Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This body will have to do.

August 28, 2012

Three more days.  Then The Target and I will be exes.  How awkward will it be when we see each other on the street?  When I shop, should I continue to visit my ex Target, or should I start seeing her sister-other Target near our house.  What if things with the ex go so much better after I'm gone?  What if she gets a better boyfriend and corrects her imperfections and tries things with him she wouldn't try with me?

Actually, my replacement is a female, so I guess my ex is changing teams.

Personally, I went on a bike ride today to improve myself so I look better with my new girlfriend-CVS.  I rode to a park about 2 miles from here, used the pull up and push up stations at the park, and then rode home.  As I rode up the hill back to our street, I was thinking that perhaps this old body would have to be good enough for my new girl.  I mean, I took this one with me to the interview.  I am pretty sure she wasn't intoxicated when she decided she liked me and asked me out again.  The lighting in the room was pretty good.  I don't think she was just coming off a tough break up.

Perhaps CJ is right about me when he says my brain is not wired correctly.

In other news, the end of a decade party is after work on Friday at a place called Willie's near our house.  If you want to join us for happy hour, it lasts from 5-7.  I can't stay long as CJ and the marching band will be playing at the home football game for our high school at 7:30. 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Anyone need some red polos?

August 18, 2012

I have some news.  I have kept this news from you for a couple days in order to not jinx it.  I have a new job. 

I am going to be a store manager for CVS/Caremark.  Here is how it all happened.

While I was on vacation-one I decided to stay in Cincinnati for instead of leaving town-I received a phone call from a recruiter.  For those of you not in retail for the past 25 years, this sort of thing used to happen all the time.  Retail chains would expand into a new area or experience some growth in a particular region and start making cold calls to existing retail managers in that town.  The premise would always be that they were just asking if you knew anyone who may have just left your organization or something like that, but the reality was that they were asking you if you were interested.  Retailers have not been recruiting much in that manner over the past 10 years since growth is not as common and there are plenty of candidates coming fresh from college.

Fresh from college has been Target's approach the past 5 years or so evidenced by my peers.  In my store I have worked with approximately 20 young men and women who have been between the ages of 22 and 25.  I have been the father to these children over these years though I think some of them would have referred to me more as a weird uncle.  To be clear, I am not the weird uncle who ends up with his trunks floating in the family pool, but more the uncle who is always talking about his war stories from Viet Nam kind of uncle.  Of these 20 young people, only about 5 are still with Target.  Young people have more options than old people.  Working at The Target is tough.

So as you may remember, I was recently turned down for a promotion.  I have also recently had a second knee injury.  Those two things have lodged into my brain as signs that I need to look at the next 10 years and see how Target plays into my plans.  10 years is just an arbitrary number since I just had my 10 year anniversary of working at Target.  Anyway, I have wondered how many years these knees have left in them doing this sort of work.  10 more holiday seasons, 10 more inventories, 10 more back to school seasons, 10 more years of guests losing their carts or not being able to find twine at The Target. 

The direction this was leading me in was retirment.  No, not anythime soon, but how soon could we have enough money together for me to retire from managing at Target and do something less abusive on my person.  That meant staying at Target until CJ was done with college and then stepping away.

THEN, a dude named Barrett was calling me on the phone and telling me he had found a resume of mine from 11 years ago from Monster.com or one of those job search web sites.  It was so old it did not have Target as a previous employer and I had an AOL email address.  When was the last time you heard, "You've Got Mail!"  Unless of course you were watching Tom Hanks court Meg Ryan in the "old" movie, You've Got Mail.  I had to look that up.

So Barrett and I chatted (while I pictured him in a tweed jacket)  (and pants you perv) and he told me about CVS and asked if I wanted to interview.  Why not.  I had two phone interviews and an in person interview with a district manager who LOVED me.  During each of these interviews they tried to scare me about the hard work that being a manger at CVS entailed because it was so hands on.  Really?  Have you met me?  Oh, I guess not.

So, while this is scary and a cut in pay for a couple years, it seems more me.  I am searching for happiness and a new challenge.  I hope I have found both.  There is a 12 week training program during which I will be working 40 hours per week.  My income will be supplemented by the 125 hours of vacation time Target still owes me.  I will see my family at Christmas.  Weird.  I really hope to start blogging about great new things for my new work life.  We will see.

