Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lost weekend tidbits

Here it is, Saturday night already, and I feel like I haven't done a thing all weekend. I have plans for tomorrow, so I can't even lie to myself and say I'll do everything that I planned to do today tomorrow. Why can't every weekend be a three-day weekend? I need one day just to decompress.

Other people's dreams usually make boring stories, but this one is short: I dreamed I was tired of being responsible for my life, so I decided to let someone else drive for a while, but there was no one else in the car with me.

Reminds me of the following dream: I was trying to fill my car up with gas, but the nozzle kept shutting off. I asked myself, What if my tank is full and I just don't know it?

Very koan-like, huh?

I decided to copy one of Toni's experiments and buy only essential items (food, gasoline, electricity, etc.) until March 1. It's not due to the economy per se, but because I went over budget on house renovations last year. I was hoping to have rebuilt (ha!) some of my savings by now, but in January I actually lost more ground. The question is, what can be classified as "essential"? I manned up and started trimming the dog's claws myself, but are we agreed that expressing anal glands calls for a professional? I thought so.

Something that is going around the blog world is daily listings of "grace in small things". I am usually too crabby to take much notice, but occasionally I do feel blessed. Like when my neighbors clear my driveway after a heavy snow.

When 3carnations posted about locking the bathroom door and SundryMourning wrote about hemorrhoids, their comment stats went through their respective roofs (rooves?) How about a related question? Besides trying a variety of non-surgical solutions, my stepmother has had two operations for urinary incontinence. Nothing has worked. I don't know much about incontinence and I hope I never need to, so my question is, Is there a way to prevent it? And I'm not asking just to juice my stats.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Duchess

I read a good review of "The Duchess" somewhere. The movie sounded intriguing and stars Ralph Fiennes, so I figured it would be better than average. But it was not.

Based on a true story (although I'm sure the details were embellished), the movie tells the tale of one clueless eighteenth-century duchess. Georgiana marries well, but the duke is uninterested in his wife except for her ability to produce an heir. Everyone else is in love with her, though, especially Charles Grey, a political up-and-comer. He is rather clueless as well. Maybe if the two of them had watched "Becoming Jane" they would have had an inkling of how the society they lived in worked. Anyway, in the end Georgiana chooses her children over her lover, the lover avoids scandal and is elected prime minister, and G, the duke, and his mistress all live happily ever after. Until G dies. Then the duke and the mistress marry and continue to live happily ever after. (The movie is so predictable, I don't feel bad about revealing the ending.)

The movie was rated PG-13. Today's 13-year-olds must be more sophisticated than I was at that age, because I would have been aghast to see a bare backside in a movie back then. In some ways, I still am, but now in a good way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just say yes, at least once in a while

I am a true homebody. I like nothing better than a quiet evening at home. Just me and the dog. And the cat. And the rabbit. And sometimes my SO.

But there is a fine line between being a homebody and being a stick in the mud. Consequently, I have been making a conscious effort to get out more by saying yes when the opportunity to go somewhere and do something arises.

And no, my change of heart is not because of "Yes Man" which I have not seen. I will acknowledge that I might have been somewhat influenced by The Year of Yes. Also, I am reading Plant Seed, Pull Weed which, it turns out, is not about gardening.

Examples of my willingness to leave the yard:

Reunion luncheon with some former co-workers: Ordinarily, I don't go out for lunch, period. But the opportunity arose to meet with some people I had not seen in ages, and I went. And people remembered who I was. And I had a good time.

Company holiday party: We have our holiday party after the holidays, and usually my attitude is Why would I want to spend more time with people I already see forty hours a week? Also, when I did go, I never won any of the door prizes. I still did not win any prizes, but I did have two wonderful martinis (after one, my nose went numb; after two, my lips went numb), and the food was quite good as well. Entertainment included Little Vegas. I just don't get gambling. Probably just as well, because I suck at it.

Live music at Come2Go: Many years ago we saw Rachael Davis when she fronted for Patty Larkin. Rachael was young but had a powerful voice. She's all growed up now - mostly - and still has that voice. Steppin' In It played as well. And Sunny Taylor. A lot of music for little money.

