Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008--year in review

This is my last (and 127th) post of the year. Less than last year. I've read 17 books and am in the middle of two more. Slightly more than last year. Created the Life List and marked 6 things off it with progress on 3 more. Obviously more than last year. Traveled 123 days for work (including sites that are blessedly in town). Slightly less than last year. Here's how the rest of the year went down (per my Christmas card insert):

January—Started my training to volunteer at a local non-profit that helps children who have lost parents or siblings (and their parents). I’ve been doing this twice a month all year.

February—Turned 31 with fancy birthday dinner. First Valentine’s Day with the then Boyfriend (who was sick).

March—Went to Vegas with The Boyfriend (for my job and a little leisure). We saw our first Cirque show. Also, The Brother got married (without me having a nervous breakdown).

April—Was in my second wedding of the year. Went to Opening Day of the Astros.

May—My friend won a trip to Paris to see Madonna and asked me to go with her. My first trip to Europe! Later, I joined The Boyfriend on his work trip in New York City—Yankee game, Broadway show.

June—Some home improvement. Only two rooms left to do after two years of ownership. (What are the odds of these getting done in 2009 what with a wedding to plan and all...)

July—Pennsylvania for Independence Day. Great long weekend! Saw the Astros play the Pirates.

August—Weekend in Brenham picking and stomping grapes. A year of knowing The Boyfriend. Labor Day weekend trip to West Texas. Did not see the Marfa Lights but sled down the sand dunes and saw a drive-in movie.

September—Survived Hurricane Ike.

October—Sneakily set foot on the grass at Minute Maid Park. First Halloween party at my house.

November—Got engaged! Best. Day. Ever.

December—Headed to DC and Pennsylvania for a white Christmas, bringing the number of new states this year up to six (total up to 32).

I know that many people will look back on 2008 and remember negative things. There have been lots of negative things in lives around me. In my family. In our community. In our country. But for me, it was definitely the best year yet. By far. I mean, FAR.

Monday, December 29, 2008

um, hi. remember me?

It appears that I just fled to the great white north without saying goodbye. Without letting you know when I'd be back. Without wishing you a merry Christmas. Sorry about that.

So, I'm back. The Fiance and I left for DC on the 19th. We had a really good time visiting some of the memorials and museums and government buildings. It was very cold and we spent a lot of time outdoors. But that gave me a chance to wear cute winter clothes. We also visited one of my favorite people from high school which was really great (and long overdue). I wish they lived closer. Obligatory pics...






Doesn't it just look cold in most of those? One nifty thing was seeing some of the preparation for the inauguration--temporary fencing, bleachers being built. Also? Love, love, love the National Cathedral. Looks so European. And while we were there we got to hear the choir practicing. When they sang "O Holy Night" I had a few tears. It's such a beautiful song and they had great voices that were filling such a spectacular building.

We stayed till Monday and then drove to Pennsylvania where it was even colder. But there was SNOW! This was our yard (sadly, after the snow starting melting on Wednesday):
We went skiing on Tuesday. When I say "skiing" I mean that I only fell down once and threw myself down once (to avoid disaster) and only went down the ski school so-opposite-of-steep incline. But I didn't hurt myself.

Wednesday was fairly relaxing and Thursday was finally Christmas. We had a good day filled with good food and family and presents. We flew back on Friday and had a brief visit with The Fiance's family in Austin. Made it back home Saturday night and just hung out yesterday. It was a really good vacation filled with multiple "firsts" and quality family time and some rest.

I hope you all had a great holiday as well. Next up, 2009. Yikes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

last minute

I flew to Dallas this morning because I was supposed to be at one of my sites today and one tomorrow. When I got here at 8:00, I found out that my site wasn't opening until 11:00 but the winter weather warning had just been extended to 4:00. The weather (and traffic) was so bad here today that we just went ahead and postponed today's visit and I ended up working at the hotel. They're talking about frozen fog on the news. I've never even heard of such a thing. Yea for room service. Yea for not having to get out on icy roads in freezing temperatures.

I've also had a chance to try to figure out our Washington DC itinerary. I'm always so last-minute with planning... If you've been, what would you suggest seeing and what wasn't worth your time?

Monday, December 15, 2008

i'm an old man on a front porch

I'm still trying to not be sick. I know people say it is just an old wives tale that the weather can make you ill, but I give you this:

December 9th: high 78, low 46
10th: 46/32 with snow
11th: 56/33
12th: 62/32
13th: 71/38 (I don't believe this low but that's what the internet said.)
14th: 74/63

Balmy when we went to bed last night. When I woke up this morning at The Fiance's it was suddenly about 15 degrees cooler. When I drove home it was still balmy. Now? 50 degrees.

I know I'm going to be whining about the cold when we're up north starting Friday but at least it will be predictable. Freezing. Tomorrow? Freezing. The next day? Freezing. Freezing, freezing, freezing. And snow. Where God intended it to be--above the Mason-Dixon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the weather outside is frightful


But allegedly tonight The Fiance is starting a delightful fire. Literally, people; get your mind out of the gutter. It's rainy today and just above freezing. Yesterday? In the 70s. If I hadn't gotten sick before...

So, quick question for the day. For those of you who have planned a wedding in the past (or I guess this could apply to any big topic like childrearing, etc.), how did you handle people who had lots of advice? People with opinions different from your own? People who say "should?"

If you haven't guessed, this has come up multiple times already, and we haven't even gotten started with real planning yet.

Have I mentioned it's freakin' cold outside? I'm a wussy Texan (but perhaps that's why I live in Texas).

Monday, December 08, 2008

the same but different


Remember on Seinfeld? How George's fiance, Susan, died because of licking all those wedding invitation envelopes? Let's hope my incessant Christmas card envelope licking doesn't end the same way. They'll go in the mail tomorrow, people. Woohoo!

Also, lots of shopping last Friday so hopefully I'll be ready for the holidays. And of course I have a head cold. I think I'm feeling better. Hard to tell with the medication hangover...

In obligatory engagement news, I had to bail on lunch with the future MIL today because I literally had no voice. And? It took my ring finger a week to get used to the engagement ring. It now notices when it's gone. My pointer finger, however, is still feeling a little sad. It used to sport the left hand ring (for years) but now that seems to bling-y. One ring per hand. Poor, sad pointer finger.

(I said I was sick. That's as good of a post as I can muster today...)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

some getting used to


I've been officially off the market for about 3 days now. It's overwhelmingly weird. Don't get me wrong, I really couldn't be happier. Very exciting. Best year ever. But it's weird to think of what this means. And to have and be a fiance. To think about changing my name and combining households. To be able to live with the person I love. All of it.

I've been wearing my mother's ring for about 2 days now. Also weird. It's beautiful and I think it looks good on my skinny little finger. I've put it on briefly in the past just to imagine what it would be like (even well before I met The Fiance) but now it fits me. It's always been Mom's ring, though, and I wonder how long it will take for me to call it mine. When people ask to see it and compliment me on it, I just respond that it was my mother's. I'm not sure why I'm compelled to say that.

And I have no idea why--maybe because my mom wore this ring all day everyday--but when I look at my hand I can see hers despite not sharing any genes. I've thought about how it probably only looked this good right when she received it 46 years ago. I wonder how she felt with it on her finger. I wonder if she had the same hopes. I know she didn't have the same long wedding-planning road ahead of her.

I haven't really cried yet. I've been on the verge of tears several times but they haven't broken through. I know this whole process is going to be overwhelming and I'm going to wish she were here. And I know I'm going to drive everyone insane with my incessant wedding talk. Just tell me when you've had enough. I promise we can talk about something else.