This is all dependant on passing my drug test though.  Does excessive caffeine show up on a drug test?  God, I hope not.

Yesterday 3 big wigs from Target called me or stopped in to see me to try to convince me to stay.  They would push through my promotion, transfer me to another store, buy me some artificial knees, whatever it took.  Too late.  Why do we always wait to see the value of good, steady, dependable people until it is too late.  I am guilty myself.  Something to learn and grow from for all of us.

My last day is August 31st and I start anew on September 10th.  Ready or not life, here I come.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adios Fifi

August 8, 2012

Fifi just left.  Sniff.

Fifi is the pet hamster of CJ's friend Rowen.  We hamster-sat Fifi for the past week.  She is an example for Beth and myself as to why we should not buy a puppy.  How can we fall in like with Fifi after just a few short days together?  She is a hamster.  She is a nocturnal rodent who sits in a cage and runs on a wheel in the middle of the night.  Yet, here are some of the absurd things we have done for Fifi.

First, we read the food list of what hamsters can eat and what causes hamsters to run to CVS for some Pepto.  Broccoli, cauliflower, celery-yes.  Watermelon-no.  We noticed that after a refreshing meal of broccoli or cauliflower, Fifi would go on a 20 mile run on her wheel instead of her normal 10.  Therefore, Fifi got a fresh vegetable every day.  Sure, her owners left us with a Tupperware full of hamster food, but she just didn't seem to like only having a seed-based meal instead of adding a starter salad. 

Second, Beth made sure that Fifi had a fresh cotton ball for her stay.  Rowen's mom suggested that Fifi likes to have a cotton ball and Beth supplied one.  Hamsters, as it turns out, do not use cotton balls to remove their makeup at night.  Cotton balls serve as a nest maker.  A nice soft nest.  Fifi has built one in the corner of her cage where she can shield herself from the light during the day.  She has really made a home for herself down there even though the cage is akin to a hamster prison cell.  I think she has a picture of either Alvin or Simon on her little prison wall down there.  (I can never tell those two rodents apart, and yes, I know they are chipmunks.) 

Lately, in the middle of the night Fifi has been making a different sound in the middle of the night.  Instead of the normal marathon wheel running session (her time in the prison yard working out), she has spent more time in the corning making a scratching sound.  My guess is that she has gotten hold of a spoon and is trying to dig a tunnel.  I am very curious to peek under the cotton nest to see what is going on.  Beth would rather be Colonel Klink over there and not notice that the whole Stalag is standing over there in the corner having a smoke at the same time.  "I SEE NOTHING!"

Finally, the other kind gesture we performed for our house guest was to temporarily place her in the hamster relocation program.  While my niece Julia was here, there were times we grew fearful that Fifi would be scooped up and later turn up missing.  Instead of living in the front room of our house, Fifi became Pepe for a couple days and moved to our bedroom.  Behind closed doors, Pepe was safe and not just another notch on Julia's "look what I found" belt.

Rowen's mother was convinced that there was no way a 4 year old would have been able to accomplish this feet, but Beth and I know better.  We have seen Julia in action at the rabbit farm with the sign clearly posted, "Don't touch the rabbits."  Yet, every 15 minutes my sister was heard to the utter the statement, "Julia, please put the bunny down." 

We also heard the story of Julia walking into the family garage holding a reptile and telling her dad, "Look, I caught a gecko!"  Catching a caged hamster would be child's play for this mighty hunter.

Thus, an assumed identity was forged and Fifi went a way for a couple days.  And today, Fifi/Pepe left us.  Beth needs a hug.  We are absurd. 

Then to top it off, much to the protests of Beth and myself, Rowen's mom decided we needed to be compensated for our hamster sitting.  We tried to explain that keeping a hamster for a week without having to clean the cage was not a big deal.  However, you know who had his hand out?  CJ.  Dude.  A lot of hard work went into that $20, huh?  If we had left it up to him, Fipe would be missing a limb right now after either having to gnaw it off for some food or after having met up with the hamster hunter.  Another life lesson accomplished.  Good grief.

Buy Pefi.  Sniff.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Apparently a hunger strike is out of the question for me.

August 7, 2012

Right now I am fasting.  I know you think I am protesting against the man or some worldly injustice, but actually I have a physical today.  In order to qualify for discounts on my insurance plan, a yearly physical is in order.  Plus, at 47 it is a good idea to see the doctor regularly anyway.

