Saturday, January 31, 2009

Update on My 101

101 things to do in 1001 days

January was not a good month for the 101 list. I only checked off ONE ITEM. However, since I returned to full-time work and was busy adjusting my life, I'm going to cut myself some slack. I know that February will be better.

Record family history (Create a family tree with my grandmother? Photos? Stories?)
Take Clay’s picture professionally at least once every 6 months
Make a will
Make a living will
Talk with Laura about Clay
Send a Christmas card to an estranged family member
Write to my grandmother
Attend services at three local churches
Volunteer in a way that’s meaningful to me
Go back to the gym – at least 3 times a week
Lose 10 pounds
Keep it off for 6 months

Train to run 3 miles without stopping
Try a yoga or pilates class
Go to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures
Go to the Smith Robertson Museum
Go to the Lauren Rogers Museum
Take an art class (pottery, painting, etc.)
Paint a picture
Learn to play at least one song on the guitar
Write a food article and get it published
Write at least one poem or short story
Paint the front porch swing
Tile the master bathroom
Plant some flowering shrubs in the back yard and DON’T let them die
Plant an herb garden
Fix the patio table
Get a window shade for the baby’s bedroom
Have an energy audit done on the house
Paint the shed in the back yard
Paint the inside of the garage
Take Clay swimming
Drink wine in California
Ride in a helicopter
Ride in a hot air balloon
Go to Graceland
Go to New York City
Create a “great books list” and start reading (at least 5 books)
Create a “great movies list”
and start watching (at least 5 movies)
Treasure hunt on Highway 49
Host a New Year’s open house party
Host a “dinner among the leaves” party
Host an Easter brunch
Throw a Kentucky Derby party
Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Pay off the last of my student loan
Buy some sexy new underwear
Attend at least one live concert
Go the fall flower show/festival in Crystal Springs
Visit a botanic garden
Learn more about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict
Watch a meteor shower
Give blood
See snow
See the ocean
Adopt an Angel at Christmas
Go bowling
Pay for the person behind me in line - This was my accomplishment for January. Don't ask me how I know, but the person behind me in line really needed it.
Do an anonymous good deed
Learn to bake a good loaf of bread
Go on a day hike
Write a letter to the editor of my local newspaper
Go on a vacation sans baby
Let Clay ride in the convertible with the top down
Perform in at least one stage production
Attend at least one Mensa meeting
Attend at least one college alumni event
Get back in touch with some of my college professors
Learn how to play poker
Learn how to shoot a decent game of pool
Make a real paella
Make a real sangria, to go with the paella
Get a facial
Start taking vitamins again

Take mom to have her makeup done
Discover 5 new recording artists I really like and buy their CDs
Find a pair of sunglasses that will change my life
Find my signature fragrance
Take some pictures of leaves turning color in the fall
Set up and take some faux-tography shots of the baby
Write to Grace
Visit Grace in Oregon
Go on a picnic and eat food that I MADE, not food that I bought
Visit a dermatologist
Book a session with a personal trainer
Buy sheet music for a song I like and learn to play it on the piano
Learn to do a passable waltz
Bring the baby to visit my dad at work
Take a bubble bath
Light some candles just for us, when we DON’T have someone coming over
Make mint juleps and drink them on the front porch swing
Go ice skating
Preserve Clay’s foot and hand prints
Attain APR accreditation
Buy or make Clay a kick-ass Halloween costume
Give a gift that I made.
Send someone flowers for no reason
Begin using my wine notebook again and identify at least three new wines that I like
Buy a birdfeeder and set it up in the back yard
Fix the broken window pane on the porch
Spend an afternoon lying in the hammock


First day of the challenge: January 1, 2008
Last day of the challenge: September 28, 2010

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On health

At my place of business, we have a wellness program for employees. As part of this program, employees have the option of taking a free online health risk assessment (which is basically a questionnaire to help you determine how healthy your behaviors are and determine possible areas for improvement) before receiving a free annual health screening.

Since the health screenings are coming up, I went ahead and took my health risk assessment. According to my results, it's a miracle I'm not dead yet. I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. I don't exercise enough. I don't drink enough water. My computer practically sneered at me with derision, "What, you're still breathing over there?"

Sooooo, I'm definitely going to make an effort to eat more fruits and veggies and drink more water. And when the weather is a tad better, I'm going to try walking for a bit every day at lunch. Maybe that will put me at less risk for keeling over at any given second? You think?