Monday, December 01, 2008

the engagement


We woke up yesterday with the titles of Boyfriend/Girlfriend for the last time. It was a slow, easy start to the final day of a good long weekend. We piddled around, he setting up a wifi connection in my office and me working on Christmas cards that remain unfinished. Did some laundry. We were planning on doing a little Christmas shopping since our preparation has been condensed by a week because of our pre-holiday travel. Set out to start our errands...

He had mentioned that he wanted to go to the rum distillery (first one in Texas) that's about 10 miles from here. That was our second stop. Neither one of us had been there. It was supposed to be the site of our first date but the distillery was still too new for tours back then so we had settled on lunch (and endless chatting) instead.

On the way there, I reached into the glove compartment to get my GPS and there was a towel in there. Since I hadn't put it there, I asked him what it was and if I needed to be concerned about him smuggling drugs into my car. He told me not to open it and I didn't. When we got there, it turned out to be a plain, metal building at the end of a not-too-scenic street. Not very romantical. So he got back in the car (I never got out) and we drove off.

I mentioned that I wanted to drive by the water to see if the restaurants were still there (post-Ike). They were. He ended up parking by the water and we got out into the much more blustery day. We walked down by the water and onto the newly rebuilt pier. It was just too cold and windy to stand out there so we walked back to the car. He opened my door and then reached in to the glove compartment to grab the towel, took out what was inside, and was on one knee. He asked me to marry him and I said yes.

And I thought, "That's it." Not that's it as in "that's all" but more like that's all it took to change both of our lives forever. That's it like you're waiting for a milestone birthday and all it takes is for you to go to bed when you're 29 years and 364 days old. You wake up the next morning and you're 30. That's it like he asked a question and I answered. How many times had we done that before? It seemed so simple.

I'm still surprised that I didn't make a joke or hesitate or feel like I needed to throw up or anything. "Will you marry me?" Yes.

So the cool part (because, you know, that wasn't cool enough). About a year ago we had talked about the fact that I just wanted Mom's rings. At some point, I showed him where I kept them and he could just steal them as needed. I was pretty good about not checking to see if they were gone until we were evacuating from the hurricane. I grabbed Mom's jewelry box (which is one of my few absolute items to save). Turns out the rings were gone. Amidst my already frantic state, I had a little panic attack. In a good way. But I didn't tell him I knew they were gone.

He had taken them to his mom's jeweler to have them cleaned up and re-pronged. They look fantastic. He also had them make a duplicate of the engagement ring. He put that inside of a snowglobe (which I've been collecting for a few years) that he had ordered online and filled with sand from our trip to west Texas. That's what was in the towel. That's what he presented me with while down on one knee. That's what he told me I had to break in order to get the ring. I didn't really think I'd have to break it. I figured that he had to have put it together; he could take it apart. But it was cold so I asked if we could get in the car. Then he showed me the real rings. Mom's fingers were bigger than mine so we dropped them off yesterday for resizing. I'll get them today. And he can put it on my finger for good this time.

I love you, Fiance.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

it's a big one

So I marked something off the Life List today...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

don't open 'til thanksgiving


“Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”

--J. Robert Moskin

Monday, November 24, 2008

lofty goals

It was a nice, mellow weekend at The Boyfriend's place. Since I had to work in town on Friday, I just stuck around here. And since The Boyfriend has had a few rough weeks at work, I packed up stuff for dinner and grabbed a few movies so we could settle in for a relaxing evening.

He had some obligations on Saturday and I had some free time for crafting. I made a fun little wreath for Christmas and got started on Christmas cards. I'm really trying to not cram everything in at the last minute this year. Seems like that's the only way I've been getting anything done lately. But I'm proud of my progress so far. I've even purchased a few gifts already.

On Saturday evening we went to a Two-step/Polka dance class. While we've both country danced before (hello, we live in Texas), we've never had official lessons together. Between that class and my obsession with Dancing With the Stars, I think it would be nice to take ongoing lessons. This was just a one-shot deal but it was fun!

On Sunday, The Boyfriend slept in while I made Potato Cheese Soup. Yummm. We watched some tv, he got some work done, I did some more crafting, we ran errands, went for a walk. While we had high hopes of getting a ton of things done (that fell by the wayside), I think it was a great weekend. It wasn't so much about running ourselves ragged or fulfilling social obligations. It was just about living. And doing so together. How nice is that...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

6 days

So it's been almost a week since I last wrote. Thing is, I don't have a lot of coherent things to say. Another braindump it is.
  • There are some active little squirrels around my yard today.
  • In other wildlife news, I had two raccoons walk across my porch while I was watching tv the other night. One just looked in at me. Freaked me out a little.
  • Something (maybe them) have been digging in my newly weed-free (mostly) front bed. Hey, whatever. Just don't eat any new plants (if I ever get around to planting them).
  • I am now planning on visiting one of my good high school friends when we go to DC in December. Yea! I haven't seen her or her husband since they got married in 2000. Is that right?! Crazy. Also get to meet their daughter.
  • Even though my schedule this week has been slightly better than expected (because I rearranged some things), it's still been nuts. That said, I was very happy to get home at 9:15 last night instead of 11:30. It was only a 16-hour day.
  • When I'm not working or reading on the plane, I get lots of thinking done. Or planning. Last night I was very excited about several little projects I'd like to do around the house. Really just two more big ones and then it's just little crafty things. Woohoo.
  • I'm also excited to have a Christmas card plan. It seems like I get inspired by certain designs or color schemes and that gets thrown up all over everything I do for awhile. If you know my Ugly Bathroom plan, you'll have a hint at the Christmas cards...
  • Also on the plane...I can't believe The Boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. That things have worked out pretty well even given my crazy work schedule.
  • And because of that crazy work schedule, I've realized that each week I try to cram 7 days worth of living into about 4.
  • I'm looking forward to transitioning out of this job one day although it will be sad to not have a seemingly endless supply of free flights and hotel nights.

Friday, November 14, 2008

a few thoughts

I'm sitting here eating lunch and I ordered hot soup and iced tea in the same meal. Do you think that ever happens up north? I'm guessing no.

Also? While sitting on the patio eating and drinking the above items, I'm hearing my first Christmas song of the season. Two things. 1) This is later than last year. I mean, come on, it's mid-November. Perhaps next year they'll actually wait till an appropriate time. Yeah, I don't think they will either. And 2), I'm able to sit outside comfortably and listen to Christmas music. I think there's something wrong with that, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

busy bee

Work requires me to be gone at least 8 days per month. I'm often gone much more than that. This month, however, I'm just squeaking by..you know, what with Election Day and the Thanksgiving holiday and one meeting day and a dentist appointment and fighting my increased property taxes. As it turns out, between this week and next, I'm getting in 7 of those 8 days. Sheesh. One could really use a break that weekend in between.

Not me. I'm going to camp. Not let's-pitch-a-tent camp. (Praise tiny baby Jesus; it's going to be freakin' cold this weekend!) We're staying in cabins, and it's for my volunteer gig. The kids get to do all sorts of fun activities this weekend. Hopefully it will be a good time for everyone and everything will run smoothly.

I'll get back on Sunday and will head to Corpus on Monday, Lake Charles on Tuesday, and Albuquerque on Wednesday before I get a day at home. I think I'm going to need a nap.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

holidays


This year, we're going up north for Christmas. Back to the lakehouse. But before we head up there, The Boyfriend and I are going here for a few days:


(Photo courtesy of San Francisco Sentinel.)

Too bad I won't be able to say hi to Obama. But maybe W's dog can bite me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

slice o' weekend life

I was actually out of town on Friday so my weekend got started a little later than usual. I made it home in time to veg in front of the tv and catch up on the week's shows and a few home improvement programs.