My appointment is at 10:30, so no coffee or food until we are done.  Even the hamster food is looking tasty right now.  In order to prep for this yesterday, I went on a juice fast with Beth.  She has watched videos about this and read a lot as well, and has actually been on a 3 day juice fast before, so I figured what the heck.  She has a nice juicer, has perfected some delicious concoctions, and could also mix in a juice smoothie.  I was ready.

We had enough ingredients in the house for a morning juice drink consisting of kale, Fuji apples, a bit of lemon, and carrots.  Quite tasty.  Oh, by the way, I had some juice made from the coffee bean early in the am as well.  On a juice fast, it is important to caffeinate.  I read that somewhere.

A midday smoothie consisted of frozen bananas, mango, pineapple, almond milk, and Chia seed.  Thank goodness we got one of those Sponge Bob Chia pets last Christmas to cut down on our Chia seed purchases.  This smoothie really hit the spot after we cut the grass together.

In order to have the ingredients to juice in the evening, we had to go on a grocery excursion.  Beth has been wanting to visit a store on the outskirts of Cincinnati called Jungle Jim's.  This place carries foods from all over the world and boasts a variety of fruits and veggies at low prices.  It is a 30 minute drive or so, but off we went.  The trip brought us some good news and some bad news.  The bad news was that they do not carry a good selection of kale (the main super food ingredient when you are juicing), and the melon selection was not that much better then around here.

The good news was that I no longer have to drive to Jungle Jim's.  Beth's juicing needs can be satisfied near us in the form of Kroger's or Trader Joe's. 

So as the day progressed, here is what I can tell you about an all juice diet.  There was one thing I found myself missing by the end of the day-FOOD!  Not sweets or junk food, just something to chew on with sustenance.  I am weak.

In reality, I think I could do it if I had to-like my jaws were wired shut-but it would be a difficult cleanse.  I really did start to feel changes in my person.  I will never know how far I could go with fasting or how much my body could benefit with a cleanse, but I can understand the potential merits.

I did not see it through last night since I was staring at no food past midnight for approximately 11 hours.  Therefore, I ate some blue chips and a veggie pattie last night.  Crazy, I know.  It was one of those Morning Star patties with some Veganiase, mustard, and pickles.  My beef eating father must roll his eyes in his grave.

Actually, my father's teeth were so bad at the end of his life, that most of his meals consisted of cigarettes, Dunkin Stix, and bananas.  I bet if Beth had juiced them for him he would have been thrilled.

Hmm, Dunkin Stix.

I gotta go tear some cabinets apart.

No, I can be strong.  Just 3 more hours.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Family picnics are not a good place to score some digits.

August 6, 2012

The pain of August is setting in for us.  I only have 3 days left of my vacation and Beth and CJ start school on the 15th.  Both of them have decided that they would be okay with another 3 months away from school.  I have decided I would be okay with another week away from work.  Maybe we like it here too much.

When CJ was little and Beth would smother him with kisses, he would tell her that she loved him too much.  While that is not possible, perhaps we love not working too much.  Since we do love getting paid and eating food and living in a house, I suppose we will return to work.

Thanks to any of you who said a little prayer for my sister and her family as they have made it back to Atlanta and her leg is doing fine so far.  They have to wait until this Friday to cast the leg so that all the swelling goes down, but they are doing okay so far.  Julia can only take children's Advil for the pain since the prescription medicine makes the itching worse.  Pink was right when she said that morphine makes her itch.  I thought she just said that since what she wanted to call the nurse rhymed with itch.  Not so.

Last night we braved the potential for rain and went down to Paul Brown Stadium for the Bengal's practice.  We had fun, parked for free, (score!) and got souvenir Bengals cups for a mere $5.50.  Oddly enough, the Diet Pepsi does not taste better if you pay more and drink it out of a fancy cup. 

This week has also reinforced some life lessons for CJ that I am always grateful to be present for.  I sincerely hope all these lessons pay off since there will come a time when I will not be with CJ and he will have a decision to make.  Our first job is to protect our children and take a similar oath to that which doctor's take-first, do no harm-so this week gave me further glimpses into this truth.

