Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Good Bye, Old Job

Why does leaving a job take two days of packing, cleaning, sorting, and cd-burning?

I've been at this job for 4 years, I guess that's why. I finished all of the above with 15 minutes to spare in the work day, and I have been going nonstop all day. Tonight will be my going away party.

So many people have told me "Congratulations!" and have said how they're so glad for me to be doing this. It feels good to hear that. If I had a nickel for how many times I've thought, "I could come back just for the summer and work part time..." well, I'd have a lot of nickels. I knew I had to make a clean break, and I'm glad I am doing that. It's easy to try and stick around just a little longer, in some capacity, but I can't do that.

Leaving is sad. There are many wonderful people here and it was a good job, fun even, a lot of times. It paid the bills and offered many challenges and opportunities for me to grow as a designer. I've learned so much here. And now, I have cleared my path completely in order to move on to other things. Like BlogHer, and I'm excited about that.

Off to get my drink on!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Community and the Joys of Independent Travel

Last night, OH and I had a date! We went to one of the few nice restaurants in our town and had a late dinner, just the two of us. We split a bottle of wine, had some wonderfully fresh food, and talked. We rarely have moments alone, and so we made the best of it. He surprised me by stopping for ice cream on the way home, too. This is how I know I married the right man: it was HIS idea to stop for ice cream. My god, I am in love!

One of the things we talked about was each of our desire to take trips - separate trips - this summer. I want to go to BlogHer, OH wants to go to watch baseball in Seattle.

OH is planning a baseball trip - two baseball trips, actually - this summer. The first trip came about as a group of friends, but when people in his office found out they thought it would be a fun trip to plan through the company, so now there are two trips. He was worried I would be upset with him for being gone so much. My reaction was more on par with, "What, you're still here?". Let me explain.

I am happy to see him plan activities that he loves, and he loves watching baseball. I told him that when it feels like he is planning to be gone too much, I'd let him know. Right now, the two trips are not too much and furthermore, I think it's healthy for us to do our own things once in a while.

This brings me back around to BlogHer. I mentioned how I really want to go. BAD. The only problem is, I'm soon to be unemployed. That is: She Without a Paycheck. BlogHer is not free, nor is it prohibitively expensive. It is, however, terribly important to me to have the chance to go and meet wonderful people whose words I read on a daily basis (see sidebar). I want to expand my blog, which I'll have time to do when I am not working full-time, so it seems a great opportunity to learn more. OH is all for it, even though it means spending money right before we are on a tight budget. I am so grateful for his support for something that is important to me.

BlogHer was sold out for Day One, but I am attending the Day One cocktail party (meet drunk bloggers, yay!) and Day Two session and cocktail party. It looks to be a great event. I can't believe I'm actually going.

Blogging has already changed my life. Through the experience of writing down what are at times intensely personal thoughts and experiences, and reading other people who have done the same, I have learned that we are all one, big community. We are not in this alone. Motherhood, marriage, relationships, jobs, the daily problems of living; all of it is what brings us together. We can learn from one another and improve our own lives. Stay at home moms no longer have to remain isolated in their homes, nor working moms feel a sense of isolation from other women while in their jobs. We can all share and reach out to one another through this new forum which didn't exist in our mother's time.

In current times where people generally keep to themselves and often live in distant towns from family members, it is a powerfully comforting thing to enjoy this sense of community.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Excellent Linkage

Yesterday got away from me. I was so excited to be linked up to Marathon Mom's blog that I forgot to post! The internet is so great. How else can you meet so many cool people in your pj's? Or at work, while you're working?

It helps to know there are other people doing what you're doing, and found a way to thrive. Amalah, for instance, just quit her job and now has a writing gig. Marathon Mom quite the biotech industry to be home with her kids and has a writing gig. Very Mom has her own business and is home with her kids.

These are just a few examples. It is these people and many more that I read on daily basis doing various things with their lives and making changes to suit their families. It heartens me to know that there are others out there who have made changes and have done so well with the change.