Saturday morning I woke up early and did a little work and then worked in the yard for awhile. I decided I really needed to pot a few pansies so I made a quick Home Depot run. The porch looks a bit more seasonal now. And I'm knocking out those weeds. I tell ya, I'm motivated this season. This place is going to look good inside and out.

Visited briefly with The Brother and SIL. Found out that one of the SIL's friends has breast cancer. At 30. Sheesh. I sincerely hope things work out for her.

Then a quick trip to the scrapbooking store for paper for a project I wanted to try. While I was there I became a little freaked out about the relative nearness of Christmas. And I had zero Christmas card ideas. I've since gotten a little something in my head. I'm again not killing myself this year. I'll make them like always but I need easy.

Next up, quick run into Lowe's. I've become inspired in regards to the Ugly Bathroom. Very excited to get started. Bought a few more items for that and headed on up to The Boyfriend's for the weekend.

We had some good alone time, fun and serious conversations. Went out to dinner (yea!) and rented a movie. Sunday was church and some shopping. We went to the actual movie theater and also made dinner and pie. I got to watch my Sunday night tv shows and he caught up on a little newspaper reading. Dare I say a near perfect weekend?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

if you don't go already


I'd like to refer you to Pigs. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

change

I was excited yesterday. Excited to vote. Excited to see how things would turn out. Don't get me wrong. I know the color of this state, and I know a lot of people are probably angry or sad or disappointed or whatever this morning. But what's done is done. Move on.

How I see it, this is a pretty interesting time for our country. Obviously things haven't been going all that well. The economy. The war. The attitude other countries have towards us. It hasn't felt like things were moving in a positive direction and regardless of your party affiliation, something needs to change. I think there's no arguing that last night we got change.

What makes it exciting to me is that so many people got involved in this election. So many people felt connected to one of the sides. They donated money. They volunteered their time. They did something. And ultimately, it looks like over 131 million of them voted.

It will be interesting to see what happens from here. To see what policy gets made. To see how major problems will be solved. I just hope that the interest in our country at this grass roots level continues to thrive. That people continue to feel connected and pull together and work to improve their towns and their country. If they do, that will really be exciting.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

history

And there wasn't even a line!

Monday, November 03, 2008

post-halloween

Since I had a Halloween party this year and actually made my house look a little scary, I had intentions of taking a picture of the creepy front porch to post on Friday. You know, wishing you a happy Halloween. But I didn't. And then the rest of the weekend came along and I didn't feel all that productive but I did take down the decorations. Without taking pictures. So, um, yeah...

The party was fun. I like it when adults dress up and almost everyone did. And my favorite thing about being Pippi Longstocking was that in the pictures it just looks like my head is constantly in motion because, really, who has hair that sticks out when you're still?

Also at the party I got to meet a very cute 4-month-old Boxer puppy who could be my puppy if I wanted him. Who doesn't want a cute Boxer puppy? Who, rationally, shouldn't take one? Someone who travels out of town every week, who also volunteers, who lives alone, who has a potential puppy support system (except that one of them lives about 30 minutes away; one is an hour away; works long hours and lives in a small apartment; and one is currently homeless because of a hurricane). Someone who doesn't see any of this changing in the near future. Someone who would see her boyfriend even less because you can't just decide at the spur of the moment to go to his place instead of your own. Someone who needs to spend more time instead of less working on the future of that relationship. Someone who would feel guilty leaving a puppy so often even if people were willing to take him. I'm sorry, puppy. At this point I'd be no better a mother than the one you had. You'll find a good home. I'm sorry that at this point it can't be mine.

You know what's more fun than coming home after being gone for 5 days and needing to get ready for a party you're hosting? Coming home after being gone for 5 days and needing to get ready for a party you're hosting and going upstairs to discover that, based on smell, something probably died in your attic. And even better? You can't find that something via what little attic access you have. And then you remove part of your wall? And you still can't find it. And it still smells bad and now your house is in disrepair and your only hope is that whatever it is is small and things eat it quickly before the smell makes its way downstairs.

Also fun? Waking up early Monday morning after a relatively good, relaxing weekend (minus the dead critter part) and realizing that you're already overwhelmed with what all needs to get accomplished this week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

a week i should have had flicker

Or maybe two weeks. Then maybe I wouldn't have been MIA for that first week. My last two posts were entertaining to me. Were they enough to constitute an entire post? Probably not.

You want more?

Today I overheard someone say, "I'm not really much of a reader." I do not understand. That's like speaking an entirely different language to me.

Also, as I was walking back from the liquor store to get lunch (not liquid lunch, an actual salad...oddly the freshest produce around and it's 1.2 miles roundtrip), I passed some purple lantana. About 30 butterflies flew up and were all around me. I smiled and giggled.

Do you see? You could have totally read about these things via flicker. But I still won't break down and get it. (And not just because Patois made it less cool.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

misheard

"Terrorism is what made America."

What she actually said: "Volunteerism is what made America."

I'm a little eavesdropper this week. And sometimes even part of a word can make a world of difference. Hey, at least I'm not listening to conversations people are having with the voices in their heads today.

You can't wait for tomorrow's installment, can you?

_______

Ok, sorry. One more for today. Leaving a voicemail, "Hi, this is BLAH. You were scheduled for an appointment at 10:00 today for a memory assessment. If you'd like to reschedule..." Heehee.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

blog? what blog?

Overheard from a schizophrenic patient today:

"Yeah, I was just going to be homeless. I decided that I'd do it for, like, a year. I would live in a car. That way, after a year, I'd have $5,000."

Also?

"Thanks for the soda. They don't serve them at the hospital. But you can get some caffeine."

There are multiple things in those brief sentences that make me ridiculously grateful. And puts some things in perspective.

Monday, October 20, 2008

ballpark tour



I marked off another item on the Life List. This time it was illegally setting foot on the grass at Minute Maid Park. They tell you not to but I sneakily stepped right on the edge. I didn't make it all the way to the warning track just to wuss out.

The Boyfriend and I went on the twilight tour on Friday night. We saw some fun places up close and received some little giveaways (hats, posters, decks of cards, Biggio pins). And I won a Milo Hamilton bobblehead for some somewhat educated guessing. It was fun, and I'd recommend going. Oh, and if anyone has some suite tickets they want to give me, I'll take 'em.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

stairs!

I'm FINALLY done with the stair project! Sure it means that I'll have to do some work work this evening but it's so worth it! Maybe you need a refresher on what it looked like before. (Not represented in the before? The lace curtains. I pulled those down as soon as I moved in and now there are 2" wide faux wood blinds.)



I know some people liked the navy but it didn't go with my scheme and it was a little oppressive. And come on...gold crown molding?! That horrible light fixture? Well, The Brother changed out that light fixture not long after I moved in. The rest? I just resigned myself to living with since who in their right mind wants to paint in the stairs? But the SIL's parents gave us a joint gift of one of those fancy ladders that you can pretty much configure any way you'd like and, thus, the project became possible. Scary as a mo fo? That, too. But here's the after!




The walls are a beige-y grey and the ceiling is the same blue-green color as my kitchen. The downside is that all my oil-based white wainscoting and trim is glaringly in need of repainting. That is so going to wait.

All the pictures are travel-related. You can see some of the pictures in detail in these posts (just converted to black and white):

And there are some others that I haven't posted here. You know, good thing there's room to grow on the other side of the stairs because I noticed a few trips that are not properly represented. There's also my favorite (non-goofy) pic of The Boyfriend and me. I'm very pleased.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

brick walls and stuff

I have been super productive in several different areas over the last week or so. I confess. I'm pretty productive normally (except for work sometimes) but have been in the zone lately. Today? Not so much. I don't feel like doing anything. Not work. Not working on indoor projects. Not working on outdoor projects. Nothing.

