Monday, January 3, 2011

Two resolutions started!!

1. I've already had a pint of water this morning. That's a pint more than I would have had by now. At work, I start my day with a diet Dr. Pepper in my big, plastic XYZ Company summer festival mug filled with the best second best chewing ice ever (best ever being Sonic, duh). On any given day, I'll repeat that once or twice. But I'm home today, and I'm terrible at staying hydrated when I'm home. I'm especially bad at drinking plain water. I love Crystal Light, but water's better for the body. I may eventually have to consider whether the flavoring will prompt me to get more hydration, but for now, I'll try to stick with water. After my work-day-only chemical fizz-bomb, that is.

2. Adding blogs with which I'd like to keep up to my feed reader. I'm a big out-of-sight, out-of-mind person, so if a blog isn't on my feed reader, I can 99.999999% guarantee that I'll forget about it for months at a time. I added about 15 blogs to my feed yesterday, and another one so far today. I should also remove the ones who haven't updated in ages, but they're not causing any harm just being there, so maybe I'll just let them be. I'm also going to try to follow a greater number of local people on Twitter and online in general. And not just follow, but actually interact. Even if means me making the first move, about which I'm just awful. Hope it doesn't make me seem too stalkerish, but I'd like to get to know this city and its people better than I do. We know far too little about the city and far too few people for having been here almost 4 years.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Breaking my own rule

For many years, I've refused to make New Year's resolutions, complaining that it didn't make any sense to do only it at the New Year, and that you just set yourself up for disappointment anyway.

Yeah, nice excuses.

There will be resolutions this year. Still unsure as to whether I'll be sharing them, but they'll be made, and will hopefully be kept.

New year, new life.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Artisan - Portrait of the Composer

More than the other Artisans, Composers are in tune with their senses, and so have a sure grasp of what belongs, and what doesn't belong, in all kinds of works of art. While the other Artisans are skilled with people, tools, and entertainment, Composers have an exceptional ability-seemingly inborn-to work with subtle differences in color, tone, texture, aroma, and flavor.

Although Composers often put long, lonely hours into their artistry, they are just as impulsive as the other Artisans. They do not wait to consider their moves; rather, they act in the here and now, with little or no planning or preparation. Composers are seized by the act of artistic composition, as if caught up in a whirlwind. The act is their master, not the reverse. Composers paint or sculpt, they dance or skate, they write melodies or make recipes-or whatever-simply because they must. They climb the mountain because it is there.

This ability to lose themselves in action accounts for the spectacular individual accomplishments of some Composers, and yet on their social side they show a kindness unmatched by all the other types. Composers are especially sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, and they sympathize freely with the sufferer. Some have a remarkable way with young children, almost as if there were a natural bond of sympathy and trust between them. A similar bond may be seen between some Composers and animals, even wild animals. Many Composers have an instinctive longing for the wilds, and nature seems to welcome them.

Composers are just as plentiful as the other Artisans, say nine or ten per cent of the population, but in general they are very difficult to observe and thus greatly misunderstood. Very likely the difficulty comes from their tendency not to express themselves verbally, but through their works of art. Composers are usually not interested in developing ability in public speaking, or even in the art of conversation; they prefer to feel the pulse of life by touch, in the muscles, in the eyes, in the ears, on the tongue. Make no mistake, Composers are just as interested as other types in sharing their view of the world, and if they find a medium of non-verbal communication-some art form-then they will express their character quite eloquently. If not, they simply remain unknown, their quietness leaving their character all but invisible.


So, there's a bit about me... how about you?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I was getting ready for work. I had just sat down, robe on, towel on my head, settling in to watch an episode of A Baby Story, as was my morning ritual. Before I changed the channel, I caught a breaking news story saying that a plane had crashed into the WTC. Bryan had just walked out the door to go to work, I called him back inside. He left a few minutes later, and I called my dad at work to tell him, but he already knew. I saw the other plane hit on live TV. I called him again almost immediately after, and he said "oh my God. Something's not right." Something was very definitely not right. I tore myself away from the coverage to get ready since I was already late, and the first tower fell while I was on my way to work.

