A Changing Day

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“…we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.” — from remarks by President George Bush, September 12, 2001.

“…the American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don’t — where we don’t conduct business…” President George Bush at a press conference, October 11, 2001


It feels sort of odd to be quoting President Bush here on my little old blog, but on this day of remembrance, as I got ready to go to work, his remarks came to my mind.

I may have disagreed with a lot of what President Bush did and stood for, but as a proud American citizen, I believe that one must respect the Office of the President, regardless of your political feelings.

That said, let me get to the point….

I had a brief moment of meditation this morning as I remembered the events of September 11, 2001.

It was a truly terrible day for the world, for the United States, and for me personally.

It was a changing day in many ways.

This morning after going through my own thoughts and remembrances, I then ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, put on my clothes and drove to work. Today is a regular Tuesday at my job that helps feed my family and pay our bills and pays taxes so that our country can continue to “go on about (our) business”

I honor this day by working and being strong. By conducting business and being a good American and remembering that for me, the enemy didn’t win.








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Willing Suspension of Disbelief

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“An actor struggles to die onstage, but a puppet has to struggle to live. And in a way that’s a metaphor for life.” – Handspring Puppet Company, creator of puppets for the stage show “War Horse”

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of joining two very dear friends and The Good Man for a night out on the town. We started at a little French restaurant for both dinner and great conversation. We lingered a bit over our food, but skipped dessert as we had tickets to the theater, and it was nearing showtime.

While I have seen quite a few stage productions in my life, I am not what one would call a “theatre geek.” All three of the other talented people at the table self-describe themselves as such, so obviously I learn a lot from them every time we are together.

On that beautiful night in San Francisco, we found ourselves at the venerable old Curran Theater with tickets in hand to see “War Horse.”

This show first came to my attention at the 2011 Tony Awards (where it picked up five awards). The brief yet enchanting moment when the puppet horse came on stage sent a jolt to my soul. I turned to The Good Man and said, “Let’s fly to New York to see it!” and he smiled, as The Good Man does, and inserted reason into my life. “I bet it will come to San Francisco. Let’s see.”

Of course he was right.

Life almost got in the way, because this past weekend was the closing of the San Francisco run of the show. Whew! I owe The Good Man so much for pulling this one together.

Now, while I love the quirky old Curran, she also makes me tired. It’s small, short on bathrooms, the seats are massively uncomfortable and it’s stifling hot inside. And yet I keep going back there because they stage some of the best shows in the world.

I went into this production with extraordinarily high expectations. They were all beat. Hand’s down.

This is the most magical and profound show I have ever witnessed.

It’s no secret that I am a horse person. I have spent time among horses. I’ve studied them. I was trained to ride by a protégé of Monty Roberts (the inspiration for “The Horse Whisperer”) and she taught us in his style.

Which is to say one must listen to a horse. You must note the posture of their ears. Understand why a foot stamp. Realize that a deep inhale or a deep exhale actually means something.

I’ve spent hours simply watching a horse so that I could hear what it was telling me.

So you know I was going to have an extraordinarily critical eye when it came to the puppetry in this show.

I’ll cut to the chase…they nailed it. I don’t know how they did it, but they did. From simple ear flicks, to a shivering coat when brushed, to head posture. At one point, there was a long dialogue between two human characters while two horses stood off to the side. The horses sighed, tipped a front hoof on edge, stamped, and shifted weight from side to side. If you’ve ever made a horse stand still you’ve seen all of those. It wasn’t affected, just simply natural.

These bits of metal and canvas transformed into actual horses in my eyes. It was absolutely magical.

And then woven around this astounding feat of puppetry was a really difficult story set during World War I.

A boy’s father wins a young horse at auction and the boy and horse embark on a deep friendship. Albert trains the horse, Joey, with ease and understanding. They have that special bond that only a horse owner can know. But when England goes to war, Joey is sold into service for the cavalry by Albert’s father. Quickly, our young Albert lies about his age and enlists so that he can find his horse and keep him safe.

It is an extraordinary journey through history, exploring many notable events of WWI.

