Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Monday, Isn't It?

Today was my son's 10th birthday. He's been so excited for weeks now, and I've been excited to make it fun for him. His day seemed to go fairly well. Here's how mine went.

I wake up, still feeling moderately awful from a rough weekend. Recently diagnosed with asthma, which in and of itself isn't such a terrible thing - it's that it's been misdiagnosed for years, apparently. And for the past 6 months has been flaring up and giving me hell to the point I'm just worn out, and so are my lungs. So yeah, not such a hot start to things, but we soldiered on.

Son was all adorable and smiles waking up. I had warm towels fresh out of the dryer, new clothes laid out for him from Grandma, and he was in good spirits: the day was improving.

I should have known right there it wouldn't last.

In anticipation of a busy morning, and an excited boy who would need extra supervision, I'd showered the night before, and got things laid out for the day. Unfortunately, the coughing and wheezing just wouldn't let up, and slowed me down. Still manageable at this point.

Son, as it turns out, was very, very excited about the new Legos Grandma and Grandpa sent, and had settled in building another of the sets by the time I got downstairs. I couldn't drag him away from it, and he was heading down the path to meltdown on account. So I eased back, having not the energy nor the patience for a prolonged fight over it, and continued to encourage him to get his shoes on, and put the toys away, while hitting up a dose of ye olde albuterol to kick start the lungs.

We get everything going, and him off the toys ... and I forget that I need to pack him a lunch on top of everything else. And I have to keep him out of the kitchen while I do it, so he doesn't figure out where I've hidden the balogna (due to his habit of snarfing the whole package when we aren't looking, which just ain't healthy). While I'm doing that, and adding a little personal note to the lot - you guessed it, he's back on the Legos, and I'm in a panic.

I can't get him convinced until I'm good and late, and worked up enough that I need another hit on the albuterol - breather this time, for a quick shot.

Not a problem, right? Wrong - got to walk him in, because we have a whole sack full of cupcakes for his birthday treat for his class, which every child knows is a Big Thing that they look forward to doing. Store-bought cupcakes, to boot because lord forbid we be able to you know, make anything and bring it, for fear of allergies.

(Which I found out really isn't the case, just the excuse. A co-worker spilled the real story, about how some worker got meningitis or some other such communicable disease, and it resulted in a minor epidemic around the metro area some while back, so they shut down bringing in homemade things .... and just never re-instituted the practice, once they had it banned. Not that it makes a lick of sense, since a food worker would be spreading it in any case, and it was not the home baked goods that did any of it to begin with. Ah, politics and your long-standing divorce from common sense. Whatever would we do without you.)

In any case, by this time, we are late for school as well, though only by minutes. We go in, and then have to stand in line with the other kids late by minutes, while they do the pledge of allegiance and the whole spiel over the P.A. system.

We get to his locker, and he has to go through everything at that point for some reason, separating what he needs and what he doesn't and getting the rest put back into his locker. I figure by this time, whatever works, and keeps him smiling, because no one wants a breakdown on a birthday, right?

We finally get him into class, his late slip to his teacher, his treats on the cupboard, and him in his desk, and I depart. Since I am already late, I figure I'll get some juice for the throat, and while I'm at it, get a jump on the balloons - as the weekend had been a bust given how sick I'd been. Got them pre-ordered, got my juice, got on the road ...

And got stuck behind some lovely commuter who figured driving slower in the fast lane was the Right Thing to Do. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past them due to the rest of traffic, and the sporadic construction going on, narrowing the lanes here and there. Not until right about the time it was to change lanes and get set up for my off ramp was I able to pass, and by that time, it didn't really matter anymore.

The rest of the drive was fairly smooth, no problems. Until I got to the parking lots. Holy Hades, I had never seen them so full. And worse, even though I was later, and generally by that time someone has come and gone between buildings, or on appointment, or some such thing and opened up a closer space, there was none to be had. And I mean none.

It was so full, they had taken up spots to either side of the lanes making it a very tight squeeze just to drive through the lots - you know, end of a row, park just outside of it? Yeah. I saw one lady squeeze her SUV into such a spot and glance over at me with a face full of guilt as I keyed in and tried to find something, anything that would let me in.

Nada. First lot, full. Second lot, shockingly full. Third lot ... what? Locked? It's never locked. It's the biggest one - and least convenient, hence last resort. Ok, not really last. The very last resort is surprisingly enough, back across the four lane divided road that I have absolutely NO chance in running across in my current gasping state.

I hit the albuterol again, coughing and muttering all manner of dire imprecations under my breath at this point. And then I pull around to the road across from the parking garage (that bastion of hope for guaranteed parking that you have to wait by seniority to even get in, and that after about 3 years given the waiting list at this point), to where the meters are.

