Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spreading the love

In the midst of my extreme crankiness brought on by the less than zesty events of this morning, I received an email reminding me of happier things. I had forgotten that I had signed up to do a Secret Cupid Exchange for Valentines Day.

I have to say I don't celebrate Valentines Day and probably haven't since I was in high school. I know the husbeast and I did at least one Valentines Day date when we were dating, but I think it was miraculously unimpressive. I am a firm believer that love and appreciation should be shown every day, not just on some day that is a commercially driven fad that always makes me think of bloody prohibition fueled mob murders. What isn't that what you think of; blood and roses?

Typically we reserve sappy displays of affection for Tuesdays*. With that in mind I have to say I really dig this whole Secret Cupid thing. Valentines Day is all around depressing for a lot of people, and it is also really exciting for others. Far be it from me to judge anyone on what they want to celebrate and how they want to do it. If I can make someone happy then it is well worth the effort to me.

So in the spirit of the day I am now planning furiously what to send to my match. This is difficult because she has no blog I can stalk. I will just have to be creative. Ideas of what to give a complete stranger you know nothing about other than they have a similar taste in blogs for Valentines day are appreciated.

And in the interest of helping out anyone who might be stalking my blog for hints as to what to send me (this whole match thing is a two way street you know) I offer up some tidbits about me that might help.

-I like chocolate, especially dark chocolate.
-I don't like nuts. They won't kill me, but I don't enjoy them.
-I adore toffee.
-I hate coconut and the stuff will kill the husbeast.
-Gummy Bears are my favorite candy, but typically just the Harbo brand, off brands tend to use coconut oil in the making and that goes back to the not wanting to kill the husbeast thing.
-I am a baker, a writer, a costumer, a Renaissance Faire performer, a reader, a lover of TV and film. (I had to say something that wasn't food related).
-I like anything homemade.
-I am not a fan of things with strong smells unless it is lavender scented.
-I have a ridiculous medal allergy so I don't wear jewelry.

Umm yea. So other than reading my blog, or checking out my Pinterest, that is all I can think of.

*Tuesday gifts are not reserved for Tuesday, they are for any random ordinary day just because you wanted to give someone a gift because you could.


When I went to my car this morning to head to work I discovered I had been robbed. At first I didn't really understand what had happened. The glove box was open and the contents of the center console were strewn about the passenger seat. My first reaction was that the husbeast had been looking for something. My second thought was I had been robbed.

They didn't break into my car, there was no need. It was unlocked. I know how stupid that is, but I forgot. I was carrying in groceries last night and it slipped my mind. They also really didn't take anything, not that there is much in my car to take.

They were obviously in a hurry and didn't want to draw any attention to themselves so they didn't try and rip out my stereo. They did snatch my messenger bag which had been sitting in the front seat. I know you are saying why did you leave your purse in the car? Purse is a very loose term with me. That satchel was not really a purse so much as a carrying case.

The contents of the satchel was nothing of monetary value. I had a few books in there, some notebooks and journals, a pocket sized dictionary and thesaurus, a needle and thread, a hem gauge, some matches, an empty salt and pepper shaker, a couple of Starbursts, and a mechanical pencil. Normally I also carry my netbook, portable hard drive, gerber, iPod, camera, and power cords for various items. Thankfully this was not the case currently. I would also like to think I wouldn't leave that stuff in my car over night, but I would be lying if I said I hadn't done that in the past.

What really struck me was the number of things the thief did not take. I had another smaller purse laying on the back seat, it was empty though. My gym bag was also sitting on the back seat, though all it contained was dirty gym clothes and a lock. There was a large plastic shopping bag full of fabric as well. There were a few CD's in the console that they left, apparently bluegrass and Irish folk songs were not appealing to them. The charger for my phone was plugged into the outlet in plain view. The most puzzling thing they left was a full bottle of hydrocodone that was in the glove box.

The fact that they didn't take the pills even confused the cop. Even if they weren't an addict that stuff apparently is in high demand and easy to sell. The pills were the only loose item in my car worth any money at all.

In the end there was no real damage done. I am annoyed and pissed off that someone was in my space. I am annoyed I will have to find a new bag that can fit all my stuff. I am really annoyed I lost a notebook full of writing. I am most pissed off that they stole the book I was in the middle of reading and my favorite book on writing that goes with me everywhere.

People are shitty.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Death of American consumerism

Sunday afternoon we decided to take a family outing. The plan was to go see a movie, drop by Half Priced Books, have some dinner, and stop at Target to get some new work pants for the husbeast. The kid showed up just in time to join us, which made the entire plan that much nicer.

Normally we would go to the big Cinemark near our house to see a movie, but after a frustrating incident Saturday night, we are temporarily boycotting that theater. So instead we headed to the AMC in the mall. It is not normally our first choice because it is a little far, but it has the bonus of being across the street from a Half Priced Books, so it was a win in my world.

Now when I first came to this mall it was probably around ten years ago, before I had even moved to Dallas. I can remember walking through the mall on a Sunday afternoon and seeing it fairly busy. Mobs of unattended teenagers roamed around looking mischievous while families tried to wrangle their children in. Everywhere you looked you found people with shopping bags milling about in that strange mall daze. All of this was before the movie theater was even built, so all of the business was just mall business.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. There were only a handful of people in the mall at all. I am fairly certain the majority of the people we saw were mall employees, and the rest seemed to be patrons of the movie theater. 80% of the shop fronts stand empty as well as almost all of the kiosks that used to sell jewelry, candles, or custom airbrushed t-shirts with your face on them. There was an eerie sort of silence that was not natural for a mall at 5pm on a Sunday.

