Friday, May 28, 2010

In my previous life

A kind, Oregonian reader asked me yesterday when I planned to divulge what I used to do for a living. Before she asked, I hadn't planned on ever getting into it, because I hadn't even realized that I'd never discussed it here in depth.

It's not like I worked for the CIA or something -- I think I just took for granted that many people who read this already know what I did, and it wasn't a very exciting job anyway, so why bother?

But I think I will take the opportunity today to explain what it is I did and why I couldn't have tolerated even another month of it without absolutely losing my shit.

I was a property manager for a corporate real estate company.

Glamorous, no?

I got into that line of business through my mother, who'd worked her way up through the ranks at the same company years ago (she no longer works there). I did temp work for the company in my early 20s, before I left to become a reporter, and when I'd finally had enough of that after a few years, the company was only too happy to take me back. 

I managed four business parks, some housing major companies you've definitely heard of. I spent my days completing financial reports and making sure my buildings were being maintained properly.

I hated almost all of my vendors and almost all of my tenants. I hated many of the people I worked with and for. I hated my job tasks.

I worked in an open office with cubicles that you could see over when you were sitting down. There were about 50 women in my office and two or three men. The jobs pay well and the women wear designer everything. They get plastic surgery and have their nails done and have personal trainers and give each other Tiffany bracelets on their birthdays.

The reason so many women work in this field is twofold. Firstly, it involves major multitasking, and to date, I have never met a man who was good at multitasking.

Secondly, most men are not willing to take the kind of abuse this job involves. Women, unfortunately, are often raised differently. We're often people pleasers, and this is the kind of job a people pleaser will stay in until she realizes she can never make anyone there happy enough.

The kind of abuse I'm talking about is the kind that rolled around about a month before I quit. It had happened to me many times before in various different circumstances.

The most memorable was the time I had a tenant call me, enraged because an animal had died in her air duct and the carcass was attracting flies. There was nothing I could do fast enough to please her. I had 20 people in her building eradicating the problem, but she was still literally screaming at me on the phone.

The incident that occurred a month before I quit involved a similarly enraged tenant and a leaking roof. I will not get into the boring details except to say that 1) I never received the support I needed from my boss (this was an enormous part of the problem for years, actually, and I could go on about it for hours, but you'd be more bored than you already are) and 2) I told that tenant to shove it where the sun don't shine.

It was shortly after that that I came home exhausted, frustrated, angry, despondent, miserable, sobbing. My husband told me to quit, for the umpteenth time, and this time I finally listened.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention there are people at that company to whom I am extraordinarily grateful. Good, kind people who helped me get promoted and supported me. And honestly, the company had some amazing perks, if you could just get past some of the office politics and the fact that the job was terrible. I mean, I had racked up a month of vacation; was making a very nice salary and bonus; the company did 401k matching; they had half-day Fridays in summer; jeans on Fridays. It could have been a lot worse. 

But sweet baby Jesus, am I glad I don't work there any more. Just thinking about that job makes me a little twitchy.

So here's to Friday! Here's to following our hearts and scraping soul-suckers out of our lives. Here's to not making money but being happy as a damn clam, and here's to taking a shower at noon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How I did not tip the little man and other nonsense

Hmmm. Hm.

A little man delivered three doors and about four million feet of baseboard to my house today. He was careful about not scratching floors and stuff and I was thinking, Self, it would be nice to tip this little guy. What's his name. Alberto. Fernando. Feliciano.

He hoofed three heavy doors into my garage on his back, literally. There was another guy sitting in the truck, watching him do it. Could he have used a hand truck? Presumably. Was he the fittest little fellow? No. Paunchy. Out of breath. Please, little guy, use a hand truck.

I paid $80 to have all of this wood delivered to my house, not to mention the cost of the materials themselves, which: Sweet Lord in Heaven, that shit costs a lot.

It was one of those surprise deliveries where they tell you what day they're going to deliver it, but the surprise is you never know what time. It's really exciting!! As it happens, Roberto (Carlos? Manuel?) showed up during a torrential downpour/thunderstorm. Five minutes before he arrived: Not raining. Five minutes after he left: Not raining.

I did not tip Enrique (Oswaldo? Ruben?) because I do not carry cash, ever. Anywhere that cash is required is pretty much not a place that I go. And as I signed my name and cheerfully wished Roman (Rafael? Pancho?) a good day, I could see that I was one of those customers. One of those customers pretending that their cheerful demeanor is going to make up for the fact that they did not give a tip, and meanwhile this poor delivery guy has got, like, 50 more doors to hoof on his back into people's garages today and probably like six hungry kids at home who will have to eat cabbage soup for dinner again because I do not visit the ATM.

