I'm not Vincent

Some of my friends wonder how I can keep my personal and professional blogs, e-mails and other stuff separate. Easy, I say. It's a mindset, much like that which actors get into when they're "in character". I know who Lazygal is supposed to be and sound like...

Of course, keeping track of my many e-mail addresses (joke list, this blog, professional/personal, personal/personal, work, etc.) can be a bit daunting at times but hey, that's what early morning tv is made for: time to quickly check in on all that and see who wants what from which of me. And with this new job not only did I get three e-mail accounts (personal, library and archives) but I decided to get a work-related cell phone so students and others could text me.

And that's where Vincent crept in to my life.

You see, I don't actually go by Lazygal anywhere except here and on twitter. Everywhere else I'm, well, me. So imagine my surprise when I started getting phone calls on my new phone for Vincent. I'm pretty clear that I'm a nearly 51-year-old female of Eastern European descent. And I've never had any gender identification issues before (ok, well, sort-of, but that was in college and I'm pretty sure the professor really regrets calling me and a female friend/classmate "boys" - or, more likely, regretted it when the rest of the class erupted in laughter and then he moved on, because I have... mostly). But Vincent? Hmmm....

This was his old phone number and however many months ago he gave it up. Rumor has it that numbers get recycled after about six months, which should give people the sense that "Vincent doesn't live here any more" but in this case? I'm guessing that the number was his far more recently. Because wouldn't his pharmacy (the one near the library one town over from the town I just moved from) and his friends and - more important! - his credit collectors know that he wasn't at that number otherwise? Seriously: I've gotten on average 3 phone calls a week since October, all for Vincent. All from credit collection agencies. And within the past month I've gotten texts for him, three from friends and one from the pharmacy (hope he got his meds ok!).

So let me just reiterate: I Am Not Vincent.


Except maybe on the phone.


Just look at me, PLEASE

It's been brought to my attention that I don't blog as much any more, and that the nature of the blog has changed so, well, why not start this year off properly with a return to form?  And what better return to form than a rant?

Way back, when I was a sweeter young thing and dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was taught that there was as way to do things.  And one of those things was how to "serve" the public - first as a chambermaid/coffee pourer at an inn in upstate NY and then as part of the box office team at a summer stock theatre.  Rule number one: make eye contact with customers, let them know you see them and are aware they need you.

When I was in the box office, if there I was helping someone on the phone and someone walked up to the ticket window, I was supposed to make eye contact - if there was an appropriate moment, interrupt the phone call and say (to the person in front of me) "just a moment" or if there wasn't an appropriate moment, give the "just a second sign".  No one was to feel that they weren't important.

That rule held true as I worked my way through other box office experiences, working as a receptionist and other jobs.  Even when handling 10 incoming lines and 400 extensions, the person in front of me got eye contact, a smile and some indication that I knew they were there (sometimes I'd even write a note so we could communicate).

Why has that rule been forgotten?  It's so incredibly rude to not acknowledge someone right there.  Most recent example?  My local CVS, where I was just yesterday, getting a refilled prescription.  I stood there, patiently waiting for one of the two people behind the counter to even glance in my direction.  I wasn't the only one there, but to the gentleman on the phone and the woman checking out the two customers ahead of me, I might as well have been at home... or invisible.  What a small amount of effort it would have taken to look at me and indicate that yes, they knew there was another patient waiting.  Patiently.  It's the same everywhere I go: eye contact and looking at patrons/clients/customers is so rare, so unusual as to be virtually extinct.  And it's not just young whippersnappers who fail to do it: the two CVSers were close to my age.

Bring back the good old days, please.  What's wrong with a little in person civility in a century when we're increasingly communicating digitally?  Anyone?


2013 in Review (non-book edition)

I've been contemplating the questions posed here, and after a lot of thought and review (literally re-viewing the year through the lens of it now being in the past) here's what I've come up with.  After this, it's full-speed-ahead into 2014!

1. Describe your year in a single word, sentence and paragraph. Change - I underwent a Big Life Change this year that took me well out of my comfort zone (both physical and emotional).  It was scary, hectic, stress-inducing, health-reducing and yet I managed to survive it all.  Somehow.  There are potentially more changes on the horizon and, well, I'm hoping that I've learned (and decluttered) enough to make them more manageable.

