Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where's Waldo... writing group style

My so-called FABULOUS life: Holiday Bloopers - "Once"ers, can you find the hidden word among all the silly holiday posting?

It's totally an inside joke... One of my fellow writers put a particular word in his manuscript and now we all are tasked with hiding it in ours. And just like when you buy a new car and then suddenly all you see on the road are ones just like yours, I now see the word everywhere. Like on some random blog by an athlete who went to the Olympics for track and field and then didn't qualify for her medal race.

In light of the insanely silly season that is upon us, I thought that at least some would appreciate the fun! And those of you not in on the joke, I'm wondering what words jump out at you that could possibly be "The" word. There, now we can all have some word sleuthing fun for the holidays!

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Merry Yule, Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas, etc. etc. Or, in the words of my cousin.... "Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate"!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New fence, old grass

I don't know what I was thinking - perhaps that I would swap my old grass for something greener on the other side of the fence? Why is it that people are forever falling for that old adage? While I am loving the new work digs for more reasons than not, today was the first day that I thought the honeymoon must be over... I am now, more than ever before, working in a typical cube farm. Literally my building has 4 floors and with the exception of the squatters from a different company on one of them they ALL LOOK THE SAME with cubicles as far as the eye can seen. The bathrooms are in the same place on every floor, the cubicles are all the same size, shape, color and layout on every floor and even the filing cabinets are in the same place on every floor. Several times I've gotten lost and wondered if I was going to have to go back to the elevator (if I could find it) to see what floor I was on and get my bearings. (I don't know what I'll do when the holiday decorations come down in my dept because that's the only way I know which cube is mine - first with the Halloween spiderwebs and now the Christmas tinsel to distinguish it from all the rest!) Today the thing that has irritated me the very most for the very longest time happened in the hallowed new environment like a bad acid trip returning.... The hallway meeting of inconsiderate coworkers! You know what I'm talking about, don't deny it (maybe you are one who does this!) Two people (or if you're on a lucky streak more of them!) stop right in the middle of the hallway on the other side of your cubicle partition - it is wrong to call it a wall since it doesn't even drown out the muffled sound of a cell phone vibrating from two cubes over let alone the mindless banter of the testers in the next row - and decide to have a meeting! One or more of them usually has a puffed up chest and loud, irritatingly obnoxious voice to go with it because subconsciously they know they are being listened to by a captive audience of at least 15 within earshot who have nowhere to go to escape but the shitters - and even then it probably won't drown out the noise. They talk loudly and at length about things more appropriately discussed in private - or sometimes even outside the work environment! - and never think once about the people they are disrupting with their incessant chatter! (I think I.T. people are the worst at this but it could also be just that it is what I know...) I was the lucky recipient of two of these lovely "meetings" right outside my cube today and I swear I almost stood and yelled at the top of my lungs - SHUT THE FUCK UP OR GET A ROOM!! People, be considerate that there might be folks working all around you before stopping for a "quick" chat... because trust me, there's nothing quick about the chatter of your bullshit when having to be endured by someone trying to work!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The BEST thing about my writing group is.... reading all their work and getting inspired to write better myself! Every one of them have a different writing style, a different genre they are currently working on and something different to contribute to me. And when we get together they will all bring their unique perspectives together to give me EXACTLY what I need to make my current project better than it had any chance of being without them. And I get to do the same for all of them! I just doesn't get any better than that. I'm starting to appreciate all the acknowledgements that I always skip over at the beginning of a new book I crack open. I always thought it was cheesy drivel but man will that be me gushing about my fellow writers and giving credit where credit is due. (You guys rock my world!!!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's over but it ain't over yet!

It's the end of November and the minutes are ticking away on the last hour of the official National Novel Writing Month for 2008. I "only" got 9,665 words written on my manuscript so I will not rise above the 'Official Participant' status to the winner circle this year but it is SO not over. What did I get out of my participation? I am officially a writer now - no longer merely an aspiring writer who talks about someday writing or one day I'm going to or any of the other crap I've been saying for 20 years. I am still going to finish my novel and one day maybe people will actually make a trip to a cash register or cart checkout screen with it in their grubby or even virtual hands, or download the eBook and read it on electronic readers everywhere. It is hard work and it is like having another job on top of all the other things you do - one that is like an apprenticeship where you do all this hard work and never get paid until the bitter end and then only if you are good enough to get hired. But I've come this far so why stop now. Look out world, I AM A WRITER! I AM AN AUTHOR!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's harder than it looks...

It probably escaped no one's notice that it is November... the 18th to be exact. So, at this rate, I should be deep in the middle of writing my much touted and much anticipated novel for National Novel Writing Month that started exactly 18 days ago. If we were being scientific (some could argue OCD) which I am, the daily word count goal to stay on pace to complete with no more effort on any given day than another would be 1,667 words per day. Not a lofty goal when considering one of my longer blog entries can easily approach that number and they mostly just roll off the proverbial tongue. So then, the calculations for daily word count at the end of day 18 would be - 30,006. Where am I in my word count you might ask? (drum roll....) 8,242. No, not a type-o! (Perhaps I should be wondering why it is that here I sit typing a blog entry instead of more words on the manuscript, huh?) So, I have tons of rationalizations - first, I am just barely getting over whatever killer bug I caught that had me feeling under the weather for 4 weeks; second, I had house guests for 5 days where I thought I could burn the candle at both ends and entertain then write late at night and/or early in the morning which didn't happen; third, and probably most important of all, it's a lot damn harder than I thought it would be! I got waylaid in chapter 1 and got so obsessive about editing and re-editing so it would be perfect that I let parts of the story slip away from me. In fact, I skipped the second chapter almost entirely instead of continuing with the drivel and am hoping that what goes in it comes back to me at some point soon. Now I'm on vacation where I had pictured lazy warm days spent entirely on the beach with my trusty laptop and tons of inspiration to catch up on the slow start. It worked pretty well yesterday with almost 1500 new words and exciting things to write about again and so I'm trying to keep the momentum alive. My perfectionist and competitive nature is tugging at the bootstraps and keeping me in the race. Hopefully I can actually finish with something worthy of at least editing which maybe will lead to something folks might want to read. I'm beyond thinking I'm going to just upchuck a perfect first draft that will be ready for publishing which was the delusion I started out with. That only happens in fiction after all.... With all that said, I know that if this thing ever actually makes it to print I already have a group of people to acknowledge from my newly-formed writing group. You guys know who you are and I couldn't have gotten this far without every single one of you, even the non-writing members! Well, let's be honest, I probably would have gotten this far but it would have been shit without you guys!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A break to talk about the election

I'm taking a break from my novel writing - no, not because I am stuck but because I don't want to let the moment pass by without commenting on the history that was made tonight in the good ol' US of A. Imagine, the first black man in the oval office. Hell, I'm happy enough that it is a Democrat!! Of course, it isn't the Democrat of my first choice and it is not one above all reproach with his questionable acquaintances of the past but hey, is there really one out there above all reproach no matter which party you look for it in? I'd like to take a moment to address the one point that made me cringe the most when toted by the "flaming red's" as I like to refer to my fellow citizens of (and I quote) "the reddest state in the Union". That would be the comment that Obama had no experience compared to John McCain. Please... The facts (which I actually took the time to check!) state that after getting his law degree from Harvard and leading the Harvard Law Review while he was there, he practiced law and did community organizing and then worked his way up in local government before being elected to the US Senate. What does McCain have on his resume in the form of experience? Well, after his stint as a POW in 'Nam (which yes, is tragic and horrible and noble but does not in any way count as experience in leading a country in my opinion) he was a beer distributor. Yes, you read it right, a beer distributor and then was elected to the Senate where he's been for decades. No doubt using his POW stories back then to get elected. Now you tell me why one or the other isn't just as good as the other. Personally I'd rather have a lawyer who knows the laws of the land he is tasked with governing than some beer distributor who calls himself a maverick and continues - election after election - to think that he has anything that the majority of us Americans want. We didn't want you in 2000 and we don't want you now. I'm putting my hopes on Obama and look forward to the next 4 years that, at the very least, will not be 4 more years of Republican rhetoric! No matter if upon looking back the "Change" we were promised and that we're all hoping for actually happens or not, I can say that I was there and paying attention while the things of history were happening!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Medical Insanity

