do I?

I haven’t been very faithful with this blog in the last little while. I am struggling with whether to keep at it or not.  Not for any other reason than I feel that people probably think I should be moving forward, getting on with my life and that I am just a complete whiner.  Truth is, I don’t really know how and where I should be in the ‘recovery’ process.  Some days I feel like I am on the up and up, and then others I revert back to wondering how on earth I am going to get through a year, two years, five years – the rest of my life without Kevin.

For any who knew me, he was my life.  I was one of those women who centered my world around my husband.  He was demanding, busy, entertaining, always, always planning the next trip, dinner, visit, painting, gig, whatever.  My job was logistics and so I was busy too.  What an insane void his death made in my world.  And so I do wonder about my future.  I don’t have any desire to replace Kevin, who could?  But then life stretches out indeterminately without him.

Back to the blog – I don’t know if I should keep writing, I wonder if maybe it has me mired in pain – if it is a link to sorrow and that link may be holding me back.   Although I don’t think it is for the simple reason that this blog is just an outlet for expression of the feelings I continue to carry.  I can stop the blog but I can’t stop the feelings.  Sometimes it feels really good to put it in a sensible form of writing to clear my head.  Better than using a diary, since one doesn’t have to even attempt to be objective or reasonable in the expression captured in a diary.

I apparently break all the rules of a good blogger though.  I don’t write something every day, I pay to keep advertisers off of my site, and I don’t use the tools they provide me to drive traffic to my blog.  Happenstance is how people have to find this thing. That’s fine by me, since I can’t figure out why I even write it anymore.

 

One foot in the present, one foot in the past

I think about the challenge it is to have a long term relationship end.  In my case it was my husband’s death, for others it may be divorce.  But loss is loss, and who’s to say how it should be, what one should feel, how one will cope. The thing is managing the memories.  Memories that weave through families: in children, in places, in events.  They are invisible, those ties, strands of emotion that can tangle you up before you know it.

I was worried after Kevin died that I would forget.  Forget the times we shared, the life we led, his voice, his laugh, his presence.  I realize now that I will never forget.  The ties are just too strong.  I’ve mentioned before that I hear him in my head, and I do.  Sometimes not loud enough, sometimes too loud.  Just like in life.  Last night I had a dream and I woke up knowing he had told me to do something.  But I couldn’t remember what it was he told me to do. If it was important then I suspect that he’ll be back to remind me tonight. I’d  better put paper and pen beside the bed because I don’t want to piss him off by forgetting again!  (It’s humour folks, I’m not losing it.)

These next couple of weeks will be tough ones.  Our anniversary on the 24th, his death on the 29th.  I find myself flashing back and forth between the present and the past.  Unavoidably.  I never would have ever thought he would have been my past, that wasn’t the deal, and yet now he is.  But he is still my future, because life with him made me who I am, because I will always know how he thought and what he felt.  Because the lives he and I created together continue to grow, more grandbabies – twins.  Because he would have loved that.  So I send you my love Kevin, and I say: ‘How I wish, how I wish you were here….’

My Conundrum

So I find myself in a bit of a pickle.  It’s work-related and difficult for me to sort out.  There was an episode at my workplace that went sideways on me this week.  It wasn’t the work itself, it was the interactions between people.  It involved an unexpected nastiness and a peek at some rather unattractive behaviours.

Things like this have become a challenge for me because I don’t have Kevin to chat them through with.  He had an amazing way of cutting through the garbage and hitting on the truth.  Without him I have to do it myself and, needless to say, I get myself all twisted out of sorts because it’s my perspective and only my perspective that I bring to the situation.

I work for a large organization and change is a constant.  Managers come and go; we have a lot of retirements as the baby-boomers move into retirement.  So there is opportunity and that can be a good thing – but only when it is equal opportunity.  In my home section it really isn’t.