But I have a feeling I'm going to force myself to do at least a little painting of the stairwell trim this evening. This project has done some serious lingering and I'm about ready for it to be complete. What I'm really ready for is the hanging of the stuff on the walls. I've lived here almost two years (What?! How can that be right?!) and nothing has ever hung on those walls because they were just too ugly. Now I have this fabulous set of framed black and white photography (all but one were taken by yours truly) and all are in black or white frames. They're going to go up the stairs at the same angle as the chair railing. That's the plan anyway. And like I said, that's the part I'm jonesin' for. The painting of the trim? Not so much.

I'm also feeling a bit anxious today. I have no idea why. I have no reason to be. I hope it's not foreshadowing of the falling to my death (or at least injury) off the very high ladder and down the stairs. If you don't hear from me, send someone.

Monday, October 13, 2008

weekend picture post

The mallow's last hurrah before winter. Too bad Ike blew off most of its leaves.

A new way to procrastinate.

Spiderwebs I spun for Halloween!

The Boyfriend and me, in scary Halloween form. These guys crack me up.


The Boyfriend's Pumpkin Ale.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

fork in the road

Things have been really busy lately. And when I say "lately" I mean for, oh, the past 3 years or so. There's a lot of work to catch up on when you were only back from vacation for 7 working days before missing another 7 because of a natural disaster.

I missed the presidential programming last night because I was flying back home and just wanted to get to bed as quickly as possible. As I was rushing out of the airport, however, I heard Obama say this:

I know that I wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for the fact that this country gave me opportunity. I came from very modest means. I had a single mom and my grandparents raised me and it was because of the help of scholarships and my grandmother scrimping on things that she might have wanted to purchase and my mom, at one point, getting food stamps in order for us to put food on the table.

Despite all that, I was able to go to the best schools on earth and I was able to succeed in a way that I could not have succeeded anywhere else in this country.
That got me thinking, and I'm not going political here. I think if you pay attention, there are times when things happen to you or around you or you make the decision yourself, and that changes the whole course of your life. What if Obama's grandparents wouldn't have been there to help him and his mother? Here are some turning points that came to mind for my life.
  • My father's death. I'm pretty sure this would impact anyone's life. But I was only seven. And I was suddenly an old soul. Who knows...maybe I was before then; I can't remember. And Mom never really had any romantic relationship after that. So this change led me to not having in-house role models in that regard. And instead of having a household with a stay-at-home mom and working dad, I had a single mom with a low income.
  • My grandpa paying off our mortgage. This is the first thing I thought of when I heard Obama last night. I have no idea what we would have done with a mortgage. We barely scraped by for a long time. I think that could have put us over the edge. Life could have been worse. Way worse. Thank goodness we didn't have to move after Dad died. That stability surely helped us.
  • My mother's death. When you're 19 and suddenly have no living parent, some things change. I totally lost religion, for example. And even though (unlike many people) I couldn't fall back on Mom in a financial sense when she was alive, I could totally fall back on her emotionally. Then I think about how things would be now if she were here. She would be proud of me but at the same time hate my job. She'd be so worried every time I got on a plane. And that I'm in strange, new places. Alone! By myself! She would have probably chain smoked herself to death.
  • Choosing not to date that guy in college. (Granted, this one is not as heavy as the previous ones.) I could feel that I was at the fork in the road. It was the darker path. I'm glad I didn't choose it.
  • Choosing to date that other guy in college. Oh, to gather baggage. To feel like damaged goods. To lose a bit of yourself. To have him say really stupid crap to make going it alone so much easier.
  • Not getting accepted into a PhD program. Ending up in my back-up Masters program has pretty much shaped my entire adult life. The friends I made. The place I live. The Brother told me the other day that the last apartment I lived in made him want to move here. But what if I hadn't moved here? He wouldn't have moved here. He wouldn't have met my SIL. I wouldn't have met The Boyfriend. It goes on and on...
  • Not getting my first choice in internships. You know how there are times in life when you just wish you knew the reason something didn't work out? Where you wish someone would let you in on the plan, let you see the big picture? And how there are other times when you can look back and see exactly why things worked out a certain way? Or maybe that's just me. I've been able to look back and see that that internship wouldn't have been the best one for me. The one I got prepared me for my first and second post-college jobs. My first job led me to the apartment I mentioned before. That commute led me right by the office of my second job (which I wouldn't have noticed otherwise) and that got me into this career.
  • Going to HMNS on August 10, 2007. Thank goodness I met The Boyfriend. I noticed today how I don't look at strangers the same way. I'm no longer on the prowl. It's a nice habit to fall out of... Having someone to take for granted (even though you should never take anyone for granted)? Priceless.

How about you? Can you think of any forks in your road?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

goal

I would just like to point out that over there--in the goal section--I've surpassed it. Even with a natural disaster and an entire week of working at The Brother's house. Surpassed it. I also realize it wasn't a lofty goal but the few months prior taught me that my goals were so lofty I'd never meet them. Baby step, people. So I'm rewarding myself with a new pair of running shoes. The new shoes have nothing to do with the fact that the old ones spent a week walking around on things contaminated by the poo water.

(And wouldn't you know it? Now that I'm looking for new shoes, I can't find any I like.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

spamming

I wasn't going to post this on here. Trying to keep it a surprise. But then I thought, what if they don't win? Could they still read the nice things people are saying? Could they see how many folks took the time to vote for them?

So if you haven't already gotten an e-mail from me (or from someone who knows me), consider yourself spammed.

Go here. Vote. Doesn't matter if your a Republican or a Democrat. Thank you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

brain dump: post-ike edition

Over the last two weeks I've had tons of thoughts that should have been written here. I just haven't had the right combination of time and internet access and energy to get it down. So this should be some brain dumping. Using bullets means I don't need any kind of flow, right?

  • When evacuating from a hurricane where there's a real possibility someone you are close to will have damage occur to their home, load up on bug spray, trash bags, rubber gloves, masks, bleach.
  • Remember you may not have power. For a long time. Even if it's hot outside, the people you stay with may keep the house a little cooler than you'd like. Pack some seemingly inappropriate cool weather gear. And bring your pillow.
  • If your family photos are in a flood (and you, like millions of others, haven't backed them up in some electronic form), get them into a freezer. I know, I know...who has power? Someone out-of-town. Apparently this stops the mold process and you can figure out the rest up to a year later. Believe me, even with help, it seems like there's so much to do that you'll need that year.
  • It is very hard to see my town go through something like this. It's hard to see all the debris piles in front of every house on every street in many neighborhoods. It is hard to see the places we shop and eat and live with indefinitely closed doors.
  • Even though the sadness is all around, it took till yesterday for me to be able to cry about it. Sometimes you don't even have it in you to do that. But I feel better now.
  • People are exceedingly nice.
  • Bad stuff can really bring people together. I'm not sure what's nicer--the actual acts of kindness or the willingness to be kind.
  • Remember that long after even the local media has stopped its coverage, people will be far from recovered.
  • Living without power when you work from home is hard. It is not as hard as losing your house.
  • It would be nice if everyone could keep perspective.
  • Lately, I have had little tolerance for people complaining when so many people have it worse. And people always have it worse. Everyday. Perhaps there should be no complaining.
  • I also know that everyone has their own stuff to deal with and sometimes even smallish problems can seem huge.
  • I like the line in that John Mayer song: "Take all your so-called problems Better put 'em in quotations."
  • John Mayer's personal life has made me embarrassed to have been such a fan. However, I can't help but like his music.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

announcement

I'd just like to say that for the first time since the evening of September 12th, I have power. That is all.