No parking from 7-9am and 4-6pm. Ok, it's after 9 at this point, I'm in the clear. Feeling out of options, tired, crabby, and still wheezy, I fumble around for change, and start feeding the meter. I get a whopping whole hour out of it.

Ok, that's enough to get my backside in to work, get things settled, go get some change, and at least put in enough so I can move it later before towing time at 4pm. Right?

Across the street, up the elevator because at this point, stairs are simply not happening, let alone 3 flights of them. Through the skywalk for 2 more blocks, up the elevator, and coughing and gasping, finally to my desk.

As I pull up my computer, I can see right away my email is not working. Again. It has been a constant problem for the past couple months, and has just gotten progressively worse. It loses server connection, inexplicably. This means I can't send or receive, and restarting it is not a guarantee. Nor is a complete reboot. It asks for a password we were never given, and don't have access to, and only restarting it syncs it correctly from our end. (Considering getting Help Desk on it takes for freaking ever ... no.)

After messing around with that for far too long, and making the usual greetings and explanations, and inquiries after co-worker's health given how many had been sick, and what not last week, I finally get it going, and find I have a plethora of work to wade through. More than I would have liked. Much, much more.

Nothing to it but to do it, so again, soldiering on. I just hit my stride when I suddenly realize there is something I needed to do.

The meter needed feeding, and I was 10 minutes late to do it. The sign did mention towing, so I get up and head back downstairs to the coffee/snack shop hoping to get some change with the purchase of a tasty rice crispy treat intended to take the edge off the stressful morning, and perhaps sweeten my disposition without me going into sugar overload.

Only they're out of change, and I'll need to find a bank. The funny thing about this is, I work in a bank, just not the sort that gives out money or deals with transactions. And the only one available is over a couple blocks, and not our bank at all. Irony, one of life's little jokes - I don't care at this point, I just need to feed the meter and not get my car towed.

I go to the ATM. I wait. And wait. And fething wait for this guy in front of me to complete the 20 some odd transactions he's needing to handle there. I swear, he must have been checking everything from his savings, to his stocks, to his 401k or what have you the way he was clicking and noting, and going through screens there. How the heck long does it take to make a withdrawal for crying out loud? ARGH!

Finally he leaves, and the cash is mine in record time, and I'm off down the skywalk again in another direction hoping there won't be a problem getting some coin.

There isn't. Shock, awe. I walk out of there with a roll of quarters, a determined grimace, and a tight chest. And after I make it back out to where I'd left my minivan, I find to my surprise that first, it is still there and second, there is no ticket. Huzzah! Score one!

Then I start feeding quarters into the meter, trying to count out the hours that for some reason is a near impossible task at the moment. I can't focus, can't concentrate, and end up giving it one more quarter than it can handle, thus losing it entirely. Which given the cost of $1.25/hr kind of ticks me off. Just saying.

Back across the road, through the parking garage, up the elevator, two more blocks through the skywalk, up the elevator to the 7th floor, to my desk, and collapse at my chair, all wheezy and gasping again. Yes, gonna live. Ha ha. Where's that breather ...

It's at this point I see an email about side-by-side training. Having only worked 2 days the week before due to being out sick, and off to a late start today, I offer my explanation to my manager as to what's going on, and why I need juuuust a little more time to get things in order before I have someone sit down with me. I explain about the asthma, and reassure her it is going to get sorted, but for the next while, I'm just gonna be a little wiped out and such. I hit send.

I then realize I had chosen 'reply to all'. I desperately try to cancel the send, but NOW of course, my email is working just fine, and it's off in a flash. Thank you to all my co-workers, there's my little slice of life for the day, hope you all enjoyed that glimpse, yes I am trawling for sympathy. >_< Yeah, no. At this point, I just want to go home and hide for the rest of the day. I joke to my manager about a transfer. She laughs it off, and wishes me well saying 'It's just a Monday.'

Yes. Yes it is. And oh how I hate it. I'm forgetting something else, aren't I?

Ah yes. Calling Pizza Ranch to make sure it's ok to bring the cake in. Thank the powers that be, they say absolutely, in fact we don't have anything going on tonight so we can reserve the room, no problem. Bless you, faceless young adult on the other end of the phone, bless you.

From there on out, it's a matter of trying to explain to people who are demanding updates, status reports, and immediate answers to at least 40 of the 80 some odd files I'm working on that I'm doing the best I can, I've been unexpectedly out of the office lately, and I will make sure everything is addressed by the end of the week if not sooner.

I prioritize my hot list, concentrate on the faxes and emails with attachments that came in meaning new information and documents, speak to some borrowers, and prep some files for underwriting review.

