Monday, January 30, 2006

Life Lessons

Six years go I began working in my current position. I started out in a different office, and for the last four years I have been in the office I currently work.

I was lucky to get the job, as my lofty qualifications for the level two position included both a two-year degree and two internships. Wow!

I learned a lot my first year. I earned my position, and over time became quite qualified. I took initiative to learn software I didn't know on my own, followed through and did what I said I would do for people, and worked my butt off (although sadly, not literally). The money was (and is) good, as are the benefits. Also, I like my coworkers.

Four years ago my brother became sick. He went to the doctor and they said he had strep throat, and sent him home. He did not improve, and when he was sleeping to the point of near unconsciousness on the couch, his roommate took him to the emergency room. They found he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and a very aggressive type at that. He went into the ICU and spent 30 days hovering near death. His white blood cell count was well over 300,000. Normal white blood cell counts are nearer around 10,000. We had no idea if we'd ever be able to speak to him again.

After one month, his condition improved and he was transferred to a room in the cancer floor, where he continued his amazing improvement. At this time, he could begin to have visitors.

It was during this time I was working full time. I also had a small baby, and lived an hour and a half from work. I was on my own for much of the time, doing most everything by myself: taking care of the house, the baby, cats, bills, groceries, cooking, cleaning, and everything else. It was lonely. It was hard. It made me depressed and I questioned my sanity. I could no longer sleep at night, and my body felt like it was attached to an electrical outlet with all the nerve endings completely fried.

After my brother got sick, I began to stop at the hospital a few times per week. I was so tired. I felt guilty that I had to spend so much time working and driving rather than paying attention to my family. I wanted to spend more time with my baby, and more time with my brother, but I thought that I was being responsible by working and focusing on work.

I also thought my brother would live. I couldn't imagine him dying, especially after pulling through from near-death and the dangerously high 300,000 white blood cell count.

When he died 11 months later, I was shocked and angry. I was angry at the situation that caused me to not have enough time for important things like family, and angry at myself because I was the one responsible for making the situation thusly. I was angry at the lack of time I spent with him but also with the quality of the time. I was so stressed out and always thinking of the next thing I had to do, that I was not good company. I didn't have much to talk about except how stressed out I was. I was miserable. And then, I went and did exactly what I was doing before he died. It was as though nothing had happened, and I hadn't learned anything. This really bothered me, because I knew a lot had changed and I knew that I wanted to change, but I was scared. Of WHAT, I'm not sure, but I was too afraid of change that I preferred to stay stuck in my depressed, sleep-deprived, lonely, exhausting, just-plain-wrong station in life.

If I could do that over again, I would do many things differently. I know that now, but it took another death to really get my attention. When my dad died the following year, also of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, I eventually reached the end of my rope. Finally, I took action: I moved out of my house and closer to work; I got divorced; I worked very hard to take good care of my daughter and help her with her emotions during this time filled with ridiculous amounts of change. I remember lying on my bed at night, staring up at the ceiling and feeling like I was spinning. I wasn't drunk, but it felt like it does when you get the spins after drinking; disoriented, confused. I couldn't believe how much my life had changed, and how overwhelmingly scared and how I felt like I didn't know what I was doing or what would happen next.

I found a counselor who was very good, who got to the heart of my problems and helped me find ways to cope. She directed me to my psychiatric nurse practitioner who prescribed an anti-anxiety/depressant which helped level out my brain chemicals and allowed my fried-to-a-crisp nerve endings to heal. It is not an exaggeration to say I would be dead without that help. My co-worker jumped off a bridge to his death last year, and I don't mean this to sound flippant in the least, but I remember thinking that what a great relief that must have been, in a way. I could understand how much pain he felt, how he didn't see a way out, and that made me really sad because I was in the same situation. I saw what the result of his action did to his family, and I also thought it was a selfish act, but there was something else: I was jealous.

In my counseling sessions, I learned how to address some deeply painful hurts. Over time, I got more confident. I learned to identify what was holding me back, and how to safely let go and let life take me where it knew I needed to be. I learned to be assertive in ways I could handle, and it felt good to me to start participating in my relationships in a healthy way, a way that I'd NEVER DONE BEFORE. I learned to open up and be more giving, both with my daughter, my family, and my future husband. It was scary, and hard to get used to, but it felt so right and so much more real that I will never be the same again.

Life started to get better: I found a church where I was accepted completely and that taught me important things, where the sermons sounded like they were meant just for me but weren't like sermons at all but rather, interesting stories with handy instructions that made me feel better about myself and cared for and which totally saved me. The sermons are spoken by a pastor who is the smartest, coolest pastor I've ever met. I married a wonderful man last year at that kickass church, and it was the greatest, most beautiful experience outside of OC being born.

I know I am blessed. I have a home that I love and have had the opportunity to make our own. I have a daughter who is smart and resilient and sweet as candy, who forgives her flawed mother for her transgressions. I have a husband who loves me and challenges me in a way I've not experienced before. My daughter is happy to have a bigger room, not to mention a great (step-) dad, and a family. Hell, even the fluffy little kitties are happier, too! (You would think this would mean they would quit finding creative places to use instead of their litter box, but no; it is a big game to them. Fluffy little bastards, who I cannot help but love despite their bad manners.)

Now, I finally get it! I know not to take people for granted, and that work can take a backseat to your life when something drastic happens, and it's okay. People will either understand or they won't, but you don't get time back ever again, so you'd better make the most of it or you will miss out. I also know I can reach out to people who care about me, and that it will make me feel better to reach out, even if it's hard, than to stay closed up with all those depressed feelings.

I trust myself to make decisions that are beneficial to myself and my family, and I don't have to go along with something just because I am afraid of something. My opinion is valuable, and I give it more readily now, backed with the new confidence I have in myself. I have finally tapped in to my true self, and can express my feelings, including anger, healthfully instead of using them as an instrument which removes years from my life by bottling them up in the pit of my stomach. It's a heck of a weight loss plan, what with all the diarrhea which accompanies anxiety and unexpressed anger, but a terrible way to get through the day. Change is good. It is refreshing. And I am no longer afraid of it.

