Don't Stand So Close to Me

Who's my boss?  Is it the congressman or his chief of staff?  The chief of staff hired me and is in the office on a much more regular basis than the congressman.  The congressman has to give speeches on the House floor, attend committee meetings, and cast votes in both places.

When the British Embassy invited congressional staffers to a reception at the Ambassador's residence, the congressman was out of sorts that he wasn't invited.  But he gets better opportunities than a reception with a bunch of redcoats.

While at the reception, our small group of five office mates kept mostly to ourselves.  At one time the COS was standing next to me and his arm brushed against mine.  But he didn't move it!  Personal space, Dude!  Don't you know about personal space?  Apparently not.  I was the one who pulled my arm away.

After the press secretary and I had snuck away for a bit to explore the residence, we joined the legislative director, the staff assistant, and two Brits they were chatting with.  In the flow of the conversation, I glanced at the press secretary who'd just commented on something.  You know how something in the distance can catch your eye?  In my direct line of view was the COS across the room.  Looking intently in my direction.  Was he looking at me or the press secretary?

Fortunately nothing else has happened until a few days ago.  After a meeting involving me, the press secretary, and the COS, the press secretary had another meeting to run off to.  That left the COS and me to walk back to the office.  As we were leaving, the COS and a member of another congressman's staff were joking at my expense about my fall on the ice. 

Was it the way he was joking with me?  Or the way he looked at me while joking? Or the way he walked a little closer than necessary on the way back to the office?  Or am I really rusty from not working in an office for all those years?


Ask Me How I Lost 10 Pounds in 10 Minutes!

I had been carrying around 10 extra pounds.  But today, I lost all that weight in about 10 minutes!

"Inconceivable!" you might say.  "How did you do it?"

Easy.  The nurse cut off my cast.  Freedom!!!

Not so fast.  The doctor unwrapped the finger to reveal a Frankenstein finger with ugly black stitches running down the length of my finger.  The scar looks angry.  Hopefully it will heal well.

Since it still needs time to heal, and since the stitches aren't ready to come out, the hand doctor rewrapped the finger, lashed it to my middle finger with surgical tape, and splinted it with a cushioned piece of metal running down the back of my hand.  Another week until the next follow-up visit to have the stitches removed.

No, cute Dr. MCL-Injury was nowhere to be seen.  Even though he told me it looks like a grenade went off in my hand, I should probably watch to whom I tell that story.

Yesterday in the cafeteria line waiting for my BLT on toasted white, a Capitol Police officer asked what happened.  I told him my story (at which he winced - they all seem to do that) and the grenade part (at which he didn't wince).  He raised his right hand and said, "I know something about grenades going off in your hand."

I winced at his years-old-but-still-angry scar where his ring finger and pinkie should have been.


Giving You The Finger (Update)

Five pins in one finger.  Not just one finger but one bone!  Crushed.  Smashed.  The word Broken doesn't really describe it.

My cast is twice as large as the original that the ER doctor put on.  It weighs in at ten pounds.  There are few tops or dresses that will fit over the "claw".  If it were summer short sleeves would be appropruate.  Of course, if it were summer, there would have been no ice to cause a fall.

Oxycontin is now my best friend.  And my worst enemy.  It kills the pain.  But it makes me loopy.  And tired.  Very tired.  Caffeine is back in my life after an almost-twenty-year hiatus.  Ack! 

I am so ready for this effing cast to come off.  I'm about to the point of ripping it off myself.  If you hear a loud scream during the night, don't worry.  It'll be me.  Not from pain or agony.  But from frustration and lack of being able to scratch my forearm.


Weather Report

The weatherman says we're supposed to get up to 5 inches of snow by tomorrow night.  So far this season, he's been batting 1000.  He's missed it every single time.  He always prefaces his prediction with "depending on how the storm moves".  Talk about hedging your bets.

This snow prediction is a lot like sex.  "Depending on how it moves", you either get covered in white stuff or left high and dry.


How To Limp Dangerously

Hello blogworld!  My one-handed typing is getting better.  Time to update all my buddies on the finger.

