Filed under: addictions, Adulting, angry, anxiety, automobiles, awesome!, awkward, Bay Area, Be Better!, business is business, choices, cranky, cursing, drama, driving, evil glee, first world problems, humility, in my 'hood, irritated, karma, kerfuffle, learning, life, love and marriage, make it work, manners, meditation, Oakland, Opinions, overwhelmed, play through, polite, resolutions, safety, show and tell, stories, stress, The Good Man, The More You Know..., traffic, zen
In my quest to 1) become a better person and 2) survive 2016 intact, several weeks ago I signed up for a mindfulness meditation class.
The instructor is lovely and the class is, well, relaxing. It makes me calmer and a better person in so many ways.
This whole meditation thing doesn’t really jibe with my New Mexico upbringing. Stress reduction is a bit different ’round here than it was there.
For example, where I live now, it’s awful hard to take a three-hour ride upon my favorite horse in order to relax. And driving out to Chopes for enchiladas and a beer is a longer drive than I can make in a day.
Meditation it is, then.
Last week, we had a long class discussion about the use of one’s car horn. How it’s not mindful or necessary to lay on the horn while traveling this world. How it can make things worse by scaring the other driver or making the other driver mad (and bad things come from that).
This is also in line with The Good Man and his rules for better living. Since we live in a more urban city than I’ve ever lived in before, he has asked me nicely give my horn honking a rest. These are tense times and occasionally I travel through tough neighborhoods. Who knows how the ol’ toot-toot will be received?
Really, this is all sage advice, both from the Vispassana teacher and the man I married.
Until yesterday, when I found myself in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood. Where the Chinatown in San Francisco is something of a tourist delight, the Oakland Chinatown is a serious ethnic neighborhood. It sits near Oakland’s downtown, so it’s busy, jam packed with traffic, and not to be taken lightly.
I’ve spent many an hour in Oakland’s Chinatown over my years and I love it. It had been a while, and was nice to be there again. I had a couple things on my shopping list that can only be found in that neighborhood.
As I rolled into the area, I made my way past city buses and double-parked cars, and was filled with glee to find a nice wide parking spot on the street just around the corner from where I needed to be. Score!
I carefully maneuvered over, waited while the car ahead loaded her kid in the car, had my blinker on the whole time and as I pulled forward to align and began to back into the spot, some $%^& started to pull head first into my spot.
Yay, verily, there was much laying on of horns. Oh yes. My beloved Jeep is equipped with not one but two bassy air horns that make it clear to whomever is on the receiving end that they have been properly honked. One firm flat-palm press lights up the hearing cavities of all nearby.
I held that Jeep horn with a solid hand, owing my destiny to all of the fabulous people throughout my years here in the Bay Area who taught me how to survive in a city. Indeed. I followed the playbook and hoped to hell this wouldn’t escalate into that driver getting out of their car.
Thus, as the interloper assessed the situation, she surely noticed my sixteen-year-old Jeep was far less shiny than her almost new SUV nosing into my spot. I held steady, knowing even then that the person backing in is at a disadvantage to the person trying to head in.
Finally the fancy car threw it in reverse and left, giving me an exaggerated shrug on the way by.
Here is the true confession: Damn did honking the hell out of my horn feel good. Like, real good. Like cold beer after a hard day of yard work. Like that first bite of a Chopes enchilada (egg and sour cream on top). Like finally getting out the splinter that is starting to fester.
I know it goes against everything my spouse and my learned teacher have asked of me. It wasn’t peaceful, nor kind. But damn did it feel good.
Almost too good.
Okay, okay. The horn honking is over. The satisfaction was quick and delicious. The endorphins rose and quickly dissipated.
Today I’ll rededicate myself to the peaceful life. To being more kind. To being more centered. To let traffic solve itself without the help of two weighty and meaningful Jeep air horns.
They don’t call meditation a practice for nothing. It takes work. Perfection is not expected. (I’ll add this note, I refrained from both cursing and arm waving in addition to the horn. It’s something to build on.)