I am finally honestly ready for the unknown, and to trust life and G-d to take me where I am supposed to be. I know I am not in control here, but that I am a part of things and that the forces that are in control want the best for me. The best for me includes learning some hard lessons, but it goes along with the good stuff, too. I am grateful for my job, and for the experiences I have had because they got me where I am today and I'm very glad to be here.

That's why this post by Datinggod has really resonated with me:

I don't believe that people can change, but I've found that if you are willing to
change your environment, to surrender to the fine art of wildly listening to your
heart and firmly following the handholds the world offers you, different aspects
of yourself will come into the light of your daily living, and others will fade
away into shadows.

May this find you allowing wild, wonderful energies into your own bed of living .
. . :)

I so appreciate the poetry in this paragraph. I certainly have changed my environment, and as a result have seen different aspects of myself fade into blackness while other aspects come to bask in the light which I have never before allowed them to see, much less bask.

I feel so grateful to be out the other side of that experience that I want to hold a feast with enough food and wine for Dionysus, and declare to the world: I am here, fully present and accounted for, ready to live my life. And, thank you!

I just thought you would like to know.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Breathing Deeply

This woman always has something that makes me slow down, feel my connectedness with the world, and relax. I read this, and I feel better.

Tell Me I'm Not the Only One

This morning was terrible. OC woke up and seemed happy. When we got to school, I realized I forgot her lunchbox in the car. I went back to get it, and when I got back the look on her face was odd. I asked her what was wrong, and her face got redder and redder until she burst into tears. She buried her head in my jacket, and cried and cried and cried, that type of hard crying that makes you gasp for air. The only thing I could get her to say about why she was feeling this way was because she missed grandpa. I said, "I know, I's okay..." but I really didn't know what else to say.

I brushed her hair, tried to get her to eat, but all she would do was cry. Twenty minutes later, I handed her off to her teacher because I really had to go to work. She was still crying when I walked out the door, although her teacher was walking her over to get her interested in something else. The other children were patting OC's back, telling her it was okay. When I left, a few of them were looking at me as if they were wondering why I was leaving my child when she was crying like that. Maybe I just imagined that part, but it sure looked like that's what they were thinking.

Oh, God. I feel awful.

Most days are okay. She is well, happy, and excited to go to school. Not today. Today it was really hard to walk away. I don't feel good about it at all.

Earlier this week, she stayed home with my mom who was visiting. They were both sick, so it was nice that they could stay home together. She was still pretty sick so OH stayed home with her most of Wednesday. I left work as early as I could to meet him because he had something he really needed to finish at his office. I could only leave an hour early, whoopdefreakingdo.

Yesterday, she had a doctor's appointment for a checkup but also to see about this cough. She got a shot for her checkup, and the cough is a virus which should go away in 7 days, although the cough may last longer.

I just called to check on her, she is doing fine. I talked to her teacher who said it took her a few minutes to recover after I left, but she's into school and is actually being really helpful.

So why do I feel so bad?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Family is Going on Holiday

We're going to Ireland! We have plane tickets! I can't wait!!! It's three months away, so I'll have to calm down at some point or risk being exhausted and unenthusiastic by the time we actually leave.

We fly in to Dublin where we have two days to check out the city. I want to visit Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, go to the pedestrian triangle and shop for tweed and sweaters, and have beer. Lots of beer. Guinness brewery is in Dublin, and offers tours so we will definitely do that.

Next, we take a train to Belfast. We stay one night in Belfast, then rent a car and drive up the coast of Antrim where we stay in a cottage for one week. There's the Giant's Causeway, the Nine Glens of Antrim, Bushmill's Distillery, Dunluce Castle, and many other things to see. After that, we'll drive down to the Sperrins and Fermanagh lakelands and stay another few days. There you can check out more historical sites and see Celtic crosses, castles, tour agricultural areas, take a lake ferry, a boat tour of the caves; and there is also bicycling and walking.

We intend to see all of Northern Ireland, which should be pretty easy since it's roughly the size of Oregon, maybe smaller, but it's old; really, really old. And that is so cool.

I am very excited to see the Book of Kells. I studied the art in this book when I was in school for graphic design. I can't believe I'm going to see the real thing. It was written by monks around 800 AD, and gorgeously decorated. It is called an illuminated manuscript because it is lit up by the beautiful illustrations that intertwine with the text.

The Irish seaside will be amazing. The Irish people will be cool to talk to in pubs and such. We are staying long enough, I think, to get a feel for the place. I'm looking forward to checking out a place with so much history.

After a decade of not going anywhere or doing anything, I am expanding my horizons and traveling to another part of the world. I am, finally, living up to the blog name The Occidental Tourist, which is why I chose it in the first place, because I've always wanted to travel.

P.S. It also helps to marry the right man, which I totally did!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Second Ski Trip

I'm back at work after a great weekend. I had better have liked it, too, because there will be no more days off from now until we go to Ireland at the end of April. I have to save up my vacation time, and even then I'll need to take time off without pay. That's three months without a day off, people. Aye-yiye-yiye.....that's a long time! So, let me revel in the past weekend's fun and hope it can sustain me.

Friday, I left work halfway through the day to go meet OH and drive to Central Oregon. His company pays for all of the employees to go to Sunriver for the weekend. That means free housing, food, and drink, with time to go do whatever you want to while you're there. And not only do they have beer, but bottle after bottle of hard liquor, and the boss makes the drinks.

Saturday, we decided to go skiing. There is a shuttle from Sunriver to Bachelor, so off we went. This was my second time skiing ever, and in the second country I've ever skiied. Oh la la, so international! Yeah, right: the first time I skiied was in Canada, 400 miles away.

Mt. Bachelor is big, and intimidating. I stayed on the same run the entire day, and was scared to death the first time down. It looked steep! I snowplowed nearly the entire way. Sooo cool looking. The second trip down was better, but I needed to keep going slowly. By the 5th or 6th time, I was getting the hang of it and doing more turning instead of snowplowing. I skiied all day, and by the last two times down the hill, I was turning and not snowplowing at all. Most of all, I had a chance to practice what I learned the first time, and it was fun! Except for the people.

