Yeah, Well Describe *THIS* In One Word

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So there I was, working through some writing exercises, trying to get the old mind working. Things were going decently well, I guess. The “Describe ten things you see right at this moment” went fine. “Describe the street you grew up on” was a pretty good lesson in adjectives.

The juices were flowing, things were happening.

And then this happened: Describe a color in one word

What. The?

I don’t know….maybe I’m just tired but this writing exercise hit me all wrong. It flipped the snarky switch.

The first color I could think of was yellow.

One word to describe yellow? Pee.

There. Done.

Red. How about one word for that? Hmm…let me dig deep.

Blood.

Green?

Snot.

Blue?

Bruise.

Orange?

Is it wrong that the only orange thing I can think of is an orange?

Purple?

Yeah, you know what? This is a stupid exercise. I’m moving on….





“Hello Gorby? It’s Me, Ronnie.”

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One of my all time favorite series of posts on this little blog has been the “Office Archeology” series of scenes from my former employer.

From the first week I worked at the new employer, I’ve kept my eye out for potential Office Archeology items to continue the series. So far, no luck. This place is kept spotless. There are no weird wrappers on the stairs, no lockless keys on the hallway cabinets, and no abandoned staplers laying about. Nope.

I mean, that’s good, right? But almost a little weird too. Every office seems to have that bit of junk that everyone ignores. But not this place.

That said, I have managed to fine one item that, while not junk, absolutely confounds me. Here’s a poor quality iPhone photo:




This piece of historic telephony is located in the break room, right above the trash/recycling/compost bins. In fact, off to the left is the chart that provides helpful suggestions about where to toss your trash.

At first I sort of noticed it, but ignored it. My company has occupied this building for over twenty years, and I figured it was a remnant of the past. A leftover.

But over time, I became more and more fascinated by the red telephone.

Why red? Why in the breakroom? Is there a conspiracy happening?

If I pick up the red phone, do I talk directly to Gorbachev?

Look, for a child of the Cold War era, the red telephone means something!

Remember the days when Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office with his finger on the button and the red phone at his side? It was a staring contest to see who would blink first. Gah! THE RED PHONE!

Soon enough, my obsessive compulsiveness kicked in. I couldn’t ignore the red phone any longer. It wasn’t just something in the background but this THING that was there in my environment taunting me!

My need to be “the good girl’ and follow the rules (meaning, if it’s not yours, leave it alone) and my intense curiosity began to collide.

I must pick it up! I can’t pick it up! I must pick it up! I can’t pick it up!

I asked someone who’s worked here a while about the red phone. I hoped that answers would help ease my OCD.

“Um, I don’t know, I never really thought about it,” she replied, when asked.

This is what normal people do. They don’t obsess about a red phone.

Finally, when the days and nights of curiosity and agony were too much too take, and I found myself alone in the break room, I quickly looked left, I looked right, then lifted the red receiver from the red base, and held it to my ear.

I could hear nothing. “Hello,” I said in sotto voce, eyebrows knit together waiting for all to be revealed.

“Hello?” I said again to the silence.

Then I tap-tap-tapped at the hanging up lever.

Nothing. The phone is dead. I was right, it’s a leftover.

Not satisfied, a week later I sat in a meeting with a few members of our IT team, including the voice engineer guy. At the end of the meeting, I cornered him and asked about the red phone.

“Oh, that’s for disaster recovery. Since we all use VOIP lines on our desks and cell phones, we have to keep one wired line on every floor in case of emergency.”

Ah ha. Well that makes sense.

“Did you know that the phone doesn’t work?” I asked.

He shrugged and said, “Oh well!” and walked away.

Fabulous. The emergency backup phone doesn’t work. Now I have a whole new thing to obsess about.


The Muse and Randomness

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(I started this post yesterday and intended for it to be posted yesterday…. *sigh* The best laid plans of Mice and Karen…and things like that…..)

Here it is Monday and I’m at a standstill for blog ideas. Mondays seem to be ripe for hitting that mental gridlock, so in an effort to break loose, I went back to the Unconscious Mutterings word association well for this week.

That’s right, I’m free associatin’ again. Here’s hoping it breaks loose the cement in my creative brain.