The surgery was Saturday morning.  While checking in at the hospital, I ran into another orthopaedic doctor.  He was my doctor when I tore my MCL while skiing several years ago.  He and my hand doctor are in the same practice.  My skiing-injury doc had seen the x-rays of my finger and commented, "It looks like a grenade went off in your hand."  When I mess up something, I really mess it up royally.

And apparently the x-rays lied.  My finger bone wasn't in three pieces; it was in five.  That means there are five pins in my finger holding it together.  Covered by a huge-assed cast.  So huge in fact that several of the big burly Capitol Police officers actually winced upon seeing it.  One greeted me in the cafeteria with "Ouch!" when he saw my claw of a bandage.

There's no timeline yet on how long I'll be in a cast or information on physical therapy.  My follow-up with the hand doctor is Friday.  Maybe I'll get to see the ski-injury doc while at the office.  He's really handsome.  But not handsome enough to tear an MCL or break a finger just to get to see him.


Ice Ice Gaelic

Mr. Gaelic here to report that Mrs. Gaelic fell on the ice this morning and broke her ring finger, which means that the ER aide had to cut her wedding band and engagement ring off her finger.  The rings can be mended in time for our 20th anniversary in May, and her finger should be mended long before then. We should know in a few days if she will need a pin to mend the broken bone. 

In the meantime, Mrs. Gaelic will be posting few blogs except for those she dictates.


Breast Be the Tie that Binds

When a person loses weight, as I have in the past two weeks, articles of clothing fit differently.  Usually it's seen in the waistband of a skirt or the seat of a pair of pants.  Mine showed up in the lingerie department.  And not in the expected way.

Since birthing my first baby, my non-maternity bra size has been constant.  Let's just say that my bra size is larger than the average American non-surgically-enhanced woman.  But it's exactly the same as the average American surgically-enhanced woman.  And no, I'm not surgically-enhanced.

When the sales lady led me into a fitting room for a current sizing, my expectation was that I would be down to the average non-surgically enhanced size.  She told me my new size.  I was shocked!  Shocked, I tell you!

Rather than moving down a size, she brought in the next letter up, even suggesting at one point that two letters up might be necessary.  Did the weight shift upwards?  And if so, how?

I went crazy.  Not mad-as-hell crazy but lost-my-mind shopping crazy.  Once the damage was done, there were five new bras in my shopping bag.  Black, nude, midnight purple, light purple, and hot pink.  Why so many funky colors?

To paraphrase David O. Selznick as he told Ann Rutherford on the set of Gone With the Wind, perhaps no one will see the undergarments, but I'll know they're more than basic.


Bring It On

What I'm about to say will piss off any number of people.  But this is my rant.  If you don't like it, too bad.  'Cause it's the way I feel.

I am no longer a full-time mother.  And I hate hate hate that.  My new job demands over 50 hours a week.  Including the 2 1/2 that I put in today.  Today!  A Sunday!  The Sabbath!  So much for keeping all Ten of the Commandments.

My paid job is a full-time office position.  The entire family eats breakfast together before Mr. Gaelic and I carpool to our respective offices and Deirdre drives Maeve and herself to school.  We eat supper together every possible night.  Mostly five of seven, since Deirdre and Maeve both babysit and Deirdre has a boyfriend.

But there is no way that I can in good conscience call myself a full-time mother.  Other women, upon hearing me call myself that in the past, would say that they work as a whatever at such-and-such a place.  Then they'd tack on that they were full-time mothers as well.  Hell no you're not!

Can you be a full-time surgeon and a full-time high school principal at the same time?  No.  Then what makes you think you can be a full-time whatever and a full-time mother at the same time?  You can't.  Because you're not there for your kids full time.  When they need you.  When they come home from school upset and claim that nothing is bothering them, until three hours later when they've finally decided to tell you what's wrong.

I miss my kids terribly.  I was an awesome full-time mother.  It was my calling in life.  We chose for me to stay home with them and our finances suffered for the first few years after the transition.  Only in the last three years had we fully recovered financially from going down to one bread-winning salary. 

