Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Take a chill pill

So I just got back yesterday evening from my final residency for my MBA.  At three points during the program, you actually meet in person and attend some lectures and workshops.  You do this for the course that is the capstone project of the program to get your degree.  Which is the one I attended.  It started out with great promise.  I had to give a presentation of my previous work to date, which was easy.  I met with the instructor one on one and he said the work I did last semester for my capstone project was bascially good to go as is.  No revisions really needed.  So far, so good.  I got some good advice from my mentor on what to focus on for the final project.  And it made sense with what I was doing.  Still good.

The second day was supposed to be lectures to help students through the last pieces we need to put together for the paper (marketing strategy, financials, etc).  I was looking forward to that so I could get a good idea of what I needed to do.  What a bust.  The whole thing was disogranized and geared towards public companies.  Which is fine except I'm doing a project on a not for profit.  VERY different dynamic.  I ended up cutting out a little early because the professor that was reviewing financial infomration confused the shit out of me.  It didn't help that he had an accent and kept talking in circles.  I felt it was a waste of my time.

So I tried to relax on the drive home (about 3 hours) without much success.  And I've been stressing over it a bit today.  However, I got a good workout in today and started reviewing my material and the instructions we have on what we need to do.  And I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Of the remaining work, I'm pretty confident on about a third of it.  I'll need to review some papers I wrote for my marketing course.  But my initial research seems to support my strategic problem definition which will drive the rest of the work.  AND, I've got until November 6 to turn in the next big assignment.  The first one is to review and edit the final paper from a course last semester.  Except that both my instructor from last semester (also my mentor) and my instructor for this course both told me it looks great as is.  So I'm leaving it alone and focusing on everything else I have to do. I actually have plenty of time and I think if I focus on one thing at a time, it won't be so daunting.

And I plan on emailing my instructor with every little question I have.  If all goes well, by the middle of November I should be in great shape to finish up and HOPEFULLY won't have lost my mind (or my marriage) during the process.  Wish me luck peeps!  I SOOOOOOO want to finish this degree and graduate!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I'm not a person who's usually at a loss for words.  However, something happened to me today that just floored me and nearly rendered me speechless.  It certainly made my day.

As I've posted before, I will be starting a new position at work on Monday.  I've been in my current position about 2 years now.  One of the reasons I took this position is that my boss at the time was not satisfied with my performance in my old job.  That person happens to be one of the senior managers in the department.  Again, I beleive I posted about it at the time, but I felt that God had a reason for putting me in that position and making me take a step back so to speak.

So yesterday I'm chatting a little with this manager at our annual department picnic and I made a comment, in jest, about part of the manager's organization and I saw the person look at me like they weren't sure what I was trying to say.  Reflecting on it last night I realized I might have insulted this person inadvertantly.  A person I probably be working closely with in my new job.  Given our past history, I thought the best thing to do was see the person today and apologize for any unintentional insuls.

The manager told me they didn't even remember the comment so not to worry.  And THEN this person went on to say how pleased they were I'd been promoted and they'd strongly supported my getting the job.  And that they were so pleased how much I'd been supporting the organization though all the changes we've been having lately.  And that all of my experience in my different roles would be so helpful and that they knew I'd be successful.  And it was meant SINCERELY.  This is the kind of person that if they didn't have something nice to say, they wouldn't say anything.

All I could say was how much I really appreciated what they said and that it meant a lot.  Because it did.  I still can't believe we had the conversation.  On my part, all I did was let go of the past and focus on doing a good job in the role I've had the last 2 years.  And get back to doing what I know how to do well.  The funny thing is that Ellen and I had a conversation about something like this just the other day.  How that sometimes God puts struggles in your life to prepare you for something bigger and better that He wants you to do.

I'm convinced that this is the case.  I've always tried to trust that God will take care of me and give me what I need.  If this entire experience isn't a validation of that trust and faith, I don't know what is.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kate Made Me Do This

Don't normally doe these meme's but Kate posted this on her site and I liked it.  And it's my blog so I'll do what I want.  So there.