If you need me, I'll be in my house with all lights and fans on, radio and tv blaring, staring at my open (yet empty) refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

spent

I feel like I should be posting something. Anything. Like maybe how things are going. Or that I probably won't have electricity until late this week at the earliest. Or how disasters are worse when they happen in your town. Or the things we've thought of doing differently next time around. Or how I have a ton of emotion just below the surface. But I'm just spent. And I'm in California for work so I really should be doing that.

But I did, thankfully, finally have some good sleep last night. Did include a dream about my old apartment with all the destruction that really occurred to it. My actual apartment was missing an entire wall. Did I mention you can't get renter's insurance there?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

news

The computer tells me it's Thursday. I can't really argue with that. Things have been a blur since the storm came in. We finally got into Matthew's house and it had over four feet of water in it. You know what's worse? I know, you're thinking, "What could be worse?" The sewage treatment plant in their town sustained damage and it was poo water. When we got there, all the water had drained. (You know, except from storage boxes that contained childhood photographs and bowls in the kitchen and books in the library and clothes hanging on even the high racks and carpet and and and...)

I think you can check out my SIL's blog (NDH over there on the side) for a few pics.

Since then, we've drug every last item out of the house, town out all the carpet and most of the tile, found a contractor (thank you, neighbors), and had the contractors rip out some drywall and kitchen cabinets. There's been a lot of progress physically and even a little emotionally. And friends and family have been really super and helpful.

That's about all I have time for today. If you feel compelled to help in any way, let me know.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

mixed news

All our people are fine. My house is good. The Brother's in-law's even have power restored (thus the internet access). The Brother has yet to be able to get a visual on his place, however. It's very frustrating. Somehow even if things are bad, you'd just like to know how bad. So send the good thoughts to his place. I'll update when possible. Lots of power outages around here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

tap tap twiddle twiddle

Just sitting here at The Boyfriend's waiting for this all to be over. Probably won't be for another 16 hours or so. It's just starting to get windy up here. Nothing terrible. I wish the same could be said for the island and the area by the bay.

Don't get me wrong. I want us, our persons, to make it through safely. But it's making me insane to just sit and wait to see how bad things are at home. And with the situation with the storm surge, we may not be able to make it down there until late tomorrow or maybe even Sunday. That will make me insane.

Please let my house be ok. Please let all those irreplaceables be fine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

this is sucky

So not going out of town for work. Going to be making frantic last-minute decisions instead...

(depressing map courtesy of http://www.nhc.noaa.gov)

Update (~8am, 9/11): The Brother, SIL and I will be under mandatory evacuation as of noon today. We're cleaning up the yard, packing up our stuff and getting the heck out of here. Not sure where yet. I'll head to The Boyfriend's and go from there. Good thoughts our way would be super.

Update 2 (5:45pm, 9/11): Both of our houses are boarded up. We've taken only the most important items--insurance papers, jewelry, journals, photos, some clothes. Did the best we could to prepare. How do you really prepare for the possibility of 100 mph winds and a 15, maybe 18 ft storm surge? And the most recent track is putting it in even closer to us. Blech. I'm at The Boyfriend's, waiting for him to get home for work. Then we'll figure out the rest. The Brother and SIL are on their way to the Dallas area. I repeat, this is sucky.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

motivation

Last week after we got back from the long weekend I was very unmotivated. It took everything I had to get real work done those first few days. I don't know what changed after that, but I suddenly was in the zone. On Wednesday I went to my lady doctor for my annual poke and prod. I finally found someone I like, two years after being abandoned by my last OBGYN. This one seems good and actually listened to me when I complained about my crazy bad monthly headaches. We're switching things up and we'll see if that works. Praise tiny baby Jesus.

I've also made long-overdue appointments for the eye doctor and to get my hair cut. The Boyfriend (mostly) and I got yardwork done. I finished one art project and threw in another little one just for fun. We finally took in the mounds of recycling. I cleaned up the junk sunroom. We had folks over for dinner. There are actually some groceries in the kitchen. I've been to the gym multiple times this month. My house is clean. My office is even cleaner. I'm somewhat organized with work.

Don't get me wrong, the To Do list is still quite lengthy but at least a few things are getting marked off. I can't wait for cooler weather. Then the real yardwork/revamping can get done. And after that? Maybe a party.

Monday, September 08, 2008

timing

While we were on vacation we had to keep an eye on the impending hurricane that was going to make landfall about the time we were getting back home. Turned out that it headed elsewhere. Thank goodness.

Now it's the beginning of a new week and there's yet another storm allegedly headed right for us. That would be making landfall at about the time I'm getting back home from a work thing.

We all know what we're getting into when we live on the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes are part of it. Every place has their potential for natural disaster. This doesn't keep us from getting frustrated over the media coverage. Or wishing the storm would head someplace else. Sometimes I feel bad about effectively wishing ill on our neighboring towns and states but then I bet they do the same to us. So it goes...

Let's just hope this one turns like the others. Sure would be more convenient for me. :o)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

west texas

The Boyfriend and I planned a long weekend in west Texas over Labor Day. Why west Texas you ask? I'm not quite sure but I think we could stand to go back.


We flew to Midland on Thursday because it was slightly cheaper than flying to El Paso and we could spend a little less time on the plane. Because of all sorts of festivals allegedly taking place over the weekend, we ended up booking a hotel in downtown Midland for Thursday night. Downtown Midland? Not that exciting. Things do not appear to be bustling there. But we had some good barbecue, drove by Dubya's childhood home (modest, cute), wandered through the local college's art gallery, played some miniature golf, and crossed "see a drive-in movie" off my Life List. That was really fun and something I would totally do again.

On Friday we milled around town a little bit. The tourist spots in Midland are a bit of a stretch. We ended up visiting this one office building that had the strangest atrium. These guys were being pulled by a stuffed zebra.
Then we meandered through a little nature (lots of mesquite, sandy soil, grasses, oil derricks). Finally headed to Ft. Davis. Along the way we stopped at the meteor crater in Odessa. While I would have never been able to pick it out as a crater on a map, it was interesting to think that a big hunk of space smashed into our planet. Right there.


The weather was dreary and rainy during the drive. West Texas is a pretty dry place so we were just lucky I guess. The clouds were getting so low and the ground so high that it seemed like they touched. The scenery really was amazing though.
Ft. Davis is a sleepy little town. The Boyfriend secured very fun lodging--the 1903 home of the local doctor at the time. It's now owned by one of the hotels, and we had the entire second floor. It was very fun. Yea for The Boyfriend knowing how much I enjoy places like that. This was our view from the sitting area. Can I go back there right now?

We did a little napping and then made it to Marfa, our real destination. It was the Marfa Lights Festival weekend. The lights are a mystery and they remain so as we didn't see them Friday or Saturday nights. A lot of other folks went home to tell their friends and family that they saw them but they were really looking at headlights in the distance. Oh well. Maybe one day. We went to the little festival, had some good carnival-type food, and toured some of the little shops.

The weather was even worse on Saturday. We drove up to the McDonald Observatory and toured their indoor exhibit. It was too cloudy up there to see much outside so we headed back into town and toured Ft. Davis' little local museum.


That night we went back to Marfa hoping we'd have better luck with the lights. We didn't--even after hitting the local winery beforehand.

We finally had beautiful weather on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, the temperatures were pleasantly cool during the preceding days. Such a nice change from home. But now there was sun! And you could actually see the tops of the mountains!
We went to Balmorhea State Park where they have a natural spring-fed pool to swim in and glorious views to take in. Then we grabbed some good Mexican food in Ft. Stockton on our way to Monahans Sandhills State Park. YEA for that! You can rent these big frisbees and sled down the sand dunes. You should do that if given the opportunity. Even though it was warm and sunny (with blessedly low humidity!), we could still walk barefoot on the sand since it had been cooled by all the rain earlier in the week. I could have sled down those dunes all day. Well, I could have if they had a lift...it was exhausting climbing up that sand.


