Tag Archives: email

I Survived A Stressful Week Without Going Completely Insane

19 May

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

This last week has been fraught with stress. Along with almost everybody in my department, I spent the first half of the week waiting to hear whether I still had a job. I work for a large corporation, and they do these organizational shuffles from time to time, and invariably not everyone survives these. While we knew that this reorganization was underway, no-one was telling us anything. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, several familiar faces quietly disappeared. And those of us who remained were wondering who would be next.

On Wednesday, the new organizational charts were finally released. I had a brief moment of panic when I couldn’t immediately find my name, but located it under a new manager. I was not thrilled about that – I loved my previous manager – but at least I was there, doing more or less the same work I’ve been doing.

On the same day, I received notification that I had been accepted into the Professional Writers Association of Canada as an associate member. This was big news indeed: it gives me access to all kinds of tools and people that could help me in my quest to get a foothold in the freelance writing business.

While all of this has been going on, I have been trying to resolve some technical issues that have been preventing the upload of my new website. Last night I had to log onto a couple of sites, and click a couple of buttons that would finalize the transfer of my domain name to a new registrar.

My website broke.

I went into emergency fix mode, calling customer support lines and harassing my long-suffering website developer. I was able to put in place a band-aid fix, which will work just fine until my new website is uploaded after the weekend.

Then my email broke – the email that’s associated with the domain name.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what needed to be done. I had to kill off the email address in one place and recreate it in another. Which meant that I first had to sift through the emails in the old place to figure out which ones I wanted to keep. And we all know that nobody keeps their inboxes nice and tidy, right?

Sheesh.

I got the email address set up in one place, but now it would appear that I didn’t succeed in fully killing it off in the old place. So the Internet thinks the email address exists in two places. While I’m getting most mail in the new place and none at all in the old place, there is the odd message that simply doesn’t get delivered. Kind of like lost snail mail.

I am trying to muddle through and sort all of this out while coming down from a week of stress.

And deal with an autism meltdown that happened this morning when George couldn’t find his box of DVDs.

All of this is happening as I go a bit mental leading into the final week before my half-marathon.

At least everything that’s happening is, in some way, a step in the right direction. I still have a job. My writing career took a big leap. The infrastructure is in place for my new website, and I can always change my email address.

Even George’s meltdown was a positive thing, because he was able to communicate what the trigger was.

I am ready for a relaxing weekend, and I hope that anyone reading will relax right along with me.

Groundhog Day

27 Oct

Edie sipped her tea while she waited for The Beast to boot up. She hated The Beast. It kept making her download updates that she didn’t understand, and most of the emails that she got were rubbish. Damien had bought it for her when he’d been transferred to Utah, insisting that they would have to communicate daily by email. She supposed that she shouldn’t complain. Other people’s kids moved away and forgot all about them. At least her son wanted to stay in touch, and to her surprise, their daily email exchanges had become a patch of sunshine in her otherwise monotonous days.

Edie’s gaze drifted to the picture of herself and Sammy that had been taken when they were both seven. They had been best friends: when Edie and her family had been rounded up and taken to the concentration camp, they had been thrust into a small, cramped room already occupied by Sammy and his parents. Sammy had taken her under his wing. Somehow he had made her feel less afraid.

The two children had spent hours playing in the tiny room, or on the small square of dirt outside. Whenever he eluded her during tag games, or outwitted her as they played with their makeshift Checkers set, he would smile, tap the side of his head, and say, “You gotta think like a groundhog.” Edie didn’t know what this meant or what a groundhog was, but it made her laugh every time. Despite the life they were living, they were happy in their own way.

And then, one day, Edie had come back to the room with her mother to discover that Sammy and his parents were gone. Edie did not need to ask where they were or if she would ever see Sammy again. She had become used to the people around her disappearing. She knew that they went into the big building at the far end of the compound and never came out.

Now, as she looked at the picture, she shed a silent tear for her sweet, funny friend. She wondered if he had been afraid while he was walking to his death. She gently touched his image and whispered, “You gotta think like a groundhog.”

The Beast had finally booted up. Edie opened her email and sighed as her screen filled with messages from people trying to sell things, tell her fortune, or entice her to try online dating. Damien called these messages spam, which Edie didn’t really understand.

