Sunday, October 30, 2005

The strangest things
I don't remember when I first noticed it. But since my sister has been gone, I've noticed that we have the same hands.

No, I did not steal this from that scene in Beaches.

I looked at my hands a lot today, just staring at them in light of some sad news. We try to comprehend things that don't make sense. We want to do something, and we do these things with our hands. But sometimes we can only stare at our hands, hoping they know what to do even though we don't know.

Hands are weird to look at. Mine aren't especially nice. My fingers are too long and skinny. Bony. My knuckles are big and ugly, from early arthritis and years of playing piano. My skin is dry especially now that the weather is cooler and dryer, and because I always forget to lotion them until I notice that they hurt from dry skin.

I remember my sister's hands being in much better shape than mine are now. I don't take particularly good care of my hands. Sometimes I'm pretty sure my hands have aged a lot faster than I have. They seem like old lady hands.

My sister's hands used to bug me. When she'd hold her hand out flat, palm up, her pinky and ring finger would never quite get flat, curving back a bit. I never knew that I'd noticed that, or that it annoyed me, until I noticed one day after she was gone that my hands do the same thing when I first hold them out flat. It's not annoying anymore.

It's comforting. Not so cheesy as to say it's like she's holding my hand, but more like her hand is in mine. It's familiar.

It's a little piece of her that is still here with me. Like my hair that is somehow now wavy like hers used to be, even though my hair never used to be wavy. Or her clothes that I still have and wear sometimes, mixed into my wardrobe, but that never seem to wear out or wear thin even though many of my own clothes only make it one or two seasons before wearing out to the point of un-wearable.

It's a reminder that those we love and lose are never really that far away, and they will one day be close again.

Sometimes I think of the strangest things at the strangest times. Today I noticed again that our hands are the same.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Family is as family does
I'm almost finished reading Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. I've enjoyed it.

In my church and circle of friends, we talk a lot about family, in terms of who is our family. We are kind of a mismatched, damaged, healing, strangely accepting and sometimes optimistic group of people who come from a variety of families and church backgrounds. I consider many of them family outside of my blood-related family.

But we all have different ideas of who and what is family for us.

Towards the end of Pigs in Heaven, I read a few paragraphs about family that I found interesting. The whole book is the story of individuals in a blood-related family who are struggling to find where they belong. The story is an interesting weave of the family they are born with, mixed with the family they pick up along their way in life.

The characters are not important to finding something in this section of the book:

"When the social worker asked Turtle about her family today, you know what she said? She said she didn't have one."

"That's not right! She was confused."

"Yeah, she's confused, because I'm confused. I
think of Jax and Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray, and of course you, and Mattie, my boss at the tire store, all those people as my family. But when you never put a name on things, you're just accepting that it's okay for people to leave when they feel like it."

"They leave anyway," Alice says. "My husbands went like houses on fire."

"But you don't have to
accept it," Taylor insists. "That's what your family is, the people you won't let go of for anything."

I don't have any brilliant commentary on this. But the idea of not accepting when people leave as a determining factor in who we consider family, I found this interesting. And kind of beautiful.

I haven't quite made it to the end of the book to see how that whole family thing works out for everyone in the book, but I do so like things that make me think. I thought I would pause for a moment and share about it.

I will probably have more thoughts on this later.


Seven Simple Rules
Admittedly, I am terrible at friendships and relationships. It's hard to understand how people are supposed to function together when I don't even understand people on their own most of the time.

Humans are quite baffling, in that we change. We change our minds. We change our feelings. We change our surroundings. Just when you think you are learning someone, things change. We find it hard to adapt to what changes.

But I like to think I have a few things going for me when it comes to friendships and relationships. I long for good ones. I will work hard at the good ones. I'm loyal. Once I consider you a friend, you might have a hard time unconvincing me of that. Listening, is another. I'm not a talker, which tends to make me a good listener. As cynical as I tend to be, I actually do care about people deep down.

And, I'm dependable. I will not quit or flake out on you. I'm like Chandler. Chandler's always there for you. He may show up a little late, but he'll get there eventually.

Sometimes I forget all of that, and I suck when it comes to friends. I get selfish, which pretty much ruins all of the good things I had to offer before I succumbed to all things selfish. But generally, I think I've got some of the bases covered in a world of people that make no sense.

I try to keep it simple. I don't require much from my friends. But here are the basics of what I try to stick to, all of equal importance:

1. Always be honest with me.
I don't want to be friends with who you aren't. I want to be friends with who you are. Even if it's not who I thought you were.

2. Laugh at me.
We have nothing in common if you don't find me funny.

3. Make me laugh.
Sometimes I need you to be the entertainer. And, I heal best when I am laughing most.

4. If I'm being an idiot, tell me.
Or maybe I should say "when" I'm being an idiot. Because I will be. In like, 10 minutes.

5. If you are being an idiot, let me tell you.
If you can call me on my crap, I get to call you on yours. And I love you enough to tell you before someone else points it out to everyone else.

6. Let me borrow your stuff, and dress me.
I have the fashion sense of a toothpick, all of your clothes are cooler than mine, and all of your stuff is better than mine.

7. Otherwise, be there for me when it matters.
I need you on the other end of the phone when I am brave enough to call. Stick up for me when no one else does. Or, see Rule #4.

Seems simple, right? I think if it was that easy, people wouldn't leave. The friends we thought were our best friends once upon a time would still be our best friends now.

Or maybe all we should really expect is #2 and #6, and the rest is too much to ask.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Been around the world, and I, I, I...
Can't find my baggage. In Nebraska.

I am so tired and it is late, but I have to write this before I go to bed.

I have a hate-hate relationship with Nebraska. Not the school (although I hate them, too), but the entire state. Something always goes wrong when I go there (and as Friend C pointed out to me tonight, no sentences should start with, "Every time I go to Nebraska, something goes wrong.") The first time I went to Nebraska, I missed my flight to Omaha. And other than things going wrong, Nebraska just doesn't set well with me. No time to explain.

Anyway. Yesterday I had to go to Lincoln to meet with clients. This means we have to fly into Omaha, then drive 45 minutes to Lincoln. I've done this before. No big deal.