The head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles is a man named Andy Reid.  he has done very well for himself coaching football, and other than that, I do not know much about his background.  I have read that his son has had issues with drugs and alcohol and Coach Reid has tried to help him, but his efforts came to an end this week as his son died.  He was only 29 years young. 

I just read most of an article about a 22 year old soccer player for the Columbus Crew who died this past weekend after being found in a bar.  No further details have been released as yet. 

While both of these events are beyond tragic for the individuals, I cannot imagine what it must be like for their parents.  God blesses you with this little bundle of poop and slobber that you made out of clay, you feed it, clothe it, take it to Build-a-Bear, teach it not to run out into traffic or watch Roseanne sing the National Anthem; and then you lose them well before their time to go.  I don't know how life goes on after that.

Therefore, as we sat at the practice last night and the drunk guy was yelling "That's Armon Binns, he went to UC!" every time the receiver caught a pass (like 20 times), I was glad to see that CJ thought this guy was an idiot for showing up at a practice, or any social event for that matter, half in the bag.  His behavior did not make CJ think alcohol makes you have more fun at an event. 

We also went to a family picnic on Saturday.  I warned CJ ahead of time that family picnics are not the place to try to pick up girls (unless you live in Appalachia), but we did not discuss that he would see some free-flowing beer.  To be fair, I had a couple myself because there is an expectation that I carry on conversations at functions such as this, and I come out of my reserved shell better with a couple of beers.  However, there was the opportunity to watch as, for some people, a couple beers turns into a dozen beers and behavior changes.  What may not have been acceptable conduct at 1pm was off the hook at 6pm. 

Look, I am not judging these folks since they can lead their own adult lives and know what their own definition of fun is, but a 15 year old boy needs to see that the decisions we make about what we put in our body can affect the outcome of our lives.  Drugs and alcohol can change the way you make decisions, excessive sweets can make you gain weight, too many Mountain Dews can rot your teeth, and too many White Castle sliders can increase the amount of time you spend in the bathroom. 

Please God, help me to continue to teach CJ lessons that will make him a better person, please protect him from the harm that can come his way whether it be through his own decisions or the decisions made by others, and thank You for the grace you have shown me in my life thus far.  Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It took more than a pea to bruise the princess

August 2, 2012

The much anticipated return visit from my sister and her family from Atlanta abruptly ended today.  It all started well enough as they arrived Monday night after a long drive, but still liked each other.  Beth had prepared the sleeping arrangements superbly.  My sister and her husband were going to use CJ's bed and the 3 twin mattresses were adorned with sheets for each child-Mario for Ben, Brave for Mary, and Hello Kitty for Julia.  They were a hit and all slept well Monday night.

Tuesday, we went on an excursion.  We started at Sawyer point which includes a walk across the Purple People Bridge.  We then relocated to a newly built splash fountain area called Smale park.  We picnicked and there was much rejoicing.  We split up Tuesday night.  The boys went to the Reds game and the girls went to the mall.  I am pretty sure the girls had fun and my two nieces came home with new Brave slippers and a Hello Kitty doll from Build a Bear. 

CJ, Ben, Ben's dad and myself got to the game early enough to try out some of the family friendly activities.  Ben got to hit at the wiffle ball field and then we all took the slide down to the batting cages and took a turn.  45 mph was plenty fast enough for us older kids.

Tuesday night came and went and we moved on to Wednesday.  After a carefree morning, we went to the park at the middle school.  Big large fun was being had with turns at hitting the wiffle ball and a romp around the playground.  The last activity of the morning included a ride across one of the apparatus.  Unfortunately, Julia fell off said apparatus and hurt her leg. 

This happened around noon and we went home.  We struggled to decide if the crying and drama about her leg was actual injury or princess drama.  How we were hoping for princess drama.  Finally, at 3:00 we decided it was better to visit an emergency room at 3pm than it would be at 11pm. 

Thank God we did not wait until 11pm since it turns out poor little Julia has a broken leg.  Seriously, the girl who insists on jumping from the 5th stair or off the back of the chair or chases snakes for fun, has broken her leg by falling off a piece of playground equipment.  Damn!

So she has a partial cast because they can't set and cast it here and expect her to see her local orthopedic in Atlanta later.  Thus, they are on their way back to Atlanta.  Please say a prayer for her and her family that she can survive the trip and each other.  Me=not jealous.