As we looked about at what would be the ideal setting for some zombie horror movie the husbeast asked what had happened to this place. Was it a sign of a really bad economy or the death of American consumerism as we knew it? I think the answer is both.

With the economy being so bad smaller businesses have taken such a huge hit, but they are not helped any by the fact that malls just aren't the thing anymore. It is not that the need for what a mall had is no longer there, it is just that they are housed in different forums now. Now if you want to go shopping you go to an outdoor shopping center. Something that is crammed full of big box stores and chain restaurants. The unholy union of outlet malls and strip centers.

These outdoor mega shopping complexes are everywhere. They hold everything that your traditional mall held with the added bonus of a variety of full service restaurants. Also there is not the pressure to go into ten different stores when you only came for a new book. There is also the added bonus of going to your car after every store so your arms are not laden with packages from your shopping adventures.

These complexes have been gaining popularity for years now while the traditional mall slowly dies away. The once bastions of American consumerism are slowly becoming extinct like the dinosaurs. These behemoth eyesores are standing empty waiting to be repurposed or demolished to make way for something more modern and useful.

So while consumerism is alive and well, or as well as it can be in this economy, the malls days are numbered. Soon the only evidence that we will have of the glory that was the mall will be held in the form of cult classic movies about teenagers of the 80's and 90's. It is a part of my youth that is letting out its death rattle, and this makes me a little sad.

I suppose though it is the way of things. One idea passes on to make way for another that seems more appealing. Who knows someday we might find ourselves moving back indoors to shopping malls, or perhaps internet sales will become the only option at all, completely killing off the idea of an actual storefront.

Who knows what the future holds.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The end of the House Husband

I am thrilled to say that the husbeast is no longer unemployed! <insert cheering and muppet arms* here>

After nearly three months of searching for a job he finally got an acceptable job offer on Friday. There is a sense of relief I am not sure I can explain. I mean we were surviving on my paycheck and his unemployment, but really not quite. I mean surviving covered the bills but not stuff like gas and groceries. We were slowly draining our joke of a savings and another month and we would have been in trouble.

We are both excited that he is employed, although not necessarily the job. I am not sure how many of you have dealt with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or if all unemployment is the same in every state, but with the TWC you are required to accept any job offered to you that is: 1) A comparable pay rate to what you were previously receiving, and 2) Within a reasonable distance from your home.

These rules are good I suppose. I mean he didn't have to accept a job that was grossly under what he is used to making. Heck the limit they set was actually higher than his previous base salary due to the fact that he is a salesman and they factored in commissions. Also he didn't have to accept a job that would have him doing a three hour commute every day, which is totally possible in DFW.

It does mean however that if he interviews for a job he despises but they offer him the job, and it is a comparable salary close to home, he has to accept it or lose unemployment. So in that vein it is really an unfortunate set of rules they have tethered him to.

I am not saying he hates the job he took. Don't think that. He is actually very excited about the job. It offers him some new opportunities, the pay is great, and it is like 5 minutes from the house if he catches all three red lights and the school zone between here and there.

The problem mostly stems from the fact that after months of searching with almost no opportunities presenting themselves, this week he has been flooded with options. He took more interviews for viable jobs this week than he has in three months. It is feast or famine with job hunting, and he had just hit the feast part of it.

I think he is nervous that by taking the first job that was offered to him he is passing up on something that would be better. Not necessarily better money wise, but more importantly a better job for him. A job he will be happier in. A job that will bring him satisfaction. A job that will be fulfilling. You know basically a job that can be a career and not something that is just a pay check.

Then again that might be the job he has taken. Only time will really tell if this was a good decision or not. It is however the wisest decision. It is the decision that will keep us in our home and fed. In the end he can keep looking for work while he is employed, and the worst thing that can happen is he finds himself unemployed again. It isn't like we don't know how to deal with that situation.

In the mean time I am going to have to go back to cleaning the kitchen and doing the laundry on my own again. It figures, just when he is getting the hang of keeping up with the housework he finds a job. Oh well. C'est la vie.

*You know when muppets dance they mostly just wave their arms in the air in a very excited fashion. Yea so when my friends and I get excited someone normally says 'muppet arms' to indicate excitement. And then we wave our arms in the air like we were muppets.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What is best for me

In my ongoing fight to be a better me, I am constantly finding that a huge chunk of my focus is on food. What can I say, I like to eat. A lot. I always have. Growing up I was always the first person people looked to when food went missing, and normally I was the right person to look at.

Now when I was a teenager with a better metabolism and was walking and moving constantly this wasn't such a terrible thing. I mean I wasn't what the fashion industry or my family would consider skinny. I was however, in retrospect, healthy. Seriously if I had realized back then what I actually looked like and not what I thought I looked like, my life would probably be different today.

I am now 30 and spend like 85% of every day sitting so I have to think more about what and when I eat. It is responsible or something like that. It is also a huge pain in the ass. I spend far more time than I would like tracking food and planning what I am going to eat when.

What really makes this a pain is the fact that eating healthy isn't a simple thing. Anyone who tells you it is easy to be healthy doesn't live in reality. Eating healthy is expensive and grossly restrictive, two concepts I do not work well with.

I have some requirements when it comes to food. I want my food to taste good. I want my food to be good for me. I would like my food to be reasonably priced and reasonably convenient. Now convenience I am willing to let slide most of the time. For lunches I would prefer something simple, but I do recognize that sometimes effort is required. The other three are sort of the important ones.

Sadly you can't have all three. You can have cheap and tasty, you can have tasty and healthy, but rare is it you find cheap and healthy especially if you are expecting it to taste good. What is up with that?

