Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag/Slightly More Troubling Things

“K-4.5!” he shouted. For a moment, I had my doubts. All of a sudden, I felt a bit like I’d entered into a game of Battleship in which I was not entirely sure I wanted to take part.

“That’s your seat height, okay? Remember it.” He turned from me, walking back toward his own machine. “Ready people? Good. Let’s go!”

And we were off. Hills, resistance, crazy, whirring, wind-milling speed, set to pumping dance tunes. I sweated. I panted. I, quite frankly, pwned. And 45 minutes later I exited, feeling like a champ–albeit a champ with a very sore ass. Tonight I vanquished my first ever gym class: spinning.

Now. Gym rat I am, but “joiner” I am not. I tend to revile group workout classes, probably due to some sort of deeply ingrained hatred/phobia of high school gym class and the ensuing flashbacks. As such, despite a full year of belonging to two separate fancypants gyms with real, qualified instructors, I’d never tried a class. Suffering from a recent workout malaise, however, I sucked up my skepticism and gave class a spin. And boy, did I love it. The jury’s still out as to whether my right hip loved it, but I suppose that’s a story that’ll be told tomorrow morning when I endeavor to stand, walk, and later, do a passel of lunges to firm up the Thanksgiving jiggle. Sometimes, I think I enjoy beating up my body a little too much–but I suppose it’s healthier than allowing someone else to do it for you.

Apart from a reunion over tea with Molly, my former desk mate, the weekend was quiet. I am my household’s Christmas Spirit this year, so in honor of this role, I painstakingly strung about 12 sets of lights on a 7 foot tree. This amounted to about 6 hours of work and a lot of Drambuie and beer with dad–and yes, the whole shebang DID go out and I DID have to scrum around in the morass of lights and boughs in search of the bad seed! Later, I bedizened the fronds with my grandmother’s shimmering vintage glass bulbs, and wrote out a half dozen horrifyingly unattractive (but amazing!) Christmas cards. Sunday I was supposed to have gone to both a Fulbright networking event in New Haven and a potluck at Anthony‘s house, but being a carless bum whose mother is afraid to lend out her little autobaby in any conditions that are not patently perfect (yes, I discovered this weekend, imperfect conditions DO include wind!), I ended up disappointing Amp and staying home. Now I  have a shitton of rosemary garlic white bean dip and gluten free crackers that I will never be able to consume myself, and to top it all off, did not get my fix of the cutest child in the entire world.

Now that I’ve mentioned Amp’s name, I suppose it’d be an appropriate juncture to more fully expound upon a shipwreck of a situation to which I alluded a few posts ago: Two days before Thanksgiving was the darkest day in the history of my place of employment. Not only were Stefania and Porto laid off–two truly fantastic individuals whose acquaintance I’d just made this July–but Anthony and John–my homies, my boys, two of my favorite people in the world–were sent packing.I didn’t believe it until I walked over to the other side of the office and saw toys, magazines, CDs and pens flying into cardboard boxes beside Anthony’s cubicle. I couldn’t help myself. I burst into tears.

Since 2006 Amp and John have defined my workplace. To some extent it was they who made it…well…like home. Not only are they tremendously talented, insightful, clever designers, but they’re decent, fun, kindhearted people. We have a long history of slurping noodles, slinging foul wisecracks, and cackling grinnily together at company luncheons. They were the people I chowed down with. They were the people I drank coffee with. They were the people I sent home Christmas presents from Spain; and they’re gone.

I worry for Amp and his baby and babymama–now all without health insurance–and hope to some higher power that John can soon secure work that’ll allow him to use his talent. It would be tantamount to lying, though, to pretend that their loss doesn’t also make me feel a little sorry for myself. I miss them every day and, though it’s been offered me, can’t bring myself to sit at John’s (nicer, warmer, better-outfitted, but empty) desk. Walking around on the designers’ side of the office, I feel a little like a cat padding about the darkened, empty floor of a house after its people have tucked themselves in bed or gone on vacation, yowling querulously at nothing, wondering where everybody went and how it’s going to play ball now all by itself.

Times are dark. The Tribune is bankrupt. I don’t know why I came back from Spain. This country’s burgeoning future puts fear in my heart that I hope inauguration day and an array of good policies backed by good leadership may dispel. I am very, very thankful I have a job and a family I love and good friends. I just hope everybody turns out all right.

For now, though, Porto, Stefania, Amp and John, I love you guys. I miss you a lot and vehemently hope you all do astoundingly well. I’m sorry to speak of you as though you’re dead! I know you aren’t–which means we should continue to hang out. I’m rooting for you–and more than available to read and edit cover letters.

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