Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Isn't this the meme blog?


1. Where is your cell phone? Desk

2. Your significant other? Home

3. Your hair? Straightened

4. Your mother? Entertained

5. Your father? Thorough

6. Your favorite thing? Snuggling

7. Your dream last night? Forgotten

8. Your favorite drink? Coffee

9. Your dream/goal? Retired

10. The room you're in? Office

11. Your fear? Torture

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Director

13. Where were you last night? Home

14. What you're not? Father

15. Muffins? Yum

16. One of your wish list items? Coffeemaker

17. Where you grew up? Places

18. The last thing you did? Financials

19. What are you wearing? Clothes

20. Your favorite TV show? House

21. Your pet? Busy

23. Your life? Hilarious

24. Your mood? Fine

25. Missing someone? Meh.

26. Your car/truck? Driveway

27. Something you're not wearing? Earrings

28. Favorite Store? Target

29. Your summer? Hot

30. Your favorite color? Brown

31. When is the last time you laughed? Today

32. Last time you cried? Recently


THREE OF MY FAVORITE FOODS: Pork, Sushi, Breakfast


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another one....

The annual Sundry End-Of-The-Year Questionnaire.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? Saw someone turn 100 (my grandma).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Sort of, for both.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? A friend from church and my next door neighbor (definitely geographically close, right?)

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? None, unless you count Mississippi and Alabama (both of which, by the way, are lovely, and full of wonderful, friendly people).

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A bigger savings account.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? the day after Memorial Day (the new Starbucks opening), September 11 (the day of my surprise promotion), Election Day, the day after election day (when the dog got sick), Thanksgiving (the day he died...but also the day that my parents ate Thanksgiving dinner at my house and proclaimed it good).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? It was a good year for me professionally. The surprise promotion was just confirmation that I'd been doing things well for some time, and that people noticed. So it wasn't necessarily a 2008 achievement (I think I'd been good at my prior position for quite some time), but it finally got noticed and the noticing got acted upon in 2008.

9. What was your biggest failure? Dropping other balls. I got so wrapped up in work that I let a lot of other things slide more than I like to. I've gotten more isolated than I like to be, mainly because I'm tired at the end of a workday, and I've gotten very possessive of my free time. I need to work on this.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing beyond a mystery bruise and a cold. Good year for the body.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Takeout pizza on a night I really needed downtime. And a fantastic, and very cheap, pair of shoes that live at my desk at work.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? This week, my dog's. She's six, and has always seemed like an overgrown puppy. I determined that "better late than never" was the best approach to her behavior and got more serious about being a good pack leader, and it's working. That makes me very happy, but a little ashamed that I didn't try harder oh, say, about five years ago. It would have saved my shoulder, that's for sure.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Our president.

14. Where did most of your money go? Groceries, bills, mortgage. Not necessarily in that order.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Coffee. I'm better now.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? that one about kissing a girl

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? happier

b) thinner or fatter? thinner

c) richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Volunteering.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Watching bad television.

20. How did you spend Christmas? The day itself? In the car, speeding home from Florida.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Not with any humans.

22. What was your favorite TV program? True Blood, probably.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I honestly avoid hating as much as I can. It's never done me any good, and it consumes a lot of energy. That being said, I've lost some respect for a few people.

24. What was the best book you read? This is driving me crazy. I remember reading it. I remember telling everyone about it. I can't remember it, and searching my bookshelves isn't helping. A strong second place goes to "The South," by the same authors as "Big Muddy" (I'm too lazy to look), which I've been reading very, very slowly. It's remarkably informative and entertaining, and has given me a better way to explain why I live here by choice and will never willingly leave. I'm sure every region is compelling, too, in its way, but I'm a Southerner by birth and choice (not by upbringing and culture), and I love it here.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Watching my family play Rock Band on the Playstation. I love how my son looks like a rock star on guitar but sounds like a little boy when he sings.

26. What did you want and get? A decent raise.

27. What did you want and not get? A new car. One day we will. But I think we'll keep driving the old minivan until it's just no longer possible. And the coffee maker of my dreams (only because I haven't found one in my price range that does everything I want).

28. What was your favorite film of this year? This survey is starting to feel very familiar. Once was definitely the best thing I saw this year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? An ancient 37. We went strawberry picking the weekend before my birthday, and I was in training at work on my real birthday.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If that whole stock market thing hadn't happened. I could have done nicely without those panic attacks in October. I'm better now, but it was pretty creepy there, obsessively checking my retirement money. (I don't check anymore.)

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Until October, I'd call it Starbucks dress code. Afterward, vaguely hip professional. My husband might disagree.

32. What kept you sane? My family. And my commute (ten minutes, door to door, on foot). I like walking.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Britney Spears. I'm glad she's doing better. I hate to see anyone in as much pain as she was obviously in.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? That war.

35. Who did you miss? My two bestest BFFs who live way too far away.

36. Who was the best new person you met? A parent at the hospital who taught me a lot about grace and graciousness and gratitude and being generally cool, smiley, and well-groomed, even when going though a parent's second-worst nightmare. And looked smokin' hot the entire time. She's my hero. (And her kid is doing just fine...which is why it was the second-worst, not the worst, nightmare for a parent.)

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Sometimes people notice when you're doing a good job and they actually reward it. Or, as Cartman would say, "Follow your dreams, you will succeed. I'm living proof." BEEF-CAAAAAAAKE!

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

And she was looking at herself

And things were looking like a movie

She had a pleasant elevation

She's moving out in all directions.

The world was moving, she was right there with it (and she was).

The world was moving, she was floating above it (and she was).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 meme

via Kalisah

1. Was 2008 good for you? Yes, it was. It's been a pretty good year.

2. What was your favorite moment of the year? Honestly, it's hard to choose one. We started out well, with a promotion (it became official in January), followed by another in September, but election night was pretty great. I'll count that.

3. What was your worst moment of the year? That's easier to choose. That would be when my sweet dog died in my arms on Thanksgiving night. It was just as awful as you might imagine.

4. Where were you when 2008 began? In my house, as usual.

5. Who were you with? My husband and maybe the kids. I can't remember if they were still up.

6. Where will you be when 2008 ends? See #5. I'm a creature of habit. We'll eat at Sekisui beforehand.

7. Did you keep your new years resolution of 2008? Maybe?

8. Do you have a new years resolution for 2009? Still thinking about it.

9. Did you fall in love in 2008? With a dog, yes.

10. If yes, with who? His full name is Baron Klaus von Waffles, but I usually call him Waffle Hut.

11. Are you still in love? Snuggling now :-)

12. Did you breakup with anyone in 2008? Cracker Barrel restaurants in general, which equally dismays and amuses my parents.

13. Did you make any new friends in 2008? Yes. Well, "friends" is probably too strong a word. I've gotten friendlier with people at the Corporation, mainly because my first promotion was to a pretty visible position, and I dealt with a lot of people in that position.

14. Who are your favorite new friends? Do I really have to play favorites?

15. What was your favorite month of 2008? I liked September a lot.

16. Why this month? The unexpected promotion.

17. Did you travel outside of the US (or your home country) in 2008? Nope.

18. How many different places did you travel to in 2008? A few...mostly to visit family. Most recently to Florida with my parents. I highly recommend visiting Sea World on Christmas Eve.

19. Did you miss anybody in the past year? Jennifer and Kaki.

20. What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2008? Once. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's fantastic.

21. What was your favorite song from 2008? 

Okay, this will probably make you lose all respect for me, but that Kid Rock song this summer? I loved it!

22. How many concerts or plays did you see in 2008? Two, I think. Maybe three.

23. Did you have a favorite concert in 2008? I don't think so. Nothing stands out.

24. What was your favorite book in 2008? I jumped on the "Twilight" bandwagon and really liked it, but I'm now reading the Sookie Stackhouse books and I like them better.

25. How many people did you sleep with in 2008? Just the one.

26. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year? Not that I can think of.

27. What was the biggest lie you told in 2008? Can't think of one. Not that I'd tell you anyway.

28. Did you treat somebody badly in 2008? Not on purpose. I can't think of anyone.

29. Did somebody treat you badly in 2008? Not really. I have a pretty good life.

30. What was your proudest moment of 2008? That would be the second promotion. It was very unexpected and communicated the confidence that several people have in me as a professional. It felt great.

31. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2008? I'm sure it involved my dog somehow (not the dead one or the new one...the naughty one!)

32. If you could go back to any moment of 2008 and change something, what would it be? I would have declined some of the tests the vet ran a few weeks before the dog died. That was an expensive vet bill.