Live drama at the Arts United Center: Occasionally, my employer offers a limited number of free tickets to this or that. Recently, it was a local production of "The Glass Menagerie". We went to that last night. I saw a television version of this Tennessee Williams classic many, many years ago, and all I can remember is I hated the mother, identified with the daughter, and found it to be incredibly sad. Last night's production was actually humorous, the mother was likeably annoying, and the son came off as shallow and self-absorbed. After the show, all I could think was, How did the mother and daughter survive after the son left?

More live music: In a couple of weeks, there will be a fundraiser for the Embassy Theater, featuring local bands paying tribute to musical legends. Down the Line 3 is rumored to be featuring Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. We went last year, and we plan to be there this year. Again, a lot of music for little money.

So, I have been enjoying all my outings of 2009. But you know what? I would be just as happy staying home.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My inner child is a brat

I haven't been posting lately because I have been in such a funk that everything I wrote sounded like a big whi-i-ine. I'm feeling perkier today, so I thought I'd better post while the posting is good.

No big reason for my funk - just my job. I have been at my current employer for eleven years. My MO when I start a new job is to stick it out for one year, then decide whether I am staying. Then at each anniversary, I again consciously make the decision to stay or go. I hated this job from the start, but after one year I was working on something somewhat interesting, so I stayed. After two years, I started interviewing outside the company but then was able to change departments, so again I stayed. For the next two years, I was relatively content, but then we were sold. I hung around, waiting to be severed, but it never happened. Then I hung around just to see what would happen next. Then I hung around long enough to qualify for early retirement. Now I am hanging around to grow my pension and pay off my house. Also, I can't make this kind of money anywhere else around here. And the benefits are great. I feel like I cannot walk away, especially in the current economic climate. Some days I am grateful to have a job, other days I feel trapped.

Today was a pretty good day, though. I figured out the solution to a problem I've been battling for days, may get to attend out-of-town training, and won two free tickets to a local production of "The Glass Menagerie". Instead of going to yoga, I practiced at home, ate leftover Chinese for supper, and caught up on some housework and petwork (cage cleaning and claw trimming). Now I am going to knit a bit and read a bit and go to bed. Some days, this is enough.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Breathe free or die

Today is a holiday from work (yay) so I scheduled a deep tissue massage (hurts so good). I have had chronic sinus problems most of my life, but especially the past few months, to the point that my inner ears are affected. My massage therapist advertises massage for sinus problems, so I asked for that as well.

The sinus massage includes a hot towel under the neck (ooh), light aroma therapy (mmm), and acupressure (ouch). When she finished, I didn't feel much difference, but figured it was worth a try.

I ran some errands on the way home, and after about 20 minutes, my head opened wide and said, "AAAHHH!" Deep pockets of my sinus cavities experienced fresh air for the first time in forever. In fact, I developed a headache from the internal change in pressure. Whoo!

I am curious at to how long the effect will last, but from today's experience, I recommend that those with sinus problems give this treatment a chance.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday Night at the Movies

By Friday, I am done. I curse profusely at the least little irritant, tears well up over the silliest things, and anything attempted is doomed to frustrating failure, all because instead of being thankful it's Friday, I am already angry that Monday arrives in two days. What a good night to watch a movie!

Confession time: I watched "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." as a tween (I even got David McCallum's autograph!) And I also watched the other spy-related series, including "Get Smart" the television show. I also like stupid movies and sight gags, so it was only natural that I should rent "Get Smart" the movie.

I expected to snicker and I did. I expected to laugh out loud and I did. I expected to lose myself for a couple of hours and I did. It helped that I was familiar with the television series but forgetful enough not to recall all the details. And the movie was kind enough to include references to the series without beating me over the head with them.

The characters are not exactly complex but they are portrayed as being more than two dimensional. Max is a former fatty who dances with the morbidly obese woman at a party (who tells him he is light on his feet). Agent 99's identity was compromised, so she had plastic surgery, wistfully noting that she used to look like her mother. Max protests "Am I invisible?!?" when repeatedly bumped on the street. Agent 99 kicks a former lover in the face for suggesting that she is not feminine.

No surprises, but all in all, a pleasant and entertaining way to while away what is usually a pissy evening in this household. Thanks for the endorphins, Max!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Does anyone really know what time it is?