Or I would if the program that houses and shows us all our loaded documents that pertain to the files was working correctly - which it isn't, again. That particular program has been also giving many of us grief of late, and today it seems hell bent on making it impossible to do what I need to do and move these files on.

Wasn't there something I was supposed to ... oh crap, that's right. I have to go move my car. Because for one, there was only so much time put on the meter. And why? That's the other thing - between 4pm-6pm, cars will be towed. That really, really would put a crimp in things at this point, so it is once more unto the breach, down the elevator, across two blocks, down the stairs, and to my car. Thankfully, there are very close parking spaces, and the lucky sods who come in early and leave early, are on their way home, making even more space available.

Lovely. Back upstairs.

It's another hit on the breather, and then I end up going back through emails to find the right ones that have the attachments for the documents I need to look at to fill in the screens so I can send on the file for review. It's cumbersome, it's irritating, but it gets the job done.

Thirty minutes after when I'd hoped to leave, I'm clocking out and despairing of how the rest of the week is going to go if this is how it's starting out. Not to worry though, right? All I need to do is grab some plates, and pick up the balloons. Right?

Not thinking clearly, I hit Nobbies because hey, they've got all the cool party things there, right? You think I can find the island bits to go with the volcano cake I'd made over the weekend? Nah. Though I did find some earring sized glowsticks to toss into said volcano to make it glow. Win, there. I end up getting some red plates for the cake instead, because son loves red - something I could have just picked up at the grocery store and made one stop with. Oh well.

On to grocery store where I also pick up, along with the balloons which look great, even if I committed heresy by putting Marvel and DC universe characters together in a bouquet, a tube of green frosting for the greenery I'd forgotten to put on the aforementioned volcano. I go for the frosting in a can with attachable tips for ease of use, and quick delivery.

I call the hubby, tell him to head on over and I'll meet them over there. I want to dot some green on the cake, and change into more comfortable casual clothes, and it should only take a few brief minutes - which it does. Even the grabbing of daughter's camera after calling to confirm isn't an issue. The only problem? You knew there was going to be a problem by now, didn't you?

The dry ice.

Yep, I had been right there at the store where you can buy it easily. And I hadn't. Why? Because I had some at home, didn't I? I mean, daughter had picked some up for me in any case, the day before ... oh that's right. Regular freezers, not cold enough. I had a bag of ice fluff, and that was it.


No worries, we have several grocery stores, two of which are fairly close even. I'll just run over there, grab some, and be just a few minutes late.

Only the first one doesn't have any. That's ok. I'll hit Dahl's. Further out, but not as far as the Hy-Vee. I get there, head inside, and ... can't see the dry ice. I ask the nice lady at the deli, who is one of those adorable little elderly women that's short enough I have to stretch just a bit to see her properly on the other side of the tall display case. She points it out with a smile, I thank her sincerely, and off I go.

Of course there is no one in sight to assist, but that's ok - there's gloves. I open the case ... and can't see any ice. It can't be, can it? All this, and no ice? Wait, that's just a pad on top. Open that, and VOILA! There are huge blocks of dry ice just waiting for ... wait, wait, wait. How do I break off a chunk to take with me? There are no bags, or wrap to package it in ...


Off to find some help. No one at help desk. Cashiers are all busy. What do to, what to do ... there. I'll buy one of those reusable cloth bags. That should hold it. I go back to take a look again, and finally there are people at the help desk. Three in fact, all employees, all standing around chatting it up. One of them points out I need assistance, and I'm told that no, they don't sell it in bits. It's an all or nothing sort of gig for their dry ice.

All eight pounds of it. Yes, that's right - eight pounds of dry ice for a cup that probably only holds a cup-worth of liquid to begin with.


Not to worry, I am nothing if not resourceful, right? Off to another aisle to find kitchen gadgets. An ice pick, tenderizer, something ... no, nothing. There is however, a small hammer for $7. I ponder for half a second, and grab it. There. Bag for ice. Hammer to break piece off ice. Gloves on, ice in bag, gadzooks it's heavy and fething cold, and off to the checkout. Bag, ice, hammer. Yep, that'll do sir, thank you, have a nice evening yourself, I'm outta here.

I don't even stop to gas up, I don't care that the light is on, I have got a party to get to, and I am late. Very late.

I find our little crew set up all cozy-like in the back room, surrounded by plates, and with surprise - Megamind playing on a tv for son. Fantastic, right?

