My official day began with a flurry of activity as I rushed from room to room in a fury to get ready for work and a morning meeting with our COO. I was up all night with a sick dog who is now on his way to the vet. He’s passing quite a bit of blood, which appears to be associated with HEG. As I raced out the door, shouting instructions to Siri to call Russ and alert him of my 10 minute delay, I simultaneously blew Marne a kiss, while she shoved a protein drink into my free hand, thinking to myself it was going to be a very, very, very long day. Movers arrive in the morning and probably 50% of our faculty offices still needs to be packed. Russ answered. I quickly relayed my whereabouts and approximate time of arrival with an apology for being late. He must have thought I was planning some sort of elaborate commute from Belmont, a mere five miles from the office, as he calmly responded. “It’s 8:00 a.m. and the meeting starts at 9:00.”

I knew that. I’ve always known it. It’s even clearly stated on my calendar. And yet for the entire morning I’ve been living not in the present but in the future. A future of must get there and must get it done.

As I hung up the phone, I noticed for the first time a single bumper sticker on the back of a shiny, blue Honda Fit.


I was struck by the simplicity of the word. A fitting and powerful reminder.  Thanks, karma, I needed that.

Hello World, Let Me Present …

I love cards.  I love to give them and receive them.  One of my favorites features a group of penguins perched on a large parcel of iceberg real estate.  All are sporting the tuxedos of their birth.  But look closely and there in the middle, surrounded by Antarctic class, is a penguin who waddles to his own beat.  It’s sporting a very bright red and white, polka dot bowtie.  On the inside of the card it reads, “How come no one here thinks I’m funny?”

I’ve loved this card from the day I set eyes on it.  I’ve purchased it in bulk and distributed it frequently during my first year of employment at UVa.  This image resonated with me not because no one here thinks I’m funny.  Quite the contrary and very much so.  It resonates because the bow tied penguin stands in a huddle and yet knows somehow it stands apart.  Being different is a balancing act.  Unique but yet not so much so that one is parted.  I wear that bowtie daily sometimes more aware than others of its presence around my neck.  And I think often of that penguin when navigating the iceberg that is my life.

I don’t much care anymore what is normal or even funny.  What I care about is whether or not the bowtie fits.  I care because sometimes we become so attached to who we were that we fail to recognize who we have become.  And in holding onto the past, we no longer honor the person we are in the present.  Today, I’m taking off the bowtie and putting on an ascot.  Hello, world, let me present …

A Life Taken

Today you took a life. Your own.

Not literally but figuratively.

I grieve not for you but for myself.

For limited calls.

Shared meals dispensed from vending machines.

A single hug lasting only five seconds.

You said, “I love you, sis.”

What I really want is for you to love yourself.

Not as the convict you believe yourself to be.

But as the man I know you are.

So I am here waiting for your life to begin again.

Continuing to believe, unlike you, that transformation is possible.

Always possible until the end when your life is no more.


BB Vibratory Work



Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 4:18 PM

Sent: BB Vibratory Work

Propriety would require that I not comment on the email below but what fun would there be in that?  Please note that once I have the dates, I will share.  A bottle of chilled Chardonnay will be made available for those who wish to join me for the joy ride.  Poor Mr. Hole, he won’t soon live this down!

Cynthia D. Smith


Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 2:21 PM

Sent: BB Vibratory Work

Please see the email below and let me know if you have any vibration-sensitive equipment in your area. Please provide your response by late tomorrow. I will provide definitive dates for this work in the next few days.

I greatly appreciate your help.


Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 1:34 PM

Sent: BB Vibratory Work

Wanted to give you a heads up on some work that we have upcoming that is going to require the use of a vibratory hammer.  With our recent excavation efforts, we have unearthed vertical H-pile shoring members that were put in as part of the garage project.  These piles are in the way of the new footings on column line 8 and need to be removed. We’ve tried to get them out with an excavator on site, but have been unsuccessful, and now we must try the hammer.  We expect it to go pretty quickly with the hammer, and vibrations should be minimal as it is only H-pile and we are pulling out rather than putting in.  My only concern is whether there is any vibration-sensitive equipment In 1222 that may require special precaution.  For what it’s worth, we installed the piles with a vibratory hammer back in winter ’07 and did not experience any issues with the neighbors then.  Let me know your thoughts.  We are currently targeting this work for either next Wednesday 6/8 or Friday 6/10. 

My Man Johnny


‎[Cell phone rings.]

ME: “Hi, this is Cindy.”

JOHNNY: “This is Johnny.”

ME: “Hi Johnny, what’s the word?”

JOHNNY: “What word?”

ME: “On my HVAC system.”

JOHNNY: “Who is this?”

ME: “It’s Cindy. I left you a message about an hour ago.”

JOHNNY: “I don’t listen to my messages.”

ME: “Okay.  Well, I’m the homeowner at 109 Greenwich. We talked yesterday and you were going to drop by to assess my HVAC system to determine if it could be repaired.”

JOHNNY: “Yes.”

ME: “Well, the motor is gone.”

JOHNNY: “Yes.”


ME: “Well, I was wondering if you were going to bring it back.”

JOHNNY: “It doesn’t work.”


ME: “That’s what I gathered.”


ME:  “I was really just looking for an estimate of the repair cost.”

JOHNNY: “You need a new motor.”

ME: “Yes, I understand that. But how much is it going to cost?”

‎[Silence … ]

ME: “Should I fix it or replace it, Johnny?”

JOHNNY: “Well, how much did they say it was going to cost to replace?”

ME: “Um, something like $6,500.”

JOHNNY: “Well, that’s a bit much now ain’t it.”

ME: “Why yes, Johnny, it is!”

‎[Silence … ]

ME:  “So how much will the repairs cost?”

JOHNNY: “I reckon I can fix it for under $300.”

ME: “How much longer will it give me?”

JOHNNY: “How much longer you want?”

ME: “A year or two. Long enough to save up the cash for a new system.”

JOHNNY: “That sounds about right.”


Why I Don’t Work For The Computing Help Desk

 From: Smith, Cynthia D. *HS (MD-INMD Int Med, Admin)

Sent: Friday, October 22, 2010 2:27 PM

Subject: Computing Problems

Hi Deb,

I consulted others here in the office with me.  They had the following suggestions regarding your laptop, which began smoking last night. 

  1. Enroll laptop in smoking cessation program with John Schorling
  2. Apply nicotine patch
  3. Insert nicotine gum into CD Drive
  4. Offer it a martini
  5. Ask it for a light
  6. Tell it the cyber experience was great for you as well

If these suggestions do not address the present issue, we suggest you check your smoke detectors to ensure batteries are operational.  

Your truly,

Cynthia D. Smith

Emergency Vet

Our Cockatiel Buttercup suddenly began acting odd about a week ago.  Online research seemed to indicate that she might be eggbound; a condition which causes death if not immediately treated. When behavior began again in earnest yesterday afternoon, Jude rushed Buttercup to the vet, and I raced to meet her fearing the worst.  Had we waited too long?  Would I need to console a distraught Jude?  Things like this never end well when they play out in my mind.  This story’s ending was to be accompanied by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. So imagine my surprise to find Jude leaving the vet with Buttercup in hand.  “Is she alright?”  I inquired.  “Yes, she’s fine.”  Jude replied a bit sheepishly.  “Your bird’s not pregnant, she’s pleasuring herself.”  

Sixty two dollars later, I am home with a horny bird and a handout that says my pet should never be punished or disciplined for masturbating under any circumstances.  Since matters like these should be handled in private, I’ve given Buttercup a little alone time in the upstairs bedroom.  Meanwhile, I am researching alternative vets since Jude claims it will be some time before she or I can enter the vet’s office without encountering the smirks and giggles of the office staff.