The other day we went to the Safeway of Broken Dreams and as we were leaving, there was a man standing outside the door asking for donations for a children's shelter. As a rule, my husband will either ignore these people completely, or just say "Nope!" and keep walking. Which is understandable. I mean, for starters, there are constantly people asking for donations wherever you go. I like to donate occasionally, but when a guy in a beanie who looks like he hasn't showered for a week is standing outside a Safeway with a handwritten sign, asking for donations for the "children's shelter" (Which children's shelter? THE children's shelter, of course), one begins to suspect that perhaps this person is really collecting donations to keep his monkey fed, if you get my meaning.

As we left the SOBD (Safeway of Broken Dreams), the man requested "a dollar? A quarter? A dime? A nickel? A penny?" And I said "Sorry" and kept walking, and he shouted after us, "You guys really need to start helping us out! We can't do it without you!"

An attempt to, what? Shame us into donating to the "children's shelter"?

Anyway. I sometimes donate to these people, if they look legitimate, and it happens to be a rare day on which I actually have cash in my wallet. I donate to causes I care about, to charities I research and am knowledgeable about. This in-your-face solicitation outside (or inside at the registers) SOBD and other stores is unwelcome and suspect.

So that was a bit of a tangent!

At any rate, there is a lot of wood in my house right now, and next week a carpenter named Sergio is going to come work his magic with it, and I will be taking photos and herding cats and hoping for dry, warm weather.

That's it for today, loves.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

There is a group of very smart bloggers who often do "wordless Wednesdays," and they mainly post photos on those days. And since today:

1) I am feeling blocked.

2) I ate too much Mexican food.

3) I spent most of the day out and about pretending to be a lady of leisure

... today will also be a wordless Wednesday for me. 'Til tomorrow, loves.

These pictures are all from Comedy Night on Friday.






Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Comedy night

So a funny thing happened over the weekend.

My husband and I went with another couple to a comedy club to see Doug Benson.

I realize this is not a good photo of Doug. He is signing my friend's passport in this photo.  I also realize it was probably not a good idea for my friend to ask Doug to sign his passport.

You may remember him from "Last Comic Standing," or he also did a movie called "Super High Me." And stand-up on Comedy Central, etc.

So I didn't realize that Doug's whole shtick is centered around marijuana. He was wearing an ugly sweatshirt that said something about a cannabis faire somewhere, and the dude just looked ... well, super high. His eyes were half closed and he looked like he needed a shave.

But he was hella funny. I laughed until my cheeks hurt. Doug made fun of the way our guy friend was laughing (it's a hard laugh to describe. It's kind of like a woman sobbing), which just made us laugh harder. At one point he joked that he would meet anyone who cared to smoke pot outside next to the tire store after the show. At least, I thought he was joking.

Now after the show, our little group was huddled outside near the tire store, waiting for our cab, and Doug walked out, and without a word, accepted a pipe stuffed with weed (what are the kids calling it these days anyway?), took a drag and passed it on. Another fan lit a joint and passed it on.

Which was so ... strange. The last time I was at a party/gathering of people and pot was being passed around, I was in college. Now I am old and super-uncool and I was even wearing a paisley scarf and I'm pretty sure I did not look like someone to whom the pipe should be passed.

My group (Drunk, Drunky, Drunker, and Drunkest) went skipping over to the pot-smoking fan club, fascinated. We were saying things to Doug, and he was pretty much mute. I remembered a documentary I saw about comedians who all seemed to hate themselves. They are pretty much the most insecure people on the face of the Earth. This may hold true for Doug. Or else he was just super high. 

I'm afraid there's no good ending to this story. Our cab arrived and we left and went back to our friend's house and ate pizza rolls.

The end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh, we're in business now, baby

So, you guys.

I have ordered business cards, and on them I refer to myself as an "author/blogger." This is either the height of narcissism or just extreme practicability.



There they are!

One side of the card says "MEH." The other side has my info. I ordered these from moo.com, and they have tons of different designs you can choose from, or you can upload your own.

