The Universe has been good to me.
During Christmas I got to spend a few days with the family I love. We grazed on all sorts of yummy foods, cookies, fudge, veggies & dip, pita & hummus, cheese & crackers, deviled eggs, panini and soup. We had punch and eggnog lattes. We laughed and hugged each other and opened presents.

The puppy dogs traded toys all day long and my present to my dad, a big basket of exotic foods, was a big hit. My sister liked the tea set I painted for her. The Horatio Hornblower set went over very well with my mum (I couldn't believe she had never seen it before).
My big gifts were a Kitchen Aide mixer (WooHoo!) and the first four seasons of MacGyver, my favorite show when I was in high school. I remember seeing the one where he's battling killer ants in the Amazon about four times before I got hooked. And now I carry a Swiss Army knife, of course. (Except that the fracking airport security stole my original one.) I also got small gifts, like DVDs and comfy socks and a dragon statuette and books and music. They are as much appreciated as the big gifts.
We lounged around and watched DVDs and ate and napped and did a puzzle and watched some more DVDs. All in all, it was a wonderful day.
We managed the 11 hour drive home without murdering each other too, which was very nice. The portable DVD player helped a lot. Good purchase, Brian! And I was overjoyed to come home and be with Da Boyz again. They were happy to see me and are being very clingy for the moment.
I feel very blessed to have such a nice family and the best cats ever. I feel blessed that I can afford to buy gifts to show my affection and to be able to travel to see the people I love. I feel blessed that I have a nice house to come home to and a steady job that I enjoy. Thank you, Universe!


Christmas Trimmings

I have given myself over to the madness of Christmas preparations. I've put the novel on hold and am living guilt free for the next two weeks or so.
Presents were bought (more spent this year than any year before, I believe) in two evenings and one morning of intensive shopping and were wrapped in one afternoon and one evening of intensive wrapping. I have my wrapping scheme, of course -- silver and white this year -- and I've packed all the presents ready for transportation to OK.
I've attended holiday parties. My sister was my date at the office party and we both had a good time. I did much better at the Texas Hold'em Poker table than I thought I would (being my second time). I didn't mingle as much I perhaps should have. Oh well.
I got to reconnect with an old friend whom until Sept. I hadn't seen in 6 years. In Sept. she got married and to my surprise and delight, she invited me. As is usual with weddings, I didn't get to talk to the bride or groom much, so I was happy when they said they would be spending a week in December skiing in CO. I had a wonderful time visiting them.
I've also managed to keep up with my soccer team. We've been moved up to the B League (out of 4) and though it's been challenging, it's been fun. I've also been helping out with a beginner tai chi class. Unfortunately, that means I'm going to have to carve out a third day in the week to go to the upper level class for my own improvement.
I really do love Christmas, despite the strains on my wallet and time and despite the stress. I love showing how much I care about my family and friends.


Secrets Revealed

I just went on to Amazon.com and was presented with PostSecret : Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives as a book selection (I'm not sure why, maybe it's just a popular book at the moment).
It sounded interesting for some reason, so I tracked it back to the website that is the source of the book's material and to a news article by The Guardian about the project.
The original instructions (+ a postcard) from the creator, Frank Warren, were as follows: "You are invited to anonymously contribute a secret to a group art project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything -- as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Be brief. Be legible. Be creative."
The Guardian had this to say:
For the anonymous contributors to postsecret.com, for the millions visiting it, and for Frank himself, the most profound realisation that comes from peering so deeply into the troubled souls of the postcard-senders is simply this: that the things that make us feel so abnormal are actually the things that make us the same.

I found a bunch of other "confessional" style websites with associated books, but this one has a better feel than others, mainly because requirements include creativity and brevity (and the real-life time and effort to create the card).
I thought it was very interesting.



But mostly, I'm very curious about what "highlighting [your] femininity" might entail! ;-)
- my friend, belsum's, response to my post, "Mixed Reaction"
In the last year or so I have gotten more compliments on my appearance than I got in the previous 30 years combined. Though that may be an exaggeration since I can't really remember all of my childhood, certainly none of those "oooh, que linda!" that I'm sure my mum got when I was first born.

Why has this happened?

Because in the last year my self-confidence about my appearance suddenly bumped up from about 3.5 to an 8. Why? I have no earthly idea. It may have something to do with the very difficult (internal) personal growth I went through the year before. Maybe not. It may have had something to do with an attractive male pursuing me briefly (but persistently enough it got through even my thick skull). Maybe not. Some of the changes began before that. Maybe it was my sister coming to live in the same state and starting to help me shop. That certainly helped, but it's only a symptom.

Whatever the cause, I have been feeling lots better when I look in the mirror. The result is that I take more care with my appearance, with the image I am projecting. I learned how to put on a little makeup that accents my beauty. I trusted a doctor enough to treat my skin so that it's lovely and clear now. I learned how to dry and dress my hair quickly and attractively. I wear clothes that are not so shapeless and baggy. I take that little extra time in the morning to be a little more creative and thoughtful about my appearance.

So "highlighting my femininity" is simply emphasizing what I feel is feminine about me -- my curvy body, my long brown hair, my confident and generous attitude, my blue eyes and long dark lashes, and my smile. Doing this has garnered me more compliments than I know what to do with, but the most important person who compliments me now is myself. Even in the morning, in my pyjamas with my hair uncombed, I can look in the mirror and smile because I like... I love myself.

(Thanks for being so patient, bel. Does that answer your question?)


No Thanks

I submitted a short story to a magazine a month ago and today I got the rejection email. It was very nice (though not written specifically for me or my story), but is still a rejection. Interestingly enough, I was expecting to be rejected. I think every beginning writer that braves the wilds of submission gets used to the "thanks, but no" response from editor. You never know when you might get that acceptance letter!

ETA: I thought I'd clarify that it was a story I had shelved because I didn't think it was original enough. I just submitted it because it happened to suit the parameters of the submission offer. So it was a low-risk thing.
High risk is me getting my butt in gear and finish and market a fracking novel.

Mixed Reaction

A male architect I work with was invited out to lunch with the construction side of the business. I have to admit I was jealous. It is nice to feel included and it certainly doesn't hurt that there are several good-looking guys in the bunch.
But after some thought, I also have to admit that were I invited, it would be because I was "just one of the guys" and not perceived as a threat in that way that all single men think of women as a threat (which, to be perfectly honest, has a corallary in the female thought process). Would I want to be seen as non-threatening? I don't think so, but what do I know? I've been working lately on highlighting my femininity, which brings with it "otherness", which can be threatening.
I do so enjoy being included though.


Simplify simplify simplify

Lately I'd been worried that my prose is becoming too stark. My writing has lacked some descriptive flair that I used to have. I really like metaphors and similes, so sentences would have a lot of "as (blank) as (blank)" or "like" (and not in the valley-girl way). I thought my writing was losing something.
Imagine my relief when I read the following evisceration of a published novel. Many of the flaws the writer is pointing out are ones I've exhibited in the past. These are the traits I thought I was missing. I am forced to admit that they belong in the past because my writing is maturing. WOW.
Need I say editing is my latest passion?
I am really interested to find out if, stripped of all this thesaurusizing, my work will be revealed as well-done.