The illness carousel

This has been a challenging week. We have had to deal with sick baby. On Monday morning, booger had a fever, a runny nose, and a cough. Hubs and I handled this one pretty smoothly. I had a busy morning at work, but a free afternoon. His day was the opposite. So, no brainer, he stayed home with the baby in the a.m., and I came home at lunch for nurse duty.

On Tuesday, booger seemed better. Fever was down. We took him to daycare. They called me at 3 p.m. to come get him. The fever had returned. Off I ran to pick him up. Wednesday, he still had a bit of fever in the a.m. Hubs (bless his heart) stayed home with him. (Wednesday is my publication deadline day. Eeek.)

Today, praise the Lord, no fever. Off to daycare he went, and he stayed there all day. Though he was a bit fussy, he stayed fever-free and napped well. Here's hoping tomorrow's even better. By then, at least, we can coast into the weekend.

I think I've done pretty well with the work/baby/life balance thing so far, but adding illness to the mix definitely threw me for a loop this week. Anybody got any advice for juggling this? Lots of hand washing and vitamin C?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Orleans bound!

Looks like I will be spending next weekend in New Orleans with the gals! I haven't spent too many weekends away from booger since he was born (which suits me fine), but I have slipped off for some "me time" in Birmingham, Memphis, and a couple of other cool places. Now, I'm adding the Big Easy to my momcation list.

We're heading down Friday night, staying in a NON-HAUNTED hotel (Some members of our traveling party are a tad, shall we say, superstitious?), and hopefully having brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. Other than that, it's up in the air. (Though I would love a walk through one of the cemeteries. Haven't ever done that . . . )

It will be goooood to get away!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dance Machine, Part II

Ok, I have news. Remember my heinous dance audition for New Stage's production of Smokey Joe's Cafe a while back? Well, they must be really desperate, because the director has called me back to sing/read this week. Dear Lord.

The really sad part is, I would love to do it. But since returning to full-time work this month, I don't think there is any way that I will have time to do a show. (Especially in the summer, which is a very busy time for my full-time job.)

And I HATE that. Because I really wanted to sing "I'm a Woman." Or at least "Trouble." (Because I totally am. Trouble, that is.) And I would have rocked those songs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shower fall-out

I know this is my second baby-shower-related post, but I couldn't resist. Showers are ripe for drama, and ours was no exception. To start, there were 8 of us planning the event. Talk about a coop full of chickens to herd! At any rate, we all arrived early on the morning of the event to help set up, get food in the oven, etc.

Now, most of Rebecca's friends are folks that I knew in high school. They are a pretty tight group, and they've stayed friends into adulthood. They can be pretty loud, pretty rowdy, but they are all sweet and fun to hang out with.

But there was this one woman I didn't recognize. She was tall and beautiful, very well-groomed and dressed nicely. I thought to myself, "Wow. Who's this?"

And, dude, then she started totally bossing everyone around. Like, what plate to put the cheese squares on, and where to put that plate on the buffet. And how to arrange each grape spring and strawberry for the most pleasing aesthetic effect. And how we didn't need to open/set out this or that yet, because we could do that in waves once the shower started. And how OF COURSE we couldn't serve that quiche because it was a bit too brown on the top. And a million other things that she clearly believed she could do better than anyone else who was there.

You guys would have been soooo proud of me, though. I bit my tongue. I sang, over and over in my head, "Don't say anything, don't say anything!" I smiled broadly in her direction. I busied myself carrying out her instructions. And then I avoided her like hell.

After the shower was over, I silently endured wile she totaled up everyone's expenses down to the last penny so that she could be exact about her own budget. I waited while she haggled with another hostess over how many flowers each of them would get to take home. (I almost felt like King Solomon - "We will cut this last flower right down the middle!") I was literally counting the seconds until Rebecca's sister and I could make our escape. (Rebecca lives near me, and I had offered to pack things up and take them by her house on my way home. I was also looking forward to spending some time with Rebecca's little sis and just helping out any way that was needed.)

But, just as I was putting one of the large flower arrangements in my car, a sing-song voice noted that she, too, was going to Rebecca's house to help out. She continued that, since I was just going to drop off flowers, and since she was actually going to stay there and help, that I could just give HER the flowers, and she'd save me the trip.

At this point, I could have said many things:
1.) "Actually, it's on my way. Rebecca and I go way back, and I'd love to help out, too."
2.) "Well, I was really looking forward to helping out, before I found out you'd be there."
3.) "Why are you going all Bree Van de Kamp on my ass?"
4.) "Step away from the goddamned flowers."

But instead, I narrowed my mouth into a tight line. I looked at Rebecca's sister, who was clearly willing me not to strike this woman. I went through a couple of choruses of "Don't say anything!" in my head.