It has been apparent for some time that the section manager had a favourite and that favourite was untouchable.  Training opportunities were directed towards the favourite, and when questioned (which I did on one occasion only) the manager aggressively defended the choice, stating it was management’s choice.  The discussion became so heated as I reacted to being yelled at that I actually thought I was going to be written up.  And it hasn’t only been me in situations like this, my coworkers have experienced this too.

Its more than that though, it’s the blind devotion that is given to the favourite.  Our manager constantly tells all of us, peers of the favourite, what a natural leader, what an incredibly articulate and intelligent individual the favourite is.  They meet every morning for coffee in the manager’s office, of course anyone can join, but not really.  I remember sitting at a table in the cafeteria with them quite innocently one day – I recall the the furtive looks as I sat down, the stalled conversation, the sheer uncomfortableness I brought to the table.  They made it abundantly clear that I was not part of the A-team.  I stayed a few minutes to spite them, and when I got up to leave no one insisted I stay.  If Kevin were alive he would have told me I was on the C-team, “see you later”.

Recently, I applied to a temporary job opportunity elsewhere in the organization and was allowed to go, so off I went – as of last week.  I was pleased to have the permission and support of my manager and the entire management team, as well as the chance to enhance my work skills.  My new job intersects with my old job in some respects, so there is great continuity.  Around the same time as I was informed I got the new job and before I left my old one, we (my work department) was informed that the section manager in my home department was also leaving for a temporary assignment.  We were informed that the favourite would be taking over the section manager’s role.

So here’s the problem – not even the first week into the job and the favourite, acting as the manager, messes up.  Unfortunately it involves the new department I have moved to (remember our work intersects – what luck).  Things escalated way past my pay grade, because of a bonehead email the favourite sent and which I had no part of.  Rather than say, ‘sorry, I messed up’, the favourite engages the former manager to ‘sort’ things out with me – implying I caused the trouble.  They both seek me out and blindside me in a hallway.   Not only does the former manager have a little talk with me, all under the guise of smoothing things over, but as we move out of the ‘sorting out’ conversation, the former manager also tells me that we need to finalize my annual performance appraisal.  This is done in front of the favourite who stands silently by.

I processed things politely but I did recognize the veiled threat.  How disappointing.  How stupid.  Mentioning the performance appraisal as part of that discussion, especially considering we were dealing with a ‘situation’, was completely inappropriate.  It had to be a deliberate statement designed to intimidate me.  The delivery was beautiful too, leaning in towards me, fixing me with an unwavering piercing gaze, hoping that I break the connection, blink or maybe even break out in hives (I don’t know!!!) but sheesh, I get tired of that stuff.  Anyway, how does one go from ‘I’m pissed with you, my favourite looks bad because of you, let’s make this go away,’ to ‘Oh yes, we have this admin piece to finish’, all in one conversation?  It’s not a natural segue, therefore, it was deliberate and with intention.

If Kevin were around he’d likely have a different spin on this: he’d either tell me to take the high road or that you can’t make stupid smart.  He’d have had me laughing at some ridiculous aspect of the whole scenario.  Instead here I am twisting on this.  God I miss him.

 

About the Cruise

The cruise last month was my third one in the past 12 months.  All three have been with Carnival.  Carnival is considered to be an entry level cruise line or so I am told.  Regardless of where they sit on the spectrum I have to say the food is stellar. Other things not so good.  Communication on board the ship has been an issue.  There’s nothing like travelling with your sister and having a honeymoon cake delivered to your dinner table complete with little chocolate hearts.  Or the towels made into little hearts on the bed.  The cabin steward didn’t believe me when I told her we weren’t a couple, we were sisters.  I got eyebrows raised in disbelief and a sympathetic smile suggesting I wasn’t ready to come out of the closet.

Ah, Carnival.  Lots of fodder to write about there.  The honeymoon mix up was only one of several things, but that’s to be expected I guess when you have 3000 guests in a confined space.  But on the cruise trying to get  cup of hot tea with milk became a personal challenge.  On one occasion a gentleman from an adjacent table, after watching me request the tea multiple times over a period of 20 minutes, finally ordered it for me from the same server. Guess what, it arrived in, oh, three minutes at most.  This wasn’t unique to one trip – I had the same problem for two out of three, hot tea apparently confounds them, as perhaps do women travelling alone.