Don't even get me started on what I think is healthy as opposed to what other people try and shove down my throat as healthy. I have heard all the arguments for high protein low carb, no carb, paleo, whole grains, no sugar, vegetarian, vegan, substitutions, no trans fats, no processed foods, and any other up to the moment food fad there is. I am not sold on any of them. I recognize some portions of some of these food philosophies are good, but not the whole thing.

Yea processed foods aren't the best for you, but I am never going to give up white flour or processed sugar. I agree that too many sweets are bad for you, but I am never going to give up sugary foods altogether. I agree that tons of empty carbs are not the best idea, but I am never giving up bread, pasta, or rice. I know in theory that whole grains are good for you, but I am never going to switch from white bread and pasta because whole wheat and whole grain are disgusting. I don't even know what trans fats are but I am not convinced they are totally evil anymore than I believed eggs were evil, or salt was evil, or high fructose corn syrup was evil, or anything else you say is evil but will come back and say is alright in moderation ten years from now. I even think the whole paleo movement probably  has some good benefits, combining a lot of the other ideas we have covered here, but I am never  giving up dairy. It sort of goes without saying vegan is off the table, but I am never giving up meat either so lets not even ponder vegetarianism an me.

Now I know saying never is extreme. Never say never or some such nonsense. The truth is if I was forced to give up any of those things I would. Right now however there is no gun, literally or figuratively, being held to my head, so lets just stick with the never theory.

What I will do is be conscious of what I eat. I will try not to eat huge amounts of sugary sweet things. I will try and eat less processed foods. I will eat smaller portions of everything. I will try and balance out my protein to carb ratio. I will try and do what is best for my body.

I just wish I could do that and stay on my budget.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Raindrops keep falling on my head

I love the rain. That is very important for me to say first off in this post, because really this post is about how much I hate the rain.

Reality is I love the rain. I love how after a good rain everything looks clean and new as though the rain itself gave the world a fresh start. I love the way the sound of falling rain can lull you into a relaxed state causing the perfect atmosphere for snuggling and book reading. I love the way rain forces you to find new and different things to do; whether it be from power outages, rained out outdoors events, or a bit of cabin fever from being stuck inside so long. I also love dancing in the rain.

That being said; I hate the rain.

Now in Texas one should never say they hate the rain. We had a horrible drought this past year which resulted in most of the state catching fire. This was a very bad thing. After such a harsh season any rain is welcome. We desperately need to catch up.

Still I find myself sitting here thinking about how much I hate the rain, and here is why:

- Sleep deprivation.

I really like my sleep. I have been an insomniac my entire life, so I really get ticked off when anything causes me to lose sleep.

Every time it really rains, which right now it is really raining, I have this paranoid fear that the power is going to go out while I sleep and cause me to be late for work. I will wake up in a fit of paranoia every 20 minutes or so throughout the night to check my alarm clock.

Usually it is still on, but sometimes it will be flashing at me indicating a power outage. At that point I jump out of bed in a panic and run out to the living room to see what time it is. Inevitably it is either 3:00am or 10:00am, either of which are bad. If it is 3:00am I go back to bed pissed off and am normally unable to fall back to sleep. If it is 10:00am I sprint through my morning routine at hyper speed, all the while loudly cursing, and most likely run out the door without a lunch, having forgotten to brush my teeth, and not fed the cats.

And if the alarm paranoia doesn't wake me up the thunder does. Last night there was a crack of thunder at 1:30am so loud that the husbeast and I both shot awake screaming, and all the animals woke up and ran in panicked circles. There was another crack at 4:30 that had the same results. While it is humorous to see my cats slam into one another in confusion, I was not terribly amused.

- No one can drive in the rain.

Texas drivers are pretty awful. If you ask the husbeast, who is from Louisiana originally, he will go on and on about how awful Texas drivers are. When it rains I more than agree with him.

I am not sure if it is because it doesn't rain often, or if we really are that bad of drivers, but a little water on the roads and everyone loses their ever loving minds. They all either drive 10 to 20 miles under the speed limit and clump together causing giant slow moving roadblocks, or they speed and zip around everyone in anger and frustration, kicking up water, and otherwise making it seriously dangerous for everyone involved.

If everyone would just drive like normal sane people there would be no reason for any of this anger and frustration. There also would be no reason for me to be late to work when I left 20 minutes early.

- Soggy shoes all day long.

I hate having to wear wet shoes. As I was getting ready to leave this morning I looked at my shoe options. In getting dressed I had not assembled an outfit that would allow me to wear my boots because they are brown. I didn't have time to change, since I knew I had to leave early because of rain driving stupidity, so I had to chose between my office flats or my sneakers.

Now thinking practically you would think I chose sneakers.  You would be wrong. My sneakers are my gym sneakers, and therefor have mesh on top. Mesh leads to massive water leakage, which leads to wet socks, which leads to a very cranky  me through most of the day.

My flats were going to get wet as well, this was not a question as they have decorative vents in the sides. My flats however give me the option of kicking off my shoes at my desk to allow the shoes to dry. No wet shoes on feet leads to a happy me.

As it was I got to the office and took my shoes off in the car. I rolled my jeans up almost to my knees and carried my shoes in with me. Sure I got some really weird looks from my coworkers when I came in barefoot with my jeans cuffed up, but I had dry pants and shoes.

I win.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Presenting Miss Etta James

Never go to a PetCo on a Saturday afternoon unless you are a cold hearted person, or don't like kittens.

Our Saturday was in theory just going to be a day of fabric shopping. The husbeast and I traveled down to Perth street to get the fabric we need for his costume this year. He isn't really big into fabric shopping so I promised him a new book if he was good all day. It is amazing how easily he can be bribed.