In her haste to delete the messages, Edie accidentally opened one of them: an advertisement for Go Get ‘Em Exterminators & Pest Control. As she moved her mouse to the X in the corner of the message, a line of text in the advertisement caught her attention.

To catch the critters… you gotta think like a groundhog.

Edie stared at the screen in shock, her mind starting to race. Could it be possible that two people would come up with the same phrase almost seventy years apart? Or – Edie barely dared to allow herself to think it – could it be possible that Sammy had somehow escaped?

Could Sammy be alive?

With shaking hands, she picked up the phone and dialed the number in the advertisement. Although seventy years had passed, Edie instantly recognized the inflections in the voice that answered.

“Sammy? It’s Edie.”

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Carrie, who gave me this prompt: A spam email that turns out to be more than expected.
I challenged  femmefauxpas with the prompt: Tell us a ghost story. The kind you would tell while sitting around a campfire eating roasted marshmallows.

The Meaning Of Friendship

15 Apr

When George was a newborn, I joined an online group for parents of living children who had also experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Having gone through two pregnancy losses, I was paranoid about everything connected with my new baby. Did those sniffles indicate a cold or something more serious? Why wasn’t he nursing? Was that little bump to the head going to cause permanent damage? Was I actually going to be able to keep this tiny scrap of a human being alive?

In the online group, I found a home – a group of women whose experiences, while all very unique, gave us a common ground. We consoled and comforted one another, offered advice and reassurances, laughed and cried with one another. We became friends. And as you find in any group of friends, there was drama. We had disagreements and conflict. Some people left never to be heard from again, others left and came back.

Seven years on, the core group of us are still friends. The online group itself is not as active as it once was, because most of us are friends on Facebook, and we communicate that way. But we are still as much of a support for one another as we always were. Through seven years (and in some cases, more), we have seen each other through births and deaths, marriages and divorces, relocations, bankruptcies, illnesses, post-partum depression, and even a prison sentence. We have been there for each other through everything.

In 2007, George was diagnosed with autism. As I dealt with the implications of this, including my own emotional fallout, my girls were there for me. Their love and support helped keep me buoyant at a time when it would have been so easy to drown. These amazing women, who had already helped me stay sane through relationship and financial problems, the loss of my father, and my pregnancy with James, once again banded together to help me cope.

And then, a little over a year ago, I found another online group of friends – these ones parents of children with autism. They wormed their way into my heart in the same way my first group had. Although the general conversations centre around different issues, the sense of love and support is present in both groups. My autism friends have been part of my life for substantially less time, but they have helped me over so many hurdles. They tell me I’m a good Mom when I’ve struggle to deal with George’s behaviours. They celebrate with me when he achieves a milestone, and they commiserate with me when a stranger in a grocery store says something ignorant about my child.

Both groups of people are brutally honest in their opinions. They have the strength and the integrity to tell me what they really think, instead of telling me what they believe I want to hear.

From the two groups combined, I have met exactly three people in person.

Occasionally, someone makes a distinction between online friends and IRL (“in real life”) friends. To me, there is no such distinction. Just because you communicate with someone primarily through email or Facebook, that doesn’t mean they are any less real. The only word in the equation that means anything to me is “friends”. And that is truly what these people are. I cannot imagine my life without them. I do not know how I would have weathered the storms of the last few years if they hadn’t been there to keep me afloat and give me reality checks when I needed them.

This post is dedicated to my friends at PALC_group and Parenting_Autism. Thank you for being the wonderful people you are. I love you all.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilamont/4329364198)

It’s My Blog And I’ll Cry If I Want To

22 Mar

Yesterday I received an email that was very upsetting. It was not upsetting in an earth-shattering kind of way, but it was one of those messages that creates an uncomfortable feeling. The email was fraught with emotion and drama that I found unwarranted for the circumstances. The tone was angry and the message was negative.

I simmered. After I had simmered for a while, I responded to the email. I would describe the tone of my response as “controlled anger”. I felt that I needed to let my correspondent know that I was angry and why, but I did not want to be insulting or rude. Having re-read both the original email and my reply, I believe that my response was reasonable.

