The bathroom sitch gets a bit interesting

Things I’m still getting used to at the new gig:

  • A seemingly endless supply of snacks, including Red Bull, which I’m apparently now addicted to. Also, there always seems to be cake around here.
  • Being able to wear jeans, a t-shirt and my old, beat-up Chucks and not receive that “It must be laundry day for you” look when I walk in.
  • Sharing one bathroom—one commode—with about 12 other people. Most of them guys.
  • Finding bird poop on my car every day (no more garage).
  • Not feeling embarrassed about my car (no more garage—that was filled with Lexuses and Mercedes and my little Civ felt out of place sometimes).
  • Being able to discuss specific video games with co-workers and not only do they know what I’m talking about, they have recommendations on similar games I might like, too.
  • No longer being the biggest nerd in the room at any given time.

I do miss my friends at my old job, but this one is shaping up pretty nicely.

Love is watching someone die

This weekend Ian and I drove up to Chicago for my grandma’s funeral. There was a Catholic mass, and I had to laugh because it meant my grandma succeeded in getting me into church one more time. From the graaaave. And on the day of the supposed rapture at that!

After the mass we went to the cemetery for a small ceremony led by a deacon, and then we walked out to her burial plot where her remains were buried next to her husband and some other family members. I chuckled when I noticed a nearby grave marker bore the name “Schardt,” but then my mom told me that might have been a relative. Oops.

After I said my farewell, I piled back in the car with Katie, Junnhi, Emily and Ian and we headed over to a nearby restaurant for a family lunch. Luckily my family recognizes the importance of an open bar in times like these, so I could knock back a few glasses of wine before having to read aloud something that I wrote for my grandmother. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make it through without crying, but I put on my big-girl pants and powered through it. Everyone laughed at the points that were supposed to be funny and at the end they applauded me—and I was only told once to speak louder—so I’m guessing it was well-received. One of my uncles asked me to post it online, so here it is.


Norman Rockwell could not have painted a more quintessential grandmother than Grandma Jean. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, apple pies, hard candy in a crystal jar. She was a five-star grandma indeed. Always eager to find out what her grandchildren had been up to, there to watch us when we were out sick from school, plying our boredom with a box of old toys from generations past that somehow always seemed to have a draw to them, despite our usual penchant for video games.

For Katie and I, Grandma Jean’s house was always a refuge on Sundays, a way to ease back into the school week set to a soundtrack of Perry Cuomo and butterscotch candy wrappers being opened by our grubby little fingers.

When she lived in Vernon Hills, Katie and I would run ourselves ragged on the path around the lake, pretending the woods were haunted and wishing for snow so we could pretend we had the guts to take a sled to The Big Hill. Any kid that visited grandma at that house knows about The Big Hill. It was legendary, and my greatest triumph as an elementary schooler was convincing Grandma Jean to hike halfway to the top with me.

She was a trooper.

But when I grew up and moved to Tennessee, I finally realized what a gift her vernacular was. Living in the south, I often think of her when I hear someone say “rapscallion” or that someone is making them “cross.” However, after spending 13 years in the south, I now know that her most powerful phrase was “bless your heart.” If you’ve spent any time in the south, you know what this really means. There is no more polite way to tell someone you pity them and think they’re stupid at the same time than “bless your heart.” It is kind, yet pointed.

Which brings me to my final thought. We all know what a lifelong fan of the Cubs grandma was. I can’t remember being at her house during baseball season and not seeing her watching her beloved Cubbies. And now that she’s gone, that leaves it up to the rest of us to keep cheering them on. (Even you, Uncle Mike.) They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, but maybe this will be their year.

Bless their hearts.

Random thoughts

1. My grandma’s funeral is approaching swiftly and I still can’t write what I’m supposed to read in front of my family after the service.

2. If I go for too long without watching some episodes of The Office, I get a feeling like homesickness. For some reason, that show comforts me like a security blanket.

3. Speaking of TV shows, the first season of Family Ties is now on Netflix Instant. It is amazing.

4. I’ve been working on building a website for someone, and they were already signed up for webhosting through Yahoo! Small Business Webhosting before the project began. This deserves a post of its own, but let me go ahead and warn you to never, ever sign up for Yahoo! webhosting if you value your time, your sanity or your ability to not stab yourself in the leg 12 times an hour. Yahoo makes it sound like they’re a great hosting solution, but they actually are the exact opposite. So. You’ve been warned. Learn from my horrors.

5. I’m getting really excited for Bonnaroo. Especially since my sister Emily will be coming down for it, too. And since she’s not old enough to drink, I’ve bribed her into being my designated driver so we can go home each night and not have to camp among the cicada infestation.

Morbidity

Death and religion have been on my mind a lot lately, which I suppose is what happens when you experience a death in the family. Last night, back at home after eating dinner out, I got into a discussion about death and religion with Ian and his dad as I made my way through a bottle of wine.

And I couldn’t help but feel like maybe I was letting his dad down as I let him in on an ill-kept secret about myself, admitting out loud that his son married someone with such dire prospects for her soul. But it’s the truth: As much as I’d like to believe that one day I can go float around on a cloud or be reincarnated as a housecat, the most I can hope for is to become worm food.

The truth is that no matter how much I try, I can’t make myself believe that anything awaits me beyond death except for disintegration and silence. And although it scares the shit out of me, I haven’t seen anything in my almost 32 years that tell me otherwise. Believing in The Great Beyond, whether or not it’s mutually exclusive of religion, is not something I have been able to do. No matter how hard I try.

And I’m not saying that those who do believe in God™ are burying their heads in the sand. But boy, there sure are times late at night when the world is still and lonely that I wish I could.

The new

I’ve been bad at updating lately, which I realize bothers nobody but me. But I’ve been strangely busy—I’ve been in a “I don’t have time to blog about stuff because I’m out doing it” mood the last few weeks, I suppose.

I guess the biggest news is that I started a new job. After five and a half years at Hammock Inc., first as a writer and then as the digital media manager, I have started at Raven Internet Marketing Tools as a user support specialist.

As excited I am to be part of such an innovative, geeky team at Raven, I have to point out that it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Hammock. I enjoyed what I did there, and I made some great friends (I’m looking at you, wolfpack!). And Rex, the founder/CEO, was so great to work for and with. He’s a brilliant, mad-scientist kind of guy who just gets it, and I really appreciate all that I learned from him.

But over my last couple of years there, I realized that development is where I am headed. I’ll always consider myself a writer at heart, but work-wise I keep gravitating more and more to coding. And if I want to get serious about learning and really pursuing that path, what’s better than working right in the middle of a bunch of developers every day? And Raven is a great, growing company with amazing people working there, and I’m really excited to have been invited to be a part of their team. Last week was my first week there and I’m already having a blast.

And, quite honestly, when they were described to me as the “island of misfit toys” I knew it was someplace I belonged.