For some unknown and completely ridiculous reason, I decided to check one of my bags. I've rarely had a problem with American Airlines. And I normally do not check my bags unless I'm going far away and I have a big bag. But for an overnight trip to Nebraska, I totally could have carried all of my bags on the plane.

But, I got to the airport over an hour early. And for some reason, I just thought it would be nice not to have to deal with my carryon suitcase, plus my professional-looking-non-backpack, um, thing, and my purse. I figured one less rolly bag would be a nice start to my trip. Omaha airport is small. It's a short flight. The chances of mishap were small.

I find the gate, and I see the owner of the company already there... with his bag. CRAP. I made a bad decision to check my bag.

Then my other boss shows up, also with his bag. They both proceed to tease me about checking my bag, saying I will hold them up once we get to Omaha, and insisting that I probably have some HUGE bag with lots of makeup in it. When, in fact, I pack lightly. It's a small bag. It only had one change of clothes for overnight, plus pjs. I insist I will have my bag in hand BEFORE the bosses are able to get the rental car.

I totally should have carried the bag on with me. I pray the entire flight that my bag is the first one off of the baggage claim thingy.

We get on the plane, it flies, it lands. Bosses go to fetch the rental car. I go to fetch my bag.

Many, many many bags go by. None of them are mine. Soon, there are no more bags. Including mine that is nowhere to be found.

My bosses are waiting for me with the rental car. This is my first trip with this company, and my first trip to meet these clients. So far, I am not making a great impression.

I find someone official-looking, and she checks to see that yes, all of the bags are truly off of the plane. Then we have this conversation:

Official Person: Did you lose a bag?
Me: Um, yes. (in my head thinking, why else would I be asking you if there are any more bags to come off of the plane? I'm not taking a survey.)
OP: Ok, well let me get some information from you. (she takes my flight info, name, etc.)
OP: Can you describe the bag?
Me: It's a small gray rolling carry-on. Which I should have carried on. (by now my boss is standing behind me, trying to hurry me to the car so that we can go meet out clients for dinner)
OP: Are you sure it's gray, and not black?
Me: It's gray.
OP: Ok, well I don't see any information about where your bag is. Did you have a layover?
Me: No. Straight shot to Omaha. One hour and 20 minute flight.
OP: Did you check in late?
Me: No, I was over an hour early. Which is why I decided to check my bag.
OP: Well, that just doesn't make sense. I don't know what could have happened to your bag. Seems like it should have been on the plane.
OP: Maybe it fell off of the luggage belt before the plane left. I'm sure it will be on the next flight, which gets in at 9:55 tonight. We can have it delivered to you.
Me: Can you check to see if it is for sure on the next flight? I need that bag tonight.
OP: No. I can't check.

It is odd to me that a plane is not allowed to take off if a passenger's bag is on the flight and the passenger does not make the flight or is pulled off of the flight. A bag is not allowed to travel on the flight without the passenger it belongs with. They are required to find the bag underneath in the cargo area and remove it from the plane. So, tell me why they are allowed to take off if the passenger is on the flight, but the bag is not? And if the bag is not, even thought they have the capability to find it amongst all of the other bags loaded on the plane if they need to take it off, why don't they know if a bag did not make it on a plane, where it is, and if it will be on the next plane?

This means my bag was on a flight that I was not on, and American Airlines could not confirm that my bag was on this plane without me. And what about that "no unattended bags allowed in the airport" rule? If I'm on a plane, flying to somewhere else, but my bag is still left behind in the airport, clearly it is unattended... because I AM NOT WITH IT. None of it makes any sense.

She takes my info in Lincoln, assuring me that it will be delivered tonight, and she gives me a phone number to call later.

We leave for Lincoln. Late to meet our clients. And I just want to crawl under the car seat to hide because WHAT ARE THE ODDS THAT I WOULD LOSE MY LUGGAGE ON A SHORT, DIRECT FLIGHT ON THIS TRIP??? More teasing. I'm making jokes, too. I don't want to be the idiot on this trip. I point out how I travelled to Asia this summer and didn't lose a bag, but I take a short flight to Omaha and my bag is nowhere to be found. We laugh more.

I am calm, yet unhappy, and embarrassed. But I want to handle it well, like the seasoned traveler and professional whatever-it-is that I am.

We meet our clients for dinner. We explain that my suitcase didn't make it, and that is why we are late, and that they may see me in the same outfit tomorrow during our meetings all day. We have a good laugh.

We check in to our hotel. I call the airline. Still no record of my bag existing once it left my hands at the airport here. I have this conversation with the person trying to help me:

Person Trying to Help: I'm going to ask you all of the same information you've already given to the people at the airport. (she does)
PTH: Now, can you describe a few items in the suitcase?
Me: Pink feather boa, small anaconda snake, and... my hunting rifle.
Me: Actually, (and I proceeded to describe some real items in the suitcase, loving the idea that they would look through it once they located it).
PTH: Thank you. Hold please.
PTH: Ok, we still have no record of your bag. I don't see how it was lost on a direct flight.
Me: (ME EITHER!! - I scream in my head)
PTH: It probably fell off of the luggage belt before it made it to the plane.
Me: (I think they need to think of a better off-the-wall excuse for not having record of my bag's demise. Or, get a new luggage belt. One with side rails.)
PTH: I will make sure they check for it on the 9:55 flight, and have them deliver it tonight.
Me: Can someone call me and let me know if it's on that flight and that it's on the way to me?
PTH: We don't usually call. Especially this late at night. We don't like to wake people up.
Me: I WANT a call. Can I request a call? I don't care how late.
PTH: I can put in a request.
Me: (I hear typing) Thank you.

At this point, my options are this:
1. Sleep with no pjs, in Nebraska, in the cold hotel room.
2. Sleep in my clothes that I might quite possibly have to wear tomorrow.
3. Borrow my boss' rental car and make a Walmart run for pjs.

Since no one could promise me that my bag would arrive before my meeting in the morning, I ventured out to Walmart in Lincoln, Nebraska at 10:00pm.

Yikes. It was more white trash than I ever imagined it could be.

I finally found something suitable to serve as pjs, although I was almost stuck with Sponge Bob Square Pants flannel pjs, or Husker-wear, neither of which made me particularly excited about getting any good sleep this particular night. Fortunately, I always travel with the important toiletries, and a clean pair of underwear in the carryon (that I actually carry on to the plane with me). So, I was pretty much set in the clean teeth and whatnot department.