What are your middle names? Marie and Mario

How long have you been together? This makes me do hard math.  28 years.  Married 22.  If I'm wrong my wife will correct me

Who asked whom out? I asked her out. 

How old are each of you? 45

Whose siblings do/did you see the most? Probably mine since her brother is a git and acts all antisocial and stuff.

Do you have any children together? She has 2 children that I'm pretty sure are mine as well.  Anyway I own them now.

What about pets? A dog and a turtle.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple? The years when the kids were very young and day care was eating up a HUGE part of our finances.

Did you go to the same school? Same high school and last 2 years of the same college.  We graduated at the same time.

Are you from the same home town? Yup.

Who is the smartest? I got slightly better grades but she's pretty sharp as well.  So I'd say my wife.

Who is more sensitive? Depends on what about.

Where do you eat out most as a couple? Any place that will allow our boys in the door.  As JUST a couple? 
When do we ever get to eat out as a couple?

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? All up and down the East coast in my Navy days.  Longest haul was Orlando, FL to Saratoga Springs, NY.

Who has the craziest ex? We've been together so long the exes don't count. 

Who has the worst temper? Probably me.  I tend to fume about stuff for a long time.  She lets go of the anger much more quickly.  But she NEVER forgets.

Who does the cooking? Depends.  During the week probably Ellen, weekends, me.  However, the boys cook as well.

Who is more social? Me.

Who is the neat-freak? Ellen, though neat-freak is probably a little strong.  She likes everything in it's place and tries to keep it that way.  I'm not so particular.
Who is more stubborn? Doesn't matter.  Ellen always wins anyway.  She's the WIFE.  Duh.
Who hogs the bed? That would be me.  And I steal all the covers.  Hah!
Who wakes up earlier? Definately me.

Where was your first date? You expect me to remember that far back?  Almost 30 years, remember?

Who has the bigger family? Her in the US.  I have extended family in Italy.

Do you get flowers often? No.

How do you spend the holidays? We split between our families.  It's a schedule worked out over the years.

Who is more jealous? Probably me, but we've been together so long what's to get jealous of?  She's stuck with me now.
How long did it take to get serious? about 5 years.  We were kids when we started dating.

Who eats more? Definately me.  Big Italian appetite even if I don't endulge like that any more.

Who does/did the laundry? Ellen's the only one that can do it right.  So I stay away.

Who’s better with the computer? Duh.  I'm an IT professional.

Who drives when you are together? Mostly me.  Though she drives sometimes too.

No tags.  Post if you feel like it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What happened to my church?

One of the things bugging Ellen and I lately has been what has been going on in our church.  That's the building (with a small "c") and not the Church (the Catholic organization with a big "c").  We have some issues with our Church as well but that's a post for another time.  Ellen has been a part of our parish since she was baptized there.  We took a 5 year hiatus while I was in the Navy but since I redicovered my faith only after we married, it's been a home for me as well as an adult.  We've seen many changes, from pastors coming and going, to scandals, to additions to the building.

However, lately things have gone to a whole new level.  We've always felt welcome at our parish and suddenly I'm not so sure.  It started with the instituting of a lay pastoral administrator to run our parish instead of a priest as the pastor.  Now, I'm not a prude or anything and don't really care if a priest or lay person runs the parish, as long as its run well.  But funny things happened from the start.  Like the pastoral administrator's need to continually explain who he is to the congregation, especially if there are visitors.  This is a quirk we could probably put up with.  Then there was the conversations I had over the last couple of years from a good friend that had "inside information".  I got a funny vibe about it.

Then this year came the sudden exodus of the staff.  First, one of my bandmates, who was the business manager, quit.  I won't go into details but basically she couldn't take working for the pastoral administrator any longer.  Then, our youth minister (also a friend) got unceremoniously fired.  Then, shortly after that, the faith formation director, who only got hired last August, quit as well.  So, three women quit.  And guess who were hired to replace them?  Three men.  Coincidence?  Sexism?  Not saying it is, but it seems very odd.