Originally I'd attempted to order 250 "free" business cards from Vistaprint, and after I neglected to upgrade or choose a more expensive shipping option that would allow my business cards to arrive sometime before Christmas, they canceled my order. So, I guess if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I'm impressed with moo.com's quality and promptness, and my only beef is that there is a teensy smudge above my name on each card.

Which, meh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Day of The Cake

Yesterday I obsessed about a cake for 10 hours.

First there was the mental preparation, and psyching myself up for the challenge.

Cake. Birthday cake. From scratch. Moist, delicious, birthday cake.

I jogged in place for a few minutes and shook out my arms.

Then I had to find two recipes. One for the cake, one for the frosting. The birthday girl specificially requested chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.

I chose Martha's Velvet Cocoa Cake and Betty's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

Then for the ingredients. I had most of them but needed more brown sugar and buttermilk. Target had everything I needed except buttermilk. Damn you, Target. I was forced to go to The Safeway of Broken Dreams for buttermilk.

Then I watched the butter come to room temperature for two hours.

Then I carefully squished together massive amounts of sugar, butter and flour, baked it, smothered it with enormous globs of sugar and butter, and got this.


Mmmm, cake. It was moist and delicious, but pretty dense and filling.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We have grown up

Because look at us! We have patio furniture! We have had a patio for a year and a half, but have been spending money on other stuff.

First, may I present, the patio:


And now, with furniture!


We bought this set at Home Depot, where we have decided we never need to shop again due to a variety of unpleasant experiences. This set was chosen because it was cheap (relatively speaking. Lots of patio furniture is hella expensive) and because we could get it delivered quickly.

It was simple to put together, and we hardly made any mistakes.


Martha, again. She's infiltrating everything.

Three Months of Real Life

Today it has been three months since the last day at my old job. It feels like I quit a year ago because as soon as I left, I stopped thinking about it.

Well, I take that back. I had nightmares about it for two weeks, and then I stopped thinking about it. It feels like another age. The dark ages.

Without the job to hinder me, I've made strides toward goals that actually matter. Astoundingly, I wrote a thick, detailed outline, developed several complex characters (for my book, not my other personalities), made a list of scenes, and, most surprising of all, actually started writing a book.

Not having a "real" job has also shined a sometimes unwelcome spotlight on other areas of my life.

I thought I ate too much because my job stressed me out. Turns out I just eat too much, period. As I explain here ad nauseam, I am getting to the bottom of that.

Not having a job has allowed me to take everything that happens in my life and deal with it immediately. There is no more internal emotional red tape. All queries are processed immediately, continuously, irritatingly.

When I quit my job, my options at the time were as follows: 1) Quit job. 2) Stay at job and cry every night.

Why did I not understand that I could have quit my job and gotten a different job that I liked more, even if it paid less? I'd worked for beans for so long, that when I finally had a job where I was making a lot of money (comparatively), all I could focus on was the money -- making more of it. If I was to be miserable, at least I would have money.

To buy myself things. And take vacations. In my misery.

Money is nice but there is a reason some jobs give you so much of it, and that's because those jobs are bad, bad jobs. No self-respecting person wants those jobs.

Working at home is quiet and peaceful. No one is distracting me except myself. No one is grading my performance except me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nap, Interrupted


If wild animals could talk, would they talk like cartoons? Would the dismal swamp resound with shrill, befuddled, childlike voices; a cute choir of cuddly Kermits delivering gentle froggy inanities?

Tom Robbins
Jitterbug Perfume

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: When Food is Love


Geneen Roth's "When Food is Love" came out in 1993. In 1993, I was a freshman in high school, and almost every day when we walked home, my friend and I stopped at a convenience store and bought sodas, candies, chips. If I'd read "When Food is Love" when I was 14, it couldn't have helped me for a number of reasons.

However, at the age of 31, I am now what they call a grown-ass woman, and I'm prepared to learn all about why I am so retarded around food. Roth first helped me understand myself when I read "When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair," which I've been singing the praises of on this blog for years. As I've mentioned previously, she also recently published "Women, Food and God," which I want to read, but am not currently able to download on Kindle. So to bide my time, I downloaded "When Food is Love" for $9 instead.

And I cried almost every time I read it. I stopped reading it for about three weeks because it was too much. It was turning me into a basket case. I read two fiction novels in the meantime. And then I went back to it, looking for the answer I want and need: What do I need to do to stop being a Food Retard? And what I found was that Roth definitely told me WHY I am a Food Retard.