I’ve often been told in crafting stories that there are no new plots and it is the job of the writer to find a way to bring a new perspective to a known story. In this play, the underlying story is one we know. War is awful. Ravaging. And it irrevocably changes those who were sent to the front lines.

We know that story, but when you add the majestic layer of these well wrought puppet animals, it becomes something almost cinematic. How they staged such an ambitious production on the Curran’s small stage is still a miracle to me.

From light cues to small movements to the amazing work of the puppeteers, this show transcends theatre. You willingly suspend your disbelief and don’t want it back for a single moment.

It was perhaps one of the most profound moments of live theatre I’ve ever experienced.

Now I’m sad that I waited so long to see it because I want to see it again. This despite the fact that I totally ugly cried right there in the theatre. I mean cried so hard I was afraid I couldn’t get my composure back. Thankfully I was in good company, most of the patrons shed a couple tears, too.

We were all that engaged in the story.

Driving home, The Good Man and I talked about the show. I wanted to know what he thought about it from a theatrical perspective. He wanted to know what I thought about the accuracy of the portrayal of the animals. Together we decided it was unlike anything we’d ever seen.

Whew. I was so emotionally done-in that I slept like a rock that night. Over Sunday breakfast The Good Man and I again idly discussed the show. Just trying to speak about one of the more powerful scenes in the show brought tears to the corners of my eyes.

It’s rare and beautiful to find a piece of creative work, be it a book, movie or play, that gets inside the cellular walls of your soul and hangs on. “War Horse” is that, for me.

I will be thinking about that show for a very long time and trying to find a way to see it again.

Hey Good Man, I think it’s still playing on Broadway. How ’bout a road trip?





Hard to believe these mechanical devices become real horses, but they do




Image from AlEtmanski.com



Ok Little Miss Reluctant Muse, Let’s Dance

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Writer’s block. It’s on me again.

Who or what should I blame? My brain overburdened by a global job and a lot of work? My blabbermouthing about how easy I could flow words to a friend over happy hour drinks last October? Fatigue?

Or is it simply the ebb and flow of creativity? Today the stream runs strong. Tomorrow it’s drier than the Rio Grande in July.

I don’t know but I’m frustrated all to heck by the lack of rhythm and flow to my writing. I’ve still produced some stuff but lately it feels labored.

Today I was reading back posts and I actually envied myself for how easy and effortless it seemed even just a year ago.

The more I feel frustrated, the less likely The Muse wants to play.

Ok, so let’s just not take anything very seriously at all.

Back to free form, free association. It’s a self-indulgent exercise. And I dig it.

I’m playing the Unconscious Mutterings game this week.

Revealing!


  1. Tenure ::

    That thing that all professors want, right? Means you are all dug in there like a tick and ya ain’t going anywhere. Mainly it’s a good thing but I gotta be honest, there are some rather tenured folks in my non-academic job that really are more roadblock than firebrand. Tenure can lead to laconic in a hurry. I appreciate the guy who has been here thirty years and knows everything about everything. But dammit, a little open mindedness would really help my days go by.


  2. Baptism ::

    The other side of the coin from tenure. Yesterday I interviewed a really good candidate for my job opening. He asked what is the onboarding process. I wanted to sugar coat it but lying isn’t my style. “Um, drinking from the firehose? Baptism by fire? And other cheeky colloquialisms to say there isn’t an onboarding process.” He replied “Oh.” I said “Hey, don’t worry, you would be surrounded by really good folks. One person has been here ten years. The other person just one year. They can both give you amazing perspective.” He seemed ok with that answer. I hope so because he seems like a good candidate.


  3. Holders ::

    Right now, at this moment, my badge holder thingy that is clipped to the waistband of my jeans is digging into my side. Excuse me for a mo’….there…better. Whew.


  4. Irritation ::

    Yeah, the skin at my side, right above my hipbone is pretty irritated. A little bit of skin was pinched under the clip of my badge holder. I *hate* that. Ow.


  5. Academics ::

    There is this guy I work with who has somehow adopted me as his friend and mentor. God knows why. No, seriously, this kid has a far brighter future than I ever did. He’s working full time (and a lot of extra hours) and he’s going to school for his Master’s Degree. Good lord. While I did fairly well in the academic arena, that day I walked across the stage and took possession of an MBA, I knew there was no way in hell I would go back to college.

