Enormous Glass Half Empty

I hate feeling down. It’s not in my nature. I’m a take charge kind of gal. I make quick decisions about what I can actually impact and what I need to just let go because I don’t have any reasonable way to impact the outcome. Then I take action, rally the troops and get after fixing it.

But lately….lately…I’ve been feeling down. I want to stay in bed and sleep or stay in bed and read or stay in bed and surf the web and feed that wolf with all the bad.

Things I’m concerned about:
• All that nonsense in Crimea. It just reeks of Hitler/Poland. Scary.
• That lost Malaysian airliner. My imagination runs wild with this.
• The lack of media coverage on the aftermath of the Fukishima disaster. Seriously, this should be enormous news. I’m so wigged out about this that I’ve quit eating sushi. Most of the fish is sourced from the Pacific and I can think of 1,000 other ways to endanger my life that are more fun than eating sushi.
• North Korea – craziness. How can the world stand by and let it just play out? I have to hope that there’s stuff going on that we don’t hear about to deal with this.
• Mudslide in Washington – oh, the trauma and heartache. How did it happen? What caused it?
• Earthquakes in Los Angeles – scary.
• Drought in California – the only thing I can do about that is plant a big garden this year. Limes are $1 a piece around here. And small. That’s just the beginning.
• Sonic boom things that were heard over the weekend not far from where I live. Three of them. Shook houses. No explanation yet for what they were.
• The Koch Brothers – evil incarnate.
• The state of politics in this country in general. Broken – possibly beyond repair.
• Probably more stuff that I’ve blocked from my mind

Sigh….add to this list the fact that the Husband needs to have rotator cuff surgery. His body is ravaged by years of physical labor that all of the gallons of vitamins and supplements won’t fix. And he takes them, by the handful.

Hopefully this too shall pass. The long ugly winter didn’t help a bit, either. Spring is here, finally, in a fashion. And I need to get a smaller glass so it’s not just half full, but filled to the brim. I’m just finding it hard to do that right now. I hate feeling this way.

Maybe I just need a good drunk.

Another Meme.

I love these. I love to complete them and I love to read them on other blogs. They’re a little window into a person.