Okay, time for the soap box again.... I am thinking that everyone has gone a bit insane and has forgotten the secret to staying healthy is actually getting sick once in a while so we can actually build new immunities. What has set me off on this topic is the incessant bombardment about getting a damn flu shot I've had to endure in the last week. Remember, I work in health care now... Gawd help me! So let's break things down a bit. First, they spew all these crazy statistics about how dangerous it is to get the flu and how people DIE from it every year and how we must vaccinate against this deadly thing. HELLO, do we live in the dark ages? No, last time I checked it was the good ol' industrial age still. The reality is, that while there is indeed a very SMALL subset of the population who could benefit, there is very little actual risk to the typical person dying of the influenza virus. Which brings me to the second point. IT IS A VIRUS! Repeat after me, bacteria can be treated with antibiotics but if you go to the doctor and all you have is a virus they are going to tell you to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN'T KILL A FREAKIN' VIRUS! Third, that crazy vaccine that they are injecting you with is last year's flu strain - which has already mutated as virus' are wont to do - and will not really protect you from much anyway. Just eat good food - you know, real food from whole plants and stuff with vitamins and minerals and all the good stuff nature intended for us - and you are going to be better off than getting that stupid shot. And if you don't believe me, remember what happened to those pesky invaders in War of The Worlds... We are building up immunities to everything around us that actually protect us from all the nasty things that are out there but only if we are actually exposed to them! Hey, while we are protesting the insanity, let's throw out the antibacterial hand crap and even the antibacterial soaps! And what do you say you don't wash your hands - unless of course you are in a public restroom or in a hospital where you might really catch some nasty bugs. And for the love of GOD, don't get a damn flu shot!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Choice

This book by Nicholas Sparks left me so wanting... I guess if you want mindless boy-meets-girl-who-has-hang-ups-and-then-life-works-out-like-a-fucking-fairytale that reads like most of his other books then go ahead and pick it up. However, if you want a book that was written thoughtfully with some actual research (or maybe thought?!?) put into it then I don't recommend it. The book is supposed to be about the choice of a husband to take his wife off life support or not and yet it gets sort of thrown in at the end. The bulk of the book is about the one weekend when they met and how they fell in love and ended up together - which actually sucked because the female lead character was really a little harlot who cheated on her long-time boyfriend and ends up sleeping with the male lead character after only a couple of days? Come on, Sparks, what do you take us for? The second part of the book, which starts about 2/3 of the way in and is supposedly what it is about, is so jumbled and confusing that you don't even know what has happened or what the struggle is supposed to be; almost like it was thrown in as an afterthought so he could have a new title and a new book to market. And let's not forget the blatant evidence of not having done a bit of research for this book that can be summed up by the little "Aztec ruins in Cancun" reference. Hello! They are Mayan ruins, not Aztec! The ending is so unrealistic from both a medical and a personal perspective that I found it insulting. Definitely not something I would bother with unless you are a super duper Sparks fan. Personally, I like my fantasy to be labeled as such.

(OMG, could becoming a writer actually make one a hateful reader? I am a bit worried....)

With all that said, it was still a very lively discussion at book club last week where we talked about all the relevant stuff that the book SHOULD have brought up and actually made a statement about. Why does one bother writing a book with such a political and social topic and then not even bother to make a statement about what you think? Self, repeat after me... When I become a NY Times Bestselling Author I will NOT sell myself short just to write another book on someone's damn deadline."

I'm back!

All praise the Internet gods... We now have Internet service at home and the withdrawals are over. Well, that's not entirely true since I still don't have a Blackberry. BUT, it is getting easier to live without one and don't feel like dying because I may not get one for a while. That has more to do with the fact that it isn't very practical right now when I have a brand new phone and am learning to live without Internet on my hip and constant email activities. I might have had a problem bigger than I have previously admitted and I'm going to just see how long I can take it. Should make the hubby happy anyway.

So, a week into the new job and I'm loving it. Every day I get a bit more info and training and like it that much better. The co-worker from the old job has only called me three times this week so apparently is going to be fairly okay without me. I don't miss being on call and am relishing the time in training before I know enough to be on call again. Being in health care is a bit weird for me since I swore I didn't like people enough to ever be in that field. Although I still get to deal with the very impersonal and logical computer system I love so I can't really say I'm doing what folks who are really giving patient care do. Weird still... I've spent my offline days working on the book outline and am getting very excited for the kick-off of NaNoWriMo in a week. And the new writing group is meeting for the first time this week. Life is good ...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Envy and Withdrawls

Okay, I didn't even make it two days without finding an Internet connection to check emails.... THANK YOU ACE!!! I had nightmares last night about the (as the hubby puts it) corporate sabotage I did by leaving my former co-worker in charge upon my departure. And I now know that an upgrade to the home PC is a must after having spent 20 minutes online with the neighbor's sweet system. Tomorrow I'll find out just what I'm getting into at the new job and can't wait for the adventure to begin. One thing is certain, I must find a different phone or get a Blackberry of my own. Texting without a full qwerty keyboard just simply blows!

Friday, October 17, 2008

End Days... going Incommunicado

Well, I've done it... The email is all cleaned out, all the personal effects are either already carted home or are bound for the "5-minute box" on the way out the door tomorrow, and I've checked off pretty much all the things that I wanted to do on my list titled Departure Tasks with time tomorrow to take care of what's left. I am even resigned to the fact that I will not have a Blackberry for the time being... although I found one on eBay that I do believe is going to be MINE. I am both excited for what's ahead and very sad to leave. In the end, though, I believe that even if I had the elusive crystal ball it would simply confirm that I am making the right career choice for me long-term.

With that said, this will be my last post for a while - probably a week at least - because things in life don't always turn out as we like them to and not only will I not have the Internet on my hip in the form of my little black beauty labeled Blackberry, we will not even have Internet access at the house. Long story short, our ISP dropped us from a local tower when they ran into problems with the home it was on a couple of months back and because I have a wireless card in my laptop provided for work access (a perk of being on call 24x7x365) we just didn't rush to replace it and it got buried in all the rest of the stuff I've been up to. I called yesterday to order an install with the company we decided would give us comparable service at a reasonable rate and then listened in HORROR to the sales girl tell me that the first available install date is more than a week away. We are on the waiting list if anything comes open before then and I am sure hoping that happens! I have to turn in my work laptop and all accessories tomorrow before I leave and I won't even be in my new office to get my new laptop until Tuesday. When I do, it does not come with a nifty little air card to access Internet anywhere so even with a laptop I won't have Internet access on it. Talk about going cold turkey! See you on the other side of a week of no-Internet-hell and wish me luck, I'm definitely going to need it! Maybe it will give me an excuse to work on my novel outline since I sure don't need the Internet to be creative...right?!?