    That said, I often think about going to school to get an MFA. I wish I was brave enough to have gotten an MFA back when I was college. Business school just seemed like a smarter option. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and talk myself, just a clueless kid at NMSU. I’d discuss with her that an MFA is a fine educational option. Then I’d tell her that when that one kind of cute cowboy at that one party suggests you two split a bottle of Mad Dog that you just say no and run. The hangover was simply not worth it


  6. Mug ::

    When I started working at this office, my second level boss, ie The Boss of my Boss, had this really funny, kitchy coffee mug. Something made by his kids. I always thought it was odd because it was really in contrast to his super buttoned up and uber office professional style. But he seemed to like it. Right now he’s up for a huuuuge promotion and I notice he’s swapped out the mug adorned with his kid’s artwork and “have a good day daddy” to some quiet, sedate, professional mug. It makes me kind of sad. I suppose I shouldn’t blame him for living up to expectations.

    In other mug news, when I was in England and at my company’s facility, my boss was on travel for one of the weeks I was there and he said I could sit at his desk. Well, the folks in that office enjoy tea breaks in the morning and the afternoon (so freaking civilized!!!) and they invited me to join. I didn’t have a mug and the plastic cups in the breakroom didn’t seem heat-proof, so I dug around my boss’ desk and found a mug. And I used it. All week.

    At the end of the week I carefully washed it and put it back in his drawer next to his jar of instant coffee. I put a note inside

    “Dear Boss – I used this cup all week. On Friday I scrubbed it with soap and very hot water, but it still contains the germs of a minion. Just thought you should know. –K”

    I don’t think he’s found the note yet or if he did, shook his head and threw it away. My boss is a very ramrod straight former military man with an easy going personality. Which I why I like picking on him.


  7. Charge ::

    Brrt-drrt-drrt! Chaaaaarge!


  8. Percent ::

    Where I live I have an assigned parking spot. This is like gold in the Bay Area and I’m glad to have it. Of course, it’s a narrow little spot over by the trash bins. My Jeep fits the spot but doesn’t leave me a lot of room to maneuver around the sturdy concrete pole and the rubbish bins.

    Every morning when I leave and every night when I come home somebody has left some castoff bit of stuff by the bin in the narrow space I have to walk around my car. One day a broken suitcase. Then a broken Ikea cabinet. Then a busted table. A roll of carpet. A shopping cart. A bag of old shoes. A busted rug cleaner. These are all true and accurate things left in my teeny tiny space over the past week.

    So every day I move that crap over and every day a new thing shows up. I know who is doing it, a guy just moved into the building and he’s casting off stuff. That said, I’m a hundred percent sure I’m going to kick his ass if this doesn’t stop. I hate my parking space as it is (last week a pipe busted over my spot and dripped a lot of water on my car), but I firmly believe finding his garbage in my parking spot is grounds for a sturdy steel toed bash to the shins.

    I own such a pair of boots. I’m just saying.


  9. Clears ::

    I appreciate how nice it is when one clears the broken and busted stuff from your apartment home. But I’m going to clear his kneecap off his leg right soon.


  10. Selfless ::

    Yeah. Kind of a funny word to show up now. Uh oh, there’s that non-practicing yet Catholic-upraising guilt coming on.

    Let’s see, on that commandment list there is something about not wanting on your neighbor’s spouse. And not wanting on your neighbor’s stuff. Nothing about not wanting to apply bruising retribution on your neighbor. I’m good. Right?

    Oh fine, I shall do an act of contrition, eat (beer battered) fish for my Friday lunch and think heartily about what I’ve thought about doing.






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From Temptation to a Pip, in Two Easy Steps

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So here’s the thing….today’s Theme Thursday is: temptation.

It’s a good word. A juicy word. I should be able to really sink my teeth into that, right?

Um. Yeah. No.

Maybe it’s one of those words that could go so many different directions I can’t pick just one.

Or maybe I’m just a little dull inside today. It happens.

So I Googled the word temptation and inadvertently added an s on the end, which brought up several rockin’ broad collared photos of the band.

