Administrative Professionals Day

Today, April 26th, is Administrative Professionals Day, and apparently it comes around as a way for In-Desperate-Need-Of-Administration Professionals everywhere to thank the person who keeps their papers spinning.

That’s me. I keep millions of papers in several colors and sizes spinning like tops. My home office alone resembles the NASA Mission Control Center.

But I question this method of acknowledgement.

Once upon a time, all the secretaries got together and decided that, darn it all, they were under appreciated and underpaid, overlooked and overbooked, and needed something else on their jam-packed calendars to fix it.

“Make a note of it,” they said.

Tappity tap, tap…I’m sure men know how to type too, yes?

And they did.

They made up Mother’s Day, Women’s Day, and National Dadgum That’s a Good Day, Day (March 1st). There’s Be Heard Day, Receptionist’s Day, Women’s Checkup Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day, and No Dirty Dishes Day.

This is just a drop in the waterfall of are-you-kidding-me national days.

Only a handful of these “Days” stick to my calendar, and today’s is just vague enough to make me wonder several things:

  1. What qualifies someone as an Administrative Professional?
  2. Who are the non-Administrative Professionals that are supposed to wish you well?
  3. What are their motives for doing so?
  4. Is the well-wishing preceded with “Happy”, “Merry”, or “I need this in today’s mail”?

My research (qualification #1) led me to the greeting card aisle of Target. If there’s one thing Target knows is their shoppers, and sure enough, they were prepared for our imminent need.

Target for the win.

Behold the end cap.

It’s clear that 10 out of 18 Admin Professionals are female (qualification #2). One out of 18 are multilingual. One is an animal-lover. Or thinks everyone else in the office are animals. Four out of 18 have no idea whether they qualify as Admin, and so will take what they can get.

Admin Professionals drink coffee and tea (qualification #3). They make a difference. Their job involves phones, books, clocks, and typing. They require a written “Thank You” once a year for their efforts. They don’t mind feeling patronized instead of professional.

And they can’t mind if you screw up the exact date, because Target has nicely advertised it as a whole week which gives others several opportunities to get it right because we all know who normally is in charge of getting cards out on time.

Who made this??

This one slays me. I am so offended by this bathroom door symbol. If this is the card you reached for when you thought of me, I quit. All 1% of you had better run and hide. These stupid stereotypes exist because you bought into it.

I want just one card that shows a manly man with a dark tie and a beard, sitting at a desk typing away with a real slogan hanging on the wall…Going Commando to Cover Your Butt.

Office Ninja. I could Take you all Down with a Click of my Mouse…

Payroll…Just Do It

Letting Concerned Citizens Scream into my Ear Because I like Money

Boss’s Day is coming up.

What goes around, comes around, and saying “Thank you” is always a good idea.

Flowers and cards and snacks are nice, and the mailroom guy would like some too, by the way. I think he stands with me on the obvious: a Professional is anyone who brings their job up the notch that turns it into a career.

If you’re a street sweeper, be the best darn street sweeper anyone has ever seen.

Here’s to the broom pushers and the paper pushers alike, you have my solid respect every day of the year.

When You Can’t Go to the Mountain

I was supposed to be in Idyllwild today.

All week, actually.

Every year for a million years, even before we were married, Hubby and I were attending the Bible School up there in July.

Most of the fam is up there right now, and I can tell you – without any peeking online whatsoever – what their cabins look like and where they sat in the dining hall and exactly how they will saunter from the general assembly in a half hour from now and head over to Gilboa hall for classes.

The visions of those “left behind” at the rapture and those cast onto a desert island (or a ferry dock) as the party boat sails away without them and others who have walked into the ice cream shop only to discover that their favorite flavor was sold out only moments before…are nothing quite this startling.

Alas, unlike stay-at-home moms, humble servants of the public can’t gallop off into the woods at will.

It’s different.

And so, I sit at the keyboard wondering how, in the first time since never, you bring the mountain to yourself, instead.

The atmosphere there is crisp in the morning, as you sip coffee and the pines streak early sunshine from Tahquitz. So I sat on my deck and sipped tea and admired the sun streaks in our oaks.

The rabbits look the same.

Then they do the daily readings and I’d make a note here or there for pondering later and after announcements, we’d all settle in for morning classes.