I headed back to the hotel. I put on my super cool Walmart pjs, and carefully laid out my clothes to air out for tomorrow. I alerted the front desk that my suitcase could arrive at any time, and I wanted to know the second it arrived, no matter what time. Then, I went to bed.

In a king-size bed, mind you. That made the bad night a little better. IT WAS HUGE!! Sweet.

2:15 am, phone rings. Five minutes later, I make it across the king-size bed to reach the phone. It's the desk clerk calling to tell my suitcase finally arrived.

I stumbled downstairs to get it, thanking Jesus the whole way down. But, I didn't really sleep much after that. My room (while super cool with the king-size bed), made this really loud clicking noise in the bathroom, every 3.2 seconds.

So, I had clean clothes and all of my toiletries to look fabulous for our meetings. And the day of meetings went well.

But I still hate Nebraska. And I'm never checking my bag again.

And I still received no explanation about how my bag was lost on a one-hour and 20 minute nonstop flight.

I blame Nebraska.


Monday, October 24, 2005

In case of emergency...
I will likely be too annoyed to actually do what I'm supposed to do.

Ok, not really. Actually, I'm pretty handy to have in an emergency because on a normal day my demeanor is just a step above comatose. Meaning, I'm generally pretty calm. On the outside.

Inside? CONSTANT emergency. But, that's another blog for another day.

Anyway, I'm the one who is annoyed when the fire alarm goes off at work and it is not a pre-planned fire drill. Instead of being concerned, or first considering that there could be an actual emergency, I'm annoyed that I have to stop what I'm doing and walk down four flights of stairs to get outside.

Now, what I did to get over this was volunteer to be one of the "official helpers" on my floor during fire alarms (and real fires, I guess). I gave myself something to do, and I get to be all important and calming, which is something I do well. Need to go to the E.R.? I'm your girl. I am calm, helpful, and I function well in crisis situations.

So, with the fire drills, my job is to hold the door open and tell people to exit calmly as they walk down the stairs. I generally also try to make it fun by welcoming people to the fire drill, and encouraging them to tip their door-holders on the way out. I am, after all, one of the last ones off of the floor, only able to leave once the floor is clear of people. Risking my life so that they can exit safely...

Hmmm. Maybe I didn't really think that one through well enough before volunteering.

Anyway, back to why I'm telling all of this superfluous background info.

Last night was cold. It was the first cold night we've had this season. I finally crawl into bed last night around midnight. I'm trying to get warm and snuggly in my bed. No sooner do I start to dose off when...


Now, many of you may not know what I am talking about. If you have never heard an air-raid siren, be glad. If you are not old enough to remember a time when the United States was under attack on our home turf, you have likely never heard one of these sirens. But, let me tell you that it is one of the most piercing, loud, jarring sounds you will ever hear. You can't get away from it. You feel it.

I learned today that the city tests the sirens on the first Wednesday of every month, during the day. Not in the middle of the night. I remember when I was in highschool, I heard it a few times. It is SO LOUD. And it cannot be mistaken for any other siren sound.

So, this is what wakes me up last night at about 12:15am. It lasted for about a minute. Then, it was over. I didn't think much of it. I tried again to go to sleep.

Now, you may wonder, why did the Tyrant not leap into action? After all, this was a Sunday night at 12:15am. Clearly this is not the time designated for testing the siren. It is an emergency siren. Maybe there is actually an emergency.

I decided to risk it and keep trying to go back to sleep. It was, after all, really cold outside of my bed covers. I snuggled in....


About 15 minutes had passed. And AGAIN with the siren. This time I was ANNOYED.

See? My first reaction is not to leap into action and proceed with emergency actions. I GET ANNOYED. I just wanted to SLEEP.

These are the thoughts going through my head as I listened to the siren go off again:

1. Are we really under attack? Seriously? Us? In Generic Suburban City, Texas? And who, praytell, is targeting my lower-middle-class neighborhood? Not a very smart attack, if you ask me.

2. Um, what exactly am I supposed to do? Like, what does the siren mean, as far as action items? If we are under attack, wouldn't I be safer in my bed under the covers? As opposed to running outside to see what's up, or trying to escape to somewhere? And where would that be? It's not like I have a bomb shelter in the backyard. I mean, I have a shed. But it's made of wood. I'm definitely safer in my warm bed.

3. Maybe it's a natural disaster. Hurricane Wilma? Doubtful. She's in Florida. Frost? It is the first cold night we've had here in Generic Suburban City, Texas. Is that worthy of sounding the alarm? Even if it is, I am definitely still safest here in my bed. Away from the dangerous frost.

If only I could SLEEP.

4. Maybe this is an episode of Alias, and there is a giant ball of red liquid hovering over Generic Suburban City, Texas, and they have sounded the alarm to warn us not to let it drip on us.

Yeah, that's probably it. If so, I am less annoyed and more interested in performing some sort of spy task to save Generic Suburban City, Texas. In the middle of the night, of course.

However, if that's not it? I AM SO ANNOYED.

Another minute passes and the alarm stops. I determined that we were all safe. Crisis averted.

I tried to go back to sleep AGAIN....


By this time it is about 1:00am. And this time, the sirens keep going. Not just once, then stopping like before. It goes on. And on. And on.

Ok, maybe this is something serious.

I decide to get out of bed and turn on the tv to see if the news people can tell me what to do. At this point, I can vouch for the effectiveness of the siren to alert people to something. But as to it's letting us know what to do now that we are up? Not so much affective.

Maybe it should scream instructions at us, rather than just make really loud annoying noise. Just a thought.

The tv tells me nothing. Between Elimidate and informercials, I get nothing of value to save me from this siren-worthy emergency. I decide to check online.

Still nothing.

And still, the sirens continue.

I decide to be brave and look outside, to see if I can see the attack, or at least see my neighbors running around, freaking out, or perhaps melting from something toxic in the air. If they'd stayed inside like me, they'd be fine...

Nothing. I see nothing. People aren't even turning their lights on in their houses. Am I the only one hearing this ridiculously loud siren? It sounds like it is in the house with me. IT'S SO LOUD!

Then I think the thought that all good Christians think, "Is this the Rapture? Do I not see people on the street or moving about in their houses because the Siren has Raptured them? Are those of us who do not qualify for the Rapture left here to be tortured by this Siren noise for all of eternity?"