1: Who is your favorite Musical Artist from when you were a teenager? Hmmmm…..artist as in not a group? Well, at one point (let’s call them the dark ages), I was all about Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow. Evergreen and Night in New England still make me wistful. But I would have to say, in the later teen years, that I was all about Elton John. I know all the words – bizarre as they are – to most of his songs. You know those words – the ones that other people make up.
2: Who is your favorite game show host?
I want to say Alex Trebek because I love love love me some Jeopardy. But he kind of seems like he’d be a dick. So I’m going to go with Richard Dawson from Family Feud. That British thing gets me almost every time.
3: Who is your Favorite Blog hosting service?
I started with Blogspot but had some sort of problem with stuff not posting for days and days. So I switched to WordPress. All good. Love the free themes. Can’t talk myself into buying the one I REALLY love. But I think I’m going to grow up and buy a .com address.
4: If you could meet anyone again from your childhood, who would it be?
I had the most wonderful 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Rhoades. She gave me the best gift (outside of my kids) that I’ve ever received – the love of reading and writing. She died of leukemia when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I wish I could see her again and thank her. Over and over.
5: Where did you want to live when you were growing up?
I had an unnatural attachment to Hawaii. Never mind that I’d never been there (and still haven’t), but the whole tropical thing was so different from the farm in Iowa that I grew up on. When I was a kid I always told my mom that I’d take her there. I didn’t and I’m sorry. She got to go, though, with my dad.
6: What is the most interesting piece of Trivia that you know?
TRIVIA! I love me some trivia! I have more snippits of useless knowledge in my brain than should be allowed by law. Makes me killer at Trivial Pursuit, though. And see reference to Jeopardy above. I actually took the test to get on the show a few years ago. Hoo boy, the test was HARD. Way harder than the questions on the show! Anyway – here’s an interesting piece – you can buy bees by the pound to start a hive. They’re shipped through regular mail.
7: If you could live in any point of history when would it be and why? I don’t know that I would want to live my entire life from this point, but I surely would love to have experienced it – and not from Iowa, more like San Francisco. The 1960s. The concept of that era was like so many things – pure in concept and screwed up by humans.
8: What is the most interesting job you have ever had?
For a short time (6-8 mos maybe?), I worked in a small candy factory. All the candy was handmade. And yes, that I Love Lucy episode was right on with the conveyor belt and the chocolates. Did you ever wonder why a box of chocolates sometimes have those nasty pastel Jordan almonds in them? To get it up to the right weight – exactly – without adding another chocolate. We had big marble tables and 1 inch square heavy steel bars that you could put on the tables to create great big pans. We’d oil up the tables and the bars (not butter – it gets hard and defeats the purpose of greasing it) and pour huge kettles of caramel onto it. After a couple of hours, we’d take off the bars and use and enormous, long knife to cut them into squares, then run them through the ‘rober’ that encased them in chocolate. When I started, the owner told me that I could as much of anything that I eat as much as I wanted of anything EXCEPT the English toffee and giant cashews (which aren’t, by the way, roasted. They’re deep fried). Sounds like a plan. By the end of the second week, all I wanted was – you guessed it – toffee and cashews. Oh and orange gummy bears. They were still exotic and imported at that time. We got them in 50 lb. bags, all stuck together. You had to put on gloves and ‘pick the bears’ to fill the 2 ft. tall canister we had of them on the counter. You always could tell when I picked bears – there would be several inches in the jar without any orange ones. LOL!
9. Please share one middle school memory. It can be good, bad, ugly, funny. Pictures or words, I don’t care, just share.
8th grade, Feb 21st, right outside the gym in front of the trophy cases after school. My first kiss. At my 15 year reunion, after a couple of adult beverages, I said to this boyfriend ‘Feb 21st, by the lunchroom, before your wrestling practice’. He (still a hunk) looked at me and said ‘It wasn’t outside the lunchroom, it was in front of the trophy cases’. All together now – ahhhhhhh!
10. What’s your favorite Beatles song?
Easy, easy, easy. Blackbird. One of the finest acoustic songs ever written or performed.
11. If I asked you to describe your most comfortable outfit, what would it be?
My favorite totally broken in, washed a zillion times jeans and a hoodie. Barefoot if I can get away with it…
12. Would you rather host a party or be a guest?
I love to throw parties – big blowouts with lots of alcohol, fancy dinner parties, showers, you name it. I love to go to parties, too, but I’d rather host and control it all. Plus I have a zillion things to help me set a great table and decorate that I like to use!
13. Do you think we will move completely from traditional books to digital ones, and if we do, are you OK with that?
I read stuff online. Blogs, articles, etc. But books? NO NO NO. I love books. I love holding them and reading them and smelling them. I don’t have to worry if my battery is full. I don’t have to close my book when the plane takes off. I don’t have to be distracted by smudges on the screen. And frankly, I know a dozen people that jumped on the eReader bandwagon over the last few years that can’t tell me the last time they used it. HA!
14. Do you learn best by reading, listening or experiencing?
I read all the time. Anything, everything I can get my hands on. I learn all manner of things from reading. Some things I need to see to learn like sewing and jewelry making. Some things I can’t seem to learn at all – like advanced math.
15. If you are (or when you were) single, what is the kiss of death for you concerning the opposite sex? (That is, what is one trait or behavior or habit or anything at all that immediately turns you off from considering that person a potential match for you?)
As soon as I had to call BS on something they said because I knew the truth, they were done. And braggarts. I hate a braggart. Tell me about what you’ve done with a little humility and I’m all over it. Brag about it? DONE.
16. Snacks. Salty or sweet?
Salty. I’ll pass up chocolate for some chips any day of the week.
17. Look around you in a four foot radius. What object is around you that you didn’t realize was there or forgot was there? How long has it been there?
A mother’s day card I ‘forgot’ to send the step mother last year. Addressed, stamped, everything. Freudian, much?
18. What is your favorite Tom Cruise movie?
Not a big TC fan but I really liked Top Gun. But not necessarily because of him. He’s whacked.
19. You buy a bottle of shampoo and discover that you don’t like what it does to your hair at all. What do you do with that full bottle?
It sits in my cupboard until I get tired of moving it around and then I either toss it or try to give it to my sister.
20. Your favorite spring comfort food?
Living in the Midwest, it HAS to be morel mushrooms. They are a food of the gods. But I’m not much good at hunting for them. I just plain can’t see them. They’re wily rascals and hide themselves very well. Our timber has corn fields around it every other year and is full of squirrels. So there are random chunks of corn cobs on the ground, which coincidently or not look just like morels when they’re partially hidden under a leaf or something. The worst part – they pop up right at the raging start of tick season. I’ve never gone mushroom hunting that I haven’t had to pick a few ticks off of me afterwards. Blessedly I’ve only found one in my hair, usually they’re on my pant legs. ICK.