So I read this morning, enjoying years of notes, laughing at my twenty-year-old so very naive ones, and follow them along as they grew in understanding, things erased and clarified and re-connected into the bigger fabric of this message of life and love and redemptive glory.

I play in my treasure chest a while and humming, rise to put my house in order for the day.

This God we worship, He is here.

He is there, too.

He is wherever you stand, sharing this moment with me; there is nowhere that He is not.

The difference then, might be the putting aside of everything in order to spiritually feast.

It’s arranging your life in order to leave it, to wander a mountaintop with a huge family reunion, and just breathe Him in.

It’s a deliberate focus.

Up the mountain and down the mountain is like comparing Thanksgiving to plain old dinner.

The yearly gathering ends with a deep satisfaction, tempered with sadness that it’s over.

But – big surprise – my kids are still hungry the next day. For that kind of effort, it should feed us for at least half a year, right? Nope.

We pray for our “daily bread”.

We ask, standing next to Daniel who would never see his mountain again, for just bread and water. For enough.

“Whether I am on the Mountain or at the office, I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content,” says paraphrased Paul.

So I think, as the party boat sails away, that being on a desert island once in a while can have it’s benefits, if only to prove that the humble daily dinner can become a feast with proper intentions.

Two things occur to me.

  1. There is more food available than a king’s table could hold, right here on the empty beach.
  2. I am not alone.

When you take the thing you wanted, the thing that was outside of you, that you could see and touch and want, and put the thing inside of you, you become the thing.

Are you what you eat? Education and opinions and disciplines and whatever it is that you decided was worth swallowing are continually changing the landscape of who you are.

His days are full of every element of Thanksgiving, should we choose to act like it.

This week can hold every element of the Mountain, should I choose to act like it.

It’s a deliberate focus in much smaller bites.

So I will connect with others that feel “left behind” and remind them that we are, indeed, also part of the Mountain, wherever we stand right now.

I will have meals with them and we will admire the gifts in our treasure chests and skip the elaborate planning and leave satisfied. Sufficient for the day.

The party boat is inside of me.

The Mountain is inside of me.

I will deliberately make space for study and I will deliberately make space for family reunion and I will deliberately make space for holding still and just breathing Him in.

Here.

Today.

And I am grateful.

Idyllwild Pines

The Hip Happiest Time of the Year

Aaaaah!

I hope you are all as cozy as I am this very moment. What used to be an awful, frantic three months of endurance has evolved into just doing what I love.

You have your fuzzy socks on, right?

I completely ignore Halloween and Christmas and stretch Thanksgiving out into as many weeks as I can get away with. It’s delicious.

I asked a girlfriend yesterday if she was ready for Thanksgiving and she made that face that I put on when words don’t do justice to the injustice of forced festivity.

Who uses the Grinch face for Thanksgiving? Who?

Her family is coming to her house, so she has to clean, cook, rearrange furniture – you know the drill.

She freely admits that they put zero pressure to perform on her lovely shoulders: she does it all by herself.

Now there’s a girl after my own heart!

I know you already saw this video clip on Facebook, but here’s the link anyway, if you want a good laugh.

This used to be me, my kids unanimously agree, although none of us thought it was funny back in the day.

Now I recognize my own special brand of crazy and embrace it.

I don’t do it because I have to. I do it because I like it. And that makes all the difference.

I have been fluffing up my house for two weeks solid and I am in my happy zone, let me tell you, even if it wakes me up at 3am to go over the bottomless list:

  • buy canned green beans; no snow peas
  • burp the vacuum; suck up drifts of dead ants in basement
  • get the giant beanbag up the stairwell; pretend it’s real furniture
  • bulk buy toilet paper and kleenex
  • remove half cord of wood from property and rake area: just because I can see it from my window
  • den curtains: red or ugly nondescript mud brown?
  • wall holes: repair or hide with houseplants?
  • Ecuador: send the kid or no?
  • basketball uniforms cleaned: hot or cold water?
  • blog: write one!! write two! get up right now and write them!!

I know there’s not a soul around who cares if I do a single one of these items.

But.

Remember the couches I was determined to buy?

Boom.

Hubby and I drove in circles until we made a kill two cities away.

I’m not sure why factories feel compelled to manufacture ugly furniture.

Maybe they chat with the clothing industry.

