Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Only Winning Move Is Not to Play

Today, Christopher gave me a Rubik's Cube for Christmas. Tom told me it was genuinely from him; CJ saw it when the two of them were at Barnes and Noble, and CJ grabbed it and carried it around the store while telling Tom, "We haf to go show Mommy."

That would explain why the top of the package was already partially opened.

Anyway, I am now freaking obsessed with this thing. I stared at it for some time, and told Tom I was afraid to touch it, that I would mess it up. He laughed and told me it's there to play with, not to just stare at for hours. So finally, I picked it up and gave it a twist...

I had a Rubik's Once before, when I was about 5. Mom couldn't get it out of my hands. She had to hide it before I left for school. I spent days twisting, twisting, twisting, trying to solve it. One morning, Mom found the cube sitting by her chair, solved. She picked it up and a sticker fell off. I had gotten so frustrated with the darned thing I had peeled off each sticker and restuck them in order.

I haven't tried peeling this one yet.

I've already spent several moments today twisting, peering, shaking my head, twisting backwards, and occasionally biting my tongue to keep from cursing (CJ said "shit" at the store yesterday, but that's another story). I got all the yellows at one point, but had to abandon them to try to align my blues and whites.

Heaven help me. I'm on vacation for another week and a half, and I can already tell I'm getting nothing productive done.

Merry Christmas!

OK, since I mentioned it--CJ picked up the s-word from either Tom or me (we're equal opportunity shitters) and said it a couple times over the weekend. We didn't make a big deal and directed him to something else. Yesterday, we went out to finish our Christmas shopping and split up at the shopping center. Tom went to one store, and I took CJ to Linens 'N' Things.

I was trying to find a coffee grinder for my friend, Jay, who is seriously into coffee. I couldn't find one. I was next to all the coffee makers and carafes, and I knew they had to be there somewhere. I said to CJ, who was riding in the cart, "I can't find the coffee grinders. I wonder if they're out?"

My sweet little angel looked at me and with perfect inflection intoned, "Shit."

Again, I didn't make a big deal of it. He had a good point. Just then, I found what I was looking for and moved on.

Later, we were looking at candles while Christopher sang "Jingle Bells" to me ("Jinga bell, Jinga bell, Jinga alda way! Oh wah fun, do-doo-doo, jinga alda way!"). He started singing it using nonsense words, bobbing his head, "Shoo shoo shoo, shoo shoo shoo, shoo shoo doo doo shoo!", and then I realized he was using the s-word again instead of "shoo". Luckily, he was singing softly, no one overheard, and I was able to get him back on the right words.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this latest development. My own darned fault, I know. I have a mouth like a sailor at home; it's a failing. Anyway, for any who have gone through this: Am I doing the right thing, letting it go and directing him to another word or activity or should I do something else? It seems to me that if I laugh, or get angry, then he'll say it more often--or who knows what other word he might pick. I'm sure I've given him plenty of choices.

And yes, later on, I told Tom what had happened while CJ was watching Bugs Bunny in our bedroom, and we laughed our asses off.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where, Oh, Where Are You To-Night?

Jenn, your phone calls and emails have been duly noted (and quite enjoyed, especially the sung voice mail), and I'm really sorry I have been remiss in sticking with my plan to update once a month. Where have I been? Nowhere, really, just stuck in the details.

November and December have contained 2.5 weeks of training and the rest of time in planning sessions for the Mighty Morphing Web Project. After 18 months of prototyping and analysis, we're ready to go forward and managing to secure a big chunk of cash to do so. So I've been involved in sessions to plan timelines, priorities, documentation structure, resource planning, and kickoff. Somewhere in there I have found time to breathe, but barely. During this time, I'd been planning everything except my role, since I didn't know what my role would be over the next three years as we make this thing a reality. So I found the courage last week to approach my boss and create my own--essentially, I want to define the documentation standards, create the templates, hire the analysts, implement the governance, and oversee the analysts, providing guidance along the way. I also want visibility, so I want to filter the information into the regular status communications, prepare end of release containment reports, and participate in the ongoing strategy discussions for the overall project.

Amazingly, I made a strong case for why I was the best person for the role, and gave some examples of things I've done that fit in, as well as ideas for the way we should do things for MMWP. Even more amazingly, my boss thought I was right on point with my ideas and agreed that I fit exactly what he's needing for this kind of role. So, I got it.

One must be careful about one wishes for, though. Today I found out that while I may have my dream role, I may be doing it for another boss. Not sure how I feel about that. There are pros and cons to each person--I'm more hung up on the surprise of it. Remember those trainings I mentioned earlier? Turns out those discussions happened while I out learning new stuff, and since we're moving at Mach 2 to get everything ready, everyone on my team assumed I had gotten an update about from someone else. In actuality, no one told me a thing, and I bopped along blissfully ignorant of the impending new director.


On another topic--my little boy turns 3 tomorrow! I have two dozen cupcakes in the pantry ready to go to daycare tomorrow for an informal class party. I'm working from home tomorrow so I can bake a spice cake and make the cream cheese frosting, then it's time for Birthday Dinner Party! This is the first year CJ has talked about parties and birthdays, so I think he'll enjoy it. I have hats and balloons and squawking things, and way too many toys for one child to handle. Our friends Jay and Erik are coming, along with her sister Robin (who watched CJ when Tom and I had to go to Florida earlier this year). No kids this year, since we were too late with the planning to execute that piece, but I still think my little boy will be pleased.