I am suddenly fairly certain I have been left behind...

The siren continues on for a good 20 minutes or so. And then, it stops.

I am now SUPER annoyed, because it is after 1:00am, and I am so tired, and cold, and now I'm wondering what is going on.

At this time it FINALLY occurs to me to wonder if my family is safe from whatever siren-worthy emergency is happening in our city. But I decide that a phone call at 1:00am to check on them would not be a good idea, especially if they don't hear the siren where they are (about 10 minutes away). I determine that we are ALL much safer if I don't call.

I finally get to sleep. I'm a little shaken by all the siren nonsense, more so by being confused and annoyed, than really worried about anything. It takes me awhile to find sleep. But, I finally sleep before my own annoying wake-up alarm goes off to make me get out of bed for work this morning.

Today I learned that it was a siren malfunction. I think that tidbit of "oops!" info annoyed me the most. Seriously, I am now so desensitized to an hour of siren, I may never react properly if there is ever an actual emergency.

Oops? The siren went off for an hour in the middle of the night? Come on. Think of a better excuse than that. At least blame it on aliens.

I am super tired today.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Things I haven't blogged about lately, but should blog about before I forget
In no particular order.

1. Texas State Fair
Today is the last day of the Fair. It's a sad day. We hate to see the Fair go. I made it there twice this year. It was AWESOME. From corny dogs, to fried cheesecake, to a life-size Elvis made of butter, to watching Friend E scream bloodcurdling screams on Magnum P.I., to the Fair Gang with our Gang t-shirts, to (of course) the Super Shammy, it was a Fair to remember.

I even dreamed LAST NIGHT that I had to use the Super Shammy on my get out of a life-threatening situation. SERIOUSLY. It was like a Shammy-off with another person involving something serious with our cars (it had to do with getting all of the water off of the cars in a very short amount of time, and some terribly frightening outcome to whoever did not accomplish this). And out of nowhere, I totally remember that I have the Super Shammy. I woke up just before I Shammied the whole car, but I can only assume that the Super Shammy saved my life.

2. The Amazing Race - Family Edition
I hate to admit it, because I am a diehard fan of TAR. But, this edition is super lame. It's families of four, fighting, in the United States. Why do we need to see that on TV? Don't we see that, um, all the time? NOT on TV? Plus, it's just super boring watching them drive around in Tahoes all the time. I think this week they finally leave the U.S. But, I almost don't care to watch. I'm ready for this season to be over, so we can get back to normal teams of two yelling at each other in exotic locations.

3. America's Next Top Model
Fortunately, this show is up to it's usual high standards of good model fun. Even without Janice Dickenson, I look forward to each week of model mayhem. Usually at this point in the show, I have a favorite that I want to win. But this season, that's still up in the air. The girls seem especially hateful this season. I just wish Twiggy was meaner. But the brilliance of the wisdom of Iman last week? Priceless.

As I always say, if you are not watching this show, you are missing out on something really special.

4. Lost vs. Alias
I am both really excited, and really heartbroken. Lost is awesome. And I need to re-watch season one again. But, I'm mad that only three or four weeks into the show, we now have three weeks of NO LOST. What am I supposed to do?

And, let me just say that 108? Um, this has been my favorite number for SEVERAL years. BEFORE it ever became of significance on Lost. Please note my softball shirt from at least two years ago, proudly displaying the number 108.

So, I'm not jumping to any conclusions that 108 is the single most important number in the entire world. But I am going to go ahead and say that I invented 108, and I will take credit for inspiring J.J. Abrams to use 108 as the most important number of all-encompassing importance on the show. When 108 somehow saves all of the Lost-ees, you heard it here first, my friends.

MY number.

Alias, Alias, Alias. My heart weeps for you. I want so much for this show to be as good as it was the first season. But a preggo spy running around being spyish is just painful to watch. I loves me some Sydney. But, I can't stand to see her pregnant and still doing spy stuff. I miss the old days when you could trust nothing and no one, but you could always count on Sydney to run around, being super hot, and doing clever spy stuff WITHOUT it being lame. I can only hope she has an alien baby, or maybe she births another giant red ball of liquid that turns an entire city insane, or that something happens to make the pregnancy a good plot point. Otherwise it just reminds me week after week about how much I hate Ben Affleck for getting Jennifer Garner pregnant and ruining my show.

5. Journey Bumble Bee Ninja Assassins
Last week, we had the most amazing Homecoming ever. So what if we didn't exactly win the game! We got really, really close to the big win, and had an amazing rally at the end. We had LOTS of fans. We had a fabulous awards ceremony and mumming of the Homecoming King/Queen. And more importantly, I planned an event, and people showed up, and they seemed to have a good time, and my head didn't explode. In fact, I had to plan stuff every week for the entire season. And still, my head didn't explode.

We had an amazing team this season. And, it could quite possibly be the first softball Homecoming game in the history of the world.

Plus, we are VERY pretty.

6. Scrubs
I've started watching Season One on DVD. I intended it as pure, brainless entertainment. Just looking for some silliness in my world that has gotten too serious and weighty lately. But it's actually a bit deeper than silly, at times. Go figure, I find something relate-able and meaningful when I don't want to see it. I think humor is a great way to present "real" stuff sometimes.

The frustrating part of the show, though, is that things wrap up too neatly in 30 minutes. I've gotten out of the habit of watching 30-minute TV shows, now that I don't watch many sitcoms anymore. I forgot how crisis arises and completely resolves in 30 minutes in sitcom world. In one episode, Turk has a complete crisis of faith. His whole lifetime of faith is shattered. But five minutes later, he believes again. And.... scene. I wish my own crisis of faith could wrap up so neatly and so quickly. And so funnily.

7. Cold
It finally turned cold today. I am not happy about this. I HATE being cold. And as if to super-spite me that the warmth of summer is truly gone for the next several months, I have to go to Nebraska this week.

Dude, that's just not cool.

It's cold. As a matter of fact.

Ain't no Shammy warm enough to keep from getting too cold, y'all.


I wore heels to work the other day for the first time, um, ever. Friend C was not aware that I even owned a pair of heels. I didn't. They are new. And they were $11.