“Make it smoky blue. With fat nail heads. Everywhere. I want to see that sofa gleaming like Vegas when the lights go out. Also, it should render a person unconscious if they flop their head backwards against the cushions.”

I put a tab so large on my credit card (financing is for sissies) I expected it to melt in the swiper machine. This sofa is no small potatoes.

It cost a million dollars.

I plan to count, and when the millionth person sits down on it, we will throw a party, having finally gotten our money’s worth out of the behemoth.

Anyway.

I moved all the house furniture around and then carefully laid out the placement of our sofa sectional on the floor in blue painters tape. I needed a visual.

And we will keep this virtual couch until the real deal arrives and fills the air space.

I keep telling the kids to keep their feet off it. Were they raised in a barn?!

Don’t answer that.

Thanksgiving prep is my perfect alibi.

When else could I be shaking up the house like Yahtzee dice and no one raise an eyebrow?

Build it and they will come.

And they will.

All the family for Thanksgiving and then more family staying through the weekend.

They’re lucky to not be sleeping in virtual beds.

Today I was up to my elbows midwife-ing turkey giblets, because I cook my turkey the day before Thanksgiving. It’s not my original idea (thanks, Flylady) but it’s transformed the day into one with my family and a glass of wine instead of feeling like I’ve been chained to the kitchen (which is not a bad idea per se, but I can do that any day).

No one was hanging over my shoulder rushing me. I enjoyed my tea while setting out pie plates and slicing the golden bird of destiny.

With this tune running through my head:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

With the kids mingle-yelling
And everyone telling you
“What a careeeeer!”
It’s the most tea-chugging time of the year

It’s the hip-happiest season of all…

With those furniture needings
And virtual seatings
When friends come to call
It’s the best praying-est season of all…

There’ll be Facebook for posting
Your in-laws for roasting
And Skyping to friends in the snow (haha!)
There’ll be old Viking stories
And tales of the glories
Of recipes long, long ago…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

There’ll be movie line know-ing
Our pies we’ll be throwing
When loved ones are near
(throw more brandy!)
It’s the best family time of the year!

Just Can’t Swallow This

Two Easters ago I was attacked by a snow pea.

I never saw it coming.

The fam was over for the day and we had already eaten lunch. We were lounging around enjoying our blessings: the kids were well past the frivolous baskets filled with Big Rock Candy Mountains and also they no longer wanted to hunt eggs unless they were filled with hundred dollar bills…yeah, no.

Each kid did what has now become our latest tradition for both Easter, Halloween and any other ridiculous wanna-be holiday that has nothing to do with anything: walk the candy aisle at the store and choose a favorite. Eat it when you’re feeling a little left out of the general festivity but know better than to get sucked into it.

We’re trying to spend more time just being together.

As I took another cruise past the food piled up in the kitchen (doing dishes has perks), I realized I had missed the relish tray altogether in my zeal for ham.

Priorities.

But not necessarily a draw-back in this land of opportunity.

I grabbed a fistful of snow peas and the tub of hummus and brought them out to share with my fellow loungers. I’m nice like that.

One and a half snow peas into the treat, I knew something was awry.

My throat was closing up. It didn’t want to swallow any more snow pea.

I analyzed it for a moment, looking thoughtfully into space. I’m sure it appeared that I was simply digesting the fascinating conversations going on around me.

But no. Things were getting exciting in my throat.

So I asked myself the basic life affirming questions:

  1. Can I breathe?
  2. Can I still repeat movie lines from Finding Nemo in my head?
  3. Does anyone notice I might keel over any minute or will I die in obscurity behind this houseplant?
  4. If I do, will they eat all the dessert without me?

My answers were leaning into the “yes” category, so I did the next logical thing.

I made a cup of tea.

Denial is my favorite flavor.

I sat back down in the very middle of my people and took an experimental sip.

And it stayed right there, trapped in my mouth.

Now I knew it was the real deal. I got all bug-eyed and spit the tea back into my mug and my people cheered and reminded me that tea is hot and I should know better.

Stupid people.

One single drop of tea had wandered back toward my tonsils and taken a look down.

“I can do that,” it said.

It went rappelling through the maze of lumps that went from my tonsils clear into my stomach.

It took a long time. And it was very uncomfortable.