I have something funny to share. My daughter, who I unbiasfully think of as the female Oscar Wilde, delighted me with this last night:

(She had just eaten something, I forget what now)

OC: Does my tongue look pink?

Me: No.

OC: Well, it tastes pink. I thought it would look pink.


Okay, maybe it's not quite great wit yet, but to me it's priceless. (Tastes pink! She kills me!) Ahhhhhhhhhhhlrighty then.

Days left of paid employment: 5.

Days left before I have something interesting to say: unknown. But I just know it will happen...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Healing Laughter

If laughter is the best medicine, then I'm getting healed in the best way today.

First, I have been remembering a few things about my brother: when he was a kid he saved farts in a Band Aid box to be pulled out and used later; he made me work really hard not to crack up in front of everyone when I was a bridesmaid at my sister's wedding when he was off to the side making faces and gestures of I don't even know what; who wouldn't miss an opportunity to go out of his way for you or make you laugh. There are so many moments, so many things he would have a hilarious comment about. Normal things were just hilariously funny when he was around to comment upon them.

Those are the good things. To get my mind off the bad, I just listened to two very funny comedy sets, one by Adam Ferrara and another by Daniel Tosh. Go to and type in "Comedy Central" then scroll for these two names. Listen, and have yourself a laugh. It's good for you!

Hard Day

How did I get this job, anyway? I am retarded. I just scanned five black and white documents, and didn't choose the right options. So instead of being single, two-sided pdfs, they are numbered 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. until it gets to the end, where it goes 119, 121, 122, 120, 118, 116, etc... Argh. (To my coworker who reads this blog: I'm sorry. Soon you will not have to deal with my trifling mistakes, you poor, encumbered soul you!)

Four years ago my brother died after being diagnosed with strep throat, then whoops! it was actually leukemia. (From lame clinic, if we had a soul we would tell you: "We would like to apologize for our laziness and reluctance to spend money on a medical test that would have detected the leukemia before your family member spent 30 days hovering near death in an ICU, it's just that we're HMO motherfuckers and can't be bothered. Thanks.")

Yesterday was his birthday. Or, would have been. What can you say about someone who was once vibrant, full of humor and light, and then died at age 34? It was painful and unfair, but there is nothing to be done now except remember. Remember how life can be taken away so quickly, before you have time doing what you intend to do. Don't put anything off, if you can help it. You never know when the day will come when you CAN'T do what you want with your life.

I know that for me, life sometimes feels like a burden. Too often I find myself thinking, 'How am I going to get through this? I can't take this pain,'. Then on the flip side, I think about how amazing it is that I am here. When you think about the biological odds (millions of sperm, that ONE egg...) and the anthropological history of the world (wars, famine, disease, lack of medical knowledge way back when, etc.) it further boggles the mind that we made it to 2006 when one of our relatives could've easily been killed before creating one of our predecessors. If JUST ONE had not made it, we wouldn't be here.

I don't know what this type of thinking is called, or even what the point of it is, but it does help me get out of my funk to think this way. It makes me appreciate life, even when it's bad. I guess it makes me think that just as there was life for thousands of years before me, there will be life after me. There will even be life for me after the current crisis passes. I guess that if life lessons weren't painful, we wouldn't really notice them, would we?

I know my family is thinking about the same thing today. I think the passage of time has lessened the sting of loss, but the lesson of having lived through it is still there: Don't Put Things Off. Life is Short. Enjoy Life and Your Family Now.

There is one more ingredient that helps, that I could not do without: knowing that I am not alone. That's what the internet has given me, the gift of knowing that I am not suffering alone, or crazy to feel this way. Through both email and the blogs I read, when my powers of positive thinking become eroded to the point that I can't conjure a single good thought, I read stories of other people's troubles and my thoughts turn to how I can help that person. Then I start thinking about how I can reach out, or ask for advice, or just plain commiserate. And that makes it a little bit better, enough to where I can shake off the negative energy that brings me down and become a stronger person for having gone through it.

