Filed under: addictions, awkward, big weather, breakfast, Brooklyn, doooooom!, first world problems, good eats, gratitude, in the kitchen, kerfuffle, laffs, lazy, life, Love, love and marriage, make it work, New Mexico, New York, obviously, Opinions, our happy home, play through, pondering, show and tell, The Good Man, where I come from
On Sunday morning I woke up lazy and calm and satisfyingly rested. The temps outside were too chilly to rise from my cocoon, so instead I lolled in bed with The Good Man and the Feline. TGM and I talked over Sunday morning things, as couples will do, holding hands, talking quietly, and laughing.
After a while I said I was going to get up because I was hungry.
“What are you having?” TGM asked.
“Hmm, probably a bagel,” I replied, thinking of the mediocre but passable bagels we had procured the day before.
“What are you going to put on the bagel?” he asked. Food is a thing with us. We both love to eat and sometimes the story leading up to the nosh is just as important as the nosh.
It was as if he was asking me to tell him a story. A naughty, naughty story of bagels and cream cheese and toppings that would make us both suck the air in through our teeth and nod approvingly.
I thought a bit, adjusting my legs under the comforter, stretching my calves and toes in the anticipation of being upright.
“Probably just some cream cheese,” I said, staring my lactose intolerance square in the eye and refusing to blink.
“And tomatoes?” he asked,
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
At my hesitation he gave me a look somewhere between “you are an alien” and “you shot my dog”. He was crinkly browed and taken aback.
“I don’t think I like capers as much as you do,” I said.
The frown intensified. No words were said. Only this ever-deepening sadness and disbelief.
“It’s not that I don’t like capers. I do. Just not as much as you. I don’t always want them on my bagel.”
His frown deepened further and his head drew back like he was trying to put me in better focus. Like he was wondering to himself who this person was that he thought he knew. Like he was thinking, “I really should have gotten that pre-nup back when I had the chance because no way in hell would I have gone through with it if I had known she wasn’t going to have capers on her bagel on a lazy Sunday morning in December 2013.”
I shrugged. He shook his head and then I exited the bed. I paused on the way to the kitchen to take my morning vitamins and The Good Man went on ahead of me and began toasting two bagels.
He set out a variety of fixings and when the bagels were just a slight crispy brown around the edges, he said, “Your bagel is ready.”
When I accepted my bagel, I schmeared it with cream cheese and I lightly salted it and I added tomato slices. And then I put capers on my bagel because it was the right thing to do. The right thing the sake of another beautiful day in a long and happy marriage with a wonderful man.
He was right, the capers were delicious. In the world of food, I may reign supreme on all things green chile, but I should know better than to question the handsome boy from Brooklyn on the ways and means of eating a bagel.
Even a mediocre bagel nibbled on a frosty Sunday morning in Northern California.
Image found here.
Filed under: anxiety, art, artist, awkward, beautiful, bragging, business is business, cranky, cursing, disappointed, drama, family, fresh ideas!, growing up, irritated, learning, life, literature, Love, love and marriage, luck, make it work, Opinions, optimism, pain, play through, pondering, show and tell, stories, stubborn, The Good Man, truth is stranger than..., worried, writer, writing
As longtime readers know, I have been trying for a few years to get my little ol’ words and stories published out into the big, cold literary world.
To that end, I have been using a really lovely submission service to assist. For a fee, these kind folks proofread my work, do market research and help me get submissions out there.
Which means that every three months I go out to somewhere between 25 and 30 magazines and journals, asking them nicely if they will publish my stuff.
What this also means is that I receive piles and piles of rejections. When magazines were still mostly paper submissions (not that long ago, actually), my mailbox would fill up with my self-addressed stamped envelopes returning home with a form letter tucked inside.
Now that most submissions are online, my email inbox gets loaded up with rejections by the dozen. They always seem to find their way to me when I’m having a bad or cranky day and that rejection is like a little sparkly topper on my crap cupcake.
Last time I had a check-in session with my support team at the submission service, they quoted some stats for me. As of a month ago, I had sent out something like 400 submissions, which had resulted in five acceptances. (one of my essays was actually accepted to three places)
What I’m getting at here is that I get a lot of rejections. A lot. And over the course of something like 400 submissions, I have become fairly immune to them. Another day, another no.
I am quite sanguine with rejections and don’t take them much to heart anymore. It’s all a numbers game. My submission service says their long and vast history shows that the average is about one acceptance for every 100 submissions. Average. Which means some people go less than that, and some people go more. But over the course of many quality writers, it takes 100 nos to get to one yes.
Those aren’t great odds.
Early in this past calendar year, I ran across this really funky short story contest. It was being put on by a well-known luxury brand and was open to everyone on the entire globe for stories written in any language.
They offered a prize worth €5,000 (~$7,000USD) and worldwide publication in a new literary collection that would coincide with their new product line. The collection would be sold online and in retail stores around the world.
I was really intimidated by this contest but couldn’t get it out of my head. I hemmed and hawed and finally read all the rules and restrictions. I even searched for and downloaded the special font they wanted submissions to use.
I twisted and agonized and worried over this contest. Then I made a deal with myself. I had to enter. I made myself promise to simply submit a story, even if I knew it was crap. Just…I had to simply write SOMETHING and submit it.
What happened next was just short of magical. I wrote a story that wasn’t crap at all. It was one of those “in the flow” moments where the words poured out of me like clean fresh water and splashed beautifully onto the page.