Next week I start vacation till January 7th, but this is still a busy time--CJ's birthday, Christmas, then Tom's birthday. I love Amazon.com! I'm really looking forward to the extended family time of the three of us together, around the house, without having to juggle work and daycare for a bit. Then I'm sure we'll all get sick of each other by the time we have to resume our normal schedules and we won't accomplish half of our "honeydo" lists--but let's focus on the important thing, really:


Last random thing to mention--I have begun my 10th year with my company. I'm a little surprised about it. It's the longest I've been in any one organization in my life, and it seems to have moved quickly. Somehow, I blinked, and now I'm 32, married, a mother, with a career, and I still feel like I'm 17 and should get up early because I'm opening the Hardee's drive-thru tomorrow.

I'm not sure if this is what it means to be all growed up.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Excuse Me. I Couldn't Help Noticing That Strange and Interesting Plant.

Finally--finally!--FINALLY, I've published the report I've been working on for the last 6 months. One of my coworkers told me I looked different a few days later, like I was standing up straighter and smiling more. It's an incredible sense of relief and one of the biggest challenges of my career and I'm very proud that I got it done and done well.

My little guy is conked out on the couch with a cold. I've been giving him Motrin occasionally for fever, and Dimetapp this morning for the snot. The Dimetapp wound him up bigtime! I felt bad because after the Dimetapp he was in a good mood and so goofy and I couldn't help but laugh at his sillier moments, even though I knew it was because he was doped up.

When the Dimetapp wore off, I confess, I gave him a tiny dose of Benedryl instead. It was naptime, and I knew he'd have no nap with Dimetapp (Maybe that should be their new marketing campaign?). So I crossed my fingers and gave him the Benedryl. I temper my guilt with the knowledge that he needs his rest.

Tom is picking up on the antiques and collecting hobby, still working toward putting together his own business. We've been watching more Bargain Hunt. One couple bought a silver ladle from the 18th century to display as a "conversation piece". I don't understand this logic. I imagine every conversation would go this way:

"Is that a ladle?"
"Yes, it's from the 18th century."
"Why did you buy it?"
"As a conversation piece."

I saw someone buy a huge butterchurn once, same purpose. It was a like a barrel with legs, and a giant handle to turn. There was a small window on one end to see the progress. Again, I imagine each conversation as:

"What the heck is that?"
"A butter churn."
"Why would you buy a butter churn?"
"As a conversation piece."

To be fair, these would be conversations with the buyers and their guests. I'm sure that guests and visitors amongst themselves would have some very spirited conversations about the buyers and their interesting taste.

I really don't know what else to add. I post only once a month and still have nothing to say. I'm a very boring person.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What'sa Happ'nin, Hot Stuff?

Suze noted in the comments for Office Space haiku that she waited behind teh great Johnny C while in Malibu. Oh, Suze, how I envy you. How could you stand that close to Dr. Cox and not just jump him then and there?

On the list, I tell you--on the list! In Sharpie!

Moving on--Monsoon season has hit the Valley and I will be glad when it passes in a few weeks. Dew points above 55 degrees equal humidity levels of 40-50%. Not bad back East, but in the summer desert with a temperature of 115? Murderous. Literally. It's difficult to stay hydrated, too hot to go outdoors, and dust storms come from nowhere followed by rain storms that flood the washes quickly and create standing water of an inch or more within minutes because the parched ground can't soak up the rain and quickly as it pounds down. For some reason, I have trouble breathing when the air gets too humid--right before a monsoon hits, I'll feel as though something is sitting on my chest and that feeling doesn't pass till the clouds do. After the rain, though, the desert smells incredible and there's brief respite from the humidity, the air pressure, and the temperature till the next day begins.

Work is still keeping me busy. In fact, I've been so busy I still have nearly three weeks to use before the end of the year. Most of that is planned around the upcoming holidays, and I have a feeling I will be taking some long weekends until then. I took a four day weekend this past weekend that was awesome. I didn't leave the house--just stayed home and played with CJ and cleaned and did some Sudoku and caught up on TiVo. Like Tooz, I have my shows I like to watch but I have to record them all to watch during naptimes and the evenings. Typically, weekend TV is devoted to Blue's Clues, Jack's Big Music Show, The Upside Down show, and Pinky Dinky Doo. It may seem like CJ watches a lot of TV, but he really doesn't. It's more background noise while we color or play. He does actually watch a few of the shows and he'll tell Steve where to find clues, or clap with Jack and Mary, or tell me about the whole Dinky Doo family. I must admit that the television he does watch is more interactive than I recall some things I watched as a kid. I'm fascinated by the Upside Down Show--it's educational focus is on imaginative play and abstract thinking, it's hosted by a pair of actors from New Zealand, and it becomes so absurd at times that I suspect it might be a preschool primer to Monty Python. CJ loves it.

