Uh oh, she’s back in the wayback machine

My friend and resident of Albuquerque told me that the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is well nigh….

Yup, starts October 6.

Let’s start with this query…how in the utter $#*&!!! did it get to be October already?

So I was telling my mom I’m considering going to ABQ for the fun and staying with my friend as she lives near the right part of town.

Then I said “of course, anymore it’s a complete pain in the ass to go to the fiesta”

That kicked off a step right into the wayback machine.

She said “yeah, remember how it used to just be in a big empty field and we’d go and get right up close, your dad would talk to the balloonists and before you know it, we’d all be holding a corner of cloth, helping them inflate it? That doesn’t happen anymore.”

No, it sure doesn’t.

Remember when the Balloon Fiesta didn’t have sponsors? It was just a bunch of ballooning guys getting together for some fun and competition.

Remember when they flew out of Cutter Field? Yeah, that flight path used to take them over our house in the northeast heights (somewheres around Montgomery and San Pedro). I used to dash out to the backyard and wave and try to talk to the balloonists. They were always nice, good for a wave at least if they were low enough.

I remember drinking scalding hot chocolate out of that battered green Coleman thermos, trying to warm my hands and frozen nose, bundled up against a cold October morning at like, oh-dark-thirty.

We’d help some guy my dad just met (my dad never met a guy he didn’t know) get his balloon off the ground, then we’d leap into our battered blue and white Chevy Blazer and help chase.

Ya can’t do that anymore. Insurance and progress and all that rot, I suppose.

I also remember when I used to work for Honeywell back in 1993. That’s when the balloons had already moved to their new location, the Balloon Fiesta Park, which is catty corner to Honeywell. It was HELL getting to work, but I’d go inside, get a cup of coffee, then go back outside with all my coworkers and watch the morning show. Special shapes day was always the best.

When it gets to be this time of year when the nights and mornings are cold but the days warm up nicely, I still look to the sky hoping to see ornaments hanging there, listening for the whoosh of propane. The conditions aren’t right here in the Bay Area. Sometimes I sure miss a sky hung with colorful balloons. Nothing like it in the world.

It’s going away, isn’t it?

My friend. My companion. That comfort at the end of a long day’s work, driving home, watching the sun go down, laughing, cheering, listening. It’s leaving me again, just as the world turns cold. It always leaves me just when the sun starts setting sooner, when the chill rolls in, when the leaves turn. Just when I need it the most, it’s gone.

My old friend and joy, baseball, is leaving me again this weekend.

The San Francisco Giants played their last home game of 2007 last night, made all the more bittersweet as, after fifteen crazy years, it was the last game Barry Bonds will play in a Giants uniform.

It was year of agony and ecstasy.

Ecstasy: The San Jose Giants, the Minor League Single A affiliate, and a group of young ‘uns near and dear to my heart performed a miracle. Coming on strong in the first half and falling off hard in the second half, they still earned their way into the playoffs and prevailed. They are the 2007 California League Champions. They played an amazing post season and just brutalized Lake Elsinore in game 5, the deciding game. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. This was a hard working team of guys who learned how to win, and a tip of the cap to manager Lenn Sakata for taking yet another team to the post season.

Agony: Their big brothers to the North, however, didn’t fare so well. With three games left, they’ve lost 89 games and are a gut-turning 18.5 games out of first place.

This was the season that Bonds broke the all-time homerun record, walloping 756 over the walls and into the history books. But all the media glare, both positive and negative, had an impact on the other 24 guys on the roster. Starting pitching was ok (I won’t “go there” about the pitiful year Barry Zito had…I just…can’t…), the bullpen was ridiculous and hitting was lame. They went up there with sad and tired bats. And our star catcher bitched about it to the press.

It was not a glorious year. It’s the latest in all the depressing seasons we’ve endured after the joys (and pain) of the 2002 World Series.

Ownership says 2008 is a “rebuilding” year. That means some young kids, some no names, and no hope of a post season for at least a couple more years.

But even in the agony of this terrible season, it was there. Baseball was on the radio every night, 162 games a year. The bases were still 90 feet apart and it was still 60 feet, six inches from mound to plate. The Umps still missed calls, players were plunked, miracles were performed and for me, all was all right with the world.

I had a day yesterday for the record books, and as I drove home, looking into the setting sun, sad, mad, exhausted, apathetic, beat down, and depressed as hell, I reached out and touched the “power” button on my radio, and suddenly Jon Miller’s voice boomed out from my radio speakers, “a called strike one!” and I left behind my troubles. My sorrow. My bone wearying exhaustion and I listened to the game. Smiling at strikes, frowning at balls and batting my hand on the steering wheel when the boys in orange and black got a hit and cheering loudly in my car.

I don’t give a rip about any of the teams in the post-season, although I may watch a few games. It’s not the same when it isn’t your team fighting it out.

*sigh* Now what? My baseball friend becomes a hockey fan in the off-season. I like hockey, but not with that fever reserved for baseball.

Guess instead, it’s time to start thinking about what in the hell I’m going to write 50,000 words about for the annual NaNoWriMo.

Heh…three years ago I wrote a baseball book……


It’s a gas, innit?

I mean, all the magazines tell you that it’s bad, bad, bad. Your doctor will say don’t have it. You know it’s not good. And yet, there it sits, on your chest, choking you in the middle of the night.

And stress brings all its friends to come play, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, achy joints, chronic back pain, illness, pain, suffering, blight, famine, hoards of locusts.

It’s one of those really cool biological things that helped us a ton when being chased by a saber toothed tiger or avoiding trampling from a woolly mammoth. It’s what got us through the rough, less industrial, times and into what we have today.

What do we have today?

