And Away We Go

  • No Comments

Back in the yesteryear of 2012 I found myself constantly at various airports around the world, passport in hand. I was constantly aware of timezones and dial in numbers and etiquette in different cultures.

I worked a truly global job and had direct reports in five different countries. My days would begin at seven in the morning and end at ten o’clock at night.

That was a really good job and I liked my boss, himself a product of Sweden living in the UK. The gig worked my mind and my skills and my ability to work with different people in different countries with different rules.

It also worked me over pretty good. After almost three years in that role, I knew my mental health was suffering, my doctor told me my physical health was suffering and my husband asked nicely if we could spend a little more time together in person.

So I began a job hunt for a company I would like, a job that challenged me, and the travel and timezones would be kept to a minimum.

Then I found that job. A really wonderful gig, a perfect fit. This is one of the rare times in my life when I can say I love my job, and I do. It’s awesome! Part of the reason I was hired was because I had that international background and could assist on a huge project with a European entity. My current employer is very small and they don’t have a ton of background with international dealings. Great! Happy to help.

I was told I would work on this big project but it was highly unlikely I would travel. Nice! All of the fun challenges and none of the zombie jet lag shuffle through airports.

Until last month when I was asked, on very short notice, to take a trip to Ireland. Fun! That was my first thought. I kind of missed traveling and looked forward to getting back in the game. I loved every minute of Ireland and the work was very productive. Good stuff!

Came home exhausted but satisfied. Happy to have had a nice international trip and ready to settle back into my life.

Then came news that I now am needed in Amsterdam next week. Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Amsterdam, but you know what? There are few things I want to do less than get on another airplane right now.

But board a plane I will, passport in hand, zombie shuffle at my feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining even though it sounds very much like I am.

I love to travel. I love to see things I have never seen before. I love learning new cultures and customs and doing business across the boundaries of language and culture.

But damn oh damn. I haven’t even caught up on sleep and it is time to go again.

And so, here we go! Amsterdam here I come. Please be nice to me.

I won’t have much free time while I am there so I have to do up my “must do” list. For those who have gone, what do you recommend?









Image found here.




Chocpocalypse Now

  • No Comments

This is a bear.





A chocolate bear. A delicious Lindt milk chocolate bear. A tasty holiday morsel, a gift, a happy chocolatey treat with a red bow around his tiny bearlike neck.

This bear is a survivor. It has outlasted all of the cookies, both biscochito and sugar cookies. It outlasted the holiday decorated six pack of Toblerone that was a gift from a coworker. It has outlasted all of the Christmas 2013 bits and bobs of delicious sugary treats. It has even outlasted the giant candy cane, which is always the last to be eaten around here.

Oh yes. This bear is a survivor.

The bear was gifted to The Good Man. It is The Good Man’s bear, and so by the laws of respect and decency, I have neither opened nor nibbled on the bear. Sure, by the laws of the State of California that bear is half mine to do with as I please. But I am a nice spouse and I give The Good Man the space to open and nibble on his own present first.

But this bear. It challenges me. It torments me.

There it sits in its thin gold foil, smirking at me while I rummage and forage for holiday sugar snacks that aren’t there anymore. Oh sure, I came home from work loaded with sweet meats in the week before the actual day of Christmas. We had a dedicated shelf for all of the sugary holiday yum-yums.

But they are gone. Noshed. Dispatched with.

All except this freaking smiling bear. The bear that isn’t mine but make me want to p0wn it like the little chocolately bitch that it is.

I want to bash in its little head and gobble at its ears. I want to reach into its gullet and pull out the still beating chocolate heart and bite into it with fury and insanity and let the juices dribble down my chin.

I want to fry up its little chocolatey liver and sip from its corpuscles.

Oh yes, I want, need, must have it. It vexes me. It taxes me. I shall dominate this milky chocolate bear that hails from Switzerland and mocks me and doesn’t understand the needs of a sugar fiend.

Must. Smash. Bear.

And gobble the remains.

Must.

So.