I'm hooked on home flipping shows--Flip That House, Property Ladder. Tom and I are convinced we could do better than the people in the shows. We've looked at the possibilities several times, but not in the Phoenix market. Too unstable right now. I have Season Passes for Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic on BBC America. I have to have my Daily Show/Colbert Report fix. So much so that CJ asks for those shows by name (Day-lee show? Bear Pore?). And I have the usual summer foodfare--Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef, Good Eats, and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares when I can catch it.

That's about all for now. Too darned hot to do anything but watch TV.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

For Mrs. Ann

Office Space haiku. I think I've watched this movie way too much.

If you could put the
cover sheets on TPS?
Yeah, that would be great.

If things go well I
Might be showing her my O
face--"Oh! Oh! Oh!" Heh.

I'm gonna lose it!
Sounds like someone's got a case
Of the Mondays!

It seems you've missed work.
I can't exactly say I've
Been missing it, Bob.

Don't take my stapler.
Move my desk and I swear I
Will burn this place down.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Haiku Doin'?

Lapse in updating.
Will attempt to fill in gaps
Solely in haiku.

Took a trip in May.
West Palm Beach--ritzy. Open
Bar, drank way too much.

Rode catamaran
To Peanut Island. Many
homes I can't afford.

Went go karting in
Jupiter. Ran off course but
Still finished the race.

Had picture taken
With Senior Vice President.
I smiled awkwardly.

Sunburn peeling, flew
Home to Phoenix. Was very
Happy to see son.

Most of June has been
Very busy. Catch up on
Work, projects moving.

CJ is talking
in partial clauses. Learns new
Words every day.

Read Dr. Seuss's
ABCs each night for bed.
Memorized each word.

Big I, little i,
i...i...i. Icabod is
Itchy. So am I.

Took time off for Fourth
Of July. Made burgers, watched
Fireworks from backyard.

Birthday is next week.
Excitement mounts though I grow
Older--Thirty-two : )

Shall quickly forget
to mope about if Harry
Potter comes on time.

As for now, not much
Going on. Daily routine
With domestic joy.

Hope you enjoyed the
brief haiku update. If not,
It's all Everett's fault.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Off to Palm Beach

I won't be back till the weekend, so no singing for me to post week. I'm hoping this will be a fun trip, despite the business context--I have to meet the CEO, y'all! Yikes!!!

I'll see you when I get back.

Friday, April 13, 2007

So It Goes

The surge of troops into Iraq has worked so well that there is a proposal to extend tours of duty by three months, from 12 to 15. Don Imus has been fired, and fired again, for stupidly thinking he could describe a women's collegiate team in a way that was politically incorrect, socially unacceptable, and realistically untrue (while 24 hour cable outlets have repeated the epithet so many times my brain has turned it into it's own sitcom jingle). We now know who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, and my baby got his first goose egg at daycare yesterday after horsing around with a classmate. And at some point, while all this was happening, Kurt Vonnegut passed away after long, interesting, and fairly incomprehensible life.

So it goes.

I'm still working on delivery for the project I've been working on for a year, and two weeks from now, will be completely done with the documentation for this particular effort. Then we go into evaluation and I began the documentation for another project. I was picked, inexplicably, as a winner for the department Excellence award at the Platinum award, meaning I receive a monetary award and trip for two to a swanky five-diamond resort in Florida for four days in May. While my teammates and boss are very excited for me, I feel a little strange about it, as if I drove the cement truck but they were the ones who laid the foundation and built the house. Then I tell myself to relax and go with it, stop being my own worst critic, and don't worry about expectations when staring at a blank PowerPoint slide and just do my thing.

This seems like an excellent time to bust out Jenn's five questions for me:
1. What's your favorite speech/drama memory from high school?
I've been mulling this one over for a week, since there are so many--each gavel I picked up; stopping at Ehrler's for ice cream whenever we were near; the year I managed to place 5th in the State and the weirdness Susan and I felt when I kept making it through each level when I had never dreamed I could be one of those kids but Susan knew all along I had the potential; the Cujo joke Susan, Isaac, and I shared while walking into the Pizza Hut in Shepherdsville that drew us some perplexed stares from the waitstaff, and other general memories of friendship, camaraderie, an amazing first kiss, and other assorted benchmarks of life that I can't imagine sharing with anyone other than the people who were in my life then.

Trying to narrow it to one, I go back to the one that pops up first: Some details are fuzzy. I think this was senior year, coming back Bowling Green for the State Tournament that year. I don't remember everyone in the car, but I know Mandi, Doug, and I were in the backseat and Susan was driving. This was odd, since I usually sat up front next to Susan, but this time someone else had that place. Doug was the only male, and we covered his head with my jacket while Mandi and I stripped off skirts and pantyhose to put on more comfortable clothing and shoes. Doug got bored and began clucking my name, "Buh-Buh-Buh-BeckEE!!" till Susan was crying with laughter. In general, we were having a grand old time as the sky got darker and darker and Susan began to wonder why we hadn't E-town yet on the Parkway. About that time, we spotted the sign for Shepherdsville--in all the fun, we'd missed the Parkway completely and kept moving up the 65!

This was before cellphones, so we just kept going, grabbed the Gene Snyder Expressway, and came down 64, getting to the high school at least an hour later than we should have (if not longer). Parents were worried, as were our fellow classmates, and it was pretty hard to explain exactly why we had missed the correct exit on a drive Susan had made at least 20 times.