And I decided that the nicest thing I could do for Rebecca at that moment was to keep from snapping her friend like a twig.

So, I relinquished the flowers and headed on home. Since then, I have received a couple of phone calls/emails from other ladies who helped plan the event, marveling at my self-control. She had apparently shown up the night before, when the ladies were decorating the space (I couldn't make it for that part.) and had driven everyone crazy, imposing her will.

Good Lord in heaven. This biting my tongue resolution is even harder than I thought. It's going to be a long year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We could have taken over the world

When I was growing up, I was a member of the greatest Girl Scout troop of all time - Clinton Troop #77. I can never remember a time when I wasn't a Scout. My mom was troop leader of my older sister's troop when I was little, so I grew up tagging along to those meetings. Pretty soon, I joined a troop of my own. (My best friend was a member of that troop, and her mom - who made the most awesome chocolate chip pancakes of all time - was the leader. How could I refuse?!)

In the early years, we did all the Scout stuff that you normally think of - camping, selling cookies, earning patches, learning to canoe. Most younger troops stay pretty active and have members that are glad to participate. But as girls get older, being a Girl Scout doesn't seem "cool" anymore, and so most people drop out.

But our troop was different. I don't know if it was just that we all liked each other a whole lot, or that our troop did lots of neat stuff, but we had a core group of folks that wanted to stay involved. And we were a motley group - a valedictorian, a beauty queen, a photographer/editor type, some drama folks, just a real mixed bag.

And once we got older, our activities started getting cooler. We started going on fun road trips - Atlanta, New Orleans, Vicksburg, the Gulf Coast. We did what we called "night flights," where we'd stay out all night doing various activities - visiting TV and radio stations, watching the morning paper get printed, bowling, shopping at the mall, eating breakfast at an all-night buffet. Instead of attending events at the Girl Scout training center, we started running some of them.

We made instructional videos for the council, singing goofy camp songs (there is some REALLY incriminating video of us out there somewhere) and demonstrating various camp techniques. (I do not exaggerate when I tell you we could have cooked a five-course meal out in the wilderness with little more than an old coffee can, some candles, a cardboard box lined in foil, and a few hot coals.) When we went camping, we'd terrorize the younger troops by taking them on freaky snipe hunts and messing with their tents in the middle of the night. (Look, it wasn't ALL KumBaYa, okay?)

I guess they are particularly on my mind lately because I've found a few of my old scout buddies on Facebook. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed them and the history we share. I might have to plan a reunion sometime soon . . . !

The mother of all baby showers

I HAVE to tell you about this baby shower. Rebecca, a childhood friend of mine, is having her first child. She was my back door neighbor growing up. There were two little girls in her family, and two little girls (at the time) in mine, so we all played together throughout childhood and remained friends as we grew older.

Anyhoo, Rebecca decided that, rather than have a bunch of small showers, she'd prefer to have just one big one. So, myself and several of her other friends got together and planned what I think will be a pretty wonderful event for tomorrow morning. (Rebecca picked the date that was best for her, and we were off and running.) We rented space in Clinton, printed and sent 75 really pretty invitations, arranged for flowers, and divided the food/beverage responsibilities. Everything is set for tomorrow, and we are expecting upwards of 70 people.

There's only one *tiny* snafu.

Rebecca went into labor five weeks early and had the baby today.

Damn.

Oh, well! The best laid plans . . . ! We took pics of the new little bundle and the happy mom, and we'll pass them around tomorrow. Then, we'll take pics tomorrow at the shower so Rebecca can feel like she was there.

In the meantime, congrats, little mama!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Like a magic penny

I finally got around to watching Juno this week. No wonder it won so many awards. It really is a sweet film.

If you've been living under a rock, the movie tells the story of Juno (played exquisitely by Ellen Page), a 16-year-old girl who gets pregnant. At first, Juno tries to arrange a "hasty abortion," but she finds that she can't go through with it. Then, deciding to give the baby up for adoption, she looks through a local Penny Saver and finds the perfect couple in search of a baby - Vanessa (Jennifer Garner in a pitch-perfect, heartbreaking turn) and Mark (Jason Bateman, dead-on as always). Juno meets with the couple and makes all the necessary plans to have them adopt the baby. She feels secure in the knowledge that these two people will give her baby the perfect life.

But when Juno begins to notice the cracks in her dream of perfection, she begins doubting everything - love, the ability of a couple of stay together, her choice to give her baby up, and her own feelings for Bleeker (Micheal Cera), the baby's father.