33. Where did you work in 2008? Same place I've worked since 2004. Best employer ever.

34. Favorite TV shows(s) of 2008? House, Lost, Heroes, Celebrity Rehab.

35. Favorite Band(s) of 2008? I don't know. I'm pretty out of touch.

36. Favorite Food in 2008? I wish I could honestly answer "Fruit" but that would be the biggest lie I told this year. I can honestly say that I've been known to dream about the General Tso's Chicken at the Corporation's Cafeteria.

37. Favorite Drink in 2008? Franzia Chianti. In a box.

38. Favorite Place in 2008?

My bedroom.

39. Favorite person(s) to be with in 2008? My family.

40. Favorite person(s) to talk to in 2008? Again, back to Kaki and Jennifer. Although I have to give my dad some props. He's never been much of a talking on the phone kind of guy, but we've had some VERY good conversations this year. I don't know what's making him so chatty, but I'm enjoying it.

41. Favorite trip in 2008? Orlando last week. The first full week I've taken off work for a long time, and it's been great.

42. Favorite stores in 2008? Huh? I do like Fresh Market.

43. Hardest thing you had to go through in 2008? That would be the dog situation. I haven't written a blog post about it (well, that's not quite's in my drafts folder, but I don't know if I'll ever post it. It's not for the squeamish.) In a nutshell, he got quite ill the day after the election, got somewhat better with medication for a few weeks, then got very sick again on Thanksgiving night and died about half an hour after I realized that he was having symptoms. We wouldn't have had time to get him to the vet even if we'd left the house immediately, and I held him as he died. It was not fun at all. And it took a long time to process (um, I'm still processing it.)

44. Most exciting moment(s) in 2008? The presidential election.

45. Funniest moment(s) in 2008? Watching my kids playing "Rock Band".

Friday, December 26, 2008

A late Christmas Gift

For anyone who thinks opera is not accessible for "regular" people, I offer this rebuttal. Chills at 4:09.

You're welcome, and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mabye if I do more of these I'll actually post something

Today I: have a sore throat but am choosing to ignore it.

Tomorrow I will: get on an airplane and see my family to celebrate my Grandma's 100th birthday. She's old.

I'm looking forward to: sleeping late tomorrow morning.

I could pass on: getting on an airplane. I really don't like to fly.

Newest song I like: I heard something on Saturday Night Live this past week that I liked. But I don't remember what it was called. That's my husband's job. Maybe he can make me a mix tape of the last 20 songs I've liked but didn't know what they were.

Last show I saw: TV show? Or live band? Top Chef, if it's the former, and Neighborhood Texture Jam, if it's the latter. I still have a few bruises from the mosh pit (!!) and it took a day for my hearing to recover, but it was so worth it to go back 20 years in time to when I had a mohawk and met my husband across the crowded room at an NTJ show. Good times. I love a good mosh pit, especially when it's populated by people aged 35-45. Much more considerate than those crazy kids back in the day.

Something aggravating: getting sick right before going out of town.

One thing you may not know about me: if I told you you'd know. But I'll share something easy - we got a new dog on Sunday and I'm completely in love. Mr. Waffles is his nickname. His real name is Baron Klaus Nomi Von Waffles. Because he's a dachshund and should have a name as long as his torso.

I can still: throw down in a mosh pit!

Gift I'd want if money was no object: a new car.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Yeah. I didn't even try this year.

At this point, I'm trying to decide whether to keep this blog around or just save all the entries to my hard drive and be done with it. I still compose the occasional post in my head (and even have a few saved as drafts) but I really don't have much to say.

Nor have I much time to say it.

So, please accept my sincere Thanksgiving greetings. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and maybe I'll be back in December. Or 2009. Or something.


I'm posting, not because I have anything great to say, but because I want you to visit the shared sites on my sidebar. They're all telling you pretty much the same thing, but their combined voices raise a fantastic noise.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's October!

And you know what that means, right?

31 days of pink!

I missed yesterday, but here's your daily dose.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


So, the promotion.

Without divulging too many details, I'll tell you the basic story. Our department has had a manager position vacant for several months. That manager was my boss, whom I still miss a lot.

I had not even considered posting for that position, for several reasons. I love my current job - really - and I didn't really want to change. Also, having only been in my job for 9 months, I didn't think I was fully qualified for the position. Add a few other reasons, and you've pretty much got my mindset.

But our department's director, as well as her bosses, one of my most trusted colleagues (I call her my work BFF), and another manager in our department had different ideas, apparently. Ideas they discussed yesterday, while I was off, chilling on the couch. I'm watching episodes of "What Not To Wear," and they're having what shall heretofore be called "the Kaleigh meeting."

And this morning, when I was incredibly busy (doing my current, about to be former, job), the director wanted me to come into a meeting STAT. And I couldn't. For an hour. Because I was so busy (and even if I'd know what was coming, I still would have put her off...there were only two of us there, and thirsty people wanted coffee!). Maybe I should have figured out that her constant coming back to my area to see if I was ready yet, all with a big grin on her face, meant something important.

I finally was able to walk away, and she chased me down, cornered me, and offered me the position.

In a moment of great poise, calm, and professionalism, I squealed like a nine-year-old girl. And maybe I jumped up and down in my chair a little.

Details are still being worked out on the HR side, but I'm already assuming some new duties, most of which include sitting in lots of meetings.

The best part? After nine months of working in a position with a corporate-decreed dress code, I'm totally going to have to go clothes shopping!


More later, but I just got a big promotion at work! And I wasn't expecting it! At all! Totally took me by surprise, in fact! Holy cow! Exclamation point!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Memphis, Saturday, August 16

On the thirty-first anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, I took some pictures of the Memphis I love. Please to enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Bullet points to illustrate why being a mom is so much fun:

  • When discussing my daughter's reading choices, I pretended to throw up in her mouth.
  • On the way home from the grocery store, said daughter and I fantasized about awesome pet names. Since our current dogs are named Biscuit and Gravy, we decided their successors should be named Mr. Waffles and Beignet. But the true winner of awesome dog names is what she (at age 6) originally intended to name Biscuit: PUPCAKE! (The name was vetoed by my very heterosexual husband.)
  • Being on instant message with the same daughter, discussing how the satellite wasn't working because it's raining. A transcript follows....
She: the satellite is out
me: Is raining
She: yes
me: right
sometimes the satellite doesn't likey the rain
She: ha ha
me: so yeah, that
She: Why are we chatting on gmail when we are in the same house?
me: good question
She: WE ARE LAZY BUMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
crap i dont wanna be a lazy bum
me: then come downstairs, silly
I'm a wet lazy bum
She: ha ha did u just walk the dogs?

So apparently, we're lazy, I'm wet, and that's funny.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My plans, let me share them with you

After a few busy weekends, the family calendar has very little ink this weekend. Which is a good thing - I don't strive to fill up every extra moment. The kids started school on Monday, and that's cut into their down time (as well as totally destroying their preferred sleep schedule, which resembles the sleep patterns of teens more and more). Seeing as I'm the self-appointed creator of the pajama day, down time is something I encourage.

But not this weekend. At least not tomorrow.

My feed reader brings me news of local events, and this one I'm not missing. Mainly because it can be done as a family, and it can be done however we choose.

As a lover of Memphis, this is an opportunity to create a visual love letter to my chosen hometown. It's also an opportunity to encourage the kids to look at their city with a different eye. To examine what they see.

I'll share pictures once we've got them. We can't start until 12:01. I'm making a list of what I want to photograph. Keep your fingers crossed that we see a bunch of Elvis impersonators.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Opening Ceremonies, or the moment I know I'm raising my children right

I'm a dork. I admit it. Every four years (well, now every two), I anticipate the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I watch, I get teary-eyed, it's great.

Nobody in my family shares my enthusiasm (even the dogs look at me crazy), but at least Craig is tolerant (especially because he can watch a DVD on the laptop).

The ceremony last night was conveniently timed to begin right before we had dinner (taco salads, in true international spirit), so I paused the program (thank you, TIVO!) and made the kids watch with me. They were interested, sort of, for the first few minutes. At least anytime there were flashing lights or explosions.
My darling daughter, the model of refinement and elegance, made a cultural observation:

"If Memphis hosted the Olympics, we'd ghetto it up real good!"

And her brother, with impeccable timing and wit, added:

"It would be the Ghett-Olympics!"

Monday, July 28, 2008

Here we go

Although my blog entries rarely focus on my religious beliefs and practice, I like to think that those beliefs and practice inform many of my entries, as they inform most of my life.