Having two uncles working in NYC at the time, I lasted two hours before I couldn't take being in public anymore and went home. One uncle worked in Midtown, but he had a morning meeting on Long Island and never made it into the city that day. The other had worked in the Towers, so we were all terrified, but we didn't know until after the fact that his office had moved to a building a block away. We didn't hear from him until after 10:00 that night - that's how long it took him to get home. He'd watched the second plane hit from his office window, then ran 30+ blocks to Penn Station, where he waited for hours to get on a train.

It took me 3 days to cry. Just as I was getting home from work, whatever radio station I was listening to played Amazing Grace. I sat in the driveway and bawled.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Help yourself by helping others

As the five people who read my blog know, my husband and I recently lost a friend to suicide.

I also have many friends and even some family members who have medical issues relating to the brain and how it works. Their conditions (okay, and my own as well, if we're being honest) run the gamut from depression, anxiety, Asperger's, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, agoraphobia, ADD, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder... and these are just people in my life in one way or another. All of these conditions affect other areas of life as well. One of my own conditions results in fairly bad insomnia, which, in turn, has the potential to affect so many other things.

Even a slight chemical imbalance can wreak absolute havoc on a person's life and the quality thereof.

It's not "just" feeling a little anxious, it's feeling like you have an elephant sitting on your chest just daring you to think about going to work.

It's not "just" being a little foggy because you didn't sleep well last night, it's being so tired from anxiety-induced insomnia that you run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel if you do make it out the door.

It's not "just" feeling a little blue now and then, it's the agonizing feeling that you're completely worthless, that there's no way out from under your burdens and that everyone in your life would be better off without you.

It's not "just" feeling a little fat, it's looking in the mirror at 85 pounds and seeing Jabba the Hut staring back at you, so instead of the apple and diet Coke you allow yourself twice a day, you cut out the apples, add a pack of cigarettes and increase your cardio from 6 hours a day to 8 so that maybe next month you'll be down to a Mimi from Drew Carey size, when in reality you'll actually be a skeleton in a hospital bed.

It's not "just" checking the coffee pot two or three times to make sure it's off before you leave for work, it's having to touch a doorknob 9 times, and if you don't, something truly awful will happen.

It's not "just" jumping at the loud boom of fireworks, it's a soldier completely unable to join his or her friends at a 4th of July celebration because they'll flash back to Vietnam, or the Gulf, or Iraq and go into a trance like they're right back there on the battlefield.

Can you imagine what life would be like if any of that applied to you? Yet so many mental illnesses are stigmatized by our society, because it's not something you can "see," like the cast on a broken leg or the bald head of a cancer patient.

Chances are, you know someone who has suffered from some form of mental illness at some point in their life. If you don't think you do, you probably do and just don't know it outright. Hey, it might even be you.

On October 3rd, I will be participating in a 5K walk sponsored by my local chapter of NAMI. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization committed to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness through awareness, education, support and advocacy. I originally thought I'd walk in honor of the friend we lost so recently, but upon reflection, I'm walking for all of us.

To look at me, you'd never think I'd make it 1K, let alone 5K. I'm challenging myself by walking for such an important cause - won't you please challenge yourself by supporting me?

Please. If not for me, for the friends and family of those you know who have been affected by mental illness. For yourself.

Many thanks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I will not apologize

I am very set in my beliefs. I believe in a woman's right to have domain over her body. I believe two adults should have the right to marry each other, regardless of their gender. I believe in religious tolerance and that we, as Americans, should be tolerant not just when it's easy, but also when it challenges us. Especially when it challenges us.

The one thing for which I've gotten the most grief, though, isn't any of the big political issues of the day, it has nothing to do with religion or the free exercise thereof, oh no. What do I get the most grief about?

I absolutely freakin' LOVE Crocs.

Now, mind you, it's not the blaze orange Mario Batali clog thingies I have a passion for. Crocs has several adorable styles. Have you seen them? I'll wait...

See? So cute.

And they are seriously the most comfortable shoes I have ever put on my feet. I'm glad they keep coming out with new styles, because I fear I'm now spoiled. I have some non-Crocs shoes that are still quite comfortable (these immediately come to mind), but I wore some cute, formerly-comfortable dress flats to a funeral last week, and my feet just burned.

I love me some Crocs, and I apologize to nobody.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

At a Loss

Please please please - if you are reading this, believe me when I say that if you're in a bad way, our door is open.

Brett, I know it must have seemed like there was no other way, but we would have found a way, come hell or high water. You had so many friends who would have done anything to help you, if only we'd known you were hurting so badly. I am so sorry we didn't know you were so troubled.