And my people thought I was doing facial exercises and found them entertaining.

“Hey,” said a kid, “Did you guys know you can’t touch your tongue to the tip of your nose?”

Maybe this whole “family together time” thing is overrated.

I pulled my sister aside, told her the issue, and made her watch me.

She was ready to dial 911 if I keeled over into the houseplant.

It took three hours for my throat to feel normal again.

My tea got cold.

When I went to an allergist that week, I discovered that I didn’t have an allergy to either snow peas or avocados, which I was also highly suspicious of. I was told that if my body was blocking them, just don’t eat them.

Stupid allergist. I love them both. You’re telling me to give up something I love “just in case”.

We all know how I feel about that.

So I refrained and had some uneventful weeks until the final straw, if you will.

There’s a brand of health drinks in the produce section that I love but only buy them when I want a fast, healthy treat.

I chugged the delicious green goodness and immediately my throat began to swell.

Thankfully, I was riding in the car with Hubby at the wheel and he drove straight to a drug store and brought me out liquid Benadryll.

I chugged two capfuls and felt them go spelunking down my throat.

The allergist gave me Epi-pens. He had no explanation.

“Here is a list of raw, green foods that you should avoid.”

That’s it.

I sit in Mexican restaurants and stare down the guacamole.

“So, we’re cheating death now, that’s what we’re doing, and we’re having fun at the same time, I can do this, just be careful…”

But I never do.

“Hey there, Mr Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?”

Year of the Ram

As if there’s not enough activities written on it already, my calendar holds far and away too many ‘holidays’.

When I say ‘holidays’ I mean all the wannabe’s.

A ‘holy day’ is entirely different, but as we live in the American Melting Pot, every single day of significance from around the globe gets it’s moment of fame here.

I don’t think “Canada Day” is on the Nepalese calendar.

And where there’s an empty day, we make stuff up.

I have a calendar that takes “The Land of Opportunity” way too seriously, because I had the opportunity to celebrate National S’mores Day last fall and frankly, it’s the only time I’ve taken all year to consider the delicacy. I think I was supposed to make some. But I’m not sure why we’re doing it all together as a country. Was there a run on marshmallows?

I’m not remotely Catholic yet I use the little reminder from St. Valentine to say “I love you”. St. Patrick reminds me that wearing green never goes out of style. And the Feast of St. Lulu…no wait, that’s a Muppet Movie. My bad.

What I’m saying is that “Boxing Day” sounds pretty great because according to my research, it’s basically a “made up for entirely ambiguous reasons” thing on the calendar so I can make it into anything I want.

Awesome.

We all need to decide together what we’re doing, so I don’t look ridiculous all by myself.

Here I am, seeing the Chinese New Year on my calendar and doing the Happy Dance. We aren’t even a smidgen Chinese, but we have a deep fondness for orange chicken and Jackie Chan and my kids – while having no idea how to work a dishwasher – can wield chopsticks like ninja stars.

We looked up our birth year animals. Perhaps a noble horse? Of course not. We have no less than three monkeys, a dog, a rabbit and a snake. My oldest is a ram. I’m sure the Chinese zodiac will insist these are all great Patroni, but it’s no surprise to me that I live in a zoo.

I buy a bag of fortune cookies for the occasion.

Everyone grabs for theirs like it matters.

You can wish on your birthday candles or a shooting star; you could scratch a ticket and win the lottery.

It’s fun because it might come true but we have better luck with fortune cookies.

You can always find a way to make the fortune work:

“Your ability to accomplish tasks will follow with success.”

You see? This is deep and meaningful stuff.

This is the one that means “Learn how the dishwasher works and mom will start cooking again.”

Like a great many ‘holidays’, this one celebrates with fireworks. If only they were legal in California backyards. I’m not saying the occasional cherry bomb doesn’t go around the block, but I think we’re adding occasions purely for the fun of eating or blowing things up.

Or both.

Like S’mores.

And Groundhog Day.

We are obviously bored and in need of something to celebrate on a daily basis. Just getting out of bed and drinking coffee is not enough.

I would be exhausted trying to keep up with my calendar.

But I’m trying.

National Pi Day is coming on March 14th.

As much as I’d like to blow up every math equation ever made, I think instead I’ll add an “e” and make some apple pie.

Y’all come.