Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holidailies -- Day 15

How do you get on Santa's Nice List?

When I was growing up, I heard "try not to fight with your sister" a lot. So there must be something to that. Santa is totally into this stuff, as well:

If you get too much change at the cash register, give it back.

Keep your germs to yourself -- sneeze into a tissue or sleeve.

Say "thank you" to store clerks, bus drivers and food service staff.

Think more about giving than getting.

I Want Wednesday

I want my best friend to enjoy his gift. I'm presenting it to him tonight and I'm so excited. It's my favorite gift this year -- a handbill from perhaps a decade ago, commemorating the night his favorite singer performed at a bar in his new neighborhood. I had it framed and hope it will look great in his office.

Fun song, sad feeling

For the last year or so, my oldest friend has wanted desperately to live in Southern California. Her closest living blood relative, her cousin, lives in Hesperia, CA, in the Mojave Desert. She longed to be in the sunshine, the warmth of family, to help her cousin deal with an aging spouse and have her cousin help her with her own troubled daughter.

For reasons I never quite understood, she interviewed over and over again at UCLA Medical Center. Yes, that's where the jobs currently are and yes, it was flattering for her to have a world-class hospital want her so badly as one of their administrators, but there were some things that bothered me.

1) Hesperia is 90 miles and at least 90 minutes away from Beverly Hills, where she's living. So no way could she just drop in on her cousin or drop her daughter off there.

2) The housing market here in Chicagoland is seriously depressed. Combine that with the fact that a few years ago my friend unwisely refinanced into another 30 year mortgage and has no equity in her home, and you have a problem.

3) Her daughter is a handful, and it seemed unwise and unfair to have the girl start high school here in Chicagoland and then, after a month, move her 2000 miles away and put her in Beverly Hills High.

4) While the hospital was willing to give her a big raise, they were inflexible about reimbursing her for moving costs or helping her with temporary housing.

And yet, she took the job. My oldest friend wanted out of Chicago so badly, hated the thought of (I'm not kidding) snow and cold so much, that she took the job at UCLA.

Even though I wanted her to wait until the housing market improved so she could at least get something for her house and move at the end of a school year so her daughter would have time to make friends and get acclimated before classes started closer to Hesperia, I swallowed my concerns and concentrated on helping her get out there. That's what friends do. And besides, it's not impossible I was wrong. I'm often wrong -- as you regular readers no doubt have gleaned.

But, alas, I'm not. I went out and found my friend smoking more than ever -- even though she had a heart attack at age 40, works for cardiologists and knows she's killing herself. She's exhausted because her daughter is so high maintenance -- smoking cigarettes and pot, lying, acting out and embracing the Beverly Hills lifestyle with a vengeance ("My friend Skye and I spent $400 riding around in cabs." "My friend Skye gets $2000 a month from her parents." "I hate all cops, except the one that sits in his car with Skye and gives her doobies."). She's still living out of boxes and is too exhausted to even go out for dinner after work (which means I actually, no shit, ate carry out for every meal after traveling 2000 miles to visit her for her birthday). And her weekends aren't relaxing because she's forever in the car, driving to and from the mountains.

Worst of all, her credit rating took a hit and she has no money because she took a short sale on her home here in Chicagoland. (A practice I think should be reserved for people who can't pay, not those who simply want to move to California, but my friend is too desperate to sense the moral imperative.) She has dreams of her older son (the high school drop out with a record of DUIs) going to college near her and getting his own place, but with her finances in a mess I don't see how that will happen.

Her teeth hurt. She's depressed. Her feet hurt. She's exhausted. She's beginning to smoke every day again and she could lose 50 lbs. And yet she works in a hospital! I finally nagged, pleaded and relentlessly harped until she made an appointment with a new general practitioner. Hopefully the next step will be getting her back on antidepressants, then to a counselor, a dentist and a podiatrist.

I love her and I worry about her. Constantly. I know perspective is always clearer when focused on someone else's life. But I just wish she'd stop seeing herself as a victim and take the reigns! She made this move happen, and now she simply has to make it work.

So, like Grace, I could sing The Told You So song. But instead I will just concentrate on trying to help her be happy.