I hope you have found the peace that eluded you in your all-too-brief time here. You will truly be missed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy birthday!!

You know who you are. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is likely the happiest birthday you've had in quite a while. May you have many happy years together with your new bride and the expanded family she brought you. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Been a while...

Okay, so I'm not the greatest at keeping up a blog. First foray after almost 9 months of silence is a meme, sorry - I'm afraid I don't have much more than that right now.

Here we go! It's the 5-5-5-5-5.

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?

1 - Living in Beaver Dam, still in the apartment we moved into a week before we got married. The building was built the year before I was born, I couldn't blow dry my hair without the kitchen lights flickering, the galley-style kitchen was small and stuffy, the laundry room was clear on the other end of the building and downstairs, and there was a wall of dark paneling in the living room. But our south-facing bedroom window let in an fantastic amount of light and had a great view of the courtyard, the office window had an amazing tree directly outside it that flowered in the spring, and the balcony had an overhang that allowed us to be out there even in the pouring rain. God, I miss that place.

2 - Managing an outside sales office for a small printing company. My boss was a complete tool, but the sales guy was cool.

3 - Hosting weekly open house-type gatherings for our friends. As much as I complained about them sometimes, I kind of miss those, too.

4 - Less than a year into having our first kitty, Snowball.

5 - Still in my 20s.

Question 2: What is on your to-do list today?

1 - Doctor appointment

2 - General straightening and tidying of the living room and kitchen.

3 - Laundry

4 - Clean the office

5 - Make sure my Baboo knows exactly how much I love him.

Question 3: What five snacks do you enjoy?

1 - Cheese and crackers

2 - Pretzels (with ice cold skim milk)

3 - Dove ice cream bars

4 - Hummus and pita chips


Question 4: What five places have you lived?

I'm leaving out my parents' house, since that pretty generic.

1 - My Grandma's house. My Grandma lived in a college town, and when I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go to college, she said "oh, why don't you just go to Stony Brook and come live with me?" My college search stopped right then and there. I had the run of the entire upstairs, with 3 bedrooms (mine being the sunniest), a bright, airy full bathroom and my own thermostat. We'd watch TV together at night (usually Food Network) and on Sunday mornings I'd wake up peacefully to the sound of Grandma playing the piano. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I made a different choice, but I wouldn't give up those 4 years with my beloved Grandma for anything.

2 - With my in-laws. During my last semester at college, I met a guy online (12 years ago yesterday, to be exact). Four months later, I moved halfway across the country to be with him. Except that we were both broke, so we lived with his parents.

3 - The aforementioned apartment in Beaver Dam. It only had one bathroom, and we swore that our next apartment would have two.

4 - A 3-bedroom apartment in Fond du Lac. We loved having that extra bedroom, we had a one-car garage, there was definitely enough storage and the laundry room was right outside our apartment door. Our bedroom (the biggest we've had to date) faced a field, where I saw my first mechanical hay baler - I was tickled every time a bale would come flying out the back of it. And at the front of the field was a fundie church that clearly started life as a manufactured home, which we lovingly referred to as "Our Lady of the Holy Double-Wide." It is also where we lived when we welcomed our little Buttercup and where I first took up scrapbooking. But it faced a busy street, so it was challenging in nice weather, because we'd want the cross-ventilation of having all the windows open, but then we'd have all the traffic noise. It was also where we lived when I found out my beloved Grandma had passed away. Still only had one bathroom.

5 - Our current home, a rented condo conversion. Definitely a step up for us at the time we moved in. Private entrance (no more musty hallways!), in-unit washer/dryer (no more quarters!), first floor (no more hauling groceries upstairs!), and - best of all - MADISON!! So full of excitement and promise, great neighbors, great complex manager. But this has also been the scene of much anger and depression over layoffs (both of us, though not at the same time) and money, surviving on unemployment, a marriage crisis and many tears. This city has kicked our asses since 3 months after we moved in. We'll be here 3 years next month. I will have fond memories of this place as the place where we hosted our first Briner gathering, where Bryan discovered his love of mixology, where we may indeed wind up getting our first dog. It's our first place in the Golden City at the "End" of Highway 151, but something tells me there may be some measure of relief when we go. It'll be a while though, we just signed on for another year. Still one bathroom.

