A Long Time Coming…

This update is quite overdue, and for that I apologize. Thanks to my dear old friend Scott for the nudge to write this post.

An update on Bean, our dear old dog who is battling liver cancer after beating spleen cancer: She’s hanging in there. We know she’s not got much time left, but she’s beaten the prediction Wendy made of “sometime after Thanksgiving but before Christmas”. When she gets a chemo treatment (a pill every three weeks), there is a definite pattern to her eating habits in the following weeks. First, she doesn’t want to eat anything, then she wants to eat everything, and then she wants to be extremely picky about what she eats. All the time, her strength is slowly draining away.

First of all, Happy New Year to you! Let’s hope that 2011 is the best year yet! I hope everyone’s Christmas was great, too. We had a very nice, low-key Christmas this year, surrounded by family.

I am looking forward to 2011 very much because it represents a new beginning for me. At the end of October 2010, I found myself out of a job. My 18+ year job at UC ended unexpectedly. It was a surprise, but after recovering from the initial shock, I took the opportunity to carefully consider and redefine my career trajectory. My goal was to combine my passion with my work, instead of having them separate (like they’d been for so long).

As anyone who knows me knows, I am passionate about food and the culinary world. It seemed like a logical place to start exploring in my career redefinition… But, after discussing the prospect of living the restaurant life with my wife, we decided that a full-time job working second-shift in restaurants wasn’t compatible with our lifestyle, and that I may not be up to the ongoing physical challenges involved, so working “the line” wasn’t an option. Plus, the pay cut and the sketchy benefits (if there were even benefits) made that a quick decision.

My personality is really compatible with sales, so I finally listened to my wife’s ongoing suggestion to explore sales. Through Jeff, a good friend, I was introduced to an opportunity to sell food & sundries to Cincinnati restaurants and businesses. He’s worked for this company for 4 years and really loves it.

They were looking for a representative for their Cleveland-based company (privately owned since 1892) that has broken into the Cincinnati area in the last several years. I had an informational interview with Jeff who connected me with his Regional Sales Manager. I interviewed with him, and he connected me with the District Sales Manager. After my interview with him, I was invited to Cleveland to interview with 6 additional people.

The day before my interview, I was driving to Cleveland when I got a call from one of the Vice Presidents telling me to turn back because of the snowy weather that Cleveland was experiencing. (Just a tip – when someone from Cleveland tells you that they’ve got bad weather, believe them! Those folks know bad weather!) We rescheduled my appointment for later in the same week and I turned around and headed home.

My second attempt to reach Cleveland, later that week, was successful. I had a lengthy series of interviews with the company executives, including the owner of the company, and I felt it went really well.

My interviewers must have felt the same, because as I was on my way home, the District Sales Manager called me and said, “I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”. When I asked for the bad news first, he said, “You’re still 2 hours from home and are stuck in traffic” (he was right on both counts). When I asked for the good news, he told me they wanted to hire me! That made the traffic and the lengthy drive home much more bearable!

The first part of my training – a week in residence in Cleveland – begins January 10, 2011. I am beyond excited about scaling the learning curve, the new direction, the ability to work in the culinary world full-time, and the opportunity to have my hard work directly contribute to how well I do (something missing at UC).

So, I am finishing my blessedly-short dance with unemployment. My wife has been tremendously supportive through this, and I feel rested and ready for the experience to begin.

I cannot wait to get to Cleveland and on toward what’s next! (We worry that Bean’s end will come while I am gone, but we hope that she can hang on during that week…)

Another Akhenaten Update

Some very bad news about Akhenaten, our wonderful little Siamese cat. His kidneys have failed. Wendy has been hydrating him with Lactated Ringer’s a couple times a day, but we’re not keeping up.

Akhenaten is dying. And quickly.

The feeling is that tonight, Tuesday January 18, 2011, we will have to make the decision to euthanize him.

He’s been an amazing cat – he was found near “room temperature” after being discarded from a kitty mill. He fought his way back to good health (as close as he could), but his kidney numbers were bad from the beginning of his time with us.

At that time, Wendy said, “We’ve got to love him a lot, because we won’t get to love him for very long”. So sad to say that she was right, but even so, his time was shorter than either of us expected.

When he moved into our house, it seemed that he’d never been in a social situation, nor had the run of a home. He took to both very well and soon was enmeshed in the fabric of the household. He loves laying on the heat registers, or on anyone – human or animal – who will lay still enough for him to snuggle in (I don’t think Akhenaten was EVER warm enough!). Lately, he discovered the joys of sleeping under the covers in bed with Wendy & me, and crouches (he’s an expert croucher) atop whomever he is near – us, dogs, other cats – it doesn’t matter to him, as long as they’re warm!

I will remember Akhenaten’s meow (which sounds like a baby crying), his clumsiness (he’s knocked over more stuff in the house than most of the other animals combined), his sense of humor (I’m sure he thought it was funny when he set the time on my alarm clock FORWARD an hour, making me get up extra-early one morning!), and his weird, sweet long face and brilliant blue eyes (crossed, like any good Siamese). I will also remember that when he was crouched atop me in bed that he’d dig his claws in when I rolled around. I’ve currently got the scratches on my belly as proof.

It’s been a pleasure and joy to give this little cat, who knew so little of the warm human world, exposure to the loving, bumbling circus that is my home. His home. Our time with him was short, but hopefully full of love and hopefully that will be a good set of memories for him.

We love you Akhenaten.