Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Death to Mosquitoes!

I haven't blogged about writing in a while. I haven't really had time to write and I hate that. What with the conference last week and now moving into a new house, there's been little time to just shut myself away with my computer and let the ideas flow.

The ideas are still flowing but I just haven't had time to sit down. I'm hoping that by the end of July when I'm ensconced in my house, I'll find time to do some writing. The wonderful thing that I'm realizing with each box I carry that this is my house. I never have to move again unless I really want to. This is a permanent place; no more will I have to worry about rent increases or noisy sex above me.

At least I hope not, as far as the noisy sex goes. Considering my house is a one-level ranch style with only a crawl space in the ceiling to get to the heating ducts, I'd be really worried if I heard sex sounds coming from up there.

Then again, that might give me some mighty good fodder for my imagination when I do get time to write again.

I'm starting to hate that the house is always on my mind. I dreamed about it last night. That's how I know I'm stressed; when I can't escape, even into the land of dreams. I dreamed that I was trying to mask up the living room to paint but people kept moving furniture and wall fixtures in when I wasn't looking so I no longer knew how I was going to get started or what I was supposed to do.

In actually, I think I finished masking last night. I had to do some re-masking. I bought two types of tape, one two inch thick pack from Big Lots and a pack of standard inch-thick masking tape from Lowes All of my Big Lots tape decided to come unstuck overnight so I had to reseal it yesterday. It was rather frustrating. I'm hoping the Lowes tape holds because aside from laying down my drop cloths, I'm ready to start painting.

The thing about things like painting is, for me, I find them relaxing. The actual work itself isn't relaxing but once I get going on a project like that, it's like my mind just opens up and lets me think of whatever I like. It's sort of a free-flow time as far as my thought processes go. If I'm alone, I usually do my best thinking when my body is occupied in the manual labour. It's why I like landscaping. I love being able to shut down and just focus on the task because, by doing so, it lets me relax into whatever thoughts I like. It's a good time for problem-solving, for coming to terms with things.

Of course, I say this before I start painting. In my mind, it goes smoothly. In reality, I'm a messy little monkeypants and I think I might have to contend with drips and messes rather a lot.

I'm actually not going to the house tonight though. I'm going to spend some time organizing the next load of things I want to take from my apartment. The moving is a slow process but it's steady.

In some ways, I wish I could fast-forward so that the moving/painting/preparation is done. Yet if I did that, I'd miss out on many things. July is a month of birthdays, of weddings, of a trip to Comic-con. It's a busy month for sure but I think it's going to be a fun month. At the very least, it'll be a productive month.

I feel bad that all I'm blogging about is my new house at the moment. I'm going to try to taper off about it so that I don't become a one-note blogger. It's just all so new at the moment and every day reveals something new. Usually it's a spider. I try to rescue them and put them out the back door in lieu of killing them. I've only had one slight-casualty: Bert. I name each spider. So far I've had Bert, Sid and Fred. Bert accidentally lost a leg as I tried to trap him in a container to carry him out. He managed to crawl away though so I have to assume that though he's now a seven-legged spider, he'll be ok. I'm not a big fan of spiders but as I always say, it's not their fault they were born a little creepy and I think they have a bad reputation. This is not to say that they don't make my pulse race a little and occasionally make me squeal but I still try to respect them. Or at least not kill them.

There are other creepy crawlies in my house. I've met a couple of crickets and a mosquito. The mosquito died. I do not regret to inform you of this. I am anti-mosquito. Mosquitos must die. I know they, too, have a purpose in life but given that they attack me in droves whenever I step outside, I'm only repaying the favour. They're out for blood and so am I.

That's the only part of the Midwest of which I am not excited to re-experience. We have mosquitoes in California but not too many; it's too dry. Not so here in the Midwest. They thrive here on the humidity. They also thrive on me. I can be out with someone who might get a couple of bites that are piddly little things. Me, I'll be bitten about eight times and they will swell up into these horrible itchy welts of heat. I hate mosquitoes. I can't figure out what their purpose is in life. I'm sure they have one in the mosquito/insect world. Maybe that's why I like to save the lives of spiders too: They trap and kill mosquitoes for dinner and I salute that.

Still, mosquitoes, spiders or crickets, they're invading my turf and I think I have the right to prosecute them as I see fit. It is my house. I can kick them out/kill them. I never felt quite right doing that in an apartment because though I live there, it's not mine. Actually, I always wondered about that: If a vampire shows up to my apartment, could I invite him in? I mean, yes it's my home but it's not my building. Doesn't the owner have to do the inviting? That's always been fuzzy in my mind. Of course, I do realize that vampires don't exist and they're not going to really show up at my door. It doesn't mean I can't wonder. Spiders just don't have the same allure and, besides, they come in, invited or not.