Given the same situation, would I honk it up again? Hee, hee…probably.
Okay, okay. I’ll try harder.
Recycling one of my favorite photos. Image found here.
Image found here.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, awkward, Be Better!, business is business, Chicago, cranky, crying, cursing, disappointed, don't want!, doubts, game face, gratitude, grief, growing up, humility, learning, life, loss, make it work, melancholy, memories, Opinions, overwhelmed, play through, pondering, rambling, sensitive girl, sorrow, why, words, worried, writer, writer's block, writing, yucky
Last month I found myself in Chicago attending a writer’s conference. The event was sponsored by a large publishing house and I went to learn more about the publishing industry. Boy did I.
Part of the weekend also had us working on some writing exercises. We were given a topic and told to write about it for ten minutes.
I’m pretty good at these off the cuff wind sprints, so I was sailing along nicely creating the words and feeling all of those blocks melt away.
That was until we got to the prompt: “What’s the one thing you won’t write about?”
Ugh. Well. The snarky voice in my head kicked in, saying things like “well if it’s something I won’t write about, why would I write about it here? In this uncomfortable chair. With 500 of my closest friends in attendance?”
Then I started thinking, what really IS the one thing I won’t write about?
I know what it is, but I’m still not ready to write about it.
It’s grief. My overwhelming grief is the one thing I just can’t write about. Not yet.
Both December and January ushered in tremendous losses for me, one after the other, and though I’m told I have to “just grieve” and “get it out” and “go through the stages” I find myself a bit at sea. There are times it shows up inappropriately and I cry so hard I wonder how I will ever stop crying.
When I do finally stop, I become near catatonic for the rest of the day.
There are times I know it’s sneaking up on me and instead of trying to head it off, I am able to find a way to hide in the bathroom or outside or in my car and let it happen. A little.
And sometimes I simply have to tell the freight train that no, it doesn’t get to run me over today. When I head it off, push it down, it only means the grief builds up a bigger head of steam for the next time.
It is a demon and I am wrestling with it. And no, I’m not ready to write about the details. It’s too tender, too fresh, too painful.
One might argue that since writing is my thing, I should be writing about it. I should be writing it all out furiously and fast and working through all of those darn steps, up and down the ladder until I’m free.
As if one can ever really be free of grief. Actually, that’s part of the problem. This fresh and overpowering grief has ripped the lids off of the many other losses I have experienced so I get to go through all of that again. As if it’s new and present and today.
So yeah, letting it all out, that’s probably what I should be doing.
But I can’t. Not yet.
And it remains the one thing I won’t write about.
But I will write about it. Someday.
Maybe this post is just one small step in the right direction.
Image found here.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, automobiles, awkward, backyard, Bay Area, Be Better!, business is business, cranky, crazy, criminals, curious, cursing, damn kids, disappointed, don't bully me!, drama, first world problems, hey kids get off my lawn, in my 'hood, indignant, irritated, kids these days, latent childhood, lazy, life, make it work, mean people, Opinions, ouch, our happy home, peculiar, people are people, play through, snark, truth is stranger than..., whining, worried, yucky
Subtitled: An Open and Passive Aggressive Letter To A Jerk
Dear Festering Canker on the Butt Crack of Society,
On the weekend after the American Thanksgiving holiday I see that you managed to find yourself, and maybe a few of your slackjawed mouth breathing friends, in my neighborhood.
I can’t blame you because I live in an awesome neighborhood. Those houses that line the block are old, pristine and outrageously expensive.
It’s a neighborhood so nice I can’t afford to live here. Well, I mean own here. My economic status is evidenced by the nearly fifteen-year-old vehicle that I have to park on the street in front of the building that houses my teeny tiny apartment.
One of my neighbors who also lives in a small but well appointed apartment had parked her nearly decade old Volvo behind me on that fateful day. I know her, she knows me. We park near each other a lot.