I sincerely believe it is the best thing I have ever written. I often worry that it is my pinnacle and I may never do better. Then I get mad at myself and proclaim I can probably do better but I will have to work really hard at it.
At about an hour before the deadline (in June), I sent my beautiful little work of art off to the good people in Europe and I walked away.
After 400 submissions and counting, I have learned to send it and forget it.
But I couldn’t forget it. This contest and this story haunted me. I had dreams about it and would catch myself thinking about it with some frequency.
And I knew this was Not Good. Overthinking never comes to a good end for me.
In August when I was on a trip to a family reunion, and I was in the car with The Good Man and my beloved cousin, I brought up the topic. These are two safe and supportive people and I knew I could be completely vulnerable with them.
They heard me out, gave me many comforting words and sagely suggested that I do my best to simply forget it before I made myself certifiably nutty. They had both read the story and knew what I was worked up about, but they also knew I had to let it go. Just let it breathe.
Their words were soothing and I did my best to heed them. I pretty much let go of thoughts of this damn contest and would only think of it now and again when something would remind me.
Well, long way around the barn, last week I got notice from those folks at the lux European brand. I didn’t make it.
Of course I didn’t win. I knew I wouldn’t win. I think somehow I found myself a little too in love with my own story and that blinded me. And hopeful. I was too hopeful.
So yes, I didn’t win and I took it very, very hard. You would think after 395 rejections that one more wouldn’t matter. For reasons I can’t quite articulate, this one really got under my skin.
My callus is not quite strong enough yet, because this one story that makes me actually believe I am a genuine writer (and not a dilettante) can still work a blister on my tender psyche.
I think my cousin (who is also a writer) calls the submission process a meat grinder. Or maybe that’s what I call it? No matter. It is. A meat grinder.
What’s next from here?
December brings the next cycle of submissions through the service I use. I will pull out one of the many stories and essays I have built up and I will edit and sculpt it and I will submit it. Then I will receive another thirty or so rejections.
In 90 days I will submit something else and I will get more rejections and the cycle will continue on, as it should.
And this one really sore spot, the unexpected blister, it will harden with time. It will add another layer to the callus. It will make me that much more resilient the next time around.
To any who might wish to give me the well known platitudes like “Each rejection brings you one step closer!” can hang on to them. 395 rejections and five acceptances mean that I’m well past platitudes. I’m not a newbie. I know what I’m up against.
And I know I wrote one hell of a story. Perhaps one day I will give it another chance to weather the mean old world on its own. But for now I’ll hold it close and hide it away until the owies stop.
It’s an exquisite pain, really. One I have earned.
Image found here.
Filed under: addictions, amazing, awkward, business is business, Celebration, curious, don't want!, family, first world problems, hellidays, life, love and marriage, make it work, objectophilia, Opinions, people are people, play through, pondering, show and tell, Thanksgiving, the feline, The Good Man, tradition, truth is stranger than..., turkey
“So, did you get caught up in the Black Friday stuff last week?” a coworker asked me this morning as we kibitzed about the Thanksgiving holiday break.
“No. Did you?”
“Yeah, we were at Target until 2am standing in line for an iPhone on Thanksgiving day. It was crazy.”
That’s all I had to say. Wow. There was no other answer I could muster. Why would anyone would want to stand in line at the ungodly hour of 2am to buy a piece of electronic gear?
And I’m a big fan of my iPhone. Still, I don’t need to take part in that.
I know, I know. Because it was a deal. Because it was on sale. Because it means saving a couple of bucks.
I think that people forget that their time and their sanity also has a value.
This is something that The Good Man reminds me of with some frequency. I was raised by an engineer. Engineers are fairly squeaky with the wallet. The lure of a good deal is strong with me.
If I take a look at my paycheck and then divide down (I’m salaried) I can figure out how much my employer pays me by the hour. Then I can apply that to the time standing in line just to get 20% off an iPhone.
Or, I can try to figure out the value of time spent with family and friends.
My coworker left for Target at 8pm after having turkey and cranberry with the family. Stood in line to get in the door. Stood in line until 2am to get the phone and spent another hour waiting to have it activated. 8pm to 3am is seven hours.
Seven. Hours. That’s dang near a whole workday.
Maybe I’m just a stodgy ol’ fuddy duddy but I spent those same seven hours with The Good Man and the Mom-in-Law and petting the ailing Feline. Those were good hours and time well spent.
Ah well, rereading this post I realize that I am judging and that’s not right either.
As my mom used to say, “To each their own.”
Happy Kickoff to the Crazy Days leading up to the Holidays.
Don’t forget to hug your sweetie a little bit before you run off to get in line. I’ll hug mine twice for you.
Image found here.
Filed under: anxiety, Autumn, awkward, big weather, blue sky, California, cranky, crazy, crying, drama, fall, family, fat and salt, friends, gobbles, gratitude, green chile, Hatch, homesick, iPhone, iPhoneography, kerfuffle, latent childhood, lazy, learning, life, Love, love and marriage, make it work, New Mexico, nostalgia, Opinions, our happy home, pets, play through, sensitive girl, sleep deprived, thank you, Thanksgiving, the feline, The Good Man, tradition, where I come from, work, worried
And here we find ourselves again on the eve of the Holiday of Big Eats. Of all the holidays each annual cycle brings, Thanksgiving and Halloween rank up there as my favorites. Mainly cuz of the snacking aspect so central to them both.