And yesterday, people like me, members of a smallish Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee, people who value the children in their congregation, people who welcome people into their church family, regardless of sexual orientation or race or religious heritage, came under attack. If you click any of the links in my "Shared Items" sidebar, you'll get the story. You've probably already heard about it on television or any other news source.

I'm very, very angry, folks. Angrier than I remember being for a long, long time. The perpetrator of this violence - I'm having trouble calling him a man, or even a human - has hit an amazing low of cowardly, disgusting behavior. Sneaking a shotgun and an ass-ton of ammunition (in a guitar case) into a church, a peace-loving church, in which the children of the congregation were leading the service, then opening fire on the congregation, wounding many and killing, at this time, two folks who were more than qualified for AARP membership, is pretty much the apex of asshattery.

And this tree-hugging, gay-affirming, race-justice-seeking liberal woman is pissed.

I'm angry to learn that some of my brothers and sisters in faith are now afraid that they won't be safe at church.

I'm angry to think that my children may learn about this story and be afraid to go to church.

I'm angry. Just angry.

And maybe, just maybe, there's a part of my anger that was well-illustrated by one of my co-workers' comments today. "How often do liberal people go into fundamentalist churches and open fire?"

Um, none.

That's not how we roll.

My people were attacked yesterday, in a hateful, hate-filled, hate crime. My people were persecuted yesterday. My people were afraid and injured and murdered and brave. Two gentle, angry men wrestled the gun away from the murderer. One gentle, angry man gave his life to save other members of the church he served.

And gentle, angry people are lighting candles all over our nation for these people.

Please join us.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Boys will be boys?

Yesterday evening, I had dinner with my group of au pairs. We meet once a month - an opportunity for me to make sure they're all okay, and an opportunity for them to all be in the same place at the same time - and they usually go out afterward as a group.

These young women have a unique perspective about children, since they are full-time (for the most part) caregivers for children ranging in age from toddler to teenager. They entered the program with more childcare experience than many first-time parents have had. Individual au pairs have different motivations for joining the program (lack of jobs in their home country, a desire to improve their English, a desire to study in America, or, yes, the desire to marry an American), but they definitely all learn at least one thing while they're here: kids are a lot of work. Sort of like the show "The Baby Borrowers" but in a much more real-world setting.

When we get together, we talk about their lives - how they're getting along with host families, if they're experiencing homesickness, how school is going - but they often move the conversation to my life. Most of my au pairs have met my family at least once or twice (the kids have joined me for more than one monthly meeting), and they ask about the kids. I try to share one or two interesting stories and leave it at that.

Yesterday, my son became the topic of conversation quite unintentionally. We'd been talking about kids' movies, and one woman mentioned "Prince Caspian," which she'd loved (I did too). I told her about Alex's response to the movie, and the whole group was really intrigued.

See, Alex isn't one of those boys who loves violent movies and games. He's a gentle kid. His taste in video games is dominated by games that emphasize interpersonal relationships, especially the Sims games. He hasn't shown much interest in fighting games, and when he plays with friends, he's not the kid who instigates games based around violence.

And when we saw "Prince Caspian," he was weary of the battle scenes long before the movie was over. I remember sitting next to him and seeing him begin to squirm and look uncomfortable with what was going on onscreen.

Weeks later, just to drive the point home, all four of us saw the new American Girl movie about my daughter's favorite fictional character, Kit Kittredge. The movie was smart, interesting, and didn't include violence (although it definitely did include difficult subject matter, based as it was in the Great Depression). We knew Susie would love it, but we were pleased to hear Alex's review: "It was the best movie I've ever seen!"

He starts his week at summer camp today. It's his third year at this camp, and he thrives there, with the guitar and campfires and cooperative play. It's a gentle place, and it's good for his gentle spirit.

Since we've been in our house for three years now, I've started to get a little restless with some of the design choices we made. The children's bedrooms are the most recent focus of my dissatisfaction. We helped Susie's room grow up a little bit by swapping out her old, white furniture with the furniture we've been using in our bedroom (which was in my grandmother's bedroom since the middle of the last century). Making those changes for her, however, just pushed the point home that Alex's room was in need of even more drastic changes.

I consulted with him to see what he wanted for his room. When we originally moved into the house, he was really fascinated by maps, so we had chosen fabrics that emphasized geography.

This time, he wants a Hollywood theme. We have some decorations that we use for our annual Oscar party; those will work well in his room. And I have ideas for the window treatments that will emulate the curtains around a movie screen.

This weekend, Craig and I took a spin through a few different stores, looking for items that might work in Alex's room. A quick glance through the aisles of children's furnishings at Target showed us that the world of retail still thinks there are only a few things that boys need: sports, cowboys, and camoflauge. (And the "girl" side of the aisle was no better, with its emphasis on pink and flowers - none of which I eschew, but it seems awfully limiting.)

I had the same frustration when I was buying clothes for my children when they were little. Boys' clothes had the same motifs as the bedding: bugs and sports. Items for girls were decidedly pretty, with precious florals or ladybugs, and predominately pink. (And those were the ones without Disney or other characters.)

Raising a child who doesn't quite fit within the culturally-dictated norms is interesting. It takes creativity. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

edited to add: I found the most fantastic curtains at IKEA a few weeks later...they're red velvet! I bought four panels, two of which I'll turn into valances, thus leaving two panels to curtain his windows, and the valances to bridge the wallspace between, thereby creating a "movie screen" between the two windows. He was THRILLED when he saw them. Now I just need to get to sewing and finding adequate curtain rods.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The experiment will continue

But not this week.

We've begun our three-week stint of kid-free life. Since Craig is working (indefinitely) at the Corporation, neither of us has a need to drive to work. With two fewer mouths to feed, we have fewer grocery needs.

This week, however, I have a few meetings in the suburbs, both of which entail 40 or so miles of driving, round trip. While I'd like to say we're pledging to limit our driving to under 100 miles this week, I'm not sure we're going to make that commitment this week.

I've discovered, however, that when gas prices have reached the nearly-$4-per-gallon mark, that my mindset about driving changed. Keep in mind, this is coming from a person who lives two blocks from work and generally only drives a couple of times a week. So I'm already far less dependent on gasoline than many, many people. But still, something changed.

See, before, when gas was a mere $2.50, or even $3 per gallon, I still was more than willing to drive across town, then come back home, then go out again, possibly in the same direction of where I had been before. Lately, though, I've put more thought into our car use, trying to consolidate trips so that one trip led to four or five errands being run at the same time.

Even yesterday, on our way back to Memphis from Nashville (where we dropped off the kids with my parents), we stopped at the Costco that is just off the interstate. We needed dog food (well, I guess the dogs needed the dog food, more accurately), and we went ahead and bought some other groceries, hoping to save a trip later in the week. A few months ago, we would've gone ahead home, then headed out to Costco later in the day, or the next day.

So I guess the goal is to see if we can make our current tank of gas (about 3/4 full) last for three weeks. I suppose it doesn't really matter how much we drive in the first week versus the second or third week. We're just going to drive only when we need to drive, and we'll not drive when we don't need to.

Which is why I'm not riding my bicycle to the dentist on Tuesday, and I'm not feeling bad about it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The BlogHer Blues

As the sporadic nature of my posting might suggest, I've been mostly absent in the blogging community lately. Work's been busy, life's been busy, and it seems like I've lost my flair for snark. I don't remember the last time I participated in an open thread at MamaPopTalk, and I've been guilty of opening my feed reader, seeing a three-digit number in the unread posts, and marking all read.

I attended BlogHer last year, when it was held in Chicago, mainly because Chicago is an attainable trip for me. My brother and his wife live there, it's an easy train ride away, and it fit very nicely into my family's summer travel plans.

This year, however, it's in California. I can't drive to California, and I don't have the money to fly.

And now I see that a lot of the people I wanted to meet last year, but who didn't attend for varying reasons, are going to be there. And that ugly little paranoid voice inside my head tells me that they're coming this year because I'm not. (To which my mother would sensibly reply, "Um, sweetie, you're not that powerful." Which I'm not. But it does bum me out just a little that this year's conference looks to be better-attended than last year's. And that I'm going to miss it.


So I'm two for two in my NaBloPoMo efforts in food blogging. You can read my whiny rant about my daughter's public diss on my baking skills over here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I'm still blogging, just changed venue for the month. Please to visit my other blog and see what I'm up to this month.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The experiment, continued

Or, more truthfully, discontinued.

Due to circumstances well beyond my control, we gave up on the non-driving experiment. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I couldn't figure out how to help my boss move out of his apartment without cranking up the minivan. And I couldn't figure out how to purchase food and liquor for his going-away party without driving.