So yeah, there are some really rich people who live on my block, but my neighbor and I are not among them. We managed to slip our middle class selves unnoticed into this nice neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of tree lined quiet streets and a walking score of an outrageously high 93.
I can see how you might show up in this neighborhood and see the opulence and think to yourself, “I need to mess some sh– up.”
And so you started with my neighbor’s Volvo. About eight months ago this same very nice person had a different Volvo, but a drunk college brat came careening through our street and bounced of her car and several others (thankfully I had parked across the street from her on that night) thus totaling her beloved old Volvo. That thing was a classic. She was heartbroken.
But her insurance kicked in and she lovingly replaced it with this used but in good shape model. You decided to be “cool” and rip the side mirror off of her new/used car. Ripped it clean off and left it dangling by the electrical cords. Aren’t you so clever?
Then you set your sights on my Jeep. You popped the passenger side mirror out and folded it over. It’s an SUV so it’s okay to do that. It’s a tough offroad vehicle and I’ve moved past bendy Willow branches that were stronger than your weak sauce.
It appears you wrestled with it a little bit because the case is cracked but your underdeveloped arms weren’t strong enough to twist it off of my Jeep.
Pause here, hand to heart in honor of my Jeep people.
So, since you weren’t able to complete your impotent act of vandalism, you then moved to my radio antenna. Yes, my Jeep is so old it still has an old fashioned non-retracting antenna that stands tall, reaching far into the universe to pull down radio waves and send them to the interior of my vehicle.
I have listened to hundreds and maybe thousands of baseball games on that radio using that antenna. Jon Miller’s voice so deep and bassy that it vibrates the cheap factory installed speakers in the doors. Well, speaker and door, singular. The driver’s side speaker hasn’t worked since 2005 and I never bothered to get it fixed.
But that’s not the point.
You got your giggles satisfied by ripping the antenna off my car. I can see from the clean spot in the dirt on my Jeep you had to lean in a little to get that done. I hope my antenna gave you a valiant fight. I hope you tore some skin when you ripped the metal and then carried it off.
You know, I grew up in the kind of place where there was really nothing to do on a weekend when school was out. My friends and I did some seriously stupid shit, too.
The quest to steal lawn ornamentation comes to mind. As young bucks we’d get a little sloshy and then go on the hunt for lawn ornaments. The people and culture of New Mexico tend to lend themselves to neighborhoods littered with plastic and clay items purchased over the border and brought home then proudly displayed on patchy grass and dirt lawns.
So yeah, we took stuff, but we always treated it nicely and often we’d go out on another night to return the things we took. Not always to the same lawns, granted, but the intentions were good.
All that by way of saying that I get it, the need to be young and dumb and act like an idiot.
But for eff’s sakes! There is A LOT to do in this town. We live in a hotbed of unique things to do, and not even all of them cost money.
Nah, you wanted to leave your little limpy mark on the world by destructing the property of some people who value our tired old hoopties the most.
Congratulations. You win. You got me.
I will rebuild. I will eventually have my antenna replaced. For now I listen to either scratchy FM stations or I pop in a CD. Yes, my car is so freaking old it still had a CD player.
And as the Christmas seasons dawns merry and bright, my wish for you, dear vandalist, is that Santa Claus takes a giant squat in your stocking while smashing your favorite ornament to bits.
And that someone takes something that you value very much and vandalizes it.
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.
Filed under: angry, anxiety, awesome!, awkward, blogging, business is business, charming, creepy, criminals, cursing, disappointed, don't bully me!, don't want!, drama, edjumacation, evil, first world problems, kerfuffle, learning, life, make it work, nerd girl, Opinions, peculiar, play through, rambling, show and tell, skeerdy cat, The Good Man, worried, yes boss, yucky
So there I was a week ago on Tuesday, sitting at my desk and having one of the worst days at work in recent memory. There were all kinds of bonfires burning brightly on my desk. Still are.
So much so that in a recent hot project review with my manager and all of my peers, the Boss Lady remarked “wow, you have all of the really awful problems, don’t you?”