On a light note, I heard that there's a pot at the new place and that the most anyone has given me is 6 days before my head explodes from information overload. So, I have THAT to look forward to! :)

Lunchtime with the Bitches

This was THE funniest moment of the week - hands down. My friend, who I won't name names but rhymes with Becky and might be short for Rebecca, and I were at lunch today in a semi-crowded restaurant downtown. While we sat there trying - mostly in vain - to enjoy our lunchtime conversation, someones phone kept ringing. At first it was merely an annoyance. But as the lunch progressed it became incessant. Think Blackberry on steroids; one little chime, like it was notifying of a new email or a text message or something equally annoying. Neither Becky or I were subtle in our annoyance and are both very vocal when the need arises or when we think the need should arise. So, we started making comments directed flippantly to the table nearest us of construction-worker types who all had phones and who all were playing with them. Never mind that the entire table was over 40, they needed to answer their damn phone or shut it the HELL up! Now mind you, these comments were delivered very passive-aggressively and not actually directed toward these men but we sure had a great time showing our truly bitchy colors. About 25 minutes later having finished lunch and gotten into the car to head back to the office when what do we hear?!? YOU GUESSED IT - the same little ring we had been bitching about! Ding... Hey Becky - IS THAT YOUR PHONE?!? It was in her pocket the whole time and she was oblivious that it was hers. We almost crashed into the two cars that had already been involved in a fender bender at the intersection we were laughing so hard! Even Becky, my bitchiest friend besides my darling sister said that she felt bad and should probably go back and apologize for being so obnoxious. Of course we didn't but it was the thought that counts. HEY BECKY... IS THAT YOUR PHONE!?!? It still brings a chuckle...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Someone Not Really Her Mother

It seems like ages since my last book review but it hasn't even been a month. This one I just finished was a purely recreational read - meaning not assigned as a book club book. One of my fellow book clubbers recommended and loaned it to me and what an incredible little book by Harriett Scott Chessman. It is a novel of a woman with Alzheimer's and her family. It kind of drove me crazy how all the details of the main character's life are all jumbled and seem to be hiding just out of reach or just beyond the next corner but it is the story told mostly from her point of view that gives the novel such great depth and uniqueness. And I was SO mad about the ending.... until I'd had a day to think about it. It ended exactly the only way it could and in hindsight I love even how it ends. The characters are beautifully depicted through the shadows of the woman with Alzheimer's and what a heart-wrenching portrayal of a story that is lived in reality by thousands of people every single day. I highly recommend this book. It is a short little book but at times not such an easy read; but what a great glimpse into life with such a horrible disease.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


4179.... That's the number of emails in my InBox at work THAT I NOW HAVE TO CLEAN UP BEFORE MY DEPARTURE!! (What the hell was I thinking letting things get so out of hand?) Granted, the majority of these items at one point were important and related to some project or another but MY GOD at least they could have been organized! It appears - officially - that my powers of organization were abandoned about 2 years ago at least in the realm of email. I had an epiphany this afternoon... ain't nuthin' in there that's gonna matter and they are just going to junk the whole email account when I'm gone anyway so just pick out the most recent stuff that needs to be passed on and trash the rest. Kind of liberating, although the pack-rat in me will be screaming at the top of her lungs when the trashing commences in earnest. I blame my Mom... she's certainly the one who passed on that particular gene. Repeat after me... I will not keep email (or consider it reference material that I could ever possibly find again!) Folks, learn from my mistakes and de-junk your inbox. The life and sanity you save may be your own.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I have attempted to get a grip on reality as it relates to me and my not having a Blackberry soon.... I didn't wear the thing on my hip for almost two entire days this past weekend and didn't die. Baby steps!

The Mechanics of Writing

More signs from the Universe helping me along the way toward novel writing month as I have declared November to be... Last night I was driving home and listening to NPR at a time that I don't normally tune in. It was a lecture by an author, Ann Patchett, being broadcast and immediately I was intrigued because it was all about the writing process. Coincidence? Probably not. One of the big points she made is that there are three things that are required to write a novel - 1) Commitment; 2) Mechanics (or Tools); and 3) Imagination. And, she said that it was really IN THAT ORDER that you needed these elements to be successful.

So, I began taking stock. I have the commitment - I will write every day in November and end the month with a completed novel of at least 50,000 words. Those are my specific deliverables that make the process real. The Mechanics (or Tools... I can't remember the exact word she was using but you'll get the idea) were the things that she said are essential to any creativity. Things like plot, character development, outlines, etc. Without the mechanics of writing it just doesn't work. Then, and only then, came the imagination. Huh, SO not how I pictured it going... I thought I had to have this big imaginative idea that would blow every one's mind and THEN I could come up with a plot and an outline, etc. Apparently according to Ann Patchett, this is a very common misconception. Lucky for me, I think, that I'm in good company?

Tonight I decided to skip the "should do" activities scheduled for after the little one was tucked in her bed and work on the novel. (Real estate continuing ed can wait, right?!?) I had already been collecting random thoughts over the last few weeks (read "imagination coming first" here) when I came up with ideas that fit with the book idea I have rattling around loosely in my head. But tonight I started to create an outline from a very high level making notes on each character and how they relate to the other characters. I started to create a plot and overall theme of "what is the book about". And as I exercised the basic skills of writing (my high school Engish teacher and college professors would be SO proud) the story started to emerge and get me really excited about it. Already I have taken things to a much more inter-twined and complicated level than I thought I could come up with simply using my imagination tool. But, when coming at it from the mechanics, it seemed to just fall into place giving it more depth than I thought I had in me at this stage of the game. I think the imagination has to come later when I really start to write the thing - when I will have to give substance and expression to what I have begun to construct in the mechanics phase.

Lucky for me I had this "little" revelation and bit of success since the newly-formed writing group has set the date for our first meeting and we all have to submit a sample of our writing for discussion. Since I can't "officially" start writing because of the NaNoWriMo program, we are going to discuss my outline. (I know, I know... ME, following rules! Just go with it...) Look out world, I might just be ready to start this novel when the time comes thanks to the help of all the various outlets I keep stumbling upon (or manifesting, whichever way you want to look at it).

The funny thing? I haven't picked up a book for almost a week so obsessed I am getting with writing. Stay tuned....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Real food or big joke?

Check out this photo that I came across in the vending aisle of the break room the other day...

Say it with me, "Big Az Bubba Twins". I know it is a poor quality photo but yes, that is exactly what it says. Is this supposed to be appealing to actual people? Is there REALLY someone out there who would purchase something labeled "Big AZ Bubba Twins"? Never mind that it is frozen chili cheese dogs from a vending machine.... I found myself repeating it over and over again... BIG ASS BUBBA TWINS... And then, of course, I kept repeating it at random moments the rest of the week. All kidding about the name aside, if it hadn't been $3 to buy it I might have been tempted to do so just so I could see what the ingredient list looks like. You can bet your "BIG AZ" that it doesn't have anything remotely resembling real food on it! Another example of chemicals in the form of imitation food products that people have been conditioned to think of as real food. My stomach turns thinking of the horror of putting something like that in it. Do you know how many vegetables I can get for $3? And do you know how big one's AZ would get from eating something like that? At least they have tried to keep SOME truth in the advertising, huh? Friends don't let friends eat Big Az Bubba Twins.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

How will I live without my Blackberry?!? (OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!)

Now that this whole craziness of quitting my job is getting real and hitting me where the Blackberry rests on my hip I am FREAKING out. Today I reached for my favorite accessory to mapquest where dance camp is for next weekend while sitting at a red light on my commute home. HELLO! Not gonna have that Internet connection on your hip 24/7 in like 16 days... but who's counting... BESIDES ME!?!?! I believe in a moment of realized panic at what I will be losing I actually embraced the little black beauty and tried to kiss it today.

It is really getting that bad.

How do I stay in touch with friends if it isn't on Blackberry Messenger WHENEVER I want? How do I ONLY check email when I've found free time to actually sit in front of my computer? How do I go back to texting without the beloved querty keyboard? (THE HORROR!) How do I sit through meetings without something to keep me occupied? (Well, clearly I may not need that where I'm going since I'm hoping they just have the productive kind but you never know...) And who - I ask you, WHO! - will look up words on mid-book-club-discussion every month? Oh, and I'm going to need a new alarm clock, too....

Told you, really getting that bad.

Why did I have to drop my personal cell phone in the toilet and WASTE my "new every two" credit so I'm not eligible for an upgrade for another 18 MONTHS. (Could have used the damn crystal ball on that one for sure!) I'm bidding on a used one on eBay but somehow I think my measly 12-dollar max bid won't do me much good in the next 2 days. Please be an obscure listing and let no one else see MY item... please... please... please...

I think the doctor would diagnose this as withdrawal symptoms... YOU THINK?!?

