2012 October : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Wind Sprints

If today is Halloween, that must mean tomorrow is November 1. The first day of November is not only Dia de Los Muertos, but also ushers in the annual National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

Eight times I have successfully completed a 50,000 word story in the span of just 30 days. Last year was the first time I attempted and failed NaNo. And even in my failure, I learned a lot.

In the spirit of try, try again, I’m going to take a run at it again this year. This despite the fact that I have no story ideas and a lot of anxiety about it.

And so as an athlete stretches and runs wind sprints in order to get ready for the big game, I am going to run some wordy sprints.

With that, I turn again to Unconscious Mutterings for some random word prompts. I love this warm up.

So here we go!

  1. Crying ::

    What I will not be doing on November 30th if all goes well. That said, a good cry is cathartic and good for the soul. It might take a heavy bout of crying mid-month in the throes of writer’s block in order to break through and make it to that 50,000th word.

    It remains to be seen.


  2. Reluctant ::

    I am, truly, rather reluctant to have another go at this crazy month of writing. It’s always awesome and I’m amazed at what I can produce in so short a time. It’s also quite taxing on The Muse. I get creatively wiped out by the end of the marathon. Blisters on the brain pan or something. But it’s also quite satisfying. That mind numbing creative exhaustion means I have created something and that is the coolest feeling in the world.


  3. Decade ::

    My first go at this crazy NaNo game was back in 2004. I’m closing in on a decade of this wordy abuse. Lots of words and time well spent. By writing this blog I know my writing has improved vastly and my ability to write on the fly has grown strong. So hey, rock on.


  4. Mustache ::

    So what’s the deal with mustaches these days? They are not just facial hair anymore. Now a mustache is a meme. I mean, there are accessories, baseball logos and many Tumblrs.

    Plus, let’s just settle this right now. Rollie Fingers. Greatest mustache of all time. Boo-yah.


  5. Water ::

    Well now, not to bring down the language and mustache party, but water sure has been a topic of conversation lately, hasn’t it? Water, so life giving, so essential, so gosh darn powerful. The photos of subway stations and buildings and streets filled with water in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are so profoundly scary and overwhelming. I know that New York and New Jersey are incredibly resilient and will bounce back. But as of today, it’s just overwhelming to witness the power and destruction of simple H2O.


  6. March ::

    Let’s see…the 2012 baseball season ended Monday. The celebration parade up Market Street in San Francisco was today. Baseball is officially over.

    World Baseball Classic begins March 2.

    *sigh*


  7. Stripes ::

    As I’m writing this, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on the telly. Right now Linus is sitting in the pumpkin patch, wearing a red shirt with stripes, explaining to Sally about the Great Pumpkin.

    Then he uttered something that seemed a little meaningful here in on the last day of October and six days before the end of election season.

    “I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

    Oh how I wish I could find a place, even a small pumpkin patch, where there is not a sign of hypocrisy and sincerity as far as the eye can see.

    Sadly that’s not the view from where I’m sitting. Maybe I’ll check again next week.


  8. Friendship ::

    Recently I got to spend three days with my best friend of over twenty years. She is family and brilliant and each year of our friendship means everything to me. We may live miles apart but she lives right here in my heart every day. Being with her for a few days made me actually miss her MORE than I already did.

    Time is the scarcest commodity of them all.


  9. Weirdo ::

    It’s a testament to the kind of woman she is that for over twenty years she’s put up with a weirdo like me.

    Tomorrow also brings the anniversary of the day I met The Good Man. It’s a testament to the kind of man he is that he puts up with my special brand of weird every day.

    I’m very lucky and that’s said with nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.


  10. Contacts ::

    As this Halloween night wanes on, time to pluck the contacts from my eyes and bid adieu the season of orange and black. An ABC TV interstitial just announced it is now officially the “holiday season.”

    This makes me sad. And scared. And reluctant.

    Ok, for now, I must focus on NaNo. Freak out over the holiday season can wait until later.


Well there you have it. Whew. I’m winded and warmed up and ready to write!








Image from Soccer Skills and Training.



In The Small Hours

Recently a new meeting appeared on my calendar at work. It’s a new group and a “core team” for an emerging and rather exciting new project that crosses many functional teams. Many global teams.

It’s a good sign that I was invited to the table and I take it as the step forward that it is.

However.

The meetings are set for 7:00 in the morning once a week in order to accommodate as many time zones as possible. Seven in the ayem. I rarely like rising by seven in the morning, much less well before so I can rise and feed the cat and get dressed and drive to work in order to be there by 7:00am.

That said, I find these early mornings to be a little odd and endearing. As much as I hate rising before the sun, those wee hours are also sort of fascinating.