So yes, we drove during not-driving-week. About 4 miles in all. Which still isn't bad, but it means the experiment failed this time.

But I don't think this failure proves terribly much. How often, in a person's lifetime, does one's manager develop serious visa problems and have to leave the country with 20 days' notice? I'm thinking it's a once in a lifetime thing. (And I'm not going to say much about it except that I hate it and I've cried more about this situation than I've cried over any work situation in the last nine years. He's fantastic and I adore his wife and I'm going to miss them horribly and I have some anxiety about what's going to happen next at work.)

New topic.

The kids are back from their week in northwest Arkansas, and I must say, they're a lot of fun. I can't honestly say that I miss them all that much when they're gone (mainly because we keep ourselves busy and don't have much opportunity to miss them), but I love it when they're home. The girl and I spent much of yesterday afternoon and evening cuddling on the couch, after she emerged from email land and got sucked into the movie I was halfway watching (I was halfway sleeping). We were both tired, and I think she was needing some Mom time.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have let her watch "First Knight," because it deals with the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot story, which is a bit, well, adult with the whole forbidden love thing. But I also clearly remember being about her age and wishing with all my heart that my parents would let me see "Excalibur" when it came out in the theater. (They considered my request seriously, even went to see the movie, and then denied my appeals. I saw it years later and "Meh", but I saw their point.) But "First Knight" is PG-13, and the love story part was quite tame, and the battle gore didn't bother her in the Narnia movies, so I decided it wasn't inappropriate.

What was funny was how she fell into watching the movie. She had come into the living room to tell me that the phone was for me, but then she sat down just because she wasn't doing anything else. At first she just glanced at the screen, but then I caught her getting interested. And then she was so interested that she asked me to pause the movie when she went to the kitchen for a snack. We talked about what was going on (she's never seen "Camelot" but has seen "The Sword and the Stone" so she was a little familiar with the story) and we both predicted when things were about to go sour.

And then it was over, but we found the second half of "Talladega Nights," which the kids and I think is hilarious but Craig thinks is incredibly stupid. By this time, Alex had joined us and watched it with us (although he was heartily disappointed that the dinner table scene, particularly the "spider monkey" line, had already taken place).

Watching my children watch movies gives me a great view inside their minds. I can tell a lot by what makes them laugh in comedies or what gets their attention in adventure movies. Alex doesn't enjoy battle scenes (and, as a result, didn't much love "Prince Caspian") but loves goofy comedy (and has become a fan of Nick at Night sitcom reruns). The girl is starting to "get" adult humor, and watching her laugh at off-color jokes makes the jokes much funnier to me. The laugh is different. It's like she knows that she "shouldn't" be laughing, but she can't help it.

They're home for a week, then it's off to Michigan for three weeks. I know Craig and I will enjoy the change of pace that occurs when we're child-free, but I also know we'll be happy to have them return. The laughter most of all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Experiment, Day One

The kids are out of town again, for their second week (of six) this summer. They've had an alternating-weeks schedule up to this point: two weeks out of school, one week with my parents, one week home, now one week with Craig's family, to be followed by another week at home, then just about four weeks with my parents.

We've been enjoying this (or a similar) arrangement for the past few summers. Our childless state allows us to do things we don't usually do, like eating dinner at 10 p.m. or playing strip poker.

This year, however, we've decided to try something different. Sure, we could have chosen to get into the new show "Swingtown", but that's not really our style. Instead, we're remaining STD-free and going green! That's right; we're not driving all week. The car will remain in the driveway and we'll explore other forms of transportation to meet our needs this week.

We do have a few advantages. I live two blocks from my job, roughly a seven-minute commute on foot. And Craig is working there (temporarily) these days, too. So there's no driving to work anyway. We also live almost in downtown Memphis, and our gym is an easy bike ride away. Along that bike ride, we pass a small grocery store and a drug store, so we could pick up any necessities there.

Today was day one, and we did use our bikes to run an urgent errand. (There was no wine in the house!) Eight-tenths of a mile each way took no time at all - not even far enough to work up a sweat, even in Memphis's summer heat.

So today, success. Tomorrow? We'll see. There's a plan to visit the gym and then pick up food for dinner. I think we can do it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Work update

Last time I blogged about work, we were a few days away from my new store's grand opening. Now that's almost a month behind us, so I can share what's happened.

1. Sales are up, way up. Like 100% or more higher. Like our revenue for June (yes, we're only halfway through the month) is already 1.5 times higher than our revenue for last June (which was a very low sales month). We're already ahead of May, which was the best month to date since the old store opened (because the new store was open for one week in May). Job security.

2. Service and accuracy are good. Very good, actually. We get shopped by a secret shopper three times a quarter, and the report from our first shop at the new store just came in. On the objective items (wait time, drink temperature, etc.) we scored 100% (!!!!) and on service we scored the equivalent of a B+. Which is really exactly what I would have wanted, because it gives the staff something to build on.

3. By the way...dream job? Secret shopper for Starbucks.

4. The staff seems to be gelling nicely. Some issues here and there, but I think that's more about almost all of the staff being under 20 years old. Nothing too serious, and nothing nearly as serious as what I was dealing with before.

5. I haven't worked a 12-13 hour day in three weeks. 'Nuff said, right?

So yeah, it's pretty good. I'm happy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eleven years, three days

So here's the thing.

My baby isn't a baby.

Eleven years ago, Craig and I brought a baby home from the hospital. I would be lying if I said she was a tiny baby - she wasn't, at a round eight pounds, five ounces, nineteen inches long - but she was the smallest one I'd ever held. And also the first one that I'd made. It was kind of a big deal, at least to us.

Eleven years and three days have passed quickly. We've watched her learn to crawl, then walk, then run. We've tracked her vocabulary until her words were to numerous to count. We witnessed as she learned her ABCs and numbers and colors. We helped her learn to write her name and admired her scribbled pictures.

And we've helped her with book reports and science projects. We've attended piano recitals and choir concerts. We've experimented with hair colors and hosted sleepovers and read book after book at her bedside, and sung "Puff the Magic Dragon" too many times to count.

And now she's become this gorgeous young woman, almost as tall as I, wearing shoes bigger than mine, with blossoming curves and more and more glimpses of the woman she's becoming.

I find myself alternating between sadness and infatuation with her new beauty.

When I use the word sadness, it's only because I don't know a better word. I'm not sad that she's growing up. No, quite the contrary. I enjoy the present Susie so much - and I wouldn't trade her for her toddler, or preschooler, or early elementary self. The sadness is more that this, the wonder that is her maidenhood, will end all too soon.

And when I mention beauty, I feel a need to justify it. Because I don't really mean, at least not entirely, physical beauty. Sure, as her mother, I think she's the prettiest girl ever to walk this earth, and I'd be happy to fight you if you say otherwise, but that's not really what has me so ensnared.

No, what has me so smitten is deeper. She has a beauty that shines through her eyes. She's so very alive. So vital. So funny. So alert. So confident. So graceful. So willing, and able, to negotiate the confusing maze that is tween-ness.

The girl has skills. She's good at the social thing. She's good at music. She's a great student. She's got the entire church wrapped around her finger, and has since she was a toddler. She's healthy, smart, and funny. She's the perfect sister, and the perfect daughter.

And she's reaching the age where it's becoming hard to write about her. She knows I'm writing, and she hasn't protested. But I feel a greater need to give her some privacy. Potty training stories are cute and funny, but her life is now hers, much more than it's mine.

I also, more than I ever have, feel that I need to protect her from the world. She's entering rocky territory. Sure, she'll handle it fine. She handles rocky territory like a mountain goat. But I don't want her to ever tell me that I made her life more difficult by writing about her on the internet.

So Susie will no longer be a major character in this blog. I can't say she won't be around, even in photos. She's too funny, too engaging, too amazing, for me to never mention. And she's too photogenic to leave out.

But she's growing up. And I respect who she's becoming. I have a feeling she'll be one of my favorite women, one day. All too soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day Zero

My new employees and I just spent two weeks training in preparation for my new store's opening. It was a good process, with lots of team-building opportunities built into the process. Since all but one of my new staff members are under 20, and all are female, it was not a difficult process to see these people draw together.

Tuesday is day one. While I'm sure it will be a very, very busy day, we're probably lucky that it's a holiday week, because that will keep us from being as busy as we would have been if we'd opened in, say, mid-November.

