Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Perspective

I now work in downtown Buffalo. If you have never toured that particular area, you truly should. Every
day I get to walk down Main Street right into the heart of downtown with its award-winning architecture
 all around me. Granted, it's an urban area, so it also has its share of ugliness and unsavory characters. I
don't have any illusions about staying aware of my surrounding when I leave every evening. But right outside my
window and just down the street, I get to marvel at some gorgeous buildings every day.

Immediately outside my window I see the the Electric Tower (formerly the Niagara Mohawk Building). Designed by James A. Johnson and completed in 1912, every holiday season the top tiers light up once the sun goes down in red, green, and white light on the top level. It brings me back to childhood: Every time I saw that tower lighting up in those colors, I knew it meant Christmas wasn't far behind.

Just beyond that is the Buffalo Savings Bank with its beautiful top, formerly (appropriately) the Gold Dome building. Look as well at
the clock tower and surrounding facade for the detail. Right now the
sun has lit up
that dome, making it seem warmer outside than it really is, thanks to the biting wind.

Directly in front of me, my window looks out on the old Olympic Tower, commissioned in 1901 as a 
new facility for the second oldest YMCA chapter in the United States and built in an English-
Flemish Renaissance style. I love looking at it after I've focused on small print for a while--quite a 
nice contrast for my eyes.

Even the Hyatt Regency manages to keep some of the old-style architecture with its brick facade and pale

green roof, also a stone's throw from my building. 

If I walk just a little ways down, I get into the Theater District with Shea's Buffalo, one of the old
theaters. I've added the photo gallery for the inside because...just look. You'll understand. Shea's also
evokes Christmas memories of donning my prettiest velvet dress to go see The Nutcracker and
gaping in awe at the ceiling and other details. I still do.

 (detail of the arch on top of Shea' can just see it in the top-hand right corner of the picture above)

I love the old-style lights.

And just a few more random Theater District pictures for you:

Tent City! This is a place that sells tents and other Am Vet-type about repurposing.

Cepa Gallery (photographic art center)

There's so much more that I could show you...and I haven't even done a walking tour, which they have

many of. I even love the old millinery factory behind me, although it's one of too many buildings
downtown that sits vacant, waiting to be repurposed or used in a different way. Too much of Buffalo is
that way, but that's an entirely different post. I just wanted to show off my city a bit and express my

gratitude that I get to see a little bit of it as I go through my day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Steps

Last week, J began speech therapy. I've mentioned things a bit before, but the long and short is that he's almost 17 months old and really doesn't say any real words. He sort of says "mama" and "dada", and he makes repetitive noises ("babababababa", etc.). He understands quite a bit, but those actual words have yet to really form. So we had him evaluated, and the conclusion came out that he has some delays and would benefit from some extra help. Last week he met with his two therapists (one every other week so he has someone working with him once a week), and he responded to them very well, even hugging the one at the end of the session. He just knows people come to play with him; he doesn't realize he's getting help with his speaking. My mom also sat in on the one session: He has to meet his ladies at day care, so we don't get to see what they do, unfortunately (we trade notebook entries back and forth), so it was terrific for mom to observe and take copious notes. We have a little "homework" to work on with him, mainly repetition of just a few words and signing.

Well, two days ago at dinner, I repeated the word "more" numerous times and did the sign for it before I would give him more mac & cheese (always helps to use a much-desired food!). I showed him what to do and put his own little hands together to make the "more" sign. Lo and behold, he did it himself and after a brief explosion of delight on my end, I passed out the desired mac. He seemed to begin to comprehend the connection, but I figured it would come slowly. Next morning, before he even came downstairs, he began signing "more" to T for his morning Cheerios! The kid has picked up the sign with a vengeance.

This makes me so incredibly happy--he's realizing he can communicate with us to get what he wants. The words will come (we still say "more" about a zillion times when we sign and talk to him) next and when he's ready, with a little help. J may not take the "usual" trajectory of talking that other kids do, but he's making progress a day at a time, going at his own pace, and, again during this holiday season, I am so utterly thankful.

Oh, and he knows where his tummy is: Just ask, and he'll yank up his shirt and slap his round little toddler gut. It's the best.

Monday, November 19, 2012

First Week

Made it through, and I truly like what I'm doing. I work with creative, dedicated, passionate people, and while I don't have 26 students whipping into my classroom every 42 minutes, it still has that same pace sometimes, which I realized I actually missed. I do much better with stricter deadlines, so even the fact that I missed out on birthday cake today (which I wouldn't have eaten anyway) because I had to get something proofed by 3pm didn't bother me; I appreciate the fact that my input is needed and valued. This weekend and morning I helped on a major project as well--it felt great. I feel so grateful that I found a job that fits me, and that I managed to hold out and not settle for a position just to have one. I'm also getting used to the different ages--I got used to working with people primarily my age and older, and in this field, I work with (and for) people young enough that I could have taught them. However, at this point that really doesn't matter, and they all know more about this business than I do, so I'm perfectly willing to have them teach me and have the shoe on the other foot. Really, it's a mix of age ranges when I look at it, and everyone here has that same combination of passion, dedication, and a fun spirit, a great fit for someone like me. Plus I feel like I just got out of college again, considering I'm in a new career and learning the ropes every day, which I find invigorating. It's pretty amazing to function as part of a team that helps determine just how the public receives certain businesses' much goes into this that I never even considered. I love learning about all of it. Plus I have business cards--I'm legit. 

