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.