Mr. Gaelic has heard this rant before.  He understands that he's not a full-time father.  He understands that no parent who works at any job other than parenting can claim to be a full-time parent.  That goes for parents who work from home, too.  How does Junior feel when you say to him, "Mommy can't play with you right now because I've got to take this call and finish this report"?

I was fortunate to be able to be a full-time mother for 14 years.  I experienced my youngest's infancy and my eldest's graduation.  I also realize that taking a paying job is something I do for my children.  I am providing Finola with the opportunity to attend the best possible college for her.  I will continue in the paid workforce if Deirdre and Maeve want to attend prestigious private universities as well.  What I do I do for them.

I just wish there were some way to provide the best for them while providing the best for me and Mr. Gaelic.  We miss our former lifestyle of a home-cooked supper on the table at 6:30 every night, no lines at the grocery store or dry cleaner, and being able to do absolutely nothing on Saturdays and Sundays.

I want to be a full-time mom again.


A Scheduler's Work is Never Done

My friend listened to my complaint about wanting to be caught up at work.  I feel like I'm one day ahead and two weeks behind.  To me, the ideal would be to leave every day having acted in some way on every meeting request that came across my desk.

"That's unrealistic," she said, "because the minute you get up from your desk there will be another phone call or email.  You won't get a break."

"By the end of the week then."

"How about Thursday for being caught up?"

"Why not Friday?"

"Friday is the last day of the week.  People will realize they haven't sent you their meeting request and don't want it on their mind over the weekend.  Friday and Monday are your busiest days."

Poo-poo!  Friday is the end of the week.  People will want to focus on getting out of the office and on to the weekend.


She was right.  Yesterday there were 78 emails when I arrived at my desk at 8:20 a.m.  The only breaks from constant work were to take employment papers to the finance office, pick up forms from the travel office, and have lunch.  The only time in the two weeks of work that lunch wasn't eaten at my desk.

Keep in mind that work was constant.  At times there were four lines ringing at once on my direct line.  Some people called the legislative staff to have them ask me for a meeting with the congressman.  The incoming stream of emails was constant during the day.  With the congressman and the chief of staff both out of the office, I left work early.  At 5:50 p.m.  The first time before 6:30 in the two weeks that I've been working.

Before shutting down my computer, I checked the number of emails in my inbox.  72!  It's progress.


Here We Go Again

Parents die before their kids.  That's the way it should be.  It's not always that way.

Christina-Taylor Green was too young to die.  Her parents should never have gone through what they've been through.  The only good thing that came out of her death was that her donated organs have already saved one child's life somewhere on the east coast.

Last summer, a friend was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  With a wife who couldn't take unpaid leave from work, I sat with him, tried to get him to walk, and helped with his meds and his feeding tube.  At his funeral, his eldery mother was completely distraught. 

Now death is lingering around our neighborhood again.  Just yesterday came an email from a husband telling me to tell the other neighbors about the wife's diagnosis.  A non-smoker, she was diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to her liver, spine, hip, and shoulder blade.  Her children are 7 and 3.  Her parents still live in Massachusetts.

There should be a law that no parent should bury a child.  It's far too inhumane.  You can see it on the faces of John Green, my friend's mother, and any other parent who has survived a child.


On the Avenue I'm Takin' You To . . .

Mr. Gaelic sure knows how to rub it in.  He's on a business trip to New York City and emailed me a picture he took from his hotel window.  It's overlooking Times Square.  Dammit all!  Why am I not living in New York?

Many years ago at a parish retreat, there was an ice-breaker exercise.  Using the entire ballroom as an imaginary map of the United States with one corner being Maine, another Florida, and so on, the priest told us to go stand, without talking to anyone except to question where they were, in the location that we would want to live if money were no object.  I made my way up the east coast inquiring of people, "Where are you?"

"Newport, Rhode Island."  "The eastern shore of Maryland."  "Cape May, New Jersey."  I finally placed myself where New York City would be and looked up to see Mr. Gaelic standing close by.

"Where are you?" I asked.

"New York.  Where are you?"

"Me too."