I do love a good day of eatin’.
So at this year’s Thanksgiving fest as I nosh and nom, I have many things to be thankful for.
I’ll start with gratitude for each and every reader of this blog. You may not be many in numbers, but you are huge in providing motivation. I love reading comments both here and on Facebook and each comment just spurs me on.
Thanks also for putting up with my most recent and quite maudlin post. I was in a pretty dark place that day. Writing the words out on the page always help me exorcise those demons. It is my greatest therapy.
I cried through just about every word of that post (a little awkward at work, so I had to stop and finish it up at home) but getting it all out really helped.
I’ve been a bit MIA since that post as I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff. Work got really weird last week and of course I am already weird, so when weird is doubled down, it’s not really a good thing.
The good news is that I am off work this week. I have to admit I didn’t know how much I needed a vacation. Needed it so much. Yesterday I slept in to a reasonable hour, something like 7:30, and got up and started doing stuff around the house. Then I felt nauseous and had vertigo. So I did the only logical thing: I went back to bed. For the whole afternoon.
Turns out my body was saying “Lay it down sister, we need rest.” I have been running full throttle for a long while and when I let off the gas, I needed to actually rest. So as much as I hated to lose a whole day of vacation, it was totally worth it.
Today I’m full of the usual quantities of both piss and vinegar, so it’s game on. Look out world, I’m back! And grateful to feel good again.
So I’m thankful for my job, the ability to take paid vacation days, and for rest. All of these together make me a better Karen.
I might also mention here how thankful I am for The Good Man who puts up with my special brand of crazy including chronic rantings and frequent bad moods. He is the cream in my coffee, the salt in my stew, and he makes me a better person every day. Thanks for being you.
Also, looping back to my dark post from last week, I am thankful for the magic of veterinary medicine. The Feline is back up on her paws. She still has a chronic and quite terminal condition, but with some medication, some subcutaneous fluids and some love, she’s almost back to her usual zippy almost 15-year-old self. Who knows how long we have left, but we have her feeling ok today. And I am very grateful.
And finally on this by no means all-inclusive list, I am thankful for my best friend who, earlier this year came to my home bearing bags of green chile that she had stowed in her suitcase. Yesterday I discovered them in my freezer and realized that two of those bags were chopped chile, just perfect for making a green chile stew.
As the chiles and cumin and potatoes roiled and boiled, I was thankful that I am a New Mexican, grateful for the mouthwatering food, and thankful that my New Mexican by way of Texas best friend in the whole wide world cares enough to share her chile stash. That’s love.
Most of all on this sunny and warm California Wednesday, I’m just happy to be alive, to be loved, and to have my place here on my little blog where I can be weird or depressed or lame or just simply be me, and that’s ok.
Happy Day of Gobble Gobble to you all! May you have a wonderful holiday, wherever in this big ol’ world you may be.
Had to post this image, it’s tradition.
Photo and doodle Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone 4 using the Hipstamatic app.
Filed under: angry, animals, anxiety, Autumn, awkward, being sick, cranky, crying, Dad, grief, growing up, in my 'hood, latent childhood, learning, life, Love, make it work, Opinions, overwhelmed, pets, play through, pondering, pumpkin, sensitive girl, the feline, why, worried
When poets, musicians and bards speak of the seasons, they speak of the cycle of life. Birth, life, death. The never ending cycle that none with a soul and a heartbeat can avoid.
I like to think of autumn in philosophical ways as I crunch the leaves under my feet. Ah yes, the earth must turn. The leaves must turn brown. My hair must turn gray.
But really, autumn isn’t quite just a philosophical thing for me anymore. I guess as years go by I have racked up painful scarred notches on my soul. Reminders. Injuries that push me from the figurative to the literal.
We are just a week away from the Thanksgiving holiday, and I am reminded that the anniversary of my father’s birth is also next week. He always favored an apple pie for his birthday, which occasionally fell on the actual day of Thanksgiving.
It has been almost nine years since he passed, and this autumn day has caused me to think of my father, and the deep well of sadness that I will likely not ever recover from.
His death broke something inside of me. Resolve? Courage? Strength? I don’t know. I do know that in the wake of his passing, I cry a lot easier. I get sad a lot more quickly. I grieve more profoundly. And I love with gusto because time is always ticking away. The world does not stop turning. The leaves cannot help but turn brown.
Today, when coworkers casually passed me in the hallway and asked, “How was your weekend?” by way of making small talk, my answer couldn’t be the usual “Fine, and you?” Sure, I said that a few times. And a few other times I said, “Actually, I had quite a terrible weekend.”
It’s true, but not everyone wants or cares about the truth when crossing paths in the break room on the way to the coffee machine on a Monday morning. Lying is hard for me.
My precious Feline is sick. A few months ago we knew she was sick but it didn’t seem terminal. Two months later and it’s not good. She spent the weekend at a pet hospital where too many people grabbed at her and poked needles in her and she wasn’t at home with her humans.
She’s home now, and that helps. They sent us home with bags full of medications and regimens. We cannot cure her, we can only make the symptoms a little less awful.
The prognosis is tough to make. She may live another year. She may only live until tonight. I have no idea.
But the clock is ticking. As I watch her lose weight and refuse to eat I know that the specter of death looms large. As large at the oak trees that line my residential street, spilling their leaves and showing me their skeletons.
This is autumn. As sure as I am not ready for pumpkin spice lattes, I’m also not ready for what this autumn has in store.
Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth
Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.
Filed under: angry, awesome!, awkward, bathroom humor, business is business, da blues, disapproving boss, don't want!, drama, gratitude, kerfuffle, laffs, latent childhood, learning, life, love and marriage, make it work, memories, Mom, New Mexico, nostalgia, Opinions, peculiar, play through, road trip, sigh, the feline, The Good Man, travel, Ute Lake, where I come from, work, worried, yucky
I was born with a troubling affliction*. It’s been so difficult to manage my whole life, and it’s so difficult to discuss. Today I feel is the time to make public my ailment.
I am affected by a disorder known colloquially as walnut bladder. Yes, it’s true. I so much as look at a glass of water and I feel the need to pee.
In such times as walnut bladder-itis affects the life of The Good Man, he calls me his little tree frog. “You know, you pick up the frog and it tinkles in your hand?”
As a child I presented quite a challenge to my folks who liked to take road trips. The average child has to pee frequently but I was even more prone than normal. I always had to pee and I had the kind of dad who refused to stop. It was always a problem.
We used to spend summers at our place at Ute Lake. The drive from Albuquerque to Logan, New Mexico is about three hours, plus or minus. Even as an adult, three hours is just too long for me to go without a trip to the potty.
I vexed my mother terribly with my affliction. Once she threatened to use a clothespin to clamp off my leaky plumbing.
Well that got my attention.
From then on I planned well ahead for an upcoming road trip. I would cease intake of liquids at least a day in advance of the trip and would steadfastly refuse to drink any liquid until we arrived.
In hindsight, not having much liquid while living in the high desert wasn’t probably the best idea, but it worked and it avoided clothespins in delicate places.
In daily life I manage my ailment by working a path between my desk at work and the restroom. At home I get up at least twice a night to pee. The Good Man and The Feline have learned to adapt.
But I had occasion last week to really realize again the utter torture of a completely full bladder and no good plan to empty it out.
It was a typical afternoon at work and I was, as usual, drinking lots of good fresh water. Staying hydrated is still important. And that means ol’ Walnutta here has to go at a minimum once an hour. Sometimes more.
Usually before heading into a meeting, I will go right before so I can get through the hour stretch.
On this day, I was so busy with work and in other meetings and I bumped right up to the top of the hour when my next meeting was due to start. I did an internal gut check and then a clock check and thought, “Yeah, I’m ok.”
Silly, silly me.
At about twenty minutes into the hour and a half long meeting, a job interview with a prospective candidate no less, I had that first twinge of “oh…hmm, I’m going to need to pee here pretty soon.”
As the seconds on the clock ticked by with molasses speed, and the candidate droned on and on and on, things started to get bad.
One goes through most of the stages of grief when it comes to an overfull bladder.
First, denial: “Pfft! I’m fine. No big deal. I can make it.”
Then bargaining: “Ok, well, if I can make it just ten more minutes, maybe I can excuse myself and take care of this. Please please bladder don’t let me pee my pants.”
Anger: “Dangblamit why did I drink so much water today! And why is my bladder so tiny? And why can’t I just distract myself and make this feeling go away!?!”
Depression: “Dude, you are such a loser. Look at everyone else at the table, they can hold their liquids. What is *wrong* with you?”
Acceptance: “It’s going to be ok. I’m going to make it. I’m not going to pee my pants. And if I do, it will be fine, right?”
Over the course of an hour and a half I moved up and down and back and forth through all of those stages and I squirmed mightily in my chair.
Look, my attention span isn’t that long to begin with. Add in a full to bursting bladder and I don’t hear what anybody has to say about any topic.
It was horrible. At one point I thought I might even cry, I had to pee so badly.
And finally! Finally at the hour and forty five minute mark that damn candidate stopped talking and I was free to go use the restroom all the way over on the other side of the building.
Then it becomes like that question of walking or running in the rain. As in: In which method do you get wetter? (I think Mythbusters proved it’s a toss up)
The question became: do I walk to the bathroom thus taking longer and upping my odds for peeing my pants? Or do I run thus jangling my stuff and making it more likely I’ll pee my pants?
I chose a sort of tight-legged shuffle and finally made it safely into the bathroom stall.
And once I made it to the safe zone and did my business, my whole world looked a little brighter. A little happier. A little more at peace.
I know everyone has gone through the ballad of the full bladder at one point or another. When you have a walnut bladder it happens a little more often than I’d like.
You better betcher sweet life I’m doing a much better job of meeting and bladder management. No one likes the full bladder squirms.
Ok, not *really* an affliction. The word just sounded good to add the right amount of drama.
Image found here.
Filed under: amazing, anxiety, artist, awesome!, awkward, bragging, business is business, Celebration, drama, flash fiction, fun, gratitude, learning, life, literature, make it work, Opinions, play through, show and tell, superior dance, w00t, woo hoo!, writer, yes boss
Back on July 12, I made a cryptic post on my Facebook page that said “Got a lit mag acceptance in the mail today. Sa-weet! A nice way to end the week. Details as soon as I can share!”
And then tick-tock, calendar flip, no details were to be shared.
Recently a friend asked, “oh hey, what ever happened with that?”
Well, here’s what happened: I wanted to lay back on details so as not to tick off the editor of the magazine. They like having first crack at this stuff, so I kept it to myself.
My story was supposed to be published in the Winter (Oct/Nov/Dec) issue, so I was biding my time.