We ended up back in Midland for some napping and dinner. On Monday we made it to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. I had actually been before but The Boyfriend hadn't. It was more interesting this time around. Then we rushed to the airport only to find that our flight was delayed about an hour. Overall it was a pretty good trip. Definitely did some things I'd never done before. And incorporated plenty of napping. Now I'm having a terrible time trying to get back to work. Sigh...but work I must.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

under construction

Yeah, so things may look a little weird around here. I getting a little bored with the old look... Bear with me.

Vacation update soon but you can see which item got marked off on the Life List.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

saying no

Good heavens, people. There have been so many issues with work over the last few days it's ridiculous. I mean, so ridiculous that I didn't even cry about it. Well, until today. And then only briefly. My work computer finally died. It was, of course, the worst possible time--3 outstanding reports, a site having crises and me not having access to any solutions, a BlackBerry that hadn't yet been set up, all right before vacation. I'd complain more but I think the internet can only handle one superstar who can make more money blogging than working at the job that fired her for blogging.

Amidst everything, I decided to say no. Part of it was for my sanity. Part of it was because it's finally getting to me that it doesn't seem like anyone else works this hard. I can't tell you the number of times I've called coworkers only to find them taking care of some personal or leisure activity during business hours. It seems like I'm the only one stressing while others are on play dates. Literally. It still made me feel guilty to say no. To say that I needed time to get both personal and other work stuff done today. But here I am. Blogging about it instead of sitting in traffic for at least an hour and a half to help someone do their job. Good luck, people.

So, vacation! Yea! The Boyfriend and I are leaving tomorrow morning and will make it back on Monday. You know, if there's not a hurricane keeping us from flying back in. Too soon to tell. But we're headed to west Texas for a kitschy good time. Since we're not making many concrete plans, I'll spill the details upon our return. There is a plan to mark at least one item off the Life List so that should be fun. If only it were "retiring." Have a happy long weekend.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the right stuff?

What's worse? That the radio station is playing (old skool) New Kids on the Block or that I know they're playing NKOTB? Or maybe that I just wrote NKOTB?

Regardless, I'm tickled. (Even more so after labeling this post "pop culture.")

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

mondo beyondo update

So you may remember this from the beginning of the year. Or not. I totally forgot about my goals and my theme but this post reminded me.

To catch you up, my theme for 2008 was The Year of Reconnecting and I had three goals. Here's what I wrote before:

  1. I want to feel like I'm on a very real path to marriage. (Um, yes, this is scary to write. Makes me want to throw up a little bit so it must be a good one.)
  2. I want to have even closer relationships with my loved ones.
  3. I want to take better care of myself. In every way.

Things are going well for #1. Still dating The Boyfriend, which is key. And we have good conversations and took that pre-marriage class awhile back. And my friend NL is so looking forward to a wedding that I think she could have the whole thing planned in about 5 minutes if I gave her the go ahead.

#2 isn't going as well as I'd like for it to. I've spent at least a little time with everyone but not as much as I'd like. It's just so hard to balance everything. Does anyone have a tip or two for this?

#3 has quite frankly sucked lately. I'm sure you've noticed. But I have exercised more these last few months. Again, not as much as I should but it's a start. And I may have been getting enough sleep lately. Yeah, #3 has sucked. Again, how do you have enough time for everything? Anyone? And did anyone else have any goals this year? How's it going?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

10 on tuesday (36)

Ten on Tuesday to go with the current Olympic obsession. There's also another figure skater I can't think of...I'm sure I will tomorrow. I guess I just like ones who are/were inspiring to me and often those most memorable (which may also be the most hyped). And I know the media is all over Michael Phelps but he sure does make things exciting.

10 Favorite Olympians of All Time
  1. Mary Lou Retton, gymnast, owned her workout video for kids when I was younger
  2. Michael Phelps, swimmer, record breaker, cutie
  3. Greg Louganis, diver, so memorable until the other night when we couldn't remember if he was still alive or not (he is)
  4. Surya Bonaly, figure skater, bad ass, broke the rules because they were stupid
  5. Scott Hamilton, figure skater, back flipper, fun routine maker
  6. Domonique Dawes, gymnast, first female African American gymnast to win an individual medal
  7. Kerri Strug, gymnast, good lander on one ankle
  8. Carl Lewis, runner, full of energy
  9. Kurt Browning, figure skater, cutie
  10. 1980 US hockey team, inspirational

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

frame of mind

I slept through the entire flight this morning. As we taxied to our gate, the flight attendant said something about going out there and making today a good day. Apparently that's what I needed to hear because I thought, "She's exactly right. It really is up to me to make it a good day."

On Monday, I went to the doctor to see about some meds for my troublesome allergies and also to complain about a few other problems I've had lately. And I've just felt run down. She basically attributed everything to stress, even the headaches I've had like clockwork once a month for the last few months. I don't think I buy that explanation for that one, but when I asked her what to do about it she said, "Break the cycle." What she meant was to take meds right before I knew the headache was going to come on. What I took from it was to just get out of this freakin' rut already. I've been so overwhelmed for so long that even when something goes smoothly I've celebrated only briefly before falling right back into it.

So, because of those two things I bring you the list of positives about the recent changes at work.
  • I'm working in psychiatry again and that really does make me excited.
  • I'm getting more competent at that protocol.
  • Trainings have gone well lately. I even have been able to do some problem solving.
  • I know enough to know what questions to ask.
  • I have a very personable leader on that study, someone I already knew who already got my personality and sense of humor.
  • I'll be able to make more day trips.
  • That means easier travel arrangements, less packing, and more nights at home.
  • I get to spend time in southern California. And due to some switcheroos, I don't have to fly into LA anymore, only San Diego. I like San Diego. LA? Not so much.
  • I get to see mountains in New Mexico. Real mountains. The other day I was driving to the airport and looked in my rear view mirror and thought, "Gosh, it really looks like rain back there." Nope, it was dark because there was a MOUNTAIN back there.
  • Other than that, I can get to my sites in less than an hour by plane or a few hours if I choose to drive.
  • Things are getting easier (and faster) to do.
  • Unlike Shreveport where my work was never done and I could never get finished early, sometimes I can catch earlier flights home. Or even just get in my car and DRIVE home.
  • I'm getting to meet new people who I'm sure will be just lovely. I hope.
  • I got a Starbucks gift card just for joining the team.
  • My other study let's me stay in town. Just two sites. In town. Sweet.
  • That study (which really isn't my favorite no matter how I spin it) is basically in maintenance phase. The worst should be over.
  • Nothing bad has happened when I've said no. Yet. Fingers crossed on that one.

It is getting better. I just need to realize that things will take a little more time to work themselves out. After September I'll have a much more predictable schedule. Life will be good. Heck, it's not so bad right now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10 on tuesday (35)

This week's topic was suggested by me. Woohoo! Except that meant extra pressure. You know, when I'm already stressed to the max. Yeah. So be kind.


10 Favorite Movie Villains

  1. Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmations. I don't like people who want to turn puppies into coats.
  2. Voldemort from Harry Potter. He's evil and creepy and his lack of nose bothers me. I can't wait to see the newest one. The casting of his young self looks fantastic.
  3. Tess (the sister) from 27 Dresses. I know, I know. She's not really a villain in the typical sense. When I thought about this topic I asked myself what character really gets my blood boiling. She does. Every single time. Because of several in-flight movies, I've seen this movie a few times. The wedding dress scene makes me hate her. Hate. Her.
  4. Annie Wilkes from Misery. Ouch.
  5. Nazis from pretty much every movie they're in but specifically The Pianist. Maybe this movie sticks out for me because I also read the book.
  6. The Evil Stepmother from Cinderella. Don't mess with people's dead mothers' dresses, man.
  7. T-1000 from Terminator 2. If you haven't noticed, I'm not a huge fan of traditional hero/villain movies. This guy is creepy. And it's one time when I think the sequel is better than the original.
  8. Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Even though the movie was disappointing to me after reading the book, I still love Meryl Streep. And who can't relate to a boss being a villain?
  9. Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs. How could he not be on this list?
  10. Darth Vader from Star Wars. Same here. I wonder how many other movies were inspired by this series?