In the same editing vein, here is an interesting rant against writers who take rejection too personally (not a problem I have, but an interesting read nonetheless). The blog in which it appears is by a couple who happen to be editors at a major science-fiction publisher, and I'm tempted to link to it permenently, but I find it has more partisan politics in its contents than I like to support.


Attack of the Work Ameoba

This is me working with the help of the cats, 'cause that's what I've been doing all weekend. >:P
I haven't written anything, but I'm getting lots done for work! Both today and yesterday I went in to work and then brought stuff home to work on.
The good news? Our deadline will be met and I've managed (so far) to keep up with my new responsibilities and the architect I'm working with continues to tell me how happy he is that I'm working on his job.
I will finish this novel, I just hope I maintain my sanity through this week.

I've been visiting John Scalzi's Whatever blog for a week or so now and it seems like a pretty good blog. He's a science fiction writer and has some interesting things to say. I'm adding a link to my interesting links list.

Now, I've procrastinated long enough. Time to get back to work... on work.


How sad is it that I feel guilty for only managing 1 hour of working between 6:30 (when I got home from the office) and 9:30 (when I left for soccer).

And we won our soccer game (6-4) though we were all tired and there were way too many turnovers. Fortunately, the game ended, because they were decreasing our lead pretty steadily in the second half.


Quote on Writing

Here's a wonderful quote I stole from a writer's website. It's what Michael Chabon said about writing a novel being like a war.

...always begun in the highest enthusiasm, with full confidence of right, and of the certainty of it all being over by Christmas. Two years later you're in the trenches and the mud, with defeat a real possibility, doubting everything, in particular the wisdom of the commanding general.

Vive le novel!

Hooray! Anne's Head Didn't Explode!

The last two hours pretty much blew my brains. I solved every problem except Peace in the Middle East. Sorry, I'll have to do that over the weekend.

Seems like the sleep one night work the next is a pretty good strategy. I did another average day of writing last night and didn't feel tired until 11:30 or midnight.


I'm sure I had other fascinating things to say, but it's 5:30 and I'm going home. I'll try and edit to add the fascinating things when I remember them, but I'm not making any promises.


New Strategy

Last night I tried a new strategy - go to bed when I'm tired. I might be less tired and more productive the next day. I'll let you know how it goes. Tonight I'm also going to try postponing decompressing for later in the evening. Start writing earlier. I don't know how that'll work either, since I'm usually more focused after I've had some down time.

The other thing that's starting to seep in is that my work is seriously affecting my writing schedule right now. Not only is work more stressful than last year and requires more alertness at the office, but I've been working overtime and trying to get the same amount of writing done. I'm supposed to work overtime (unpaid, blast it) this weekend and I'm regularly working an hour of overtime a night. Plus I'm taking home work. I managed to ignore the roll of drawings Monday and Tuesday, but last night I got my "homework" done. I can't postpone tasks like that, since other people's work depends on my checking thier results.

I'm prepared to say that I haven't finished the 50K in 30 days. It may be a fact of life. I'll still finish the novel, maybe even manage to get it published. I'm not willing (yet) to write nonsense for nonsense's sake. For me the goal is not to write 50K words (I know I can do *that*), but to write 50K words reasonably well and enjoy the process. This may not be the month I can do that.
I'm not prepared to throw in the towel yet, and I plan to go down fighting. ;)


Not a Draw >:(

Arrrggghh! Yesterday I was so tired I ended up trying to write and failing. Not because there wasn't anything to write -- the words were there. I just couldn't get my language center enough juice to power the sentence constructor. So instead I sat there stupidly looking at the screen and thinking nothing. So I wasn't sleeping AND I wasn't writing. Brilliant [/sarcasm].
I know the words were there because after I went out into the freezing cold to do something, I woke up and wrote for a few minutes until the tiredness crept back in.
I need a different strategy on weekdays. I just don't know what it is yet.


Engines at weekday speed

Yesterday I had a productive evening, it just wasn't all writing productivity. I also made catfood and worked a little late. I wrote, not my goal of 2K words (which will get me to the finish line on time), but I did manage to write 1.2K words (my average to date). So I didn't gain ground, but I also didn't lose any ground.
"All right, we'll call it a draw."


My Support Group

Aside from my wonderful friends and family, I have two feline writing assistants. Here's the usual weekend tableau...

On a High

Ah, I managed to write over 3K words today, and I made myself stop because I have to go to bed. I've definitely hit a rich vein of story. I really hope it carries me though the week!
No TV!

Edited to Add: I didn't mention that I was not especially productive on Saturday. I wasn't bad, but I wasn't a good as I need to be to finish this novel on time. I suppose 2 out of 3 ain't bad though...



The tarot card trick is working even better than I'd imagined. Originally, it was just something to get me through rough spots, but last night, it actually solved a small plot problem I hadn't figured out a way through. The question was how to get the main couple to go somewhere together and meet a certain person at the same time. In the meanwhile, I decided that pacing-wise they needed one more day, so off the gal went to work. The card that was next in the stack is the one you see in this post. I looked at it and saw a disaster at the diner (not the actual meaning of the card). Oh well, I thought, not really necessary, but maybe it'll add some background color. It was only when the consequences became clear that I realized this was a pivotal moment. My gal was out of work temporarily and they need money. Presto, time and motivation!
Anyway, I'm feeling more comfortable in the style of the story and last night I wrote 2K words. I've still got a long way to go to catch up, but I'm feeling good about it. :)


Fine Slash Between Optimism/Pessimism

I should be sunk in the depths of literary depression, since my word count did not rise much last night. I was "bad" and wrote replies to emails last night.
But the weekend is approaching! How much I will write this weekend? Why, thousands of words, of course! How can one be depressed in the face of so much potential? Sure, I have a dinner party to go to on Saturday, and a soccer game on Sunday, but I should be able to fit in the necessary 10 to 12 hour stints around that.

In other news, I bought a Swiss Army Knife to replace the one that was confiscated by the airport security. I think that there should be some kind of system to be able to retrieve those on the return trip. Maybe bags like you put film in to be processed. Write your vital info on the bag, get a receipt slip, and then on the way back, pick it up from some little office on your way out of the airport. I'd even be willing to pay a small charge to do this.
But things are just things and I guess it gives us an experience in letting go of material things.


Too pooped...

...to do anything but sleep.
I tried to produce some writing today and after churning through a mere 500 words in an hour and a half, I decide to run away (run away! run away!) and wake to write another day. I'm way behind though, which worries me a little. But there's nothing for it but to try and make the best of it.
For the moment though, I'm going to bed. I can barely keep my eyes op...