On a somewhat related note--For some reason, I was the only person who could remember which exit to take off the Gene Snyder to get the Bullitt Central High School, the one that looped around and back. Other cars would always take the wrong one and have to turn around. After I graduated, Susan began taking the team to a different high school that weekend instead of Bullitt Central, and the location for Catholic Regionals changed. Coincidence? I think not.

2. If you were offered the chance to go back to college and finish up your degree, regardless of subject matter, what would you study and what would you do with that educational background?
I was thinking of this not too long ago, since I get tuition assistance as a perk and I want to finish my education. My decision was to major in History (or Historical Studies, or Humanities, I forget how ASU has it listed) with a minor in Religion or Cultural Studies. The schools I have available name the subjects differently in their curriculums. Basically, I want to learn more about the patterns of the people who live in this world, about the causes and effects of past actions, and understand how the religions we practice and the places we live influence our decisions and communication. It's something that interests me since I live in an area much different in racial population than where I grew up, and I work for a company where cultural differences can be slight, yet profound. For instance, my boss attended school in India and did well because intelligence was highly celebrated; as he put it, being a nerd was desirable. In my opinion, our culture celebrates and awards mediocrity over intelligence and effort. It just seems like a good idea to understand those overarching differences, especially if I want to continue in my line of work where that cultural divide is not going to go away.

3. What's the funniest thing C.J. has done so far?
He does something funny every day, so there's always a new one. Last Sunday, he had me cracking up when he was playing with his ball--it looks like a softball but is literally soft, stuffed with fiber and safe for playing in the house--anyway, he was about the throw it to me when He lifted his t-shirt and stuck his ball under it, then pulled the t-shirt down. Proportionally, he looked nine months pregnant with this huge round belly sticking way out, then he spread his hands and shook his head, "Where'd it go? Where'd it go?" I stammered out, while laughing, "It's under your shirt!" and he looked down and got this look of surprise, then exclaimed, "there it is!" This might seem strange, since he's only 2, but he was definitely trying to be funny, knew this was funny, and was completely committed to it. Plus, the visual was completely, perfectly absurd.

4. What's the most romantic thing Tom has ever done for you?
Again, lots of moments in nearly eleven years, so narrowing it down is difficult. We're not overt in our notions, but do more subtle things for each other--in other words, he might not give me a card or flowers for Mother's Day, but he'll wash all my laundry and cook my favorite steak for dinner, that kind of thing. When CJ was six months old and the last Harry Potter book came out (the day before my birthday), Tom watched CJ all day on my birthday so I could curl up and read, something I hadn't really done since CJ was born.

We've been getting ready for a yard sale in a couple weeks, and this weekend we were going through our books to decide what to keep and what to sell. I found the copy of The Bean Trees he gave me for one Christmas, with this inscription: "From a man who's very happy a certain Kentucky girl moved to Arizona." Still, for most romantic, I'd pick this example: Right after I moved out to AZ, I discovered I was missing one of my Eddings books, a hardcover copy of the Ruby Knight, that was irreplaceable. I didn't find out I missing it until I had finished a re-read of the book before it, so I was pretty upset. Months later, for our first Christmas, Tom gives me a present to open--a paperback copy of the book, with an apology that he couldn't find the hardback! He'd actually looked on the list in one my other Eddings books to see which one I was missing so he could replace it. A small thing to be sure, but it gave me a fairly good idea of the kind of person he was.

Ten years later, he hasn't proved me wrong on that.

5. What's your dream job?
I doubt it exists. It would give me tons of flexibility to work when and where I want, pay well enough that Tom could stay home and I wouldn't have to worry about the bills, would give me a sense that my accomplishments actually affect the earth and the people on it in someway, give me a tangible feeling of satisfaction for completing my tasks, and let me be as creative as I want to be.

My current job, luckily enough for me, fills some of these goals, but not all. Enough for now, I suppose.

Sort of like this post--enough for now, I suppose.

Friday, March 30, 2007


It has been quite the absence, and quite a bit has happened in the past two months. I talked to Jenn pretty regularly during most of that, so I'm sure she'll keep me honest and point out if I missed anything truly significant.

I was gone for no good reason, really, other than I was in a deep funk and had to dig out. I was solidly entrenched in anger phase for a while--I picked a fight with Tom one morning on the car, complete with floorboard stomping, because he had the audacity to pay me a compliment! How dare he! I'm coming back to grips, still dealing with issues, but it'll get better. March 2 was Dad's birthday (and Todd's, too) and that was much harder than I expected it to be.

My son is now addicted to Blue's Clues (preferably the episodes with Steve). I can't check the mail without singing. He asks for it as soon as he wakes up, as soon as we pick him up from daycare, and as soon as he walks in the door. He has begun to incorporate the dance moves during the songs and can now perform Jazz Hands! He also cleans up his toys before bed, although we have fights every night about bedtime. Namely he doesn't want to go. I long for the days when he would pick up his blanket, say night-night, and try to climb into his crib at night. Oh, well.

I have a new car. Instead of renewing the tags on the 2000 Olds I'd been driving, I bit the bullet and got a great deal on my first new car ever--a 2007 Toyota Prius. I'm getting 48 MPG on my 85 mile commute now, and feel better about not contributing to the brown cloud that hovers over Phoenix. It's a sweet ride, once one gets past the feeling that the engine has stalled when transferring to the electric motor.