2. Look back at each month of the year.  Write one sentence to describe each month.  Or, write a sentence that elucidates the most important lesson learned each month.
January: Enjoying Seattle with friends, both librarian and non-librarian, and grateful for their support and affection.
February: Starting a gig in NYC, looking for balance between working at home, my online coursework and the commute.
March: Feeling honored that a few of my friends confided their difficulties to me, trusting that I'd be there with support or whatever they need.
April: Not quite the cruelest month, but starting to think about new chapters in life and moving forward.
May: Overwhelming sorrow at Bogie's fast decline in health - a mere 10 days between noticing the problem to his Final Vet Visit - but joy that I could spend his last few days with him, not leaving his side except for a few moments.
June: Starting to truly rethink what I'm doing in my life, preparing for a post-school librarian focus.
July: Continuing from June, feeling a lot of stress about the What's Next.
August: Offered a school position only a few days before August began, and started to work in a new school in a new state, plus looking for a new place to live (commute was not feasible long term)
September: A mixture of exhilaration (enjoying the new job), stress (moving) and fear (can I do this???)
October: The stress of moving behind me, the stress of getting my home ready for rental still ongoing.
November:  Relief: the home is rented (although there is an odd sense of loss, despite not loving the house!) and spending time with friends in Boston and Montreal start the holiday season off well.
December: Even more relief, this time in the form of Winter Break and the opportunity to regroup.

3. What were the highlights of your year?  The low-lights? The highlights were the new job, my friends, and travel to Seattle, Chicago, Boston and Montreal; the lowlights were the loss of Bogie and my uncle's burial.

4. Read through your journals, highlight the juicy bits and compile a mega list of lessons learned.  Then whittle your list to your top 3 life lessons from 2013. I don't keep a journal but... Lesson One: I'm blessed and incredibly rich in friends; Lesson Two: I need to trust that things will get done, just not always when I want them to; Lesson Three: home is where the important people are, whether or not you live with them.

5. Who/what were the significant people, events, and places during the past 12 months? I've covered some of those above, and I don't want to name names (although many are the same as those listed here) for fear of leaving someone out.

6. What would you like to forget about this year?  Do you have any regrets?  Anything you would like to have done differently? Obviously, taking more time with the Big Life Change (from 0 to 60 in no time at all) would have been nice.  And Bogie.

7. What was the emotional tone of 2013?  What were the dominating emotional patterns?  Don’t forget the good ones! Overall, stress - sometimes overwhelming, sometimes just an undercurrent.  And fear - fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear that I've wasted many years.  But they were also balanced by feeling enveloped in love and affection from my friends.

8. Capture your year as a color, a taste, a feeling, a visual or a smell. I'm going to go with a food - oatmeal with raisins.  In other words, much "same old" with moments of real sweetness.

9. Look through your photos and chose the ones that best represent the year.  Write an evocative headline for each.  Create a photo collage that represents the essence of your year.  Since I don't take many photos, that's not going to happen...

10. What did you accomplish?  What challenged you? Despite everything, I've gotten quite a bit done (not just reading 325 books, but also continuing to declutter and live more simply, watching a lot of movies via Netflix, working on presentations, articles, books, etc.) - the challenge has been to manage my time, especially when my routine got completely upended.

11. List your most important insights about your body, emotions, mind, spirit, work, finances, and/or relationships.  And, any thing else important to you. The adage "less is more" is so very true - as is the phrase "half as long, twice as nice".  When I remember that, things go so much easier for me and everyone.

12.  What lessons, insights, perspectives, and new behaviors would you like to carry forward into the new year?  Trusting that others are there has been something that I've never really done, but this year it was proven again and again that they are: there are people at work who are willing to help, Thing One has been stellar, my friends have given me a cushion to fall on, and so many more examples. Like a F/friend and her son who came over to help me pack, bringing take out dinner so I didn't have to worry about food.  Totally unexpected, and I would never have asked but she offered - because we're F/friends.

13.  Is there anyone to forgive, including yourself?  Yes, but part of that forgiveness is not dwelling on it or talking about what happened.

14.  Did you choose a single word as your guiding star this year?  If so, how did it go with your word?  Did you remember it?  Did you bring it alive?  I had three words, and while I was able to work on them somewhat, I allowed events to overtake me.  This year, I hope to be better about using those words to guide my life.


Links Galore

The first links of the year - enjoy!


The Year in Review (sort of)

Cam PhilsophyMom has a great New Year's Meme that I just had to steal respond to... again:

 1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? Became a citizen of a new state springs to mind - after 43 years in New York State, I had to change all my id, voter registration and all that stuff.  It feels weird not being in New York, but I am closer to my birthplace of Boston!

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't make resolutions, I set three guiding words and, well... I did do ok with some.  For 2014 I'll stay with those, but add the goal of doing with less: less spending, less weight, less stress.  There'll be more about the past year in posts to come, but that's enough for now.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Number Three Niece had a beautiful baby girl in February, and apparently Number Four Niece is due sometime in 2014.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully, no humans.  However, Bogie did join the Mantelpiece Cats.

5. What countries did you visit? Canada.  Montreal, specifically, which feels even less like America than other cities (although I've yet to visit Quebec City).

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? A sense of balance in my life.  So much happened, between a gig in NYC and this new job and moving and losing a cat and trying to make a new life, that it often felt like things were out of control.  Continuing to edit things out and declutter, plus really getting serious about growing older gracefully should help.