Chug chug

That's either me downing a lot of hard liquor.
Me trying to keep producing words even though I'm behind where I was last year, which was already behind where I "should" have been if I did the same amount every day. Actually, that makes me wonder about "shoulds." I don't operate under "should" in many areas of my life... ok, I'll admit to following convention while driving my car and in doing work at the office. But I don't follow convention in my personal life. So why should I be straining to reach an arbitrary average? It's not really a minimum -- that would be 0, since it's technically feasible to write 0 words per day for two weeks, then produce 4000 words per day and finish early. I guess that line for me is not an idea, but more of a goal to strive for - and that's only because it's above where I am. If I were (I wish) sailing along above it, I might use it as a mark of where not to drop below. It's arbitrary, and I know it's arbitrary, but it's something to measure my progress against.
I'm including a picture of the graph that I live by during November. The purple line is the "should" line that I've been talking about. The blue line is where I'd go if I keep a consistent pace with what I've done to date. (Hmm, the maker of this spreadsheet seems obsessed with consistent pace.) The light pink line is last year's data and the dark pink is this year's. I guess that, knowing my own habits, I'm a little more keyed into patterns of work repeating.

Oh, and the dark blue line at the bottom is daily word counts. You might see a dip in the graph there that shows that Monday I wrote nothing towards the novel. Mainly that's because I got paid that day and so was able to go out and go grocery shopping, get medications and chicken for the cats, etc. Then, when I came home, I made the chicken into cat food and put it in the freezer. So, a bunch of household errands got done and no writing. Last night I got a late start on writing, for some reason, but managed to stay up late enough to produce some decent amount of words. I didn't make the "minimum" (1667 words), but I did slightly better than my pace up to that date. If I at least maintain a reasonable pace during the weekdays, I can use the weekends to make up the deficit.
The good news is that the story was flowing better last night, and I actually wrote faster than I usually do. I've also got a game I'm playing with this novel. I shuffled a tarot deck and have it sitting on my desk. When I think, "ok, what happens next?" if I don't know, I flip over the top card and then try to incorporate something in it -- usually a character or an event -- into the story. It's giving the story a nice organic feel. Characters appear and give the sense that they'll be back, or a series of events will go a little differently than you'd expect. Obviously, if it doesn't really make sense, I'll either ignore it, or write it and edit it out later. But that hasn't happened yet.
One thing I am sure of -- I really like the family that is the center of this story.


Weekend Good. Weekdays Bad?

Well, I got lots done on the novel this weekend. Not as much as I would have liked, but I made it through a tough spot in the story (thanks to my ranting on this blog). But this week I've got lots of other stuff planned. This evening it's groceries and make catfood. Tues. and Thurs. I'm helping with a tai chi class. Wednesday I'm going to a poker class. Ok, so that last one is definitely not a responsibility, but our office's holiday party is going to feature Texas Hold'em poker and blackjack. Last year I lost lots of fake money at the blackjack table. This year I hope to do better at poker. The only drawback is that I suck at poker. Fortunately, our office manager set up a "learn poker" night. So you see, I must go. (Yeah, don't look at me all skeptical like that.)
My hope is that I use this pressure to eliminate procrastination (which always happens when I have tons of time) and still manage to write enough to keep my head above water until next weekend. I also hope to write during my lunch hour, which should help a little. We'll see. It also entirely depends on how easy or hard the story is flowing. Sunday I would have made out like gangbusters except that the story was flowing slower than molasses in January in the Artic circle.
Crossing fingers and toes...


Drugs Please?

Hey anyone know where to get some good acid or speed?

Thankfully I got lots done this morning (cleaned the house) because this afternoon has been dismal. I'm at a tough spot in the story and for some reason it's not coming out of my fingers very fast. Argh! I am taking this thing too seriously! Maybe it would be better if I turned the two antagonists into snakes or something... hey... that's not a bad idea, actually...



Well, I managed to have a fairly productive day, thank goodness.
This morning I went to a good friend's house, had some good conversation and breakfast before we went outside into the cold to collect some free plants. My friend is a wonderful gardener and she was thinning and relocating some of her plants. She offered some to me and hey, I couldn't turn down free plants, now could I? She gave me some ornamental grasses that I planted on the side of my house next to the alley. She also gave me some flowering plants, hyssop and yarrow, that I planted in front, along with transplanting a similar flowering plant from my backyard to the front. And she gave me some herbs - oregano and chives - that I planted in the backyard. First, however, I had to rake up the enormous amount of leaves that the ash tree in the back yard dumps all over. I couldn't find my big garbage bags (except for one), so I had to pile most of the leaves in a giant heap in the middle of the backyard, ready for when I get some bags.
Having been super industrious, I came inside and after only a little procrastination (surfing the internet and eating a late lunch), I managed to start writing. Now, 6 hours later (5.5 hours of writing, .5 to eat dinner), I have written 2500 words or so. Not bad, not bad at all. I write very slowly, obviously, which is why persistence is so very critical. While I was writing, I was sure I was going slower than I did last year, but when I look back at my records I find that last year was just as slow. Ummm, yay? On the positive side, even though I am running behind where I "should" be (if I were writing the same amount every day), I am doing slightly better than last year at the same time.
Making progress, thank goodness.

Edited to Add: I have to acknowledge my wonderful sidekick, Martin, who has been beside me all the way. Well, except for a couple naps on the fireplace to warm up. :)



Geez, I'm tired and it's only 9 o'clock. I've written some, but not enough. The urge to go to bed is preety darn strong.
Ooop, Matti just got off my lap, which makes me feel marginally less tired. Maybe I can get something more written.

In Cute Cat News (CCN instead of CNN), I turned on the gas fireplace and Matti stared at the flames for a while, trying to figure out what they were.

Looking on the bright side

Well, I might be tight on money now (due to my determination to not carry any debt from the vacation I took in September), but things will be looking up soon. I had my annual review at work today and it went very well and I got a good raise. I knew it would be a good review, as my boss has been saying very complimentary things of late and actually gave me a promotion (more responsibility) a month or so ago. Oddly enough, last night I had a bit of a panic attack and was sure I was going to be nailed to the wall for any number of minor sins (spending too much time online checking TWoP, for example). So, I got double benefit out of the review process -- a positive and encouraging review from my boss and a list of "things I need to work on" from myself. (Better that way than the reverse, eh?)

Also, I am a big fat procrastinator when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I didn't write anything yesterday. The bright side of this one? Today, though I have "wasted" time on the internet (reading back issues of belsum's awesome baby blog, for example), I have (cue dramatic music) not turned on the TV! That's right folks, I have fought the lure of the brain-sucking demon called Television (and it's henchmen, Cable and DVDs) and lived to tell the tale.
So now, I suppose, it's time to get to work. :P


Cue Evil Chuckle

I just read something that triggered an "aha" moment. I know what I'm getting my sister for Christmas. And I have a month and a half to find it. Muahahahaha!
(Why the big deal? My sister is a freakishly good gift-giver. I always want to give her something as cool as she gave me, and that's not an easy thing to accomplish.)