The bane of my skiing experiences so far have been the other people. I don't mind crashing and falling because of my own mistake, but I HATE it when other skiiers/snowboarders make me crash because of their proximity and then I go out of control. They are all around, swishing up from behind or slowing down and turning unexpectedly in front of me. It makes me nervous, and when I get nervous I lose my concentration and am more likely to crash. And, can I also say, what the hell is up with snowboarders who stop and sit in large groups in the middle of the run??? This is a phenomenon which MUST END NOW.

Here is my open letter to snowboarders everywhere:

Please be advised to move off to the side and out of the way of others when you want to sit down on a ski run. I am a new skiier, and not totally in control at all times. Because of that, I require space in which to exert whatever control I may have managed to maintain while flying down the hill at G-d-knows-what speeds, with only my tenuous new skiing skills between me and your soon-to-be-flattened selves. I can see it coming, that if you continue to sit down in the middle of the run, one of these times you are going to get your asses ran the fuck over. And if that happens, I will not be sorry because you are stupid to sit there in the way of people who are flying down the hill on all sides of you and screaming "ahhhhhh!" Do you see the ski instructors??? They are there because people are taking lessons. If people are just learning to ski, they may not be so good at it; and maybe if they're not good at skiing, they're also not good at stopping.

You deserve to get ran over if you sit there, MF, so don't go crying about it when it happens. Because it's going to happen.

Are we clear? Good.


I didn't run into anyone, nor anyone into me, but there were a few close call. It was a huge pain in the ass to try and avoid all the people, dozens of them, who would sit down in the middle of the run. Crazy!

I love skiing, and OH tells me that when I get better and go on the other runs, there will be fewer people to contend with. I love the sound of that. Also, there are fewer people if we go skiing during the week or go night skiing. I'm all for that!

In the meantime, I'm making copies of that letter and passing it around in a vain attempt to change the world. It so won't make a difference, but I just had to say it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Very Complicated Issue

I have held a job since I was fifteen years old. I enjoy earning money and being able to pay my own way. Now that I have a child and also work full time, I think every day that my job takes up too much time. I am not able to put my full effort into everything, therefore everything that I do is not done well:

I am not a good mother.

I am not a good employee.

I am not a good wife.

I am not a good sister/daughter/friend.

I do okay at most things, I get by, but I haven't the time to do things well. I spend my time getting ready for work, working, and coming home from work. I spend a few hours at night with my daughter and husband, most of which is taken up by making dinner, laundry, cleaning, readying things for the next day. I am not giving them my full attention. I am usually thinking about what needs to be done next.

Sampling of things I've said to my daughter, in order of most to least:

1. Hurry up!
2. Come on, we've got to go.
3. Quickly.
4. No!
5. I love you.
6. Good night.
7. I can't right now, I've got to do (something else)
1,282,611. Let's make cookies!

See what I mean?

I also have the kind of mind that wants to get everything done before I sit down and relax or do something enjoyable. With so much to do and with that type of thinking, guess how often I get to sit down and relax or do something enjoyable?

Want to guess how this makes me feel? Did you say inadequate? That's right: In. Ade. Quate.

Call me Mrs. Wrong Priorities, Lady Regretful, and She Who Works Too Much.

My husband once told me during a previous experience when I was feeling inadequate, that I was a good mother because look how great my daughter is. I wanted to say (but didn't) that she is a wonderful girl because she goes to a good daycare, and that it is in spite of me and not because of me that she is so wonderful, smart and sweet. How can you really influence someone who you only see for a few hours a day, and only really focus on for a few minutes? My daughter inherited my genetics, but she spends her time with energetic young women who do art projects, play games, teach her things, and take her to the park. These people have more influence on my child than I, and they make less than half of what I do per hour.

What does all of this mean??? Maybe nothing for the collective, but for me it means something has got to change.

I feel overwhelmed and frustrated because I don't have a sense of satisfaction that comes from doing something well. I don't have security in knowing that all of this effort expended adds up to something worthy. I am incredibly busy, I wear myself out every day, but I don't feel like I've accomplished anything with all of this activity. None of it is noteworthy or makes a difference where it really matters. I get through the day, and that's about it.

I want to be a good mother, full of energy and ideas and time to focus on my child and do things with her. I want to be a good wife, full of joy and enthusiasm for life and our relationship. I want to be a good employee, arriving to work on time and full of innovative, creative ideas. I want to treat myself well, not full of negative thoughts about myself.

I wonder if the truth is, you can't work full time and have kids and a marriage and do all kinds of interesting things and do all of it well....can you? Are we kidding ourselves about this? I haven't found the right balance. I don't know that there is one. There are only so many hours in the day, but then again maybe I'm using those hours in the wrong way.

I'm not saying daycare is bad, I don't think it is. I think it's wonderful that we have so many choices for quality childcare when we need it. Many people need to work, some people choose to. I understand both of those reasons. It's great that kids are getting such good care, no matter why they are there. I know my daughter has benefitted from the experience. I think where it has been a negative is that she spends too much time there: Eight and a half hours a day, five days a week since she was four months old. This makes me feel incredibly guilty because I don't think it was the right thing to do. I have friends who have set up their lives in a myriad of ways: some work full time, stay home full time, or work part time. I have other friends who've adjusted their work schedules so their kids are in daycare four hours or less per day, and with a parent or grandparent the rest of the time. I don't know that any one of these people would say they have the ideal situation, but they might say they have done what works for them and that they are happy.

I feel that life is nudging me to make different choices. It's going to be hard to do. When I think about my job I know I really like the work (most of the time), and I enjoy my coworkers. My boss is great, the office environment is healthy, unlike many places I've worked before. I like feeling like I contribute something through my work. Also, going somewhere and being an adult is fun and fulfilling. And the satisfaction of earning that paycheck is a great as well. Maybe the answer is, I spend too much time at it.

