Category Archives: books

because y’all know I can’t stick to ONE goal

I’m going with four goals instead of one. Surprised? I’m not. ;)

  1. Get the résumé online ASAP
  2. Read more, like I used to. I’ve borrowed two great books now, and have several more at my disposal, so it’s time to whip my brain back into shape.
  3. In the same vein, get back to visiting the gym at least 3x per week. I can read there AND I will feel better on a daily basis if I do.
  4. Also in that vein (healthy veins are good after all) continue getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. I’d been at 6 for the past several months, then ended up with much more than that for a few nights. It felt good. I need to stick with that pattern as much as possible.

Now, 2-4 are goals I’ve had before, but they’re also easy ones to fulfill, so I’m going at ’em again. Wish me luck!!

[P.S. I have several other goals that are playing at the periphery of my brain, but I won’t list them here, lest I ruin my chances of fulfilling any of them because I’m trying to juggle too many balls at once. Since I am unable to juggle, this seems like a bad idea on the whole.]

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dimly on a Friday evening

I can almost guarantee this entry will be neither thought provoking nor particularly eloquent. I’m sitting in a dim living room at the moment, looking out over two snoozing felines, listening to deep, even breaths coming from the nearby bedroom… erk! Hoping my ringing cell phone didn’t just wake said deep, even breather!

My regular phone calls home prove to me that my life is not very interesting at the moment, at least not in the conventional sense of the word. I am not fighting crime or building empires in my spare time. I am hanging out with a boy and his cats, watching a bit more TV on DVD than usual, playing (and wanting to play) Lego Star Wars on the Xbox just a little too much. Not working out enough, sleeping enough or being motivated enough at the office. It is a familiar phase for me, and it will pass eventually—this much I know for sure. But, just now, I’m enjoying it while it’s here, while I have an excuse to be starry eyed and silly 95% of the time. I’m giving myself a free pass just this once, no deep-seated, self-induced guilt trips or sudden, random dips into depression. I’m coasting. It feels good.

Now, that’s not to say everything’s perfect; it never is, in fact. But it’s damn near for me. Even as I stare at empty frozen-custard cups that beg me to pitch them, even as I grumble through a month’s overdue laundry, even as I yawn my way through a day at the office, I realize that the happiness I get to have now is worth the imperfections. When I am unhappy, life is one big imperfection, one giant blemish in the grand scheme of things. And when life IS the grand scheme of things… well, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? So I will take this near-perfect situation and hold it dear to my heart. And laugh at its occasional pitfalls and fairly noticeable quirks and tics.

In the professional world, things are the same as always, though I grow irritable more quickly with my tasks than I once did. I suppose that’s a sign of the times, both for me and for the company as a whole. Everyone is quicker to anger now, quicker to threaten walking out, even with no place else to go. We’re all on edge and we’re all a bit fed up with what we cannot change, what happens higher in the ranks than we dare to tread a single step. And that height is the very thing that causes the strife for everyone. For those who wish to attain greatness, the strife comes in the form of glass ceilings, hiring freezes, cut positions and a sort of moratorium on progress. Those who wish to remain in the lower bowl (me, for example) turn a spiteful eye to those out for personal gain, become tense when issues of clout are discussed, wish the whole system would dissolve into the disorganized heap it really is so we could start fresh and make something good out of our company again. That said, I know they’re doing the best they can with what they have… most, anyway. Those that aren’t, that are looking out for #1 and #1 alone… well, they can head out any day now, and I don’t doubt for a second they’ll never be missed, at least not by me.

This is when I quit my cushy desk job and become a waitress at a diner. Doesn’t that sound fun, kids? Take a risk, start a new life AND force myself to speak at a normal volume all in one fell swoop!

In things-that-don’t-frustrate-me news, Bryan lent me a book called Storm Front, by Jim Butcher. I’m about three chapters in and loving it so far, in spite of the fact that Butcher is still just setting the scene. I’m OK with that—I appreciate the opportunity to visualize the scene and the characters in greater detail before delving into the story. While it’s nice to be reminded as you go along what the characters are like, and add to their depth and breadth with anecdotes and revealing moments along the way, I desire a solid foundation to go on most of the time. Unless I’m reading one of those pointedly confusing books written to make one’s head spin in circles.