Made up stress. Adrenaline pumps through my veins giving me that wild “flight or fight” rush. Really, I’m a flight kind of girl. That seems best for all. But nooooo, I have to stay and fight, which stresses me out more…ain’t that a fun twist?

And what am I fighting? Words on a piece of paper. I am not making this up.

Everything I am doing today, all these things that stress me out, give me heart palpitations, make me aspirate my own stomach acid in the middle of the night, cause me to lose sleep and be a terrible partner to the man I love more than anything is something that matters only in the four walls of this gray cubicled office where I earn my paycheck. Sure, all this agony and no ecstasy means I continue to get paid and am in line for a measly (and I do mean measly) raise this year. I should be thankful, right?

I’m not.

I’m angry. Perhaps being angry is just an acceptable way to mitigate what I’m really feeling. No wait, what I’m really feeling is anger. For a lot of reasons.

Mainly, I’m tired. Real tired. Perhaps a good night’s sleep (which probably won’t come for at least another week) might better my outlook. I don’t know.

Ok, back to it.

Hope you all are having a much less stressful day.


Walk to the theme song of your life

I was watching the new Tim Gunn show on Bravo this evening. If you don’t know who Tim Gunn is, then you haven’t been watching Project Runway.

Mr. Gunn is known for his quiet understatement and has become one of heroes, best known for his catch phrase “make it work”.

A phrase I’ve adopted and use liberally at work. To the point my staff is tired of hearing it. I decided if they were going to come into my office multiple times a day with all manner of whining, I’d lob it back.

“My clients won’t tell me what the budget is for this project!”

“Make it work”

“The supplier is being unreasonable, we can’t get this done by quarter end!”

“Make it work”

“Management hasn’t given us any knowledge about this secret squirrel project! I can’t support it!”

“Make it work”

They usually give me a dirty look and stomp out.

Anyhoo….while watching an episode of “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style”, he took one of his victims to a “lifestyle coach” to help her feel more confident. The theory being if you are more confident you’ll dress more confident, I guess.

The lifestyle coach told this meek young lady that she should always “walk to the theme song of your life” and made her walk back and forth around the room. Poor thing couldn’t manage a hip swing to save her life, but she did manage to loosen up a bit during the course of the show.

I sat here on my red couch and tried to decide what, exactly, is the theme song of my life. I guess it’s never really just one, right? It changes based on what’s going on.

Then I remembered earlier today. I walked over to a meeting in another building with the buds to my iPod shuffle jammed deeply into my ears. A bit of music helps me huff it across a quite busy street and get to meetings on time.

I’ve got a mind blowing change about to occur at work. Mind blowing in a very, very bad way. My boss dropped this incendiary bit of news on Tuesday and I’ve not recovered.

Discretion being the better part of valor, and god knows who reads blogs these days, I shan’t go into details. But suffice to say, it ain’t good.

So with my Shuffle set to…er…shuffle, I was walking determinedly and muttering under my breath when the song came on. The song I think is the theme of my life for right now.

The tune is “Headstrong” by Trapt.

Sample lyrics:
“Back off I’ll take you on/headstrong to take on anyone/I know that you are wrong and this is not where you belong”

I started walking with strong footfalls. Head up, eyes roving looking for someone who might dare to take me on. I almost punched the air.

Yeah. This will work for today. Without even knowing it I’d “walked my theme song”.

Maybe I’ll start dressing better too?

What’s YOUR theme song?

Sign of the times?

I am probably the wrong person to make comment on the current state of the economy. I don’t know much, I don’t watch enough TV or read enough newspapers. I know what I have seen in headline news suggests that people can’t pay mortgages on their homes (fall out of some questionable, maybe shady, lending practices and a rise in interest rates) and that rentals are on the rise, people duking it out over the good places (much like back in the dot.com days, I personally put up a good fight to get the first place I rented when I moved).

The Bay Area is an odd place to gauge wealth. I live amongst some of the wealthiest people in the world (hello, Silicon Valley). But given the cost of living around here, there are also a lot of people barely scraping by. From where I’m sitting, it would seem the middle class is evaporating. Seeing as how I’d call myself middle class, I often wonder on which end of the scale I’m going to end up when the water’s dried up and sides have been chosen.

Right now in the economy, I know there are plenty of jobs to be had. I know this because I am having a devil of a time finding candidates for the two jobs I’m personally hiring for. All the good people have good jobs. And the so-so people want too much money because they know the market is hot and they can ask for the outrageous. And usually they get it.

I see a lot of wealth around me. But this weekend gave me pause for thought. What am I missing?

Twice this weekend I was witness to shoplifting. Well, I guess neither could rightly be called shoplifting but maybe a form of, I suppose.

Saturday I saw a woman taking money from a tip jar at the coffee shop. I know the employees of the shop don’t rely solely on tips to make it work, it’s incidental, but at the end of the day, the woman was audaciously reaching in and stealing dollar bills that weren’t hers.

Sunday I saw a woman at the grocery eating food she clearly didn’t intend to pay for.

The first woman looked desperate, like she needed every bit she could get. The second lady looked like money wasn’t a problem…but looks can be deceiving, I know.

In neither case did I report on the so-called “victimless crimes”. I didn’t know what to do. I know that stores boost up their prices to pay for the inventory shrink. I know I ultimately pay for the theft out of my own pocketbook.

But both incidents got me to thinking about what heights or what lows would I resort to if I was desperate, hungry, out of work and out of money.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t be the one stealing a dollar from a jar if I got down to it.

But then I can’t say that I would either. I don’t know.

Both incidents made me sad. And made me wonder what is going on in our economy. I mean, it could be a random event. Or could it be a trend?

Guess today is a day about counting my blessings, in all forms.