Filed under: air, anxiety, art, artist, awesome!, awkward, Be Better!, Boss Lady, business is business, cha-cha-changes, changing seasons, choices, cranky, da blues, daydreaming, disapproving boss, don't want!, doubts, drama, first world problems, game face, hellidays, I ain't as good as I once was, ideas, kerfuffle, latent childhood, lazy, learning, life, love and marriage, make it work, meeting hell, melancholy, metaphorically speaking, Opinions, overwhelmed, play through, sigh, stress, The Good Man, whining, work, worried, yes boss
Welcome to the sixth day of the year 2015 but only my second day back at the ol’ place of work.
While technically the first of January is the first day of the New Year, it doesn’t really feel like the New Year has begun until I go back to work, i.e. get back into the “real world.”
My employer is ever so kind in that they shut down operations from December 24 through January 1. That means with a little planning and a little curation of vacation hours, I can eek out full two glorious weeks away from the office.
I look forward to this two-week break from work all year long.
All. Year. Long.
In my career, I’ve rarely taken two weeks of regular vacation time, so these two weeks at the end of the year feel beautifully indulgent.
My first priority for the break time is to sleep. Nap. Sleep more. Rest and then do nothing too taxing on brain and body. That usually lasts about three days then I’m rested and raring to go.
The rest of the break time is spent with family, exploring the world with The Good Man, cleaning up my home office/studio and working on creative projects.
I find I’m able to fully and completely forget about work and live the dream of a creative life. Sleep until my body is rested, rise and work on creative projects, fill my head with creative inspiration and plan forward for the projects I want to work on in the coming year.
It’s a beautiful place to be, a place I’d live all year round if those darn lottery numbers would just break my way. It feels solid and satisfying and clean and pure.
And then sixteen days of being my own boss pass too quickly and Monday, January 5 arrives. I have to figure out how to get back into the flow of “regular” life. I have to metaphorically merge into speeding traffic with no running room and only two of four cylinders in working order.
Yesterday was that day. Yesterday I woke up with the help of an alarm clock (bleah, sixteen days of no chirping alarm was REALLY nice) and sat up in my comfy bed, bleary eyed and lost.
I tried hard to find the muscle memory to rise, to make some breakfast, to put on some clothes, where is my work badge?, move out the door and get to work on time.
When I arrived at the office it was all too familiar and all too unfamiliar.
It felt like I had changed. I was a different (and better) person as I swiped my badge and entered the office. Then I realized that work had not changed.
I came to my own little gray cubicle and there was all of my same stuff I’d left behind, but it looked alien.
The laptop machine asked me for a password and I had to think very hard about it. Took a couple tries at it and finally remembered.
Have you ever seen baby ducks when they are following their Mama Duck into the water? It often looks like this: Mama slides effortlessly into the water and her eight to ten ducklings slip, slide, belly flop, and unceremoniously plop themselves with a splash behind her.
For a moment, the water crests over the top of their head, then the ducklings one by one pop to the surface like popcorn and start swimming.
It was very much like that yesterday. I fell uncoordinated and perilously off the vacation ledge into the bracingly cold pool of work. I grasped for stability for a little while and then I found my feet and began to paddle. By the afternoon I was moving more or less in a forward manner.
So that’s the New Year. A little bit new, a lotta bit old. I suppose all of the inspirational quotes are true. It’s up to me to make 2015 a really awesome year.
Forward into battle! *splash*cough*splutter* Okay. Now, here we go.
Image found here.
Filed under: amazing, animals, Autumn, awesome!, awkward, backyard, Bay Area, business is business, California, curious, Dad, doooooom!, I ain't as good as I once was, kerfuffle, latent childhood, life, love and marriage, make it work, Mother Nature, open a can o' whup-ass, Opinions, our happy home, play through, San Francisco, show and tell, sigh, The Good Man, where I come from, worried, yucky, zorillo
Turns out I have a new neighbor. I had no idea the new tenant was moving in, but then *boop*, there was someone new trooping around the ol’ neighborhood.
Not sure what unit this one lives in. In fact, I’ve never even set eyes on my new neighbor, but I know they live nearby.
You see, October in Northern California is gorgeous. Really, it’s the best time of the year, bar none, to be here. The days are warm and pretty, and the evenings clear and cool. Indian summer lasts a real long time here and it’s a wonderful thing.