I might have had too much coffee today but I don't think that is the only thing that's happening here.... Universe, send me a cheap blackberry I can afford right now!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

Today marks the end of an era and the birth of what's next for me! I quit my job today after having accepted a position with a new company. What a wild 3 years it has been and what thrill it is to again have the unknown before me. What will I be remembered for after I've departed? My no-nonsense knack f0r getting things done I hope! What role will I come to play in the new company? Someone they come to find they cannot live without I hope! Whatever comes, it is with sadness that I am departing. This is the first time in my professional career that I have merely interviewed for the sake of interviewing since I wasn't actually in the job market. It has been a year in the making that the new company has been attempting to get me in their ranks and finally the stars were all aligned. I assumed that they couldn't afford me and I would just interview to keep my skills sharp as my current mentor always advocates. Turns out they liked what they saw so much that they took 3 months to work out an offer that I just couldn't refuse. I am excited and amazed at how the universe works and things seem to happen for a reason no matter where I turn. Stay tuned as the adventure begins! Right now is one of those times I wish I had a crystal ball to look ahead and see what life holds for me or how things might have been had I decided not to take the new position; but alas the dice have been thrown and the lot has been cast and there's no turning back.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Learning to live without...

This is a little warning for others out there to never get attached to things that are not really your own! Remember I posted a while back about addictions and the first one I listed was my Blackberry? Yeah, well I'm faced with the possibility of not having a Blackberry any longer... (Reasons why will be announced shortly so stay tuned!) Along the same lines, we have not had our personal computer at home for a couple of weeks while my fabulous brother rebuilds and reformats the hard drive. What an insane time it has been having to explain to the hubby why he can't use my work laptop to surf for his Internet fix each day like the junkie he is while I found a way to continue blogging using the work PC. (What a double-standard I know but remember I don't share well!) Of course, I am a cheapskate at heart and instead of purchasing a much-needed new computer we are making the several-years-past-the-expiration-date-of-technology PC we have do for a bit longer. We've decided that we need to curb our consumer habits in light of the recent downturn and turmoil in the economy. We need to stop throwing our extra money every month to our out-of-control sushi habit and start putting money away for the inevitable rainy day that is sure to come. I'm certain that this new behaviour will teach me to live without a lot of things as painful as the prospect seems going in!

Here's something I hope we don't have to, as a society, learn to live without - financial freedom. I watch what is happening in the financial markets and unless you're living under a rock you can't help but wonder what is next and how will we as a society recover? Years ago our fearless leaders in Washington convinced Congress that the American Dream was to own a home and that we should be able to give that to every American citizen (whether they could afford it or not!). And how did we go about making this happen? We deregulated the banking and finance industry and allowed lenders to become greedy and lend to people who really couldn't afford to purchase a home. Now, the housing market has collapsed and all those people who were banking on being able to refinance their insane adjustable rate mortgages before the monthly payments were so high they couldn't afford to pay them each month are left with no options and property that doesn't even appraise for what they owe on it. Result = record numbers of foreclosures and now the banks don't have the money coming in and can't recoup. What's next, no credit for car loans available? Hmmm, with Wachovia being seized this morning by the FDIC and sold off to Chase that could be right around the corner. And what is the only probable way out of this mess? More government control and more loss of "freedom" in what is supposed to be the land of the free. I wonder what else we as a society will be asked to live without. First civil liberties, now financial liberties... what else is there to give?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Universal forces and writing

It is true what they say: once you decide to do something the universe will line things up for you. "Your wish is my command." I mentioned earlier that I have committed to writing a novel (or at least attempting one!) as part of the National Novel Writing Month program. And I'm working on a plot outline and some characters beforehand so that I have at least half a chance of it all working out. Some of the ideas are coming together nicely and some I am struggling with a bit more than others. Then along comes help from the most unlikely of places. I have a friend in the book club who wrote a book with her husband and asked me to be one of the first readers and give feedback. The focus group of the three of us asked to do this task met last night to discuss the book - what worked, what didn't, what we thought, etc. It was amazing how the 5 of us in a room breaking down a book and character development and all the other things we talked about gave me insight into what pieces I am missing in my own attempt at creativity. And then, this little idea that came up at book club about starting a writing group came full circle and we decided that we were going to really do it! I'm taking it on to organize it since that's one of the things I do well - organize. Now I will have a chance to actually write for the sake of writing and have a space to get feedback and grow in my skills. Hell, maybe I'll become some insanely popular writer and can kiss my "day job" goodbye? Nah, I think it fits my crazy life better if I just have yet another thing that I do... System engineer, project manager, photographer, Realtor, writer and don't forget wife and mother. It is insanity but I can't ignore that the pieces are all lining up like it was all meant to be and am just going to hold on for the ride!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Screwtape Letters

Two words... hated it. OK, perhaps that is a bit unfair but it was exactly how I was feeling before I headed off to book club last night to discuss one of my least favorite reads to date. I thought it was going to be a preachy little discussion where all the very-steeped-in-their-chosen-organized-religion women would feed off one another and devolve into a Sunday school discussion. Of course, I went armed with my more obscure (and what turned out to be thought provoking) quotes from the book and my insistence on religious tolerance for all. The book is written by C.S. Lewis who, I was surprised to find out after only knowing him from my childhood love of the Chronicles of Narnia, wrote more religious books on Christianity in his later years than anything. The book is a collection of letters written by an upper-level demon in Hell to his nephew, Wormwood, who is assigned to temp a human man and secure his soul for the Devil. Written very satirically, it is very hard to read. Each letter can stand on its own as a study of an aspect of the human nature. And, there is no return correspondence to round out the one-sided commentary. Very anti-climactic ending that I almost missed entirely at the end of the last letter. I found myself identifying with the poor devil more than what the author was apparently trying to get me to care about in his religious rhetoric of "thou shalt not". Several of the quotes I collected through my reading of this work almost make me wonder if the joke wasn't on those readers who read it superficially and assume they know exactly what Lewis was trying to convey. My favorite quote was this: "Leave them to discuss whether 'Love', or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are 'good' or 'bad'. Can't you see there's no answer?" If you're looking for proper Oxford English and satire where God is labeled "the Enemy", pick up this book. But, I don't recommend it too highly. Much kudos and affection to my fellow book-clubbers who put up with my innate argumentativeness and never allowing them to get away with blanket stereotype comments on the subject of religion. In other words, thanks for putting up with all my shit and loving me anyway girls!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

She doesn't share well with others

Nope, never have, never will. Is it bad for me to admit this? Does it make me a bad person? I find it actually refreshing to be truthful without sugarcoating the bullshit. I've always known this tidbit about myself AND others are always trying to make me feel bad about it.... Bottom line is, I never lend out things because no one takes care of my things as well as I do. For instance; I never never lend out hardback books and paperbacks very rarely.... Pretty much only if I don't care about not seeing it again, which is my assumption at time of lending. For the longest time I kept my kernel of nastiness hidden away and would pretend I couldn't find things that people had an interest in or "forget" to bring things until the interest waned. But you know what, I wasn't kidding anyone. Last weekend my sister and I were at a shopping opportunity together with some of my neighbors. Someone suggested that I buy something and then she could borrow it. Big dilema... But, before I could come out with any kind of excuse, out blurts my sister "oh, she doesn't share!" Well, there you have it folks... SHE DOESN'T SHARE! In that moment I felt as if the weight of years of hiding the real me had been lifted off me. The sun shone just a little brighter, the air was just a bit easier to breath. The best thing is the freedom to have it out there for everyone to know about me. Almost as good was learning that my fabulous neighbor doesn't share either. We are so much a like it is kind of frightening! (Ace, you make me feel better about being myself when you are near...) Want to know THE FUNNIEST thing about this phenomena of my not sharing and who put it out there for the universe to finally know, the IRONY of the whole thing? One of my earliest memories is of my sister - who as a child even my mother labeled a nightmare - being told by our mother that if she didn't put her toys away they would get thrown in the garbage. To which my sister smugly smiled and replied, "that's OK, they aren't mine!" Bet you can guess who's toys they WERE; and perhaps now we know just when I determined that sharing things might have negative connotations. Ironic, isn't it? (Love you Sister - for always knowing the truth about me and loving me anyway!)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

Well, it's official... I'm going to write a novel. In November to be exact. I heard about this National Novel Writing Month last year like the day before it started and couldn't arrange my schedule to handle the required 50,000 words to finish by the end of the month. Not to mention that I drew a total blank on what I wanted to write about. I guess that's a common problem. The whole concept is that people always say "someday I'm going to write a novel" and yet the someday never comes because you try to plan and you try to outline and then you get scared and then you never even start. NaNoWriMo (as it is referred to) is designed to just get you writing in a gleeful free-for-all where you just don't care. It's about quantity not quality. The hope is that whatever I spew out will be more than I would have written had I never done the NaNoWriMo and perhaps have potential with some editing and re-writes. My neighbor and fellow book clubber and her husband have written a novel and it really got me to thinking "hey, I could do that!". And, as the hubby is so wont to say - usually delivered a bit scornfully and a bit on the contemptuous side as I have my nose buried in a book... "you've read so many books you should be able to write one yourself". We shall soon find out!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We ARE pressing charges...