Somebody else do this one!! Come on – play along!

If I Won $100m Lottery….

I love memes. Love. And here’s what I’d do if I ever won a big lottery:

What kind of car would you buy?
Probably a Volvo cross over. Not sure why except that I drove a friend’s Volvo a couple of times and was very impressed with how it felt. But who knows? I’m not a huge car nut. I just want one that’s reasonably comfortable and starts every time. Wait – I want an electric car.

Where would you move to?
I don’t think I would move move. I would, however, own homes around the country in particularly fabulous spots. I want a home in San Francisco and one north of the bay on the ocean, say around Bodega, Charleston captured my heart over vacation last spring, so maybe one on the beach there, too. I can’t forget NYC and Chicago, too. Oh, and while we’re at it, a mountain lodge in Colorado. And lucky you, if you’re a friend of mine, I’d let you use them for vacations, too! For free!

What kind of house would you buy?
I’d want a painted lady row house in SF, one of those fabulous weathered, modern design cedar homes in Bodega, enormous beachfront house in Charleston with huge porches on both levels and those cool shutter things, a fabulous loft in NYC and an executive sort of condo in a high rise in Chicago. And of course a log house lodge in Colorado.
Would you give your family any money?
Yes, for sure. But I would be all kinds of controlling about it. I would pay off bills for nieces and buy a farm for each of the boys for investment and ongoing income.
What charity would you donate to?
Believe it or not, I’ve thought about this quite a bit: I’d set up a foundation to identify specific local charities to donate to each year – grass roots type things, like our local food bank. I’d upgrade the facilities at our county fairgrounds. I’d set up a trust for our local celebration commission so they didn’t have to beg for donations every year. And anonymous donations to people in need. That would be so cool. I do that on a small scale now and get so much personal fulfillment from it. How awesome would it be to send a family $5000 instead of $100???
Would you give your friends any money?
I don’t know about hard $$. Where would you start/stop? It would be WAY fun, though, to quietly and without fanfare, pay off their mortgages or have a new car delivered to them. And I’d throw amazing vacation get away parties, charter a jet and take them with me to surprise locations. Oh how much fun that would be!
Where would you go on vacation?
Australia, Japan, France, Holland, Costa Rica, Brazil, New Zealand, Tahiti. I’m going to see some of these places before I die whether I win the lottery or not.
What luxury item would you buy first?
It’s not really a purchase, per se, but I’d have a housekeeper that came every day and handled all the (EFFING) laundry and cleaning. And cook when I didn’t feel like it. Oh, and a 2 carat emerald shaped diamond solitaire.
Would it change your life?
Of course it would. How could it not? The question should be would it change ME? Probably. I’m shallow like that. I’d get a mani/pedi every week. Maybe a massage 3x a week. Maybe a LIVE IN masseuse. Named Rolf.

Would you save any of it?
Yes, absolutely. Probably 25% or more. All the stuff I want to do would happen over a period of time, not all at once.
Would it change your current relationship?
I want to say no but the reality is that yes, of course it would. But for the better or the worse? Who knows?
Would you quit your job?
Absolutely. Immediately. Maybe hire a skywriter to give my resignation.
Would you ever work again?
Oh yes. At something. Maybe as a volunteer? Or start a party planning business.
What one task would you never do again?
Deep cleaning. I suck at it and hate it, therefore put it off longer than is healthy.
What dream of yours would you be able to do?
Travel at will, shop without looking at price tags, buy everything I put in my cart at TJ M@xx without having to backtrack all over the store and put ¾ of it back.
Would you change the way you dress?
Yes, after I got skinny. I’d figure out how to buy skinny and buy staying skinny.
Would you change anything about your body?
See above reference to buying the skinny. There’s a surgery for that.
Would you miss anything about not being rich?
Probably knowing that people don’t just like me for what I could do for them. Wait – I feel that way about some people now.
Who would be the first person you tell?
The husband, of course. Then the kids. Then I’d find the best tax attorney in the country and figure out how to give away as much of it as I could to save on taxes.
Would it bring you happiness?
Yeah, sort of – a form of happiness that comes from having no stress about finances. I’m pretty happy to begin with so I wouldn’t be chasing a nirvana state.