I really don’t have anything to compare Carnival ‘s service to at this point, but I will by this time next year.  We have already booked a cruise with Norwegian for November of this year.  I think the intent is to always kick off the winter with a cruise (November) which is around the time of my sister’s birthday, and then kick out the winter blues with a cruise in February. Once I have put a little more distance from Kevin’s death in March 2015, I hope to find a way to go away that month too.  Our anniversary was the 24th and he died on the 29th.  It seems like a good idea to run away from reality that week.

Anyway, it will be interesting to compare the two cruise lines.  My understanding is that the staff to guest ratio is slightly better with Norwegian.  They also have a unique offering amongst all the lines – cabins for singles.  In a secure area, some with balconies – but geared to and priced for people travelling alone.  I haven’t booked one of these cabins since I am travelling with the sis, but who knows what the future holds, so it will be good to check it out. A bunch of us are planning on going – the more the merrier.

Invariably though I find I have a little weep when I am travelling.  It was Kevin’s passion to travel.  I doubt he would have had any interest in travelling by cruise ship, they are just too restrictive.  Even the food wouldn’t have been enough.  But it suits me fine, I am not the most adventurous and there’s plenty to do aboard the boat.  And there are lots of cruise lines.  I’ll just keep going as long as I have someone to travel with.

February and March – I need a strategy

I recognize that, quite likely for the rest of my life, I will need a strategy to get through these two months.

Last year, February of 2016, I went off for a cruise with my sister and, despite my reservations, I enjoyed myself.  So we decided to repeat the event again this year, extending the invitation to two more of my sisters to join us (bringing the count to four out of a potential five and a half – yes I have a half sister).  And they did join us. It was the first time in decades that just us sisters did anything together.  My two sisters live in Newfoundland and my other sister and I live in Ontario, so it is not exactly conducive to family outings.  It came together for us though; the weather was great, the sea was calm, the food on the cruise was amazing.  It was a good thing.

We had one small glitch to deal with in Miami Airport.  It could have cast a pall on the vacation but fortunately it just wasn’t important enough to let it.  We had booked rooms for the night at Miami International Airport – paid way too much for inferior accommodations, but the convenience was the deciding factor.  In the morning we went downstairs to eat at Margaritaville, a chain restaurant located immediately beside the hotel lobby in the airport.

Our server was churlish to say the least – she had a chip on her shoulder so big it was a wonder she could lift a tray.  She took her time coming to our table to take our orders.  She forgot a couple of items we ordered.  Refills on the coffee – you’re kidding me right?  Just a gem.  Anyway, the bill came for the meal – it was $60.  We put cash down of $65 and prepared to leave.

The server was quick to grab the bill.  She walked away and opened up the black plastic bill holder and then came steaming, yup, steaming back.  “That’s not enough!” she said and slammed the bill holder on the table.  She flipped the cover open and stabbed her finger at a line on the bill.  It’s a beaut – it says “Recommended gratuity 15% – $8.99.”  She was royally pissed at us and said, “You need to leave more tip.”  And then she stormed off leaving us and the bill at the table!   Are you kidding me?  That’ll do it, give us a yell lovey and then we’ll pay you more.  Needless to say she didn’t get her $8.99, she got her $5.  In hindsight we should have taken the tip away completely, but the reality is that servers in the US typically don’t have a great hourly wage and rely on their tips, but bullying the customers to get it defies comprehension.

That exchange was off-putting until we realized that we were leaving the place behind for a week of sunshine and laughter.  That bitter little server was stuck in a hell of her own making.  She’s not doing much for the reputation of the restaurant though.  I gotta think that if she treats the customers like that she’s probably a nightmare for the manager to deal with too. Regardless,  I’ll never eat at that chain again.