I am attempting to create an online resume (on Bryan’s Mac laptop, so I have no idea how to make accented “e”s or how to find a character map, if there is one at all). I really need to do it myself using HTML and CSS, but I haven’t had the energy of late. I did start piecing something together using moonfruit, which is free and sleek and lovely. But that won’t fly when I’m looking for HTML AND CSS JOBS. Ha. However, it is giving me inspiration for how to make my real site look. And if I can just figure out some fancy-looking-but-not-actually-difficult-to-implement JavaScript, we’ll be good to go.

I’ve also noticed a few things I’ve been missing in my life lately. But then I look at what my life DOES contain and wonder how on earth I’m supposed to wedge it all in. Maybe I’m too shallow and one-dimensional. Maybe I need to hone my multitasking skills until they can slice hairs without even being in the same room. There are NPR shows I want to listen to, movies I want to see, books I want to read, places I want to visit, languages I want to learn, games I want to play, experiences I want to have just once to say I did, foods I want to eat, laughs I want to share… There’s just so MUCH to be done and seen and FELT in this world. I feel like I’m still fresh and warm from the womb with about a million miles to go before I reach the first summit of what I expect will be an endless mountain range of life experiences. And that’s great, I love that—I just don’t know where to begin. That indecision breeds laziness and stress, which then makes me drop out of the race completely and return to base camp without even donning all my gear.

I need to start with one thing. One. Just one. Not one thing to get to another. It CAN be one thing that eventually leads to another, but I need to keep my eye on the thing, not the other. If I want to learn to knit, I need to focus on learning, not on producing the World’s Best Scarf Just in Time for Christmas, Which is Three Weeks Away. No, no! See how that breeds failure? If I want to volunteer my time more, I need to focus on finding good places to volunteer, choosing one and trying it out. Not choosing seven, trying to volunteer at all of them and stretching my resources so thin I have nothing left to give anyone at the end of the week.

What one thing would you suggest? Or what’s one thing you’ve been wanting to learn or do lately? Or that you are learning or doing as we speak? If nothing else, it would be nice to read about others’ plans, others’ triumphs. Or failures—either way. I’m usually a happy-endings kind of gal, but I can revel in tragedy with the best of ’em!

That is enough drivel for one dim Friday evening. I’m going to see if the heavy breather is still breathing and maybe flip on a light or two.

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Filed under books, dating, fun, happiness, jobs, recap, thoughts

makin’ a way in the world today

otherlands

It’s taking everything I’ve got and then some. BUT I am taking a break tonight and hanging out in Midtown. (Although I realized about a minute ago that my time is limited at this particular locale, Otherlands Coffee Bar, which closes in 35 minutes. Oops.)

I haven’t written lately because my brain’s been far too scattered to focus on a single topic for more than 5 minutes. And considering my tendency to write short novels in my blog, this distracted state and blogging do not mesh.

I often have thoughts I don’t write down. Thoughts that go slightly longer than the 140 characters allowed in twitter, but not really all that interesting. I really should record them, if for no other reason than I can avoid kicking myself later for forgetting about them. But I haven’t.

I’m currently reading a book called Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s about how fear impedes artmaking and how to keep it from doing so. I’ve not considered myself an artist since before middle-school art class, when I was told not to try to duplicate a certain piece because I didn’t have the skill. I know writing is an art form, too, but I don’t consider myself an artist there either. In reading this book, though, I realize artmaking is many things, but the lessons can be applied to life in general as well. Not being afraid to stand up for yourself and what you believe. Not backing down when challenged or fearful. Not giving up. I’m thinking this might become a guide to life rather than just a guide to art. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

I’ve been extremely busy at work and feeling exhausted by 9:30 p.m. every night, so you can see the kind of track my train is on right now. I work a lot longer than a should, go to bed later than is necessary and feel like a ball of agony much of the time. However, arm pain has kept me from working out this week. Arm pain and e-newsletters. They have it out for me, for sure.

I still don’t feel like writing, so this ends here. I hope you’re all well. I should just get a video camera and vlog my life — maybe then I’d have things to say.

