We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


              Where have I been?  Phoenix.  Right next to the sun.  It is damned hot up there.  Unnaturally hot.  But, it's a dry heat!

               We had our regional meetings for Barnes & Noble.  I always dread them, because, they take me away from my family.  And my store (like family!).  And, I guess, I kind of approach them with something of a bad attitude, as in, 'I've been around for so long, I already know it all.'  Case in point.  Day 1 featured leadership training entitled 'Coaching in the Moment'.  A course I first went through with Toys R Us back in 1990 and have dozens of refresher courses. 

               This year was different.  When I got there, I plopped down my stuff and dropped into my chair.  I had just made it.  Barely.  I got there 10 minutes early and decided to check in quick.  Only to get lost in the maze of hotel that was between my room and the conference room.  I was only separated by one floor.  How hard could that be?  Just when I thought I'd never make it, I burst out of a double set of doors and into a large lobby.  My cell phone rang.  It was my District Manager.  As I answered it, I looked across the lobby..."Hi Russ, look up"  I said.  He laughed.  I had arrived.
             In more ways than one.  As I said, I plopped my stuff down - consisting of a pen, my large Phillies cup of water, and a notebook/planner thingy that I grabbed hastily as I tried to exit the house that morning.  I sat down and opened it up...I can't quite describe the warm feeling I got as I saw that I had grabbed Kim's Volunteer Coordinator notebook from Rincon Vista...it was a comforting feeling, "I am here with you" feeling.  And I thought, looking at Kim's neatly written notes from her Vail School District meetings, "Kim would make sure she got the most out of this meeting, no matter how much she knew".  And in my case, how much I thought I knew.  So, I did - I participated vigorously.  I never speak up at meetings unless I have something to contribute - there are a lot of people who like to hear themselves speak or feel like they better say something to impress the District Managers and Regional V.P.  I spent the day engaged and it felt good.  I could feel Kimmy's presence.
             I had planned to commute after the meeting, knowing I would get home very late and be back on the road very early.  But, Andrea told her Mom, Angie, what my plan was and she said she'd stay at our house with the bambini.  I told the bambini.  They were excited.  And so, after the meeting, my friend, Andy and I headed to Chase Field to see the Dbacks play the Pirates.  I missed the kids, but did not feel the anxiety that sometimes plagued me over the last few months.  I knew they were in great hands, with someone who cares for them. 
             Autumn was so sweet.  She drew me pictures and made me a card.  Kim would always send me along with something for good luck and a picture of her and the kids for me.  She called me around 8, apologizing "Daddy, I'm so sorry, I didn't think you would pick up, I wanted to leave you a message, I didn't want to disturb your meeting!"  I told her I was at the Diamondback's game.  "That is so cool!" she squealed.  Angie said they waited on her hand and foot.  Autumn showing her where a clean towel was.  Tonio asking if she needed anything.  Cody too.  And they invited her out back before bed to say good night to Mama.
             The Dbacks lost 5-3, but it was good to see some baseball.  Andy and I marveled over the cavernous stadium, with an announced crowd of 24,000 in a 60,000+ stadium.  And the Diamondbacks are in first place!

            I ran the steps at the hotel when we got back.  And again at 6 a.m.  The staircases not as interesting as St. Joseph's, but fine.
            My other problem with meetings, is sitting.  Like a shark, I need to keep moving or I will die fall asleep.  Special thanks to Angie, her daughter Kim (RN on Kimmy's floor at St. Joe's), Jaimelyn, Casey and Jenny for the text messages to keep me alert!  Good stuff, though, we had a big session on Barnes & Noble's seasonal strategy - should be an exciting holiday season!  Before the economy went south, these meetings used to be very dynamic.  They were giving out so much free stuff, you just had to pay attention.  I'd bring back boxes of new books, dvds, cds, t-shirts,etc for the family and for work family.  They'd also have big authors speak and then sign copies of their books for us. Jody Picoult, Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), Laura Numeroff (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), Janet Evanovich, Peter Yarrow (Puff the Magic Dragon), Robert Sabuda, the pop up book genius, etc., etc.  It was riveting.
            Our RVP, Stephanie, gave me such a warm welcome, she has been very supportive.  I still remember, meeting her in Dallas, for my second interview with Barnes & Noble.  She asked why I wanted to leave Linens 'N Things.  I told her I was looking for a company, that would provide me with more time to be with my family.  She told me, that Barnes & Noble was the place!  Furthermore, she told me, if I wanted to, she would fly Kim to Dallas, so she could talk to her personally about how wonderful Barnes & Noble is!!  Amazing.  When I told Kim that story, she was sold!
Picacho Peak.  You can see it coming for many miles, so beautiful on the horizon.  When we moved here, Kim and I pledged to hike it.  However, after a couple years working as a vet tech at Ventana Animal Hospital, she had heard plenty of horror stories about hiker's dogs dying, being bit by rattle snakes and there were numerous reports of mountain lion sightings and several attacks.  On young couple, set out to hike Picacho...about half way up, she suffered a heart attack.  He was rushing back down the mountain to get help, slipped and fell to his death in a crevice...needless to say, we did not hike Picacho Peak!

            I missed Kimmy most during the meetings, at breaks and lunch.  That would be my opportunity to quick call her and to see how her day was going...
            Getting home tonight, the bambini all hugged me so tight (thanks Lupe, Manny, Monique and Joe for taking the kids to school and picking them up and feeding them, etc!!), it was so good to see them.
             So it all worked out fine...I was worried, until I found out Angie was staying with them, but, I could have avoided the worry.  Today, the Saint of the Day is St. Matthew and he tells us that God says "Do not worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will take care of itself."
           And it did.



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