Home improvement news--had the old, non-sliding glass door removed and replaced with french doors, which make a big difference! They have the blinds inside the door, between the panes, so no more dusting, and despite having less surface glass than the sliding doors, they somehow make the room seem brighter. My only regret is I didn't have it done sooner.

Let's see, what else? There's something big that I'm missing, but since I quit smoking my brain has turned to mush. I just don't know what it could be? I'm sure Jenn will remind me.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Five Fragen Questions

Oh, Jenn, thinking I would go a full two months! I'm not that bad, although it has been a dry spell. I'll post some quick hits about the past two months in a bit. First, I'll address the questions that Suze asked of me:

1. What the most unusual thing about your hometown of [tiny town] KY? Well, Suze and I are from the same area, but I lived out in the county from the main town. This town had a population of 250 people while I lived there.

That's right. 250 people.

I lived next door to one of the descendants of the town's founders--it came into existence as a depot on the old passenger route during the days of the steam engine. I lived there for 12 years, counting my time home from college, before moving out West. I can't isolate anything particularly unusual from anything else in the town--I'd say the town itself was highly unusual.

When I lived there in the mid to late 1980s, one could still go to the general store on Main Street and buy penny and nickel candy from glass canisters by the register. The bank had a giant vault that was opened each morning and locked every night and was never robbed. A grate covered the vault opening during business hours while the vault door itself rested against the wall. The post office was run by one person, who also sorted and delivered all the mail, and there was never a line for service. There was one funeral home and five churches. And there was Mabel.

Old Mabel--Mabel Ganz was her name, and she was almost as old as the town. Everyone was against her, as Mabel told everyone, and she lived in an old house on 32 that was falling down around her. She had no family that I can recall, and she walked all over town with a huge limb as a walking stick. She kept her hair tied back in a bandanna, wore long sleeved henleys and old dungarees, and walked right down the middle of the road as she pleased, where ever she went. She never left the town, and didn't even own a car. She got all her groceries from the general store, but I don't know what she did for clothes or other items. She went to every City Council meeting and loudly disagreed with every suggestion--traffic light, police officer, sewer system--didn't matter what was proposed, she opposed it while claiming corruption by the town government. Mabel didn't like much of anything or anyone but for some reason she liked my family. She came to visit every so often when she felt like hiking up the hill. She was an interesting yet annoying woman, I confess.

When Mabel's house was eventually condemned by the county, the town built her a new house. I always found it interesting that a town that didn't like her found the funds to build her a new house right where her old house stood, and I think Mabel was surprised, too. She still hiked all over town and went to the City Council meetings, but kept her grumblings to a minimum after that.

2. What's the geekiest thing you've said or done in the last 24 hours? Yesterday my team went to a place called Jillians' to blow off steam--lots of video games, skeeball, and bowling. I wore my old bowling shirt from TC that Jenn might recall, and I bowled a 68. In my defense, I only bowled one game and the beer didn't have a chance to kick in before I had to go pick up the boys and head home. I scored a 50000 playing Galaga, beat my boss in a driving game (I made him spin out in the last seconds), and did fairly well blowing away bad guys in a handgun shooter game. So well that one of my coworkers watched in awe and proclaimed he would never, ever piss me off. Not bad for a chick who's never handled a gun.

3. Where's the most exotic place you've traveled? Hmm. When I think of exotic, I think of palm trees, tropical climate, and sandy beaches, but I've never been out of the country. The closest I've come to any place truly alien was my first visit to Las Vegas; Tom and I went on the spur of the moment on a Friday night when we had a long weekend and arrived at 11pm after driving about 5 hours. I didn't know about the lax liquor laws and was shocked to see people walking down the street with open beer bottles. We went to Fremont Street and I bought a bong-size margarita for a dollar before going into Binion's Horseshoe and quickly losing $20 playing BlackJack.

I love Las Vegas!

4. Name 3 guilty pleasures you have. First would be a good glass of wine with a good steak. Second, watching all the home flipping shows on TLC like Flip That House and Moving Up. I'm convinced I could successfully flip a house because I'm not a moron like the people they always seem to find and I might be right--keep in mind that I also convince myself I could run a restaurant after watching a Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares marathon on BBCAmerica. Third? Hmm...I guess jelly beans, since I quit smoking.

5. If you found yourself sitting next to your favorite celebrity on an airplane, what's the first thing you would say to him/her? "Are you using that armrest?"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Six Weird Things About Me

I guess it's time I got around to my turn. The hardest part is just trying to keep things limited to six, but I'll do my best:

  1. Caffeine is not a stimulant for me. I don't know if it's because of the ADD, but I can ingest a lot of caffeine and have no issues with sleeping. I remember in college we'd hang at the Suburban late at night and I'd drink half a pot of coffee and drop off to sleep at 3am without any issues. I drink a lot of caffeine at work because it keeps me focused on work instead of the typical scatter-brained bouncing I normally do. I've been using insane amounts of Diet Pepsi to stay engaged at work, but it's not enough anymore. I'm tempted to try Red Bull and see if it helps me break through my procrastination (although I have been unusually productive this week at work and don't have anything hanging over my head for the weekend. Woohoo!).
  2. I have a semi-photographic memory (I say semi- because I remember nearly everything I see but find I forget some details as I get older). In some ways this is great, since when I'm looking for something around the house, I can picture exactly what was around it the last time I saw it. Problem is, I may picture CJ's bear on the bathroom counter next to his hairbrush, but not know which bathroom. This serves me well at work since I usually take the minutes for our project meetings--I have extraordinary recall of our decisions and findings from weeks earlier since seeing them in print cements them in my memory.
  3. My brain is packed with absolutely worthless knowledge. I won't even call it trivia, since this junk isn't important enough to be trivia. A recent example--two nights ago Tom and I were watching an installment of I Love the 70s on VH-1 and they did a segment on Mr. Whipple and the Charmin commercials. I instantly remembered (and shared with Tom) that Jennifer Wilson, who played Larry's love interest and eventual wife on the later seasons of Perfect Strangers, was Mr. Whipple's real-life daughter. Why, I may ask you, do I know that? Why would it ever be important? That will never be a Final Jeopardy question. I'm a smart cookie, I could cure cancer or balance the national budget, but I never will because I have this type of crap staining my cerebellum. (And go ahead, look it up on Google or iMDB--you know you want to. Unfortunately, I'm totally right.)
  4. I am obsessed with license plates. I associate the randomly generated plate numbers with patterns, forming words or relating them to phone numbers (for Illinois plates) or look for mathematical connections in the numbers. I must figure out any vanity plate I see. This time of year with the snowbirds around I see all sorts of states, and I get excited way beyond reason when I see a plate from Canada or Alaska. I once spent part of a drive home trying to factor in my head the number of permutations for AZ plates--not just the regular plates, but also the numbering conventions for the special veterans plates, historic vehicle plates, and other special issues. I might have done it, too, except I got hung up on the ones that would have to be thrown out for obscenity. Tom asked why I was so deep in thought, and I told him what I was thinking about and how many plates I had figured, and he was silent for a good two minutes before saying simply, "You're weird." So it makes this list.
  5. At work, when I go to the bathroom, I always go to the same stall even though the toilet paper holder has too much tension on the roll and I'm always frustrated that I have to rip off one to two squares at a time. After I go, I always try to use the middle sink which has the bad motion sensor and rarely works before I give up and use a different sink to wash my hands. I don't know why I do this. I'm not comfortable in any other stall, and you'd think I'd have learned after almost two years that the middle sink doesn't really work.
  6. Each morning when I get ready to leave, I have brush my teeth, apply my deodorant, and brush my hair in a particular order or I will forget a step and go to work with stinky pits or bad breath. I have no idea why. If I try to brush my teeth before I brush my hair, it takes me a bit to retrace and come back to what I need to do. I've always been like that, going back to teenage years. It's good thing I don't wear makeup, or I might never make it out of the bathroom.

You know, reading back through these, I wonder if I got a touch of Mom's OCD? I don't want my hands compulsively, but I do have my routines, my sense of order, and sometimes when I am seized by an idea that excites me I have to follow it until it's done--the weekend I got back from Kentucky, I went to the store and bought baskets and wooden boxes and rearranged my entire entertainment center beside I suddenly had a vision of what it should look like and couldn't rest till the vision became reality. Hmm. Don't think I've ever noticed that before.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Night

I've had two tall screwdrivers, and have been watching an old Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD--one of the ones with Mike. I'm not sure I have any with Joel. I've been wanting a drink a lot this week, but have refrained, figuring it wouldn't be a good precedent. But since I have to go back to work on Monday, I thought I would indulge tonight after I got the boy to bed.

Yesterday, I tried to go through some old pictures and stuff from the funeral, but I wasn't ready. This week Tom and I rearranged the living room, and I think we've hit the magic configuration. I've been coloring and playing with CJ a lot, and generally just enjoying him (which is hard to do when he's having an ornery day, but the cuteness makes up for the stubbornness eventually). I've been catching up on Top Chef and Mythbusters and doing lots of word puzzles to keep my mind occupied. I have all these puzzle magazines lying around so I'm trying to finish them off. Some of them have been kicking around since I lived in Tucson and worked second shift and graveyard relief--that was ten years ago, for those keeping track.

Why, yes, I am just a big old nerd.

I talked with Mom last night and she's mulling over the idea of early retirement. Apparently she can buy some service time, enough to meet her 240 months required (she's only about 4 years short in actual service time). She doesn't like her new teacher, a guy right out of college that doesn't seem to understand that she's been working with these kids for almost 20 years, can feed a child and change his diaper, and made most of the contacts to form the community programs and jobs these kids participate in on a daily basis. He's a micromanager to the extreme--so much so that if he were my boss, I would have already told him to bite me, and followed it up with an email containing full, detailed illustrations.

Mom has more patience than me.

Anyway, she would like to go ahead and leave, draw her pension with her benefits paid, and either work at the hospital doing what she does, or freelance--she sometimes works with her kids over the summers and the parents pay her for her time, and at least one family has said they would love it if she could do it full time. I told her not to do anything out of spite, but if the financial aspect allows her make her bills, follow her heart. I think it hurts her now that Wilma has retired and many of her peers are rather new--they view their jobs as just jobs, while Mom has always felt it as more of a calling.