"Compulsion does not develop in a vacuum; it begins in relationship. Compulsion is what we resorted to when we felt we didn't matter to people who mattered to us," Roth writes.

She touched very lightly on how to stop being a Food Retard, but really didn't get into it. I finished the book last night, and as Kindle informed me that I'd read 100% of it, I said out loud, "No!"

Because I'm still a Food Retard. And it's not completely clear to me how I'm going to stop. Today I downloaded "Breaking Free From Emotional Eating," by none other than Geneen Roth. I am funding Roth's early retirement. I am a Roth junkie. I need Roth to take me by the ears and tell me to stop being a retard.

Which she wouldn't do, because she advocates treating oneself with kindness and curiosity. Therefore physical violence and calling oneself a Food Retard are probably not high on her list of self-healing techniques.

I recommend this book for men and women alike. If nothing else, it will help you understand why you act the way you do. Roth tells personal stories and stories of people that you will find yourself relating to, eerily. And you will mentally begin psychoanalyzing everyone you know. It's uncomfortable to think about, but if you, like me, think that you have a bit of a food compulsion, this will be eye-opening.

Blueberry Muffins

Another foray into the unknown here.... Betty Crocker's Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins. 

I was really in the mood for some yummy baked goods on Saturday morning, and these muffins are quite fast and easy to make.

Of course, I wanted to put streusel on top of them, and since I do not have a pastry blender with which to cut cold butter into the flour, sugar, and cinnamon, I was instructed by my cookbook to drag two knives across the mixture until it was crumbly. I am convinced that if I were still dragging those two knives across the mixture now, a good 48 hours later, it would still not be crumbly.

Therefore, I just dumped the mixture I did have on top of the muffins. Here's the view from the oven. Please do not judge me for my dirty oven.


And here's how they looked upon completion 20 minutes later.


And then I tried to unwrap one of these little nuggets of deliciousness.


Gaaahhhhhh! What have I done wrong? Theories are abundant. For starters, while I was making my streusel, the batter was sitting in the muffin cups. Perhaps I let them sit for too long while I was dragging two knives through my mixture like a madwoman. Also, the muffins were still warm when I wanted to unwrap and eat them, which could also be causing half the muffin to stick to the cup. Anyway, it goes without saying that next time I will simply grease the muffin tray instead of using cups.

After they cooled down, they were much easier to unwrap, and also quite delicious.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The treetops

Our amazing friends John and Christina gave us a large matted photo about, oh, four months ago? We loved it. So much that it sat in the office, unframed, for a few moon cycles.

We FINALLY bought a frame for it, and then I very nervously installed hanging wire on the frame (it's a long, boring story), and now, I would like to present the only actual art hanging on the wall in our house.

But first, may I present you with a before picture. The before picture is very sad. It is simply a fireplace (and yes, I am aware that my fireplace screen is beyond hideous). With bricks that extend allll the way up the wall. We're not the hugest fans of the brick, and included in our upcoming projects for this particular area are a mantel and a new fireplace screen.



And now .... AFTER!

Hot Damn! What is that? Murray wants to know.

Here's a closer look at the photo:



Or if you'd like an even better look at it, take a gander at this link. This and many beautiful photos are available for purchase.

Simon & Murray's first year



When we adopted Simon and Murray in July, 2009, I asked the Humane Society if they knew what the boys' birthday is (they're brothers) and they guesstimated it was May 15, which would make their first birthday tomorrow.

 Simon on the left, Murray on the right

When we first met them, they were 2-month-old kittens, and Murray's name was Eclipse, which we totally hated and changed on the car ride home. Simon's name has always been Simon. The boys also had a sister named Simone, whom I've always felt guilty about leaving behind, even though I was told she was adopted the day after we adopted Simon and Murray.








The boys came to the Humane Society by way of a passer-by who'd seen their mother get hit by a car. He scooped up the litter and brought them to the pound. The mother died and the kittens had to be hand-fed, so they grew up very friendly with people.



I'd been begging my husband to let me get a cat for years, and we were in our house for nine months before I finally wore him down. When we went to the Humane Society, he couldn't resist adopting two. 
Murray meets my sister's dog, Gilligan

They're really the best cats you'll ever meet. They never bite or scratch and they're extremely curious and friendly. They get into a heap of trouble, of course, always going where they're not supposed to.

 Simon in the Christmas tree, chomping on the twinkle lights

I keep waiting for them to start hating each other, as I always hear about when you adopt two cats they're usually territorial and jealous and fight all the time. But while they'll play-fight, these two are lovers all the way. 