I share the same affliction as Friend A, that I cannot help but tell people how much things cost when I find an incredible deal on something fabulous.

Anyway, I'm really not much of a heel wearer. The reasons are severalfold:

1. I'm tall on a normal day. I'm quite comfortable with my normal height.
2. I am adamantly all about comfort. Heels are not comfortable. If I could institute wearing scrubs and flip-flops to my office job everyday, I would be in heaven.
3. I'm more ok not drawing unecessary attention to myself on a routine basis. I am the most predictable person on earth. So, when I do something out of my ordinary, EVERYONE notices. It's frightening.

This was my day in heels:

8:00am - I feel great. Heels are cute. They look great with my new pants. I am ready to make a statement. I am super hot.

8:35am - I have walked from my house to the Jeep, driven the Jeep, walked from the parking lot to the building, and made it all the way to my desk without falling in the heels. I am invinceable!

9:00am - So far no one has noticed my heels. I am very okay with this. I've been sitting at my desk, nonchalantly hiding my shoes. Unfortunately, I am about to have to walk to the printer.

9:01am - Co-worker notices both my new cute shoes, and how tall I am. I am taller than I have been everyday for the year or so I have worked here. She calls me Too Tall Tyrant. The name sticks for the rest of the day.

12noon - 108 comments have been made about new shoes, and my tallness. Which is odd because I don't work with 108 people. People are coming over from the other side of the building to see why I am being called Too Tall Tyrant. I am amazed that a heel of an inch or so in shoe height must translate into at least a foot or four in people height. I am nine feet tall.

1:00pm - MY FEET HURT!! How do you people wear heels on a regular basis? It's torture. But, I have to say I still love the shoes. They are certainly cute. Albeit, painful.

1:05pm - I give up walking. I keep printing stuff to the printer, but I stay at my desk, hoping the new girl will continue to bring my stacks of paper to me from the printer. It works. And anything that she doesn't bring me from the printer, I deem it unimportant until such a day as I am wearing non-heeled, more comfortable shoes.

4:00pm - I have to get up. I have to walk to the bathroom. I notice my shoes have developed an interesting squeak as I walk, drawing even more attention to me. Now I am wearing new shoes, I am nine feet tall, and I make a lot of noise when I walk. So much for trying something new and hoping no one notices.

6:00pm - Leave work #1, head to work #2. Looks like I picked the wrong day to wear new, uncomforable shoes. My day is not over, yet. And, I have stairs to climb.

8:45pm - Home. Shoes off. I will let them hide for a month or so before I try that again.

8:46pm - My feet actually thank me for taking away the painful stimulus. It was quiet, but I heard it. They said, "Thank you for freeing us from the very tall and very uncomfortable shoes. While they are very cute, they are also very hurty. Please don't do that to us again until we have a chance to fully recover."

8:59pm - I am finally proud of myself for doing something out of my ordinary today.

And, it was kinda fun to be freakishly tall all the livelong day.


Monday, October 17, 2005

It just got a bit more MOL north of the Loop
I knew something was different when I arrived to work this morning.

First I saw this:

And then I saw this:

Welcome to the Fourth Floor, El MOL.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Things I Don't Understand
Here are just two of the many things I don't understand.

1. Sears
Sears is really only good for two things: car stuff, and tools. So why does Sears continue to sell clothes, Christmas decorations, or anything other than automotive services and tools?

Don't get me wrong, Sears is great with the tools and car stuff. I purchased Lifetime Rotate and Balance on my tires for $40 about two and a half years ago, and every time I get my tires rotated and balanced, it's free. That is a sweet deal.

And tools, I could spend some serious time wandering through all of the tools, in awe. I am a girl, and I don't know what most of the tools do. But they are very pretty and shiny, and for some reason just because I have a house, I feel like I need tools. I like to do handy things myself. I don't do anything major. But the other day while I was waiting on my tires to get rotated and balanced on the Jeep, I saw some table-saw-jig-whirly-something-or-other that was on sale, and I'm pretty sure I need one.

It was huge and red and very shiny.

The best thing about Sears and tools is when they put the clearance stuff out on tables in the middle of the aisles around Christmas time. It's like an endless sea of bins full of cheap tools, similar to candy in a candy store. One year I wandered through with my parents, and ended up with a saw, some screwdrivers, and some other handy kit of some sort. I think it all cost about $10. And I didn't even know I needed a saw until I saw the saw in the bin of saws.

I've sawed one thing with the saw. And it came in a pretty blue cover. For safety. It's the perfect saw.

Sears is also good for putting tools in handy kits. If you put any kind of tools in a "kit", I almost cannot resist buying it. Especially if it's labelled "Safety." I saw a Road Safety tool kit the other day at Sears (still while waiting for my tires), and I had to think long and hard before talking myself out of buying it. I could probably use it (jumper cables, socket wrenches, etc.), but I also have free roadside assistance for those kinds of things.

But it was a kit.

There is a tool kit at IKEA, and every time I see it, I have to remind myself that I don't need it. It is so compact and handy, I am pretty sure that I do need it. Plus it's only like, five dollars. But then I remember that I already have 17 screwdrivers, plus an electric screwdriver, and a hammer, and three wrenches. I don't need any more. Even if they do come it a handy carry case.

So, this leaves me to force myself to walk OUT of the tool department at Sears, while waiting for my car every time I take it, because I will buy all of the tools that I don't know how to use and don't need. Which makes me have to wander through the clothes department to get out of the store completely. And this makes me wonder why Sears still sells clothes, because I NEVER see anyone in the clothes department at Sears.

Everyone is back in the department that I just left, drooling over the tools, while they wait for their cars to be ready.

The other thing I don't understand tonight is this:

2. Walker, Texas Ranger: The TV Movie
And maybe more specifically, this phenomenon known as Chuck Norris.

For some reason, I was drawn into watching a few minutes of the Walker, Texas Ranger movie on TV tonight. I now want to gouge my eyes out. And I'm a little mad at my remote for working. It's because the remote worked that I changed the channel during a commercial on another channel, which landed me in Walker, Texas Ranger hell.

My questions are this: 1) Why is Chuck Norris allowed to act, in public, on TV?, and b) Why is Walker, Texas Ranger back on my TV? The show was cancelled several years ago. Can Walker not take a hint? Does he really think, "Now that my show has been off of the air for several years, the world is crying out for a full length movie of Walker, Texas Ranger goodness."