Read on:

_________________________

  1.  Analytical:: Something that I am not. I don’t say that out loud because this word “analytical” is a big buzz word in the business world. It’s assumed you have to be analytical or you’ll get NO WHERE in your career. It’s all about the numbers! Who cares if the numbers are right as long as the pivot tables on the spreadsheet look REALLY good. To get around my personal limitations, I instead hire really wonderful analytical people and they do spreadsheets for me. It’s just easier that way.
  2. Production:: Why’s everyone gotta make such a big production about being analytical?
  3. Softball:: What a perfect thing to be doing today rather than sit at my desk, metaphorically banging my non-analytical head against it. Sure, I can’t hit and I can’t field. But it’s a lot of fun to try.
  4. Uniform:: For as much as I like fashion, sometimes I think it would be easier to wear an uniform to work every day. Yes, I know, it would kill my creativity and I’d probably hate it after a while, but on those days when I’m tearing my closet to shreds because I can’t find anything that makes me happy…well, a nice uniform would sure be easy.
  5. Intangible:: Pros and cons, right? Wearing a uniform gives you that intangible feeling of being a part of a team. But it can also give you that intangible feeling that you don’t matter as an individual. Hmm.
  6. Grill:: Non-sequitur time: There are very few things that taste better to me than a cheeseburger off the backyard grill. Not one of the fancy new gas grills, but the old fashioned start a fire with lighter fluid sort of grill that burns the edges of the burger patty. Yum!
  7. Second base:: So one of the pretty cool things about being married is that there is this cute boy that sleeps in my bed every night. I can be fast asleep and dreaming, then roll over and my arm flops over and whoa! I think I just got to second base. Without even trying! Heh. That’s not such a bad benefit….
  8. Citizen:: I got nothing for this one…watches, maybe? I Googled the word citizen and watches were the first hit. Because commercialism wins out over patriotism every day of the week.
  9. Celery :: I love chicken salad, especially when it’s made with chicken thighs. So tasty! But damn I can’t stand it when there is a bunch of celery in there. I know so many people like that crunch, but to me it detracts from the chicken salad yuminess. That goes double for apples in my chicken salad. Yuck!
  10. Opera :: Who among us hasn’t once, at least for a moment, been an opera singer in the shower? Am I right? I know I’m right. Then again, I usually forgo opera for good ol’ fashioned rock and roll. HAAAAAUUUUUWW! (<-- that's a sort of Sammy Hagar-esque yell, in case it wasn't clear.)


Ok, good. The randomness is helping. Randomness is a good thing.

And with that…back to work!





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A Common Language Usurped By a Simple Decimal

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Today I went to a workshop to teach me how to properly measure, cut, mat and frame a photo. The end result of the workshop was to be a gallery quality framed photo ready to be hung in an art show coming up in May.

I participated in this workshop last year but was so confused by the process (the volunteer showing me the instructor’s method knew what she was doing, but not how to adequately teach it) that I vowed to pay close attention this year so I could both get it right for the gallery show and be able to cut mats and frame my prints at home.

Ok, so I showed up at the workshop, took possession of my mat board, went to station #1 and got to work.

The instructions said: “measure your image, not the paper it’s printed on but the actual image, and write those numbers in the center of your mat.”

Ok. Fair enough. I measured.

My image came out to be 9 11/16 by 8

So I wrote that down.

Step two said “subtract the larger number from twenty and the smaller number from 16”

(we’re using standard 16 x 20 frames)

So ok.

16 minus 8 equals 8. Perfect. That’s the easy one.

20 minus 9 11/16.

Um.

Uhhhhh.

Did I ever mention that I suck at math?

Ok, I was bound and determined not to screw this up.

Might I also mention that I think that our standard measuring units…an inch divided into sixteen units, is really dumb? When I craft, I use centimeters for measuring. The 10 based system makes freaking sense!

Determined not to be outsmarted, I wrote on my mat:

19 16/16 minus 9 11/16 and then I worked that out equals: 10 5/16

Well I gotta tell you, I was feeling p-r-e-t-t-y darn good about myself right then.

Then the next step said: “Divide each number by 2”

*sigh*

Okay. 8 divided by 2 equals 4. Rock on!

10 5/16 divided by 2 equals…..well it equals a string of curse words that I’ll refrain from repeating.

So I paused. I hemmed. I hawed. I considered calling The Good Man who is really good at math.