Monday, August 11, 2008

what a difference a year makes

If you go by the calendar, it was yesterday. If you go by the day of the week and associated events, it was Friday. Either way, it has been one year since I met The Boyfriend.

Due to schedules and some things outside of our control, we ended up spending the weekend in the country. Stayed at what is turning into my favorite B&B. Were leisurely. Slept in and ate some great breakfast. Picked and stomped some grapes. Did a little shopping. Ate a couple good dinners. Limited talk about work. All in all, very relaxing and much needed.

I lurve you, Boyfriend. One down, 60 to go.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

10 on tuesday (34)


10 events that should be in the Olympics


Given that I'm sick today and have recently been preparing for a tropical storm (that ended up not being so bad, thank goodness), I don't think I'll actually have ten.


Last week I was thinking about this topic as I was traveling (yet again) for work.
  1. Multitasking: We're talking taking a training class while on a conference call and checking e-mail and maybe filing.

  2. Speed Airport Travel: We'll give you a line to check in. Perhaps another line to take your checked baggage to...throw you a curve by having one or two baggage drops closed. Then another line for security. Who gets through fastest?

  3. Overwhelmed Breakdown: In this one you should have more and more piled on you until you crack. Maybe that would mean traveling to the wrong place on the wrong day. Or maybe forgetting documents you should have packed. Or maybe having no GPS system in the rental car when you haven't printed out any directions. (You know, for example.)

  4. Rental Car Memory: Speaking of rental cars, let's see if the contestants can remember what kind of car they're driving. Added difficulty for having multiple cars in multiple cities in rapid succession, only seeing the car at night, and valeting the car so that you can't even read the label on the keys.

  5. Password Memory: These things change all the time...but never at the same frequency. Let's say no two can be the same and pile more and more on. You also need freaky specifications like no repeating the last 12 passwords, adding numbers, and including upper and lower case...

And one more considering the tropical storm yesterday and today.

6. Natural Disaster Drama: Let's see who can convey information without trying to over-dramatize it.

And yea for one of my suggestions being the topic for next week. Does that mean my list will have to be extra good? Happy Tuesday.

Monday, August 04, 2008

preparedness

Why does it have to be 9000 degrees outside the day before a tropical storm/possible hurricane? In keeping with last week's 10 on Tuesday, it is too hot to drag in patio furniture and plants and to bag up weeds that you were hoping would dry out before you bagged them and duct tape the wonky globes on your outside light because that's the best solution you can think of right now and put the several bags of garbage in the garage because trash day isn't until tomorrow and bring in the garden gnomes lest they become flying projectiles. Too. Freakin'. Hot. Good luck, house. I'll see you Wednesday.

Friday, August 01, 2008

adequacy (or lack thereof)

There is no little emoticon on the website I use for "inadequate." If there were, that's what I'd have over there. For most of the last year I've felt great. Pretty much better than I had in years and years. Something in me has changed. And I really do believe that or else there would have been many more days months of feeling inadequate over the last year. But here I am anyway.

Everything stems from work. After two years of working the same project, I knew it backwards and forwards. I knew all the people with whom I worked (even if I hadn't met them face-to-face). I knew everyone's roles. I knew how to get to all my sites in other cities/states and knew my way around those offices. I knew who was good at their job and those who were less so. Even though I didn't love Shreveport, I knew what to expect. And right now, even going there doesn't seem so bad. (And you know I'm not doing well if I'm saying that.)

Now I've been on two new projects for months. It really feels like, by now, I should know what I'm doing a little bit more than I do. Granted, there has been too much (constant) change and too little training during that time. But still. Here I am--feeling frustrated and burned out and incompetent. Everything takes longer to do. I don't know who anyone is, let alone have a real connection with any of the folks in the other cities. I may not know where the bathrooms are there. Or where to eat lunch. Or what hotel to choose. Or really know what I'm doing on either project. And it seems like I'm out-of-town so much that it's hard to take time to just get organized and learn. Basically, I'm spending too much time doing the job instead of learning how to do the job...it's so backwards. So I've taken a few office days but then I feel so overwhelmed with the rest of my life and so unmotivated with work, that I end up getting nothing done to help me do the job better. And then there's the actual missing of deadlines and scheduling travel on wrong days and stuff...

I know that if I just devoted a few good solid days--ok, maybe a week--to work, then I'd be better off in the long run. And when I say "work" I mean the things that people don't see--things that do not have deadlines, things that only I know are getting done behind the scenes. There are always those 40+ hours of work that people do see on top of the rest... But here's the deal. Even though I've been trying so hard to get a grasp on work so that I can improve my state of mind down the road, I'm letting everything else in my life get screwed up as well.

Basically I have been sort of hit-and-miss with my diet and exercise. I haven't seen enough of my friends or family (yet still manage to damage via e-mail...as if neglect isn't enough). I haven't done as much around the house as I've wanted. The yard (actually the flower beds) haven't looked this bad since I've moved here. And I don't really take much time for personal appearance. Yeah, it's pretty much every area.

So I'm sorry if you've felt let down and/or abused and/or neglected by me. And if you hear me say fuck a lot, know that I don't really mean it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

shake, rattle, and roll

No, I'm fine. Thanks for asking. While I am in LA today, my plane was still above the shaking ground. How freaky would it be to try to land a plane amidst an earthquake?

Had I kept my original travel plans I would have been here. At the site. Freaking out. Working the rest of the day under the desk. No aftershocks that have been registered (by me anyway). Perhaps I wouldn't have even noticed... "Hmm, was that my stomach growling?" I must say, it would be an interesting thing to experience as long as you knew it wouldn't end poorly.

10 on tuesday (33)

When I was in college, one of my friends and I were talking about what it was too hot to do. We came up with things like "it's too hot to be pregnant" or "it's too hot to fall down." When you live in Texas it is often too hot to do many things. Here's what you do instead.

10 things to do when it's too hot to go outside
  1. Play the Wii. I've gotten pretty good at Guitar Hero.

  2. Clean the house. Thrilling, I know.

  3. Work on house projects. Lately it's been painting the stairs. If I ever make the last few decisions and actually finish without killing myself, there will be pictures to come.

  4. Sit in front of the computer. Internet. E-mail. Photography.

  5. Wish my house were better insulated. Hand-in-hand with this is wonder how bad my electric bill is going to be.

  6. Drink more. Generally the non-alcoholic kind.

  7. Go shopping. This does, however, require a person to go from the house to the car. Outside. With no air conditioning.

  8. See a movie. You know, this doesn't happen nearly enough.

  9. Sleep in, when possible. I think the heat just really drains you (do I sound like an old person by saying that?).

  10. Go outside anyway. You just wear less clothes. And jewelry. And only open-toed shoes so that you have a really fly flip flop tan by June. If we avoided the heat here, we'd never see daylight for, well, nearly the entire year. There is always the option of becoming nocturnal...

