Monday, January 04, 2010

Decade in Review

The past ten years have been kind of big ones for me. True, a lot of that had to do with the fact that I moved from my twenties to my thirties - typical years for Big Stuff to happen - but I'm really happy overall with the way the 2000's have been playing out for me.

In 1999, Ryan and I moved in together, into a teeny little crummy studio apartment that was, in actuality, a converted 1940's motel. It was icky in every sense of the word and from the day we moved in, I never stopped crying about how I wanted to get out of there. In September of that year, we adopted Monkey who was a baby. My cousin's friend's cat had kittens and she begged me to take one. I went to her house and the kitties were all hiding under the bed and I got down on the carpet and laid still and after a minute, one of the kittens got up the courage to come and investigate me. He was the runt of the litter and he let me pet him before he started biting my fingers. I knew I'd found my new kitty. Over the next few weeks, I visited him until he was big enough to come home with me - big being a relative term. He was still the tiniest of the litter and the night we brought him home, he wet himself in the car (poor scaredy cat!) and the first thing I had to do was bathe him in the sink. It was surprisingly easy because he fit in the palm of my hand, so I just ran warm water from the faucet while he mewed his displeasure. Once that was done, he was bonded to me and was practically my shadow. I used to come home from work during the lunch hour to visit him and he'd run up the front of my clothes and climb onto my shoulder and under my hair, where he'd start suckling my neck. For months, I had tiny cat hickies.

Monkey Hangin'

Almost a year to the day later, the kids in our "apartment complex" came banging on my door yelling about my cat being run over by a car. Monkey was in my arms, so I knew he was safe, but the kids had brought me an itsy bitsy grey cat who was crying and could barely walk. I rushed him to the emergency vet, and Ryan held him in his lap for the whole trip, talking softly to him. "Poor Kitty" (as his vet records show) was screaming loudly - obviously in pain and frightened by the car trip - and Ryan kept saying "hey little guy, it's ok, don't make such a ruckus." After being x-rayed and morphined, the vet advised that we could leave him there as "good samaritans" at no charge, but due to his injuries (broken leg, multiple hip fractures), the humane society probably wouldn't take him and he'd have to be euthanized. After having spent a couple of hours with the little guy, we couldn't leave him to die. So I pooled all my birthday money - which was exactly enough to cover the vet costs - and paid to take him home. He was an obvious feral cat and was estimated to be about 5 months old and was so severely malnourished that he weighed just 4 lbs. The vets recommended surgery (which would run somewhere about $5,000 and I could not afford) but said that regardless, having someone feed him and look after him was already a giant improvement for his life. So, we took him home and named him Ruckus (but his x-rays and medical records from that day say "Poor Kitty"). We were fortunate that a week later our regular vet advised that his leg was healing nicely and that basically with or without surgery his prognosis was the same: he'd probably always have a limp and should be kept indoors and likely he'd develop arthritis. The vet even said that all things considered, we should postpone the surgery, since they'd have the re-break the leg anyway. But he healed up so strong that we never did take him for surgery.


Thus, our family was now complete. It was us and the cats - both of whom were runty little anklebiters who grew up to be massively huge felines. Not just in girth (yeah, they are/were fatties) but in height. Ask anyone who's seen them in person - they are the size of mountain lion cubs.

The following year, we moved to a new and bigger apartment which was great fun for the cats, even though the owners changed their minds immediately after we moved in and no longer allowed pets, so we had to keep them hidden. We installed floor length drapes which were anchored down with whatever heavy flotsam we had around (books, guitar cases, etc) to keep the buggers from being seen in the front windows. That apartment was near the defunct Tustin Marine Airfield and I remember being terrified the morning of September 11, 2001 when F16 fighter jets were suddenly launching from the base (which had been officially decommissioned years before). I was en route to the airport for a business trip and had been up early, so I watched the news live and saw the twin towers coming down. Back then I was working for a corporate travel agency and when I called in to work, they barely had time to yell "come in, we need you!" I spent the next week working 15-20 hour days. We had to track down each and every one of our traveling employees (if I remember correctly it was something like 1,000 people) and help them find a way home -- not easy when flights were grounded randomly across the country and hotel rooms were scarce. Our C-level executives were all in a meeting in Trade Center Tower 1 and it was an all-out scramble to find them and get them secure. After that, we spent a lot of time acting as go-betweens for carpools and motorcades to get people home. We had folks renting boats, u-haul trucks, and everything in between to get home. The process took more than a week. Ironically, the people who were the most panicked to get home were the 200+ people that we had on a sales retreat in Hawaii. There wasn't any way to get them anywhere (even the cruise ships were full), so they had to stay at a 5 star resort for more than a week extra. Sadly, no one was happy about it.