I've missed my daughter. I've missed her A LOT. While I don't know for sure that I would've been very good at staying home full time with her, I want that opportunity before she goes to Kindergarten. I want to give her my full attention for many hours each day. I want to plan fun things to do with her, to take things slowly with her and not rush her along all the time. She's got the independence thing down, it's time to rebuild some closeness into our relationship before she turns into an insolent teenager who hates me. I want her to have something to like about me, some good experiences to remember for those times she'll get mad at me. Right now, there are so little of those.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Next Big Thing

By way of explanation: The ticker at the top of this page is there because we are planning to take our next family vacation in Ireland. (Note the clever Celtic knot and shamrock motif!)

I mention this because the ticker links to a website that is mostly about infertility and pregnancy. I have the ticker up not because I'm infertile or pregnant, it's just a vacation.

Today is a holiday. I am celebrating by watching The West Wing, season one. I didn't begin watching this show until season four, I think. I enjoy the smart dialogue especially when the President's character begins to wax on about one thing or another, and interwoven plotlines. Earlier, he was going on about national parks. I end up learning things. I am naturally drawn toward obscure facts, which unfortunately does not pay well. Imagine that, learning things from the teevee!

Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day. He was not a perfect man, and in fact made mistakes, and I honestly don't know much about him or if what I have heard is true (adultery, and other things). But the idea for which he worked for, and for which he was killed, brought about important change for our country. That principle is what we should remember today.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pointless, Puerile, Slapdashery

Today's trivia at the coffee shop: What famous painter won one million francs in the French lottery in 1861? (Answer is at the end of this post.)

My back hurt this morning, so I turned on the heated seats in the car to the highest setting and it felt gooooooooood. Does this mean I am old? Wait, don't answer that. When I first got my car I thought that heated seats were a nice feature but really quite frivolous. Now I do not think them frivolous at all, what with its amazing back-soothing powers. Next thing you know I will have a heating pad adapted to plug into the cigarette lighter and will have one on my belly one week per month. I swear, I wanted to recline the seat and roll over, the heat felt that fabulous.

Yesterday I had a headache that gradually worked itself up to a migraine. My personal policy is to stay at work until I notice that the headache is headed toward the nausea stage, then it's time to leave.

The migraine did not occur until right at the end of the day, and so I left at the usual time. I felt weird. I couldn't turn my head too quickly or I would get dizzy. My thinking was really stilted and strange. I managed to hold it together and I picked up OC and we got on the road. Then, we became part of the snarled mess of traffic, whereupon it took 30 minutes to go five blocks. I had no idea that part of the road would be that bad, and once I was there, there was no way out.

OC needed a new pair of shoes and so I planned to go shoe shopping with her that night as well. It couldn't wait, as she'd been complaining about her shoes being tight for awhile, and now she said they hurt. We stopped at a store in our town. The shoes that I liked were velcro, and were $40. But, I am money-conscious (sort of), and I couldn't see paying that much for shoes that she would grow out of in short order. There was an in-store coupon for $10 off, and so the shoes were a more reasonable $30.

I felt okay about this until I started to really think about it. OC is five years old. The old shoes, the pair that were so tight they began to hurt? She's had those since last April. That was only nine months ago. So, hoping she doesn't have a huge growth spurt, ha, this pair should last the same amount of time. $30 is a lot to spend on shoes that will only last nine months. There were other styles and brands that featured velcro closures, and were less expensive; The main problem was selection. One style that was plentifully available in her size came in a red/white/black color combination a la Air Jordans of 20 years ago. That won't fly with my pink-&-purple-loving daughter. Another two styles that we liked, and were less expensive, didn't have her size available.

And there was another thing: when we went up to pay, the cashier was going to charge me $40 but I was all, isn't there a coupon? She really didn't want to look for a coupon. She had to go to another register where she found the coupon. (The ordeal, the struggle, the complete hassle to satisfy unreasonable, pushy customers for a measly $10 off!)

Today OC is in her new shoes, which are velcro and she can get on and off very easily. They are very cute, Skechers bike shoes. Now for some unsolicited advice: velcro is the only way to go, people. I know some people think you should get laces so kids can learn how to tie them. I agree with that idea but only after kids are of a certain age, e.g. old enough to actually learn to tie them and strong enough to do so on their own. I have been buying laces on and off since she was very little and am sick of them, because for some reason manufacturers think it's cute to put laces on 2-, 3-, and 4- year-old's shoes and not offer a velcro version.

She will have a pair with laces next. You know, in nine months, when she grows out of this pair.

Answer to above trivia question: Claude Monet. Congratulations if you got that right! Your prize is nothing, but good for you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's National De-Lurking Week

My skin is breaking out. I forgot to wear any jewelry today. I am tired from the past two nights' lateness due to car and tire trouble. I am $325 poorer due to last night's car and tire trouble.

It would really be great to hear from you.

P.S. The Donna Karan capris did not fit. Boo hoo. The boots did, however, and looked great with my khakis yesterday. They have a 2-inch plus heel, and I'm not used to walking in a heel that high all day long. Will need to practice, since I didn't really enjoy looking like a dork who didn't know how to walk in that high of a heel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Why Last Night Sucked: A Timeline

5:00 pm: Leave work. Walk to Nordstrom Rack. Have $40 coupon plus $50 birthday cash to spend. So happy! Is raining; don't mind, have umbrella.

5:18 pm: Arrive at Nordstrom Rack. Begin looking through clearance racks in women's section. Realize that most shirts are ultra-sequiny, way too many beads and sparklies. Like sequins, beads, and sparklies, but this is ridiculous. Find pair of Donna Karan capris. Very cute. Hope they fit; no time to try on. Price= $15.

5:23 pm: Move on to Junior's section. Find navy blue/silver just-the-right-amount-of-sparkly top. In Medium. Price= $8. Love!

5:27 pm: Look through outerwear section. Enjoy perusing Kenneth Cole jackets that are less than $100 when normally $200; see great brown leather jacket for $125, normally $199; see cute Columbia fleece jackets for $25, normally $45. Debate; Think; Ponder; Feel fleece; Try to choose color; like pink, like light blue, maybe black? Ultimately move on to shoes.