The most insane thing happened today that I believe is merely a foreshadow of the way the country is headed. The hubby drives a gas-hog V-8 truck and had to buy gas today. He wandered around town looking for a station where we can get a discount because we shop at the same chain (what a scam that is but we buy into it hook line and sinker) and probably wasted more in gas looking for a match than he could have saved just pulling into the nearest station and filling up. Anyway, beside the point. He finally picks a gas station, pulls up to the pump, swipes the debit card and starts the hemorrhage of cash to allow him the privilege of driving for another week. While the pump is running, he decides he needs some high fructose corn syrup in a cup and a wrapper (aka, a Pepsi and a candy bar) and heads inside the station. When he comes back, he finishes up the gas purchase and gets ready to drive away. But first he notices that the pump says he has pumped a whopping 27.48 gallons of gas into his 20 gallon tank that wasn't even on fumes. Hmmm, that seems a bit strange, not to mention defies the laws of physics. Then, he notices that the bill is over $100 which is more than it has ever cost him to fill up - $90 yes, $100, no way even when gas was at the $4.05 a gallon rate. Then he remembers that as he was walking away from his pump to get his HFC, there was a Jeep that pulled up right beside him and was gone before he got back out. Conclusion... either the guy in the Jeep was a desperate kind of character - probably torn between money for the gas tank or money for food for his family - and swiped a few gallons while the pump was unattended; OR, the gas pump is off and the gas station is the one taking its customers for all they are worth and THEN some. He called the station when he got home - and by this time he was fuming mad - and the clerk says that she's just a pee-on and that the manager will be in tomorrow and will call him back. Oh, and by the way, you're not the only angry customer who has called to complain about this kind of thing in the last few days. After the topic coming up several times the next few hours, I finally said "Honey, either you're mad enough that you're going to call the police and press charges so something has to be done or you're just going to have to stop rehashing this with me because I can't do anything t0 solve it." His decision is to call the police tomorrow and press charges. Hopefully that's a civil liberty that we still have... but we'll have to see!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Think you are above addictions? Think you don't have an addictive personality? I always thought that until I started taking a closer look at my life. Know what I'm addicted to? Coffee for one... which I'm trying to curb and replace with more healthy tea choices but is mostly a losing battle. The label "Possessions" covers just about everything else I'm addicted to. I am addicted to my Blackberry - don't think I could live without it even if it goes for days and weeks without actually ringing, I must have immediate and instantly gratifying access to my email. I'm addicted to books - if I didn't have a book in my purse and several more lying about the house to pick up on any given whim, I would think that life had come to a screeching halt. I'm addicted to movies - I don't watch much TV but man, take away my movie watching on either the big or small screen and I will be hurting. I'm addicted to my way of life - to think about leaving my home with all its quirks that I want to change or improve and I am sad. I'm addicted to the neighbors next door - knowing that their schedule is pretty much the same day after day and that I could walk outside and most likely find them in the yard to shoot the breeze with is pretty great and I wouldn't want to give it up. I'm addicted to the company of my husband and daughter - as much as I like to read which lends itself to a lot of alone time, if we are all home at the same time and don't interact I am sad. Goes to show that addictions are not just for hard drugs, cigarettes or alcohol anymore. What are you addicted to? Think hard... you may not like the answers!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Had an interesting conversation tonight at the neighborhood book club.... We were discussing "The Book Thief" which is a novel about Germany during WWII. Inevitably, the conversation turned to that of war. Of course, being surrounded by flaming red Republicans, most everyone was saying that it was "right" of America to take over and kick butt then as well as now. I tried (like HELL) to bite my tongue but in the end I couldn't help but point out that no matter our reasoning for going and invading Iraq - which I personally opposed from the very beginning - we always go too far. It isn't enough to simply rid a country of a leader - be it Hitler or Saddam Hussein - who was terrorizing his people. No, we have to overstay our welcome and try to force the culture to adopting our way of life. Which, IMO, is exactly where we went wrong in Iraq. Fundamentally, we will never "win" there, because our criteria for a job well done is to have their culture completely converted to the American way of life - which is why they are on the brink or knee-deep in a civil war depending on the specific region. At what point does it all become pointless and not worth the cost of the lives of Americans or Iraqi's? And at what point does the world begin to view our leader(s) as they did Hitler or Hussein? Bottom line, the Germans in the early 19th century thought that Hitler was a great leader and it was only slowly over time that he got to the insanity of the Holocaust. What makes us different now as we watch our civil liberties slowly whittled away and told it is for our own good to "protect" us?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Twilight... Need I say more?

I know, I know... what a cliche that I'm reading the Twilight Saga but I'm telling you don't knock 'em until you try 'em! I just devoured the 756 glorious pages of the fourth and (supposedly) final installment of the series by Stephenie Meyers in 4 days. I resisted like any mature fiction reader would when told that "you just have to read" a novel written for the teen market. It took my sister and several others several months of hounding me last summer and I finally gave in and took the first one on loan from my sister last October. It started out a bit slow but after 50 pages it grabbed me and I haven't been able to put them down - more often than not having to force myself to stop in the wee hours of the morning so I'm not a zombie at work. (Thank GAWD for coffee!!!) I read "Twilight" and immediately opened "New Moon" because I couldn't wait to see how it continued. I ended up getting my own copies because after the first one I couldn't wait to be next in line on the rotation list for loans within the little circle of readers who were passing it around. I had "Eclipse" on hand already when I finished the second and then had to wait an agonizing 9 months for the fourth, "Breaking Dawn" to be released. And, I have to say that (other than Stephen King's conclusion of The Dark Tower Series) this is the one book I've known the release date of and actually purchased it ON that date as a premeditated act. If you're looking for Pulitzer Prize level writing, you won't get it. But, if you're looking for a new twist on an old theme (vampires - could it get any older than the undead?) that is so fresh and interesting then this is the series for you. Can't wait for the movie... although we all KNOW that the book is always better than the movie!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

In Defense of Food

Seven simple words: Eat food, not a lot, mostly plants. That's Michael Pollan's Eater's Manifesto and the premise of this remarkable little book about getting back to eating real food and solving the health problems that plague the American culture. So, I loved Pollan's previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and couldn't wait to read this follow-up which was touted as taking his vast research and putting it in more personal terms of how we eat. I was amazed at what a great book this was. Easy to read, sensible and sane concepts and very easy to manage suggestions of how to be more healthy Americans. Ever wonder why every other culture on the planet eats contrary to what our "experts" say we should eat and yet don't have the problems with obesity and diabetes and heart disease that we do in America? Well, this little book will open your eyes. Did you know that most of what we purchase in the grocery stores couldn't even be labeled as food until the '70's when the FDA and Congress overturned a rule that said if it was imitation food products that it had to be labeled as such? The first part, Eat Food, of his manifesto is amazingly simple in concept and yet pretty hard to do if you don't pay attention to what you are really eating. The second part, Not A Lot, is also pretty simple in concept until you take a real look at food portions and compare our eating habits as a nation with other cultures. There's something to be said about quality not quantity that will have lasting health benefits. And finally, Mostly Plants, shows how what we eat and how it has changed over time has become so different than what our bodies really have the capacity to handle - which explains why so many of us are fat and why so many of us get sick. He wraps it up with some great AND EASY rules of thumb to navigate our plethora of food choices and hopefully put people on a road back to the health we enjoyed before industrialization of food without having to leaving civilization to do it. If you've ever wanted to get a glimpse of the topic but didn't want all the science, this is a great place to start! You'll be hitting the farmers market and screaming "no high fructose corn syrup" with the best of us in no time...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Being real