I considered converting it to decimals and using my calculator. But that doesn’t help…I still needed to know how many of those stupid little 16th hashmarks on the ruler were required to cut my mat to the proper size.

This is not about expressing the math correctly, it’s about counting 16th marks on a ding dang ruler!

So…I wrote on my mat: 10 5/16 divided by 2 equals: 5 2.5/16

Yes, I know that you can’t put decimals in your fraction. I just don’t care. This works for me. I can count two and a half 16th marks on the ruler and mark ’em off and make a cut.

It was about this time my instructor came over. “Let me see what you’re doing” she said.

She looked over my shoulder and saw my mash up of decimals and fractions. Then she rolled her eyes. Then she said “oh…make it 3/16ths!”

Then she did what my dad used to do when he’d assigned me a task but was exasperated by how I completed the job. She took the tools out of my hands, re-measured my print, marked the coordinates and cut my mat.

Hey, no problem here. She is the curator of the art show and she has to approve all prints for show. I know she’s not going to have a single problem with how my mat looks….

Heh.

I still say there is nothing wrong with my 2.5/16 fraction. I know exactly what it means and my mat would have been measured fine. Cutting it correctly? That’s a whole other story.





What the World Sees

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Through the course of my life, I look back and with the clarity of hindsight and find those moments that formed my foundation. Lessons with impact that linger in my memory and shape my days.

Today, when I navigated over to my once a week Theme Thursday site, I saw that the word this week is: Face.

Well, this left me stumped. I tucked the word into one of the creases in my brain and thought about it for a while. This is when some of the best ideas hit me, when I’ve planted a seed then forget about it. Something worthwhile often blooms.

What happened is that I had a memory. Just a flash, but enough to remind me.

I was eight, maybe? Perhaps actually younger. I was wearing a black leotard and pink tights. I had ballet class to attend in an hour or two, and so I was ready to go.

While waiting, I was doing what kids do…fiddling around with stuff. I’d somehow acquired a rubber band and that had captured my interest. *sproing, sproing*

I played it like a guitar, stretching and loosening it to get better notes.

I used it like a slingshot to send balls of paper zipping through the sky.

I wrapped it around my thumb, took it off, wrapped it around again.

Then, for some reason I can’t quite explain, I wrapped the rubber band around the end of my nose. Unwrapped it. Wrapped it again, tighter this time. It didn’t hurt and felt sort of weird so I went and looked in the mirror. Laughed, then left it on my nose and walked around.

After a while, I heard my mom calling, it was time to get in the car. I took the rubber band off my nose, left it on my desk, got my stuff and headed out to the car and climbed in.

My mom, with an eagle eye for such things, asked “what happened to your nose?”

I was like, “what?” and touched my nose. All seemed well.

Mom made me look in the visor mirror. Seems that rubber band had left a bruise on the end of my nose. A dark blue bruise in a perfect circle.

Yay!

So needless to say, the gig was up. I had to explain what I’d done. (confession is good for the soul….or so the parish priest used to tell me.)

My mom gave me one of those looks a parent gives a child when they confess to something like wrapping a rubber band around their nose. Then she gave me a stern lecture. She wasn’t mad. But she had something very firm to impress upon me.

I don’t remember the exact text of what she said, but the gist was….don’t mess with your face. If you are going to monkey around like that with a rubber band, use your elbow or your toe , but not your face. Your face is the first thing people see when they meet you. That’s where people form their first impression. And do you really want the first impression to be a big dark blotch on the end of your nose?

She also warned me that the girls at dance class would likely tease me. I thought “no way, they won’t care.” Well, they cared. They cared a lot. Those snotty girls made comments. And pointed and laughed. And made fun of me mercilessly.

They made fun of me a lot anyway because they were all thin and lithe and had visions of ballet careers in their minds. I was the opposite of thin and lithe and had visions of grilled cheese sandwiches in my mind.

You picking up what I’m putting down?

So I thought about what my mom had said. I initially resisted what she said when the “talking to” came down, but later on, I knew she was right.

Damnit.

The advice stuck with me, and I’ve stuck with it.

So don’t monkey around with your face. For me, that extends to lip tucks and eye brow lifts and injections of all kinds. My face is my calling card, and as it ages, it tells my story.





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