Sunday, December 4, 2011

What happened?

I used to be a neat and organized person.

I never missed people’s birthdays. I never lost socks to the dryer monster. I was always on time or early to meetings. My pen caps were always matched up with proper pens and always pushed on tight.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. I guess it had something to do with becoming a newspaper editor.

All of a sudden, there wasn’t time to worry about trivialities. All that matters is getting the darn paper done, preferably on time.

Now I am always late to meetings. I forget to send in reports. I forget birthdays and other important things like dentist’s appointments. I’ve even worn my clothes inside out.

So how do these things happen? And does one go back to having things in order?

I do not like to be the person who forgets to send my grandma a birthday card, or forgets what my significant other’s favorite food is. I do not want to have a checklist for how to get dressed in the morning, but I would like to have time to actually write a to-do list before midnight. I certainly don’t want to be the one who never fills out her SMS report for corporate until the fourth reminder email. And I don’t want to have missing socks.

I’m trying really hard to remember everything, to do everything that needs to get done. I guess sometimes, it’s just not possible.

But this year, at least, my Christmas cards WILL be sent out on time. I guess at least I can check that off the list.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Solving problems

The challenge with trying to solve problems for other people is to figure out how get those people to clearly identify what the problem actually is.

"The bullets are gone on my pages," someone told me recently.

OK, explain. Are they gone from the template? Do you not know how to put them back? Is the font missing? Did they disappear in printed or just from what you can see? Where exactly are they "gone" from?

"They just won't show up."

Not helpful.

I also get the "it just won't work" complaints, the "something just happened to my monitor/screen/camera/phone" issues and the "what should I do?" questions.

However, it's my job as an editor to be a mind reader, an innovator, a mom, a caretaker, and of course, the in-house IT person, so eventually, we get to the bottom of things. Most of the time, at least.

And the bullets? Well, it was a systems issue. The font just wasn't compatible with our printing software. Haven't solved that one yet, but at least we got to the bottom of the problem.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The haunted condo

I'm beginning to think that our neighbor's condo is haunted by an evil spirit.

For the past 45 minutes, my neighbors have been slamming doors (louder than usual, and even in the bathrooms and the closets) and screaming at each other. "Fuck this" and "I don't CARE" and then there was some crying.

Perhaps this wouldn't be so weird if they weren't the fourth couple living there since we moved in four years ago.

First, there was the Unit Owner. He lived here the first year. A few weeks after he introduced us to his girlfriend/fiancee/wife (depends on what day you asked him), he moved in with her in another unit and we haven't seen him since.

Loud TV Guy stayed in the unit for about a month. He wasn't living there full-time, so he doesn't really count. But he was painting or helping out with something and slept on a mattress on the floor. The sound from his television would bounce off the empty walls into all hours of the night, and a few times I think I even banged on our wall with a broom to get him to turn it down.

Woman With 3-year-old and Dog moved in after that. They seemed really nice - the girl was sweet and quiet and the dog was adorable. They must have lived here around the time of my abdominal surgery, because I remember during my first walk outside that the little girl looked at me, pointed and said "mom, why is she walking so funny?"

The trouble started when the husband came up here from North Carolina and couldn't find a job. Maybe he got laid off, maybe he got fired, we're not sure. From the noise he made when running up and down the stairs, he must have been at least 250 pounds. And boy, would he go up and down those stairs.

Turns out, that was the least of our concerns. He had a real bad temper as well. We heard a couple of nasty verbal arguments, but they always ended before we had a chance to really worry it would be taken to the next level and feel the need to call the police. Then there was The Big Fight. Banging, stomping, crashing. Door slamming. Angry man leaving. Quiet. Woman on phone crying.

We're not sure he ever came back. Bills started piling up. Termination notices came in the mail (we frequently get mail that's supposed to be for our neighbors and have to hand deliver it). Next thing we know, Woman With 3-year-old and Dog move out.

Mom With Teenage Son came next. We think there were actually two sons, and one of them might have lived in a basement room without windows. But we only saw them - or smelled them - when they stood out on our patio smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette. The smoke seeped in through cracks around the doors, and watching TV in our own living room became unbearable.

Doors would still slam, but there was no screaming, at least not that I can recall. I'm pretty sure the mom said she was divorced. She had many decorations and garden tools with her when she moved in, indicating she had downsized from a large house.

A few months later, I caught them packing boxes into a moving van. "My son got kicked out of school," Mom With Teenage Son said. "There's no reason for us to stay here now."

Couple With Tiny Cars moved in next. They've probably been living here eight or night months now. Doors have always slammed, but nothing like tonight.

And the eavesdropping was inevitable, as they took their fight outside on the patio and it's finally a cool enough night to have the windows open. After one of them left and then came back, it is finally silent again.

We'll see which one of them - or both, perhaps - is moving out tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

And the deck plans start happening...

Transporting wood home from the store to start making the deck extension.

Our grill got a new home, in what used to be my wildflower garden. Well, at least it's off of the deck part, giving us more space to move around! More rocks will come, and some flowers to cover the ugly cinder blocks, but first we are getting a new grill!

I was experimenting with the cinder blocks to see if I could get them as high as the regular deck, but it wasn't really working. Will have to work out another removable foundation.

And here's the frame of the deck extension. Complete with metal corners and all! (but you can't see those in the picture)

And thanks to IKEA, we have covered our ugly existing concrete patio in some fancy (removable) wood decking. Now we just need some new outdoor furniture!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chernobyl - 25 years ago

It makes me feel really old to think that the big nuclear accident in the Ukraine that peopel still talk about happened 25 years ago today.

I can still remember my grandmother ushering me inside - no more outdoor time until the radioactive clouds had passed over Sweden.

Of course, I was only 7 years old at the time, so I wasn't thinking about the 31 people who lost their lives. I didn't even know what a nuclear reactor was. All I knew was that there had been a big explosion somewhere in the Soviet Union, that radioactive fumes were in the atmosphere, and that inside became the new outside for a couple of weeks.

I'm not even sure there was radioactive fallout where we lived in Sweden, but my grandma insisted it was dangerous, so inside I went. It was springtime, which made it so much harder to stay indoors. Flowers were starting to come up, the grass was getting greener. For months, my grandmother would warn me not to touch the grass or eat leaves or whatever we did as 7-year-olds, because there could be remnants of radiation.

Now, all I can think of are those poor souls that lived within a close proximity of the blast, all of those who later died or got sick from the radiation, and all animals near the plant who died off within a couple of years. It took days for the Soviets to providing information to the outside world - who knows how long before it told its people the truth. But people obviously knew something had gone terribly wrong.