So last weekend, I shaved my cousin's head. Nothing special about that, right? Except my cousin is a girl who has beautiful hair and has always identified herself with her hair. The last week has been such a philosophical wake-up call for me as an observer watching her deal with both her adjusting to it and other people's reactions to it. It is amazing how many people judged or confronted her and wanted to know "what were you thinking!?". The reasoning behind her actions are nothing more than that it scared her and so she thought that if she did it she could then confront anything in her life because nothing would be as frightening as shaving off all her hair. So, I took some photos of her for "before" since it had been a long time since she'd had any photos done and had been asking me to get her into my little studio forever. And then we shaved her head and took some more "after" photos. Now granted, it was very easy for me to say "what the hell, just do it!" because it wasn't my hair we were talking about. But, still, I think that it IS just hair - which will grow back after all.... The amazing thing has been who reacted poorly and who reacted well to the new her. People she doesn't know or has just met at her new job are supportive and love it. But people in her family and in her life for 20+ years are saying things like they can't be proud of her anymore and that they don't want to see her until it grows back. Come on people, it isn't like she tattooed some mural on her face or even her head. And how would they feel if she had secretly been dealing with some cancer that was the cause of her hair loss but that she didn't want to freak people out? So, we were talking today and we came to the conclusion that most people just aren't very real. How many people - women especially - spend hundreds of dollars a year, nay thousands, to take care of their hair. From visits to the salon to hair care products to accessories, everything is about looking good. But, if you take the hair away there is nothing to hide behind and no one is comfortable with that. Go a little further... what if we as people put as much energy into taking care of our bodies instead of eating processed foods and artificial sweeteners that make us sick and fat and in need of more and more medicines that make us more and more sick with their side effects. What if it was more important how healthy we were both on the inside and the out than how we looked or acted or came across to other people? And what if we didn't think it was necessary to impose our own judgements on others and just let people be who and what they wanted no matter what that looked like? Sounds like an interesting world to live in, doesn't it? Here's one of my long-time philosophies: Life is more meaningful when it is based on what you want and not what others expect from you.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Plastic or cotton?

I'm talking of course about napkins.... Another little thing in my conservation efforts that I believe will make a difference. About 3 months ago, I stopped buying paper napkins. You know, the kind that you can buy by the hundreds for pennies and probably cost us more trees than can grow in our lifetimes to produce? Instead, I invested in a dozen or so cotton napkins that match the decor of the kitchen and I wash them once a week. I'm doing laundry anyway, right? They are folded and available in the same little basket on the kitchen counter where the ugly paper ones used to sit and the difference is that when we are done with them they go on top of the washer instead of the recycle bin next to it. The only side effect I see is that now my daughter expects cloth napkins everywhere we go and is starting to get a little more vocal about it (like a princess?). The price I pay to save some trees for the next generation I guess and I think it is worth it. Yes, I know the sceptics (like my uncle!) will say that you've traded some paper products for wasting water and laundry detergent with chemicals in it but I think because I wash clothes anyway that the trade-off is still in the favor of conservation and I'm sticking to it.


What a fabulous writer Brandon Sanderson is! This was July's book club selection and from the announcement of the pick last month I was stoked since I love fantasy fiction. If you haven't read a single fantasy book and you're looking to expand your horizons on the genre then this is a great book to start with! There was depth to the characters, developed cultures that were diverse and compelling and a great story with enough twists to keep you guessing. The premise is that Elantris is the city of the Gods where the Gods used to be ordinary men and women (and children too!) who are randomly transformed into glowing-skinned beings who could perform powerful magic and live together in the city. However, 10 years before the opening of the book, the magic suddenly ended and the Elantrian's are now miserable and pathetic creatures that the people who had been worshipping them now consider damned. Now when the transformation occurs, the people go through the ceremony of burial cleansing and are thrown into the city gates and locked inside. There are three main characters - Raoden, prince of Arelon, who was loved by all, including the princess he'd never met; Hrathen, high priest of Fjordell, who will convert the people of Arelon or kill them; and Sarene, princess of Teod, who was a widow before she was ever married. All three characters lives are entwined together and the story is told from their points of view. The most appealing thing about this book is that it is a complete story in the one volume. So many fantasy novels are in a series that you have to then wait for the resolution of the cliffhanger for another year until the next book comes out. (And hope the author doesn't die before he's done writing the entire saga like Robert Jordan did with his Wheel Of Time series.) While this book could have another written to explain elements of the world that Sanderson creates, the story in itself is complete at the end. Even the girls at the book club gathering couldn't quit talking about this book and I think there are only 2 or 3 of us who have ever read fantasy before. Pick it up - you won't be sorry!

A Pack of Dogs

We have been invaded... literally.... by a pack of dogs. The extended family set off this morning for a week of fun in the sweltering heat of St George, Utah. Because we weren't going, we get the pleasure of watching the dogs! The pack consists of the following: 1) our girl Sasha - a 2 year-old Norwegian Elk Hound who has a mind of her own and continually pushes the limits with her behaviour; 2) my parent's boy Bouncer - a 2 year-old miniature Schnauzer who is tall for the breed, lanky and kind of dopey but so cute and lovable; and 3) Grandma's girl Sadie - an 8-year old Shitzu who has always been a spoiled princess and doesn't like other dogs - especially those who sniff her butt. Bouncer and Sasha get along great as long as they can wrassle and play non-stop. Sadie doesn't like to play but would rather hang out on the furniture and sleep all day. Should be an interesting week considering that Sasha sleeps outside in her dog run and also spends the week days there while we are at work - mostly because she can't be trusted not to chew up the back yard and everything in it. Right now they are hanging out together in the yard getting the dynamics of the pack worked out. Sadie is whining at the back door wanting to come in and Bouncer and Sasha keep looking at her as if to say "what's the problem, man, we're here and we want to plaaaay!" Grandma informed me that Sadie has never spent a night outside and assured me she is a good girl - probably hoping that I would show some mercy and let her sleep inside. We are fully equipped with crates for all with intentions of hotel accommodations in the cool night air. Feeding time will be nuts - Sasha eats twice a day and acts like we never feed her; snarfing it down without even probably tasting it. Both Bouncer and Sadie are grazers at home who have food in their bowls all day so they can snack at whim. Can't have that or they will starve and Sasha will pack on 30 pounds this week at the all-you-can-eat buffet. So, Bouncer and Sadie will have to be fed separate from Sasha and they will have to learn that if they want to eat then they better eat when it is offered. They will eventually get hungry enough and catch on, right? I feel like some dog whisperer wanna-be who only has a week to snap everyone into submission or lose my own sanity. Should be an interesting week...

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's the little things

Most people when they think about conservation say "what can I do, I'm just one person" but it's just like people voting Democratic in a blazing "red" state - everyone can make a difference if we all band together. So, I bought more cloth (read re-usable) shopping bags at the local Target tonight. They are really cool because they fold up into themselves and then fit in my purse. It felt so damn good to walk out of that store toting a cloth bag and not plastic or paper. And, I've put my own immediate form of recycling in place for the paper bags from the grocery store. Instead of putting the ones I got last week either in the stack in my cupboard to use around the house (which is now over flowing!) or the paper recycle box, I put them in the trunk of my car. Now, when I hit the store on the way home from the office, I can take my own back into the store and let 'em fill them up again. Maybe this time they won't have to hunt for bags or give me dirty looks when they make the plastic assumption and have to "rebag" what they've already put in. I have to start somewhere and it's the little things that will hopefully add up to make a difference in the end!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New 'do, new you!