Just something to ponder, I suppose.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Musings: Tetanus Shots, Houses and the King of Pop

I don't care if I blogged yesterday. I'm blogging today as well. I want to get back to my regularly scheduled blogs, even if no one is clamouring to read them. I haven't been able to write for a while and if blogging is the only way to fulfill that need in me then so be it.

It's strange to be back in the office today. We were out for the entire week last week. It's almost like that strange week that follows Christmas: You know that the big event has happened and it's a little bit of a letdown at the same time as a bit of a relief.

At the moment, as much as I need that ever-important paycheck, part of me is annoyed that work is interfering with my new house. I want to be down there, finishing up the masking so I can get started on the painting. I want to be taking another load of boxes so I can see that slowly, but surely, I am actually moving.

That'll have to wait until tonight or tomorrow. I haven't decided if I'm going to drive down tonight or wait until tomorrow evening. I think it just depends on how I feel. I managed to have a nice "welcome to your home" event on Saturday night. Even though I had vacuumed the carpet in my family room a couple of times and shampooed the carpet, I managed to find a sewing needle. With my foot. I was barefoot. I figured the triple hoovering plus carpet shampoo would have unmasked all the hidden dangers and rather than risk getting my clean carpet dirty with my shoes, I'd take them off.

Bad idea. The needle broke off into my foot. It hurt. As much as I try to avoid doctors unless absolutely necessary, the inability to find the needle on my own led to a trip to Urgent Care, a tetanus shot, a course of antibiotics and a rather painful digging out of the needle. Still, it's out. It was a rusty needle, of course, because if you're going to step on a needle in your new house, it's best to make it as dramatic as possible.

I'm very grateful that it went into my heel; it means I can still hobble around. It doesn't actually hurt much unless I try to walk on it. Fortunately, it didn't inhibit my work on my house yesterday. It's hard to keep a determined Monkeypants down.

I think I'm experiencing House Obsession. This means all I can think about is the house. I keep thinking of things I need to do, things I need. Sadly, most of it will have to be purchased in phases since my cute little salary doesn't allow for too many extraneous purchases. Not that I'm complaining. I have a cute little salary. That's definitely something to be grateful for in this economy.

Still, I have to work today so the house will have to be filed away in my mind until I'm ready to pull it back out and afford the time to think about it. It's been a week since I was in the office and what a long, strange week it's been. I'm not even talking about the conference although having seen some of my coworkers in photos, dancing in a cage on the night I missed was a little strange.

I'm talking about the week in which we lost Michael Jackson. I don't think there's a person in my generation who doesn't have some connection with the King of Pop. For me, it was my childhood years. I had a very enthusiastic P.E. teacher who had a thing for dancing. Every school play we did in my junior school years in England had some element of dancing in it. It never really fit but it was there. My year, we were doing "Harlequinade," which was an adaptation of the classic Commedia dell'arte piece. There were ghosts in the play. I think they were supposed to be the classic "boo!" type ghosts but not in my year. Nope, our P.E. teacher took it upon himself to choreagraph a dance to Michael Jackson's, "Thriller," and teach it to us. Because I could actually sort of move to the beat- this was prior to my chair-boogie flail-dancing years- I was chosen as a ghost. We didn't do The Actual Thriller Dance. No, we did a sort of stiff British School Children version in which we tried to do parts of the Actual Thriller Dance but given that we were nine, it wasn't exactly what you'd call....coordinated.

Yet, every time I hear "Thriller," I think of that play. I also think of my neighbour across the street, a year older than me, a year younger than my brother and a friend to us both. He was a big Michael Jackson fan, even having the gloves and jacket. He swore that when he grew up, he'd be Michael Jackson's friend. He had the singles on the day they came out. He knew the words to every song. I haven't seen him in many years and I won't lie and say I don't wonder about him and his little brother from time to time. When you grow up on a suburban street full of kids and you play with them almost every day, they leave an impression.

I think Michael Jackson left a big impression on us all. If we forget the weirdness of his most recent years, what's left standing is a man who could make music that gave us memories. I hear "Bad," and I think of a summer in which my dad blasted the album while we played volleyball and badminton on our garden set after eating barbecued steaks. There are artists that make noise and there are artists that make music. Regardless of his personal choices, no one can deny that Michael Jackson was not a true icon, the Elvis Presley of the children of the 1980's.

Last week was a strange week. This week is just starting. It's hard to tell what it has in store but I'm sure I'll let you know. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sometimes, It'd Be Nice to Have a Husband...