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The date we brought Bogie to the vet for his Last Visit (it was also the date I had my first colonoscopy, so not a great day At All!).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? The Big Life Change is probably the biggest, but there's also smaller successes that need to be celebrated (like donating several thousand dollars worth of household items and clothes and books).

9. What was your biggest failure? I'm going to mimic PM and say "gaining back my weight" - it's been affecting my health (serious GI issues) and sense of wellness in general. In part it's stress eating, in part it's poor (very poor) choices in what I'm eating.  Several of my friends have lost a lot and look wonderful; with a gym literally right across the street from me, and an amazing salad bar at work to choose from, it's all on me to make this right again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? See above re: GI issues.  That might not qualify as "illness" but trust me, it's not pretty.

11. What was the best thing you bought? There's no one thing, but it's all about tea: different varieties, plus the coolest travel "mug" and a milk frother so I can make homemade London Fogs.  Oh, and finally I got a tea cozy, which has made Winter Break so much more bearable.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Thing One.  He's put up with a lot over the past few months.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? No comment.  I'm still trying to get over it.

14. Where did most of your money go? Three places: getting my home ready to be rented out,  job search/move, and Bogie's being very, very ill.  Not things I'd budgeted for at all, and I'm really hoping that's enough big financial hits for a while.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Hmmm.... no one thing springs to mind.  Which does sound pretty pathetic, doesn't it?  Spending time with good friends and family has been exciting but in a different way than the question implies.  Honestly, I've been so blessed with my friends.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013? Not sure I could begin to answer this - the music that reminds me of times and places is all in the past.  Sadly, even though I work with teens, I'm woefully uninformed about the new stuff out there.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: 
i. happier or sadder?  Happier, I think.  Calmer anyway.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Fatter.  Ugh.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.  See number 14 above.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Preparing for the Big Life Change (although it all happened very quickly). Sometimes I wonder if the choices I've made are the best ones.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Eating and being stressed.

20. How did you spend Christmas? I did the Jewish-Christmas-with-a-twist: one stocking stuff opened on New Year's Eve, movie and Thai food and more gifts on Christmas itself.

21. How will you bring in the New Year? Eve: at home, with risotto and champagne; Day: brunch, reading, napping.

22. With whom did you spend the most time on the phone in 2013? From January through mid-September, Thing One.  Recently, though, whole days can go by before I actually have a real phone conversation (or Skype/Gchat)

23. Did you fall in love? I wish!

24. What was your favorite TV program? This year I've watched less and less tv, although I do confess to being a little addicted to "home tv p*rn" (shows like "Love It or List It" and "Property Brothers", etc.) - during the day they make for nice background noise.

25. What was the best book you read? I don't think I could pick just one of the 325 I read, but Survival Lessons really stood out in terms of "what I don't normally read that wow'd me".

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? This year?  I didn't really do a lot of new music this year; to be more accurate, I didn't explore new music makers this year (I did get new albums by old faves).

27. What did you want and get? A job that challenges me in good ways, in a place that's interested in moving forward with the program.

28. What did you want and not get? Winning the lottery (my pie-in-the-sky wish); Bogie to get healthy and still be with me (my truly prayed for wish).

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Since none really stuck with me, I'm going with "none" as an answer. In case anyone's wondering or cares, the worst was "Man of Steel"

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I hit the half-century mark in style: interview for a consulting gig and then a gathering of friends at the Bookmarks Lounge.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Serenity

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Layers, mostly neutrals with green accents (used to be pink accents, but green is really calling to me now).

33. What kept you sane? The responsibility I have for The Herd - knowing that I had to keep on going when it was very difficult.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Can't really answer - no one comes to mind.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Not sure it's an issue, but every time I think that the two ruling parties have reached rock bottom in terms of idiocy and childish behavior, they prove there's a new low.  I'd be very interested in a "vote all the bastards out and start over" movement!

36. Whom did you miss? My uncle, Anchises (aka Robert)

37. Who was the best new person you met? The other librarian at work - she's fun, eager to get the program moving, and a great stabilizing influence.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. You're not alone. Every time I felt very alone, very afraid of what was coming next, someone appeared to show me the exact opposite. If I can be that person for someone else...

39. A song lyric that sums up your year. Let me get back to you on that.

40. What was your favorite moment of the year? Walking in to my new library, and realizing that even after two years away from school libraries, I could still do it.

41. What was your least favorite moment of the year? Speaking with the vet after Bogie'd been in the hospital for four (very, very expensive) days and realizing there was nothing we could do would be the very least favorite; second least was the day we finished moving everything out of my house and it was all painted and back to the way it'd been before I moved in.

42. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2013 and change something, what would it be?  Not sure about this - there's nothing I can actually change about Bogie's death, and beyond there's nothing I'd change.

43. What are your plans for 2014? To continue as I've been going in terms of decluttering and simplifying, to be a better friend to others, and to start 2015 in better shape financially, mentally and physically.