Turns out the editor decided to push up the publication, so my story actually appeared in the Fall (July/Aug/Sept) issue.
Editors are going to do what they need and I have ZERO problem with that. The editor chose to publish MY little ol’ story. With ink. In a literary magazine. Yes!
And since the publication date has come and gone, I don’t feel bad about sharing that story with you now.
You can also click on the magazine cover, seen in the right column section title “As Seen In” on this page.
: jumping for joy :
Happy leaping lamb image found here.
Filed under: amazing, awesome!, awkward, being sick, body issues, business is business, celebrity, cranky, crazy, don't want!, first world problems, irritated, kerfuffle, life, love and marriage, make it work, New Mexico, Opinions, ouch, pain, play through, silly, truth is stranger than..., woo woo
Over the years I have suffered a certain amount physical ailments for which medical doctors can find no cause. The better part of discretion will keep me from detailing my woes (what my beloved grandmother used to call the “organ recital”).
But suffice to say, 1) it’s been going on for a while, 2) ow, 3) four different doctors have said, “want me to write you a big script for liver killing pain meds?” to which I said “no thank you”.
After years of wailing and moaning, a friend suggested I try acupuncture. I figured what the hell, I had exhausted my options with regular doctors so why not try something different?
I am not completely sure what I think about acupuncture. I vacillate from “it’s utter bullmuffins” to “hey, there may be something to this.”
Actually, over the past year or so, I have gotten quite a bit of relief from having those little needles stuck into me. Whether it’s all psychosomatic or not isn’t my place to decide. I just know I feel better, and that’s all that matters.
Since I moved to a different city several months ago, it was untenable for me to visit the same needle sticker as it was just too far away.
At the end of last week I had my first visit with a local hokey-poker to see if she could pick up where the last guy left off.
During the course of this visit, the new gal asked me if she could use a technique in addition to the needles. I say hey, why not. Give it a shot.
The technique was called cupping. My first thought was “oh that’s nice, she’s going to hug me and gently cradle my sensitive places. How thoughtful.”
No, turns out that kind of cupping is best left to The Good Man. She meant taking these glass bowl looking deals, heating them up and plopping them on my well oiled back, creating suction.
Holy smokes it hurt. A lot.
I’d seen photos of celebrities with these big sucker marks on their back and shook my head and chuckled at the time, thinking “buncha weirdos”. And yet here I was letting this lady do the same to me. What I don’t really understand is how those lilly-sensitive spoiled celebs are able to put up with this “treatment” while I had tears of pain rolling down my face.
What have I become? Who am I?
I’m old, that’s what. The days of rubbing a little horse liniment on the owie places is over. If these painful glass jars can help me feel better, well, fine.
When I whimpered a little and called out for my mommy, she said “oh, is that too much?” and she lightened the suction a little.
Finally she removed those sea serpent suckers from my skin with a moist sound and said, “Ok, you’re done. By the way, you might want to mention to your spouse or significant other what happened here. They may be a bit shocked to see the marks on your back.”
Marks? Holy crap, I look like I was treated with a meat tenderizer. My whole upper back was a raw red with big round sucker marks scattered about.
I went home and whined to The Good Man who gave me good clucking sounds and lots of sympathy. Then he did the kind of cupping that I like and that made me feel a lot better.
The skin on my back still isn’t all that pleased but whatever happened last week between the needles and the jars seems to have helped. The pain is standing a little off to the side and I seem to be improving.
Hard to believe a little girl from New Mexico who once held up a hand and solemnly swore, “I believe in the future of farming…” Is now laying on a table letting this woo woo stuff happen.
But I am and this is me and I’ll be damned if this crazy stuff might be helping a little.
: shrug :
Now this is the kind of cupping I am looking for.
Image found here.
Filed under: anxiety, Autumn, awesome!, awkward, Bay Area, borracho, Boss Lady, business is business, California, drama, earthquake, funny, game face, gratitude, iPhone, iPhoneography, kerfuffle, learning, life, make it work, Opinions, play through, pondering, show and tell, work, worried, yes boss
This is what I’m doing today. To clarify, this photo depicts what my world looks like as I find myself squashed up under my desk at work.
Why is Karen under her desk at work?
1) Huddled up waiting for the Congressional sh*tstorm to pass
2) Hiding from her boss
4) Drunk again
5) Participating in an earthquake preparedness drill.
If you picked one through four, you are probably correct.
If you picked five you are technically correct, which is the best kind of correct.
Today my employer required our mandatory participation in a worldwide earthquake preparedness event.
Humorously, my employer called it a “drop, cover and hold” event, which of course made me think of those fun Cold War duck and cover school drills.
Growing up during the Cold War and living in a town with a Nuclear Research Facility, I used to wonder how that little ol’ pressed wood school desk was going to save anyone’s butt from nuclear fallout.
The theory behind shimmying under my desk while on the clock is the somewhat disputed “triangle of life” that says if you can get under something solid with a bit of room and the ceiling falls, it creates a triangle of open breathable space.
The funny thing is that my desk is cheap modular cubicle furniture and the building is a quite old converted warehouse. The very high ceiling is made of what appears to be solid oak beams.
I question if pressboard beats solid oak in the race against gravity, but I put that aside and complied with the mandatory event by smushing under my desk.
We held for 20 seconds to simulate a earthquake of that duration. Out of curiosity I looked up the Loma Prieta earthquake from 1989 and it was estimated to last between 10 to 15 seconds. Such a short amount of time for such a terrible thing.