There are NO bad performances in this movie. Even the small parts are rendered with reality and depth of thought. J.K. Simmons is wonderful as Juno's dad, and ditto for Alison Janney as her stepmom. It's really an ensemble piece, with the four principles - Page, Garner, Bateman, and Cera - doing most of the heavy lifting. Page shines, delivering the types of lines you've never heard ANYONE really say with amazing credibility.

And, a note - in most movies, scenes that are the least bit tense are far overblown for "dramatic" value. Chracters cry, scream, storm off, do a bunch of stupid stuff. And I don't doubt that there are some people who handle stressful situations that way. But there are plenty of us who try to maintain some shred of self-control and attempt to make the best of the hand we are dealt. This movie is about people like that. When Juno tells her parents she's pregnant, there's no histrionic fall-out. Sure, they are disappointed. Sure, they let her know that. She's disappointed in herself. But she's also made a decision, and she has a responsible plan to deal with the result of her irresponsibility. It's characters like this that make you want to keep going to see movies. I applaud Diablo Cody (the screenwriter) for reminding us that everyone is not a weak, sniveling idiot.

Worth seeing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lucky duck.

Booger's daycare was closed today (MLK day and all), but Brian and I both had to work (because 1. neither of our places of business were closed and 2. neither of us has earned any vacation time yet). Enter gamma and pawpaw! They came over, and brought my sweet nephew, too. They had HUGE fun playing all day, booger got to spend the day at home getting oodles of attention, and when I came home, he was happy as a lark.


PLUS, my parents brought me a hefty gift certificate for hubs and I to go out to eat at Atlantica in Madison! Score! It was a belated birthday present. I am trying to schedule some other deferred birthday celebrating for this weekend, but I am hosting the mother of all baby showers on Saturday, so my own partying may or may not happen until later. (But, geez, time slips away, doesn't it? The weekend after that is Super Bowl weekend, and then some friends and I are still *hoping* to slip away to New Orleans for a weekend after that. I've already booked most of my weekends until about Feb. 21. Eeek. I suppose we'll see, won't we?)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stoked.

I took this quiz on a lark (I don't usually take these kinds of things.), and I cannot tell you how stoked I am that I'm a Katherine. I love her. Love, love, love her.



You Are a Katherine!





You are a Katherine -- "I am happy and open to new things"

Katherines are energetic, lively, and optimistic. They want to contribute to the world.

How to Get Along with Me (Geez, every one of these is true.)

  • Give me companionship, affection, and freedom.
  • Engage with me in stimulating conversation and laughter.
  • Appreciate my grand visions and listen to my stories.
  • Don't try to change my style. Accept me the way I am.
  • Be responsible for youself. I dislike clingy or needy people.
  • Don't tell me what to do.


What I Like About Being a Katherine (Ditto.)

  • Being optimistic and not letting life's troubles get me down
  • Being spontaneous and free-spirited
  • Being outspoken and outrageous. It's part of the fun.
  • Being generous and trying to make the world a better place
  • Having the guts to take risks and to try exciting adventures
  • Having such varied interests and abilities

Katherines as Children Often

  • Are action oriented and adventuresome
  • Drum up excitement
  • Prefer being with other children to being alone
  • Finesse their way around adults
  • Dream of the freedom they'll have when they grow up

Katherines as Parents

  • Are often enthusiastic and generous
  • Want their children to be exposed to many adventures in life


Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Friday, January 16, 2009

Identity

Hubs and I were having what I thought was a really interesting discussion this week about identity. We were talking about how the choices that each person makes, collectively, determine who that person is. And how your identity can totally change with even a single, isolated choice.

For exmple, take the quiet, unassuming accountant who one day goes crazy and shoots up a room full of his co-workers. Now, until that day, he was the sweetest, most law-abiding citizen around, right? Never had a parking ticket. Didn't beat his wife. Brought a bagged lunch every day. He was not the kind of person who would do such a thing. But after that moment, that instant when he made that choice, he was. For the rest of his life, he will be the kind of person that you can't predict, the kind of person who might do something crazy. And this will be the case even if he NEVER does anything crazy ever again. Right?

You can go through your whole life making the right choices, building the kind of identity that you want for yourself. But if you aren't vigilant, if you aren't consciously deciding every day to live the life you want and be who you want to be, it can all go straight to the crapper before you know it. The example above is extreme, but it illustrates the point well, I think.

You decide anew every day who you want to be. And you have to remember who that person is with every choice you make. Otherwise, looking in the mirror is a surprise.

Creativity

I had the chance to work on a few campy ideas at work this week. This is part of my job that I really love. One of my internal clients has an employee contest he wants to run this year, and I got to come up with some fun ways to brand it. I was pretty pleased with the graphics and the copy I ended up with, and one of my co-workers was all, "You're so creative."