We aren't.

I mean, Chuck has yet to convince me to buy a Bowflex, or whatever it is that he infomercials with Christie Brinkley. Does he really think he will convince America that Walker, Texas Ranger is a good idea? Now? After all of these years?

Tonight's TV movie seemed to involve a rumble between the Rangers (including Dallas' own Janine Turner as a Ranger, another questionable actress of low quality), and some North Korean ninjas. How do I know they are ninjas from the North Korea sect of ninjas? Because they said it 108 times in the 3 minutes I watched this terrible movie.

Yes, you heard me. Chuck Norris vs. Ninjas. At Fair Park. At night.

I felt bad for the ninjas. Not because Chuch Norris was winning. But because they sold out to being in this movie.

They must be former ninjas.

I can only hope that the next Walker Texas Ninja movie doesn't take place inside a Sears.


I am insecure
I don't think this is a surprise to anyone who knows me, but sometimes I am surprised when I am faced with this reality again. It sneaks up on me. I can be convincingly outwardly self-confident even though the amount of self-confidence that I possess is questionable, at best.

I am never sure of myself.

I am surprised when people like me or want me around, and I'm even more surprised when people want to know me past what I do that is funny, entertaining, or useful.

I am shy. I am quiet. I am distracted by being both shy and quiet.

I make jokes. When people laugh, I've done well. When I am off and the crowd is quiet, I am sure I've done and said the wrong thing.

I am not confident enough that people will want me when I'm not able to be the best person they have ever met on the planet. I mess up a lot while trying too hard. I retreat.

I will be whatever you want me to be. I may disappoint both of us.

I find safety in numbers, yet I find comfort in being alone.

I am on the verge of greatness, but I fall short of truly great. I have great moments, but they don't necessarily dictate more great moments to follow. I possess many of the qualities of those we revere as great in our society. I am funny, even on cue. I am smart. I am driven. I write well. I am creative. I am resourceful. I have goals. I work hard. I have desire. I aspire. I dream.

I daydream. I lose touch.

I don't have confidence. I think this is what keeps me from greatness.

I need people to believe in me. I thrive when people communicate to me that I am great, or good, or useful. I am convinced that I am great when I get proof from others that I am. And, I am defeated when those who once believed, don't.

I seek approval. But I don't always approve.

I need convincing that I am ok.

I need acceptance when I am weird.

I need a few close people who don't leave me when I'm not great. Otherwise, I need an audience to laugh when I am on.

I need security.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thanks, Mom
Tonight I got home from work(s) at the early hour of 9:15PM. I've had too many days like that lately.

But tonight was different. Did I have to then make dinner for myself after a really long day of working?



Because today while I was at work(s), my mom came to my house and delivered to my fridge enough soup to feed me for several meals. And it's the good kind of Mom Homemade Soup.

Yep, she just happened to make lots of soup this week, and she was kind enough to bring it here to be waiting for me when I got home. When I didn't have time to come get it from her. And really, when I don't even enough time to feed myself. I shudder to think what I would have eaten tonight without the soup delivery.

It's like the anti-Meals on Wheels. Food delivered to someone who is NOT a shut in, and NOT home enough to cook.

Thanks, Mom.


PS: Your soup is fabulous, even at 9:30 at night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fuel to add to the fire of my obsession
Thanks to commenter Chris for this link:

It is now my new favorite website, not only because it tells me where to find the cheapest gas in my area. BUT, I can also ADD TO IT!!

Now all that watching for cheap gas as I drive around can finally be put to the good of saving mankind valuable pennies on ridiculous gas prices.

I love having a hobby.


Tuesday Nights
I am a hopeless creature of habit, predictable in almost every way. Change is not something I pursue, or do well.

Almost every single Tuesday night for the past four years, I have left whatever day job I had at the time to go to work at my church for the evening. I leave one job and head to the other. There might be a handful of Tuesdays in the past four years that I have not had that routine.

Lately, my Tuesday or Thursday nights at the church have been a bit distracting, with other people around and activity going on. I enjoy the company. But, I haven't been able to get as much work done.

So, this week I decided to change Tuesday night at church to Monday night at church, since there is a planned group meeting there for the next few Tuesday nights. I'm a little surprised at myself that I would do this. I much prefer the "Rainman" way of life. Everyday has it's routine. That's how I know what day it is and where I'm supposed to be.

But, this week I chose to work on a Monday night. And tonight, I came home after work. I got a lot done last night. I needed the peace and quiet in the building.

Tonight, however, I am really confused.

What do I do with myself? It's Tuesday night and I am at home.

It's been four years since that has been a true statement.

Not really sure what to do. But, I kinda like it. It almost feels like I'm on vacation, even though I worked last night.

I hope this change in my schedule does not confuse me the rest of the week. Technically, I think my brain thinks today is Wednesday, since I worked last night.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

A penny saved is a penny obsessed about
So I'm pretty much obsessed with saving money. Call it cheap, if you will. But I just consider myself extremely frugal.

Seriously, this is a hobby for me. I get great satisfaction from finding fabulous deals on just about anything and everything. I love shopping, but only when I am finding things on sale. I am a hardcore bargain-hunter. I hate parting with money unless I am positive I am getting the absolute best deal on whatever I am buying. I work really hard for the money I have, and I refuse to be taken advantage of when it comes to giving that money away in exchange for goods and services.

I get this from my parents. My mom, especially. I've been cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper pretty much since I was old enough to be allowed to play with scissors. I remember my mom's Coupon Envelope, and our massive trips to the grocery store when I was younger, during which we would completely fill up the shopping cart, then hit the checkout line. After all of the groceries had passed over the scanner, my mom would then deposit a hefty stack of coupons for the cashier to ring through.

On my own, I don't buy massive quantities of groceries like we did for the family. But, I still collect coupons, and proudly turn them in to the cashier so I can save a few bucks each time I hit the grocery store.

It is SO satisfying.

So you may be asking, "Just how obsessed is she?" Well, I will tell you.

I hate WalMart. But, it is the cheapest place to buy all the essentials: groceries, toiletries, household tools and whatnot. So, about every two months, I make an enormous WalMart list, I gather all of my coupons, and I spend anywhere from 1-2 hours at WalMart, filling a cart full of cheap goodness. By the time I am headed to the checkout lines, my cart is overflowing. BUT, I know I am saving a lot of money somewhere down the road.