By the way, today is the 24th anniversary of that little ol’ 6.9 shaker.
I felt a little silly under my desk and while we all under our respective desks we found the acoustics are awesome. We might have to hold staff meetings that way from now on. Then we evacuated the building and had about twenty minutes outside on a warm Autumn day.
So while we all giggled and cracked jokes about the end to end exercise, I also felt grateful.
It’s always nice to have a plan.
May I never have to use it.
First image, from under my desk, is Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and taken with an iPhone5, the Camera+ app, and humor.
The second image, a black and white photo of children under their schooldesks was found here.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, awkward, Boss Lady, business is business, choices, cursing, don't want!, irritated, life, make it work, Opinions, play through, work, yes boss, yucky
I hate talking politics. It’s a conversation that never goes anywhere good, but today I’m going to venture into rare territory for me.
As a caveat, I might mention that I am neither a registered Republican nor a registered Democrat. In California you can “decline to state” and still vote in each of the major elections. Long ago I became disgusted with both major parties and decided to choose none. It was a good choice.
Also, I will state for the record, I vote in all of the major elections and most of the minor elections. It’s how I was raised.
I tend to shy away from being too specific, but I will go there. These days I am employed by a contractor to the United States Federal Government.
I work for a company that is engaged in some of the most mind-blowing science in the world.
For example, a couple weeks ago, I sat in a conference room waiting for a meeting to start. Also in the room was a physicist who works on the team searching for the existence of dark matter.
I sat there eating a salad (it was a lunch meeting) listening to this guy explain to another scientist how they actually test for dark matter, i.e. how they will know if they found it.
My mind was utterly blown. I once worked for Apple, so I know what it’s like to work for a cool company. I’m sorry Apple friends, dark matter beats the shit out of iPhones and iPads on the coolness factor eight days a week.
I am proud to work here and I work my ass off. I am also fortunate enough to have six people who report to me. They have put their faith and trust in me to work for them, to protect them, to knock down hurdles and to help them be the best employees that they can be.
It is somewhat amazing that in this team of six there isn’t a clunker in the bunch. They are all high performing, top-notch professionals. It is often remarked that my team is the most highly functioning out of all the teams in the larger division. (I can’t take all the credit for this, my predecessor laid a nice foundation that I continue to build upon).
I am proud of them, I throw my body on virtual grenades for them, and they reward me by making me look really good to my leadership.
Today I attended a meeting of all of the managers in the division and I had some choices I had to make.
You see, the entity I work for works a little differently than direct Federal entities and most contractors. We are able to carry over government funds so we often start the year with a surplus. This surplus means that we have not yet been furloughed and will probably be ok until mid-November.
Well, let me back up. If the debt ceiling isn’t resolved this week, we shut down almost immediately. That is a separate issue.
If the government shutdown drifts into November, we will have to move to a skeleton crew, and if it goes into December we will shutter our doors entirely.
So in that regard, I am lucky. Similar entities to my employer will be closing down effective next week and direct federal employees have been out of a paycheck since October 1st.
But, as leadership of this organization, we have to be prepared for all of the iterations of what might happen.
We must plan for the worst-case scenarios.
Today I sat with my peers and my boss and I had to decide which of my six people will work and which would be furloughed in the event this shutdown goes to November.
As a contractor to the Federal Government, we don’t get back pay in the event of a furlough. That money is lost for good. So I have to pick people who take a deep ding to their income just on the cusp of the holidays.
So who do I pick? The man with twin five-year-old children? The woman putting her two daughters through college? The guy who just started here two months ago, just moved to California and his wife hasn’t yet found a job in this terrible economy? The guy with the talented high school aged daughter who will likely make the Olympic team in 2016?
How do I choose who doesn’t get paid? How do I pick?
And why should I have to pick?
Tell me members of the United States House of Representative and the United States Senate, why did I have to make those choices today?
By the way, my boss had to make her choices too. I am on the list to be furloughed.
These past fifteen days of government shutdown make me sick to my stomach.
And angry. Yes, I am finally angry.
I am angry in a non-partisan way. I blame everyone. I blame each and every elected official who has any part of this. Every one of you made me have to choose who gets paid in November and who doesn’t.
I have seen a few off hand comments here and there online that this whole shutdown “is not that bad.”
If you think it’s not that bad, it just hasn’t hit you yet. But like a long string of dominos, it is coming for you.
It may be that bite of salmonella tainted chicken that gets your attention. It could be that airplane your loved one rode that crashed because no one inspected for safety.
Or perhaps it will be when you are laid off from your commercial sector job because these United States were plunged once again into a deep recession.
I don’t care what party you belong to, this shutdown should make you mad. It should make you wave your fists.
And by god it should make you get out to your polling place in 2014 and make your voice heard.
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Inside of me there are dueling issues, and year by year it’s a balancing act to see which wins out.
On one end of this see-saw is the fact that I love the holidays. Yes, I actually do. From Halloween to Valentine’s Day I revel in every holiday with childlike glee. I often grumble (and will again this year, stay tuned to this blog) about the holidays when they are in full swing, but the truth is that when I’m into it I adore every holiday and all of its traditions.
“When I’m into it,” ah and there’s the trouble.
For the past several years I have been cranky as heck about the holidays because I was working so many hours I had no idea what week it was much less what season. In my last role, I was on so many calls across so many time zones and traveling so much I wasn’t even sure of my own name most days.