In Which I Bitch About Thank Yous

My mother taught me to send written thank you notes. It’s common knowledge among friends that I love to receive note cards as gifts because I use them, both as thank yous and as just a way to stay connected. I love snail mail.

So – on to the bitching. I am still waiting on four thank yous from last year. Two weddings, one baby shower and one graduation. Now, I’m all for thanking people on Facebook for casual gatherings where no gifts were given, or expected. But if I received a FORMAL invitation and took my time and money to purchase a gift or give $$ (graduations only. I am old school – I buy presents for everything else), I FRIGGING EXPECT A THANK YOU. A hand written thank you. Is that too damn much to ask? It’s rude and inconsiderate.

One of the wedding gifts I’m waiting on was a school principal – one that survived a serious cancer scare a few years ago. A group of friends pitched in and sent her on a get-away trip before she started treatment. I personally donated nearly $400. And took meals. And other stuff. I never expected a thank you for that.

But the wedding? Yes, I did. And want to know what? I feel differently about her now. The other wedding? Wish I hadn’t RSVP’d. The graduate? I feel differently about his parents for not insisting he write thank yous. Both of my kids wrote them – personalized ones, not just ‘thanks for the money, I’ll use it at college’. It took them over a week to write them all. The baby shower? Seriously? Who doesn’t write a note of thanks for a baby shower gift?

Grrrrrrrr. I hate being disappointed. Hate, hate, hate.

She’s Baaaaack.

Wow. Do I still live here? Why do I find it so hard to write regularly? The only thing I can think of is that I don’t want to write just a little bit. I want to produce a novella, one that’s smart and funny and gets lots of comments, not just a blurb that says nothing. So…fear of failure? Maybe just lazy.

So, in the vein of the lazy, I’m going to fall back on my old friend, bullet points. For some reason, it’s easier to write in BPs because I don’t have to fuss over transition and cohesive thought. I can just dump the crazy mélange of my brain onto a page. And so I will.