So we spent most of our day eyeballs deep in fabric. For me it was glorious, for him it was tolerable. He did behave wonderfully and was actually very helpful, so after a quick lunch at Pei Wei and a trip to Joanne's for trim, we made our way back to our side of the world via Barnes and Nobles. Normally we are Half Priced Book people, but the book he wanted had been out all of two days, so full priced it was.

We bummed around the book store for a while. He actually found two books and I found absolutely nothing I was looking for. I was a little disappointed, but he looked happy so it was worth the trip. As we were leaving he asked if we could stop at Michael's so he could pick up something he needed for his Warhammer mini's, and I figured he had been so good that it would be alright.

As we were driving to the end of the lot where Michael's was he pointed to the PetCo and noted they were having kitty adoptions. It was totally his suggestion that we go in and pet the kitties. His idea!! I of course thought this was a great idea. Adoption kitties need extra loving, and it always makes me feel better to be a round cute things like that for a while.

Once inside we looked around at the kitties for a while. There were probably two dozen up for adoption. Most of them were older, around two years or more. There were a few obvious kittens and a few that I couldn't tell their age. The people pointed out two Russian Blues that were brothers. They were about two and had been sent to the shelter when their humans divorced. The wife had locked them outside saying she didn't want them because they reminded her of her husband, and he said he hated them and never wanted them in the first place, so it was off to the shelter. That just broke my heart. If I could adopt two cats I would have taken them both in a heartbeat.

She's so FLUFFY!!
As I was being heartbroken over the brothers sad story I glanced up at a cage where there was this little ball of fluff. The kitty was a tortoise calico with a bit of Persian in her. She had the sweetest flat face, and the softest fur, and as soon as I reached in her cage she rolled onto her back so I would rub her belly as though she were a dog.

The story on the cage read that she was found freezing and starving in the streets. They guessed she was about 6 months old. She had been fostered for about a month now and was looking in very good health and spirits. All she wanted to do was cuddle up with me and purr.

Yea like I could resist that.

An hour later we were setting her up in the guest bedroom.

Her name had been Melody when we got her, but neither the husbeast nor I liked that name for her. They said they had named her that because she liked to sing. On the car ride home she proved this to us. She has a pretty little meow with some gravel in it. We tossed around names in jest like Madonna or Lady GaGa, but then it came to me. Etta James.

Ms James had only passed away the day before, and for some reason it seemed both inspired and appropriate to name this sweet little girl after that legendary lady. We didn't even have to think twice before we decided that our new family member would be Miss Etta James.

The other cats are not so keen on the kitten yet. MuShu is curious, but Etta wants nothing to do with MuShu. Pig on the other hand wants nothing to do with any of us. He is supremely ticked off. If my cat could shout 'You kids get off my lawn!' I am pretty sure he would yell it at all of us. He growls and hisses anytime anyone gets near him. He will tolerate us at a distance, especially if we have food. I am sure he will come around eventually.

The dog hasn't met the kitten yet but she has seen her through the sliding glass door. I am sure she will just think it is someone new to play with. I doubt Etta will have the same opinion of Rogue.

Despite the slight animal unrest in our house, I am very pleased with our new family member.

How could you resist that face?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nothing like a Texas winter

I came out of my office this afternoon and was greeted by the most pleasant of weather; it was in the high 70's and the sky was clear blue and sunny. All in all it was a perfect day, though not at all what one would expect to find in January. You really have to love Texas.

I got home and found that the husbeast had opened all the windows and was airing out the house. The blinds were all pulled up and the dark musty air the house takes on in the winter was washed away with a fresh breeze and bright sunshine. This is a treat normally reserved for sometime in Aptil, but was oh so welcome early.

We went out back on our deck and sat in the shade of the live oaks, even though they have no leaves just now, what with it still being January and all. The trees are not fooled by the pleasant weather, they know its not time for leaves yet. The dog lay on our feet as we watched golfers enjoying the weather. It seemed that no one could be kept inside when it was so lovely out.

I know that tomorrow it is supposed to be cold. I know that in a week we easily could be trapped in by an ice storm. I know this weather will not last. Weather in Texas is unpredictable at best, though I think fickle is a better word for it.

I used to giggle when my mother would say, "If you don't like the weather in Texas just wait a minute, it will change." It seemed like a strange saying, but if you have ever been in Texas you know it is so incredibly true. Like it or not the weather will change in the blink of an eye.

For now I am trying not to blink to often because I really like this weather. I am not quite ready for it to change just yet. I am sure it is plenty ready though.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Someone is lying to me

Every week I haul myself into the gym, kick off my shoes, step on the scale, and hold my breath as I begin sliding the bar towards the number that it sat on the week before. All the time I am silently praying that the bar will even out before I get to the previous number. Luckily for me the number has steadily been getting smaller over the last year. True it is normally the same or only a pound or two less, but progress is progress. Over the course of a year one to two pounds a week adds up.

Why is it then that I when I go to get dressed in the morning my jeans are tighter? I've lost weight but gotten fatter all at the same time. Are my jeans mocking me? Is it some sort of trick? Yes the number on the scale is decreasing but the size of your jeans is increasing.

I realize that you don't lose weight everywhere at once. I actually started losing weight in my hands and feet first. I lost a significant amount of weight in my face and upper torso. I have however gone down at least one almost two pants sizes. Still there are days I could easily go back up a pants size. The jeans I had to buy when my old jeans literally fell off while I was walking, sometimes are uncomfortably tight. I've lost almost 10 pounds since I bought those jeans, they shouldn't be tighter.