And I know I will not have to set foot back in a WalMart for at least another two months.

I buy offbrand groceries as much as possible. I do have some standards for quality that I cannot sacrifice on some items. But for the most part, the generic can of green beans is the same quality of green beans as any name brand, and it is four cents cheaper. It all adds up, my friends.

I buy in bulk. If I have a coupon that requires buying two items to save 35 cents, I will do it. Even knowing it will take me the better part of the next 6 months to use up one of the items, let alone both items. Over those 6 months, I have saved almost a dollar. I buy toilet paper by the case, even though it is more money to shell out up front than if I buy it only as I need it. But, in three months, I will have saved 50 cents. And... it all adds up. SO satisfying...

I only buy clothes on sale or clearance, if at all possible. Go shopping and pick out the stuff you like at any store, then wait a few weeks and go back to get it when it's sitting on the sale rack. In my personal opinion, NOTHING is worth full price. It is the same item when it is later marked down 50%, plus you have cash left to buy something else.

I generally have an ongoing list of stuff I want or need, either for my house or wardrobe or whatever. For each item I will have a price in mind that I am willing to pay for that item. Then I just keep an eye out for it to reach that price, someday, somewhere. It makes shopping kind of exciting. You never know when you will find that bargain or what item on the list it might be. It pays off to always be on the alert for discounts.

Sometimes, however, I get so obsessed that I get frustrated. I do everything I possibly can to save a buck or two. Like, last year I decided that I don't use my home phone enough to justify paying $30 a month for it. So, I cancelled it.

Of course, at the same time my mortgage payments went up a lot more than the $30 saved from the cancelled phone. But, it was something.

This year I am obsessed with saving on my electricity bill. But it is not going as well as I had hoped. I switched from TXU to Gexa, because Gexa promised me lower rates and American Airlines miles. I'm all for getting extra stuff, in addition to saving money. But so far, my last three months of electric bills are about $10 more than they were at this time last year.

I've even started replacing all of my household lightbulbs with those energy saving flourescent lightbulbs that are supposed to save tons of money over time.

Yet, each month when I get my bill, I am broken hearted that I do not seem to be getting any fabulous savings from all of my energy efficient measures.

My next step is to evaluate the insulation situation in my attic. SOMETHING has to work to get my electricity bill down. I will not be defeated. I WILL SAVE MONEY!

I'm also obsessed with gas prices. This is what I do in the car, whether I am driving myself around alone, or if I am with others.

"Ooh, look! Gas is only $2.98 there!"
"Wow, $3.10? I found it for $2.89 yesterday."

You know how some people ride around and read signs? I ride around and announce my gas price findings for the day. I stare out the window, hoping to see a secluded gas station that is not in the main flow of traffic, and that is selling gas for 20 cents cheaper than anywhere else. I am so sad when I HAVE to fill up because I am about out of gas, I find the cheapest gas I can find at the moment, and then as I drive away and round a corner, I find it cheaper. GAH!!

I am on CONSTANT gas price watch. I will drive a few extra streets for cheaper gas if I know it is there. I am obsessed with finding the cheapest gas possible, because the whole gas price fluctation and ridiculously high prices just makes me angry. We are helpless to do anything about it. We are at the mercy of the gas people. So, I will take it upon myself to not pay any more than I absolutely have to, to keep my Jeep running. And I will tell everyone where I find the cheapest gas, so that they can save money, too.

I am also sadly considering giving up the Jeep in search of a more practical car. But, I'm not sure I can really give her up. I love her so much. But, it is SO tempting to save money with a more practical car.

What else do I do to feed my obsession? Well, let's take a look.

1. I bring my lunch to work most days. I have no problems eating ham sandwiches for five days in a row, or eating leftover for lunch and dinner all week.
2. I feel like I have saved a million dollars on gas if I don't drive anywhere for lunch or run errands during my lunch hour.
3. I am refusing to use the Tollway to get to and from work, if at all possible. I have to leave for work a few minutes earlier to take side roads, but the satisfaction of sticking it to the Tollway Man by not paying to drive that day? AWESOME.
4. I don't consider myself much of a cook, but I eat at home most nights. It saves tons of money over eating out or grabbing fast food.
5. When I first started my blog here on Blogger, I refused to pay for the upgraded account so that I could include photos, etc. I kept the simple, free blog. Now, 2.5 years later, I can upload photos for free! HA!

The goodness of saving money never ends.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Me Time
So, I will confess that I am pretty much useless unless I get an unnatural amount of time to myself. I suffer from extreme introvert-itis.

Let me explain.

It's not that I don't like people. In fact, I love people. I love my friends and family. I love the people I work with. But, whether I like it or not, time with people tends to wear me out.

My life tends to be really, really busy. I don't always like it that way. But, it keeps me out of trouble and distracts me from other issues that surface sometimes. Like depression. But being so busy so much of the time takes a toll on me after awhile. Work, combined with more work, combined with social activities, combined with trying to maintain relationships, and fit in family somewhere, I get to a point where I pretty much have to check out for awhile.

I can be funny and witty and entertaining. And, there are even times when I really want to be with people, or I don't want to be alone. I've even had a few people who I could really spend a whole lot of time with, and that was nice. I miss that sometimes. It takes a lot for me to get to that comfort level. It's nice when I get there.

But when it comes right down to it, I'm just really not a people person. Some people gain energy from being around others a lot. I tend to gain energy from having time to myself, without conversation, without having to be "on", without having to share space and energy with anyone else.

It's a recurring pattern for me, and something I could probably do well to let a therapist help me work through so that it is not so severe sometimes. I never got to much of it with the last therapist. Most days I'm fine and it's not an issue. But, as with the past couple of weeks, everything catches up to me and I have to seek solace in "me" time. When I'm really worn out, I get short with people, and frustrated that they don't understand that I need a break for awhile. And, frustrated for no reason in particular except that I am too tired not to be mean.

It's not really fair for me to get frustrated. I'm sure it's not easy to understand this introverted weirdness when you're not inside my head. I'm in my head, and I understand very little of it.