Here's the thing about "creative." It's ephemeral. Like, I may see what you're trying to accomplish, and I may have some wacky responses to it that I can mine for some effective, funny promotional ideas. And if that happens, then I'm creative. But sometimes, I don't have much of a response at all to what I'm asked to promote. In which case, I don't think I come up with anything very good (or at least not very fun). So does that mean I'm no longer creative?

Creativity is like artistry. It comes and goes. Sometimes you feel like it's blocked. Other times, it seems like everything you touch turns to gold. Some days, you have a million ideas. Others, you got nothing. So, I guess I'm saying that I have a teensy problem with labeling anyone "creative." Because I'm sure there were days when even Picasso didn't feel inspired to pick up a paint brush.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eating too much food.

Lately, I have been eating too much food. First, hubs took me out for my birthday. Then, I went out to dinner last night. Then, hubs and I decided we'd go out to lunch together today. (We have quickly realized that, now that I'm working, grabbing an hour at mid-day for lunch together is WONDERFUL. We actually get to spend some time alone together and enjoy one another's company. We're going to try and do this once a week.)

All this wouldn't be so bad, except that the company I work for likes to feed people. Alot. And these aren't exactly "light" meals. At morning meetings, there are sausage biscuits. Then there are the lunch meetings, with huge sandwiches. At one luncheon, we had a full course meal plus banana pudding for dessert. I have had to learn to decline alot while everyone else is downing whatever's on offer.

Not only that, but folks in my office bake, then bring the fruits of their labors up to the break room on my floor of the building! What?! There are always cookies and all kinds of treats in there. Today, there were chocolate cupcakes sitting in a plastic container on the counter.

I'm actually pretty proud of myself, though. I decided that I would acknowledge the existence of the cupcakes. I looked at the cupcakes. I smelled the cupcakes. I even SMILED at the cupcakes. But I did not EAT the cupcakes. Not even ONE of them. Yay, me!

Now, whether this feat was a demonstration of my superior will power or the already-filling quiche and side salad I had for lunch, I can't say. ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Celebrating

Hubs took me out for a wonderful dinner for my birthday last night. He arranged for the sitter, asked me where I wanted to go, and off we went! To NICK'S. I love Nick's. My family has a long history with this restaurant. During my growing-up years, my parents would go there for special occasions or on double dates. When we got older, we got to come along and celebrate special occasions with the family. And when I first started working, my very first boss took me there for lunch to welcome me to the office. So it's always had a cozy little corner in my heart.

Anyway, we got dressed in our best and headed out. We decided to try some of the specials last night, including a DIVINE poblano pepper appetizer. The large pepper was stuffed with diced shrimp, cheese, and all kinds of wonderful things, then roasted and covered and a yummyyummy white cheese sauce. Oh. My. Goodness. I showed restraint and only had a few bites, though, because I had ordered another special for my entree - the paella. It was sooo good, and it was just the right amount of food! I finished ALL of it and still had a tiny bit of room to split the white chocolate bread pudding with hubs for dessert. (Amazing, I know.)

We were able to eat the most leisurely dinner. We talked. We laughed. We drank wine. We lingered over our coffee. As we were chatting, we realized how much of our day-to-day conversation lately is just business. As in, "There is a clean load of laundry in the hamper and another one in the dryer," or "We need more eggs, whole wheat bread, and kiwi. Could you pick those up sometime today?" So much of what we've been talking about for the past two weeks has been designed to keep the house (and our lives) running smoothly as I return to work. I hadn't really noticed it until last night. I'm going to do a better job in the future of actually conversing and listening. Because it definitely made me feel like a "young married" last night!

Today has been nice and lazy - playing with the bit, lying around, eating chicken soup (we're still all a little stuffy), and reading. If this is what 32 will be like, count me IN!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tagged

Rebekah tagged me for this book meme a while back, but I'm just now getting to it.

The Rules:
* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the next two to five sentences in your blog along with these instructions.
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
* Tag five other people to do the same.

Here goes:
The book - This one's tricky. At my home desk, I've got a hutch overhead that's filled with books. So I grabbed one of them that's not shelved, just perched on the edge of the shelf. That's the best I could do. The book is Selected Plays of Edward Albee.

The sentences - Grandma: People don't say good-bye to old people because they think they'll frighten them. Lordy! If they only knew how awful "hello" and "My, you're looking chipper" sounded, they wouldn't say those things either. The truth is, there isn't much you can say to old people that doesn't sound just terrible.

