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!