That's what I want my family to know right now, that I am there for them if they need me; whether they need to talk, listen, or want to commiserate. Life is short, but it is mostly good. And it's even better when you are in good company.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Other Thing on My Mind

In addition to inhabiting my personal, post-vacation lala land, I have something else on my mind: I'm leaving my job on May 31st. Crap! How will I buy stuff I don't need??

Making this decision to leave my job in order to spend more time with my daughter has been hard for the usual reasons. I like coming to work and interacting with adults; working on graphics projects provides a great opportunity for creativity, albeit not every project or task is exciting; answering people's technical questions and being out in the world makes me feel like I might actually know something and be a useful, productive, and sometimes even interesting human being; this is the best place I've ever worked as far as the co-worker and boss relationship; the paycheck that gets automatically deposited into my checking account is awfully nice validation, especially when converted into a shoe/beauty/fashion/craft validation goodness. It's easy to get nostalgic when I think of all the good things.

What I won't miss are the mornings where I'm late and totally stressed out and feeling guilty over leaving my crying/needy/sleepy/stressed child at daycare when it would have been so nice to just STAY HOME and not panic for a change.

Humans are multi-dimensional, complicated beings (except for Britney Spears) (sorry, cheap celebrity bashing is ugly) and so I have been feeling both sad and excited, among other things, about this new prospect. However, I am not confused by feeling all of the widely disparate emotions, even though this is new territory for me.

I am not normally comfortable being the one to affect change. I am more comfortable and happy knowing I am normal and just like everyone else. That's why I enjoy every instance of a coworker telling me congratulations, and that they wish they had done/could do the same thing. This isn't a work vs. stay at home debate, this is about life and decisions and changes.

My life has been about stress and the bottleneck of time and responsibility. Being somewhere, all the time, with very little personal time. I had a baby 12 months into a new job which, surprise! didn't leave me any vacation time. I was back to work after four short months. I kept working year after year after that (and gratefully so, when I got divorced and was able to support myself) but now things have changed. I look at this change as a gift I am giving my daughter. I'm reducing her stress level by giving her a break from her full-time daycare schedule.

I don't question my decision, and so when the sad pull of remembering what I am leaving behind creeps into my thoughts, I just remember all the stressful mornings and when I felt like my efforts were futile.

The only question I have now is how the heck I am going to finance my fancy French facial product habit. Wait, I think I know: b-u-y r-e-g-u-l-a-r s-o-a-p o-r f-i-n-d a p-a-r-t-t-i-m-e j-o-b, d-u-m-b d-u-m-b!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Back on the Occidental Coast. Of America.

It's good to be back home. We all loved Ireland and had a wonderful experience, but there's something about going away that makes being home again such a relief.

My daughter is a capable, adaptable traveler already, at the tender age of five. She hauled her self and her stuff from Portland to Dallas to Chicago, and then Dublin with nary a complaint:

While waiting to board our Aer Lingus flight in Chicago, an artist made a picture of OC, for a small fee (caption says "Kenny, Chicago, April 25, 2006"):

Our first two nights were spent in Dublin. We got lost on our way back to our hotel after a brief walk a few blocks away near St. Stephen's Green. This was not entirely our fault. The street changed names three times in the space of 200 yards! We were jet lagged, but hadn't lost our sense of direction. We circled around and around where we thought the hotel was (and by circling I mean walking all the while with a five-year old in tow, a very patient but kind of worried-that-her-parents-were-lost-on-the-first-day-in-a-strange-place five-year old...) but kept coming across other streetnames.

Aside number one: I'd like for Ireland to seriously consider updating their street signage. I'm down with how you like to place street signs on buildings even though I am not used to looking for them there, I can adjust. But please, just put them up everywhere and for the love of all that is holy, let a continuous street be named one thing! That would help a lot. Thank you. I know you'll do it for me, for I am your greatest fan. (End of aside.)