It's taken some adjusting with the new schedule, but we've made it work so far. J has had a few late days at "school", as I call it with him (he learns so much; I'd call that education), but thanks to helpful grandparents, a compromising husband, and an understanding office/Internet capability (if I have to leave early and get work done), I think we'll manage. He finally has settled in and seems to enjoy playing with his friends and his care providers, so that makes T and me happy beyond what we can express. Plus he gets his speech therapy and OT (more on that later) there, so we have our bases covered.

So life has changed for the Frau family, for the better, I believe. Any change brings a little chaos, but I know we'll make it work for us, just as we always have. In the meantime, the boy is happy and learning every day, the husband and I continue to kick butt on our eating plan, and I've rediscovered the beauty of downtown--we have some amazing architecture here that I now get to view every day. Sixteen months after the initial wrench in the works, and we've come out stronger than before. What a long list of things I get to be thankful for on Thursday.

Monday, November 5, 2012


If you readers have followed this blog with any sort of regularity, you know that I haven't posted as much as I wanted in the past because every time I did, I felt as though I should be looking for work instead. Blogging seemed like way too much of a selfish luxury, and I didn't want to do it once T got home because then I wanted to focus on family time, or we were watching our shows together...I didn't want to shut myself off and blog because that seemed too...self-involved? (I'm working on the martyr bit.) And, honestly, I've felt as though I didn't have much to say. I could regale you with tales of J's cuteness and my improvements at housekeeping, but I wanted to have something more to share. So I stayed quiet. Maybe that was a mistake; maybe I should've made this more of a sounding board for myself, but for whatever reason, I chose not to.

However, that may well change. After sixteen months of unemployment, sixteen months of revised cover letters and resumes, of penny pinching and worrying, of figuring out just what the hell I could do for work and could accept as potential salary, of applying and not hearing or receiving generic e-mail brush-offs, of networking and reconfiguring my expectations...after all that time,

I HAVE A JOB. My official title is proofreader and copy editor.

I cannot begin to express the sweet flood of relief upon writing those words. In typical fashion, I had the interview, had a second interview, and then waited for about a week (which felt like ten years) for The Call with my phone attached to my person at all times. Tom Petty put it well: The waiting was the hardest part. I figured no news was good news, but that old chestnut had burned me before, so I tried very hard not to think about it. As a matter of fact, I ended up quite productive that week, so I got something positive out of it. Honestly, when I hung up the phone after receiving The Call, I screamed (J was playing in the other room, thankfully--how ironic to have a moment of happiness marred by scaring my child) and then burst into tears for a good ten minutes. As I said to T, I'd had this feeling of...worry? doubt? fear? a combination of all three (probably)? in my stomach for so long, I'd forgotten it was even there. It just sat there for months, sometimes driving me to do more, sometimes leading me to brief bouts of frustration with various sides of more worry, doubt, and fear. But we made it, we made it through and I plan to work my ever-lovin' butt off to prove my employer made the right decision.

I don't have illusions that this will solve all of my worries, but it sure as hell will help allay them. We still plan to live simply because that suits who we are, but at least we can start saving and look at various house improvements without the additional sigh and thoughts of "someday...". Interestingly, the fact that I've moved away from teaching doesn't make me sad. I'll miss the kids and the classroom. I always loved that, for the most part, reaching whoever I could and imparting some wisdom, humor, and kicks in the tush along the way. I'll miss the energy the students can bring and the questions they ask, whether serious or silly. But I can always tutor if I feel a need tug hard enough, and I have my own little man to teach every day. This place I'm going to work at seems to have that sort of intense energy as well; I have a feeling the pace will match some of what I'm used to. I work better under extremely defined deadlines, and having a colleague say, "I need this proofed for a meeting in two hours" fits well with the way I work. So I've managed to find a field where I can still use my skills but in a different venue. The agency, according to who I spoke with and what I gathered, seems dedicated, slightly frenetic, and passionate about what they do--a good fit for me.

More importantly, this year away has shown me that I truly value my time with my family. Time to cook and talk and spend a Sunday playing with my son or doing yoga with a friend. I have always struggled with time management, and having endless piles of grading did not play to my strengths at all. I've realized where my priorities lie; I never wanted to have to look at J and say, "Sorry, sweetie, Mama has to grade quizzes, but I'll play with you as soon as I'm done." I'll miss the vacations and the summers (and the snow days), but my day-to-day is more important to me. I'll have days where I have to stay late and only see J for an hour, and that will make me sad, but once I'm home, that time is  mine. I value that tremendously, and I have nothing but respect for the teachers I know who manage to have families and get everything else done, what with lesson planning and correcting and having a life outside of that.

Part of me wanted to give my former employer a bit of a kiss-off now that I have employment again, but had I not had this time, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to come to that conclusion. I also wouldn't have had the time with J, which I consider one of the greatest gifts possible. He would have gone into day care at eight weeks (and don't get me started on the backwards joke that constitutes the American maternity leave plan).  Instead, I got to stay with him, watch him grow, and take time getting to know him and myself as a parent. I'll never regret that. So maybe I should thank my old establishment instead, at least in my head. I'm a good person, but I'm not a saint.

What I know is that we made it, T and J and I. We had so much love and support and help from our family and friends, and it brings tears to my eyes to think of the many kindnesses, large and small, that others have bestowed upon us during this time. And we found strength within ourselves that we didn't know we possessed. We got angry and frustrated with each other, yet we came to understandings and talked and grew closer. This hasn't been easy, but our little family weathered the storm and persevered. I think I'm prouder of that than of my even getting the job.

p.s. I'm keeping this off Facebook until I get permission to bugle it to all and sundry, or at least those in my network. I read about people making that mistake, and I want to make the smarter play. I haven't even started it yet; no sense making silly mistakes before I walk in the door.