My tags - I shamefully admit that I'm not going to tag anyone on this one. I know this meme has been going around, and I can't remember who has already completed it yet. Soooo, if you're reading this blog, and you haven't been tagged for this yet, AND you want to share, consider yourself tagged!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Poetry Project

When people think of Rudyard Kipling, they usually think of things like The Jungle Book and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and other children's stories. But he actually wrote some very good poetry. (His grave is even in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner.) There are a few of his verses that I really like. This poem, one of his better-known ones, is one of them. I find I enjoy it more now that I have a son of my own, but it's good advice for anybody.

If
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Work rocks my socks!

Oh, my friends. Today, I finished and sent out the weekly employee newsletter. Nothing too fancy, just four pages laid out in Adobe InDesign with graphics. But, dude, I wrote a fair piece of it in two days. And posted it to the company Intranet. And sent out an html update email to 700 of my peeps, linking to the stories and pics. Ooooh, and my Tuesday was great! A big meeting with tons of familiar faces, catching up with folks, showing off my baby pics. I got some great story ideas and took a photo or two. I promise that I will quit posting about work soon, but right now I am so jazzed about getting stuff done that I can't help it! On tap for tomorrow - updating some pages of the Intranet, writing some CEO-to-employee letters for publishing in various forms, and brainstorming ideas for a network safety promotion. God, I love this job.

In other news, I think I've decided to get a tattoo for my 32nd birthday. I have a couple of different designs that I want to run by some folks, and I've about decided to have it done on the back of my right hip. I'm looking at having Erica Flannes at The Ink Spot do it (she has some GREAT designs posted; she looks like she really knows what she is doing), but Stace (who's going with me to hold my hand) advises that I talk with her first to make sure I'm comfortable with her.

I will still probably do a birthday celebration of some kind that DOESN'T involve me getting poked with sharp needles, but I haven't gotten off my duff to plan it yet. Stay tuned!

Still plugging away at reading plays for New Stage's Welty Play Series. I've come across some really good ones and more than a couple of stinkers. If I get to page 20 or so and still feel underwhelmed, I usually give it a thumbs down. I wish I had time right now to audition/perform; there are some fun shows coming up in Jackson. However, I'm not so much of a fool that I think I can juggle a day job, a toddler, AND a night-time job. Even OCD people like myself have their limits, kwim?

Well, off to examine benefits info and fill out new hire paperwork. Definitely NOT the fun part of going back to work. Woo. And may I also say, hoo.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I AM A COMMUNICATIONS GODDESS!!

Even though I knew that hubs and I had prepared for it in every way possible, I had really fretted over my first day back at work. I worried that I'd be too concerned about the baby to get anything done. I worried that I'd get to the office and change my mind, decide I couldn't do it, realize that I'd lost my touch, or just not enjoy it anymore.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I had an AWESOME first day back!! First of all, I got so many sweet phone calls and emails from folks, letting me know they were thinking of me and wishing me luck. Then, I got TONS of phone calls and emails from my colleagues, welcoming me back.

Plus, because I already knew the job, I got ACTUAL WORK done today! I knew who my key internal clients were, and I set up meetings with them to discuss their priorities for 2009. I laid out a good portion of this week's employee newsletter. I accompanied our CEO to a taping for an internal broadcast and helped direct it. (I had written the copy as a freelance project before my official start date.) I started putting plans in motion for an all-employee meeting in Jackson by our group operations president.

I have never, NEVER had such a productive first day. It totally rocked. I am completely energized and enthused and positive that hubs and I made the right decision. (And tomorrow will be even better! I get to go to a big employee meeting and see a BUNCH of my buddies again! Plus, free breakfast and lunch! Woo hoo! What's not to love?)

And booger? Didn't even cry when hubs dropped him off at daycare today. He waved and said, "Bye bye!" and that was it. I picked him up at 4:30 p.m., and he was a happy little camper. Came home, fed him while I cooked our shepherd's pie. (We got that from Entree Vous in Flowood. YUM! Just bake and serve!) When hubs got home, he played with the bit for a little while, then the two of us ate, bathed the little sweetie, and sung him to sleep.

I am so happy and relieved. I know that every day won't be so great. There will be tough days at the office, and those will probably be the days that booger decides to be a little monster once we get home. But today, today was golden. And I am thrilled and thankful.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Old, old lady

So my 32nd birthday is coming up, and I'm taking suggestions - How should I celebrate?

I was pregnant on my 30th birthday and breastfeeding on my 31st, so no drinks! Aaack! Needless to say, THIS year's celebration must involve lots of alcohol, but other than that, I'm flexible.