Each manager in my department is included in a weekend and holiday rotation: our department works every day. Since my store opens Tuesday, I had volunteered to work Memorial Day. Realistically, I'd probably go in anyway, if only to open up the store so the new employees could have a little more practice time (which all of them want), and to do some prep work so Tuesday morning would go more smoothly. Of course, I'll probably regret that decision come 4:00 Monday morning, when the alarm sounds and I have to get to work before 5:00.

It's been a hard two months. I've worked more twelve-plus hour days in the past month than I had, combined, in my life. Arriving at work around 6:30 to get the old store ready to open, working in the store until training started, attending training, checking on the old store, back to training, catching up on the "desk" part of my job (which has been sorely neglected), then checking on the old store before I go home (and usually sticking around to clean it better than it was left by the person who's been helping out), getting home between 5:30-7:00. It's tiring.

My saving grace has been Craig. Not only has he worked (as a temp) in my old store for two weeks (and done as much cleaning as he could, given that he still had to pick up the kids from school at the same time the store closed), he's also planned and cooked every meal served in our house for at least the past two weeks, kept the laundry in check, and been very patient with my obsessive behavior and conversation. He's letting me eat, sleep, and breathe coffee and staffing and retail and shift planning, and even tolerated my going out for drinks with colleagues more than once this week (if I can't see them in the office, I at least get some face time on hotel rooftops and discos).

Here's the thing. It's going very well. Eyes are on me right now, professionally. I took on a failing venture and turned it around. And now I have the opportunity to not just "not fail" but to succeed, quite visibly. This store will be the social center of the hospital. Its success will be credited to me. Its failure will be on my shoulders. I don't have any doubt that the next few months will make or break my career, or at least this portion of it. And given the past few months' successes (33% increase in sales from March to April, and May looks to be at least as good, if not better), I feel like I'm up to the challenge. I've created some good partnerships in other departments (this is me waving to the directors of security and design and construction), and I think that's going to be crucial to my continued success.

I can't help but think back a few years, when my professional life, if you could even call it that, was absolutely the least of my priorities. I worked because I had to, for money and insurance, and I watched the clock all day. All I wanted was to collect my paycheck and go home.

Even though this month has been hard, it's been great. I'm having a fantastic time. I wake up excited about the upcoming day. I go to bed bone-tired. But it's stimulating and challenging and feels like exactly what I was born to do.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good talk

Mostly when I say, "Good talk!", I'm being silly or sarcastic. Like when Craig and I have been in the car alone for several minutes without talking. Or when we talk about nothing at all.

But sometimes when I say, "Good talk!", I mean it.

Last night, the couple I'd approached a few months back, the couple for whom I'd offered to be a surrogate mother, came over for "the talk". The talk that would move us forward or, well, not.

And moving forward seems to be the outcome of the conversation.

I'd rehearsed some of the questions I'd ask. I'd made some notes of topics that bore discussion. The topics were discussed, but some of the questions weren't asked. Not because I lost my nerve or decided they weren't appropriate, but because they weren't necessary.

It was a good talk.

We even discussed continuing the conversation, and documenting the journey, on a new blog. It's empty now, but keep your eyes peeled. There may be some good talk there.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Not now!

This week is the calm before the storm. If by "calm" you mean hiring two part-time employees, setting up new cash registers, making a presentation to the hospital's administrators, training a temp to mind the "old" store while the staff of the "new" store is in training, making sure all the training materials have arrived, reserving A/V equipment for training, staying in contact with our corporate district manager, and coordinating with outside vendors to reprogram the cash register POS system.

The storm? Two weeks of training, setting up the new store, followed by the first week in the new store. Sounds easier, actually, than the so-called calm. But it won't be.

When I attended training in January, it was much more exhausting than I expected. At the end of every day, I was tired. Tired from dealing with a roomful of people I'd never met before. Tired from the barrage of new information. Tired from making and tasting drinks all day.

This training will be even more tiring, since I'm the manager and it's my store. I've been working with two of my five employees for the past few weeks, but that leaves three who are essentially strangers. And college-age. (I think that's a good thing, but I may live to regret hiring four people under 21. I'll let you know.) And the "old" store will still remain open during the training, and I'm still ultimately responsible for it.

Pesky human cloning. They need to hurry up with that one.

Oh, and did I mention that I left work early with a killer headache, complete with some delightful nausea? I'm hoping that it's stress and not the flu. Because I really don't have the time to be sick.

But my new store looks fantastic and I can't wait until May 27.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Art, I makes it!

My daughter accused me of looking like a tourist when I took these pictures. But I'm not a tourist. Not at all.


Pictures replace 1000 words, and I've missed a lot of blogging. Please to enjoy these photos of the Zombie March on Downtown Memphis last month.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I like to tell people that I have the best job at the hospital. Where other folks spend their working days placing IVs in children, giving parents bad news, rushing grant applications, spending endless hours in labs doing important research, or making difficult decisions about the future of our institution, I get to hang out in the most fun part of the hospital, making coffee for everyone who needs a cup.

Part of the fun is getting to know a cross-section of our hospital...mostly staff, but also visitors and families. I've gotten to know exactly how seven-year-old "Keith" likes his hot chocolate, how a prominent scientist likes his latte, and which coffee blends are favored by post doc researchers.

And then there are the moments that really knock my socks off. There's a parent who comes by our store nearly every day. "Janey" orders the same coffee every time: four cappuccinos, along with four pastries. (Usually she gives me free reign to select the pastries.) This order costs a bit more than $20. Four or five days a week. Yes, that's about $100 per week. Did I mention who the coffee and snacks are for? No? They're for the nurses who are taking care of her daughter.

This woman, about my age, never shows the strain of being in the hospital with a sick child. She is very, very beautiful and her smile lights up the room. She's cheerful and funny, and obviously generous.

And if she were none of those things, given the difficulty of her current situation....1000 miles away from home, with her husband and other daughter just as far away...I wouldn't blame her a bit. If she were cranky or distracted or tearful, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

But she's meeting this challenge with grace and graciousness and gratitude, and I look forward to her daily visit. That visit reminds me that I work in an amazing place, full of amazing people, and that we have so many opportunties, every day, to do good, to make new friends, to make a difference in someone's life.

I'm trying to rise to the challenge. If Janey can be that great with so many obstacles, I can be that great too. My life is pretty easy: my kids are healthy and smart, my husband is great, I have a good job. My list of complaints and worries is short. But the opportunities I have to do better - to be kinder, more generous, more helpful, more inspiring - are ample.

Amazing what a person can learn while making coffee.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Absentee = nothing to write

I'm peeking out from my hole of work and church responsibilities to tell you, all eight of my readers, that I'm still alive.

The recent major changes at work have led to me working ten-hour days for the past three weeks. It sounds much worse than it is, to be honest. I've come to the conclusion that I've got the best job at the entire hospital, and my new staff is fantastic.

The best part about that statement? Is that I hand-picked each of them. So their success is evidence that I'm cut out for this management position (which I am, but confirmation is always nice).

In futher job secuity news, our daily and weekly sales are climbing every week, and this week looks to be much bigger than the past two, which were the two best weeks of 2008. Given that sales are generally higher in cold weather, this is pretty great.

But yes, I also have a family. A really fantastic family, actually. And they continue to be fantastic. The school year is winding down, which means concerts, programs, and the dreaded TCAP tests. My kids were blessed with the "performs well on standardized tests" genes, so this is not as stressful for us as for other families.

I owe the internet a post about my wonderful son and his wonderful birthday party. And I'll write it soon, but not yet. I was at work before 7 and left after 5:30. Am tired.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Back, for a second

Just want to make sure everyone knows that the Memphis Tigers rock! I can't wait until tomorrow's game. It's a great moment for my beloved city - I sure hope we can hold on for one more game.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Day off

Since I worked this weekend, I was off today.

My dad left at lunchtime today to return home; he'd been here since Saturday afternoon, having driven here with the kids to return them to us, as well as to assemble the headboard he'd built for us.

After enjoying breakfast and a trip to the river (yes, it's high, but no, I don't think my neighborhood, or any other neighborhood nearby, will be flooded), my dad left in his car.

I spent much of the next few hours cleaning up my bedroom. The new headboard includes bookshelves, so I shelved books (books, I might add, that have been sitting in my room in boxes for many months) and straightened up and changed sheets and dusted and vacuumed. And then, yes, I basked in the cleanness of the room.

This headboard is pretty awesome. I designed it months ago for my dad to build (he's cool like that), and the finished product is actually more impressive than I expected. And the assembly is great in that it easily comes apart into the two bookshelf units (which are a foot deep and a foot wide and six feet tall, quite easily transported via Prius), the fabric-covered board and the top board, which are (obviously) flat. So it can move without being a monster to move.