5:31 pm: Ride escalator to shoe section. Look...look...look. Need dark brown pair of shoes. Am picky: want something not too pointy-toed, not too dressy, not too boring, not too light in color. Must be able to wear with khakis and jeans alike. Look in boot section. Find dark brown boots with cute detail in non-pointy toe that will totally go with jeans or khakis. Price= $60. Love!

5:35 pm: Look at athletic shoes just for kicks. Find navy blue/orange Avias for $25. Must have, as they will match new navy blue and orange Denver Broncos sweatshirt, and since am now a new fan of Broncos find this to be: Awe. Some. Bonus: If ever became fan of Syracuse, am totally set.

5:41 pm: Purchase items. Feel that old enchanted feeling that comes with finding what you need/want.

5:43 pm: Walk back at car. Is raining. Hard. No problem! Have umbrella.

6:22 pm: Driving along, happily thinking of outfits at home that can now be worn since I have the dark brown boots.

6:22:11 pm: Hit bigass fucking pothole with a BAM!!! and feel tire deflate immediately. Didn't see bigass pothole AT ALL.

6:22:23 pm: Pull into NY NY Pizza parking lot so out of busy roadway. Wonder what to do. Is raining. HARD.

6:22:27 pm: Realize can change a tire. Hooray! Realize only have wool jacket, not something useful like a rainjacket. Shit. Call OH and tell him what's going on. He can't leave because OC is coming home at 7 pm. OH worries and tells me so because doesn't like that I am in dark alongside busy road in rain. Tell OH it is no problem, because I? Am a badass; Can change tire.

6:25 pm: Realize haven't changed tire on this car before. Is newer car. Need instructions. Find owner's manual. Easy!

6:27 pm: Remove spare tire, tools, and jack from trunk. Remove wheel bolt covers. Loosen wheel bolts. Think: Am badass. Also, changing tire in rain sucks.

6:30 pm: Jack up the car. Think: Am total badass!

6:31 pm: Break decorative plastic piece on side of car because placed jack in the wrong area. Move jack to correct area. Think: Am total jackass.

6:33 pm: Can't loosen one wheel bolt. Is round on outside. Consult instructions.

6:35 pm: Instructions say this is a wheel lock bolt, need special adapter, should be in tool kit.

6:36 pm: Search tool kit, trunk, glove compartment, and console; there is no wheel bolt lock adapter. Pour water out of tool kit because it is still raining hard.

6:42 pm: Call Roadside Assistance; Feel like total jackass ninny for calling because of stupid flat tire.

6:42 pm: "Roadside Assistance, can I help you?" Me: Blah blah flat tire blah blah can't find wheel lock adapter anywhere blah blah. Them: Blah blah should be in tool kit. Me: It's not. Blah. Them: Okay, will call for tow truck. Me: WHAT? Them: Is standard. Can't change tire without wheel lock adapter, tow truck drivers don't have wheel adapter either, suckah. But, this is covered by your warranty so shut up. Now, tell me, where are you located? Me: (gives address) Them: And the zip code? Me: I have no flying fuck of a clue what the zip code is, don't you have Mapquest? You don't need a zip code, jackass. Them: Nearest dealer is (mispronounce name of town that is 45 miles away!). Me: No, nearest dealer is Herzog Meier in Beaverton. Is more like 8 miles. Them: I show that Herz...what you said as being 44 miles away. Me: Argue argue blah blah argue. Them: Okay, let me put you on hold while I check.

6:45 pm: Head inside NY NY Pizza to ask for zip code. Notice wool jacket is soaked. Can squeeze water out of hair and clothes. Look like wet dog, however, do not smell like wet dog.

6:46 pm: Them: Okay, thanks for holding. It looks like.... Me: The zip code is 97219! Them: Oh, here it is. The zip code really helps. Yes, it looks like Me: Yes, Herzog Meier. In Beaverton. I know, it's just like I said. Them: Okay, tow truck company will be there within the hour. Me: Okay, and fuck you very much.

(Not really. I said thank you. But I was THINKING the other thing, because what, I am screwing with him and would rather take 44 mile tow truck ride way out of way, and am lying about that Herzog-Meier-in-Beaverton-being-the-closest-dealer thing? Jerk.)

6:48 pm: NY NY Pizza waitress comes outside to ask if I need anything. She's wearing this, weird, waterproof jacket. Note to self: Must look into owning jacket with miraculous water-repellant capabilities. Tell her am okay. Stupid flat tire blah no wheel bolt lock adapter blah. Thank her. Think: how nice!

6:49 pm: Jack down the car, put everything away, lock car.

6:52 pm: Go inside NY NY Pizza because there is a beer sign. They have beer! Need beer.

6:53 pm: Enjoy free beer from nice employees, who take pity on me. I think they are lovely. Leave big tip. They tell me that there were two people in here before me who hit the same pothole. Customer in NY NY Pizza asks me questions, tries to help. But alas, the wheel bolt lock will not be undone without that piece of shit adapter. Nice guy, tells me 'good luck' as he leaves.

7:59 pm: Tow truck arrives. Takes many minutes to load car onto truck. Wait. Wait. Notice that there is now a police car blocking the bigass pothole that I hit. Where were you two hours ago? Fighting crime? Oh. Whatever. Also notice there is man changing a flat tire right in front of NY NY Pizza. That guy's car doesn't need a wheel lock adapter. Envy.

8:45 pm: Arrive at dealer. Leave key in drop box. Weep. Am cold, because wool jacket is completely soaked through. Am screwed for transportation tomorrow, and have daughter to drag around with me, poor thing. Weep more. Get game face on when OH and OC arrive. Want OH to think am still badass. Show him injury on finger when I scraped it on the ground when I was jacking up the car. He tells me am badass. Feel loved.

9:38 pm: Arrive home. Get OC ready for bed. Make tea. Tell OH how cool the German-engineered car jack is, that the handle rotates so you can easily move it around and around, even when you are first starting and are close to the ground. Older jacks are not so good like that. Enjoy this fact even though I injured myself because I? Am clumsy when changing a tire in the dark in the pouring rain when I've never done it on that particular car before. Wish I had gotten to finish changing the tire. Was on my way to proving unarguable badass status. Stupid, non-existent wheel bolt lock adapter!