It is just annoying and even a little frustrating to see progress in one way and see regression in another. It makes no logical sense. It will not stop me from trying, but it might cause some instances where I scream at my wardrobe* in the mornings and scare my cats.

*What? Don't even tell me you have never had arguments with your clothing. I don't know a single woman who hasn't at some point had angry words, or pleaded with their clothes. It is a thing. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not so neighborly

A few months ago my department at work moved into a new office. It was a big move for us since it was a different building from the rest of the company, and none of us were sure this move was going to be a positive thing. What can I say, we are a group of people that do not handle change well.

After being in this new building almost three months, I have to say it is really nice here. We no longer have to deal with the drama of the break room, the temperature in this building is much more comfortable, there is no excess traffic of people tromping through the big corporate conference room. It is not perfect mind you, but it is really pretty pleasant.

Now there are a few minor annoyances. Our cubes only have three walls which no one is happy about. You see when I first started working here we actually had doors on our cubes. Complete privacy. Then we moved to a different floor and had no doors and were forbidden to cover our little doorway in any way even though other departments were hanging curtains and using folding screens for privacy. Now there is not even the semblance of a fourth wall. It is uncomfortable, and no one is adjusting to that well.

Also there is only one restroom in the building. If it is being cleaned or broken we have to hike to the other building. That is more than a little inconvenient. Hopefully I will never have to trek up the hill because that would be really annoying.

My biggest complaint really has nothing to do with the building at all. My biggest complaint is my new next-cube-neighbors. You see my job is really boring and involves me scrubbing a lot of data. No one in my group talks much. We like the quiet. A lot.

Through the years people have been sat in our area as a temporary solution and they all have commented on how quiet we are. They all went out of their way to be as quiet as possible so as to not disturb us. It was very polite of them, and we always appreciated it.

For some reason when making the seating chart for this new building the powers that be decided that they should sit one of the groups that are constantly on the phone on the row next to our group. There are only 30 people in my department. There are nearly 60 cubes in this office. They easily could have sat this group of 4 over with the other group that is always on the phone. They did not have to put the loud group with us. Yet they did.

Them constantly being on the phone with consumers is annoying. They work on disputes so it is a whole lot of them trying to talk down really angry people, or trying to explain things to incredibly dense customers, either way it is a lot of talking. Add on top of that these women are all very loud and very chatty and I want to shoot someone.

They apparently have no idea what the interoffice communicator is for, think that talking to each other over the cube wall is completely acceptable, and think when they aren't on the phone with a client or shouting questions back and forth about their job, that they have to talk about something in their personal lives. I know all about these women and I couldn't tell you their names if I had to. This is ridiculous.

The worst part is I really can't say anything. I could ask them to keep it down, but their job requires them to be on the phone. I have worked in customer service over the phone, I know it is impossible to always be quiet when talking to a customer, I get that. Even if they stopped the personal conversations and learned how to IM a question to one another, I would still have to listen to them talk to customers all day long. I can't ask to move because they want us sitting with our groups, and there is no way they will move an entire group.

I really really dislike these women. They have very poor attitudes and are pretty obnoxious. They make me want to poison their desk plants* and hide rotting meat in their cubes to annoy them as much as they annoy me.

I am not going to do anything rash. I am going to sit here and silently fume about it, because that is what you do in an office. I will turn up my iPod, I will try and ignore them, and I will be as neighborly as I can...for now.

*The first two weeks we were in the office I had to listen to the woman directly on the other side of my cube wall complain loudly about her plant because someone was watering it and she thought it was dying because of that. She then would bitch about how she didn't even want the plant and someone had given it to her when they left. Then the damn thing started attracting gnats which started swarming my cube. I want to kill the thing and make everyone happy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Give me something to talk about

I've been searching for something to write about for a few days now. I have plenty of topics that I would be happy to ramble on about, but I just can't seem to pick any one of them to work on.

Part of the problem is that there are a few that I think I have already written about. I don't really want to sound like a broken record, though I know eventually I will start repeating myself. It is like in the real world, eventually you will tell the same story to the same group of friends three or four times. I also think I have written a post about this topic before, so I will stop talking about it now.

The other problem is that I think there are too many thoughts in my head. I have trouble just pinning one down because the others are fighting really hard for attention. I could easily talk about the 15 women in my life that are about to, or just have, given birth. I could talk about the frustration behind losing things and therefor being unable to accomplish goals. I could talk about the feelings I have behind my photo a day project. I could talk about writing, I could talk about faire, I could talk about family, I could talk about the lack of work at work, I could talk about the husbeast, I could talk about me.

You see my problem?

So yea there is so much to talk about that I can't seem to talk about anything at all. Instead it would seem I am talking about nothing instead.

Anything you want me to talk about?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Take a look, it's in a book

I am not sure if I have ever mentioned it here or not, but when I was young I couldn't read. I know most little kids can not read. I was in third grade I think before I really ever learned how to read.

I was really slow at learning the whole reading thing. I would do fine with most individual words but my brain could never wrap around the concept of forming individual words into sentences and paragraphs, which is what reading is all about. I especially had problems with the concept of the word 'the'. Do you realize what an important word 'the' is?

After spending most of second grade in remedial reading group I all but gave up. By the way I get the idea of making the slow readers work together so that the fast readers don't get frustrated with having to sit through kids struggling with 'See Dick run' while they have already mastered Dr Suess and left him in the dust. Let me just tell you though, as one of the slow kids, it is incredibly demeaning, frustrating, and discouraging to be pushed out into the hall because you can not read and knowing all your classmates now think you are stupid. I digress...