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pioneers, head colds, ’80s garb & mortgages

The ridiculously high winds very early yesterday morning knocked out our power for the entirety of Sunday. As a result, my mom and I relocated to my brother & SIL’s house to avoid freezing solid in ours. Upside: An entire afternoon of TBS movies & a “CSI” marathon on Spike. Downside: Having to share a double bed with my mom. Ugh! I do not like sharing beds, especially anything smaller than a queen, especially with anything larger than a dog. =P I like my space, what can I say? I awoke this morning with about 2 hours of sleep under my belt. It didn’t help that my stuffy nose forced increased mouth-breathing, which resulted in intensified throat pain. Anyway, the other upside was getting to share coffee and toaster waffles with my bro & SIL this morning before heading back to our reheated home.

This afternoon, I helped my mom go through one of her FOUR closets packed full of no-longer-worn suits with shoulder pads, matching shirt-and-short sets of bold patterns, vests with Looney Tunes characters, oversized sweatshirts and denim overall shorts… Wow. I did walk away with some new pajama pants to replace the 2Xers, a couple pairs of sweatpants, a vintage flannel shirt my mom sewed that matched ones she made for my siblings and dad (how cool, right??) and this ridiculous purple satin top that’s supposed to be worn under a suit jacket. I’m determined to wear that last one as a regular shirt to go out in. It makes me laugh. I should take a picture. Something hot for my online dating profile… =P

Speaking of, I have my makeup speed-dating session in mid-January. Hopefully I won’t forget about it… I also have a potential church-singles-group weekend roadtrip to Gatlinburg. A couple things to look forward to in the new year!

Tomorrow I’m hoping to feel healthy enough to get back to the gym and then help my mom tote her four boxes and six bags of clothing donations to Salvation Army. Have to try to get those vessels back so we can tackle the other three closets and my Rubbermaid containers in the basement… I feel nervous about casting off clothing that’s borderline (I have to assume it is, since I’ve gone through it for donations at least once already in the relatively recent past), but I have to hope I won’t regain the weight or the inches. I have to motivate myself not to by leaving myself no ugly, frumpy options to hide unsightly bulges. And reward myself with the occasional over-the-top Eddie Bauer and Payless spree. =)

My mom went to the library today and picked up a few home-buying books for me. So far, I’m finding Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home to be the most interesting. It came with a CD-rom with some forms and checklists, but I haven’t gotten into those too much yet. Still browsing online for some potential places to check out when I’m back in Memphis. I’m definitely not ready to buy yet – need to save at least another $5k first, I think – but I do want to see what’s out there and try to figure out what the most important things are for me. Is location paramount? Safety? Size? Neighborhood? Proximity to stuff? Commute to work (route or distance)? Eh? EH?? Meh. I still don’t know. I’d say location tends to rank highest when I’m browsing. I’ve been using oodle of late, specifically the “map” option. The closer to the office, the better. Not only because it’s most convenient, but also because that implies increased safety, quality of neighbors, etc. I know I’ll never score anything that’s totally secure or perfect, but it feels better to aim high. Especially if I’m mulling over a $100k purchase.

All right, it’s time to crash. Happy Dec. 29th, all! =)

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Filed under books, dating, fun, health, home, moving, plans, recap, shopping, thoughts

honestly hoping it’s pms

I was in the worst mood today. Actually, I thought I was fine, but then I fell into moody silence somewhere between the office and Bass Pro. A quesadilla lunch at Playita Mexicana made me a little happier, but as soon as I returned to my desk, my stack of work and a fruitless conference call, I had just about had enough. Maybe I need another vacation? It’s too bad I have no camping gear or outdoorsy skills – I’d take myself out into the woods somewhere. Maybe someone would be willing to lend me a tent. If camping here is anything like camping in some little rustic site in the northern Lower Peninsula, I think I could manage. I could build a small fire, curl up in my sleeping bag, take walks on trails. And all the while growing facial hair that no one would be around to judge me for! Awesome! Too bad my mom would freak if she found out I went camping alone…

Interested… in being alone

I was thinking about hobbies the other day. I used to want to do things in my spare time that would give me an excuse to be around people. Now, I’d kind of rather be alone, at least for the most part. Like, with the Humane Society, I like walking the dogs, but I really don’t ever feel like socializing with the other volunteers. And I hate feeling like I’m making mistakes in front of them or not doing things by the book. Obviously, I can’t be the only person walking the dogs and throwing balls for them, but if I could find a place with just a few dogs, I’d much rather go it alone. I’d make a better dog sitter than a volunteer walker for a big place like the HS.