Every evening after a long day of work, The Good Man and I throw open the windows and the back door and let the stuffy apartment drink in all of that cool, clean air. Perfect for a good night’s sleep.
Over the past couple weeks, right around 7:30pm or so, the rancid odor of burning plastic and gasoline and the hinges of hell begins to seep into every room of the house. It hits one of us (usually me) first.
“Arrwhagggh!” is the approximation of the sound I make.
“What?” says The Good Man, alarmed, and then “Oh bleah!”
Yes, it’s true. My new neighbor is…Dun dun duuuuuuuun
Pinche zorillo. I haven’t been able to lay eyes on the beast, probably because by the time I get the eye watering jet wash it’s moved on to the next yard.
I fear this cabrón lives under my front stoop but I can’t be sure.
And every time this happens, like watching reruns of Lucy and Ricky, The Good Man and I have a conversation that goes a lot like this:
Me: “I just need a .22 and I can take care of this problem.”
Then The Good Man reminds me that we live in California and this state takes a dim view of shooting varmits in its urban neighborhoods.
“A bb gun?” I ask, like that kid from the Christmas movie. “The pump action kind.”
The Good Man says, “You really think you can hit a [insert rodent name here, we have this conversation a lot] from here?”
“Try me,” I say, standing up straighter. “I’ve been shooting since I was a kid, my dad saw to that. I’ve shot everything from a cap gun to a Browning over and under and my aim is pretty damn good.”
“No,” he says.
“Pellet gun?” I plead.
“What the hell state do you think you live in? We don’t shoot old hot water heaters out behind the Snappy Mart around here!” (I may or may not have introduced him to the rasquache joy of my home state.)
Then he tacks on, “We live in one of the most densely populated areas of the United States and the police, they have no sense of humor in this city!”
And then I sigh, and quickly cover my nose and cough because I took in too much skunk air when I started the sighing process.
Of course he’s right. So I went online and did some reading and discovered that if I can figure out where my new neighbor lives, animal control might help.
Problem is, when I get the aroma, I kinda don’t want to dash out there to get a good look at where the beast is going.
I think I’m going to need a trail camera. And camouflage. And maybe some other cool things like a Buck knife and a camp stove and a new tent! Oooh yeah…
And don’t anybody tell me that it’s a cute fluffy creature worthy of love and affection. When the original engineer designed the zorillo, it wasn’t with a love of humans in mind.
Or dogs, I think our awesome next door neighbor dog got hit last night. Poor growly bear of an adorable dog.
(This just in: I was texting with The Good Man telling him I was writing this post and he said, “I trapped some skunk stink in my closet last night. Kind of surprised myself this morning.”)
“Whatever. Haters gonna hate.”
Image found here.
Filed under: Amsterdam, anxiety, awesome!, awkward, Be Better!, business is business, curious, deadlines, dinero, doooooom!, doubts, drama, first world problems, gratitude, I ain't as good as I once was, indignant, irony, irritated, jet lag, kerfuffle, lazy, learning, life, love and marriage, luck, make it work, meeting hell, money, money woes, moolah, obviously, Opinions, overwhelmed, play through, pondering, road trip, sigh, sleep deprived, the globe, The Good Man, travel, truth is stranger than..., weirdity, work, worried, yes boss
Back there in June, which seems like a lifetime ago, recall I had the fun chance to visit Amsterdam on a work trip? Yay!
While there, I made use of my company credit card because that’s the best way to go when it comes to pesky expense reports.
However, there are a few things that the company says no-no to on expense reports. For example, booze. I mean, how can one have a nice dinner in Amsterdam and not sample the local beer?
One doesn’t and this one didn’t. I sampled. Oh did I sample. No, I didn’t sample Amsterdam’s other claims to fame. I was on a work trip ferchrissakes! But light brown beer was a delightful dinner companion.
So what I did was expense the expensable parts and the not expensable parts I would pay personally to the credit card company. No problem, right?
Upon my return to the States, in the midst of chaos and twelve to fourteen hour days and working nights and weekends on this massive project (the whole reason I went to Amsterdam and Ireland) I managed to knock out my expense report.
Then I knew I would get a bill for about $110 US dollars for the “not allowable” stuff. The beer, mostly. Not gonna lie.
About a week and a half ago, I got a snippy notice from the credit card company. “Second notice”, they said and “we’ll shut off your card in five days unless payment is received.”