Wrong. Tonight, of all nights, they ruled that one plate of the chicken fries weas all that would be forthcoming, or we'd have to buy more. This is during the buffet. They have always offered to cook him up a bunch of those things every other time we've been there where it wasn't a special occasion, whether they had them out on the buffet or not. But no, not tonight. Not happening. And the pizza? He didn't like the thin crust. And it was so busy, they'd run out of the regular crust.

The pizza place 'ran out of' regular pizza crust. Yes, you read that right. Ran. Out. Of. Crust. Excuse me?

In the meantime, we get the cake going. I'd already added the ice out in the car and whacked a few chunks off with the hammer, so all we had to do was add water from the bottle I'd brought.

Son was thrilled, and it took his mind off the pizza dilemma for the moment. The candles had a little bit of a hard time at first due to the CO content, but we worked it out, all bubbling and smoke rolling down the sides all nifty-like, and sang happy birthday.

But he still wanted pizza. So I went out and tracked someone down to put in the request. It happens all the time with the buffet - something you want that isn't out? No worries, request it, they bring it to your table first, and then take the rest over for other folks to sample. Very nice lady said they had the pan crust, and offered to get one of those going - outstanding, that will be great, thank you very, very, very much, hallelujah.

So while they get that going, it's back to entertaining son, and he's having a good time with the movie. Everyone else is being really good sports, including daughter's boyfriend who I'd told her was fine to invite along. Always good to get to know potential in-laws, and even barring that, good to know who is dating my daughter. Seems like a nice kid so far, and the two of them were clearly having fun hanging out together. It's just me fretting at this point, and worrying isn't going to solve much, so I get some salad and chicken and eat while we all visit and wait for son's pizza to get finished.

Only no one comes by. So I check, nothing out on the buffet yet ... wait, check, no ... wait ... oh, there it is. Never did make it in to us, so out we go son and I, to fetch some pizza. He's thrilled. He tanks down three huge pieces. He wasn't kidding when he said he was hungry. Outstanding.

The dry ice has congealed in the cup due son continually adding water to it, and the water had by now, sputtered onto the cake making little drippy spots that went against my sense of decor, but no real harm done. No more smoke, just a disturbing sort of gurgling going on continually. Son asked at one point if it were going to blow. I reassured him no, but continued to keep an eye on it all the same. It would be just my luck at this point, after all.

We're some of the last people out, and even after all that work and effort, the cake and ice cream, handily being kept iced and not melted by virtue of the huge block of dry ice in the bag, go untouched. Not to worry, we're off to bowling. The cake was fun, it served the purpose of being both celebratory and fun for son - good enough.

Bowling was actually a lot of fun, even if I bowled rather poorly. Thank heavens for the chairs - I was more than exhausted at this point, but was not about to be the downer in any way, shape, or form. No way, not after all we'd been through to get to this point. We sat and chatted, pulled faces at one another, joked around, and generally goofed off. Son won. He was again, thrilled. 'I SO pwned you all.'

Yes dear. Yes you did. Good on ya. \o/

Of course it's on the way home that things begin to fall apart. You see, he had math to do. Homework respects not the birthdays nor other little occasions that fall into our lives, and bless his lil heart, he had 'neglected' (read: outright lied) to tell us that he had several pages that needed doing over the weekend. This was a failing on my part to follow up as I should have, and sick and miserable aside, I really should have checked more closely, in spite of reassurances, prior to Monday morning.

He and I had discussed it, and it was at the time, understood that he needed to work on them after he got home from school, so we could have fun tonight and not worry.

He conveniently 'forgot', and hubby was busy cleaning up a horrendous mess left by one of our dogs, and thus distracted from following up and well ... it didn't get done. So I said no worries, I'll help you with it.

Simple enough, yes? If you really believed that, you haven't been paying attention through all of this.

Oh no. It was meltdown time. "Why do I have to do this?" "Because you didn't do it when you were supposed to." "This is ridiculous!" "No, what's ridiculous is how you're acting." Rinse, cycle, repeat. We finally got through a page, with tears, and erasure marks, and miniscule holes in the paper from pushing just that hard when writing all ANGRY and grr.

Aw, bless.

Bedtime. And oddly, I think he was so worn out from all the excitement and fun and busy, that he really didn't object too strenuously. He said it was a great day in any case, homework aside, and in the end, that's what matters.

After he was tucked in for the night, I finally took my meds, collapsed in my chair, and ... well, wrote this, because I was just wound up enough I simply had to get it all out somewhere or I was going to explode.

And now that it is written, and the industrial-strength cough syrup has really set in, the dogs are downstairs, everyone save daughter is in bed (and she is due in the door any minute), I think I'm going to call it a Monday if not conquered, at least weathered, and go the heck to sleep already.

I'm giving Tuesday notice: I am in no mood for dickery, sir. Be on your best behavior.