 
Happy Birthday, boys!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Food and other demons

One of my favorite authors, Geneen Roth, is apparently Oprah's newest person. One of the people whose wisdom hits home with her, so she scoops them up and promotes the hell out of them, a la Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz.

It happens that I'm reading Roth's When Food is Love right now, but she has a new book out called Women, Food & God. The books sound like they have similar messages, that being that the reason many of us eat compulsively stems from issues from childhood, and eating is a way of stuffing feelings down because we have no idea how to deal with them, and actually fear they may kill us. Which is a pretty strong way to feel -- that painful emotions may kill you. Because as logical humans, we know that's probably not true.

Don't ask me how you're supposed to work through these emotions without just getting really pissed off and sad. I'm hoping Roth tells me how before I finish When Food is Love.

I'll let you know if I ever figure that out.

But in addition to dealing with the wrongs done to us in childhood instead of gorging on brownies, Roth also suggests we abandon dieting. Because, as she explains in When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair, every diet eventually goes horribly wrong. Every time we lose weight on a diet, we gain it back, and then some. I am living proof of that fact.

I lived for years on 1 egg for breakfast, 1 apple for a snack, half a sandwich for lunch, and lean chicken and vegetables for dinner. Almost every day. For YEARS. I was hungry almost constantly. I ran five days a week. And then ... I slowly gained 60 pounds. This particular diet rebound is the most dramatic in my life, but unfailingly, the same thing has happened on every single diet I've ever been on.

But here's the thing: I don't trust myself to succeed on an un-diet. Maybe I am in denial and simply using food to shove my feelings down, but given the freedom to eat whatever I want ... I mean, the prospect is terrifying. Does Roth realize what I WANT? I want macaroni and cheese and chocolate cake. I want enchiladas and ice cream. I want bacon and fried chicken. Or is it that I want to use those foods to numb myself?

Do you see how this is a vicious cycle?

Anyway, I watched Roth on Oprah yesterday, and something Oprah read from Women, Food & God, struck a chord. I'd already been crying through the whole episode, anyway (hormones), but then Oprah read the following, which I am paraphrasing:

My life has more meaning than losing and gaining the same 30 pounds over and over for 80 years.

Because it's ludicrous to live that way. Always obsessed about losing weight, and then realizing once you hit your goal weight, that although you may look better, you don't feel any better.

But if I don't have dieting and obsessing about my weight, what do I have? 

Constant dieting is so all-encompassing and distracting. Hating myself is exhausting. Being kind to myself is so foreign. Eating is such comfort and it's always been there for me. So making a change sounds really, really hard.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A character by any other name...

You guys had some terrific ideas for what I should name my characters, so I wanted to share with you all of the suggestions, including a few of my own ideas, and a couple of my comments. I've bolded the names that are serious contenders.

Incidentally, there were about twice as many name suggestions for the male character. I know how it is -- I find it so much easier to think of male names, for some reason.

Without further ado:

Male names:
Brad
Grant
Charlie (although, in all honesty, I can hardly say Charlie without doing it with a Scottish accent, thanks to So I Married An Axe Murderer, which I've seen about four gajillion times)

Dean (Isn't Tori Spelling's husband's name Dean? Why do I even know that?)
Reed (I can't do Reed because of that one nerdy guy from The Bachelorette, unfortunately. Love the name, though)
Beau Bennett (Thank you, John, for first AND last names! Wow!)
Dylan Thomas
Scout Barnett (SCOUT, no less!)
Brayden Bailey (How's it goin' baby. Mah name's Brayden, but all the ladies call me Double B)
Jackson
Dylan Scott (Scott's a no-go. A childhood friend of mine's big brother was named Scott and I will NEVER be able to picture anyone other than him as a Scott)
Bryan
Billy-Bob (Thank you, Kem! LOL)
Decklin (Which is the hillbilly spelling of Declan, FYI)
Billy-Rae
Rodrigo (Rodrigo! How sexy.)
Everest (I LOVE EVEREST. I am trying to figure out if I can, in all seriousness, call this character Everest.)
Magic
Brent
Harlan (This is a great name. I attended elementary school with a boy whose last name was Harlan. He tormented me mildly.)
Dallas (This character is from Texas, and Dallas is admittedly one of my own ideas. I'm not sure if this name is too Hey Baby, I'm Dallas. How'd you like to ride this stallion?)