Oh, and yes, it has built-in lights. Because that's how I roll.

And yes, I know it would be totally mean to tell you how awesome it is and not to post pictures, so here you go. Please to enjoy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stress code blue

My blog is actually a good barometer of my life. The frequency of posts is conversely related to the level of activity in my life.

Take this week, for example. I worked the weekend (which means a 4:00 a.m. wake up), my dad arrived (with my kids) at the house on Saturday afternoon, I've got the church pledge drive kick-off party on Saturday, and I'm interviewing new staff for my new store. There are some other, non-bloggable, bits of work upheaval that are generating a lot of stress.

And then last night, a little more drama entered my life in the form of a very unexpected phone call from a friend who let me know that he has entered a residential treatment program for mental health issues. That's his story, not mine, but it definitely impacted my night.

Later that evening, Craig and I were watching "Top Chef" which made me hungry, so I grabbed a box of crack Cheez-its and was happily munching away when I felt, and heard, the unmistakable sound of stress incarnate.

My jaw.

The TMJ, it has returned.

I did what I could to minimize it, and I'm hoping it works. I took a muscle relaxer and wore my delightful appliance to bed.

When I awoke, it didn't hurt, not exactly, but it definitely felt wrong. The last time this happened, I couldn't eat for two weeks. And while the thought of the easy weight loss that would bring is tempting, it's really the last thing I need right now. Must keep my energy up to get through the next few weeks.

More Ovaltine please?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

So I'm told

April's National Blog Posting Month prompt is "Letters". A quick paste of the email notification I received...

Just a quick note to tell you that the daily blogging
theme for April is going to be LETTERS.

For writers, this can mean letters to the editor, love letters,
fan letters, ransom notes -- I'm not encouraging illegal activity,
but the list is endless.

For typography lovers, it's a month full of fonts!

For photographers, it's license to go out and shoot things
both manmade and natural that resemble
a member of our beloved alphabet.

And as always, if you'd like to be on the
April blogroll of participants, go to,
click on the Blogrolls tab, and follow the instructions.

It's not April yet, but I'm thinking of the letters I can write. Thank-you notes, apologies, hmmmm.

So, if you were going to write a letter every day, which one would you write first? Would you thank your parents? Would you tell off that mean kid who made you miserable in the fifth grade? Would you write a love letter to your child?

Share in the comments...I'm interested, and I also need ideas!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Facing facts

Turns out that I have unreasonably low expectations for my son, at least when it comes to his packing skills. He packed a perfectly sane assortment of clothing for the trip, and all I did was merge the contents of two half-empty suitcases into one suitcase. I didn't add or subtract or substitute any of the contents. Yay, son!

Turns out my daughter is probably ready to move out and have kids of her own. Well, not quite, but close. See, on our long road trip to Michigan, we hit a bit of turbulence in the form of my son and a stomach virus. As I later told my mother, if the kids had been five years younger and this had happened, I would've been toast! Instead, after vomit #2 (but #1 in the car), I pulled across three lanes of traffic in Nashville's suburbs, pulled into a Walgreen's parking lot, fished out some cash from my wallet, and sent my daughter inside to buy paper towels and baby wipes. And she did it! No argument, no nervousness about going alone inside a store in a strange city. Just grace and aplomb. Even better, she returned, gave me the change, and informed me that she'd made the executive decision to buy the small package of wipes because she figured I didn't want a case of 500. She was, perhaps, a bit less willing to assist me in cleaning up the mess, but she did score points for being very sweet and solicitous of her miserable brother.

Turns out my son is nearly 5' tall and my daughter is already 5'1 1/2". That makes her only two inches shorter than me. She's TEN!

Turns out that when Craig and I have the house to ourselves, we pretty much behave the same way we do when the kids are around.

Turns out getting up at 4 a.m. to work on a Saturday (and it'll happen again on Sunday) is just as hard as one would expect.

Turns out that I'm really, really glad my kids (and my dad) are getting home today. Even though it's only been since Wednesday morning since I saw them, I miss them.

Turns out I like my new haircut (and will post a picture soon).

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Instead of the typical "drink enough green beer to think you are actually IN Ireland" approach to St. Pat's, my family did something truly unique today.

We participated in (or at least witnessed) the creation of a new world record.

And even updated a Wikipedia entry.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hold on loosely

So I had the kids go upstairs early last night, mainly because I really needed to get some things done, but also because I wanted them to get started on packing for our trip. I didn't tell them to pack, just to get their things ready to pack.

And Alex got ambitious, apparently. Because he called down the stairs that he already had one suitcase entirely packed and was working on his second. And he finished the second, too.

Alex is a well-intentioned boy, but he is just eight.

Any bets as to the contents of these suitcases? Keep in mind they'll be gone a week, need swimwear, and will be in Michigan.

My money is on the following:
Eight shirts
Two pair pants, both sweats
Ten pair underwear
No socks
One swimsuit
Pajama pants
No toothbrush
No toothpaste
Mini-size shampoo

I can't wait to see how close I am.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Things I need to do this week:

  • Catch up on sleep because the time change is still making me insane.
  • Write a letter to everyone in my church's congregation that will inspire them to make generous, timely pledges.
  • Plan the kickoff party for our annual pledge drive.
  • Pack for the trip to Michigan I'm taking with the kids on Saturday.
  • Pick up the rental car for that trip.
  • Design printed material for the pledge drive.
  • Evaluate my employees' progress on their improvement plans.
  • Create and submit my inventory order for next week (since I'll be on vacation when it's due).
  • Generate weekly sales reports (see above).

Things I've done this week:
  • Not gotten enough sleep.
  • Disciplined an employee.
  • Completed espresso training (wow! much caffeine makes me really jumpy!)
  • Attended church board meeting.
  • Finished watching the first season of C.S.I.
  • Monthly financial reports at work.
  • Watched snow melt.
  • Looked at the progress of my new store's construction and had a panic attack.
  • Helped my son create a costume for his class's chess party (he chose to be a pawn).
  • Coded and balanced my department's monthly invoice (which is so much more work than that sentence can express).
  • Gave a big box of fabric to someone who will actually use it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Secret

The characters: Craig and I

The setting: Saturday night, in the rare situation of the children being at a sleepover. We've run some errands, eaten dinner, and are heading to the video store.

Him: We should go to the other video store, because I'm in the mood to watch weird videos, not really a movie.

Me: But I really don't like that video store, and we're already in the parking lot of the other one.

Him: Whatever. You sure you even want to rent videos?

Me: (thinks of renting all seasons of CSI so I can watch them in order) Yeah.

Him: Let's see what we can find.

We enter the video store and start with new releases...and keep going, and going, not finding anything, until...

Him: Hey, it's the DVD of The Secret! Woot!

Me: Isn't that the book about magic? That Oprah likes?

Him: (sarcastically) Duh! Yeah! This'll be hilarious!

Me: ... ?

Him: You can get season one of CSI over there.

We check out, amused by our bizarre combination of rentals which Craig determines makes us "Yuppies."

Scene 2: A little later, with wine and The Secret playing

Him: Where's the wacky sketches? I want something silly to happen.

Me: The opening menu reminds me of Harry Potter a little.

Him: Isn't that guy the brother of a sportscaster?

Me: Probably. And what kind of job is "metaphysician" anyway?

Him: That's the guy who wrote that book about men being from Mars. Hey, didn't we watch that show with him on PBS? When he pretty much castrated all of mankind?

Me: That's the one. Oh, that guy is a "philosopher". Isn't that a nice way of saying "unemployed"?

Him: Huh. This isn't as funny as I thought.

We watch the video in silence for a few minutes, learning all about the Law of Attraction.

In a few minutes, on my second glass of wine...

Me: Okay. I get it. If I sit here and think about how I want a ba-billion dollars, I'll get it.

Him: Seems right to me.

Me: Hey Universe! I want a ba-billion dollars!!


Him: One problem. There's no such number as a ba-billion. You're just confusing the Universe.

Me: Okay, Universe. You probably can't handle that request. I guess I'll settle for a trillion. By next week, okay?

Him: Better.

We pause to reflect on that

Him: Hey, what would we even do with a trillion dollars?

Me: I'm sure we'd sort it out.

Him: You'd get mad at my answer.

Me: What? Strip clubs? Hookers?

Him: No! Ew! No, I think I'd walk around in bad neighborhoods and give people some serious money. Not like $20 or even $100.

Me: Like $20,000?

Him: Yeah. That would be cool.