10:15 pm: Take hot shower. Think: would be total badass if had wheel lock adapter, whaaaaaa. Am not badass. Am baby.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Litany: Not So Much With the Long And More About The Tedious

Trivia question this morning at the coffee shop:

What perfume had its unveiling on May 5, 1921? (Answer Below.)


Bumper sticker seen on Toyota Prius:

Question Internal Combustion


Another funny bumper sticker:

Heck is where people go who don't believe in gosh.


There's a woman at work who wears a man's geometric-print sweater that is colored with navy, black, and rosy-pinky-reddish-mauve triangles. Just awful. It's so 1985, it's not even funny. And she wears it, like, twice a week. It really bugs me.


Dear Coworker,

Could you please stop changing the title of your charts? When you do, this necessitates that I change the name of the file to reflect what the chart is saying, so I know what I'm working on and what the file contains, so I can easily locate it to make multitude of changes you need done to the chart itself. This is a huge pain in the ass for me when you whimsically change the name. Over. And. Over. Again. Please stop it.



Trivia Answer: Chanel No. 5


Yesterday's Trivia Question: What word did Alfred Hitchcock coin that roughly translates to mean "red herring"?

Answer: Macguffin


That is all.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Weekend Update

We had a good weekend. Which included a big, flaming misunderstanding.

Saturday night was rife with confusion between OH and I. He got really mad at me because I was being evasive and vague about something that was bothering me, and he could tell something was wrong but wanted to know what it was already. I didn't want to tell him because this painful Thing might be criticised or ridiculed and I knew I wouldn't live through that.

Then we talked and talked, and finally, in a very dramatic moment of letting out the Thing I had such great fear of revealing by literally walking backwards and crying like the big baby I am, it was out there and lo, I did not die. OH totally understood the thing and did not reject me, criticize, or ridicule; We talked about how not only did he find me not crazy for feeling this way, but how it was also totally rational and full of reason to feel this way. He went on to tell me that he believed if I felt strongly about something, it must be because I've got good reasons behind it, and that he is interested in how I feel so please won't I tell him serious things that bother me. Not only that, but he felt the same way about the Thing, and so could even understand in a personal way. Well, knock me over with a freaking feather.

We have this new, deeper understanding of one another and the irony is, it wouldn't have happened unless he hadn't gotten so pissed off so that I finally revealed it. I was willing to go on living with it in the pit of my stomach, protecting it because I was full of fear fear fear of being deemed "weak" or "too sensitive" or "off your fucking rocker" or something. I really did not want to reveal it.

Irony...don't you love it? I totally do. What I hate is how thick-headed I am because I keep doing this over and over: I keep avoiding, and life keeps coming at me and showing me that it's much better to be myself, and asks me to meet it halfway at least. When I do meet life halfway or more, I continually find that it's safe and I won't die, and I even live a little better after doing so.

I felt so relieved by the airing of the Thing and being cared for, that I felt even more mad love for OH than before. So we did the only thing you can do at a moment like that: We played our trumpets. It was around 1 am by the time all the drama was over and after all the talky-talk. There was this vibe in the air that didn't want to let us go quite yet. Things were still emotional and all sparkly new, so I suggested we play our trumpets. Obviously. Which made the cats run away in terror, but was the completely right thing to do just then.

I played the Cornet in middle school band, and he had played the trumpet in high school and college. I hadn't played in 17 years. He played in community band, like, last year, so I was feeling rather shy about playing in front of him. But, I didn't sound bad! Okay, I did! But then it got better and he is a totally great teacher. It was damn fun. And, about the only thing that could follow such an emotion-filled evening.

I love my husband so, so much, and I know this makes you all want to puke, but he seriously rocks and it needs to be said. It also needs to be said that I don't want to talk about the Thing. It's private, and what it is isn't really the point. It's the principle of the story that matters, you see. That, and all the personal growth and shit.

It is so much better to live life by being yourself and not letting fear stand in your way. You will not die if people don't agree with you, but you may very well die if you don't live honestly. Be yourself, no matter what. It's the only way to live. And, playing a trumpet is sometimes just the way to cap an intensely emotional evening.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ski Bunny, Baby

Hi. I went skiing! And didn't break a bone, or my neck, or run into a tree ala that one Kennedy and also Sonny Bono. Which is sad and I'm so not making fun of people who run into trees and die. Because it's not funny. It's a stupid way to die, but it's very, very sad.

Anyway. Vancouver B.C. is the greatestest city! Not better than Portland, but great in its own way. There are sooo many food places, oh my gosh. And the people you see and hear talking in all kinds of languages and accents is so cool. We had great food at places like Rodney's and Joe Forte's. I shopped at Chapters Books, which I was disappointed in because I might as well have been in Barnes & Noble. What I really wanted was a local, independent bookstore, but traveling with a five-year-old necessitates making plans and making them damn fast, already. Oh, and you can't exactly trudge all over the city looking for your precious independent bookstore, because like I said, the five-year-old little legs and such.

She did great in the fancy restaurants, and the hotel, and really everywhere. Love that girl!

One day we went to Granville Island, which is like this big marketplace with all kinds of shops, a farmer's market, and a brewery. Hooray for the beer sampler, which is 4 smallish-but-not-super-small glasses of beer for $7.50 Canadian dollars! Which is like, practically free in American money. That's how I calculated the exchange rate for practically everything, e.g. "This pretty sweater is $79 Canadian. What does that make it in American dollars? Hhmmmm.... It's on the 30% off table, and that price is in Canadian dollars, divided by .01% minus 2, carry the one equals... the sweater is ridiculously affordable and practically free! I'm on vacation, it's okay! And plus I should really do my part to help the Canadian economy! And so I will purchase this sweater because my G-d, how could I not?" Repeat. Seriously.