Sucky Timing

Last year, when I started NaNo, I remember buying myself all kinds of comfort snacks and easy-to-make-dinners. This year, I'm having a major cashflow problem. I've put a moritorium on all spending until my paycheck next Monday, but that's a "mortgage paycheck" so I'm not entirely sure I'll have lots to spare from that one either.
Darn it, spoiling myself on food indulgences is one of the ways I was rewarding myself! (Stupid goody-two-shoes voice is saying: "Maybe you should find more healty ways of rewarding yourself, chuck.")

Lunch hour lost

If I were a really diligent writer, I would have written during my lunch hour. Instead, I spent:
15 minutes waiting in the office "kitchen" to heat up my leftovers
6 minutes eating lunch
29 minutes visiting an online forum (catching up on the "general gab" thread and formulating a reply) and various friends' blogs.
9 minutes writing this blog entry.
Pretty sad, eh? Well, hopefully when I get home tonight I will remember how much fun I had writing last night, after I finished procrastinating for a couple hours.
I know common NaNo thought puts the tough writer's block wall at the second (?) week, but for me, if I can get *started* and establish a routine, I'll be good. Last year the first week was the hardest for me. We'll see how this week goes.
Wish me luck.



I love jack-o-lanterns!

Quote of the Day

Courtesy of my mum:

Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.
Madeleine L'Engle



This morning I had a brilliant idea that I would shelve the plot sketch I have for this year's NaNo effort and write a "therapy novel." That would be just for me, a loose narrative structure to explore my own internal workings in broad metaphors that wouldn't have to make sense or be particularly original because it would be just for me. I'm not sure I'd be able to drag that out for 50,000 words, but if there's no need for a viable first draft at the end of November, then I wouldn't have to "get" anywhere -- I could wander.
Well, the characters I had been introducing myself to for the real novel didn't take this well. They are raring to go for an adventure and don't really want to be shelved. So. What to do? I'm being heavily lobbied by my main characters. I've got a young and uneducated mother who really wants to discover that education doesn't equal intelligence and she's got the latter in spades. I've got a frustrated young father who wants more for his family. Who am I to deny them -- oh, only the *author*.
I think this'll be an interesting November.


Collectively speaking

Today a group of online friends are keeping up a running joke about me (hard to explain the "train" of thought -- bored number-checker to zombie number-checker) on the site we visit. It makes me laugh and feel teary at the same time. As a self-described loner (originally spelled that "loaner" - Freudian slip?), I'm establishing the first really long-term relationships (aside from my dear and loony family) in my life. I've lived in the same city for 6 years now - longest in my adult life. I'm playing a team sport - coed indoor soccer. I've been going to tai chi classes pretty regularly twice a week for 2 1/2 years now - definitely longest I've ever done any exercise regimen. I've been hanging with the same group of friends for over four years. And I own a house and have pets (one does not "own" cats ;).
I don't know what was stopping me from keeping long term relationships before, but I have to admit, it's heartwarming and embarrassing to receive love/friendship in that way. It felt so when my sister arranged a surprise birthday party for me, and I know that's why she doesn't want me to elope if I ever do get married. And maybe I'm settling down enough now that I actually won't. (No promises though, Aileen!)
I made a snarky comment a few posts ago about being a "dependable member of society." I wonder if that's not such a bad thing any more. There are worse things than having people depend on you.


Quote of the Day

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
- Ray Bradbury


Again with the writing?!?!

Just to let y'all know, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this November. You can find my profile by clicking on the 2005 icon to the right. Last November, this was a source of many interesting posts (see the November 2004 archives)... [later] Actually, I'm just back from reading the November posts and they are some of the best posts I've written. Sometimes I forget that I am a good writer.
In any case, wish me luck. I'm told the second year of NaNo is harder than the first because you tend to rest on your laurels and not take it seriously enough. Well, I remember how hard it was and I intend to work that hard again. It's not going to be easy, but I do have willpower, no matter how much I act like I don't during the rest of the year.
So last year I wrote about an intergalactic bounty hunter. This year, the story is about a working class couple who go to work for an interdimensional temp agency (or something along those lines). Yes, I like the prefix inter-. It implies relationship, and stories don't exist without relationships.
The story from last year hasn't been edited yet, unfortunately. I'd like to revamp the ending, make it a little more intelligent. For now I'm going to content myself with starting some character and plot development for the new story. :)


I did that? Cool!

Apparently, I didn't remember that I had moved my professional website (see sidebar) off my school server and onto some space granted to me by my internet provider.
I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.
Wierd to discover something you have no memory of doing.


Lookin' Good

I have to say, it's pretty damn awesome to feel good about yourself all the time.

I get so many compliments on my looks lately. It's really nice, but it's funny that I most often get the question, "are you dating someone?" No, it's not guys trying to find out if I'm available. It's the assumption that what makes a girl look good is love. In a way they're right, except this isn't the love of a good man, it's love for myself and the Universe.

... works for me, obviously. ;)

Edited to add:
Looking better has been in large part due to paying more attention to my appearance. The funny thing is that on the days I feel uninspired and *almost* wear something like I would have worn a year ago, then I push a little harder and figure out something better (usually by adding an accessory or something to take it up a level) -- those are the days I get the most compliments. It's all very encouraging. :)


Society's Pull

I just wrote this in an email to a friend and thought it was a good general observation:

One interesting thing I've noticed is that I've seen a definite increase in people needing something from me. Tonight I'm helping a tai chi teacher with his class and possibly helping a gal at work with something she volunteered to do for my boss' board of education campaign. Then there's said boss' request for more help, which since I already said I'd help I will do probably this weekend. That, plus - taking care of a friend's cats while she was sick, and another friend who wants to rent my basement but hasn't yet (boyfriend is lobbying hard) - and the general request that people donate to this or that disaster relief... well, I just think it's interesting. Is it always like this and I'm only just established as a dependable member of society or is it a current wave of need?


Not for me

Last weekend I went to Hilton Head Island for a wedding. I spent the day before in Savannah, Georgia and the rest of the time at a seaside resort on the island. The contrasting experiences brought up a really interesting reaction in me.
I loved the old and natural beauty of Savannah. It felt comfortable and relaxed and uncontrived, despite the fact that the grid of streets and parks is obviously designed. I think it must be because nature and the architecture have had nearly 300 years (founded in 1733) to get comfortable with each other.

Hilton Head Island on the other hand, was like living in a magazine spread. You know the ones -- where books on architecture are set on the coffee table and a bowl of lemons become a centerpiece on a beautifully glossy dining table. The reason may come from it's history. In 1663, Captain Hilton "discovered" the island (and named it for himself), but it didn't start it's modern development until the 1950s. There were cotton and indigo plantations and vivid events during the Civil War, but I saw no sign of them. Unsightly retail are screened from the road by stands of trees. When driving to the resort where I was staying, I passed perfectly manicured lawns, elegant stands of palmettos, and regal southern architecture. It was all very beautiful, but a little contrived, a little too organized.