Do you think I probably need to back off the sugar a bit? Probably need to get a few more veg in the maw and less processed sugar snax? Maybe something protein based with a little less fat? Something with actual nutritional value?

Yeah. Me too.

Happy Post-Holiday Food Hangover.







Slightly askew photo of my chocolatey prey is Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and a dash of maniacal insanity.




What You Don’t See

  • 2 Comments

Look at this photo. Gaze upon it. Let it wash over you.

Kind of cool, no? This is Interstate 280 headed northbound at about 7:15 this morning.

The rain hadn’t really started yet, but it was enough to make a really, really cool (and very bright) rainbow that looked like it was landing right in the middle of the roadway.





Now look at the photo again, this time turn your eyes to the roadway. Hmm, seems like light traffic. A few cars and me going up that incline.

What you don’t see…

Is all of the cars pulled up to a stop on just the other side of that rise.

Because apparently a pretty rainbow is enough for all of us dumb commuters to stomp the brakes and gawk like a herd of mouth breathers.

I was driving regular speed and almost rear ended another car, I really did. I had to slam to a stop because my fellow commuters were all “wooow, maaahn.”

Decorum prevents me from using the language here that I shouted in my car this morning.

The human race, doing idiotic things since the days of primordial ooze.

Which got me to thinking as I continued on my commute (driving to work gives me lots of time to think)…if we, the human race, are the top of the food chain and then in theory, the smartest of all species, then the outlook for the rest of the universe a little shaky.

But woooow, maaaahn.

—–

If you read this post earlier in the day, prior to 5pm Pacific time, you happened to read the first draft. I was running a bit late for a meeting and instead of hitting save as draft I hit publish. Which is kind of funny, considering the content of this post. I, too, am not the smartest homo sapien on the planet. But I didn’t mash on my brakes for a rainbow, so I have that going for me.




Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Somewhere Between the ) and the (

  • No Comments

Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly living my life inside the parenthesis.

Defined as a word or phrase that comments on or qualifies part of the sentence in which it is found, I think parenthesis are really just the voice inside my brain.

Facebook status: “Here’s a photo of the most amazing thing I had to eat for dinner tonight!!” (I already feel guilty about too many calories and boy-oh-boy was this meal expensive. But do you think I’m cool?)

Pass a coworker in the hall: “Hey Karen, how are yoooou?” Me: “Oh, I’m great! (I have a great big headache and I need a nap). How are yooou?”

See what I’m saying? I think as I walk through this world there is always a subtext going on in my brain. I know I’m not alone in this. Right? (Yes, Karen, you are the only one with parenthetical sarcasm. Not.)

Checkout at the grocery, Clerk: “Did you find everything ok?”, Me: “Yes, thank you” (oh god please don’t comment on my purchase of a block of Velveeta, two pints of Ben and Jerry’s and a People magazine. Just. Don’t. Say. A. Word.)

Or…

Clerk: “Did you find everything ok?” Me: “Yes, thank you” (look at all that healthy food I’m buying. Look at it! LOOK AT IT and then tell me what a healthy little customer I am.)

How about when someone bumps into me on the side walk? Them: “Oh, excuse me!” Me: “No problem.” (What the hell, did you NOT see me? I’m tall and broad and formidable and you are so far up your own bunghole that you couldn’t be bothered to take one step to the friggin left to avoid me?)

In a restaurant: Waiter: “Can I get you something to drink?” My friend “Oh, I’ll just have a water.” Me: “Um. Me too.” (damn, I really wanted, no needed, a cocktail)

I find as the years slip by that keeping what is between the parentheses inside my head gets harder and harder. The urge to blurt grows strong with me.

Lately I tend to find myself muttering the parenthetical text under my breath. I didn’t used to have this problem. The bars on the cage are starting to bend…






Image from CarrieSuzanne.com.




I Miss Christmas

  • No Comments

It may seem kind of funny to say it on December 19th, but I miss Christmas.