Me: Yeah, it would. But also money would go to church. They could name a building after us. The ba-billion building.

Him: I wouldn't want to move to a really big house.

Me: Just say no to Mc-Mansions.

Him: And I don't really care about cars.

Me: I'd buy new cars. But nothing fancy, I promise. We'll be the humblest ba-billionaires ever.

Him: Trillionaires.

Me: Whatever. Let's watch CSI.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

More lists

I've examined, a little, what I accomplished by age 30. I'm more than halfway through my 30s now, so it's reasonable to look at what's happened and what I'd like to see happen before the big 4-0.

My 29th birthday went down in my memory as the worst birthday ever. My head was in a bad place. I had two toddlers, was working part-time as a bank teller, was trying (and failing) to run a small business at home, and money was scarce. I'd had a list in mind of things I'd do and a standard of living I'd attain by my 30th birthday, and it was looking like I'd fall way short of my goal. I recall many tears that day.

By my next birthday, however, I'd reached a better place. I had a better job, finances were getting back to where they needed to be, and I had a wonderful little group of friends who helped me celebrate the end of my 20's in full Logan's Run regalia.

I don't remember making any lists at that point of things I wanted to do before I turned 40, but there is always a bit of a mental list.

At 30, I hoped by 40, life would look like this:

Full-time job with a salary higher than I'd earned at my best-paying job
Renovate our house
Buy a new car
Kids doing well in school
Maintain close friendships
Become more active at church

And, halfway there, I'm pleased to report that I've accomplished all but one of those goals (well, we didn't exactly renovate the old house; we bought a new one, but I think that's close enough). We still haven't bought a new car. We've purchased (and sold) several used cars. I know our beloved minivan is nearing the end of its usefulness (151,000 miles and climbing), but I'm still reluctant to take on a car payment. But I have a feeling that we'll accomplish that goal before I turn 40. Even if I don't want to. I drive very little - just on weekends, really - but Craig spends a lot of time driving. And the aging minivan may not be able to keep up much more.

There are a few more things to add to the list. See, those close friendships? While they are still very healthy and happy relationships, there is a geographic issue that didn't exist in 2001. I'd love to be able to say, by age 40, that I have close friends who are local. I have several "good" local friends, but those relationships haven't deepened to the BFF point like the New York and Montana contingent. Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining. Many people never meet their soul sisters. And I have. I just wish I could have one more that lived nearby. And if she had kids that were compatible with my kids, even better.

A more recent goal that's come up is church-related. When I wanted to get more involved, I didn't necessarily mean that I wanted to take on a leadership role. At 30, I was still a bit gun-shy about high-profile church positions. After all, I'd worked at another church and was still licking my wounds from how things had turned out. But now, nine years after that part of my life, I feel a new passion about my own lay ministry. And I've taken on several roles of increasing responsibility at our church, from chairing the Religious Education committee to chairing the Search committee for our new Director of Religious Education, to serving on the Board. Most recently (and currently) I'm chairing our congregation's annual pledge drive, and a few weeks ago I was asked to step into the Vice Presidency, as the current vice president has opted to bow out since she's about to have a baby.

While the Vice President isn't necessarily a shoe-in to become President, that's the typical pattern. Since I'll be serving the remainder of the current Vice President's term, that means I likely will become our congregation's President next summer. This will be historic for our congregation: I'd be the youngest person to serve in that position in our history.

Oh, and just because I am shallow, I'd like to end my 30's at the same weight I started. That means I have a little work to do, but not too much. I think it's attainable.

And if it's not, I'm guessing that I'll have a good sense of humor about it by then. What with the perspective of age, right?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Keeping the dust bunnies at bay

Okay. I wrote another post and saved it because it wasn't done, but I just re-read it and fell asleep just from the second paragraph. I've decided to spare you the unplanned nap.

And because I am completely lacking in creativity, especially when it comes to blog entry topics, I've decided to borrow from a few different people and make some lists.

Back in December, when it was time to make resolutions (or whatever), I made a list of 8 things for 2008. Which I'm pretty much failing. Dismally. I still have 10 more months to get my act together, and maybe I will. But, hey, maybe it's the process of making the list that is more important. Or interesting?

Anyway, yeah. I'm going to make lists for a while. If nothing else, they might give me some good ideas for future posts. Or maybe you readers can help a sistah out and leave some topic suggestions in the comments? Perhaps?

So here we go: a series of lists comparing my 20-year-old self and my 30-year-old self.

Things that, at age 20, I thought I wanted to do before I turned 30, but weren't a big deal by the time I turned 30.

  1. Be a painter that sells paintings. (Truth be told, I actually accomplished this in college...I sold a series of three paintings for about $30.)
  2. Get a Master's degree. (I got close and never finished. And recently decided that I'm totally okay with that.)
  3. Own a new car.
  4. Have a glamorous career (related, but not the same, to the painter thing).
  5. Join the Junior League (again, full disclosure, I had a chance but I was in my early 20's at the time, and I didn't want to join quite that early, and by the time I was 30, I was running in a totally different social circle).
  6. Live in a warehouse/loft downtown.

And, the corollary list: things I accomplished by 30 that I would never have guessed (at age 20) would have mattered to me (or happened at all).

  1. Owned a house in midtown Memphis.
  2. Bought a used Ford Escort station wagon (the first car I bought on my own).
  3. Had two kids (I mostly wanted kids, eventually, when I was 20, but I didn't think I'd have them as young as I did).
  4. Taught school in Mississippi.
  5. Became a vegetarian and then un-became a vegetarian.
  6. Got a dog.
  7. Worked at a church.
  8. Started a business.

And then the list of things I set out, at age 20, to accomplish by 30, and accomplished:

  1. Got married.
  2. Adopted cats.
  3. Worked at an art museum (two, actually).
  4. Took some fun trips with my husband.
  5. Worked toward a Master's degree.
  6. Volunteered at the Humane Society.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still here

Sorry for the absence. It's been a busy few days. So you get bullet points. Lucky you!

  • Saturday was spent shopping for the Oscar party we hosted Sunday. We planned our errands well, finishing (well, mostly) in time to eat some Mexican food then get home and watch the most frustrating basketball game ever.
  • Sunday was spent preparing for, then hosting, said Oscar party. It was a good party, with nine guests and food, as usual, themed to go with the best picture nominees. Can I just say that if there hadn't been a scene involving a grocery sack of baguettes in Michael Clayton, that movie would have been impossible to pair with food? Because George Clooney never eats or drinks in the whole movie. Juno was much easier, for obvious reasons.
  • I'm working on my first performance review as a supervisor at the Corporation. I'm not really enjoying it.
  • We just got home from a very, very long school program. It was for Black History Month, but it was called the "Brotherhood" program. I think I need to bring to someone's attention that by choosing to not use the word "Black" they instead used a word that is not a bit inclusive, but, in fact, leaves out 51% of the population. Hint: "Unity" is a lovely word.
  • I have a bad feeling that American Idol could turn me into an alcoholic. It's a bad, bad season this year.

Now that it's all written down, it doesn't seem like much. But it's felt like more. I'm delighted to have no plans for the next three evenings, because it's going to be an amazingly packed weekend. I just hope March doesn't speed by quite as quickly as February did, because I'm a little stunned that we're in the last few days of the month.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


When I was logging on to Blogger, I was planning to write an update-y post, mostly about work, but then I saw that this was going to be my 400th post, so I thought it should be more, well, special.

But for special? I got nothin'. I've been doing this get up, go to work, come home, be tired, go to bed thing this week, and there's just not much left. I did successfully complete my end of my son's homework (quizzing him on his multiplication tables) but I will also admit that I tried to outsource it to (that, my friends, was a nightmare...timed tests make him very, very stressed). But beyond that, there's little to say.

So here's the update-y part of the post: I had my first "performance improvement" type conversation as a manager. Actually, my first AND second. Within an hour of each other. (Yes, that was planned.) It wasn't as hard as I thought it would have been (seriously, I was dreading this). But then again, I've fired volunteers before (THAT, my friends, is hard). I think things will work out, mostly, and I'm quite optimistic about the future in my department. We have some very, very good leadership, and a few potential rising stars in our field. It's going to be fun to watch things unfold through the summer.

This 400th post thing is making me feel pressured to write something good. And the bizarre spike in traffic my site has experienced for the past few days isn't helping the pressure to write well. I like to think that most of the time my writing is pretty good (my boss thinks so, anyway), but lately it's been less-than-creative. Or insightful. Perhaps it's more a function of being tired and maybe getting sick and then being preoccupied about the whole surrogacy thing.