She is fairly unflappable and not easily worried by the bonfires that my job brings, so her concern means I am seriously up to my eyeballs in alligators.
As the day progressed like a hammer to the head of a nail, I decided to sit back for a few minutes and look at some personal email by way of distraction.
That is when I found an email from someone I don’t know, a Good Samaritan if you will, letting me know that my sweet Oh Fair New Mexico site had been hacked.
Oh joy. Just exactly what I needed.
This was, in my opinion, a particularly insidious hack. It was done so cleanly that I never even knew it had been hacked. Google “WordPress Pharma Hack” and read the pages and pages devoted to this really clever little invisible hack.
Instead of fiddling with my content or the front page of my blog, the intruder created something on the order of hundreds of offshoot pages from this blog. Those pages purported to sell all variety of fun pharmaceutical products, stove tops, waxing kits and more.
I suppose I should have guessed I was hacked when my website began to slow to a crawl. Then recently I noticed I couldn’t reach my website from my home network. A ticket raised at my hosting provider said “No, your blog is up and running.”
Turns out my ISP had blocked my infected web page. My blog continued to slow down even more. It began taking several long seconds to load.
I feel sort of sheepish that I didn’t figure this out for myself. The signs were there. I make a living in the tech industry, but when it came to my own blog I was a silly little twit.
So after receiving the bad news I:
1) freaked out, then
2) contacted my hosting provider who had done me the service of setting up my blog originally
Within about twenty minutes they had replied to my ticket and did their part to clean out all of the offending sites. I checked several of them to be sure they were shut off. A bit of Googling around showed me that I had been hacked going back into last year. Hoo boy.
Then I had to raise another ticket because I noticed that my usual log in page redirected me to a page that looked exactly like my log in page but had a different URL. Thankfully I did notice that in the URL line on my browser.
My hosting provider responded by giving me another way into my blog. Once in, I realized that my hacker friends had set up no less than five admin accounts on my blog and one more that was invisible. I could only tell that by seeing that I had one (1) line item for users but the count in the header of the page said I had two (2) admin accounts.
Hell, I never check my admin page, but I should have.
So I did a lot of research and I learned about PHPMyAdmin and I got new keys from WordPress to make sure if the hackers were still logged in it would crunch their cookies and I changed passwords.
And I freaked out a little more.
Then I went to Google and signed up for their webtools (as suggested) and ran through the process so I could get the “this site may be hacked” message to not show up in search results for my little blog. That seemed to work fairly quickly.
And then I freaked out less but still felt anxious. And I kept working on cleaning up the mess that was left behind.
It all feels so…dirty. I mean, I don’t get a ton of traffic to my little blog but it’s my tiny corner of the internet and this week I celebrated my seventh year of blogging. Over half a million words.
A lot of fun has been had. By me at least.
From all of this, I have learned that WordPress blogs are particularly hackable. I have also learned that some hosting providers are also particularly hackable.
I have some other things I want to do to better secure my blog, but I certainly can’t promise I won’t get hacked again.
In fact, based on my research, I probably will get hacked again pretty soon until I get better security on my pages.
I may have to just shut down the blog entirely, but for now, I’m back up. It seems to be running a little quicker. I do regular backups on the blog but I did another just to be cautious.
So there you go. For today I’m back to blogging and not selling.
I like it here. Oh Fair New Mexico makes me happy, and for the few but loyal readers I have, I hope it makes you happy too.
Meanwhile if you came here because you want to buy some good drugs off the blog, the bad guys are no longer in business at this location. For now, anyway.
*Special thanks to the kind reader who tipped me off about the hack. I am quite grateful to you.
**Humorous side note: When I told The Good Man that I had been hacked he went to look at the blog. He thought my kooky post about big cats liking Calvin Klein Obsession cologne was the work of the hackers.
Lol! I had a hell of a time convincing him that I wrote it. *grin* They can’t all be winners.
Image found here.