I also noticed that they had transposed two numbers in my mailing address.
Well, I got a bit high handed about this. First of all, I didn’t receive a first notice! Second of all, my address is wrong. Third of all, pfft! Or something like that.
I’m still working a lot of hours and so I dashed off a check but didn’t send it. I wanted to talk to my friend who runs the travel program. I needed to know if I could change my mailing address for the card or if she had to. She said I could do it or she could. No matter.
Great! Then life and my insane job intervened and quite a few more than five days passed. Ugh. Over the weekend when I had a few minutes to breathe, I picked up the ol’ phone and called the credit card folks. I knew I needed to take care of this problem like a grownup.
Imagine my surprise when I got a recorded message saying that a payment had been received and my balance was zero.
“Uh oh,” I told the Good Man. “The company paid my bill. Crap. Now I have to figure out how to pay them back. Or will they take it out of my paycheck? Gah. What a mess.”
The next day, I went back to my friend in Travel to figure this out.
“Honey, we don’t pay people’s credit cards. And if we did, just keep quiet about it.” She laughed.
But she looked up my account. “Hmm…” she said, rolling her mouse over the screen. “I can’t tell where this payment came from. Did you do another expense report?”
“Hmm. Are you sure you didn’t pay it?”
I thought back to the dates from May 1 through August 15, my head down working this project. The lack of sleep. The stress. The long days and working weekends and not having a single day off in all of that time. The disconnected feeling. The lack of awareness about pretty much everything around me.
“Well. I’ll check my bank account but I really don’t think so.”
I walked back to my desk, logged into my bank and searched for the amount. By golly, there was a payment.
That means that 1) I had indeed received a “first notice” from the credit card company and didn’t remember it and 2) had set up the credit card company as an auto pay from my account and didn’t remember it and 3) actually paid the bill and didn’t remember it.
So that means that when I was wandering around in a zombie-like intense work state, forgetting to eat meals and forgetting to sleep and often forgetting to change clothes and frequently forgetting to even brush my teeth in the morning, I managed to be fiscally responsible enough to pay my credit card bill?
I’m certainly glad that zombie Karen cares enough to pay normal Karen’s bills. I wonder what else I did when I wasn’t even on the planet.
I can hardly wait to find out.
Image found here.
Filed under: art, artist, awesome!, awkward, celebrity, charming, dia de los muertos, Frida, Frida Kahlo, gratitude, history, laffs, learning, life, love and marriage, make it work, melancholy, Mexico, mi corazon, Opinions, painting, peculiar, play through, pondering, self esteem issues, show and tell, simpatico, The Good Man, The Muse, words, writing
Over the weekend, after another rough week at work, The Good Man and I found our way to the big main branch of our city’s library. It was like an awesome haven from the mean old world.
I immediately found my way to the fifth floor where they keep the art books. I needed an infusion of art and creation in my life to erase the financial and business blues of my workweek. I decided I wanted to look at some Frida Kahlo prints. I am a huge fan of Frida.
As I plucked a slim book of her paintings off the shelf, I found another small book hiding behind it. It was a book of letters written by Frida to her friends and family.
I love reading old letters. You learn a lot about who a person was (or is) by reading their handwritten letters.
I had always thought that Frida was so strong, powerful, fierce and uncompromising.
Boy was I wrong. Through her letters, I found her to be very sweet, quite insecure, and almost childlike.
She often would write letters to friends and ask their advice on big life decisions. For example, at one point her husband, Diego Rivera, had a terrible infection in his eye that had spread to the side of his face. She asked a friend, a fellow painter, if he though she should take Diego to New York to see American doctors or stay in Mexico and take the guidance of Mexican doctors.
Now that seems like a pretty big life crisis, something you would want to decide along with your husband and instead she was soliciting, nay begging for, the advice of a friend. She actually did this quite a lot, begged her dear friends to tell her what to do.
I found that so counter to the fierce woman I see through her paintings.
And then, over time, as she got older she did seem to become a lot harder edged. A lot more sarcastic and passive aggressive.
Clearly the philandering ways of her husband and his over bearing need to be controlling had taken a toll on her psyche.
That and years and years of immense pain in her spine, leg, and foot, all massively unresolved injuries from an accident in her teens.