So with the fear that I would never read firm in my mothers mind she found me a private tutor. The woman was brilliant as far as I can remember. She was also my piano teacher, which is primarily what I remember of her, but I vaguely recall the reading tutoring as well. There was bingo and silly putty involved, but I am not sure how or why.

In the end I could read, and it was bittersweet. My brother could read since he was like 3. He was reading books that high school students struggled with when he was in 3rd grade. It was one of those things people talked about all the time. My brother was so gifted and I was not. Sort of discouraged me from doing a lot of reading once I had learned. Plus I was a very very painfully slow reader.

Eventually around the beginning of 5th grade I discovered R.L. Stein and the Fear Street series. Young adult horror fiction in general became a bit of an obsession for  me. I loved it. It took me two weeks to finish a book most kids read in two days, but I didn't care. I wanted more.

My mother was thrilled. She didn't really care what kind of trash I was reading as long as I was reading voluntarily. Well no that isn't true, she still wanted me to read things that were good literature. We made a deal that for every two or three of my books I read I had to read one book of my brothers choosing. This way I was reading stuff outside of required school books and outside of trashy teen horror fiction.

My brother started me off with things like Island of the Blue Dolphin, My Side of the Mountain, Call of the Wild, and Julie of the Wolves. In school I was working on Where the Red Fern Grows, and after I completed that he decided I was ready for heavier books. He had me reading Lord of the Flies in 8th grade because he knew I would eventually have to read it for class.

Somewhere between Where the Red Fern Grows and Lord of the Flies I got hooked on reading outside my comfort zone. The first book I asked my mom to buy me that wasn't a teen horror fiction and not a recommendation of my brother was Little Women. I don't think she was ever happier to buy me a book in her life.

After that I was in love with books. I read all sorts of things; from trashy fantasy smut to biographies to everything in between. I am still an incredibly slow reader though so I don't put back many books. I have trouble finding time to read really. I can't read anything too consuming before bed or I won't sleep. So I find an hour here or there to pick up a book, but because I can only manage about 30 to 40 pages an hour, I don't typically get too far.

Right now I have a stack of books that I am meaning to read. I know there are more than 20 of them that I already own, and probably that many on my wish list still. I am not certain how long it will take me to finish them, but I do know I am not going to stop trying.

It took me a long time to get here, and I might not be the fastest horse in the race, but I will finish none the less. I will finish and I will enjoy every word that gets me there.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lazy Sunday morning

It's 10am on a Sunday morning and I have yet to do anything productive. I am snuggled down on my couch in my flannel PJ pants and a hoodie in my dark mostly silent living room. The sounds of the husbeasts game and some angry grackles on my back porch are the only things disturbing the peace.

I love mornings like this. I find that a lazy Sunday is a good way to re-energize the soul. It is good for a person to just relax and not make any real effort to do anything but be.

I started my morning snuggling and giggling with the husbeast. One off my favorite things in the world is just being weird with him. I do mean weird. Silly is a given, but I can be flat out weird at times. Still we just lay in bed giggling like children and it was refreshing.

Now is the requisite time with our electronics. He will play some game where he flies things or shoots things or mines things, and I will read my blogs and check my web comics and play some Words With Friends on Facebook*.

I am sure at some point there will be noshing. Foods must be had even on a lazy Sunday. I may cook something, but more than likely we will just subside on leftovers and sandwiches.  If I do cook anything it will not be because I have to but more because I want to. Baking is good for my soul too. Maybe I will bake some muffins or perhaps I will make the husbeast a pot of beans. It just depends on how my day goes.

He is going to go play Warhammer 40K with the boys, and I will probably go to the gym with my best friend at some point in the day. I am not really stressed about if I do or don't make it to the gym; there is no room for stress on a lazy Sunday. If I make it great, I would love to chat with my friend, and we always have some interesting conversations while plugging away on the elliptical. If I stay on my couch in my PJs all day then that will be great too.

I am certain at some point I will end up watching bad TV. Sunday's are made for bad movies on SyFy, or marathons of shows on HGTV or Foodnetwork or TLC. Lazy Sundays are the only time I really watch shows that are outside of my normal line up. It is really the only time I allow myself to watch horrors like Toddlers in Tiaras or Flip This House or Giant Squid vs Giant Shark. It is good for me to watch that stuff sometimes.

In the end we may go to a movie at the dollar theater tonight. In Time is showing and we both really want to see it. It all depends on when the husbeast returns from his game and whether I feel like putting on a bra at that hour or not. Again it is not a big deal if we don't go. We can always go tomorrow night instead.

No matter what happens today I am not going to stress about any of it. It is a lazy Sunday, and I plan to get as much lazy and relaxed out of the day that I possibly can. Here is hoping Sunday treats all of you just as well.

*Yes only on Facebook. I don't have a smart phone so there is no playing that game on a mobile device. Besides I am fairly certain that I would never get anything done if I could play that anywhere I was.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Piling higher and higher

I can always tell when I am stressed because my eyelashes fall out. I don't sit and yank them out in some sort of repetitive stress induced motion, like if I were to be pulling out my hair. No they just sort of fall out on their own. This general fact leads me to constantly check for loose eyelashes as I hate getting eyelashes in my eyes.

The holidays have ended and I find myself more stressed than I was the entire month of December. Mostly my stress stems from the husbeast being unemployed. We are currently in week 10 of no job, and while he isn't panicking yet, I sort of am.

I can't blame him for not having a new job yet as he is trying really hard. He is getting a good number of interviews but every one has been for a sales position with little to no base salary. If he was in his early 20's and didn't have a mortgage and two car payments, maybe that would cut it. Lets face it, we do have a mortgage and two car payments, and an average amount of personal debt; he needs a good base pay. Besides do you know how much they tax a commission check?