Any ideas? Probably no out-of-town trips, because I'm starting back to work Monday (and trying to plan a New Orleans weekend for early February). Big party at home? Big party at a restaurant/bar? Lots of little celebrations with different folks ( my usual M.O.)?

I'm *thinking* of getting a tattoo in honor of the occasion. Am I crazy?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Shirt vent

Ok, so I am going back to work on Monday. As I was winnowing my professional wardrobe, I noticed that my white, button-up shirt (the classic one) was looking pretty darn dingy. I took it to the cleaners to have it bleached/whitened, and the lady at the desk gave it a wary glance.

"It's not exactly white," she said.

And, dude, looking at it under the bright lights of the dry cleaners, it totally wasn't. It was more ecru, with darker-looking areas around the cuffs. Ouch.

I told her to see what she could do with it, but I wasn't hopeful. (Which makes me really sad, because that shirt has seen me through some good times. And it's NON-IRON. Do you know how much I hate ironing?)

So, off I went in search of a new white button-up. That was when my troubles began. See, I just wanted a PLAIN white shirt, fitted for a lady, but just PLAIN. Every white button-up I found had ruffles or weird details down the front. Or a sash under the bust line or some crazy collarless thing going on. I must have gone to three or four stores, looking for a standard white button-up, the kind they have for men in every Wal-Mart or Belk's or any store you walk into.

When I FINALLY found one (the very last one at Ann Taylor Loft, all the others had funky details), it was $40. (And it's not even non-iron!) A comparable shirt for a man? $25 or so.

Why, why, WHY do retailers do this to us? Who doesn't stock a plain white button-up? (Apparently, everybody.) Dressing is soooo much more difficult for a woman than it is for a man.

~Sigh.~

Moving pictures

Been watching tons of movies lately. The most recent ones:

I'd been wanting to see Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney, forever, and it was worth the wait. Clayton (Clooney, of course), is the "fixer" at a prestigious New York law firm. He helps clients out of little scrapes, leverages his contacts to make the firm's problems go away, and in general operates under the radar to ensure that business continues to run smoothly.

Clayton has a huge opportunity to work his magic when friend Arthur Edens (in a brilliant performance by Tom Wilkinson), one of the firm's senior partners, changes his opinion about one of the firm's major clients. Apparently, Edens becomes convinced that UNorth, a company he's been defending for 6 years in a contamination/poisoning case, was guilty all along. Edens snaps, creating a scene during a deposition and later collecting irrefutable evidence of UNorth's guilt.

While Clayton scrambles to contain the situation, UNorth's new vice president, Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton - amazing), devises her own way of silencing Edens. Pretty soon, bodies start turning up. And after a life of cleaning up other people's messes, Clayton has to decide what he really stands for.

Performances are wonderful in this, and they are the primary reason to see this film (though it's not as much fun to watch Clooney "think" on screen as it is with other actors, such as Tom Hanks). The script moves along at a fairly quick clip, and I thought the majority of the action in this corporate thriller was very believable.

What I liked best about this film, though, was the way it addressed the relativity of morality in today's society. For example, Clayton has spent his life kinda on the "wrong" side. He's been paid handsomely for it, and you don't get the feeling (at the beginning of the movie, anyway) that he's lost any sleep over it. But the film begs the question - Where does one draw the line? At what point can one no longer justify one's actions, even through today's hazy lens of right and wrong? What does a lifetime of such moral tiptoeing leave you with, what sort of legacy? These are the questions that, more and more, begin to drive Clayton towards the conclusion of the film.

We also watched The Golden Compass recently. It wasn't on my short list, but it was a decent way to pass a couple of hours. The movie took more than a few liberties with the book, but I enjoyed both Nicole Kidman's performance (She is physically and technically gorgeous in this.) and the well-done special effects. Sadly, Daniel Craig was woefully under-used here, though I did LOVE seeing Sam Elliot make an appearance as Lee Scoresby. (That was a piece of perfect casting.)

Lastly, when I was sick and felt like I was going to die, I watched The Bucket List. (Appropriate, no?) Again, this movie wasn't on my list, but I chose to watch it after a glowing review from none other than my dad, who NEVER watches movies. (When I talked to him on the phone, he was all, "It was a good show. It crack me up." Even though he's been living in this country for nigh onto 40 years now, his English can still make me giggle!)

The movie, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, tells the story of two terminal cancer patients who decide to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. Smartass billionaire Edward Cole (Nicholson) and trivia-obsessed mechanic Carter Chambers (Freeman) find themselves sharing a room in a hospital. During the course of their treatments, the two men become friends, commiserating after being given terminal cancer diagnoses.