Dublin is a cool city: hectic, grimy, old, full of life and people with Irish accents. I loved it. We walked all over the place and had pub food, toured the Guinness Brewery and had our free pint on the top of the building with a view of the city. The city does not contain tall buildings. The tallest buildings were probably 12 stories or so and there aren't many of them, so our view from the top of the seven-story Guinness Brewery was awesome. But who cares about a view, when you've got a cold pint of Guinness in front of you?

View from the (only the seventh floor!) Guinness Brewery:

My favorite thing in Dublin was when we went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. That, and when I bought jewelry from a street vendor. It was nice jewelry, nothing particularly special about it, but it was a great price and come on, it's jewelry!

The Book of Kells was written in 800 A.D. by four monks, and it is the four gospels of the New Testament. Not only that, but every page is highly decorated with images and colors, amazing considering they made their own dye from things like minerals. The paper, which is actually vellum, was made from calfskin. Not an easy task, to say the least. The book is preserved in the library at Trinity College, under a glass case with temperature and humidity controls. They turn the pages every few days or so. The display includes information on how the book was made, and about other writing going on in Ireland at the time. OH didn't think it would be very interesting, but he found himself intrigued with it once he got there. I couldn't get over how amazing it was, and I saw it in person! Wow. It's called an illuminated manuscript, because the illustrations and decorations were so beautiful that they lit up the page; illuminated it. That was cool enough, but it also happened to be the Samuel Beckett centenary, a notable Irish writer and playwright, so there was a display in the library of his writing, letters, and manuscripts which was very interesting. That was a great day.

The Book of Kells is here!

Both OH and I love history, so it was cool being in a place where everything is so old. This is the Christ Church Cathedral, originally founded by Vikings in 1038 A.D. and rebuilt by invaders from Norman in 1240 in a Romanesque style. What you may find interesting is that Ireland was never invaded by the Romans, which was only one of a few places that weren't. (Vikings, Normans, and English, yes; but not the Romans.) Dublin is from Irish Dubh Linn, meaning "dark pool", which was a reference to a dark pool of water created by the River Liffey, on whose banks Dublin was founded. The modern Irish name Baile Atha Cliath means "City of the Ford of the Reed Hurdles".

Christ Church Cathedral:

We also went to Dublin Castle, walked over the Ha'Penny Bridge, window-shopped on the pedestrian Grafton Street, and walked through the trendy Temple Bar area which is the oldest part of Dublin. Oh, and we had beer every day. I found that in addition to Guinness, I like Smithwick's and the Scottish beer Tenent's.

Dublin Castle:

A street in the Temple Bar district:

Aside number two: I know that you Irish are speaking English, but I can't always understand you and I'm sorry for all those dumb looks you received from two stupid American tourists. It's a lovely accent, we just couldn't always catch what you were saying, especially if it contained any slang. What in the world is a 'gammon'? Sorry. And thanks. (End of aside.)

More details of the trip to come!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Greetings From Northern Ireland

Hello! Typing this from a pay-to-use internet station located in the lobby of the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery, Bushmills, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. OH just took a tour, but OC was too young to go through. We managed to occupy ourselves while we waited by going into some shops in town.

Ireland is so great, I love it here. We keep saying how great it would be tolive here, for the scenery, weather, food and spirits all suit us perfectly. OC is an awesome traveler! I am so impressed with that girl. We hiked one day in a glen for two hours, and during sightseeing drives, there's rarely a complaint.

I've found I really like these beers: Guinness, Tenent's, Smithwick's. Bushmill's whiskey (quite smoothe, but I'm not a whiskey drinker).

We've both driven here in NI, and after the initial adjustment period, do quite fine with it. I keep wondering if I'll mess up when we get home and drive on the left! The only hard part was in Co. Donegal, where the road signs are in Irish and English, or sometimes only Irish.

We're to leave Co. Antrim tomorrow for three days in Co. Fermanagh, then one more night in the Republic before we fly to the States. It's gone way too quickly...what a wonderful place.

Slainte! (To Your Health)

The Occidental Tourist