Which made me think of The Pips.

Which made me want to repost this, which has absolutely nothing to do with the word temptation or the band The Temptations.

Thankfully the Theme Thursday crew is very forgiving.

Without further ado…whooot woo!

____________________________________

Originally published July 20, 2011

Wanted: Three Pips, Immediate Hire, Reasonable Rates


This morning my eyes fluttered open around 6am. My alarm wasn’t due to go off for another hour and a half. I had a raging headache and my body decided I should get the full experience of the pain instead of sleeping through it all.

Since sleep was no longer within my grasp, but in no way did I want to get out of bed, I grabbed my trusty old iPod that I keep by the bed, clapped on the headphones and set my Pod for shuffle.

An Elton John and a couple Merle Haggards went by. A Harry Connick crooner about nightingales and London-town was certainly relaxing.

Then the opening strains of Midnight Train To Georgia filled my ears. Ah Gladys. Such a powerful voice. It’s been a while since this one made it’s way to the top of my shuffle list, and it was like visiting with an old friend.

I turned up the sound to hear every word, every note.

And that’s when I made a decision. I need some Pips.

They provide such great affirmation.

Gladys: He’s leaving/On that midnight train to Georgia
Pips: …leaving on that midnight train….whoot whoo!

Or

Gladys: And I’m gonna be with him/On that midnight train to Georgia
Pips: I know you will….leaving on that midnight train to Georgia…whoot whoo!

The Pips provide emphatic punctuation to what Gladys is saying. She’s tormented. Her man is heading out of town. But her Pips back her play. They underscore her words. They give her power.

I need this. I need Pips. Three of ’em. Right away.

Can you imagine how empowering this would be?

Karen: Hey boss, we need to chat
Pips: bossMAN…gotta have a chat…

Karen: I think I need a raise
Pip: You *know* she needs that cash…whoot wooo!

Yeah, I mean how could I get a no to my request with the power of the Pips behind me?

Or in a very important negotiation:

Karen: So Supplier, your pricing is too high, we need to cut 20% out of the quote
Pips: You know that quote’s to high…twenty percent…oh no!

Or employee relations:

Karen: So, I noticed you’ve been missing deadlines lately
Pips: …Missing them deadlines…
Karen: That’s not good
Pips: …Not good!…

See what I’m saying? I think you do.

So now, next steps. Where does one go to hire a set of Pips?

Monster? LinkedIn? Maybe Craigslist.

Wanted: Three Pips. Must enthusiastically support everything I say. In harmony. Multiple woot wooos acceptable. Must provide own wide lapel leisure suits. Please apply via email. Provide references.






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Well that throws a wrench in the day

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When the alarm went off at 6:30am, I found myself hardly able to face the dark morning.

The Feline had spent the night making sure that neither Girl Human nor Good Man got much in the way of sleep. And by looking at the calendar, I saw a busy day ahead with some tough conversations and a crushing list of action items.

But I did what I do. I dragged my ass out of bed, threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and went to work.

The day started with an early, unfriendly call with EMEA.

As I listened to my BossMan ream out a supplier, a message from our company’s internal chat system popped up.

My employee in Costa Rica. She’s been fighting a lot of dragons in the Latin American region and I really didn’t want to open her message. More trouble, I was sure of it. Something I didn’t want to deal with. Another shouting Vice President, perhaps?

“Karen, we just had a 7.6 earthquake. The building is damaged. I got out of here first but it was really scary!”

Oh. Crap.

She’s ok, which was my first question. Then I asked about her husband, sister and mom. They are all safe too.

She just kept saying “that was really scary.”

I can only imagine.

And so…that’s not *quite* what I had on the agenda for today, but it sure as heck cleared my calendar.

Is this what they mean in business and management classes about staying flexible?

—————-

Side note: Thankfully one thing my company does really well is business disaster recovery. The team is already all over it.

Random brain thought: The Spanish word for earthquake, temblor, is such a great word. Very onomatopoeia-ish.

Final thought: Keeping CR and all the Ticos in my thoughts. Oraciones para Costa Rica y todos los Ticos.