This morning I stepped through the door from my building into the damp morning air. A fairly thick fog lay hugging the pavement as streetlights lit it with an ethereal glow. It was so quiet. Odd because in just an hour this same stretch of road will be backed up with the traffic of parents dropping their kids off at the nearby school, and punk kids walking and screaming and laughing and being obnoxious teenagers. Plus kids wailing at the nearby playground and the rumble of trucks and cars and the world coming alive.

But for these few precious moments, the world is silent. Quiet fog like the paws of a night animal sneaks and swirls through the streets.

Even with extra caution to avoid local deer and morning walkers, my usual twenty minute drive to work takes just ten and I think “hey, I’ll get to park in that one awesome parking spot right by the front door” but of course that’s not true. I’m not the only soul wandering the quiet workaday streets.

The tall multistoried edifice where I work looks imposing in the darkness. It is backlit by floodlights and the mist swirls high above the penthouse suite. The windows of the building are mirrored and in the daylight, this provides both security and uniformity. All you see is a solid wall of reflection.

In these dark hours, I can see into offices. There on the eighth floor I see an executive in his office bustling about. He looks almost frantic, pacing around the space. I suspect he is on an early call and the stress of the business day is already nattering in his ear.

I can see that lights were left on in The Big CEO office area. He has a nice office. I’ve actually been in that space, just once when he wasn’t there. I wonder why the lights are on because he’s not in there and his admin isn’t at work yet. Did someone forget and leave the lights on?

I can see multiple computer monitors on his desk and I wonder how many emails he must get in a day. Maybe it’s not that many as he has not one but two executives as direct reports. I bet they get all the email and he gets to be the “face of the company” and attends marketing events and drinks something expensive and drives something expensive and I bet he is working from home today anyway.

As my tummy rumbles I wonder if the executive suite gets breakfast catered in.

It’s too early in the morning to eat. My tummy is both hungry and nauseous. In about an hour I will be ravenous.

It’s so early that the main door to the main building is locked. During the day it’s open to all visitors and staff, but this morning I can’t actually remember where the badge reader is located. It’s not right next to the door and I recall it’s cleverly hidden in what looks like a light pole. So cleverly hidden it’s impossible to find.

I wave my badge around everywhere in the vicinity like a mad multi-limbed Shiva until I finally hear that satisfying click and I open the door and enter the lobby.

The security guard nearing the end of his overnight shift looks at me with knitted brows and doesn’t reply to my chirpy “good morning”.

It’s ok. I was faking the chirp anyway. I wouldn’t say hi to me either.

Pushing the up button to call the elevator, I’m happy to see the doors open immediately. I believe that when the elevators aren’t being used, all cars return to the first floor. It’s usually a dreadfully long wait during business hours, but not today. I ride up to my floor, stride to my office and flick on the lights. Immediately I put on my wireless desk headset and dial into the call.

And now someone in the parking lot can see me, my form bustling about my office as the stresses of the day begin to whisper in my ear. As I announce my entry to the call and greet the team, I already feel weary. I began mentally running through the day’s calendar trying to remember when I can actually leave work and head home.

I came in early so I can leave early, right?

Alas no. Pesky time zones. I have a call to an APAC country very late this afternoon.

And this is how my employers get their money’s worth out of me.




Not my building but surprisingly similar. This building is in Minneapolis. Mine is not.



Photo by drouu and used royalty free from stock.xchng.



Admitting You Have a Problem Is The First Step

Each day at work, I spent nine to ten hours in front of a computer, looking at a screen, tip tapping away on my keyboard.

I go to lunch and while noshing I pull out my iPhone and I catch up on email, Twitter, Facebook and when that’s done, I read a couple chapters of a book on the Kindle app.

When I come home from work, I have my phone with me at all times and I check in on email, Twitter, Facebook and others. Sometimes I log into my iMac and do some writing work or I edit photos or just fiddle about. Occasionally in front of the television I’ll fire up my MacBook and I’ll do the two screen thing, telly and computer.

When I go to bed at night, I set the alarm on my phone and I do a last check of email, Twitter and Facebook and maybe read another chapter of a book on my phone.

Then I sleep. When the alarm goes off, the first thing I do is check the meetings on the day’s calendar on my phone. Then I check email, Twitter and Facebook.

Recently, I had to admit to myself that this is a problem. I spend way too much time with my head in a device.

Way, way too much.

I’ve been trying to wean off but I have to be honest, it’s hard. Those “likes” on Facebook are as addictive as pellets to a lever pushing rat. Payoff! Reward! You like me you really like me!!

While out and about with a friend a few weeks back, she commented, “You are on Facebook a lot” and my internal gears seized up. Am I really? That can’t be.

Only it is.

I was doing better (for a few days) and really making progress, but then baseball’s post-season started and it got worse. I wanted to watch the games and see what everyone was saying and see updated stats online and photos from the yard! At some points during the course of the post-season I was watching TV, Twittering on my MacBook and checking Facebook on my phone all at once.