Question 5: What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1 - Real estate. I'd buy my Grandma's house. After she passed away, my uncle fixed it up and is currently renting to a visiting college professor and his family. Apparently they're staying longer, because they've expressed interest in buying it. My grandparents bought that house brand-spankin' new, before it was even built. It was always the one constant in my life. It kills me that other people are living in it, I don't know how I'll react when my uncle sells it. I'd also buy a brownstone on Central Park, a house here somewhere in Madison (probably in the Vilas neighborhood), an apartment in Paris and maybe one in Hawai'i.

2 - Travel. Travel, travel, travel. First order of business in that regard would be to buy an apartment on The World.

3 - Philanthropy. I don't have any concrete ideas, but there would definitely be something education-related, something about affordable child care, programs to get healthy food into poor communities, caregiver assistance, assistance to humane societies, money to my high school's music program that turns out so many gifted musicians but struggles with budget issues, etc. etc. etc.

4. Pay off the debts of my family and friends and put them all through college if they want to go/go back.

5. Save.

I'm supposed to pick 5 people to do this meme, but after 9 months, I'm not sure 5 people even read this blog anymore, so I'll just put it out there: do it if you want. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's not midnight here yet!

And I didn't forget. It's still June 22nd.

Happy birthday!

You know who you are.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My car, the archaeological dig

Today, I waved goodbye to the car I've had since March 2, 2001. The best car I've ever had. The car I'd had longer than all three of my previous cars combined, the car that needed under $2,000 in repairs over the course of the 8+ years I drove her. My Victoria. I cried all the way home, and then some.

She practically fell into my lap. I knew I wanted a Lumina - my mom had one and loved it, as did a few of her coworkers. My credit union preapproved me for a loan, provided the car fell into their acceptable range of model years. I was on a mission. I saw an ad in the paper, "Two Luminas New to Our Stock!" I called, and the price was right. Away we went to the small-town dealer.

I remember the test drive like it was yesterday. Prior to Victoria coming into my life, I'd had a few clunkers, and driving her for the first time, I felt like I'd entered The Promised Land. Black! Shiny! Classy! Holy crap, I'm a grownup! Driving down a back country highway, I looked over at the passenger side of the dash, saw the woodgrain trim and thought "I canNOT believe this is going to be my car!" I don't know what it was about the trim, but it wasn't anything that had been part of the "decor" of my previous vehicles. A couple of hours (and a trip back to the credit union for the check) later, she was mine.

Despite the fact that I'd lived with my then-boyfriend (now husband) for almost 3 years, this car was what finally made me feel like a grownup. I joked that driving a black sedan almost made me feel like I'd joined the mafia, but in reality, I finally just felt. Like. An adult. Victoria allowed me to get a real! decently paying! job in the Golden City at the End of the Highway, rather than toiling away for under $18K a year as a secretary at what was supposedly one of the highest-paying employers in the town (highest-paying doesn't mean crap at $8.45 an hour). A round trip to Madison - the west side, no less - just would not have possible in my previous vehicle. So I was driving a grownup car, making a grown-up wage at a grown-up job. Sure, there would be hardships in my future, but I was Going Somewhere.

When I cleaned her out for the final time this afternoon, I was reminded of just how much Living I'd done in that car. My cars sometimes double as mobile storage devices. If something's okay in the car, and I have no need for it to be in the house, it tends to stay in the car. In the glove compartment were a postcard I bought when we road-tripped to NY 3 weeks after 9/11, some silver rings I used to wear when I was in my "ring on as many fingers as I can" phase and a smushed penny from Navy Pier that I got when I went to visit a friend to whom I haven't spoken in 6 years. In the seat pockets behind the front seat, along with an atlas, were a couple of long-forgotten DVDs I'd won in some contest when I worked for the cable company. In the trunk was a leftover box of stuff from when I cleaned out my desk the day I left the cable company, AND a leftover bag of stuff from when I cleaned out my desk when I left the insurance company. Also in the trunk, I found some training materials from the company I work for now, but the materials were from the first time I worked there. I also found a silver plastic tray I'd used for food presentation during a bridal shower for a friend whose divorce was finalized 10 days ago.

And of course, the floral bead that's hung from the rearview mirror in every car I've owned.