That's about it for now. It's 11 on Saturday night and I'm an old, big dork who's up way past her bedtime.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Slowly Returning to Normal

I've been back in AZ for a few days, but haven't had a moment to log on and post about last week. I figure this time is as good as any, and talking about things has been pretty good in terms of getting a bit better.

As I posted before I left, the service for Dad was last Tuesday, with the military ceremony at Camp Nelson outside of Nicholasville. I thought the service was rather nice, and I was glad to see Tooz there, as well as people I hadn't seen in years. Our old neighbors from Sadieville from almost 20 years ago came--they saw the obituary in the paper. The hospice chaplain, Gary, told us a few times he wished he'd had the chance to meet Dad during the good times--in his line of work, that doesn't really happen. After the service, Dad received a 21-gun salute at Camp Nelson, and since I've never been near a gun when fired, I almost wet myself at the first volley. Mandi was there, and she grabbed me and held me for the rest. Somehow, we got through the day. Mom wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening alone, and Jamie and John called us that night to have dinner. Jamie and I had a couple shots for Dad and talked about the day. We agreed that while people meant well, and it's a social convention, asking us, "How are you?" at our Dad's funeral wasn't the best idea. Jamie had to hide to fight the urge to punch the next person who asked her. Me, I watched people ask me, then realize what they had asked, and I had to fight the urge to laugh as they struggled with wanting to take it back. Completely irrational, we know, but it was so difficult and our nerves so raw it was really hard to predict how we were going to behave.

We spent most of the week with Mom, Jamie, Todd, and Erin, in various combinations, as we just needed to be together. I felt badly for Tom since he was trying to be so strong for me, but it's only been a year since he lost his father, and he really liked Dad. I helped Mom with the finances, attempting to get her on track with the changes, and helped Jamie move into her new place in town. Thursday night, Tooz and David invited us for dinner, but only Christopher and I could go. Tom needed alone time, Mom had plans with a friend who was bringing her meatloaf, and Jamie had to get the kids settled into the new house and their homework done. We had a very nice time at the Plum Tree, Christopher was amazingly cute on his best behavior, and they forgave his newfound curiosities withs straws and styrofoam.

Friday afternoon we left for Phoenix via Lexington, and I'm glad we decided to fly through Lexington instead of Louisville. Tooz, I did call about bereavement fares, but the airlines don't do that anymore. They just guarantee the lowest fare available for the route, which is what I got. Since getting back, the reality of everything is finally sinking in and I'm finding myself puttering around with a lot of nervous energy. I find that I'm impatient on a lot of things (though I'm trying to be more patient with CJ, who's beginning his terrible twos), and I have this driving need to finish making our house a cozy home--something we've been working on since we moved in. This weekend, I went out and got baskets, boxes, new towels, new shower curtains--things I've been putting off for a while, and I've starting nesting with a ferocity I haven't matched since the last trimester of pregnancy.

I tried going to work yesterday--until I dropped Tom off and discovered I had forgotten my laptop. I went back home and logged in from there, but it became obvious to me as I was trying to catch up that I wasn't ready. I talked to my boss, delegated some tasks, and I'm taking the rest of the week off with plans to return on Monday. So far, I've put together a bathroom cabinet, reorganized my entertainment center and living room, filed my taxes (I get my W2s online early), called about my PLUS loan on Mom's urging to have it discharged, and straightened out a few bills. Considering I can be an exceptionally lazy person when I put my mind to it, that's a lot and it's only 1pm. I still have other financial work to do, grocery shopping, a kitchen to clean, bathrooms to clean, straighten, and redress with the new towels and stuff, and CJ's room to clean and reorganize.

What am I going to do tomorrow?

I realize it's a little manic, but since it's an acceptable reaction and it's constructive to my home and my sense of needing something to do, I'm going with it for now. I'm still having my moments, but I have a feeling that will last a while and just when I start to get past them, it will be Dad's birthday, then Father's Day, then their wedding anniversary, then. . . .

I do have to say that Dad's passing really is a blessing, considering what he was going through over the past few years and how quickly he slipped over the past few weeks. Jamie and Mom were stressed out, spending every moment trying to care for him--Jamie while juggling her own family, and Mom while running out of sick days and trying to figure out how to pay bills. I wasn't in the trenches, but I was the sounding board and the mediator, carried a lot of the worry for them, and tried to help when and where I could while regretting I couldn't help more. Dad told me long ago while driving back from Tennessee one break, while I was mourning a broken relationship and trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong, that you can't live a life of regret since that really isn't living. Somehow, you have to pick up and move on. I know he was proud of me and Tom and CJ, and understood that we couldn't visit as often as we would have liked. And I know he wouldn't want me to dwell on missed opportunities and make myself sick--he'd want to me to be there for my son, do my best for the rest of family, and move on. So I'll try. It'll take me a while, but I'll try.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Suffering Has Ended

My father passed away a few hours ago at home in Kentucky. It was very fast. Appears to be a massive stroke (the one we always knew was on the way).

Jamie and Mom are with him now and will be calling the funeral home soon. The hospice care nurse he likes was there when it happened. We'll be flying out sometime this weekend, but I haven't made any arrangements for tickets yet.

