Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (January 15)

I have the house to myself right now. Andy is at a basketball practice from 6:00 until 7:30. JoAnna and Eddie are at the health club. Until I sat down at the computer, Boxer was following me around the house, uttering a mournful meow every now and then. He’s been acting peculiar lately, especially during the past few days. Last night I thought I heard him cut loose with a howl. Was I dreaming? I asked myself, lifting my head off the pillow and waiting for an instant replay. Kitty Meowsers jumped onto the top of our armoire, then pawed at the blinds as if trying to get a better view of something outside. Did he see a rabbit hopping across the snow? Boxer seems bored and lethargic. I’ve never seen him so hungry for attention. When I was home for lunch today, he let me rub his tummy and neck and the top of his head without giving me the slightest indication that he was gettin tired of this attention.

“Sorry, Boxer, I have to get back to work,” I told him.

At breakfast, JoAnna had offered a possible solution.

 “I think Boxer needs a playmate.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if we become a two-cat household within the few months. Maybe Boxer’s birthday present will be a buddy to play with while the rest of us are gone during the day.

I got a little annoyed at Andy right before I drove him to his practice. He couldn’t find his basketball shorts. He pawed through the hamper in the bathroom, the one in Eddie’s room, and the laundry basket in the utility room and came up empty.

“Maybe the Maids put them somewhere,” he said, referring to the cleaning service that JoAnna neglected to cancel before Christmas. They were here on Wednesday. I’m not sure what they did since the house looked to be in major disarray when I returned home from work. But now that both Andy and Eddie come home right after school, they have a lot more time to trash the place.

“I had them right here,” he said, pointing to the top of the futon.

“No, Andy, your jersey was there but not your shorts,” I countered.

He disagreed.

Losing patience with yet another search for the missing whatever, I gave the boys an ultimatum, since both Andy and Eddie were guilty of the offense that was on my mind. “There will be no Playstation, no TV, none of your favorite recreational activities until you clean up your rooms each day.” What parent hasn’t had to put up with dirty clothes serving as throw rugs, beds unmade, toys abandoned. Last weekend I did a photo inventory of the interior of the house, bypassing the boys’ rooms because of the clutter. In a way, it would be nice if we had a bigger house, specifically, walk-in closets for each bedroom. Most of my clothes are in Eddie’s closet, since JoAnna completely took over our closet four or five years ago. I can just hear Eddie when he starts high school.

“Hey, Dad, can’t you find another place for your stuff?” 

But back to Andy’s basketball shorts.

Andy directed his comment at Mom.

“Dad’s not going to like it when I tell him where my shorts are.”

He was absolutely right. He brought them to school on Wednesday so he could wear them in gym class and left them in his locker at school.

I launched into a mild tirade, words that have been said, in various forms by many parents, many times before. “Andy, you know you’re not supposed to do that.” (Take his sports stuff to school, that is.) “How many times do you have to be told?”

Blah blah blah.

During this rant, a part of me was still able to act as an observer, and I had to laugh at myself. I wouldn’t want someone to talk to me like that. I was acting too much like a parent who can’t deal with childhood’s shortcomings. Lighten up, I told myself. Don’t let this get out of hand.

Andy reminded me that Elm Lawn school was still open. Even though it was closing time (5:45) for the After School program by the time we got there, a few kids were still waiting for their parents to pick them up. Andy was able to retrieve his shorts and get to his practice in plenty of time. After his practice, he had planned to stop at Blockbuster Video to rent a couple Playstation games, but I told him that was no longer on the evening’s schedule.

“I know, I know,” he said impatiently, as we pulled away from the school. He tested me just before he exited the car at the Kromrey gym. The answer was still no.

JoAnna has visited the health club now for seven evenings in a row, Eddie accompanying her the last three times. At first, she didn’t Eddie would be interested, that he would only be a bother. To her great surprise, Eddie has really taken to the various pieces of equipment that the health club offers. He going to become not only the pancake king, but the exercise king.

I just heard another mournful meowr from Boxer.

“Why are you ignoring me?” he asked piteously.

Kitty Meowsers will get his strokes later tonight. I just can’t be bothered right now. I’m in the mood to write a letter, at least for the next 15 minutes, when I have to pick up Andy.

I had an interesting day at work. I moved my office into the conference room, a space twice as large as what I used to occupy. The conference room will now be referred to as the director’s office/staff conference room. To accommodate a credenza, desk, and computer table, one section of the conference table was removed. The remaining two sections will easily accommodate eight people, enough for both board and staff meetings. My old office will become the reference and circulation office, the two staff members responsible for those library activities sharing this space. This rearrangement of staff workspace became necessary when the city approved the library’s budget request for two additional staff members (a Young Adult Services Librarian and a Library Assistant II) as part of our package to open the library on Sundays. I don’t know if I mentioned this during our recent visit but this is the first time in my 13 years as director that the library received everything we requested in our budget proposal. It amounts to a 12% increase. In the library world, Warren is the flip side of Middleton. I was so fortunate to get this job. It fits me like a glove, to try on a well-worn cliché.

For the past couple years, the library board has been trying to raise my salary. Based on what happened during a closed session with the mayor and city administrator at last Tuesday’s meeting, they have finally succeeded. The city personnel committee will recommend an increase of between 5% and 10% next Monday evening. (The board pushed for 10%, but I think fiscal realities made them have to compromise.) I didn’t get all the specifics since I don’t participate in the board’s closed sessions. This will be over and above the 3.5% cost-of-living increase that all city employees will receive this year. 

Well, it’s about time for me to pick up Andy. I still haven’t told you about JoAnna’s latest free-lancing and job-hunting adventures. She’s doing as well as I expected. It’s not amazing to me how well-regarded she is. After all, she is my wife, my partner for the past 15 years, which include our pre-nuptial era. I’m so proud of her. Sometimes I wonder if the boys realize just how special their mom is.

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