I have too many calendars. There is the little one, complements of my hairdresser, I carry in my bag. There is the big one on my desk. There is one on my computer at work. I have two on Google (but I use only one). There is a paper version of my Yarn Harlot Page-a-Day and an online version of another Page-a-Day for words. NOW sent me a "Love Your Body" wall calendar that I think will stay at home. I gave my son the calendar NWF sends me every year (even though I have not contributed to them since 1999). Hey! Where is the calendar from the Smithsonian? I am a member, but maybe not in good standing.

I don't wear a watch because I just don't need to anymore. My computers at home and at work provide the time (and the date!), as do all my phones, including my cell. In the kitchen there is a clock on the stove, the microwave, the coffeemaker, and the wall. Another wall clock in the livingroom. A clock radio by my bed. The watch with the broken watchband is in the bathroom, to let me know if I am running late. Ditto the clock in the car. I have no excuse not to know what time it is.

When I was a kid, the 365 days between one xmas and the next seemed interminable. Now waiting a year for something is nothing. My only concern regarding the passing of time is whether my own passing will occur before I get the chance to enjoy my retirement.

I asked a friend of mine if her husband, having recently survived a near death experience, had reordered his priorities. She said that he did that after his first heart attack ten years ago, making time for his music, but this time he was a little puzzled over what he could do different. He still has to go to work, still has bills to pay and aging parents to look after and other responsibilities. Some EMT friends tell him, "You are so lucky to be alive - God must have a plan for you!" and his response is "But WHAT?!?"

If god has a plan for me, so far it involves sitting in a cubicle at work and cleaning up animal waste at home. I make time for yoga and knitting and gardening and spending time with family and friends, but I too still have to go to work and pay my bills. I still spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in my car and on the john. I still have to eat and sleep.

And time just keeps marching on.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Plans for 2009

The past couple of years I have been successful with my resolutions because I chose ones that did not involve deprivation. Last year it was to manage my vacation days better. The year before, do something fun each month. These resolutions were also somewhat measurable. But I'm a little stymied this year.

One aspect of high dissatisfaction in my life is my job. I don't have a lot to do, and this past year I fulfilled that duty beautifully. Some would consider getting paid a decent salary to do very little an ideal situation, but you would be surprised at just how boring eight long hours a day in a high-walled cube can be. Yes, there is Internet access, but the Powers That Be block my ability to listen to music, write blog postings, and download porn (not that I would do that!)

My supervisor knows I have little to do, his supervisor knows as well, and the business is such that I can't just wander over to another department and ask them if they need help with something. Plus I need to look busy, which requires a surprising amount of effort.

I became a software developer because, once I learned to program, I discovered that writing code was one of the few things that totally engrossed me mentally. My first position as a developer was the best, and it has been downhill ever since. Now it is to the point where I don't do any software development because that has been "sourced" elsewhere. And I have been not writing code for so long my skills have atrophied.

So. I would like to come up with a resolution, New Year's or otherwise, to remedy this problem. And I think I have a plan, if I can just stick with it once I return to my little cube on Jan. 5. There is an application that I "own" that needs some rewriting. Instead of doing the least amount of work possible, I plan to immerse myself in it and in relearning Java. Besides keeping me occupied, this goal will improve my coding skills, which may be a godsend if I become "redundant".

Now, the problem with this goal is every time I psych myself up to do something like this, The Universe smacks me down. We shall see how it works out.

A second concern of mine the dwindling of my already less than stellar creativity. Everyday, in every way, I am getting duller and duller. I have been trying to come up with ways to feed my creativity - draw a picture a day, write a haiku a day, watch an art film a week, read more, write more, etc. - but am having trouble believing I will stick to any of these goals. Perhaps if I mix and match, though, do one - any - of these activities each day? Maybe that will be flexible enough to see me through more than the first week of the new year.

Then there are the other usual New Year's resolutions revolving around health - eat less, exercise more, meditate daily, etc. Recently I monitored my food and calorie intake through this site, which quickly became boring, but my efforts did indicate that while I usually make healthy food choices, I simply eat too much. Over the past week or so - while on vacation from work - I have lost a couple of pounds. Much of my overeating is due to boredom at work, so maybe relearning Java will help in that regard.

Anyway. What am I willing to commit to for 2009?

1. Relearn Java.
2. Do something creative everyday.

And I think we will leave it at that. No sense going overboard, right?