t shake this feeling of being emotionally wrecked. I haven’t felt this roller coaster since I was pregnant with my youngest child, Mikayla 15 years ago. What’s happening to me?

 

Sunday 12:07am November 11, 2012
SNL wasn’t as funny as it usually is. Color me disappointed. I kept hearing noises outside my window and seeing strange shadows. I went out to the living room and asked the kids, but they all laughed at me. I think they are plotting against me. Mutiny in the cottage! I’ve walked circled around my house in the midnight air and can’t shake this feeling of imminent disaster. Every fiber of my being tells me something is amiss. I swear I can hear wolves howling from the other side of the lake. My heart won’t stop pounding and I feel like it’s 100 degrees in the house. When I went to adjust the thermostat the kids stopped me. Dallas calmly placed her hand over mine as I reached to turn the dial down to 64. “Mom, we are freezing! You’ve got to stop.” I found her calmness frightening.  That’s not like her at all. The other two are sharing a comforter on the couch staring blankly at the tv. They resemble zombies. I’m beginning to wonder if their bodies have been taken over. Paranoia has definitely set in.

 

Sunday 1:56am November 11, 2012
Unable to take it anymore, I went to Mikayla’s room and fetched her iPad. I must log in to my social networking sites. I turned it on and saw her photo gallery. It made me think of my photo gallery. Was there someone out there right now sifting through my pictures, invading my privacy? I felt guilty and put the iPad on my nightstand. That’s when I heard it again. Something is going on outside, I just know it! I’m really scared. Is there an alien invasion? Is someone stalking me? What are those shadows? I feel sick to my stomach and the term “uneasy” in quite the understatement. There is no way I’ll be able to sleep tonight. How will I go on like this?

 

Sunday 11:11am November 11, 2012
Woke up exhausted. Again. This constant feeling of paranoia is beginning to overwhelm me. The house is eerily quiet, I’m almost afraid to leave my bedroom. By now I will have heard the pitter-patter of my grandson running around on the laminate wood floors. The tv is usually blaring Disney channel and my kids fighting over cereal or pop tarts. There is nothing coming from the rest of my house, but quiet. It’s Sunday morning and football will kick-off soon. Maybe that will ease my nerves. Yes, I think a nice relaxing day in my pj’s watching football is just what I need. Going to check my fantasy league. Will resume the search for Phone E Cates tonight.

 

Sunday 11:44am November 11, 2012
All my fear, all my paranoia, all my feeling of uneasiness was not for nothing! It really IS the end of the world! I tried to log in to Yahoo Fantasy Football and their servers are down! That can only mean one thing: Armageddon. I ran into Mikayla’s room to check on her and she was gone. I went into Brandon’s room and he wasn’t there, either. The same thing with my daughter Dallas and my grandson Lyric. Thank God! They had all been taken in The Rapture. Now I am here all alone, without a phone. I ran outside to see if Earth was destroyed, to see if I was the last one standing in Riverbend Subdivision. (On any given Sunday morning you’ll find kids playing in the cul-de-sac, Dads working on lawns, and Moms sitting on porch rockers sipping iced tea (or whiskey.) The only person I saw was the weird lady that wears a nightgown when she walks her dog, no matter the time of day. Also, I’m pretty sure she purposely antagonizes my boxer, Bailey. All my fears have been substantiated. This is it. The End of Times as written in Revelations. I am preparing for “Red Dawn.” I found a set of camo’s in my closet from some long ago Halloween. I smeared make-up all over my face and packed a back pack. Guns, ammo, food, can opener, knives, toilet paper… I’m getting prepared for this. I just hope I can find other survivors and help repopulate the Earth. There is still so much to be done. This might be my last entry. Only God knows what’s in store for me now. To the person that finds this, I hope I died a hero. I hope I saved peoples lives, I hope I had more children, I hope that mankind pulled through. (Also, I hope you don’t find my phone. That shit is more private than this diary.)

 

Sunday 12:36pm November 11, 2011
It’s possible I overreacted to Yahoo’s servers being down. While in the midst of packing my Apocalypse Box, the kids walked through the door. Turns out, Dallas had taken them all out to eat and didn’t want to disturb me. Apparently, it’s not the End of Times just yet. What a relief! Now I’m tasked with explaining to the kids why I’m decked out in Battle Dress Uniform, grease paint across my face, and wielding a serrated hunting knife. “I’m going to a costume party later,” I tell them. I don’t think they bought it. I can tell they are talking about me. They’re laughing, too. They think I’ve finally lost my mind. Well, maybe I have. I want to call my best friend so bad, but I can’t. I really hate not having a phone.

 

Sunday 11:11pm (Make a Wish!) November 11, 2012
I wish that when I wake up tomorrow, this will all have been a terrible, no good, very bad dream. I wish that my phone will be sitting there on my nightstand like she usually is, ready to greet me with time, date, temperature, and notifications. Only I know this is not a dream. It is real and my phone is lost forever. Tomorrow after work, I will replace her. Good bye Phone E Cates. You were good to me and you will forever be missed.

 

Monday 10:49am November 12, 2012
It nearly took an Act of Congress to get my ass out of bed today. I’m so depressed, I don’t want to do anything, especially go to work. Yet, here I am, back at my desk, answering emails and voice-mails, wishing I was home in bed. Dallas just called to check on me. I guess all the kids are concerned about my physical and mental well being. Can you blame them? She asked if I was hungry and said she was going to stop by and bring me a surprise. I hope it’s a double patty melt with sauerkraut from Freddy’s Frozen Custard. My bestie Hannah says Freddy’s is the devil and she might be right.

 

Monday 12:01pm November 12, 2012
All is right in the world and order has been restored! My stomach ache is gone, the uneasy feeling I couldn’t shake has been shaken, and that 800 pound gorilla is no longer a monkey on my back. Turns out, the “surprise” she had for me came out of Lyric’s toy box and often goes by the name “Phone E Cates.” Apparently, Lyric had picked it up Friday and put it away in his toy box when he was getting ready for bed that night. I feel relief. Relief that I have my phone back, relief that it’s not the end of the world, relief that my kids no longer question my sanity, and relief that the paranoia & withdrawals are gone. The only thing that could make me feel any better than I already feel would be if someone brought me that patty melt from Freddy’s. Someone? Anyone?