Monday, December 26, 2011

Mr. Kim blogs: Mrs. Kim's Gift

I try to be a story teller in this blog, and when I don’t have anything to say that would be entertaining or at least a bit tawdry I just keep it to myself. I mean, who wants to read that I got home from work and balanced my checkbook or collapsed in front of House Hunters International, or some similar nonsense?

But this blog entry is not given to storytelling and it is not really entertaining at all. It’s more of a snapshot to memorialize this Christmas season and the tremendous gift my Bride gave us all this year. Kim’s readers here all know what a huge deal Christmas is around here, with the Christmas Eve bash and all the house decorating and gift wrapping and, some years, even church attendance during Advent. (Clearly not often enough, as every time I attend I am greeted as a visitor at the door and asked to introduce myself.)

My job is a pain in the arse for someone who is as much into the celebration of the season as we are. In the best of years I work 60-65 hour weeks beginning September 1 and extending all the way up to December 20. It’s the nature of the business (state governmental budgeting) and they pay me to do what I do, so I shouldn’t complain. But I do, loudly. The nights and weekends always make it hard to squeeze in college football (season ticket holder) and all the preparations and shopping for the holiday season, and there is a lot of wasted time nights and weekends trying to get decision makers to focus. This year was most definitely not “the best of years.” The budget season was, for various reasons best not put into writing, very difficult. Instead of the usual 60 hour weeks they were closer to 80. Weekends this year were just days, and all of them were spent at the office – not one full day off between Thanksgiving and December 22, and not one full weekend after Halloween. Even the nights I got home before 8 or 9 PM, I was simply exhausted.

Yea, I know, poor me. Get over it. But if it had depended on me, Christmas was not going to be pulled off in its usual manner in our home in 2011. All my energy reserves were depleted, no sense of organization or motivation, my usual to-do list in my head was buried under vanilla pudding. All good will toward men was overcome with resentment toward the job and the impact it was having on our life. I mean, I derive my life’s joy not from my career, but from the time I am able to spend with Kim doing the things the job gives me the means to do. And the job became the instrument that prevented all that. And no thank you, no apology, just expectation. And the statement to our faces that we, experts in our various areas each with decades of experience, were lucky to have a job.

Thank the goddess for my Bride. She stepped in and took over the 10% I usually contribute to getting us ready for Christmas. Let me be honest, it’s usually her making things happen anyway, but I am usually engaged and try to be helpful and try to at least appear to be part of the process. But I was nowhere this year. And while she would have been completely justified in being resentful of the burden, or in cutting back on what we do, or in making it clear how much she hated my job and demanding change, she did none of those things. With an almost eerie calm that had me scared for a while, she methodically made sure everything got done. If I was on the sofa flopped out, she kept cleaning. If I was working, she kept cooking and buying and wrapping and making lists and checking them twice. If my schedule changed at the last minute to accommodate the whims of power brokers and bureaucrats instead of what we had planned to do, she adjusted expectations. She told me where I needed to be and when, and mashed and squeezed and bundled everything into place.

The result was the best gift of all for me. She made Christmas for us when all I could do was watch and feebly wrap a few gifts after midnight on the 24th. Even the Christmas Eve dinner party we always throw for family and close friends went off without a hitch on our part – even though 22 of 58 invitees pulled no-show-no-calls, and most of the remaining 38 showed up between 45 minutes and 3 hours late for a hot meal. Even then, my dear Wyfe remained calm and, for the sake of the season, didn’t kill any of the late arrivals.

Gifts, meals, trees, carols, candles, centerpieces, and decorations both familiar and new, all because of her. I would have missed the season, as important as it is to us, without her flying solo for all of us. What a wonderful gift for me and our family. And I am so very grateful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mr. Kim blogs: Valuable lessons

I have learned several things today.

1. Never get coffee from a Starbucks that usually serves its java from the brewer but is today serving from twenty gallon portable urns.

2. Twenty gallon portable urns full of coffee cool faster than three gallon brewers that are constantly refreshed.

3. Coffee from a 20 gallon urn is likely to be cold.

4. One should taste one’s coffee before leaving a Starbucks to see if it is the right temperature.

5. A cup of cold Starbuck's coffee does not magically get warmer after a 10 mile drive to the office.

6. Starbucks cups, even when full of cold coffee, will nonetheless burst into flame when placed in a microwave.

7. Flaming coffee cups, when grabbed by bare hands, can leave a mark. A very painful mark.

8. Grabbing a flaming coffee cup does not in and of itself prevent now-hot coffee from spewing all down your hands from the deteriorating cup.

9. Standing still and screaming in an office break room while holding a deteriorating flaming coffee cup form Starbuck's does nothing to improve the situation.

10. Folks in my office find the strangest things amusing.

No, the moment was not captured on video. Stop laughing.