Similarly, church? Too many people. My fault for picking a church with a membership in the tens of thousands, but it’s been the best fit in most ways. Anyway, I want a small study group or singles ministry, not a room brimming with 50 people. I get intimidated in groups bigger than three (including me), so what does that tell you? I already speak too quietly, but combine that with the din of 49 other voices and you’ve got me silently taking notes and listening intently to everyone else, just like always. I’m even like that at work – lunch or a meeting with two, I can do; more than that, I clam up. Frustrating.

Anyway, I have no hobbies or interests. It’s probably strange reading that because it seems like everyone out there has at least ONE thing they love doing. Well, I guess I like reading and blogging, but those are so routine. And I wouldn’t call them passions. Passions are things you’re also a mini expert in. Like RP has fishing. And so many people in the office have hunting. Everyone out there has something they know a lot about and really enjoy. I don’t. I like a lot of things – most of all animals/nature, science, writing, reading, web design and travel – but I know almost nothing about them. I can’t list my favorite writers, the periodic table, all the species of ducks my company protects, how many islands make up Hawaii. I could gather all that information in less than two minutes, but that’s not enough. They can’t be passions if I’m not interested enough to know all this already. It’s just that I feel like I don’t have enough time to learn… how lame is that?

Off the shelf

I went to the library tonight to find a book. I didn’t have long to browse, so I went straight to the new arrivals section in search of a witty novel or a cool piece of nonfiction. I momentarily considered a book called Winter Study, which is based on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. But the synopsis slowly faded from interesting wolf research to something about giant mutant wolves? I quickly lost interest. Seemed too much like a B-movie in book form. I ended up with a book called, The Opposite of Love. I couldn’t resist this blurb in the jacket:

When successful twenty-nine-year-old Manhattan attorney Emily Haxby ends her happy relationship just as her boyfriend is on the verge of proposing, she can’t explain to even her closest friends why she did it. Somewhere beneath her sense of fun, her bravado, and her independent exterior, Emily knows that her breakup with Andrew has less to do with him and more to do with…her. “You’re your own worst enemy,” her best friend Jess tells her. “It’s like you get pleasure out of breaking your own heart.

Having been accused in the not-so-distant past of making myself miserable because I didn’t know how else to be in life, this whole passage – not to mention the like-named heroine – totally convinced me to take the book home. I can imagine this being me at 29. Maybe not on the verge of marriage (who can imagine that?) but maybe in a serious relationship that I decide to end for no apparent reason. So much of me is internal. I will readily express my feelings, but it really is only a small portion of what’s going on in my head. Even here… I can’t lend a proper a voice to my brain. You still don’t read everything. If this book is well written and honest, there will be a good bit of that exact theme running throughout. I’m looking forward to it.

There better be another Jim

Watched the “Office” premiere tonight. Not going to spoil it for those who will be watching on the Web or via recordings, but I was not super impressed with the episode as a whole. But, as always, the love of “Jam” salvaged it for me. =) The epic scene they shared made me long for a rain-drenched rest stop off I-80. I hope I’ll make it there someday…

Drudgery

As mentioned in paragraph one, work is wearing me thin. I didn’t think that would be the case since the crazy marathon that was Opening Day has now been muted to a dull roar, but maybe that’s the problem – being insanely busy kept me from recognizing the shortcomings of my job. I was so excited about the end result of this amazing project, created by five sets of skilled hands, that I didn’t for a moment think I’d ever stop loving it. But I kind of am. I think it’s Memphis, really. It’s actually sucking the life out of me. There is no nature here. The people are not particularly friendly. Germantown Parkway makes me have tiny strokes from all the lanes of traffic filled with mostly bad drivers. I am on the downward slope from a ridiculous crush. I can’t seem to find a niche. I miss school. I miss home, friends, my mom. And I was able to shut all that off for a while to get that project done. Now that it is, I’m realizing my powers are limited. I can do only a fraction of what the rest of the team can. I hate to think that I’m not meant to work as part of a team, but maybe I’m not. I just feel like I’m not really needed, other than just because there are too many small tasks for important people to have to handle themselves. I’m not actually contributing anything unique to the situation. I’m not a go-to person for anything. I am creating Web pages that others don’t have the time to create. I am placing photos and updating links and writing copy. And while I know all that is necessary to keep a Web site running smoothly, it’s just… lame. It makes me feel lame that I can’t build anything, create anything spectacular like a donor recognition wall or the technology behind a sweet video contest. I’m just the, “Hey, can you change out that image of the dog? Yeah, we want a guy with a gun there instead.” Bah.