Later in the day, a  mutual friend told me that the email had been sent to me in response to a remark I had made in yesterday’s blog post.

I confess that I was, and still am, mystified. I did not say anything derogatory or inflammatory, I did not say anything that this person did not already know, and I did not even refer to this person, either by name or by reference. I made a passing reference to something the individual had quoted me on for my wedding. I did not say anything bad about the quote. I did not even mention the quote.

My comment was, at worst, an oblique reference that drew one hell of a knee-jerk reaction. I am absolutely clear that there was nothing insulting in there. And again, I did not say anything that the person was not already aware of.

I was bothered by all of this, but to be fair, I was bothered by a number of things yesterday. This was just one stressor of many. I mentioned the incident to a friend last night during a Skype chat, and she suggested that maybe I should be careful about the wedding-related stuff I post in my blog, just in case someone involved in the wedding planning reads it and gets offended.

I value the opinions of my friends, but I have to respectfully disagree with that one. For a start, I am always aware of what I am posting. I try my utmost to never post anything that could be construed as offensive, malicious, derogatory or discriminatory. I’m just not that kind of person. I am, however, human, and I do remember one occasion on which I posted something that offended someone. I could see why the person might get offended, even though that was not my intent, and I apologized. The following day I posted a clarification and an apology. Both were accepted. No harm done.

This isn’t the same, though. I do not feel that any apology is in order. I did not say anything bad about any individual, group of individuals, profession, race, religion, anything. I made a passing reference while I was venting about the stress of wedding planning.

I feel completely OK about the fact that I was venting. I am using my God-given right, as a bride who is less than six weeks away from her wedding, to be stressed.

If I want to vent here on my blog, I will. I am not going to start walking on egg-shells on the off-chance that someone might blow a fuse at a general reference that is not insulting and does not even refer to them.

If, by chance, I do say something that offends you, please let me know nicely. If I feel that I have wronged someone, even without meaning to, I am completely fine with making a public apology. I’m a big girl. I can take responsibility for the things I say.

All I ask is that you be nice.

Blowing out another set of birthday candles

2 Dec

When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt a little bit down. It was my birthday, and for some reason I was thinking that very few people would remember or care. The previous day had been torture for all of us – it had been a very rough day for George – and none of us had managed to get much sleep. I think that at the start of my birthday, I was suffering from exhaustion as well as emotional fall-out. For a variety of reasons, I just wasn’t expecting a lot from my day.

Then I turned on my computer and checked my email. There were about a dozen birthday messages waiting for me from friends and family members. I opened my Facebook page and my eyes popped as I saw birthday wishes from about fifteen more people. It was only six in the morning and already I had received birthday wishes in one form or another from almost thirty people.

Wow.  Maybe my birthday wouldn’t be so bad after all. I got myself dressed and looking semi-presentable and left for work.  My pathetic self-pity tried to follow me, but I knocked it on the head and fed it through the paper shredder.

In the middle of the morning my Mom called.  This is always a highlight of my birthday. Even from the other side of the world, my Mom manages to make me feel special in a way that only Moms can. Later in the day, I got a call from my brother. He was calling from a cell phone in South Africa, so we had only a brief conversation that I struggled to hear in the chaos of the bus station, but it was so lovely to hear his voice and know that he was thinking of me.  And all through the day, the emails and Facebook messages were pouring in.  By the time I got home from work last night, I was feeling touched by all of the kindness, and truly humbled that so many people had taken time in the chaos of their own lives to think of me and wish me well.  Even today, the wishes are still coming in.

When I got home yesterday evening, there were flowers and a birthday dinner and cake and presents. As I sat there among my family, the feeling of being loved and appreciated settled on me like a soft snowfall.  How had I thought, that very morning, that people would not care?

Turning 40 worked out well for me. I became a citizen, received a marriage proposal, and after a rough start, I had a great running season. Now that I’m 41, I look forward to more great things. My wedding, for one, which is just five short months away. Now that I’ve joined a running club, I expect to go from strength to strength. I have started the process of conquering demons from my past and making positive changes to my personal life.

And next year, I will not start my birthday by feeling sorry for myself – life is too good for that!