I will not tell you the story of how I bought a sweatshirt in XL instead of Medium and now cannot go exchange it because it's like, a 6 hour drive. I am just going to have to live with my mistake. Damn, because it is a nice sweatshirt and would look all cute if it actually fit me properly. Shit! I am used to life as a big idiot, though, so it's fine. Plus, I have a cute t-shirt in the right size. [If you think I am too much in love with my size Medium self, let me just tell you, I am. I spent a lot of time being overweight, and so being a Medium is a good thing to me. I'm proud of my weight loss, and happy with myself, and realize it's not important in the grand scheme of things it's just a nice thing. The end.]

We also went to Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium. They have a tropical display with cool, yet creepily large, Amazon fish. These fish possess jawbones in order to crush nuts and things to eat. Note to self: never, ever go swimming in the Amazon river. Check!

Also, there was a northwest waters display including cute fuzzy sea otters, and beluga whales. Beluga whales are so beautiful, and smart. We learned all kinds of like, science and stuff. It was cool.

We all went skiing on Monday at a very nearby ski area. It took less than an hour to drive up there. OC and I both had two-hour ski lessons. OC was so cute on her little kid skis! I wish I had remembered my camera at the mountain, but alas, I did not. The kids area was a tiny slope roped off from everything, with a conveyor belt to take the little darlings back up the 15 feet it was to the top again. OC took her time, but eventually was getting the hang of it. They taught the snowplow as making pizza because of the triangle shape you make with your skis, and then to go you make french fries which is when you point your skis straight. There is all this yelling, "Make pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Good! Okay, now french fries! French fries! Good! Pizza! Pizza! Now make pizza! Pizza! Ohh...Good!"

My ski instructor was a 24-year old Rafaella from Germany or Switzerland, who said "Eh" in a German or Swiss accent. She was adorable and a good instructor, but mind you, I wanted to smack her when she said, "I've been skiing for 20 years, since I was four." I didn't really want to smack her because she was quite sweet and adorable with her accented eh's and because she said at the end of my lesson that I was a good skiier. The lesson was a drop-in, because we are not ski snobs, but there was only me and one other person taking the lesson so it was close to a private lesson so I felt all important. Heh. The other woman taking the lesson was about my age, and she had these skinny, skinny, long skis which Rafaella said were not good for beginners because they were harder to learn on. Still, I learned faster than the other lady and felt all cool about it.

By the end of the two hours, I was skiing by myself down the hill and totally kicking ass. You know, slooooowly. I was scared to go very fast, plus there were all those other people. A guy ran into me, and didn't say anything, just looked at me like 'why are you in my ski space, ye new skiier?'. Fucker.

A lot of snowboarders liked to stop and sit on their butts in the middle of the run. Is this normal? How hard is it to move your ass out of the middle of the run? There was not a lot of snow, so there were only two runs open, meaning it was more crowded than it otherwise might've been. Still, I didn't break anything and so I feel victorious. I take back my "I'm sorry" I said to that fucker who ran into me. Because I'm totally not sorry, now that you didn't say anything back.

I forgot to bring my camera with me today, so pictures will be posted next week.

I am looking forward to skiing again several times this year. Now that I know I like it, I'm all jonesing to go again, all my anxiety about Oh-my-gosh-how-does-this-ski-thing-work?-I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-and-will-look-stupid-and-also-be-unprepared-which-is-a-bad-thing-and-I-can't-possibly-go-anywhere-without-knowing-exactly-what-to-expect-beforehand-or-I-will-meeeeeeeeelt.

Welcome to Generalized Anxiety Disorder!

It turns out it was all fine, and I'm happy to have the experience behind me so I know what to expect the next time. Because I am a freak like that.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Too Much Excitement

I don't know who I think I am, but I am a big, fat liar. The scarf I wore yesterday was not made of Angora, as I alluded when I copied, pasted, and properly credited the original entry about someone's Angora sweater. I don't know what my scarf is made of, but it is not fur nor is it real. Maybe it's real. It is fuzzy, though. And furthermore, I have scarves made out of fuzzy yarn that shed more on my black wool jacket than the fuzzy, white, I-don't-know-what-it's-made-of-but-it-sure-is-fuzzy scarf.

I just wanted to clear that up.

It's hard to get back into the swing of regular life after a vacation. Yesterday was fairly ordinary, spending time catching up on emails, voicemail, and some actual work. I'll have the vacation details with pictures soon.

Last night I went to pick up OC from school. When we got to the parking garage, the doors were down. This was not unusual as the garage closes at 5:30 pm, after which you need a code to open the door. OC punched in the code but nothing happened. I thought she didn't push the buttons hard enough, so I punched in the code - several times - and it still didn't work. A car was idling on the other side of the doors. A woman got out and came over to talk to us. She was loud. She said she had been there for 15 minutes, and that the garage doors wouldn't open. She used her cell phone to call the parking company and got their answering service, where she left a message and was expecting a call back anytime. I told her she should call the fire department. She asked, loudly, "What's the number to the fire department?" I told her, "911." but I was thinking, "Um, seriously?! What a moron!"

(Disclaimer, which is in no way a placation: This woman annoyed me because she talked obnoxiously loudly, acted kind of drunk, and when she didn't know the number to the fire department, that was the last straw and I felt obligated to call her a moron.)

I went next door to the business that was still open and asked to use their phone, where I called the fire department (9-1-1!) and asked for non-emergency dispatch. I talked to a very nice lady and told her the problem, who said a crew would be by shortly, and could I please wait on the curb to flag them down? Yes, absolutely! The Obnoxiously Loud Moron then walked by us on the sidewalk (how did she get out?) and said the owner would be by in 20 minutes to open the doors. She walked off before I could tell her the fire department was on its way. I did not feel bad about this.

The fire department got there soon after, and set to work. If you've never seen firemen in action, it is kind of cool. There was no fire, and yet they were moving about quickly, all over the place, looking for alternate entrances or for a place to get in from the roof or a side door. It turned out that the garage could be opened manually. The Obnoxiously Loud Moron had told me she tried the automatic door openers, which didn't work, but she didn't try the chains that open the door. They pulled on the chains and got the door open, but had to open the second door because OLM had left her car parked in the front, blocking the first door and was still nowhere to be found. (I still don't know how she got out!)