• The holidays were good. I took a few days off around them which weren’t particularly productive. I have this sickness that won’t let me just lounge around and relax. I must be doing SOMETHING all the time or I feel guilty. Maybe because I figure when I retire, I’ll have all the time in the world to read, surf the net, watch mind-numbing television. I wish I could relax more. On the upside, I get a lot done. On the third side, I still find a way to delay doing stuff I don’t like but should do. I need to find a housecleaner to do the icky, deep stuff.
• I traveled last week. I was in San Francisco for two days, then flew cross country to Florida. It was so cold when I left – like -30 below – and when I got to SF, it was about 58. So funny – when I got to the hotel on Market (by limo! To The Palace – swanky beyond belief), most people on the street were bundled up with heavy coats and scarves and hats. It made me laugh. When I landed in Florida, it was about 80 with 90% humidity. Call me crazy, but I preferred 58.
• The reason I was in SF was to speak at a software company’s annual kick off meeting. I was shocked when they called me (I’m a customer/user of their amazing product) and they wanted someone to speak that could represent the user and not just a tech nerd. I agreed – they paid for everything – and they certainly did it up right. Very cool. I was so NOT dressed for a limo, though! LOL!
• Thing 2 is back at college and got a job working in one of the campus coffee shops. He’s a worker, that one. He wanted to apply in October and I convinced him to at least get through one round of finals before committing his time. He ended up with a 3.2 GPA for his inaugural semester! Now, he didn’t take any classes in brain surgery, but I’m glad all the same. It’s a good start and gave him lots of confidence. He’s one of those smarty kids that didn’t HAVE to work too hard in HS to make honor roll and so he didn’t. In fact, he got a C- on his first psych exam and was shocked. When we talked about it (I was chewing his butt a little), he said ‘NEWS FLASH, MOM! I don’t have good study habits.’ Ha. It made me laugh.
• Home this week, then off to Tempe, AZ for the annual Big Shot meeting. It’s at another swanky resort but some of the sessions are mind numbingly boring. In past years, I’ve entertained myself in various ways: list all the states in alphabetical order, their capitals, rivers that run through them, other large cities in the state, bones in the body from feet to head, root words in Latin (osteo – bone), muscle cars by make. Don’t mock me. It looks like I’m taking notes and that’s about all that counts.
• I was happy when Jan 1 rolled around because I thought I only had 5-6 months left on this project. And then yesterday? I got meeting invites for the project through the end of the year. After I quit screaming (figuratively), I casually asked one of the other talking heads on the team why. Well, because the project is behind schedule and additional resources have been secured, we’ll be continuing on at least through the end of the year. Please kill me now.
• I’m going to get back into a yoga class. I need it. Again with the lack of self-discipline – I can’t somehow make myself practice at home.
• I got a new saucepan for Christmas that I am almost inappropriately enamored with. It’s a 4 quart All Clad with a lid. I love it. It was ridiculously expensive but I plan to use it as an urn for my ashes when I die.
• I want to replace my kitchen faucet and oh, what a pain in the ass finding a replacement is proving to be. When we remodeled, I bought what I THOUGHT was a good faucet – it cost about $150 at a local big box home improvement store. That seemed like the earth to me at the time. Well, something is wonky in it and the handle leaks when I put it on cold full force. The ‘nickel’ coating around the spray nozzle has chipped off. Also, it’s so tall that it splashes all the way up to the counter top when I turn it on. So I want a new one. A good one. Guess how much a ‘good’ kitchen faucet costs? Upwards of $600. No wonder my $150 one is crap. I was online last night reading reviews and found a good site. And then ran into some reviews that pissed me off. One said “I went with the Moen Bradford, but I can’t tell how it works because our house isn’t done yet.” And “I can’t really help, but I hope you find what you want.” Please explain to me why anyone would bother posting a non-review? Gah.
• Chris Christie? What a loser. From a distance, at first, I sort of liked his straight forward way. Now that I’m reading more about him and educating myself, I’m thrilled that this is coming out now. There’s something deeply wrong in his administration. Big and bad and ugly. What a freaking train wreck.

Holiday Goodies and Baddies

Is it just my imagination or do the sands in the hourglass slide more quickly at the end of the year??? No? 24 hours is 24 hours. It just seems like it at this time of year.

Thanksgiving was, well, too much damn work. I host every year, which I normally enjoy. I set a full formal table, again – which I normally enjoy. I plan the menu and get everything rolling and just do my thing. This year? It seemed like too much damn work. Seventeen people – so not an enormous crowd (plenty of table settings to go around!), one tag along friend of the nephew that didn’t have anywhere to go – glad to have him with us. But seriously? The help I get from the rest of the attendees is little to none. I want to complain and grouse about it, but I know that it’s my own fault. I’ve been super hostess for so many years that I’ve trained them all to just come and enjoy. I’m not sure what was different this year, but I was crabby about it.

So much so that I decided to skip our big holiday dinner party. That’s not the entire reason, but a good part of it. Thing One is bringing his (cute little darling) girlfriend for dinner on Christmas eve . I just decided to go all out for that meal instead of doing a big bash on the 21st and the 24th. Money isn’t the only reason, but surely part of it. That dinner is expensive to throw – hundreds of dollars. So…I’m going to go all out for dinner for the family (which includes my bachelor brother in law – so a nice round number of 6). Christmas morning at our house with the kids and cute little girlfriend (I’m trying so hard not to get attached to her…but got her a great present….), then to other BIL’s for Mark’s side, then to my sister’s later in the afternoon for my side. A full couple of days, but hopefully will be less stressful than TG.