And then lately there's  been a focus on two things:  rules and money.  We used to stand during Communion.  then we were told that a few of our committees had UNANIMOUSLY decided we should kneel (which is what most parishes do).  Except that Ellen was on one of those committees and she had played devil's advocate and had NOT been in favor of kneeling.  Also we hear a lot about events that raise funds for the parish but very little about ministries that can help the community.  I'm reminded of what Jesus said about the Pharisees and the Saducees: "They honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."  That's how I feel about my church right now.

I've taken a few radical steps, for me at least.  For example, I still stand during Communion.  Most Sundays I'm the ONLY one standing.  And, since we sit in the front row and our pastoral administrator likes to be on the alter platform (a story for another time) I KNOW he sees me.  Also, our contribution envelopes have lines on them to designate where your donation goes.  My weekly donation now goes 100% to world need and ZERO to the parish.  Right now I'm voicing my displeasure with my money.  And if this situation continues, I may have to vote with my feet.  And if this pastoral administrator makes me find a new home, I'm going to be REALLY pissed.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Reflections on Marriage

Ellen and I (and the boys) attended a wedding today for Ellen's god-daughter.  It was a low budget affair on a Sunday afternoon and was actually quite a nice time.  The bride's mother is one of Ellen's childhood friends.  We don't see her often so it was nice to get together and enjoy good company.

I always like watching the new couple at weddings to see how they act together.  Watching a young couple look at each other with that fresh love of beginning a life together is always rather cute and romantic.  Call me an old softie, but that newlywed stage of marriage is quite a fun time.  Ellen and I are WELL past that but it's nice to be reminded of it from time to time.

Weddings eventually get me thinking to how long Ellen and I have been married.  We've been together for around 28 years and married for 22.  That's a long time for any couple.  And I like to think we're still happily married.  At least I can say I'm still happy.  I wonder what advice I'd give a young couple to the secret of a long and successful marriage.  And looking back over these many years, I couldn't tell you what it is.

We've had our ups and downs (some probably chronicled here).  Living with someone for almost 25 years and trying to raise 2 boys makes for an interesting life and constant battles of some sort.  Being around anyone for too long a period of time can make you crazy.  Certainly, in the last year or so, there have been many battles and struggles with the boys and things they have going on.  Not to mention that our schedule (and our lives) essentially revolve around what they're doing.  Sure, I take a little time for the band and Ellen gets in some down time with the girls, but overall we fit in our things in between theirs.

So what's that got to do with a long marriage?  Well, when raising kids, it's so much easier when you have someone you can rely on and support you.  Ellen and I have had many conversations about the kids and we often wonder how the hell single parents do it.  We have a hard enough time with the two of us.  I couldn't imagine doing this on my own.

And perhaps that's the secret.  I couldn't imaging doing any of the things I've done over the last 22 years alone.  Having her with me has made everything so much easier, even in the hard times.  We don't do all of that newlywed kind of stuff any more.  I remember being silly with each other and lots of displays of affection and what not.  But those things aren't really necessary any longer.  We enjoy just sitting out on the porch, reading or talking, or just watching the world go by (or one of us blogging while the other is reading, like right now). 

For myself, I guess the secret to a long marriage is a word that came up in today's ceremony: commitment.  I made a commitment to her 22 years ago and I have no intention on going back on that commitment.  Part of that is our faith.  We both believe it takes three for a successful marriage, the couple and God.  And we've both put a lot of faith and trust in Him over these many years.  But I guess the other thing is that I long ago realized (before we'd married) that other women just didn't interest me any longer.  I'd seriously fallen for this woman and even after all this time, I still don't want to spend my time with anyone else.  Sure, our love has changed over the years, but that's what's SUPPOSED to happen.  There are still mornings where I wake up and look at her sleeping and think how blessed I am to have this beautiful woman lying next to me. 

So maybe in the end, that's what it is.  At the end of the day the secret to a long marriage is to pick a person you're going to love every day no matter what.  And then do that.  Either that or keep praying that the Lord bless you with a long marriage and to never stop loving your spouse.

Or maybe both.