Female names:
Eliesse Phillips (While this is pretty, a friend's baby is named Elise, and I'm afraid no one but that little chub-muffin can be Elise in my brain)
Hayley Ross
Cherie Reid (Intriguing...)
Sierra Johnson (Sierra's a bit too close to a close relative of mine)
Summer
Audrey (Another no-go due to acquaintance issues)
Elsbeth (Too close to Elizabeth, my grandma's name)
Kem (She's nothing if not proud of that name of hers!)
Samantha

Not a single one of the female names are my own ideas. I am sorely hurtin' for ladies' names, ya'll. And I'm also a bit stuck in mah southern accent ever since I wrote what Dirty Brayden Bailey said.

So anyhoo. I'm still working on choosin' the names. I'm inserting the different names into the story to see if it sounds like something a Cherie or a Bennett would do. If you've got any more ideas, toss 'em mah way, hoss!

Pork Milanese & Ricotta Dumplings

Well.

Last night's dinner was from recipes in Everyday Food's May 2010 edition. I do it my way, which is to say that I use measuring cups and spoons as little as possible because it drives me CRAZY to have to measure stuff every time I want to make a simple meal.

First I tackled the ricotta dumplings, because they just sounded so delicious, even though they involved making a dough, with flour, and there's nothing I hate more while cooking than using flour. It just makes such a damn mess.

I mushed together a bunch of ricotta, romano cheese, egg yolk, lemon zest, salt and flour. I rolled them into dough snakes and then cut them up, like so.


Then I boiled them for two minutes, drained them, and then threw them in a skillet with a mess of butter. You let them brown on one side for about six minutes, throw some more romano on top, and this is what you get.


I popped a couple in my mouth to make sure they were OK. They were decent. Cheesy-ish, a little crispy.

The pork milanese was your run-of-the-mill milanese, with cutlets I salt-and-peppered, then dragged through a vat of flour, then fried. The recipe called for the cutlets to be topped with an arugula salad that had radicchio and red onion in it, with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic, but because arugula and radicchio kind of suck ass, I just chopped up some romaine. So there!

Here's what I ended up with. I was a bit underwhelmed with it, although my husband really liked the dumplings. I always forget that I'm not a huge fan of pork cutlets or pork chops. They're just sort of meh. Seemed like a lot of work for not that great of a taste. I will say I enjoyed the dressing on the salad, although I think it would be good without the garlic, too.


It seems they have not posted the recipes for these dishes on the site yet, probably since the magazine just came out, so I can't link to any of them yet. But if you're interested in any of the recipes, just let me know and I'll post them here. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Couple little tweaks for the better

So you guys. I am feeling so tech savvy right now because I totally added a navigation bar to my blog today! It's the bar above where you can click on "Diet & Exercise," "Food," "Home & Garden" or "Book Reviews." Those are pretty much the four areas of my life that I spend the most time obsessing about, so I figured I'd link them out and now you can take a look at what I've blogged about over the past four years that pertains to each of those topics.

I plan to continue to focus and expand upon those four those topics as well, so you can expect a number of updates in those categories, including the following:

Under Diet & Exercise, I'm scheming a new diet plan and trying to rev up for a new 5K. I'll let you know how much (if any) weight I manage to lose and detail my exercise tribulations, as usual.

Under "Food," I'll be discussing and photographing meals, the recipes for which I mostly get from the Goddess herself, Martha Stewart. There will be links to recipes, when applicable, and reviews of how the meals went. And, believe me, no one understands better than I the irony of having obsessions with both weight loss and food.

Under Home & Garden, we have a number of new projects coming up at the house that I'll be explaining and photographing, including baseboard, paint, electrical work, furniture refurbishment, a new fireplace mantle, three new doors, plantation shutters, patio furniture, insulation and an A/C unit. God, that sounds like a lot. I'm also tackling the yard, which is sorely lacking in greenery ever since I asked our gardener, Oscar, to rip out several ugly juniper bushes last year.

Under Book Reviews, I'll be reviewing all of the books I read, which is about 1 per week. Right now I am reading "When Food is Love" by Geneen Roth. It's a doozie!

I will be unable to resist a little rambling here and there, and then, of course, the ever-important cat posts. Eventually, when I reach my "unique visitors" goal or my Twitter follower or Facebook fans goals, I will begin video blogging.

So I'm excited, and I hope you are, too! 