We got our car and were on our way. Yay, firefighters!

P.S. OC said she was scared, and wanted to go home but she did a great job holding her shit together. I told her this too - only without using the word "shit". As we left the garage I rolled down her window so she could thank the firefighters. She was very relieved to be out of there. As was I.

We're parked there again today. I hope the doors will work this time. I forgot to bring my cell phone again.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Same Thing Happened To Me

You know how you read a post and identify with it so much because the same thing happened to you? I give you Exhibit A, which is an excerpt from on December 3, 2004:

Hello, this is [your sweater]. I am so pretty and soft! But guess what! I am 10% angora which means I like to fuzz! Fuzzfuzzfuzz! All over your black pants! You look very stupid now.

This totally happened today, except it was a pretty and soft white scarf, which fuzzed all over my black sweater. I look very stupid now.

Defining Me

A short while ago I spent some time cleaning my Favorites folder and deleting links to blogs I hadn't been visiting. I probably deleted a half dozen. Today, I spent some time adding links to my Favorites folder of maybe a dozen blogs that I found from other blogs and sites like this one. Now I can throw away my link to the Globe of Blogs because I've got such an extensive list. Reading one blog leads to reading 10 or more, because of all the linking. That is what I love so much about the whole blog-reading experience: the interconnectedness.

I read 10 or 12 blogs on a daily basis. This takes less time than you might think. Some bloggers don't update every day, and many posts are quite short. When I find a blog I like, I usually venture into the archives. This gives some background on the author which throws some perspective on current happenings. Now, doing this takes some dedication as some bloggers have been at this for a couple of years. The reward is getting to enjoy some good writing, funny stories and pictures of people who live in other places but have things happen to them, just like they happen to you, only funnier. And different.

What it comes down to is this: Blogs = Love.

Now I find myself in a kind of quandary. What kind of blog do I have? What am I doing with this here blog? It is not really a mommy blog, even though I am a mom; It is not a cross-stitch blog, even though I cross-stitch; It is not a book blog, etc. You get the idea. It is me. In what category is that? I am anonymous. Who am I? Why would someone read what I have to say, Anonymous Girl in Internetland? My family and my friends know who I am and I've given them this URL. They nearly make up my entire audience of 7 visits per day [half of which are me, updating this blog]. I write about my life pretty honestly, except the details of names and specific places are blurred to protect the innocent. I thought this would be a good way to write on a regular basis; to update people with stories of my life, or about OC; and there would be pictures.

The thing is, I want to develop my voice a bit more. No, a LOT more. There is a sea of great blogs out there, with hundreds of readers because they are funny. And insightful. I don't want to copy these people, I want to be myself. I don't care if I have hundreds of readers, but I would like to be readable; [A million-dollar book deal would not be so bad.] To stand up to my own scrutiny.

I know that this blog will not be a "Dear Diary" blog with entries like "Sorry I haven't written in so long" because I can't stand reading that kind of schlock. It will not be a political blog, although I certainly have some political opinions, and am interested in politics and government. I will also not write a strong opinion and then follow it up with platitudes to all persons everywhere. I hate that trite crap.

I guess that means that what it will be is a hodge podge, a potpourri; nay, a veritable amalgamation of thought across an array of subject matter, distilled and served up here for your perusal.

In case you're wondering what the hell my problem is, I'll tell you: This is the exact same problem I struggle with in life. I am 32 years old, and only very recently became confident enough to express myself, to be a whole person and stand up for myself. It all feels so tenuous. I often feel myself sliding back to my old "Oh my G-d is this good enough for other people? What do they think of me? Please like me!" Up until 8 months ago or so, my biggest fear in life was the possibility of offending someone. Ick! I know! Immediately I want to throw up when I think that way. It is, however, true what they say about old habits dying hard.

Sure, I worried about getting anthrax in the mail like everyone else. Or something terrible happening to my child. But in day-to-day life, I feared disagreeing with someone so that they might not like what I had to say and therefore not like me. Yes! I did! Isn't it pathetic? Oui. C'est tres pathetique, mon amis.

I debated whether or not to start a blog for months before I actually did it. I wondered what I would have to say or if I would have enough to write once a (week) day, and mostly, if I would dare to write what I really thought or turn tail and run the other way like the scared chicken that I am.

It turns out I've got a lot of things in my head to talk about, which I already knew. It further turns out that I am not afraid of offending the multitudes, even if I get scared when I write things with which I know people are not going to agree.

Luckily, I don't have a multitudinous number of readers. Heh.

What I am more afraid of now is not writing my thoughts well. Quite the change, right? I want to reread this blog's earlier entries and see crappy writing, and then see the writing get better. Also? I don't want to take myself too seriously.

[Oops...too late for that last one...]

Or, maybe it's not too late. Maybe I will find my original voice. Maybe I will not be boring. These are my goals. No, wait. Those are not my goals. The first one is good, about being my own original voice, but I don't care if I'm boring or not. Who is the ultimate judge of that, anyway? My second goal will be to clearly communicate what I mean to say. I don't want to read a post later and think, "Oh, but I didn't really explain what I meant when I wrote that...." I should be able to communicate what I am thinking in a way that I can stand by later on, that doesn't require clarification. Yes, those are my goals.

I feel much better now. Goals are defined; Thoughts are clarified. Yes, I am a Type A personality. Why do you ask?

And now, for one time only, please enjoy the following because you will not read anything like this again at this URL:

Dear Diary,

OMG! Matt Damon is soooo cute! I heart him. Sorry I haven't written in so long. I have been busy scouring the internet for Matt Damon pictures and writing him fanmail. I will marry him someday, right after he divorces that Luciana chick. You know they will get divorced, because she is SO not the right woman for him. I am! [Giggle giggle!!!]

Occidental Girl

P.S. Me again. My husband is WAY cuter than Matt Damon. Waaaaaaaaaaay C.U.T.E.R.