Without conferring, we had both ended up at the same place.


And Now For Something Completely Different

I should have gone back to the paid workforce years ago.  In the eight days since I began working, I've lost three pounds.  No exercising.  No dieting.  Just working.

My theory: There's no kitchen to walk through and nosh all day.  There's no snack time for me when the kids get home from school.  There's no drive-thru Mickey D's, either.  Which was, is, and (hopefully not always) will be my downfall. 


How Far Is It from Tuscon to Punjab?

There were about 30 emails on my office computer this morning.  About the Tuscon shooting.  And safety.  Although Congress wasn't in session today, there was a gathering on the east front for a moment of silence for the Arizona victims.

The Sergent at Arms and the Capitol Police sent information on personal safety that included how to avoid a terrorist roadblock while driving, how to avoid being boxed in while driving, and how to alert the police if someone acting abnormally comes into your office.  In addition to safety briefings, we were given hoods to be worn in case of chemical, biological, or nuclear attacks.  We received two one-way alert radios connected directly to the Capitol Police.  And two shelter-in-place packs the size of large carry-on bags.

Where do you draw the line between accessibility and safety?  Where do we set the gauges on any spectrum?  And whom do we trust? 

Salmaan Taseer couldn't even trust his own guard.


Menu Plan: January 10 - January 16

In actuality it may have been only a week since the last menu plan was posted. It feels like two weeks. In the intervening seven days, my first experience in the paid workforce in many years began; my boss was sworn in as a freshman Member of Congress; another congressman and a senator both called me by name and hugged me in front of my coworkers; and I met another congressman who went to high school with my brother-in-law. Additionally, my New Year’s Resolution of cutting back on fast food for lunch is intact. And finally, a congresswoman from Arizona was shot at an official public event which killed at least one of her staffers.

Welcome to the life of a public servant.

The only rub is actually preparing a nutritious supper for the children, Mr. Gaelic, and me. The plan that I so diligently worked on last weekend in preparation for the first week on the job fell to pieces on Wednesday. Maybe working 52 hours this week had something to do with it. Wednesday and Thursday evenings ended up not with supper but with falling into bed two hours before my usual bedtime.

Lunches on the other hand ended up being much healthier than my usual fast food drive-thru. Truth be told, the plans for sack lunches fell apart Sunday evening when they weren’t prepared ahead of time. Instead, the cafeteria in my building has a variety of vegetables sides that end up being afterthoughts for most folks.

Here is this week’s plan.
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: oatmeal
    • Lunch: cafeteria meal
    • Supper: uhhhh…
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: cereal
    • Lunch: cafeteria meal 
    • Supper: hmmm… 
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: soft boiled eggs, toast
    • Lunch: cafeteria meal 
    • Supper: to be determined… 
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: cream of wheat
    • Lunch: cafeteria meal 
    • Supper: no earthly idea… 
  • Friday
    • Breakfast: cinnamon toast
    • Lunch: cafeteria meal 
    • Supper: pint of ice cream or popcorn???
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: sausage, eggs, grits, toast
    • Lunch: tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
    • Supper: let’s just stand in front of the freezer until something comes to mind
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: waffles, sausage
    • Dinner: roast chicken, carrots, green beans
    • Supper: can we have tomato soup and grilled cheese again???
For those of you who may have been snowed by my pretense of organization, you can see from the week’s menu that I plan to focus my organizational skills, and finite amount of brain energy, on getting my boss’s schedule under control. After that, I’ll be back to organize my family’s meals.


Truth or Consequences

You're all sworn to secrecy about what I'm going to tell you.  The reason for the secrecy is also the reason you're reading this here on Blogspot rather than on the MSN site.  My former blog is shuttered because of a stalker.  Bear with me in my cryptic ways of blogging.  It's for safety reasons.

Last month, after taking time away from the paid workforce to raise my children, I accepted a job with an incoming Member of C0ngress* from my home state.  One of my blogs described the journey to this job.  During the first week in the office, my boss was interviewed for one of the three major nightly news programs.  In the segment was a very quick shot of me at work at my desk while his press secretary stood beside my chair.  We were in the background as he was moving some things into the office.  It's around the ten minute mark in the video.