Friday, July 25, 2008

ok, ok, i get it

So there's this woman at my company who I'm sure is very nice. Awhile back she started sending us these quotes every Friday. You'd think I'd love her for that, right? I love quotes. But she sends them as a PowerPoint slide and my computer is so slow that sometimes I just delete without reading because, seriously, if I have to wait on one more thing--especially something that's not work-related--I'll go insane. And then there's the joy of getting my inbox down by one more message, to a so-close-to-being-almost-in-the-vicinity-of-manageable number of e-mails. Regardless, here's the quote for today that I opened as I pondered what I have to get done today and what I'll have to "come back into the office" to get done over the weekend.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” –Lin Yutang


Now if only I could get this Lin person to pay my bills and write my reports and file...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

10 on tuesday (32)


10 Least Favorite Celebrities

Ugh. There are so many... I was just thinking over the weekend that there are very few "classic" Hollywood-types these days.
  1. Paris Hilton--Why won't she go away? And now there have been rumors of her reproducing. Just what we need.
  2. Keanu Reeves--I think he's a terrible actor. Terrible.
  3. Jessica Simpson--I don't care if she's ditsy and uneducated or just pretending to be--both are bad in my book.
  4. Lindsey Lohan--The newest possible lesbian turn she's taking seems like an improvement over the drugs/alcohol/drunk driving fun she's normally up to...
  5. Britney Spears--Not a fan but still am glad no one follows me around with cameras claiming I'm pregnant because I have a little belly bulge occasionally.
  6. Miley Cyrus--I know kids love her. I don't.
  7. The entire cast of High School Musical--See #6.
  8. Tom Cruise--I never would have thought the tide would turn on him--especially if you would have asked me right after Cocktail came out and young cjh's BFF and I were in love with him. Oh, how the crazy is hidden sometimes.
  9. Angelina Jolie--So tired of her. Can't forget her former self and that she stole someone else's husband.
  10. All reality TV "stars" who have stayed past their 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

pnc park and the pirates

On July 7th, we drove in to Pittsburgh to see the Astros play the Pirates. It was my first away game. Since I'd experienced the joy of Yankee and Red Sox fans on our home turf (Bubba, I can hear you saying that we don't have turf anymore; we have grass), I was determined to not be an obnoxious fan. And I wasn't. A good time was had by all...except maybe our boys. They lost.

We got there early and stayed the entire game. Our seats were great--8 rows up along the 1st base line. The Pirates fans behind us were very nice. The folks to our left were actually Phillies fans. And the people in front of us were on a 5-stadium bus tour. Seemed fun.

Granted, it was the Astros vs. the Bucs on a Monday night but attendance didn't even hit 14,000.

The first half took forever; it seemed like the battle of the poor pitchers. But it also seemed like we had a shot. In the end, the second half went as quickly as any hopes we had of winning. It ended 7-10.

Some interesting tidbits:
  • The lemonade guy had a very fun yell. And he brought cups of lemonade to sell the way the beer guys normally haul around beer.

  • Speaking of beer guys, one of them was a card. We needed to tip him for his comedy act.

  • Another beer vendor, the Iron City guy, was very nice. When he carded us (yea!) and realized we were from Texas, he welcomed us and told us to just ask if we had any questions.

  • The fans around us were nice--only a few heckles. Not too bad at all.

  • They have pierogy races. They start off on the screen like our Hummers with bobbleheads do. Then they run out on the field. Actual people dressed as pierogies. Who knew?

  • The vendors also bring hot dogs right to you. In warm, little ovens.

  • Their ballpark reminds me of ours. Nice view of downtown. Relatively new. Open air.

  • Beer was only $7.

  • They had really good cheddar and caramel popcorn. I didn't have a dog this time.

  • A teenage kid played the National Anthem on his electric guitar.

  • They shoot off fireworks when the Bucs hit a home run.

  • Unlike our park, they only show the batting order of the offensive team on the big screen. I enjoy seeing both.

  • One foul ball came awfully close to us. No cigar. But I tell you what, if one came any closer I'd freak out--out of excitement and the pressure. If I ever catch one, it will be against all laws of nature.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 on tuesday (31)

I haven't done a 10 on Tuesday in quite awhile. Ok, since the end of April. Lately, some of the topics haven't really hit home with me and other times I've just looked up and it was already Wednesday. Oops.

10 Memorable Vacation Moments
  1. Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

  2. Being only a few feet away from elk in the wild in rural Pennsylvania.

  3. Drinking wine on the porch with The Boyfriend (as described here) in Brenham.

  4. Horseback riding in Mexico with my snarky, biting and sometimes galloping horse.

  5. Dancing till the early morning on our Mexican cruise.

  6. Seeing "O" (my first Cirque show) in Vegas with The Boyfriend.

  7. Whale watching for the first time off of Boston.

  8. Crossing the state line for the first time (to Louisiana) when I was 17. (I know. I was old. We were poor. And who needs to leave Texas?)

  9. The early morning Seattle markets.

  10. Minding our own business in the hotel pool when those Jamaicans started talking to us in Grand Cayman. Also, hanging with sting rays there. And giant turtles. And iguanas.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

perspective

The clouds were amazing. I don't know what compelled me to look out the window. Maybe the lack of reading material. Maybe the chatty tween the row in front of me who kept me from napping. Maybe the warning that it was about to get bumpy. Whatever it was, I'm glad I did. Interspersed amongst the inviting fluffy white clouds that could have been taken right out of a 5-year-old's drawing were flat, wispy cirrus clouds. Their horizontal lines dissected the giant puffs in such a way that you could easily imagine them being the surface of a vast ocean where you could simultaneously see the tops and bottoms of icebergs.

I didn't have my camera.

++++++++++

When the clouds thinned, the boy behind me asked his mother if that was the Mississippi. The river is always huge, impressive. Because of the relentless rain, it had jumped its banks. The land isn't heavily populated but there are a few homes that still have water knocking on their doors. Others are islands, driveways leading to disappearing roadways. Large fields of crops are submerged. What was once a patchwork of greens has become a geometric pattern of glassy mirrors. When we finally get over dry land, you can see how the water ripped the crops from the ground. Muddy, brown fields irregularly edged in yellow and then green along the side furthest from the river. I am struck by the devastation. By what this means to the people in those flood-ravaged homes. What it means to the farmers. For the consumers. And how plane-fuls of passengers are touring this disaster area the same way government leaders do. Amazing and unbelievable and humbling and sobering.

And I didn't have my camera.

Friday, July 11, 2008

10 things--pennsylvania

  1. There was beauty in all the nature that surrounded us. Everywhere. Rural PA is really quite lovely.
  2. The Boyfriend and I got to spend some quality alone time at two homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright--Falling Water and Kentuck Knob. Both are amazing today and even more so when you remember how long ago they were conceived and constructed. And, yes, we got to tour their interiors as well.
  3. Even though the weather wasn't the picture of summer (i.e. warm and sunny) at all times, the rain and fog in the mountains took my breath away.
  4. Other than the GPS and very rare phone calls, we didn't use any technology during the trip. No voicemail or e-mail or internet or television. (We did use the stove and A/C and indoor plumbing, etc.) It was refreshing.
  5. I saw real life Amish. In the wild.
  6. We also saw real live elk. I never knew "elk" could be turned into a verb--as in "we went elking." This means driving around looking for them. They are relatively easy to find. Amazing, breathtaking, yada yada. We also saw groundhogs and chipmunks and fireflies.
  7. It was nice to see so many people and places that are important to the SIL and her family.
  8. We got to go out on the boat a few times. Enough one day to get a little sun. And we saw the fireworks from the lake. I like seeing them while on the water. We should do that more often at home.
  9. I marked off #4 on my ballpark list. A post on that still to come...
  10. We made it out to an extended family member's tiny house at "camp." There we enjoyed lovely hospitality as well as grilled sandwiches and hot dogs and SMORES! Food on a stick is awesome.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

pennsylvania picture post

I got back today and am so not in the mood to go back to work. Ugh. Pictures today, perhaps words tomorrow.