It was fine for a vacation -- in fact, the beautifully designed landscape I could see from my room's deck was one of my favorite parts of the trip -- but I wouldn't want to live in it all the time. I couldn't say if this is the same for the surrounding areas (not the island itself) or that if I were a local I wouldn't find historical and natural activities that would give me a better feel for the land. The experience just gave me a glimpse into what it might be like to be someone with a lot more money and more keyed to status. I can't say I would want to live that way if I did have more money and that's something I didn't know before. Now when I see elegant spreads in magazines, I can look at it with a better perspective. I know I'll shape my home differently, regardless of how much money I make.

(I should have known I felt this way when I once decided against an area rug because it coordinated "too perfectly" with my living room walls and couch. At least I'm consistent.)


Stolen from the Daily Show

I stole this from the Daily Show, but I just couldn't help myself. The premise is that (like hurricanes), they name adminstrative disasters alphabetically. The ones that have already happened are funny, but take a look at the ones still to come. They're hilarious!

(Sharp eyes will notice that there's a letter missing. It was missed on the Daily Show graphic, so I left it alone.)


Death to spammers

There's been a minor addition to the comments portion of the blog. I've turned on a new feature -- word verification -- that prevents mass computer-generated spam posts.
It adds another step, but I believe it's worth it.
Thanks for your patience!


Dinner Menu

I'm sitting here, full, remembering the old days fondly -- when the cats were new to my household and would rather sit next to me than on my lap. Good times, good times.

I worked a couple hours late today and got home at 8, now an hour later, I have cooked a quick and yummy meal and eaten it. And if there were not a cat on my lap, I'd be having dessert as well. ;)

I had halibut, dredged twice in egg and breadcrumbs (garlic & parsley seasoned), fried in olive oil. The two sides were parmesan flavored couscous and broccoli (frozen, quickly cooked in the microwave).
Quick and healthy and tasty. The fish was particularly flavorful. And now I have time to read my book before getting to bed at my designated (so often overshot) bedtime!
I'll have my dessert while I read -- a cordial glass of Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Liquor (a lot like Irish creme, but different flavors). Yum!


In Lieu of Actual Content

Since I posted a general update to my family's website, I feel like it would be redundant to do so here.
So, instead, I'll post a couple of interesting articles I've come across in my www travels:
(Both from Slate online editorial magazine)

Thanks for Your Hard Work. Now Get Out!: Can a Persian Gulf-style guest-worker program succeed in the U.S.? (Found on a Star Trek forum where they were discussing the feasibility of a society where no one has to work.)

The White Stuff: How vanilla became shorthand for bland. (Saw it on the sidebar while reading another Slate article and was moved to read it out of my interest in cooking.)

And my most recent book find:
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. A retelling of the Cinderella story, from a different perspective.


Papers = Bed

I started sorting catalogs, which is obviously a good location to get some well earned rest. Posted by Picasa


Mothers are great

I was in the middle of writing a bland post about not having any posts for the last month or two -- then I got a wonderful package in the mail.
Backstory: A couple weeks ago, someone came into my house through an unlocked patio door (so technically didn't break in) and stole most of my little DVD collection and a CD/Boombox (that I didn't really like anyway, nyah nyah nyah). Long story short: I'm sad over the loss of my DVDs, but relieved because it could have been so much worse.
Anyway, I made a seperate list on Amazon of the DVDs I needed to replace. (No insurance money because damages were less than my deductable.)
Today, I got in the mail a package from Amazon with a big bunch of DVDs, some from my stolen list and some I had never had before. I knew my mum had ordered some, but I was overwhelmed by her generosity.
Thank you, Mummy! You are awesome! :)


Are they "lion"?

Fascinating news article about a young Ethiopian girl being rescued by lions.
Anyone bought the movie rights yet?


My tattoo

Or, "tat" if you're down with the jive. This is how it appears to other people.Posted by Hello

And how it looks from my angle. Posted by Hello

One interesting coincidence: My tattoo guy, "Nate" (a nice young guy who did an excellent job - no bruising and practically no redness), went skydiving the weekend before I did at the same place I went and had the same instructor I did. Small world.



"Although you are still running ahead, new information now encourages you to change your mind -- and maybe even your direction. What you learn, however, may not arrive through normal communication channels. It's as if you are downloading the information directly from the cosmos, but it's really coming from your own subconscious mind. Pay attention to your dreams, for they carry an important message."
- My horoscope for the day

The wierd thing?

This morning I woke up not remembering my dreams, but with a wierd sense of a new understanding of something (I don't know what). A sort of settled feeling like a puzzle piece had shifted into place in the night and my future direction has been shifted a degree or two.



Sad news, but not as sad as I thought...

I nearly swallowed my gum when I read the following headline:
"MacGyver Actor Dies at 77". Now logic would have told me that Richard Dean Anderson is not 77 yet, but by the time that thought occurred to me, I had already clicked the link and found out that it was Dana Elcar, the actor who played MacGyver's boss and friend Peter Thornton, who had passed away.
For those who know my love for MacGyver, you know how worried I was for that milisecond.
Dana, you enriched our lives. Thank you.


Another Quote

"Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously!"
-Friedrich Nietzsche


Quote of the Day

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage." -Lao-Tzu


Camping in the clouds

We were rained on during last weekend's camping trip to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It was really fun, though, since I camp with some resourceful people who put up a big canopy and tarps. Posted by Hello


An Eeeevil Architect?

Yesterday I went to a talk given by a well-known architect, Daniel Libeskind. I have some friends who don't really like his work, and one of them asked me beforehand to see if he was like Saruman (from Lord of the Rings), able to sway people's minds simply with the power of his voice.
I have to say, it was a pretty darn good analogy. I asked him about it later, and it turns out he's heard Libeskind speak before. "He could sell pants to a snake," is how he put it.
It's not only his compelling turns of phrase - light in the skies of Colorado and light in the eyes of its people was one example (he was at his best flattering the Coloradoans) - but also his manner of speaking. The tone of his voice and his facial expressions. Very personable and charming.
So when I was thinking of my friend's allusion to him being like Saruman, I started thinking "What if he were evil? We'd never know it. We'd be swayed by how natural it all sounded."
Presentation skills are often overlooked in architectural school, but I bet evil genius school has a minor in it.