My apologies for not explicitly saying my boss's name or home state.  Please understand my need for a bit of privacy.  Even by posting the past few blogs, my fear is that someone can still piece together too much information.  Now for the consequences.

Please, please, please, if you have figured out all (even with my cryptic writing), keep it to yourself.  If my stalker ever discovers this site, it too will be taken down. 

*Purposefully typed wrong to throw off search engines.


Twofer; or, Update to Hi Mom

Since there was more than one request for a link to the video that I mentioned on Wednesday, here is the video.  Look closely.  I'm not on camera that long.

That Was Easy

What are you making for supper tonight?




Hi Mom!

Did you see me on TV last night and tonight?  It was very short.  In the background shot of my boss.  On one of the national nightly news programs.

What?  You didn't TiVo the news? 

As I said, very short.  Just like this blog.


Leave Them High Heels On

The skirt from today's suit has a leather-edged zipper in back that zips from both ends.  One continuous zipper with a half inch of black leather on either side.  To make a kick-pleat, pull the zipper up from the bottom hem as high as desired. 

Today's kick-pleat couldn't be too high because of my stockings.  Yes, real honest-to-God stockings.  With lace at the top around the top of my thighs.  Too much of an unzipped kick-pleat and the lace tops peek through.

Bending over to retrieve a pencil that fell from behind my ear, the zipper decided on its own to take that opportunity to slide itself all the way up.  My skirt began to slide forward from my hips.

It's amazing how fast a person can stand up and turn around!  My hands quickly found the wayward zipper and slid it back to kick-pleat length while my eyes gazed around the room to see if anyone noticed my impromptu mooning.

As Shooter Jennings would sing, "Get outta that skirt, but leave them high heels on."  Oh, dear!


Is It Friday Yet?

We pulled away from the house this morning at 7:40 a.m. and returned at 8:35 p.m.  You've got to be kidding me!  Five days a week, 48 weeks a year, for the next 13 years?  Lunch was eaten at my desk all the while still working.  This is insane!  Granted, we had to go straight from work to pick up Maeve from her ballet class.  But still.  Mondays will be long days.

Tomorrow Mr. Gaelic has to be at his office at 7:45 a.m.  We'll probably leave around 7:15.  No ballet, so we'll be home by 6:45 p.m.  Then the schedule gets better with "normal" hours of leaving around 8:00 a.m. and returning around 6:45. 

Eleven, twelve, thirteen hour days are the norm for people who work on Capitol Hill.  Once, in my first incarnation on the Hill, I was still in the office at 11:00 p.m.  At Mr. Gaelic's present office, he has even had days that lasted until 1:30 a.m.  Yes, that's almost an 18-hour day. 

God, it feels great to be back where I started!


Menu Plan: January 3 - January 9

Now that my dirty little secret isn't so secret anymore, perhaps the menu plans will include lunch.  My dirty little secret?  Fast-food drive-thru for lunch.  As a full-time mother for the last 15 years, I fell into the habit of eating fast food while out running errands.  Eating in the car between stops meant more efficiency.  But at the expense of my waistline, and maybe my health.

Starting an office job tomorrow means either taking my lunch or eating in the cafeteria.  At least for the first week.  Mr. Gaelic suggested getting away from the office for lunch.  It's good to have a change of scenery. 