I don’t blame anyone but myself for hyping things up in my mind. I knew what I was getting into moving down here. I was fine for a while, still floating on the cloud that is a new place and a new job, but it’s disintegrated now to the point where I can clearly see the ground below. And in Memphis, it’s hard, dry and covered in fire ants.

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books & life

I’m currently reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Apparently it’s an international bestseller. And apparently it belongs in the “Classics” section at the local library. After reading about 100 pages, I’d say it’s definitely good, but I’m not sure about the classic part. I can’t find the Newberry medal anywhere…

Basically, it starts out philosophical, then pulls in the story of Tomas and Tereza, a Czech couple. It talks about their meeting, first from his perspective, then hers. Throughout their relationship, he maintains several mistresses, principal among them Sabina, whose own story comes out later. There is a lot of philosophical reflection on Tomas and Tereza’s relationship, how so much of who she is comes from her mother, etc. It’s very interesting.

There was one part that I found especially relevant, as it’s a thought I’ve had (though far less eloquently put) as I lose relationships over time:

While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it together and exchange motifs…but if they meet when they are older…their musical compositions are more or less complete, and every motif, every object, every word means something different to each of them.

This statement comes about after Sabina and Tomas’s extramarital relations have ended and she’s emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland, to escape the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia. Tomas emigrates, too, but he ends up returning home to be with Tereza in Prague. Anyway, Sabina enters a similar relationship with another married man named Franz, who Sabina tries to find happiness with, but keeps comparing to Tomas and her past life.

At one point, in Franz’s presence, she silently puts on a bowler hat and strips down to her undergarments. At first, Franz is intrigued, but her demeanor is different from anything he’s seen. The whole scenario is unknown to him. So he begins to squirm and takes the hat from her head. To her, she is reliving a moment with Tomas, one that they shared when she was dressed just that way years before. She is caught up in the memory, the meaning of it, and Franz is simply uncomfortable because of how little it means to him.

There’s a much longer section on it in the book itself, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

I think about this very thing when my relationships end. I am well aware that people are getting married later in life these days, and in many ways it’s for the best, because they are more mature and have had more of a chance to develop their own identities before becoming a single unit with another person. But I still fear that the individuality will be too great, that when I’m 25, 30, 35, I will still be looking for someone, and while there may be someone else out there looking, too, he’ll have built up a history, a lifetime of memories that don’t involve me. The fear is greater because I have so few memories of my own. I will be keyed up to create new ones with him – but will he be satisfied with only those of his past? Will past relationships have jaded him to the point where he’s loath to share so much with another person?

I know this fear is, for the most part, unfounded. And I am young – far too young to be concerned about this. But books tend to overwhelm my senses and suck me in (much like a compelling movie that goes on for days instead of hours), so I find it difficult to ignore when the print echoes my precise thoughts about life. It’s quite amazing, really. I leave you with another like-minded excerpt from The Unbearable Lightness of Being:

Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences. “Co-incidence” means that two events unexpectedly happen at the same time, they meet: Tomas appears in the hotel restaurant at the same time the radio is playing Beethoven. We do not even notice the great majority of such coincidences. If the seat Tomas occupied had been occupied instead by the local butcher, Tereza never would have noticed that the radio was playing Beethoven…But her nascent love inflamed her sense of beauty, and she would never forget that music. Whenever she heard it, she would be touched. Everything going on around her at that moment would be haloed by the music and take on its beauty.

Early in the novel that Tereza clutched under her arm when she went to visit Tomas [Anna Karenina], Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition…may seem quite “novelistic” to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as “fictive,” “fabricated,” and “untrue to life” into the word “novelistic.” Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion.

They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence (Beethoven’s music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual’s life. Anna could have chosen another way to take her life. But the motif of death and the railway station, unforgettably bound to the birth of love, enticed her in her hour of despair with its dark beauty. Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.

It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences…but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.

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