Spring Thing

Had a dinner party for 8 last night that went pretty well...
Everyone had fun, but I didn't get to participate as much as I would have liked to. That was mainly because I ran out of time and was doing too much preparing of food during the party. Running out of time also meant that I didn't get to make all the dishes I wanted to. If I could do it all over again, I'd accept Aileen's offer of help earlier in the afternoon.
The tableau: Table set for 8, white dishes on a deep purple tablecloth accented with subtle embroidered flowers on the corners. The white dishes are topped with a folded white napkin and a small white plate printed with a colorful spring flower (four different patterns). In the center, a large clear vase filled with colorful springtime flowers.
The menu: Appetizers - Momos (Nepalese dumplings) wih cilantro dipping sauce, fresh mozzarella, garlic stuffed olives, Main Course - Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Garlic Green Beans, Saffron Rice (omitted for time constraints), Dessert - Banana Spring Rolls with Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Rum Sauce (omitted because of difficulties making it) with coffee.
The guests had fun and enjoyed the food, so I'd call it a success. :)


For Reuben

Captain Blackbead Did What?
- Shel Silverstein

The sea is a-roarin', the sea gulls they screech,
The bosun he rants and he raves.
And the whole scurvy crew
Says, "It's true, yes it's true,
Ol' Captain Blackbeard's shaved."
We had buried some treasure (and bodies as well)
And was just sailin' back from the cave,
When he calls fer boiled water
And stomps down below
An' gor' but he comes up shaved.
There's a chickenish stubble, and fishbelly skin
On that face, once so blazin' and brave.
And his ol' faithful parrot
Can hardly bear it
Since ol' Captain Blackbeard shaved.
When he shouts "Board and sink her!"
It sounds like a clinker
And gets lots of laughs from the slaves.
And his loud bawdy songs
Seem a little bit wrong
Since ol' Captain Blackbeard shaved.
Now no one is fearing his look or his lash
Or his threats of a watery grave.
And things ain't the same
In the piratin' game
Since ol' Captain Blackbeard shaved.


Blogging Sahara

I have a few minutes during my lunch hour to blog. The problem is, as soon as I sat down to write, any and all interesting thoughts leave my head...
Hmm... had an interesting conversation about cussing in different languages, which I don't have time to describe in detail.
If only I had a dictation device here. You'd have a lot more interesting things to read.

Back to the ol' grindstone...


Back from the Life

Sorry I've been AWOL, dear readers. I have been so busy with life that I haven't had time to keep this site updated. So here's a brief synopsis of the last month or so and you'll see what has been keeping me so busy.
- I've got new responsibilities at work that keep me on my toes. I'm a job captain, with a job that just finished schematic design. I am the one responsible for the quality of the drawings (and information contained therein). I also am having my first real management experience. I have one gal working under me, who I have to keep busy.
- I got a bonus at work, which meant I had the money to start a new home improvement phase...
- Phase III of my home improvement process is painting the cabinet fronts and putting on new hardware (hinges and pulls). That was taking a long time, but my wonderful sister came over one Saturday to help! Yay! Of course, I'm still working on it -- I'm supposed to be painting the trim on the cabinets and putting on a decorative stencil. Then, I'm sure my sister will come over again to help me put on the hardware and put the fronts back on the cabinets.
- My sister organized a surprise birthday party for me. I was SO oblivious! It was wonderful to see my friends and family together and chatting with each other. It was wierd being the center of attention, but it's only once a year, so I figure I'll live.
- I'm having to give up some of my online friends. I haven't had time to keep up with the forums like I used to and I don't like posting if I haven't been reading everything everyone else has said.
- I injured my self a bit. I don't think it was a sports injury originally, but playing soccer really made it worse. I didn't plan on playing that following weekend, but we had a snowstorm, so the games were postponed anyway. Last weekend I played and felt fine the whole time. I was so relieved. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed playing until I thought I wouldn't be able to.
- Been going NOWHERE. I had been procrastinating before, but now I just haven't had the time.
The Cats:
- They are the same as usual. Matti's a little fatter and Martin's a little skinnier than they were when I first got them, so I think they're doing well on thier current diet. They're happy, and so am I.

What are my plans this weekend?
Wine-tasting party this evening (starts at 6, which is why I have time between work and the party to write this post)
Possibly sushi afterwards (a friend is visiting from out of town and some of my friends are getting together with her)
Painting kitchen cabinets tomorrow
Housewarming Open House tomorrow afternoon
Possibly a movie with my brother, sister, and brother-in-law tomorrow
Soccer on Sunday

Yep. I'm busy.


For those of you who didn't believe I actually took a picture of my odometer... Posted by Hello


Where have I been?

...I hear you all ask.
Well, let me explain. I have moved up the food chain at work and now have project organization duties as well as production tasks. Plus, we've got more work to do than we have people, so I'm occasionally asked to do stuff for other projects. Obviously, this means I'm having trouble finding the time to do any non-work related tasks.
Then there's home. I've been trying to do everything more "right" lately. That means going to tai chi class regularly, making a decently nutritious dinner, cleaning up dirty dishes, and going to bed early. And I'm hooked on too many TV shows.
Now I understand why people seem to have cell phones surgically attached to their heads and don't mind having private conversations in public. No one has the time to sit down and make the time to just communicate.
My current plan to clear more time in my schedule is cutting out some of the TV watching (though most of the time I'm also doing something else) and a lot of my internet surfing. :(
I will try to keep up this blog at least once or twice a week and whenever I'm moved to say something pithy. And the entries may be short, just a thought of the day, like the last post or something that happened. For example:
- My car's odometer just flipped over 100,000 miles this morning! I've been carrying my digital camera so I could take a picture. Which I pulled over and did. :)
- Last week, on the way to lunch, I saw a hawk eating a pigeon by the sidewalk. It was *so* cool. I didn't have my camera, so I didn't take a picture. :(



"Sometimes, the "goal" is unconscious. You're already working toward it without realizing what it is."
- My horoscope for the day

I have to say, this is very reassuring.


"I have one regret, that I have but one lap to give to my cats."

Well, I'm home. The cats were happy to see me. I found them tranquil and well cared for, thanks to the wonderful lady who took care of them for me. (Thanks, Paden!) They are now, however, way too used to someone playing with them.
(To be continued...)


Working Vacation

"I love it when a house comes together."
(OK, so the actual quote says "plan" but eh, I liked this better.)

So far my main tasks have been to help my mum with tiling the master bathroom and drawing up plans and elevations for the shelves in the library. The latter is done, we just have to talk it over one last time with the trim carpenter (a very nice guy and a heck of a carpenter). The former seems to go on and on forever. Every time we seem just around the bend from finishing making all the cuts (we are cutting everything, then mortaring it all down, then grouting), we find another section of unfinished cuts we need to make. And now we're trying to strategize completing what we need to complete without enough bullnose tile. Apparently it was hard to track down and whomever ordered it did not order enough.
The staining and lacquering is done, thank goodness, so there aren't as many fumes. I got the DVD player hooked up to the TV, but we don't know where the remote control is. Fortunately, we can still play stuff.

No deep thoughts today. I'm just too tired to come up with something.
How about -- working hard builds character...


OK already!