So I decided not to wait until tomorrow to blog even though, typically, I only blog on weekdays. It's been a few days since I had a chance to blog. The conference got the better of me. I did end up being social and going out both Wednesday and Thursday nights but I ended up watching other people drink rather than imbibe too much myself. It's amazing to see how much people let loose and also sort of fascinating in a voyeuristic way. I don't judge: I'm a firm believer that everyone needs to let down their hair once in a while.

The ending of the conference took a bit weight off my shoulders. It's hard to be social for such long periods of time; We started at 8 a.m. and went out until at least midnight. I was pretty exhausted by the time we got back.

Yet I wasn't too exhausted to ignore the fact that my house is now...my house. Friday afternoon, not too long after I got back from Indianapolis, I headed to my house, let myself in the front door for the very first time and took stock of what I had done.

I confess...when I saw my new house, I had a bad case of buyer's remorse. I mentioned that the previous owner was a sweet little old lady. However, I don't know whether she just didn't clean or just couldn't clean properly but I'm telling you, that house looked nasty. The carpets were grey with cobwebs, the walls filthy with stains. There was a layer of grime over everything. I walked through hoping to find something, anything to remind me why I wanted to live there.

Yet it was too late to back out. The house is mine. With a heavy heart, I finally plugged in my vacuum cleaner and went over each room multiple times. Three hours later and three vacuum bags full, the house suddenly looked different...better. The carpets were blue again and spending that much time in each room began to help me feel like it truly was my house. I moved on, throwing out many of the items the old lady had left behind. I couldn't decide if she forgot to pack them or she thought she was doing me a favour. For example, the fridge was still full of old mayonnaise, pickles, ketchup and cheese. Sadly, much of it had expired and what was left just didn't appeal so I did a thorough purge. At first, when I opened the freezer, I was excited. There was an unopened filet mignon in there, wrapped in bacon, ready to grill. Then I checked the date. It's "sell-by" date was July of 2005. Now, I'm a believer in freezers providing a way to preserve food but, well...that...was a little beyond preserving.

I spent the rest of the weekend shampooing the carpets. I love doing that, I've decided. Though the grime that came out of each room when I emptied the bucket of the Rug Doctor machine was disgusting, there was something very fulfilling about seeing it. I scrubbed down the walls and scrubbed the kitchen. I think the house is finally looking good. I'm going to paint next and have already begun putting masking tape down. It's my house and I'm planning on making it really mine.

It's been an exciting, if exhausting, weekend. I realize that, as a single woman, it's probably a little harder for me to get everything done. I don't have assistance when I'm doing anything. This makes the smallest things difficult. For example, I rented the carpet cleaner and brought it home only to discover it had a three-prong plug. The outlets in my house are primarily two prong. Back I went to Lowe's to buy outlet adapters. If I had someone to help me, they could have done that for me. When I was done cleaning the carpets, I had to run the carpet cleaner back. Again, an errand that I could have sent someone else to do while I started cleaning.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining. I pride myself on my independence. I'm used to it. It's just hard sometimes when all the people who know I bought a house will tell me things I need to do and make me think of things I never would have thought of without them bringing it up. It's nice to have that type of help but sometimes, there are things I just can't think about because I simply don't have the time. I'd love to be able to get a lawnmower and mow the grass. I know it'd be cheaper to buy a used mower. However, that would entail finding the time to search Craigslist for a mower, arranging to see it, going to look at it and then buying it. I'd like to do that but, alas, I'm trying to move into my house and get it fixed up. I have to weigh my priorities. I have enlisted my sister and brother-in-law's help with that, asking them to keep an eye out.

I'd like to be able to do everything by myself; I'm just not sure it's possible. There are only so many hours in the day and with the house being 30 minutes from my apartment, the drive is a factor. On the plus side, there's a huge, lovely Lowe's store five minutes down the street. That's going to be useful. Well, actually, since I went there four times in two days, it's already been useful. Trouble is, each time I go, I realize just how much stuff I'm going to have to learn.

Still, it's all experience and learning and knowing how to do things is half the battle. Going it alone is always hard but there's something rewarding in knowing I found the house and bought it by myself and I'm going to get it fixed up just the way I like it without having to bounce paint colours off someone else. It'd be nice to have a husband to help with the hard stuff but, at the same time, he might not like the cranberry-sage colour scheme I'm going with in the living room.

There are some advantages to being a singleton.

Happy Sunday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Feeling Like I'm back in High School...

I'm glad this week is halfway done. It's turning out to be a long week. I like the actual conference part but the social part is starting to be a little...old. I've learned, like so many conferences, this one is about socializing and alcohol as much as the conference. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against that but I'm not so sure I quite follow the ropes. There are social groups here and I'm not really part of them.