So when the holidays rolled around in the past, I was not ready. I wasn’t prepared because I hadn’t had time to plan out what I wanted to do, and I was mad that I had lost so many days at the hands of a dull corporate entity.
All of that just made me angry at the holidays for showing up when I couldn’t participate.
But things have changed a bit. I’m in this new job and while I am still busy, it isn’t quite as bad as it has been for me over the past several years. My new employer definitely takes note of the months and what is going on. In this job, we pause to reflect and it makes such a huge difference.
Also, now that I live in a university town I’m much more aware of the time of year, ranging from school’s out and it’s summer to Fall football games.
I have already warned my darling Good Man to watch out, I’m officially “into it” this year. Oh yes, there will be cookies, and decorations, and costumes and more. I will probably even decorate my cubicle at work this month. There are prizes for Halloween décor!
At first I was quite resistant to the coming of Autumn, but now I am reveling in it. That said, I still have not imbibed a pumpkin spice latte.
Yesterday morning I set out for work, smiling at the beauty of the Indian Summer sunrise here in the Bay Area.
I walked to my car that was parked out in front of my building and I saw something tucked into the door handle on the driver’s side.
At first (from a distance) I thought it was another ding-dang parking ticket. But no, that would have been tucked under my windshield wiper. Then I thought it was a note someone left because they’d bashed my car. No, turns out it wasn’t that either.
Then I let my mind wander and I remembered back to when I was in college at NMSU. For a little while I dated this rather dashing cowboy who happened to have something of a romantic streak and a poet’s heart.
Every now and then he’d leave a little love note on my car when I was in class. To be honest, I still have those notes somewhere in a box of mementos.
I grinned a little as I thought maybe I had a secret admirer. A furtive love.
It turns out that it’s true, I do have a special beau.
Yesterday I received the most lovely (yet crispy) mash note from endlessly romantic Nature.
Thank you beautiful Autumn for the reminder that I need to get outside a bit more and roll in the leaves and smile at the early setting sun.
All of these years I’ve just sort of ignored you as you passed me by, but not this year. Today I return your affection, my glorious orange and red and brown Fall.
I am your secret admirer too!
Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right corner of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.
Filed under: amazing, anxiety, Autumn, awkward, backyard, Bay Area, California, changing seasons, creepy, doooooom!, earthquake, hipstamatic, in my 'hood, iPad, iPhone, iPhoneography, kerfuffle, life, Love, love and marriage, make it work, Opinions, our happy home, overwhelmed, play through, San Francisco, The Good Man
There I sat last night, watching something or other on my iPad in the living room. The Good Man was there too, doing something similar.
It was a nice quiet Sunday in the house of The Good Man and we were calm and enjoying the company of both electronic devices and each other (not in that order).
Suddenly I had this feeling like someone quite strong had bumped very hard into the back of my comfy chair, shoving it over about an inch or so.
Odd, though, because the chair backs up to a wall in our apartment so no one could have rammed it from the back.
Then I heard the large picture window behind me creaking a little and the front door rattling in its frame.
This led me to a big panicky feeling of, “oh my gosh, someone is breaking in!”
My now large eyes went to The Good Man, panic all over my face, mouth agape.
There he sat calmly, cool as a longtime Californian cucumber.
Every one of my nerve endings was on jangle. None of his nerves even put up their head to see what was going on.
Then I realized what was going on. “Was that an earthquake?” I asked frantically.
“Yup,” he said casually. “It was a good roller. I wonder how big it was? Oh, the USGS site is down because of the government shutdown. Let me see…”
I replied, “You look at your sites, I’ll look at mine.”
While he looked for scientific data, I took to Twitter and Facebook.
This is what Californians do when there has been an earthquake. Everyone goes online or turns on the news to see how big it was, then everyone talks about it. Where they were, how it felt, etc.
When all was said and done it turned out to be a 3.0 (just a lil’ ol’ teacup rattler, really) and it was centered somewhere nearby so we felt it a little more strongly than others.
The Good Man went casually back to his book. I sat in my chair and shook like a Chihuahua for a while, then went back to my Netflix show.
No matter how long I live here, I will never get used to the earth suddenly moving under me. It is simply creepy.
Longtime superstitious Bay Area residents will talk about how October is earthquake season. That’s when the big 1989 quake happened and everyone seems to believe the conditions are right this time of year.
Me, I know better. The ground shakers can happen anywhere, anytime.
There is also a faction of people who say “The little quakes are good! They release pressure keeping us from a big one.”
I would really like to believe that’s true. It’s not, but I want to believe.
Meanwhile, Sunday brought just another shakah in this crazy mixed up California life.
I say, good madam, t’was but a shaker. More gin?
Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, taken with an iPhone5 and the Hipstamatic app.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, automobiles, awkward, Bay Area, bicycles, business is business, California, cranky, cursing, daydreaming, doooooom!, driving, exercise, fail, first world problems, funny, indignant, irony, irritated, lazy, life, make it work, mobile phones, Opinions, people are people, play through, rules, silly, speed, traffic, truth is stranger than..., walking, where I come from, zombies
These days I live in a fairly urban area and I also live near a major university, so this means driving around here is proves to be quite a challenge.
I see a lot of people both young and old riding the roads on their bicycles or scooters and of course walking. There is even the occasional Segway. Though the most popular mode of transport by far seems to be bicycles.