Edward and Carter decide to create a "bucket list," a list of all the things they want to do before checking out for good. With Edward's unlimited budget, the two men travel the world, skydive, and race expensive cars, slowly checking items off the list. Along the way, Edward and Carter forge a close friendship, learn more about themselves, and discover the joy of living each day as it comes.

Though the script is a bit maudlin, the strength of two powerhouse leads makes this an entertaining movie. (You're watching Edward Cole and Carter Chambers, but, after all, they are still Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two guys who I would jump at the chance to "hang out" with.) I laughed, I cried, I was completely emotionally manipulated. And it felt good, dangit!

More to come . . .

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Update on My 101

In the spirit of the new year . . . I checked off three items in December. (I WOULD have checked off five, but my blood's no good and there were NO ANGELS left to adopt by the time I got my butt in gear.)

101 things to do in 1001 days

Record family history (Create a family tree with my grandmother? Photos? Stories?)
Take Clay’s picture professionally at least once every 6 months
Make a will
Make a living will
Talk with Laura about Clay
Send a Christmas card to an estranged family member
- This one was new for December. I only have one estranged family member, so it was pretty much a no-brainer. Here's to small steps.
Write to my grandmother
Attend services at three local churches
Volunteer in a way that’s meaningful to me
Go back to the gym – at least 3 times a week
Lose 10 pounds

Keep it off for 6 months - New for December! I have now officially kept the weight off for 6 months! (Because I rock.)
Train to run 3 miles without stopping
Try a yoga or pilates class
Go to the International Museum of Muslim Cultures
Go to the Smith Robertson Museum
Go to the Lauren Rogers Museum
Take an art class (pottery, painting, etc.)
Paint a picture
Learn to play at least one song on the guitar
Write a food article and get it published
Write at least one poem or short story
Paint the front porch swing
Tile the master bathroom
Plant some flowering shrubs in the back yard and DON’T let them die
Plant an herb garden
Fix the patio table
Get a window shade for the baby’s bedroom
Have an energy audit done on the house
Paint the shed in the back yard
Paint the inside of the garage
Take Clay swimming
Drink wine in California
Ride in a helicopter
Ride in a hot air balloon
Go to Graceland
Go to New York City
Create a “great books list” and start reading (at least 5 books)
Create a “great movies list” and start watching (at least 5 movies)
Treasure hunt on Highway 49
Host a New Year’s open house party
Host a “dinner among the leaves” party
Host an Easter brunch
Throw a Kentucky Derby party
Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Pay off the last of my student loan
Buy some sexy new underwear
Attend at least one live concert
Go the fall flower show/festival in Crystal Springs
Visit a botanic garden
Learn more about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict
Watch a meteor shower
Give blood
See snow
See the ocean
Adopt an Angel at Christmas
Go bowling
Pay for the person behind me in line
Do an anonymous good deed
Learn to bake a good loaf of bread
Go on a day hike
Write a letter to the editor of my local newspaper
Go on a vacation sans baby
Let Clay ride in the convertible with the top down
Perform in at least one stage production
Attend at least one Mensa meeting
Attend at least one college alumni event
Get back in touch with some of my college professors
Learn how to play poker
Learn how to shoot a decent game of pool
Make a real paella
Make a real sangria, to go with the paella
Get a facial
Start taking vitamins again
Take mom to have her makeup done
Discover 5 new recording artists I really like and buy their CDs
Find a pair of sunglasses that will change my life
Find my signature fragrance
Take some pictures of leaves turning color in the fall
Set up and take some faux-tography shots of the baby
Write to Grace
Visit Grace in Oregon

Go on a picnic and eat food that I MADE, not food that I bought
Visit a dermatologist - Yep, new for this month. Surely you recall my harrowing mole removal?
Book a session with a personal trainer
Buy sheet music for a song I like and learn to play it on the piano
Learn to do a passable waltz
Bring the baby to visit my dad at work
Take a bubble bath
Light some candles just for us, when we DON’T have someone coming over
Make mint juleps and drink them on the front porch swing
Go ice skating
Preserve Clay’s foot and hand prints
Attain APR accreditation
Buy or make Clay a kick-ass Halloween costume
Give a gift that I made.
Send someone flowers for no reason
Begin using my wine notebook again and identify at least three new wines that I like
Buy a birdfeeder and set it up in the back yard
Fix the broken window pane on the porch
Spend an afternoon lying in the hammock


First day of the challenge: January 1, 2008
Last day of the challenge: September 28, 2010