 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Simon & Murray go head to head

I am complete crap at editing videos, so this video of Simon and Murray fighting, while edited down to about minutes, is jacked because when you hear me speak a couple of times, it's at the wrong moments. Whatever!



Anyway this is pretty much it for Monday. We had a busy weekend but I don't know if I even want to get into it. I have a pork spare rib hangover.

More tomorrow.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The daunting art of blab & inspiration

When you are using blogspot and you decide you want to write a new blog post, you sign in and press the button: "New Post."

And then a white box appears and you are expected to fill it with letters that supposedly string together to form sentences that have some kind of meaning. Sometimes it's a lot to expect, frankly!

I've been thinking a lot about my old job. And actually, about everyone's jobs. Your job. My husband's job. Jobs are kind of bull shit. There're always managers expecting you to show up on time and complete various unsavory tasks. They're always wanting to schedule quarterly reviews and create new goals. The whole eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year thing: I'm convinced it's pure sadism.

On days like today, in this perfect weather, I used to sit in my cubicle, far, far away from the windows, and stare longingly through the venetian blinds. It's torture for humans to have to sit in fluorescent lighting on days like today. For us to have to stare at computer screens, and, God forbid, spreadsheets.

But as it happens, I am quite happily unemployed and be-boppin' my way around town to do this and that. Today I had lunch with an old work friend who I used to sit next to. Her stories assure me nothing has changed at the office. Yesterday I got an itch to plant some flowers and herbs, be-bopped on over to a nursery, bought a couple things, and successfully dug in the dirt for a few hours. The sun was shining on me, and I was breathing fresh air and getting dirty and tired, and it was great. At no time did my butt fall asleep from sitting in a chair, nor did my eyes start to cross from staring at a computer screen for too long.

But yes, I've been thinking about jobs, and how I can't believe I ever had one. I can't believe anyone has one. When I be-bop around town, I can tell who's employed and who's not, because the employed ones are pissed off and in a hurry. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don't get up and go sit in an office all day like everyone else, but never guilty enough that I would return to doing that. Unless it was, like, a really sweet job reading submissions from hopeful novelists or something.

Yesterday I told my neighbor that I quit my job, and his reaction was similar to most people's: In this economy?!

Yes, I suppose I should be scared, just like they wanted me to be at my old job. I was told I should be thankful to even have a job. Oh thank you! Thank you so much for this job! Every night I go home and want to kill myself, but thank you SO MUCH for the job and the money.

All I know is I have a certain amount of time to enjoy myself on Earth, and I've already wasted too many years of it with my butt falling asleep in a chair under fluorescent lights. When people finally get it -- get the reason why I'm not sitting in an office all day -- they say, That's great. Life's too short.

And here's the thing. That cliche? Life's too short? That cliche exists for a reason. Life IS too short. Life is so short, you roll over a couple times in bed, and suddenly you need someone's help to tie your shoes and cut your meat for you. You can spend the majority of your life doing something you don't like in order to make enough money, but what is enough? You'll never have enough. Or you can spend your time doing something you actually enjoy. You can spend the precious few remaining years of your healthy adult life enjoying yourself. You're not responsible for leaving behind a legacy or money to your heirs.

I hear there are jobs out there people actually enjoy. Maybe you even already have one of those. Enjoyable jobs don't usually equal a lot of money. Often it's just enough to pay your heating bill and keep you fed.

I didn't know this was going to turn into that kind of post. That kind of obnoxious live your dreams post that you see from people who are always telling you Life is too short to keep doing something you don't want to do. People who obviously don't understand mortgages and children and other responsibilities that require money. One simply cannot live happily in a cardboard box on the sidewalk.

And I know this. I empathize. But what can I say? I've been getting a creeping feeling of inspiration. Can you believe I had forgotten my own motto for 2010? Clean Slate. It turned out to be all too appropriate. Also, coming later in the year: Angry Determination. I still have many dreams for 2010. It is a good year, even when shitty things happen.

I started this year with 42 goals. And currently, I have met seven of those goals, not the least of which was to quit my job. Normally, I don't meet any goals. Well, normally I don't set more than 10 goals, but as I mentioned, I have a very good feeling about 2010, and was feeling very optimistic while writing that list.

