Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Referendum

Measuring your life choices against other roads not taken (and other people who chose those roads), mid-life style, amid the economic downturn.

Yes: the Referendum gets unattractively self-righteous and judgmental. Quite a lot of what passes itself off as a dialogue about our society consists of people trying to justify their own choices as the only right or natural ones by denouncing others’ as selfish or pathological or wrong. So it’s easy to overlook that hidden beneath all this smug certainty is a poignant insecurity, and the naked 3 A.M. terror of regret.

The problem is, we only get one chance at this, with no do-overs. Life is, in effect, a non-repeatable experiment with no control. In his novel about marriage, “Light Years,” James Salter writes: “For whatever we do, even whatever we do not do prevents us from doing its opposite. Acts demolish their alternatives, that is the paradox.” Watching our peers’ lives is the closest we can come to a glimpse of the parallel universes in which we didn’t ruin that relationship years ago, or got that job we applied for, or got on that plane after all. It’s tempting to read other people’s lives as cautionary fables or repudiations of our own.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why I Will Never Be a Vegan

I made this really fantastic vegetable stew (Enchanted Broccoli Forest; I am a dedicated Moosewood adherent) that featured an interesting blend of Greek and Mexican flavor influences. A day later, my house was still fragrant with the delicious combination of cumin, cinnamon, and garlic. Yum.

Alas, within two hours of snarfing a good quantity of the delicious vegetable concoction, I am starving again. Like I will never be able to eat enough to fill the void.

It's like eating Chinese food.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It Is Friday, Allowing Us to Focus on Our Inner Selves

Random music, peeps, gets you through the day.

1. if she wants me, belle & sebastian
2. quiche lorraine, the b-52's (damn, I'm hungry)
3. when my baby's beside me, big star (see Sound Opinions!)
4. that's entertainment, the jam
5. bank holiday, blur
6. one chord wonders, the adverts
7. the happy birthday song, andrew bird
8. round the hairpin, the long blondes
9. loaded gun, the dead 60's
10. the new face of zero and one, the new pornographers

And random music random question: Who is this Dylan in the movies, of which Belle & Sebastian speak?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wherein We Learn to Keep Our Mouths Shut, Smile, and Just Let Things Happen

Pursuant to the usual craziness at work, I piped up about my stress--in a dispassionate, productive way--such that management might be inclined to consider my views, weigh my worth to the enterprise and my years of service, and do something to address the concrete problem raised. Alas, not so. I think there's a file on me and my many attitude problems.

I'm not quite sure how I got to this point as a problem child, but I guess this is the way things work in offices--it kind of snowballs when you're unhappy, and complainers are a downer. I've had such positive experiences in work environments and am so used to being hypercompetent and a people pleaser, though, that it's odd for me to contemplate anyone not thinking I'm a total asset.

It's a learning experience, to be sure. I would handle things differently, just in professional terms. I'm too emotionally invested in most things, and take conflict personally. I do tend to let things build, then flip out. When you're in flip-out mode over a pattern of behavior, you tend to make generalizations that can be picked apart.

And it's all about the big picture and the people--i.e., my big picture and people. Grad school, baby! God willing.

'Tis a shame, though, because I obviously stayed way too long. Personally, I like these people, but I've lost a lot of respect professionally.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Architecture Tours

They are a great deal of fun, particularly when they end in a drink. However, I recommend, when considering signing up for a two-and-a-half-hour-long walking tour, that you do not wear uncomfortable shoes or visit a museum--wherein you do a lot of walking--beforehand.

Possibly, the lingering effects of all this explain why, despite driving to work and doing no walking at lunch, I can barely contemplate getting off the couch.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things I've Learned This Weekend

  1. That whereas I, as a young tot, wrote epic poems of broken bones and swingsets, others wrote odes to their mothers' roast beef.
  2. That there exists a school whose sports teams are known as the "Pretzels." The sports metaphors write themselves, and the marching-band configurations take on an added dimension of difficulty. If, for instance, their signature formations involved dimmed stadium lighting and colored hat lights, imagine the possibility of collision and injury! (Although this risk would possibly bring higher rewards at state competitions.)
  3. That floating along in a tank of saline solution can involve zen-like peace, but also salt in one's ears.
  4. That brunch is, by far, the best meal of the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sometimes You Need a Bit of Clarity

Occasionally things transpire that are so silly and ridiculous, such that it becomes abundantly clear that you are not operating in the known universe. As such, all you can do is laugh and shake your head. Then you can do the following: (1) realize that emotional involvement is a bit like pining for the approval of a person who not only doesn't care about you but can barely remember your name, (2) be your fabulously professional self and let the chips fall where they may, and (3) when tempted to worry about the resume black eye, recall the book you approved that had the author's name misspelled on the spine, and (4) control the things in your purview, not related to anyone else, and come up with a plan.

Then, of course, there is remembering the things, and people, that are way more important.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

But . . But . . the Assistant? The Raise? The Title Change?

My long rise to power (hah hah hah!), and my year working toward assistant director status, has officially ended. No interim steps. Salaries are frozen. On the bright side, I am fully employed. I'm bungalow ensconced, keeping the cat in the premium food, etc. And I'm only here from 9 to 5, not counting the occasional special event. I have insurance. There's a free gym around here somewhere. Many people have it much much worse.

That said, this place is still Crazytown with a side of Dysfunction City.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Labor Day Labor

I'm trying to get my grad-school application ducks in a row (a finite universe, at the moment, which is good and bad; easier to manage, more stress about acceptance). I'm also cranking on the house tasks. In addition to yesterday's yard output, we have the above: painted front attic windows.

I was trying to come up with some clever plan to paint that trim above the dormers, such that it wouldn't require the crazy, terrifying, ladder-plus-ladder setup my friend J had to use to work this the first time, but I couldn't come up with anything. Nonetheless, it looks tons better.
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Knocking Out the To-Do List

Paint for the trim, a color from six years ago that they no longer make. But! If you keep your old cans, they can color match with the formula.

Back door, edging done to maintain B's excellent work.

This looks sad, but it used to be a nest of overgrown grass. Voila! Tidier!
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Getting a Handle on Your To-Do List

The thing about looking at your house, and what needs to be done to it, through objective eyes is that there are a metric ton of things--small and large--that should be tended to, beginning with but not limited to: bulb replacement and repair of fixtures, finishing of cat-yak-stained floor, replace storm windows (the process for replacing piecemeal having come to a halt some time earlier), gutters to be cleaned (hire a company?), trim to be touched up (hire a company?), front-step cracks to be filled, cracking walkways to be repaired (??), languished weeding to be tended to at least to some cleanish baseline, something to be done with the gigantic overgrown shrub in the front yard, garage door to finish cleaning completely, basement to be Dri-Locked, bathroom drains to be fixed, bathroom woodwork to be finished, and so on and so forth.

People tell me how much work we have all done on this place, and I agree, but then I think how I've really dropped the ball since.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Day: Less Than Ideal

Not that this is new, or anything.

I should never have been lured by siren songs of assistant directorhood. Anyone want to hire me to telecommute? I swear, tanking quality of product here aside, I'm awesome at what I do.