Meaning, I slipped off the wagon and bounced a few times on the dirt road.

Last night I was thinking AGAIN about my need to back away from the shiny electronic devices. They are so alluring!

While waiting in the coffee line this morning at work, I idly browsed the local county newspaper (an actual paper copy) and came across this little ol article:

Can true solitude be found in a wired world?

I used to be that girl…I loved to sit in an airport waiting for a plane and instead of my nose in a device or even a book for that matter, I would sit, quietly, and observe the world. The sights the smells the sounds. I would hear my own thoughts. I would find a place of calm.

Not anymore. Now if I fly I make sure my iPad is loaded up with content, both books and movies to distract me the whole way and I hardly make note of anyone or anything around me. Hell, I can’t even sit quietly in my own home and listen to the squirrels fighting outside. Nope, gotta Tweet about it.

What is wrong with me? When did I get sucked in and how can I back away slowly?

I had a revelation one night last year while in the midst of twelve to fourteen hour workdays and I was losing my mind. My beloved Good Man took my phone out of my hand, went into Settings and turned off my work email.

It was like he opened my eyes for the first time. That I could really do that…I could ignore email for a few hours? Magic!

Perhaps it’s now time to turn the entire device OFF the moment I come in the front door. There is no emergency in APAC that can’t wait to the next morning. My coworkers in APAC are fairly used to this.

Or perhaps I set a time…say 8:00pm and after that the phone is off. That allows a window for emergencies from the Pacific Rim but a time of peace in my home (and mind).

I have a good friend who doesn’t work on email at night simply because his company turns off access to email every evening then turns it back on in the morning. How glorious and how sane. My employer would never do this.

To be honest, when I think about having an unwired vacation (as suggested in the article), it sounds both awesome and a little scary.

Which is a sure sign I need to implement this in my life right away.







Image from The Indian Fusion.



A Matched Set

Two years ago as a long suffering San Francisco Giants fan, I reaped my reward in 2010 when the Giants (finally!) won the world series and Bug Selig handed over this:





Tonight, the Giants won it all again.

And Mr. Selig, who is no fan of the Giants, had to hand over another trophy. Heh.

Now we got a matched set! Like salt and pepper shakers.

Reunited and it feels so good!




And Then There Was Perspective

Yesterday as I was writing up a post about whether or not to take the brand new laptop allocated to my new employee and give him my old machine, I got a ping on interoffice chat from my employee in Costa Rica.

She and I had spoken earlier in the week and she told me some sad news. Seems that she and her husband have to sell their car because her aunt has demanded immediate repayment of a debt. They have worked and tried to find a way to get the money to pay it, but cannot.

The car has to go.

When I was in Costa Rica with this fabulous lady in May, I was impressed by how much she and her husband loved their car. It is a ten year old Kia and they had lovingly detailed it, put on nice wheels, kept the paint clean, reupholstered the inside and doted on the car.

They even told me how important this car was to them. It got them back and forth to work. It helped my friend take her sick mom to regular doctor appointments. It gave them freedom to get out of stuffy, overcrowded San Jose and to the ocean.

She was crying as she told me the news.

They had found a buyer who gave them quick cash and they re-paid their debt, which means that both she and her husband need to ride public transit, such that it is, to get to work every day.

I’ve been on the buses in San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s not that bad, just very crowded. My friend has to walk about a mile from her home to the bus stop on roads with no sidewalks (or “walk sides” as she calls them) in the oppressive heat and tropical rain and at night.

She assured me it would be ok. She and her husband were looking into getting a loan for another car. They both have good jobs and it seems likely the bank will approve.

So yesterday, when she pinged me, she was apologetic. “I was late to work today, I’m so sorry.”

This is quite unlike her, she’s very prompt and quite businesslike.

“That’s ok, are you all right?”

Seems there is an ongoing protest in Costa Rica and while she was able to get on the bus, ultimately the route was blocked by protesters and traffic so everyone had to get off the bus. She walked five kilometers to work (about three miles) in her work clothes and heels.

She was spitting mad and drenched with sweat and just really, really sad.

“Do you mind if I leave a little early today? I have to go to the government office to get a report to take to the bank so they can see if we can have a loan for a car.”

“No problem,” I responded. “Take care of yourself.”

I’d tell her she could work from home for a few days until this is sorted out, but they can’t get internet to their house. The infrastructure just doesn’t exist yet in her neighborhood.

Whatta world, whatta world.





A Costa Rican bus stop, and this is a nice one. In the hills, bus stops are little more than a bench carved into jungle overgrowth.




Image from You’re Not From Around Here and that post is totally worth reading. I suggest a click.




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