But, I do understand some contributing factors. My job is probably not the best type of job for my personality. I don't dislike it. But, it's a nonstop, high-pressure, introvert repelling kind of job. It's fast-paced and deadline driven. My phone rings several times an hour, which means I have to pick it up and talk to people on it several times an hour. I don't like talking on the phone to people I like. Talking to clients just absolutely wears me out. I have to be "on", and helpful, and nice, and that makes me nervous.

I preferred when I had an office with a door that I could shut to shut out the people around me when I needed it. But now I just have a cube, in a trendy "open atmosphere" office, which means I basically share a large room with about eight other people, all of which are talking across, around, or to me, all day. Don't get me wrong, I like them a lot. They make me laugh. We have fun. But, at the end of the work day, I've been with people all day. And that just zaps a lot of my energy, being an introvert and all.

I get over 100 emails a day at work, not including the back-and-forth per one email conversation, and not including personal emails I read and respond to on my other email account. I rarely leave the office without responding to or taking care of every email I get that day. Whether by phone or by email, I am in constant communication with someone almost all day.

I work (at minimum) 8.5 hour days at my day job, which is set up that way so we can leave at 3:00 on Fridays. Most weeks that is do-able, and makes for great Fridays. But it also makes for long days Mondays-Thursdays, even if I get to leave on time. Once I do get to leave the day job, I usually head to the church job, or do churchly duties at home. It often feels like all of my time during the day is at the mercy of someone else. And I don't even have kids or a husband to compete with my outside-of-work time. I don't know how people work and handle kids or a family at the same time.

So, most days when I get around to leaving work, I am already at my quota of "people" time for the day. But, I usually have another destination or two to go before I am done for the day. By the end of the week, I am certainly ready for a break. But, this is when most people are gearing up for social weekend activities. Most weekends I'm on board with that. But sometimes, doing the loser thing and staying home alone on a Friday night sounds like the next best thing to heaven for me.

I rarely make plans with people on Sundays. Not that I won't, but I tend to make that my "day of rest." I absolutely require at least one day a week that puts no responsibility on me. But since that hardly ever happens, I usually settle for keeping most of my Sunday free of obligation, so I can sleep, catch up on laundry and whatnot, and regroup enough to make it to church and spend the evening with friends. I am most at peace on Sunday mornings, sitting in my chair with a cup of coffee, by the window, reading the paper . . . alone. If I could stretch that to take all day, my Mondays would start a lot better.

Most of the time, I am content to fill my days and weeks this way - staying busy, going from one thing to the next. Doing what I do, I get to spend time with people I like. Either at work, or at church, or with friends or family at one social activity or another. I get to do jobs I like, even when they stress me out. I get to be in good places doing good things with good people. I'm successful. I'm not complaining. It's a nice life. I could change it if I wanted to, and sometimes I consider it. But usually that's just when I'm tired, and when I need a break.

My church emphasizes being in community as one of our core values. I love this idea, and I support it wholeheartedly. But, it is something I really have to work hard to do. Sometimes it stresses me out to have to consciously make myself be in community, when I'd rather be home on the couch in my pjs. I get a lot out of being with this community of people that I am blessed to have. But, I have to balance that with what I get out of time to myself. I think the two enhance each other. For me, at least.

We fill our schedules with so many "community" activities, sharing life together. I sometimes find it hard to keep up and still feel like part of the community. I have to sit out every once in awhile, or my sanity just won't survive. I just get overwhelmed, and I marvel at the ease at which so many of my friends can be with other people so much of the time. Yet, I feel like I miss something when community keeps going without me.

I don't know why I got hit with the introvert stick at a young age. I've always been this way, but I have not always been able to identify what I feel or what I need, and why. I'm sometimes surprised I don't live in a cave in the woods. And I'm often surprised that people stay in my community. I don't think I'm easy to keep.

I'm just kinda weird sometimes, when it comes to people. But I'm learning to accept my awkwardness and lack of loving the social element at seemingly inopportune times.

So, if you wonder where I go sometimes, don't take it personally. I'm not actually in a cave in the woods. And it is likely not anything you did or said that makes me quiet for awhile. I can go nonstop for a varying amount of time, keeping my schedule, being everywhere I need to be as the dependable person you might know me to be. Funny, witty, entertaining, and enjoying everyone and everything. But, then I have to stop. And take time for myself. Regroup. Recharge.

Do absolutely nothing. Be with absolutely no one.

I never know how long it will last. I always come back. And of course, there are exceptions to all of this. Like, travel. I LOVE to travel with people. It's like when I am out of my everyday world, my own weird tendencies take a vacation, too. That must be why I love vacation so much. I get a break from myself, as well as everything else.

But truthfully, I feel guilty sometimes. I feel like I am not a good friend when I need time for me. I feel like I hurt people's feelings when they want me, but I can't give myself to them. I've read books, and I've talked to "people-in-the-know" about such tendencies before. And they've assured me that I am not a freak. Even though it feels that way sometimes.

Introvert is not a disease. But throw in a recurring struggle with depression, and an abnormally strong sense of loyalty and duty to not let my responsibilities slip whether I have the energy to do them or not, and that probably equals some sort of medication I should be on to function more normally in society.

But to sum up, the Tyrant does not hate people, the Tyrant does not hate you. The Tyrant loves spending time with you, except when the Tyrant needs some alone time.

Thank you for understanding.

I sure don't, sometimes.


Sunday, October 02, 2005

There is still hope for the traditional family unit
Found this on this week. So many jokes, so little time....

Couples turn out for 'Marry Your Baby Daddy Day'
06:37 AM CDT on Friday, September 30, 2005
Associated Press

NEW YORK - Ten couples tied the knot in a group wedding billed as "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day."

Each of the couples who married at the House of the Lord Church had been living together for years and had children together.

"The older I get, I see getting married as the way to go," said Garfield James, 34, who married Millicent Ellis, 35. "I want to raise my kids the right way."

The ceremony was organized by Maryann Reid, author of the book "Marry Your Baby Daddy," who said she was dismayed by what she said were too many single-parent families within the black community.

"Single parenthood is very much accepted as the norm and being married is looked at as unusual," she said. Thursday's ceremony "gives me hope that our future generations can possibly see this and break the cycle of broken homes."

You can buy Maryann Reid's book on Amazon. And no, I am not making this up.