Fundamentally, I don’t have an issue with people riding their bicycles. It’s exercise, it’s efficient, and it’s environmental. Plus it leaves more parking spots for me. Great!
The issue I do have, however, is some bicyclist’s complete and flagrant disregard for traffic laws. You know, running stop signs, not yielding to a yield sign, flowing with cars when they feel like and acting like pedestrians when they feel like.
My commute to and from work is pretty short, but can be frustrating as I traverse many busy streets with lots of crosswalks and stop signs and long lights. In addition to bicycles, I often have to tangle with students walking around with eyes glued to their smartphones darting out from between parked cars.
I really hate it most when I have the green light and as I start to roll a bicyclist runs the red light the other way and sails through the intersection with nary a care in the world.
The other day that big wheel of karma ticked about two and a half degrees to the right and I saw something so ironic it made me laugh and shake my head.
Ok, here’s the scenario:
I am driving up a busy two lane and mostly residential street. Traffic is moving, albeit at a fairly slow pace. I’d estimate I was doing something like 25mph.
I was hugging the yellow line because to my right were two guys decked out in stretchy shorts and tip-tap-clompy biking shoes riding on very fancy bicycles.
We were all cool. I saw them, they saw me. I made space and we traveled casually along, moving straight ahead on the road.
As we three came to an intersection some hipster chick on a pink bicycle with a plastic basket on the front does not slow for the stop sign on the cross street. She glides at full speed right into the intersection.
This causes the car coming the opposite way to screech to a halt. I slammed on my brakes too and the two bicycle guys next to me just kept going.
Because I guess bicyclists do that. When everyone around is braking, they just keep rolling because why not.
One of the guys finally saw Miss Hipster and locked up his very expensive racing bicycle brakes. The other wasn’t as quick on the brakes. As he came to a stop he ended up tapping her back wheel.
Hipster chick was totally oblivious. She wobbled a bit and just kept rolling on through.
Now dos Stretchy Pants are mad. They start shouting and screaming and arm waving at her about obeying stop signs and right of way and what the bleep was she doing.
So indignant these bicyclists got about obeying traffic laws. So, so righteous.
Image found here.
Filed under: adorable, amazing, angry, anxiety, awkward, being sick, business is business, cursing, don't want!, doooooom!, doubts, drama, learning, life, Love, love and marriage, make it work, mean people, Opinions, pets, play through, pondering, Rodeo, the feline, The Good Man, they call it stormy Monday, worried, yucky
As time will do, when it passes by it takes little chunks of me with it. I know I wake up in the morning a lot creakier than I used to and there is swiss cheese where my remembering parts used to be.
This problem is true for both humans and animals.
And so it has come to pass that my fourteen and almost fifteen-year-old feline is having a few health issues. It’s not good, but it’s manageable.
What this means, however, is we have to give the fuzzy three different medications.
Now, this animal of ours, she does not like to be messed with. At all. The survival instinct is strong with this one, and fight not flight is her main mode.
This cat stands her ground and then some.
Many of you are probably saying, “nah, that’s just how cats are” and think about how squirmy your cat may be.
Be advised, our vet is scared of this cat. Let me drive that point a little farther in. A woman whose job it is to deal with animals in all forms day in and day out, and has been doing so for almost thirty years, has told us “you know your cat is especially wiggly, right?”
Wiggly. That sounds cute.
So back to these three medications. One is a drop we can put on a piece of food. Fine, that happens easily.
One is a pill. This involves prying her mouth open, which then invites a lot of biting, clawing and hostility. Occasional growling and meowing too. Once the pill is down many hostile looks are sent my way as I watch an animal plotting my death in her mind.
The third is an asthma inhaler. Delivering this medication is, to put it mildly, a rodeo. We watched videos online to see how to do this and every person who said “my cat fights it” or “my cats is extra squirmy” was the owner of the kind of cat I would love to have.
These people who think they have a wiggly cat have not wrapped an arm around Satan incarnate and tried to get the great horned creature to inhale and exhale a minimum of ten times with a rubber mask over its snout.
There have been times The Good Man and I have both tried to hold this feline beast down and administer the meds and haven’t been able to do so.
To be fair, my handsome and adorable Good Man is also a kind man. He’s a gentle soul, which is probably why he is able to put up with me.
He hates seeing his own cat suffer this much. He and that damn feline have been through a lot together, they are like survivors of the wars and he feels it is a betrayal to do this to her.
So the wet work, as they say, falls to me. May I point out the many scratches on my arms, legs and chest?
But I seem to have sorted out how to get the meds into the beast. I have tried many approaches and for the moment I have something that is working. I’m sure that smart cat will figure out a counter attack, but for now, I’m doing it.
Last night as I held that damn asthma mask on the cat and she was actually kind of still (because I had her in a wrestling lock that Rowdy Roddy would be proud of) and breathing, The Good Man looked on in amazement.
“How…how did you do that?” he asked, perplexed. “I don’t understand how you can give her the meds and I can’t?”
I replied simply, “It’s because I’m meaner than you.”
And it’s true.
As a woman of New Mexico, I have worked cattle, horses, sheep and pigs (and on one weird day, turkeys).
When you work livestock you learn more than a little about giving meds to an animal who would rather you didn’t. And how to do it without hurting yourself or the animal.
And how to grit your teeth and be a little mean about it because ultimately it’s being kind. I hope we can get this feisty cat to feeling better.
I have to admit, I admire her survival instinct. Now pass me the Neosporin.
Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.