After that, we moved again. To my uncle's condo in Irvine. That was the place where the neighbors had loud (LOUD!!) raucous sex every single night. In the end, we realized that they were filming it (thus, the lights, the music, and the extra loud vocals - not to mention the "friends" that they had over all the time), which was extra funny because the man (mid 50's?) was also the president of the homeowner's association. HA! We lived there for about 6 months before the condo was sold and we had 2 days notice to pack and move. We found an apartment and started moving stuff immediately. This was only 4 days before our scheduled vacation, so we literally dumped the boxes, searching for vacation wear and left. When we came back, my mom and sister had unpacked a lot of stuff and selected which of the two bedrooms we would be staying in (we hadn't even gotten to that decision yet, we were so pressed for time). The day we left for this trip, I found out that my job in the travel department was being phased out and so I was moved within the same company to an event planner job. It wasn't what I'd wanted, but I had a great boss and really enjoyed working with her for the next 2 years, before I was moved once again. I was given a bigger event planning role but the new manager was hard to work with. The director that I reported in to had been the same since I'd started with the company in 1999, and she was always encouraging me to grow and do something else. She pushed me toward marketing, which I resisted for a while. But about a year later, I took the marketing plunge and moved into a different group. I really loved the people and the job was fun, but hectic. I started traveling a lot for work, which had always filled me with anxiety, but this time I was traveling with a group of really fun people and I started to enjoy myself. I think I earned gold status on American in something like 4 months, but it was always a good time. I am grateful to those people who showed me that business travel doesn't have to be all room service and crying in your hotel room! In fact, these people became friends for life. I love them all.

After working in that role for about a year, the job changed pretty significantly. I was suddenly in charge of work that had previously belonged to 6 people and it was wearing on me. I worked 60+ hour weeks and the team that I'd loved was starting to change (my travel buddies all took new jobs). I'd decided that I needed a change. I'd been taking nursing classes for a while, but the wait list for the RN program is about 2 years long. And once they call you, you either jump in or go back to the bottom of the list. I had finally gotten a call to attend an orientation, which meant that the following semester, I'd be eligible to start the nursing program. The RN program requires 3 days a week of classes, plus 40 hours of clinical rotations, so I wouldn't be able to work and go to school any more. It was a big decision, but I was mulling it over... I couldn't handle the workload that I had (plus, there was no opportunity for advancement, etc.). On my way to the orientation class, I got a phone call out of the blue from a recruiter. It was for a marketing position at a big company (which I lovingly call The Borg) and they were very interested and wanted to meet me right away. I figured that it couldn't hurt, right? So I met with the hiring manager 2 days later and was immediately offered the job. I was flattered, to say the least, and downright giddy when they told me the starting salary (my current job was WELL below market average, so this was a big shock for me to be brought up to a 'normal' pay level). I agreed on the spot and gave my two weeks notice.

So, this decade I started at The Borg, which I love. It's a unique challenge and opportunity and I've expanded my knowledge and really gotten excited about marketing. I've not been back to any other nursing orientations since then.

After a few months at The Borg, we got notice from our apartment complex that they were planning to remodel our building, so we had no choice but to move. We were in a giant, stress-filled rush, but we found an adorable house, where we still live. It's cute, it's tiny, it's in a fun neighborhood with lots of chain restaurants (woo - go Orange County! ;] ) and tons of good amenities -- pools, parks, bike trails, etc.

In this decade, we've moved (a lot! 3 times in 2 years at one point!) around and found a place where we belong. We've traveled quite a bit, both to places like LA which is only 40 miles from here, but seems a world away, and to distant locales. We've explored the Caribbean by cruise ship and by tiny island adventures. We've gone halfway across the world to meet people who live 5 minutes away and are friends-of-friends. Individually, I have also traveled quite a lot. I've seen some lovely parts of the southern US and the frenchiest places of Canada; I've stayed in scummy New York hotels (for lack of not knowing any better) and in a suite in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. I've seen naked ladies in border town strip clubs and giant waterfalls and scenic panoramas from the tops of tall buildings. I've also started to explore my own backyard a bit more: visiting museums and galleries and other local attractions. I've opened my mind to theater and art and grown my appreciation for music and comedy.
And I "have" places now! Go ahead, ask: what's the best cookie in town? Who has the best hamburger? If I only have $10 and want dinner and a movie, what do you suggest? It all makes me feel so adult. Remember when you were a kid and you'd ask a Grown Up something and they always had an answer and you kind of marveled at that... I sort of wondered if I'd ever be one of those People With Answers/Opinions. And in the 2000's, I gained both.
One of the best things of the decade though, has to be the company that I've acquired. I've made a group of truly wonderful friends, who are people I adore and respect and they've opened my eyes to so many more things. I married my best friend and still am enjoying this goofy slumber party that we've been having for almost 13 years. I still enjoy his company as much as I did the first time that I met him. And luckily, using my mom's patented anti-aging formula (eating a lot of preservatives, staying well refrigerated, etc.), we've not grown apart, but instead grown together.
It's all put me in a good frame of mind for the coming decade!
I'm always amazed at what can take place
within the space of ... 365 days!
I'm still full of questions and can't quite see clear
But twist off another and bring on next year!
- 365 Days by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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