Well, I certainly got some snarky comments about not posting recently, but in the words of one of my latest TV shows... "chill out, dudes."
I'm now at my parents' house in Oklahoma (did anyone catch the pun in the title?) and feeling more relaxed already. I will try to be more introspective in my next post, but I wanted to post *something* for the few readers I have left.
So what is the question for the day? I feel like sometimes I react negatively to things when I feel like I should know better. For example, I recently had a situation with a friend where I intellectually knew I had no reason to be upset or mad, but I was acting like it. Then, I realized what was actually upsetting me wasn't the overall situation (which I understood the reasoning of) but one of the symptoms -- I felt ignored, and I don't like it. Ironically, snubbing them was my response (though who knows if they noticed). As soon as I realized what my real issue was and realized I was treating someone in a way I didn't like being treated myself, I immediately let go of the irritation. Interesting, huh?
Hmm, that turned out to be more introspective than I expected. Cool. I'm off the hook until next time. :)



I've probably lost all my readers, so I'll apologize to the the empty space:
Sorry I've been so quiet lately. I've been... well, I don't know what I've been doing. That's the nature of procrastination and distraction. Thankfully, at work I've been pretty busy and pretty focused. So much so that I have done very little extracurricular stuff like internet stuff. And when I get home, I find escapist methods to pass the time: movies, tv, books. I usually go to bed very early or very late. I haven't done any writing in weeks.
It's frustrating, but I have to believe I'm internally processing something. That, or I need a vacation. Which, I might add, I am starting tomorrow. I wanted to go someplace tropical, but have no money. SO, I'm going to OK to help my mum with the house (short story: parents building a house, dad going abroad for a few weeks).
Well, I'd like to make this an early night. Except I have a sleeping cat on my lap. And therefore am typing one handed. I'm really going to miss the cats, and I think they will miss me too. A good friend of mine is going to feed them, and since she is a certified cat person, I think she'll do a great job. I'm just going to miss them.


Cats, can't beat 'em

... so join 'em.
I think my cats are taking a correspondence course in how to be cat-like. Semester 1 was a fundamental course, "Laps: How to Monopolize Them." Semester 2 is apparently "Laundry Basket Sitting". I've never seen them get in one before -- granted, I don't often leave a full one out -- but today Martin figured it out and Matti was quick to follow. Did I take a picture? Of course! (Now there are a billion and one pictures of cats in laundry baskets out there. Posted from now on in the photo area on the right.)


Quote for the Day

"People who are happy believe in happiness... People who are unhappy believe in unhappiness." - Amy Bloom in Oprah magazine

Taking this quote completely out of context (article about marriage) it is an interesting concept to mull over.


As long as I'm procrastinating...

...I might as well produce a post for my blog.

I've been feeling very frustrated with myself lately. I'm supposed to be writing. Not this instance, because "it's five minutes to bedtime," not to mention I've wasted two hours (or more) already, what's five more minutes.
It all starts very simply. "I'm just checking my email." "I'm just..." prefaces a bunch of similar statements. I'm just Procrastinating!!!!! Because 10 minutes turns into 30, turns into an hour, turns into two, etc.
Where's the willpower I know is in here?


2/8/05 Addendum: Not only did I waste time all evening, I wasted time even in my dreams. I dreamt last night that I was at a party, but spent the whole time talking to someone on my cellphone. I think they were lost and I was trying to talk them through the directions to the party. Then, when they got to the party, I had to leave right away to deliver something insignificant (in the middle of the night) to somewhere about an hour away. When I woke up, I was very irritated I spent my sleeping hours not resting. It felt a lot like when I dream about work.
But, I have new hope for this evening, because Feb. 9th is the beginning of the Chinese New Year. What an auspicious time to reform! OK, so I don't need the beginning of something to start afresh - every new moment is an opportunity for that - but come on, I'm grasping at straws here. Stay tuned for a report on my success (failure is not an option).


Pocas noticias de deportes y de pelĂ­culas

Soccer: We won 9-2. No new bruises. We need to continue to dominate if we want another shot at the C league.

Movies: I'm watching (for no particular reason) the spanish version of The Usual Suspects, one of my favorite movies. The laughable part (besides "maldito idiota" being substituted for a much much more vulgar phrase) is that Fenster's accent in the Spanish dubbing is one of the clearest of the group. Ironic, if you know that Fenster is supposed to be unintelligible most of the time. I think I'm going to have to put in the original.

Edited to add: they just advertised Ninja Americano 4, for those who know the joke.


Ships Passing In The Night

Last night I went out with a bunch of friends. We hung out at a bar, but I didn't get drunk because I don't have the dough to drink heavily (at least through the next couple weeks, anyway).
The occasion was that one of our group is moving back to North Dakota to be closer to his family. He just moved back from there last summer, when I got to know him a little during a couple camping trips. I was attracted to him and found him really interesting, but didn't find opportunity to say so, since I almost never saw him after I figured out that I liked him. When I finally had an opportunity, I said I was interested in getting to know him better, but by then he was dating someone else. Now he's moving to North Dakota (and I doubt the girlfriend will be joining him, since according to him she wants to move to LA and work on her acting career, but you never know).
Last night, I was reminded that I really do still find him attractive and interesting, was reminded of my bad timing (which is almost always the case), and wondered if there was anything I could have done differently or if I will ever get this stupid dating thing right.
Ah, but you're dwelling in the past/future, I hear you say. Live in the moment! True, I say. I did that, and the truth is -- I'm happy with now and the past is the past and the future is unknown and can't be predicted because the person I am today is not the person I was this summer. But I still have a little lingering sadness of what will never be. This too shall pass.


Big Smile

I love life.
Sorry, I just had to say it. There's no reason in particular. I'm just feeling good and I'm thankful I have an interesting and independent life. I'm thankful I can look forward to going home at the end of the workday to my own house and cook myself dinner and watch a little TV and maybe a DVD and then go to bed and sleep well. I'm thankful I can then wake up and go to work at a place I enjoy working with people I like.
Life is good.


Take a Load Off, Annie

The lesson for today, apparently, is "relax."
All morning I was fretting over how to respond to a situation at work. It was not a big deal, but sometimes my brain won't stop examining things from every angle. Best to just let it whirr at times like those. As I left for work everything clicked into place and I thought "oh, forget it, I'm just not going to worry about it." As you might expect, my being relaxed either alleviated the situation itself or allowed me to notice new aspects that made me see it in a new light. No more puzzling situation.
Today in tai chi class, our lesson of the day was to relax when doing a particular basic move. It was one I was sure I wasn't doing quite right and I was correct. I was over stretching, putting strain on my neck and shoulder muscles. The teacher focused on relaxing and keeping the correct form or structure.
So, there you go.
I like finding the patterns in life and this is my meditation for the day. ;)



Today's game we were playing kind of short on substitutes, but we won 6-1. Our substitute goalie, our old goalie, claimed to be super impressed with how much our defense has improved. He better be impressed. I took a major hit and will be sporting a giant bruise AND welts. (This is a step up from the plain ol' giant bruise.) I got in the way of a guy making a run in for a corner kick setup and his cleats (blunt plastic ones, not the sharp metal ones) intersected with my thigh.
I'd post a pic, but it seems a bit gruesome.

In other news, I had a lot of fun at my sister's birthday dinner, catching up with my brother, my cousin, and her husband. We played my sister's new game and left at a reasonable time with wonderful good wishes from our hosts.