My headspace is a little more occupied than usual because of that, but I don't think I need to spill it all yet. It's, to use the completely wrong word, premature. We're still on "if", not "when." And it may not even work anyway. So allowing myself to spend too much time there is not wise. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future anyway (not the distant future, more like the next three, six, ten months), and this particular situation is not definite. And I need to remember not to treat it that way. But then, there are conversations that need to take place, sooner than later. I suppose it's probably time to get Craig back into the mix, right? Given that the couple seems to be leaning toward a tentative "yes", it's probably time to re-introduce the topic. He's not been involved in these exchanges, though he and I have discussed it (briefly) once.

But I approached the couple before he and I had thoroughly hashed it out. Because I didn't know if it even merited a long discussion (there was that possibility that they would have been entirely disinterested in such an offer). And now that there is a conversation underway with the other folks, and it's going the way it's going, there needs to be a long, and maybe not easy, conversation with my husband (who mostly does not read my blog, so please don't bring it up to him if you know him.)

But I somehow don't have the heart to bring up such a serious, and life-altering (at least for a year) topic during Oscar week. With our party coming up on Sunday, he's already a bit more stressed than usual. Yes, that probably makes me sound like a big chicken, making lame excuses, but I already knew that, because the conversation I had with my employees today should have happened two weeks ago. (Maybe the fact that it wasn't horrible with them might convince me that this conversation, too, will probably be fine, even if it's not easy.) Because nobody promised easy, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Letter to my Body

Over at BlogHer, Suzanne started an interesting conversation. And, being the consummate joiner, I'm playing along.

Dear Body,

We've been through a lot together. Things seem to be better these days. Maybe because of that radioactive pill I took a few summers ago. It felt strange, conspiring with the medical establishment to kill part of myself, but that part was malfunctioning so much, fighting against the rest of me, that it had to be done.

That summer was hard on us, body. We suffered through high doses of steroids and still sport the changes it caused in our face and belly. Sometimes my face still surprises me when I look in the mirror or at photographs. I don't think of my face as being as round as it is, has been since the summer of 2004.

Up to and including that summer, a lot of my adult decisions were influenced by that pesky thyroid gland. I was afraid to exercise more than walking and a little yoga, because my heart was already working itself into a frenzy, just sitting still. I approached my first pregnancy with more than a little fear: fear that I wouldn't get pregnant, fear that the physical stress of pregnancy would cause my thyroid to spin even farther out of control.

But you worked it out, didn't you? You had no problem getting, and staying, pregnant. You kept me safe, kept the baby safe, even through a car accident. You built two healthy and strong babies and more than enough milk to nourish them beyond a year.

The changes my body experienced during pregnancy were exciting while they were happening, and I was delighted with my new curves. I even let art students share the joy. But after the babies were born, I looked at my rapidly-deflated belly and didn't know what to think of it. The art teachers called and I didn't want to model anymore. I was happy to share my pregnant body, but my postpartum body wanted privacy.

But all that is behind us, at least for now. And I started taking you to the gym. After all, we're not getting any younger, and I want to keep us around for a while. It seemed fair enough that with all you've done to take care of me and my kids, I could spend some time taking care of you. Working out with you feels much better than I expected.

And I'm reveling again. No, we're not 22 anymore. Some of those soft places will stay soft. But we feel stronger, and we're looking pretty good. Craig appreciates and enjoys you.

So thanks, body, for a pretty good 36 years. We've been through a lot together, and I can't wait to see what happens next.


Saturday, February 16, 2008



The feedback (which, yes, I requested) from my last post gave me plenty to consider. But the message I got from the female member of the couple in question (which I just read today) is also interesting. I'd characterize it as receptive.

Which is interesting.

But, anonymous commenter, no, I won't send you a picture of my boobs. Maybe if you try hard enough you can find a drawing of them from my art school modeling days. I still regret that I never asked any of the students for a copy of a drawing. Because some of them were good.

In other news, Craig and I were supposed to have a date night tonight. Damn those kids and their sick sickness. Not only did sleepover hosts #1 have to cancel because of kid illness, hosts #2 also canceled. And really, we would have been in the wrong to have sent our kids to spend the night with anyone anyway, since they were full of pestilence too. Thank goodness for the buy one, get one free on Walgreen's cough and cold medicine. We may go through a whole bottle before Tuesday. Score one for the drug store, zero for the disco.

And we were even on the V.I.P. list. (Which impressed the crap out of our kids, who really couldn't imagine us at a disco.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your feedback, please

Let me preface this post with a disclaimer: no decision has been made. All parties involved, in fact, have not discussed this for more than a few minutes, and no discussion at all has occurred that involves all the parties at the same time. So don't expect anything to come to fruition in the immediate future, if at all.

Something's been tugging at me. Keeping me up at night. Waking me up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night. While some people might say that God is talking to me, I'm not entirely convinced. But I do know that if something is forcing itself into my consciousness, I need to pay attention.

I'm seriously considering being a surrogate mother for a couple I know.

They never asked. They never even expressed any interest in pursuing such a course of action. They've been trying to conceive for some time, and at some expense, and it hasn't worked. Craig and I, on the other hand, practically looked lovingly at each other across the table and conceived our kids. Fertility? Is not a problem for me. I've carried two healthy pregnancies to term, both resulting in healthy children.

And before you ask, I don't want another baby. Not in the least. Craig and I are both very, very happy with our family's size and have no interest whatsoever in increasing it. The children, too, do not want another sibling. So this is not coming from a place of "I want a bay-bee!!!" I don't. I'm not sentimental about pregnancy, nor am I sentimental about childbirth. In fact, I'm pretty much resigned to the idea that if this happens, I'd have another Cesarean section. After two sections, I'd be hard pressed to find a doctor in this conservative medical town to attend a VBAC. And honestly, I don't know if I would want to make the emotional investment in trying again. After what happened last time, I don't think I'm up for the disappointment of trying and "failing."

This couple? I don't get to tell their story. It's not mine to tell. I'll just say what I feel. They would be wonderful parents. It's a horrible injustice of random, cruel nature and nothing more that they haven't made a baby. I hate to see wasted potential, and they just ooze "fantastic parents" potential.

It's a leap, I know, to go from idly musing about how it sucks that some people who should be parents aren't to thinking that I can do something about it. And maybe it's just a bit narcissistic on my part.

But it's keeping me up at night. And maybe there's a reason for that, a reason bigger than what I can comprehend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fessing Up

Since I subjected you to this meme last week, I thought it would only be fair to give you the correct answers. I know your anticipation was killing you. And I couldn't stand increasing the body count. See how much I love you?

1. I modeled nude, for money, during my second pregnancy. I earned about $200. For sleeping.

That one is absolutely true. I modeled for life drawing classes at two colleges after reading a newspaper article about the difficulty art teachers were having finding models. I figured a pregnant body would be interesting to draw. It was fun. If you're wondering, no, it's not cold. They crank up the heat for the naked person. And after the first two seconds, it wasn't even remotely awkward. I was able to carry on conversations with the instructors and also, yes, sleep. I fell asleep many times. Laying completely still. Except my belly, which sometimes wiggled.

2. Even though I've lived out of the country and traveled pretty extensively during my childhood, I haven't left the United States since a year before I got married.

My mom outed me on that one. It's false. I've left the country several times since 1992. Mostly to Canada, but also to the Bahamas.

3. I've never voted for a winning candidate, whether in a major or local election. Turns out, I'm just not in the mainstream. Period.

Lie. I voted for Clinton in 1992, my first presidential election, and we know how that turned out. That being said, I've lost many more than I've won.

4. Until I started dating the man who later became my husband, I was a rabid college football fan, and even missed dinner in the college refectory if a game went into overtime.

Very true. I toy with the idea of getting into football again, but I really don't have time.

5. I dye my hair so frequently that I honestly have no idea what my natural color is. Or if I have any grey hairs.

False. I know my hair color. And how much of it's grey. Which is too much. Hence the hair color.

6. I'm unreasonably afraid of tornadoes.

Nope. That's false. Weather doesn't really scare me.

7. I won't eat organ meat. Of any kind. It's gross.

False. Liver is one of my favorites.

8. I've tried, but never succeeded, at giving blood. One time I was denied because I was under the required weight (110 lbs.) and once because I still had the sniffles. As a result, I force my husband (definitely more than 110 lbs.) to give blood since I never can.

False, but barely. I've only successfully given blood twice. I tried to give platelets at work, but that was a disaster. A painful disaster. With a lot of bruising. And heat packs. And did I mention pain?

So now you know the story. Hope it was worth the wait.