Going back to see why and how I was feeling so optimistic, I remember now, and I like it. I'd finally had enough of my own excuses. I was wearing even myself out with my constant promise-making and promise-breaking. Allowing negative influences to derail me off my goals had finally frustrated me to the point where I said Enough, and, surprisingly, meant it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On the discovery of bones

In March, our local newspaper reported that a human skull and some other bones had been found in an undeveloped plot of land in San Jose. The remains were going to be looked at to evaluate their age and cause of death. It was believed that the bones belonged to an adult who died between three and 10 years ago.

Every time I hear about bones or bodies turning up in remote areas kind of near San Jose, my ears perk up a little. I am not morbid. It happens that in the summer of 2001, I assisted in the coverage of a story of the disappearance of a woman last seen in the Pruneyard shopping center in Campbell, with a man who was later arrested for her death. Problem is, they never found a body.

Ever since, when I hear that a body has been found, I check news sites for updates to see if it's her. But this time there have been no updates on these particular remains. By mid-April, I was irked. One of the top rules of journalism -- you can't report on something that just screams for a follow-up and then not follow up on it. Even if the cops won't tell you anything, you write a story about how difficult the cops are being.

So I emailed the reporter. Who never e-mailed me back. And now it's May, and I'm a little pissed off. I'm wondering what the problem is, here. The most recent article mentioned the remains could be that of a homeless person. Are we no longer reporting when the remains of homeless people have been found? Is it that the police are not cooperating? Is it that the reporter doesn't have time to cover it? Has the reporter been laid off? No, he has a story on A1 today. Has everyone forgotten about this person -- An Entire Person! -- whose body was dumped in a shallow grave like so much trash?

Is it that I missed it? Have I somehow missed the update, despite my constant scouring of news sites?

*sigh*

Anyway. I'm contemplating just calling the coroner myself. I mean, why not? Freedom of information, and all that.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hermit hour has ended

Weirdest. Dream. Ever. Last night.

I won't tell you the whole thing because you'll just feel insane if I do but here are some of the main characters: My grandpa. Dozens of hungry octopuses. A guy who microwaved a cat.

I was toolin' around this morning, talking to the cats. What's up buddy? What's up fluff -- STOP IT. STOP CHEWING ON THAT. And I realized I'm getting a little stir crazy. Cats are fine company until you realize you haven't had a meaningful conversation with another human being (aside from your spouse) in a week.

So I went to the grocery store. Which I believe I've mentioned before -- I really hate. That's a whole other story. But the point is, I spoke with a few people there. Hello. How are you. Thank you. It was good.

And then I went home and made myself a tuna melt and the cats were going crazy because they could smell the tuna, and I was talking to them again. What is it, buddy? You like the smell of -- GET DOWN. STOP IT. CUT IT OUT.

So I made a few phone calls. It was good. Humans. Adults. I spoke with them. I'm scheduling lunches, dinners, outings with adult humans. I'm scheduling meetings with contractors. I shut the office door so the cats can't get in. I talk to them, but let's face it, they don't understand a word I'm saying, much as they pretend to, and I end up feeling cuckoo.

Yoga yesterday was invigorating. I didn't cry. I laughed. I had energy when I came home, more energy than I've had in a while.

I am distressed about the oil spill in the Gulf and can't watch the news or read articles about it. Maybe that is why I dreamed about hungry octopi.

I haven't decided on my main characters' names yet. This is a bit of a setback.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Nothing if not introspective

The Circle of Lethargy still has me, I'm afraid. I could sleep til noon every day.

We have decided we watch too much television. We are officially watching television for the sake of watching television. What does one do in the evenings? One eats dinner and watches television. More enterprising and energetic folks probably do the laundry and clean the floors and prepare for the next day.

We are trying to decide: How much TV is too much? What is an appropriate portion for an evening? Which shows do we actually enjoy, and which are just filler?

Have I mentioned that almost everyone I know is pregnant with their second child? When I manage to get pregnant with my first, everyone else's kids will be graduating from high school.

Have you heard that Mr. Rogers is now being blamed for raising a generation of worthless, self-entitled brats? "Experts" would like to rape your warm and fuzzy childhood memories of this grandfatherly storyteller, who, GOD FORBID, told us kids we were special just for being who we were.

Older generations would like you to know: YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL SIMPLY FOR EXISTING. You are actually a worthless narcissist. We would like to kill your dreams now. Now be quiet and go away.

I don't remember Mr. Rogers ever saying: You deserve an A in class because you're special. You don't have to work hard.

If there is a generation of people who believe this, it is not because Mr. Rogers told them that. Get a fricking grip.

By the way, thank you to Jennifer for that link.