Now I have to go to bed because my substitute didn't show up til almost 20 minutes into the game and so I'm suffering from the aftereffects of extreme exertion.



Soccer Bummer

It's confirmed -- our soccer team was dropped back to the D league. I think they exchange the bottom team of the C league (us) with the top team of the D league (us the season before last) in order to give teams a chance to move up if they're doing well. It's a big bummer, 'cause the games will be easier. Oh well. Maybe the season after next we'll have another shot at staying in the C league.


Living on The Edge

Living in the moment is a little like living on the edge of a knife.
Not in a bad way, I mean.
It gives you a heightened appreciation of your senses. Every moment you have to readjust, not lean too much either way. Check your bearings. Have you slipped into pessimism? Been thinking too long on your hopes? No matter - just remind yourself that you don't actually know what's going to happen and what's happening now is really what you want to focus on.
There are so many things to appreciate about now. It may be a breath of fresh air or the smile of a stranger or friend. It may be as simple as good health or a comfortable home. It may be any number of things: physical, emotional, or mental.
I still hope for things, sending a little message to the universe of what I'd like to happen, but I try not to dwell in a future that may or may not happen.
I smile a lot more often.

(How long will it last? I don't know, but that's the beauty of living in the moment. It doesn't matter.)


Losing things

Yipes, what a day.
I was vacuuming and it was a nice day out, so I thought I'd let the cats roam in the backyard. Well, vacuuming took longer than I expected and though I looked outside periodically to check on the cats, when I was finished I went outside to bring them in. They weren't there. Oh. Crap. I went out the front door and started looking up and down the street. Finally, about a block away I saw one of them. Martin. I went to him, trying to call his name, but he wouldn't come to me. Typical Martin. He is such a scaredy-cat when he's outside. When I reached him, he got by me and started running back to the house. Well, at least he knows where home is. He hid under the deck for a while and I sat there, trying to coax him out (and trying not to think about where Matti was). I called my sister for help, but soon after, Martin came close enough that I was able to grab him. As usual, he resisted, but I'm getting used to how tightly I have to hold on. So I took him inside. Then I went back outside to find Matti. Fortunately, he was nearby (attracted by the sounds of me trying to coax Martin?). He ended up going to hide under the deck too. I called my sister again and told her I had everything under control. Matti is much easier to catch than Martin. He actually comes to me when called. Not right away, of course, but eventually he did come and I grabbed him. He doesn't struggle like Martin does. I took him inside and breathed a big sigh of relief. Obviously, they're not going outside again anytime soon.
Are they upset about thier rough treatment? Not at all. Martin, previously the cautious one, is sacked out on my lap.
I also had a soccer game today and though we had a big lead in the first half, we lost it all and more in the second half. It was a really big disappointment. I know we can do better. It was just a really hard game and we were missing some people. And now I'm tired.

But I'm doing ok with the "living in the moment" plan, so it's got to be going well. :)


Patience and Living in the Moment

Sometimes I hate having an imagination.
Sometimes it seems like I can imagine a lot better future than I anticipate actually happening.
The obvious antidote is to live in the moment -- to halt anticipation, both positive and negative. Zen-like.
This would, of course, translate into patience and allowing growth and change to happen at a natural pace, instead of being forced through an impatience with the process.
To appreciate the moment and truly live in it seems to require constant course correction. The mind drifts to a favorite worry or to a constantly perfected plan, then has to be detatched, like a kitten off the curtains.
It really comes down to an issue of trust and faith. Do I trust (have faith in the idea) that if I create myself to be a positive person, thinking positive thoughts and creating every moment to be a positive moment that the Universe will reciprocate with positive results? I don't know. I think I do, but thinking and believing are two different things.
I don't know.
I'm going to try focusing on the "live in the moment" philosophy, mainly because it evens out the emotional highs and lows and maybe it'll free me from the need to figure out the future. I'll let you know how it goes.

Edited to add: My officemate just called me "sunshine" as he was departing, which made me feel good. Maybe my positivity endeavor is actually working. :)


Self Involved

My buddy, Nate, put up a post about self-deception (see his blog, The Slick Guy, listed on the right). It started me thinking about something that happened today.
I've been fighting off some illness and I was a bit tired today. Being tired leaves me a little vulnerable to my emotions. Anyway, a friend of mine at work, who is usually very friendly, was kind of distant today. I worried over if it was something I did and my vivid imagination came up with some dramatic scenarios. Then I found out (through another coworker) that this friend was very busy on a project in which some errors had been made.
So it wasn't all about me, huh?
I need to be alert to the dangers of self-centeredness. Sure, everyone has some degree of this problem, since our only real point of reference is ourselves. But, I need to be aware of it, and extremely cautious about acting on a self-centered assumption. I've been doing that (being aware and cautious, I mean), but today I realized another facet of this. Being alert to how self-centeredness can affect one's mood.
Tricky. But do-able.


*Almost* Out of Gas

Whew! When I thought of the two events today that I could write about, I saw a distict theme. What does it mean in the greater scheme of things, I have no idea, but this blog entry will have a theme.
I noticed on my way to a friend's birthday party that my "low on gas" light was on. I thought about stopping for gas, but taking into account that a) I usually have a gallon left when that light comes on and b) I generally get 25 or mor miles per gallon, I decided I'd have plenty to get me back to my home area and a gas station I like that has a good price on gas. On my way back, buzzing along on I-25, my car gave a big lurch. Oops, I thought. So, I took the next exit off. Unfortunately, that wasn't an exit to a busy commercial area, but to the big football stadium parking lots. No gas. The car gave another lurch. I kept going through the spagetti of access roads, trying rights and lefts, almost at random, because I knew there must be a way to get to a busy street. Sure enough, after another turn, I suddenly recognized a bit of street and I quickly got myself to Federal, a main thoroughfare. I made it to a Citgo station with only a couple more lurches. Double Whew! The stated capacity of my tank - 11 gallons. The amount of fuel I put in - 10.993 gallons. Thank goodness my car doesn't just stop. Now I know how it behaves when running out of gas. Don't worry, I'm not trying that again, I'm just saying it's nice to know.
Then, today at soccer (after having a week off), we were short on players. In fact, our second girl showed up a few minutes late. We had one goalie, two girls, and three guys. That meant everyone who showed up had to play the entire game. I got complimented on my defense -- I'm definitely improving. And we won! Yup, 5-2. It was pretty awesome, but I felt like puking afterwards. The last 8 minutes of the game, I kept looking at the clock thinking "Ok, X minutes left. I think I can make it. Please, let me make it." Fortunately, I think my defense instincts are enough in charge during the game that I didn't let my tiredness stop me from running when I needed to run, or from chasing a person when I needed to. I was running on fumes by the end though. I'm still feeling a bit nauseous, but all for a good cause.
And what am I doing sitting at the computer instead of in bed sleeping? Well, I figured if I didn't write it down right away, I wouldn't get around to it.
That being said, I think it's time for bed.