Speaking of taxes, I am beginning to stress over filing taxes and our W-2s haven't even come in yet. For the first few years of our marriage we managed to mostly not owe anything, while at the same time not getting much back. After we bought the house this changed. We went two or three years with a return of nearly $2000. I was a big fan of this.

Then three years ago when the economy tanked the husbeast was hit with his first layoff. Tax time rolled around and we owed money. Like a lot of money; nearly $1500. I was so confused we made nearly 50k less that year, and we went from a $2000 return to owing $1500? That made no sense. We do our taxes ourselves though, and no matter how many times we checked the numbers they always came out the same.

In the end we decided it had to be the crappy company he had gotten hired on with after the lay off not taking out enough taxes. He got laid off from that company as well, and we once again were looking at a new job for him. We checked to make sure we were having all the right deductions this time. We didn't want another surprise.

Surprise! We owed nearly $2000 the next year. Same story only worse. We couldn't figure it out. Nothing was changing other than we were making so much less money. We thought perhaps it was because he suddenly wasn't getting fat commission checks that were having close to 40% taken in taxes. That had to be what the problem was. A very expensive problem.

So we are still paying on that tax bill and I find myself hugely anxious about running our numbers this year. I had extra money taken out of all my checks in the vain hope that we wouldn't owe money again this year, or at least that it wouldn't be so damn much.

Then add to all that the fact that faire is going into full swing any moment now. All of the planning and preparations have started and I find myself already feeling a little overwhelmed. I am having to design and build a new costume for the husbeast since he is returning with a new character.  I have no idea how we are really going to pay for that, and the new costume pieces I need, and gas to get to and from faire, and everything else that goes along with it.

Plus there is also the added stress of being one of the costumers which often makes me feel like I am herding cats when I have to deal with the performers and seamstresses. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. I wouldn't give it up for anything. In fact faire is my little slice of sanity. It is just a lot of work and a lot of stress.

It is probably a very good thing that I have an abundance eyelashes. If I didn't I could see myself looking very strange very quickly. I am sure everything will right itself soon, and everything will be fine. I just hope it happens before I have to start thinking about investing in false lashes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dramatic cut

When I was born I was pretty much bald. I had more than that soft peach fuzz but not enough to really be called a full head of hair. This mostly didn't change until I was like 3.

See? No hair.
There is a picture of me on my first Halloween and I barely had enough hair to tie the little pompoms for my clown costume into my hair. There were lots of velcro bows in my world as a baby. My nanny used to dress me in the frilliest laciest pink dresses and sew pink ribbons to all my overalls and jeans so that people would stop calling me a little boy.

Baby curls. So cute.
I am not sure when my hair started to grow. In photographs I go from about 4 with shaggy short curls, to about 5 with waist length hair. I guess it just sort of grew overnight like boobs do*. I guess after being mostly bald for so long my mother wanted to keep me with long girl like hair, so for most of my childhood I had hair well past my waist.

I have since then had 5 dramatic, or traumatic, hair cuts. If you have ever had a cut that is considered dramatic or traumatic you would remember them too.

The first was when I was in the 4th grade. We were having a pool put in and I was a huge fan of swimming. The only thing was I had this massive mane of hair. It was really long, really thick, and really hard to take care of. Normally my mom brushed it out and blew it dry every night after my bath. She declared that there was no way that she was going to take care of my hair if I was swimming all the time. I was going to have to do it myself.

So I told them to cut it all off. I really think my mom and my hairdresser were more upset about this than I was. I went in and they lobbed off about two feet of hair and I came out with an adorable chin length bob. It was super easy to take care of and super cute on me. I never missed the long hair.

That was the last hair cut I got until I was a freshman in high school. I never really cared all that much for keeping up with my hair, its one of those girly things I don't do. At this point my hair had turned into a long frizzy mess. I wore it back in a ponytail every day because I couldn't be bothered to do anything with it.

I was visiting my grandmother when the second cut happened and while the first was dramatic this one was traumatic. I wanted my hair to be shoulder length. It was easier to take care of at that length but I could still get it into a ponytail. Apparently the stylist and I had different ideas of what constitutes shoulder length. I thought my hair should touch my shoulders at the lowest point, he thought it should touch at the highest point where my neck ends. I have a really short neck so my hair was basically chin length again and entirely too short to put in a ponytail. I cried.

Really it was an adorable haircut after it grew out a little. It was just at that awkward inbetween length that never looks right. Plus I was really lazy and keeping it looking cute and tame was not my thing. That haircut was the reason I was a freshman in college before I cut my hair again.

By the time I hit college I had realized a lot about my hair. It was curly so I couldn't brush it when it was dry. I learned the power of product in my hair. I also learned that leaving it down was very attractive. Waist length curls are a lot to deal with, but really cute and I loved it.

I was in school for theater though, so when my director asked me to chop my hair back to just above my shoulders I happily obliged. I knew I looked good with that length hair, and I knew my  hair would grow back. No one else had this confidence. I literally couldn't get anyone to take me up to the place to get my hair cut. In the end I bribed a boy who liked me to take me. Again this cut was dramatic but it was only traumatic for everyone else. The stylist didn't even want to cut it. I felt very much like Jo March in Little Women at that moment.

When I finally made the big reveal, which was opening night on stage, everyone adored it. It is amazing how little faith people can have in you sometimes. I know my hair, trust me to do what is right for it.