All this history, and I sit here wondering why my eyes are puffy, my nose is red and I have a splitting headache, 9 hours after I saw her for the last time.

Thanks for the memories, Victoria. You were the best car I could have ever asked for.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not sure this makes sense...

With so much attention focused on United Airlines' new policy requiring obese people to pay for two seats, I felt the need to weigh in (pun fully intended).

There's a reason I fly Midwest. Yes, a reason other than the fact that they offer several non-stop flights on a MKE-LGA route. Yes, other than the faboo chocolate chip cookies. My ass fits in the seats. It wouldn't if I flew any other airline, unless I paid many times the price to fly first class. If I take up two seats, I can see the need for me to purchase two seats.

I like Southwest's way of doing it - if the flight is not full, your second seat is refunded. That makes sense to me, because you could have just used one of the extra (empty) seats as your second seat. I've seen people use empty seats as workstations, purse holders, etc., with no extra charge, so why not a butt holder? ;)

The one thing that doesn't make sense to me about Southwest's policy is this: if two obese people are traveling together, they are each required to purchase an additional seat, despite the fact that except in the most extreme circumstances, they can sit side-by-side in the 3-seat block with the armrests up. The Q&A on their website lists the reason as "open seating cannot guarantee that there will be an entire row open for two Customers to sit together and share the middle seat on each leg of the trip." So then how do they know that with open seating, there will be two seats together for a "customer of size" traveling solo? Their answer to that question is "The Customer who has purchased two seats must be an active participant in preserving his/her additional seat. We encourage Customers of size to preboard to locate adequate seating..." So why exactly is it that two customers of size traveling together couldn't preboard so they could find 3 seats together?

Anyway, back to the original issue. If my body is larger than one seat, I don't have a problem paying a second fare. I'd be more comfortable anyway. The last time I was on a non-Midwest flight, I was incredibly uncomfortable, and highly embarassed - it's embarassing enough to have to ask for an extender (though I've gotten less embarassed about it as time has gone by - I mean, really, I'm not fooling anyone, so I doubt anyone is exactly floored when I ask). I'm uncomfortable enough as it is, anyway - the last time I flew, the woman sitting next to me texted a colleague not even 2 minutes after I sat down about how her greatest fear had been realized because she had this giant fat lady sitting next to her - and since it was Midwest, I didn't even come close to "spilling over into her seat," as some would put it (yes, I saw it. Yes, I'm nosy. So if you don't want the giant fat lady sitting next to you on your next flight to lean over and tell you to get over yourself because you're not so fabulous either, then don't bitch about her right in front of her face).

Now, if only I could get a refund when there's some free-footed toddler "invading my space" by kicking the back of my seat for the entire flight, that would be some progress.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cardstock, you've ruined my plans!

Now that I've made good on the reason I spent pretty much zero dollars on scrapbooking supplies over the last 14 months or so, I decided I could buy a few little things on a recent trip to the store.

I got a couple of 4x6 cardstock mat stacks, with the intention of folding each sheet in half and making them into tiny little note cards - for a quick hello or thank you, for when you don't really have anything else to say.

As anyone who's worked for a printer or done a lot of paper crafting can probably tell you, there is a right way and a wrong way to fold paper. The fibers in a sheet of paper run in one direction, and if you fold across the fibers rather than with them, you'll get that funny, ripped-looking edge to your fold. Unfortunately, the only logical way to fold these pieces of cardstock is across the fibers. It's not pretty.

*sigh* Now I have to figure out what else I can do with them. I'm sure I'll come up with something, but I'm pretty disappointed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Crankiness DEFIITELY unwarranted

In my last post, I talked about having to call my insurance company.

I think my phone has actually morphed into a giant Easy Button since then. After we got through the pleasantries, like the subscriber number and the date of service, my conversation with the claims rep went something like this:

Me: "Well, my policy has a $100.00 ER co-pay and no co-pay on labs, and I was looking at this EOB, and..."

Claims Rep: "WHOA!"

Me: "yeah, that's not right, is it?"

Claims Rep: "No, it's definitely not. But it's an easy fix! We'll get on it right away, and notify the hospital, too."

Other words were exchanged as well, but that's the gist of it. They didn't have a long hold time, either. Including dialing, IVR greeting, navigating the IVR, hold time and talking to the claims rep, my total time invested in this was probably less time than it took to write this post.