What is is about getting a new hair 'do that makes a person (ok, probably only women!) feel so great? So I have naturally curly hair - don't hate me girls, it is more of a curse than you know and curl is "in" so rarely - and not many people have the skill to deal with it. I have been bouncing around between salons and stylists since mine of 10 years (and the best on the PLANET) moved to Hawaii 5 years ago. I even drove 6 hours to Las Vegas a couple of times while she was there for a 'do. Now, however, she has really moved on and isn't doing hair anymore so I have to settle on someone. Yesterday I think I found her in the craziest of places... she's my Mother's stylist. I know, wrong on so many levels! You can't share your deepest, darkest secrets with the stylist who might share them with your Mother, can you? Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say. I have the best cut and the best color that I've had in years and I feel like a new woman! Girls, if you haven't been to a great stylist in a while, trust me when I say that it is worth it. Just GO! You'll thank me, trust me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On for the ride

Well, with or without the crystal ball, I've done it.... I applied for the job and we'll see what happens! I consulted my tarot cards (which were absolutely no help, thank you very much) and all my family and friends and in the end I am just going to go with the flow and ride it out. I haven't committed to leaving my current employment, but I will interview (I hope!) and find out if what they have to offer is any more appealing and whether I would be a fit for them, etc. I figure that if they can't pay me what I am making already or the job doesn't sound like as much fun as what I'm doing now, then I won't take it. And of course, how arrogant of me to just assume that I will be offered the position anyway, right? Never mind that they are clamoring for my application via my former colleague who works there now. It should prove to be entertaining in the very least....

Monday, July 7, 2008

When is it time for a new job?

How do you know when it is time to move on to a new job? This is exactly one of those times when I desperately wish for a real crystal ball to look into the future! I love what I do in system engineering and I have a super manager although the executive level leaves much to be desired at my current company. But, there is uncertainty on whether there is a future for the platform I support if they decide to replace core software systems. I have the potential to move into management, I'm on the boss' succession plan if he ever leaves or gets promoted; plus, I have the option to move into project management if I choose or cross-train on a different platform at the companies expense thereby increasing resume and future potential opportunities. Other than the uncertain future, I am happy where I am and really like where I am working. But here's the dilemma... there is another company in town hiring right now for my skill set. It is on the Top 100 places to work in the US, I have former colleagues who work there and love it and are urging me to make the move, AND I know that when I am done with where I am, that's the first place I want to be. The question is, is that time now or later? Do I stay where I am and wait out the uncertainty while making killer money and loving what I do but possibly lose the chance for employment where I want to end up if I ever do move? What if I stay and they decide to eliminate my system platform and then when I decide it really was time all along, the other company doesn't have any opportunities for me? What if I decide to make the move assuming that the uncertainty won't work out for me and then realize in the long run that I should have stayed because I could have had everything I wanted long-term and more? What if I apply for the open position and interview just to see what the money is like and what the job would be but not really ready to make a move? Then when/if they offer me a position and I turn it down have I burned my bridges for future opportunities by leading them on? Do I apply and tell them honestly that yes I am interested in working there, just not now? (But, hey, thanks for taking the time to talk to me!) If I look at it from a hiring manager's perspective, I'm going to want anyone who is applying to be serious about wanting the position... otherwise, I'm getting my hopes set on a candidate who doesn't really want the position. I know that I don't want to burn any bridges at the potential new company eliminating future possibilities. What if I decide not to apply and never know more than just what the job posting says and it could be even better than the job I have and love now but I never even applied? What if I apply, love the job but they won't pay me the wage that makes sense to move on? Like I said - I really need a crystal ball right about now... The endless internal debate just might kill me and I need to apply if I'm going to do it! Maybe it's time to break out the crystals and tarot cards... But I'll probably just second guess everything I can come up with anyway, right? Good grief what a mess....

Sunday, July 6, 2008


The ever elusive and ever popular sentiment that makes the world go around... What is it about 'Love' that has everyone so crazy? I am surrounded by people everyday who are either newly in love, struggling to maintain love, lamenting the loss of love, resigning that they may never find love, wishing those they loved would somehow change to suit them better, dissolving the legal bonds of love, and dreaming of a love they hope to find someday when they are grown. Amid all this chaos, there stands an island where I exist in bliss with my soul-mate (who also happens to be my husband... lucky me!). He is the force behind my world turning; he is the warmth of the sun in my world; he is the half of me without whom I cannot exist. He is the first person I want to see in the morning and the last I want to talk to before bed; the first I want to share news with. He is my best friend and my greatest support and I thank the Universe every time I think about how random it was that we came together. The odds were so stacked against our ever meeting and yet we found each other and never looked back. We fit so naturally together in our thoughts and beliefs from the first moments together that only come from lifetimes spent together in previous lives. My greatest hope is that our daughter finds a love as great when she is grown and then spends as many lifetimes as I know we have spent together with hers. Honey, I am truly honored to be your wife, in this life and in all others, and I would cease to exist without you....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Danger of Home Improvement Stores

It is indeed extremely dangerous... to the pocketbook anyway!... to enter the doors of a home-improvement store without a plan of what exactly you are there for. Especially dangerous when both have big plans for improving the living space. We wandered in today after a sushi lunch with the vague plans of getting a hose part and a bag of mortar. What did we end up leaving with after wandering around for an hour? New paint for the front door and new door hardware to match the new door knobs, new light bulbs and attachments for automatic lighting from dusk to dawn, a new tree and a few bags of topsoil to plant it in. Yes, definitely dangerous... Note to self: next time, have a plan! The best irony? When we got home and retrieved the mail from the mailbox, there's a 10% off coupon we could have used at the exact store we were just at!

The Environment

What is it about Americans that makes us think that we can continue to consume everything in sight and not give a damn about the impact we are making on the world as a whole? We have more open space in our country than most countries in Europe and yet we take it all for granted that the natural resources we rely on will just continue to exist for as long as we need them. We pollute our air and our water and don't give a damn about what it will mean for our children or our grandchildren - let alone the species of the planet that are unfortunate to have to co-exist with us and deal with how we are ruining their habitats. Most people would call me a tree-hugger like most of my extended family does but that doesn't mean that I am going to change my ways. (And yes, I have been known to hug a tree now and then.) My in-laws live in a farming community in the Midwest and on a recent visit it appalled me to learn that their sewer doesn't go to a septic tank as I had always assumed but instead drains across the road into the river to float downstream in the water supply. It is OK, they said, because the farmhouse was so old that was just how they did it back then. I about died and yet it was just accepted as normal to them. For a week I cringed every time I flushed as much as I cringed every time I threw something in the garbage and had no recycle can to chose when appropriate. I believe that even the small things will make a huge difference and wish that more people would take the time and effort to change. We spent 2 weeks in Germany several years ago and man, were my eyes opened in those two weeks! They have garbage cans half the size of our behemoths and they only get collected and emptied every other week. They have two - one for trash and one for recycling - and neither can contain glass containers which have to be deposited in a glass recycle drop separately. Most of their packaging is paper and cardboard so that it fits nicely into the recycle program and I don't believe I saw an ounce of plastic the entire time we were there. Then, there was the lack of a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink. That took a bit of getting used to and I asked what the reasoning was behind that. Want to know? They don't put food down the drain because then it takes more energy at the water treatment plants to get rid of it. What a fucking concept! I was a changed person when we came home. We are lucky to live in a community with a recycling program through the city and have 3 trash cans that get picked up weekly. One for trash, one for recycling, and one for green waste. We are fanatical recyclers and now have separate boxes to collect glass to drop at the glass place when it is full as well as a bag for bad batteries to recycle appropriately. On top of that, we've eliminated paper napkins for cloth ones. No, they aren't just for special occasions when you bring out the china, folks! You're doing laundry every week anyway, what's a few more napkins? We only typically eat one meal a day at home with both of us working full time so it isn't a big deal. We also don't use our garbage disposal anymore. I know the water treatment plant has to treat other people's trash in the water supply still but maybe not having ours added in makes a tiny little difference, or at least I hope! The latest thing I've added is asking for paper instead of plastic bags when I shop for groceries. It freaks those poor baggers out that someone would actually ask for paper and I've even seen them hunt for a stack of bags. The craziest was when the young kid bagging today's purchases said "paper is so complicated" as he was trying to fit my stuff into the rectangular area of the bag to which I replied "yes, but it's so much better for the environment!". We don't even have the luxury of being asked "paper or plastic?" before they start throwing the stuff in plastic anymore. You know that every plastic bag that you use and then throw away ends up in a landfill or worse, in the ocean? It costs thousands to recycle the plastic which they can then only resell for reuse for pennies so they just don't do it. Sea creatures and birds become entangled and eat the crap and then die. Or worse, the polymers break down in their digestive tracks and fuck with their DNA potentially destroying the species. (Read "The World Without Us" for some insane looks at what we do to our world if you're interested!) The even crazier part of all those plastic bags? They are made from OIL products!! By eliminating the use of plastic bags in our lives, we are at the same time limiting our dependence on oil... another resource that will soon run out because it isn't a self-renewing thing. I am proud to set myself apart as an environmental freak and hope that by doing small things like I do it will somehow rub off on others and start a chain reaction that will impact the world in a positive way. I wish more people were like me in this regard.... Blessed are the non-consumers for they will preserve the planet!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gone With The Wind