So, for Laoch and Gail, here is an attempt at eating a clean lunch. 
  • Monday
    • Breakfast: cream of wheat
    • Lunch:  ham and Swiss on sourdough, chips, apple, 2 chocolate pieces
    • Supper: chef's surprise (Finola is still home from college and will cook)
  • Tuesday
    • Breakfast: cereal
    • Lunch:  turkey and provolone on spelt, chips, clementine, 2 chocolate pieces
    • Supper: beef Stroganov (Deirdre's specialty since she will cook)
  • Wednesday
    • Breakfast: soft boiled eggs, toast
    • Lunch:  office reception (it's Swearing-In day for the 112th Congress)
    • Supper: kidney beans, fried okra, kale
  • Thursday
    • Breakfast: oatmeal
    • Lunch:  ham and Swiss on spelt, chips, banana, 2 chocolate pieces
    • Supper: vegetable soup, homemade bread (probably overly ambitious but we'll see)
  • Friday
    • Breakfast: cinnamon toast
    • Lunch:  turkey and provolone on sourdough, chips, apple, 2 chocolate pieces
    • Supper: dinner out to celebrate the first week on the job
  • Saturday
    • Breakfast: sausage, eggs, grits, toast
    • Lunch:  leftover soup
    • Supper: steak, baked potato
  • Sunday
    • Breakfast: waffles, sausage
    • Dinner: chicken 'n' dumplin's, broccoli, carrots
    • Supper:  PB&J sandwiches, chips
I need to work on a side for my lunches.  Easing back into making lunches means only thinking about the mains for now, which are still sandwiches at this uncreative point.  The two chocolate pieces?  Mr. Gaelic gave me two boxes of Godiva chocolates for Christmas.  The boxes are still unopened.  They will be my dessert in my sack lunch.

Truth be told, I have mixed emotions about my new job.  I'm excited to be back in the political world of Capitol Hill.  At the same time, I'm anxious about the logistics of latch-key kids, wholesome suppers, and running errands.  Heaven help me.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life
shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with
thy people where they work; make those who carry on
the industries and commerce of this land responsive to thy
will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just
return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.  (BCP, p. 208)


The New Year's Child

It's been said that simply having children doesn't make one a mother.  Sometimes the mothering is done in the presence of one's own children but not necessarily towards them.

When Mr. Gaelic and I decided to allow Deirdre to host a New Year's Eve party at our house while we were at another party, we had our reservations.  But we wanted to give her the opportunity to show us how much she's matured over the last year.  Or to fail miserably and learn from her mistakes. 

After the talent show at the other party, Mr. G and I headed back to our house.  Suspicion was high when we heard Maeve in the back seat speaking into her cupped hand holding her cell phone, telling whomever was on the other end that we were on the way home and were presently at the corner of Such-and-such Street and This-and-that Road.

Instead of changing into casual clothes and walking down the street to watch the fireworks, we camped out in our bedroom and watched to see if anyone was going outside for anything illicit.  Sure enough, there were four boys in the garage, smoking cigarettes and climbing on Mr. G's motorcycle.  At 6'5", when he moseyed outside and told the boy to get off the bike, the cigarettes went out faster than the boy got his leg over the seat.  The high school kids don't call Mr. G the Terminator for nothing.

While Mr. G was doing the tough dad thing, I was on my knees in front of another boy who had made the mistake of going to another teen party which had been busted up earlier.  He somehow made his way to Deirdre's party.  Already intoxicated.  Three-sheets-to-the-wind intoxicated.  Deirdre sat beside him while I asked him if he knew who I was.  "You're Didi's mom."  I asked if he knew where he was.  "At Didi's."

"Can you drink something?"


"Take these two Tylenol and drink this water."

When another boy's mother showed up to drive her son and the intoxicated boy home, it was imperative that she knew what had happened.  Although my thoughts were the same as hers, I didn't voice them.  "You really messed up," wasn't something that he needed to hear right then.  With a hangover, he'd know it.  And he can always be told later, when he might actually remember hearing it.

Dierdre did an okay job for hosting her first party.  She could have done better.  She also could have done much worse.  Mr. G and I debriefed her after everyone had left and told her as much.  She acknowledged that and apologized profusely for not being able to stop the intoxicated boy from showing up and for not being able to stop the boys in the garage from smoking.

The lesson she learned was that, even though we don't approve of certain activities by teenagers, we're not going to berate them or throw them out when they are in need of a caring adult.  Her thanks to us for helping with the intoxicated boy were sincere. 

My lesson came when she told me during the debriefing that the intoxicated boy was the same one who was in the hospital two weeks prior from attempted suicide.  His parents had abandoned him and both blamed him for their problems.  My lesson was that I must parent any child in need.  Not just the ones that I birthed.