I'm not sure what to say about my father other than I love him dearly and I will miss him. Who he really was was lost some time ago to the ravages of the congestive heart failure, poor circulation, and complications from his diabetes. While I am, of course, upset that he has died, I am largely relieved that any pain, frustration, and indignity is gone now. He knew he wasn't the man he used to be, and that upset him more than the though of dying.

I'm not sure how long I'll be back home. Tooz, I'll likely give you a call at some point to give you information on the service. Since I think just about everyone who reads this knew Dad, I wanted to let you know.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Did It!

This morning I called and scheduled an appointment to tour the Lifetime Fitness club near me and sign up for membership. I talked to a gentleman named Chris who despite the fact that he heads sales for the club, never went for the hard sell.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment at 1pm for a baseline consultation with a personal trainer. The trainer will help me with an assessment of my goals, the exercises I want to do, and my current physical activity level to develop a basic plan of attack--what exercises and how often. I told Chris that I was looking to lose around 80 pounds total, but that I'm not really looking at the number. I know what I looked like 10 years ago, I know how my clothes should fit, and since I'm looking to do some muscle training, the number wouldn't be relevant anyway. I'm hoping I can get back into fighting shape by this time next year; if I'm dedicated, it's doable. Basically, when New Year's 2008 rolls around, I want to be able to reflect on my accomplishments in meeting my goal rather than sit on the couch and think about joining a gym.

I think I'm really going to like the club. They cap the number of memberships they sell to make sure that members don't have to wait for equipment or trainers. They have a broad assortment of treadmills and low impact machines, as well as a very nice selection of free weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, and other toning equipment. The weight machines are arranged based on target area: go down the row to work all aspects of a particular area, or go across the rows for total body. They have basic yoga, pilate, and aerobic classes included in the membership, basketball courts, and an indoor heated pool and sauna. There's also an outdoor pool scheduled to open shortly after some pump and heating issues are resolved. The pool has operating hours, but the rest of the gym is open 24/7. There's also a child center where I can table CJ if I need too, and he can get swim lessons there (along with me). They also have a full service spa and cafe attached and wifi internet access. A bit hard core for me, but I saw a few people in the cafe on their laptops, and wondered if they were working in between workouts.

The thing I liked the best was that they seemed to have a very diverse clientele. I was afraid that the place would look like a Bally's commercial, filled with hard bodied women wearing only sports bras and hot pants--the kind of women I could only work out near if I slit my wrists and popped out my eyes first. Instead, I saw a few people who were obviously training for something, and most looked like me. I also saw some older people there and some teenagers.

For right now, I just got the membership for myself, but I may add Tom and CJ if Tom can find time in his schedule. One benefit of being able to work from home is it gives me some more flexibility in going for a workout before starting my workday. Hopefully, I can get the approvals needed this year to work from home all the time, which would mean I could go every day before work without getting up before dawn.

So, I've gone and done it, and I start work tomorrow on meeting my goals. I just wish finding a sports bra in my size was as easy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hold On

So today I went to the grocery store to take advantage of some meat sales, restock the pantry, and replenish my wine supply. I went to a cashier I hadn't seen before. Big mistake.

She's scanning my groceries and she says to me, "Has anyone ever told you you look just like that lady?"

I chuckle, "Not exactly. Depends on the lady."

"I don't know her name. She used to sing, and she had gastric bypass surgery on the internet. Her dad was a Beach Boy, I think."

I realize she's talking about Carnie Wilson, and say as much. The cashier replies, "Yeah, I think that's her name. Anyway you look JUST like her--after she got the bypass surgery, but before she got really skinny."

It is not often I find myself truly speechless. Those who know me know I like to talk, and usually have some snappy retort for almost anything--it's like a compulsion. I honestly did not know how to reply to this woman. Carnie Wilson? On what planet is that a compliment, honestly? ESPECIALLY since she clarified that it was before Carnie reached her target weight, so the implication that I'm fat--really fat--is pretty blatant. And this cashier wasn't some skinny stupid bimbo--she was bigger than me, and told me that she was getting lap band surgery herself, once she quits smoking.

Then I'm almost positive she said, "Quitting smoking is, like, *so* hard. Much harder than when I quit smoking crack."

Again, I was speechless. Twice in about 30 seconds--that's some kind of record! This woman is my conversational Kryptonite. Now, she talked really quickly and maybe the crack comment was more hypothetical and not an actual anecdote, but still. Yikes!

I suppose it could have been worse. She could have told me I looked like Rosie O'Donnell or Mama Cass or the mother from What's Eating Gilbert Grape. She could have told me I looked like one of the motorcycle twins from the Guinness Book of World Records.

She could have just said, "Wow! You're fat!" Maybe then I would have had some sort of response other than a shocked, stupid grin.

The funny part is I was just thinking last night of taking advantage of an employee offer and joining a local gym at a discounted rate. I figured since I plan to quit smoking by Groundhog Day (seems like a good day), I could use the savings on smokes to pay for the gym. This very uncouth woman solidified my intentions--I am going to tomorrow to check it out and sign up for membership. I suppose that's a good thing.

Carnie Wilson? Honestly?!? Excuse me while I go sulk for a while.