Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks

It's Thanksgiving eve.

Well, since it's after midnight, technically it is Thanksgiving Day.

In just a few hours I will have to rouse myself from my soft, fluffy bed, get myself beautified, then spend the morning slaving over a hot stove, cooking seven different dishes we each will take one spoon of and then eat one bite of before we're full.

But, we gotta have it all. The turkey, Grannie's rice dressing, Jane's sage dressing, the cranberry sauce that comes out of the can with the little ridges on it, sweet potatoes with burnt marshmallow on top, mashed potatoes with lumps.

And peas, dammit. I want my peas.

They should call this "Starch Day" instead of Turkey Day.

I also bought a frozen Mrs. Smith's apple pie and a pumpkin pie -- because Lora Leigh has never had one and she wants to try it.

I'm so thankful to have a child willing to take a bite.

And that's what this holiday is supposed to be all about. Thanks. Giving it. Expressing it.

So...

I'm thankful for my wonderful family. My supportive husband who stood by me as I hemmed and hawed over this buyout decision and promised to support me no matter what I chose to do.

I am thankful for my adorable, special child, who came to me in the most wonderful way and lights up my life every second.

I am thankful for her birth mother, who chose me.

I am thankful for my stepchildren, who have let me call them "mine," and made me so proud so often.

I am thankful for my sisters, even if I only talk to them on Facebook. And I am thankful for the nieces and nephews (and grand nieces and nephews) they have given me.

I'm thankful that I had a brother at all.

I'm thankful for my friends, the ones I've known forever and the ones I've found along the way.

I'm thankful that I still have my health.

I'm thankful that I still have my mother.

I'm thankful that I once knew a man named "Pappy."

I'm thankful for my beautiful house, even if it is old and creaky and drafty and falling apart.

I am REALLY thankful for my pool!

And I am thankful that the Saints are winning!

And I am thankful for my dogs, my Durango, my computer, the Internet, Facebook, my iPod, my iPhone, my hair straightener and Oil of Olay.

I'm thankful for the talents that God has given me -- my ability to put together words over and over again, my ability to create a little out of nothing, my determination to do and to finish.

And my ability to beat my sister in Scrabble.

And I am thankful that I have a place to use my talents -- still.

I am thankful that I did not take the buyout offered to me by my employer. I am thankful that I will get to continue doing what I do, what I LOVE to do.

I am thankful that I will continue to get paid for that.

I am thankful to be a Times-Picayune sports writer. After this week, there are fewer of us. And there are fewer reporters in the news room and fewer photographers in the lab.

One by one they've disappeared from our ranks, going off with fear and hope to try something new -- or try nothing new.

And we gather together to pat them on the hiney, and thank them for all that they have done, and send them off to their futures, while we stay behind and eat their cake and hope for the best.

But we're really starting to hate cake.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Life is hard, then you die.
Then somebody comes and takes all your stuff."

There is a house across from the little park where I walk.

Well, there
was a house.

Boarded up for pretty much all the years I've lived in Norco, they finally tore it down sometime last month. Now it's just a pile of timber.

And stuff.

But it's not just ordinary stuff.

This house has been frozen in time. About two years ago the garage caved in. The next day or so, they pulled out a beautiful antique car. I later learned it was a 1939 Dodge. It still had the license plate on the back -- an old one. (I wonder how many DMV flags are on it by now.)

It's like they went to the grocery store, parked in the garage, went inside and never came out again.

I don't even know if they bothered to move out of the house before it was sealed with the boards and the "NO TRESPASSING" signs.


There are a couple of mattresses poking out among the ruins. And some pieces of what-nots glittering in the sun. And a red velvet blanket.

Someone pulled a little sofa out, perhaps to try to salvage it. It's one of those wooden things with red vinyl cushions. Someone really should call the set decorators from Mad Men.

And as I danced around the park circle to my tunes from the 80s, I wondered about those people.

Were they once a cute little couple, moving into their dream house? Did he go to work every day at Shell while his bride shopped at the Norco Co-Op or Loupe's? Did their children climb on that little sofa, take a nap under the red velvet blanket?

Did they go to my church in that ancient car?

I wonder where they went. Did one of them get sick and the other one get old trying to take care of him or her? Did their children help, or move far away from home to live their own lives?

Did their children finally decide it was time for them to be put in a home, tucked away in human storage to live out what little time they had left?

Did they forget to go back and get all their stuff?

Or could they only take the cherished things -- the pictures and the mementos of a life lived?

Whatever happened and wherever they went, I am assuming they died there. Because now, someone else is taking all their stuff.

There was a man and a truck there yesterday, combing through the ruins for anything left of value.

He didn't take the red sofa.







Sunday, November 8, 2009

Decisions, decisions

I know I hemmed.
I know I hawed.
I know I changed my mind. A lot.
I know my colleagues were calling me "Lori Favre."

And I deserved that.

What they didn't know was that, for the past close-to-a-month I have been in utter anguish over this decision. Ever since a co-worker posted that first clue on his Facebook profile, and then I went to my office to see for myself, ever since I saw that word for the first time -- "buyout."

I have hemmed.
I have hawed.
I have changed my mind a million times.

My immediate reaction was, fine. FU. I'll take my nest egg and go do something else. I'll teach. I have a degree in English, a minor in journalism and secondary education (and religion, but don't ask). The only thing I didn't go back then was student teach and take the NTE. They don't even give that any more.

I was sure. I was ready. I was actually excited about the future, about the possibilities. I thought about starting my own sports blog -- right here.

I started to say good-bye.

Then I started to mourn.

Then I began to doubt.

Do I really want to stop doing what I do? Do I really want to stop being what I am? Do I really want to change gears at this point in my life? Do I really want to walk out of that building and away from those people and this job and all that it entails?

I am one of the lucky ones. Yes, I cover games for a living, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm one of the lucky ones who loves what I do. I am a sports writer. And my husband just loves telling people that.

Sure it's a pain in the butt sometimes and difficult sometimes and not so much fun sometimes.

But the rewards far out-weigh the pains. I hate climbing the stairs to the press box, but I love sitting in it.

And, frankly, I think I'm pretty good at this. For some reason, the gods gave me this gift -- the ability to put words together to make sentences, and sentences together to make paragraphs, and paragraphs together to make stories. And an eye for the detail. And an uncommon interest in sports, even though I'm a girl. And an ability to put those all together into a career I love -- have loved, for 23 years.

And I found it so hard to imagine not doing it anymore.

I lay awake at night, my stomach churning, my heart racing, trying to imagine not doing what I do. Trying to imagine me in a classroom. In the front. Trying to imagine how my life -- and my daughter's life -- would change.

And I got lots of advice -- all different. A whole lot of people said I should take the money and run.

Run to where?

And then I spent a rainy Friday night at home -- my third in 20 years. And in between cleaning my house, flipping TV channels and taking inane Facebook quizzes, I scoured the Internet for scores and followed the game action on our web site.

And then I went to a volleyball game, and sat in the stands without a pen in my hand. And I hated it.

And the thought of a man wearing a tie telling me, "Your last day is..." just about broke my heart.

So, I've decided to stay on at The Times-Picayune newspaper, doing what I do. I will bypass the buyout and hope the future brings better news (and no layoffs).

I'm not alone.

We're like the passengers on the HMS Titanic. We know we've hit the iceberg and we're taking on water fast.

Many have jumped, taking their chances on an uncertain future without the life raft. And we know not if we will see them again.

And the rest of us are making Martinis with the ice cubes and hanging on to the stern for as long as we can.