It’s just six days away and there is time yet to feel the entire joy and ho-ho-ho of the season, but honestly, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

It is the nature of the work I do that December is an incredibly busy month. This is not just at my current employer but has been true across the entire span of my career.

Ramped up work and steep deadlines mean it becomes awful hard to plan and decorate and celebrate and feel the joy that is the holiday season.

It’s hard to feel much more than incredibly damn cranky, to be honest. The kind of tired and cranky that not even a Captain Morgan spiked egg nog can fix.

When I was a kid, I used to love Christmas. Ok, sure, every kid loves Christmas, but for me it wasn’t about the presents. It was about the magic.

I loved the ritual of pulling out the box packed with ornaments and greeting each one like an old friend before hanging it on the tree. (This is still one of my favorite parts of the holiday, by the way.)

I got into the prep and planning for the baking that my mom and I would do. Sugar cookies with colorful frosting. Biscochitos. Mom’s divinity fudge. Cinnamon rolls. Tortillas to go with posole. The windows would steam and the house would smell heavenly.

As it got closer to Christmas, I’d begin the prep work for luminarias. The dirt, folding the bags, making sure my mom got the right kind of candles.

Sometimes we’d pile in the car to go see the lights. We’d drive slow down good blocks so we could take in all the lights, the crisp air outside tinged with the unmistakable scent of burning piñon logs.

Then home for some nog, mom might light a bunch of candles and put on soft Christmas music and I’d look out our big picture window to the world outside and dream.

My mom had this funny little candle, something she had bought from Avon and it only came out at Christmas. It was very fancy, gilt gold on the outside and red on the inside and some holly berry spice something fragrance to the candle. If I close my eyes I can still place the scent because that smell was so very Christmas to me. That along with our advent wreath and a few other candles put a soft flickering glow to my world and made me calm and peaceful.

As the years passed by and I became an adult, I tried to keep my own Christmas traditions alive including baking, having a real tree on which to hang all of those ornaments from my childhood, and lighting a bunch of candles on Christmas Eve.

New traditions came along as well, like looking for a fun white elephant gift for the office party and finding a pretty dress or two to wear to friend’s parties.

But over time even this has changed. Very few companies do holiday parties anymore. My current employer is so uptight about the various cultures and religions of the people who work here that they barely acknowledge that a holiday is forthcoming. And even if they did, there wouldn’t be any holiday party during these times of budget austerity.

Most of my friends now have kids and they are focused on family things, which is fine. It just means no more grown up parties to attend.

Then there was that fun holiday break in which to rest, recoup and get ready for the new year. That’s also a thing of the past. We don’t get any time off next week other than Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I could take vacation, but I blew what I had in my vacation balance on my trip to New York (and it was totally worth it).

This year the twelve days of Christmas will entail no partridges or pear trees, but a lot of Karen a leapin’ to get work out the door before the 31st.

I wanted to make cookies and bought the ingredients only to remember that my mixer is in a box in our storage room and I don’t even know which box. The Good Man said he would disassemble the storage room to help me find it, but I decided no. Too much work.

It should be said here that we’ve lived in our place for a year, but I work so many damn hours that unpacking boxes on the weekends just feels like more work. And so it goes…

It seemed like I felt the happy holiday feeling, really and truly, for a little while during our trip to New York. It’s awful hard to look up at the tree in Rockefeller Center and not feel the holiday spirit. But that time in New York is like a little bit of encapsulated perfection, not just about the holiday joy, but in many ways.

And then we came home and my nose went back to the grindstone and the willingness and want to and give a damn just sort of frittered away.

We have a real branch wreath on our door and a real tree in our house and somehow I just can’t summon up the joy and peace and magic of the holiday season.

This makes me sad.

I know that I’m the one that has to make the holidays bright. The spirit of Christmas lives inside of me, and it’s on me to bring it into reality.

But somehow this year I just can’t find it. Maybe next year.
.
.
.

(I just reread this post from last year. Evidently a holiday lament is my new holiday tradition. LOL on me.)





Memories of Christmases past. I made these mints, a family tradition, just last year.