Part of the stress is from the new role I’m in at work. Boring details, but I’ve been allocated to an ENORMOUS project 75% , theoretically until June 2014, but it’s looking more and more like it will go past that. I’m way out of my element but bringing some value – at least they haven’t asked that I be removed. And I know it’s good for my career, what’s left of it anyway, but it’s all the stuff I hate – details, meetings ad nauseum, more details. My leader called it a ‘growth opportunity’ when she offered it to me. I did, however, get the distinct impression that I didn’t really have the option of declining. Anyway, stress to the 10th power. The 25% that’s left over for my real job is really another 75%. I’ve seriously thought about looking for other employment. Then again, I hope to be able to arrange finances such that I can retire before I’m 60, even if it’s one day, so can surely hang in another 6 years. I hate when my work life affects my real life. Hate.

I went on a candy making binge the last two weekends by accident. I got a call a couple of weeks ago from C, the daughter of a former friend, asking if I was going to make candy. I could tell from her voice that something was up so I hedged a bit and said yes, but I hadn’t decided when. Keep in mind that I NEVER make candy. The making of candy requires precision of timing and measurement, both things that aren’t my cooking strong suits. She started crying and said that this was the 6th years since her mom left (her dad for another man and moved 5 states away – right before the start of C’s senior year. Her mother is dead to me – and we were really good friends. I haven’t spoken to her since.) and she really wanted to make candy. What could I say? So I asked her if she had to work the coming Saturday. She hung up in a minute to check and called me back immediately. She had that day off! And was my friend – and hers – D coming, too? I told her I’d check. She hung up with a happy voice. I called D and asked her if she wanted to make candy on Saturday. No, she had no interest in making candy. Then I told her about C and D said ‘what time do you want me there?’ Yes, that’s the kind of woman that she is.

We had a great afternoon and made all kinds of unhealthy stuff. C talked and talked and talked to us, cried a couple of times and we hugged more than once. It was a good day for all of us. And lots of candy to boot. The next day, I had to make more to use up the ingredients that I bought. I’ve got 12 plates made up to take to friends and neighbors, and will still have plenty for our gatherings. I still don’t really dig making candy, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Then I talk to my sister this past week. I can hear in her voice that she’s in that place. Emotionally, fragile, feeling at odds. Two of her children have moved out of state to the west coast and won’t be back. Youngest will be home, but is leaving in January for a semester abroad (Istanbul, of all places). She saw some FB postings about the candy making and felt a little bit left out, I think. So what do I do? Invite her to come make candy on Saturday. I could tell by the look on her face when I saw her that I didn’t imagine that she was there. Her bipolar meds keep her in check most of the time, but sometimes, not quite. We had a great afternoon and she told me that spending time with me was better than any pill she could take. That made me feel good and guilty at the same time. Oh well. I do what I can do, you know?

Goodies overcame the baddies. It’s a holiday miracle.

Veteran’s Day

And their mothers wanted them too, Uncle Sam.
And their sisters cried at night.
And their brother’s nightmares were filled with the war.
And bit…by bit, their fathers died.

This is part of a song I wrote for my big brother many years ago when he was in the midst of one of the worst of his journeys with The Crazy. The music is haunting. I worked on it for a long time but could never come up with much more than this refrain. Maybe because it said everything that I needed to say. When he was in Viet Nam, I was 9. Mom cried all the time, other brother acted out, Dad withdrew even more than normal (I sensed this more than saw it, I’m sure Mom experienced it more). I cried at night, almost every night after I’d said my prayers to keep him safe, missing him so much. And all these years later, I miss him – the brother that left for Viet Nam – still.

I saw my him yesterday for only the second time in 4 or 5 years. He brought my dad to a dinner at my sister’s. He looks terrible, older and as frail, if not more, than our 93 year old father. But he’s not smoking and not drinking and it was….ok. I expected the husband and Thing 1 to come to the dinner (I went a little early), so when I saw him pull in, I sent them an FYI text.

Neither wanted to be around him.

I think it would have been alright, though, if they had. But I can’t control them or what they choose to do. They are still so angry at him for the heartache and turmoil he created that impacted me – and by connection, them. I’m not angry anymore and I don’t want to rekindle anything, but it would certainly be nice to be able to be together – at the holidays or dinners like this. It just takes so much effort to avoid this, especially when I’m the only one out now.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll talk to the husband tonight and try to get him to understand how I’m feeling. Thing 1 will follow along if he does.

And if they don’t, they don’t.

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