Her physical and mental anguish become so forceful, it drove a little bit of the lightness out of her words. She became more bitter. And so maybe that is the Frida I came to know, the rough around the edges and hard woman who had been hurt too much.
But even then, as I understood how she could come to be that way, I was a bit shocked to read (in the book) a quite long essay that was to accompany an exhibition meant to honor Diego Rivera.
I came across this section and burst out laughing. I mean, wow.
Here, read it and see what you think. She is describing Diego’s physical form from many angles. In this section she refers to his chest:
“Diego’s chest — of it we have to say, that had he landed on an island governed by Sappho, where male invaders were apt to be executed, Diego would never have been in danger. The sensitivity of his marvelous breasts would have insured his welcome, although his masculine virility, specific and strange, would have made him equally desired in the lands of these queens avidly hungering for masculine love.”
Um. Did she just say her husband had moobs? Cuz I think she did.
In another section she describes seeing him naked as looking something like a child frog. Paraphrasing here, she said that his skin takes on a greenish tone and is pale under his clothes and only tan in his face and hands.
Yeah. Green moob guy. Awesome.
This was, I’m sure, taking a bit of her own pound of flesh from him for the years of unkindness. And also a bit of the ol’ anti-bourgeoisie taking the piss out of what might have been a flowery ode to her husband.
I’ll tell you what, that image is sure going to stick with me for a while.
Actually, the whole book will stick with me for a while. The letters so quaint, so childlike and such a deep glimpse into one of my creative heroes. Quite something.
Oh, and she liked to invent words of her own. My favorite was when she would refer to her life or other things that were not working out as expected as fuc-bulous. Oh yes. I can use that. I may have to adopt it myself.
Next up, I have on my bedside table a book of letters by Vincent Van Gogh. He was quite prolific in his letters to his brother, and it is a thick tome. I am both wary and excited to dip in.
Photograph by Martin Munkácsi
Image found here.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, audit, awkward, Boss Lady, business is business, charming, cranky, cursing, disapproving boss, doooooom!, drama, first world problems, gratitude, growing up, I ain't as good as I once was, indignant, irritated, kerfuffle, learning, life, love and marriage, make it work, mean people, meeting hell, Opinions, overwhelmed, people are people, play through, polite, politics, pondering, powerful woman, relax, sigh, silly, stubborn, The Good Man, truth is stranger than..., work, worried, yes boss, yucky
This morning I geared up my mind and girded my loins for an important meeting. The event was a compliance review on a big project that I am working through. This project is the cause of many long hours, at least three migraine headaches and a lack of sleep. This compliance review is the last bit of internal check boxes required before we can implement this project fully and completely.
That I was even sitting in the room having the meeting is a gigantic achievement for this challenging project.
That said, I don’t necessarily have the cleanest track record in these compliance review meetings. About a month ago in a similar meeting for a different project, I lost my cool and let the chairperson have a bushel full of how I really feel.
After which I was “spoken to” by my manager who mostly empathized with me. I stand by what I said, and told my manager as much. I was simply asked to “try a little harder” next time.
Because there is always a next time.
Today I had to go back in there and keep the end in mind. I knew if I was able to get through the compliance meeting, and get approvals, that I would be able to finish this project that has me burning out quickly, turning into a crispy little Karen.
The order of the day was calm. Serene. Peace.
Now, I realize that not all of my fair and wonderful readers know me in person. If you do know me in person, you could know that calm, serene and peaceful are not adjectives often used to describe yours truly.
But I had to “try a little harder.” So I did deep breathing and a few deep knee bends before the event. I got to the meeting room early and got situated. I planted my feet on the ground and made a promise to myself that I would stay calm.
As the meeting progressed there were times where I wanted to say what was really on my mind, but somehow I magically refrained.
“Okay. What would you like to see in the documentation?” I said calmly and not at all snarkily. I felt the inner snark but I kept it tucked away under a beatific smile.
When all was done and I had the full list of changes and corrections, I walked out of the conference room and back to my desk.
Where I texted The Good Man the following:
“You oughta f—–g nickname me Buddha after that last hour of my life….”
You see, he knows me all too well and he knows I had this important meeting today. Then I followed it up with:
“I ohm’ed the sh*t out of that meeting.”
And then I took to Google where a short image search netted me the perfect image, which I also sent to The Good Man to further emphasize my point.
And that about sums it up.
Just call me Buddha, bitches.
Image found here.