I had a few minor cuts between that college cut and my next traumatic cut. This cut was the definition of traumatic. I am not talking bad stylist cut, I am talking catastrophic hair failure. My hair was again around waist length. I had straightened it for some unknown reason which is the only reason I knew precisely how long it was. I had started to refinish some antique side tables we have and was out on the back porch using the dremel for some detail sanding. My hair was pulled back as it should be when working with power tools.

Then the wind picked up. We get killer wind on our back deck, and on that day it was my downfall. Apparently my hair tie wasn't tight enough because a chunk of what would be my bangs, if I had bangs, came loose and blew right into the spinning dremel.

In less than a second the tool caught my hair and wound it up to my scalp. I panicked. The husbeast was much smarter and calmer than I was. I was trying to pull back on the dremel, he simply unplugged it so it would stop turning.

We ended up having to cut the dremel out of my hair leaving my with a one inch long nub of bangs. I was horrified. I was terrified. I couldn't cut all of my hair to one inch, that would look awful. I was envisioning having to have full out one inch bangs. I called my best friend in a panic and she quickly came to take me to the salon.

It took a while to find someplace that was open, and I went in with tears in my eyes and practically hyperventilating. The girl sat me down and quickly took most of the length off of my hair. She left it about shoulder length which I was good with. She quickly put in a few shorter layers around the front to help hide the fact that there was something wrong.

Then came the big question; what do we do with the nub. I told her I didn't want bangs. I don't have the right face shape for bangs and she completely agreed. Then in a moment of brilliance, or perhaps common sense, she told me to stop parting my hair in the center and instead part it on the side which would cover up the nub.

I felt a little dumb for not thinking about that myself. In the end the haircut was cute and the nub ended up being cute too. I had lots of fun clips to keep it out of my eyes after it started growing. I still don't suggest putting your hair anywhere near a power tool. I now wear bandannas to completely cover my hair when I work with the dremel.

The last dramatic cut I got was on my last birthday. I was turning 30 and I decided that I needed a change. Other than when I was 14 I had not had my hair above shoulder length. That is 16 years with mostly long hair. I wanted something no one was used to, even me. So I went in and told the woman I wanted short hair. It couldn't be shorter than my chine because the husbeast wanted some length, but I didn't want it to be anywhere near long or mid length. When she did the first cut I looked at it and said 'shorter'. She just grinned and obliged.

In the end the look was incredibly different and I loved it. Since then my hair has grown out to shoulder length again and honestly it is driving me crazy. I really need to go get it cut again but I for some reason think it will be my birthday again before I manage to do that.

The question is can I wait almost 6 months to get it cut?

*Seriously I have never known a single woman who didn't just sort of wake up one day and they had boobs. It wasn't subtle or anything. They just happened. How awkward is that?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Another one down

New Year came and went, and the holidays are once again over. Well actually I do have cocktail and mocktail party to go to on Friday for Twelfth Night, but it is close enough to call it an end. For most everyone the conventional holiday season is over so that is good enough for me.

New Years Eve was spent at a small gathering with some friends that happened sort of last minute. We had planned to go have dinner with another couple and just veg all night, but the night before we got an invite to another gathering that was much closer to home. The plan had been to go to the last minute gathering first to say hello and then drive out to East Jesus* for dinner with our other friends.

When we got to the gathering we made a decision that it would be better if we could convince the others to come to where we were. It was more festive, and honestly it was cheaper for us. We were out of gas and money is super tight at the moment, so the less driving the better. We totally were going to make the drive should they not want to come because we said we would, but we were really hoping they would come to us instead. Thankfully they did.

The night was very pleasant. It was really laid back for the most part. Lots of talking and laughing and a couple of very fun games of Apples to Apples. The best part was I got to see some friends I really never get to see and I got to ring in the New Year with people I loved.

New Years Day had a much earlier start than I would have liked. Every January 1st we got to the Fort Worth Zoo for the annual Zoo Tour. It is a tradition our friend Dan started because the Zoo is better than losing a finger. Yes you read that right. No I do not think I am going to explain just now.

Sadly Zoo tour is in Fort Worth which might as well be Canada most days, especially when you were up until 3am. To get the whole tour in we typically start around 11am. This required us to get up at 9am which really felt like it was a lot earlier than it was. In the end it was well worth the lack of sleep to go. Fun stories, good friends, beautiful weather, and lemurs bouncing off the walls; what more could you ask for?

This morning was back to work for me, which I was not excited about at all. I pondered long and hard about taking a day off. I could sleep in, do the laundry, take down the decorations, clean my filthy house, and do some much needed grocery shopping. I finally decided that chores was not a good excuse for burning a day of PTO. I have to save them for more important things.

I dutifully got up and drove to the office, possibly about half an hour later than I should have been. As I pulled up to the office complex I realized that something was wrong. The parking lot was empty. We are not talking the type of empty when half the company took the day off, we are talking about the entire company took the day off empty.

I was more than a little confused. I called a friend who I work with and she answered the phone half asleep which told me that I was indeed the only person who had no idea that today was a holiday for us.

Typically they send out an email letting us know that the new holiday schedule is out. This year we got no such email. Instead they just put it up on Sharepoint assuming we all looked at Sharepoint every day. Turns out I try to never look at Sharepoint if I don't have to. If you have ever used Sharepoint you know why.

So I turned my car around and headed home with a quick stop at the grocery store. Now I get to spend the day as I wanted to; cleaning my house. It will be an incredibly productive and satisfying day without the guilt of using a day of my PTO.

I think this is a good sign that the new year will be wonderful.

* I tend to describe anyplace that is far as being in East Jesus or Canada or Mexico or Egypt. It really just depends on what comes out of my mouth at the moment. In this case it refers to Arlington which is about an hour-ish from where we were.