OH... MY.... GOD...., I loved this book for so many reasons!! I see why she won the Pulitzer when Margaret Mitchell wrote this phenomenal book. So, there's a little history here... I grew up with a Mom who loved the movie and her and I and my sister would designate once a month as "girl's night" and watch "Gone With The Wind" and "Somewhere In Time" and cry and be girls. Then, years later (OK, a least a decade) after marrying and no longer able to do the monthly movie night with Mom, it is a book club pick and I find myself reading the book from a beloved movie for the first time. Let me just say that as much as I LOVE the movie, it is the same with all the rest.... the book is ALWAYS better! I learned so much about the South and the Confederacy and the Civil War era than I had ever gleaned from history books or classes and even the movie. I even see the KKK in a different light and understand why and how it came into existence back in those times. Could you imagine as a state leaving the Union and fighting a war to be allowed to continue with your way of life and then spend years after you lost the war having to put up with corruption and not having a vote in your own governance? The book itself is a bit intimidating at almost 1000 pages but it is so worth the read! The best part for me? Realizing that all those girl's nights with Mom watching Scarlett O'Hara be the strong woman she was and not caring what others thought of her actions might have had something to do with molding me into the headstrong and fearless woman I am today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ok, let's get serious

Ok, so I don't want my online presence to feel or sound like I'm some raving lunatic. I blame my ranting and hostile initial posts on the fact that Mercury has been in retrograde and everyone is a bit off when that happens. So, here's something I've been contemplating a bit lately. Is it or is it not necessary to self-analyze yourself in order to become enlightened? There are several people in my life who have conflicting opinions on this subject. My husband is on the side who thinks that we don't need to analyze ourselves in order to be self-aware and enlightened. And he doesn't indulge in the self-analysis. He is very in touch with the oneness of the Universe and has a very enlightened sense of being. One of my best friends believes that there's a bit of a need but that we shouldn't be so absorbed that we become obsessed in the analysis and therefore never progress past the point of analysis to actual enlightenment. She is very down-to-earth and things that come out of her mouth stop me in my tracks with their truthfulness and insight. My other friend is addicted to self-analysis and self-help in every form there is. He finds all the answers and has even realized that all the different experts have the exact same answers, simply wrapped in different packaging to appeal to different people. So, what is the truth? I guess I am sort of a fence-sitter on the subject. I was a debater and love to look at all sides of an idea or argument so self-analysis appeals to me on that level. However, there are certain things that I know in my heart and believe that I didn't have to go through any such analysis to know and believe. So, is the need for self-analysis as a tool to progress our souls to enlightenment a prerequisite or does the answer change for each individual? Is it like the self-help answers to the meaning of life that are Universal Truths just wrapped in different packaging? I know this, the answers are out there for us all to find and once we do it may not matter how we got there or what path led us to enlightenment, simply that we got there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

oh, is it too HARD?

What the fuck is up with people thinking that just because something might require some hard work on their part means that they just shouldn't do it? It is the most bizarre behaviour I have come across in years and I seem to be surrounded with these freaks! I want to scream at the top of my lungs: Are you or are you not an application developer who is being paid well to support an application and then want to complain about how much work all the projects are making you do and how you can't keep up with it all? Oh, and are you or are you not a project manager being paid probably more than I am for my system engineering job and then can't even put out minutes for your meetings that I'm required to attend and take up all of my time? Is this a professional company I work at or has everyone but me been taken over by the pod people? Case in point, I just sat in on an initial planning meeting for a project that half of the technical team CLEARLY doesn't want to do (poor babies!). Every high-level requirement that we were there to hammer out the tasks required to complete was met with a bombardment of rationalizing why we shouldn't do it because it was hard. HELLO FREAKS!!! Executive management has mandated that this shit be done in the next 3-6 weeks so quit your fucking bitching and get to work already!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

This was my latest pick for the neighborhood book club - consisting of very conservative ladies from the neighborhood with very strick rules about the kinds of books we choose to read. These rules include (in no particular order) no swearing, no sex, no violence. Needless to say I am hard-pressed typically to find a book that I like, that presents options for discussion AND that fit into the nice little rule box. This time I had to pick a book that I had not read yet after finding that a couple of recommendations from others didn't pan out due to violence and sex. So, I pulled my latest "hey, I want to read that!" impulse buy out of the stack of books waiting to be cracked open and started in. When time was up on making a choice, I was about 90 pages in, it not only grabbed my attention but it had not an ounce of forbidden topics. WOOHOO! So, I announced it to the ladies with the disclaimer that I had not finished it. I went home after bookclub and the next day continued reading so I could complete it before the end of the month. To my horror - well, enjoyment really - the sex started! And it never ended the rest of the book. I spent the next 5 weeks until we met to discuss worried that everyone in the neighborhood would think I had broken the rules (who, me?!?) and done it on purpose, which of course I hadn't. Other than the fact that all the sex that Henry VIII was having during the Ann Boleyn era took on the role of another character in the book, it was a very interesting and entertaining look at the infamous time in English history. We had a very rousing discussion and even the ladies in the neighborhood had lots to talk about... without touching on the sex! One of the points that several folks had disagreement on was the author's portrayal of the King in the book. He was a very powerful historical figure who was described in this book as a very stumbling King who was easily manipulated by his court. There was also some intrigue as to the relationship of Anne Boleyn to certain members of her family that left much to discuss. For someone who's only knowledge of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII was that they were married and he cut off her head, it was a very enlightening read. Enjoyable reading with a little bit o'history mixed in! I recommend it... We are watching the movie tomorrow and we'll see if the movie is better than the book. What am I saying? The movie is NEVER as good as the book!

Birth of a blog

And so it begins... as with all journeys there must be a beginning so there can be a middle and an ending and thus so it is and will be with my little blogspot. I have always wished I could have a crystal ball or a fairy godmother to tell me my future that wasn't from the "hindsight" perspective. Maybe being able to post my journey and random thoughts as I travel it to the cyber-space universe will show a pattern to life? Or maybe it will just give me more crazy ideas for book plots that may or may not ever be written in my lifetime? Or maybe others will gain an insight on the window of my crazy soul by being allowed to witness my inner dialogue? For whatever reason you find yourself, here... enjoy. I will rant and I will rave and I will tell you all the things that I find to amuse myself as we travel together. And, let this be a warning that I will not hold back on the language I feel appropriate to the circumstances of life. Sometimes it will merely be PG-13 and others it may just not be suitable for all audiences.... because you're going to get me and woah, careful what you wish for folks! You may occassionally find tidbits of "family" life thrown in for a bit of seasoning but if you came here for cutsie family photos and yet another "look at how cute my kids and how great a life we have" blog then you've come to the wrong place. Welcome and hold on tight!