It's not that I don't know and like my coworkers but it's also a little awkward. I'm trying to be social but it's difficult because I also am trying to do my job and make sure that I don't bomb my presentation. I ended up having a low key evening with two friends and then going to bed at a decent hour. My presentation isn't until tomorrow but I'm highly stressed about it and I figure it's better to not go out and get obliterated with my coworkers in lieu of, you know, feeling ok to go to the conference the next day.

Naturally, I feel like I'm a bit of a wet-blanket. I had actually planned on being a little more social but my two friends and I got sort of ditched so we ended up just hanging out with a glass of wine which, truth be told, is more my style anyway.

Yet then, as always, I'm left feeling like the nerd in high school who is left standing alone because I'm gangly and awkward. Even those the days of my gangliness are long behind me, inside, I think, I'm still the odd-looking, not-quite-grown-into-my-face girl who shyly stands and wants to be part of a group but is afraid to ask. Yet, I'm actually not afraid to ask, anymore. More than anything, in my mind, I'm still a nerd but I'm comfortable with that, comfortable with not being part of the group. Yet, it's a catch-22: I like being the one to make the choice but...am I making the choice? Self-doubt prevails.

I hate self-doubt. I hate worrying that everything I say is taken the wrong way as i think was the case yesterday. Even my off-hand comments seem to get taken the wrong way and I feel like I'm constantly doing the wrong thing. I've never been to this conference before like almost my entire company AND our clients have. I seem to constantly have to ask questions which makes me feel too much like a newbie, all over again.

Still, today is a new day. I'm going to try to approach it as a fresh start, a chance to not feel like a fish-out-of-water. Of course, those constantly churning butterflies in my stomach aren't really helping but maybe, just maybe, after I blurt my presentation, all will be well.

I can only hope.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Day of the Conference...Yay..

So, it's the first full day of our conference today and, already, I'm exhausted. I like being around people but this is a lot of people and effort of trying to smile and constantly promote our company is pretty tiring. Still, so far, I'm quite enjoying it. The food is excellent. Isn't that really how you judge a conference though?

I have been to a few of my coworker's presentations and it's been pretty interesting so far. The nicest part of the conference is that no matter how unsettled I've been feeling in my job lately, I feel like I really am part of a team. I work with good people and it's nice to be able to be part of a group like this.

The bad part of the conference is that no matter how hard I try to wiggle out of it, I still have to do my presentation. It's not until Thursday which is both good and bad. It means I have a couple of days to prepare. It also means I have a couple of days to stress. It doesn't help that everyone tells me I'm going to be on the spot because apparently, the software I'm presenting is a hot topic. Yay. Can't wait. I also see that I'm lucky enough to be in the biggest room we have and rather than stand nicely behind a podium and talk, I'm on a little stage in front of everyone. Can you tell I'm thrilled.

I can't lie and say that idea of doing a dance instead of presenting my topic didn't cross my mind. I think for at least a few minutes, the sheer absurdity of my fantastically awful dance moves might distract them. It might even frighten them. It might even make them leave. Hmm....

I'm currently on break. It's the first one I've had all day. Tomorrow, we get the evening to ourselves which should be fun. It's hard to get up at 6 a.m. and not have a moment to breathe until 5 p.m. I have a meeting soon so I'm savouring the free time.

I'm also trying not to think about the fact that the sweet little old lady has moved out of my house now. As of yesterday, my house was MY house. I'm excited. I can't wait to get in and explore.

Anyway, it's not the most exciting blog in the world but I feel strange nowadays if I don't blog. I feel like there's something I've forgotten to do, even if I haven't actually forgotten to blog but simply haven't had time. I'll try to blog at least semi-regularly. Now I've discovered I have an internet connection, it's easier. Of course, not having time makes it not so easy but knowing me, I won't be able to withhold my ramblings for too long.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Conspiracy Theory about Walmart....

So, it's a weird Monday morning today. I don't have to go to the office because it's the start of our conference this evening. We have to be in Indianapolis by the afternoon which means I have just about an hour before I start picking up my two coworkers and we take a road trip.

I have to admit, I'm still rather nervous about the conference. I ran through my presentation last night to make sure I would, at least, be able to say something to that room full of people. However, there are a couple of things that I talk about that scare me. You see, I have no idea what they mean. It'd be ok if I could just read the slides but I have to talk about them as though I know exactly what they mean. Since I inherited part of my presentation from a programmer who just quit to move to the Middle East, it's a very technical sort of thing. Methinks I should probably find out more about logging on startup and form configuration before I stand in front of 60+ people and talk about it.

Still, once the conference is over, I'll be able to move into my house which is rather exciting. I had a fantastically good time this weekend at garage sales with my sister and brother in law. I managed to get a full-sized bed (minus mattress) for $10, a lovely painting for $3 and all other kinds of good stuff none of which cost more than $1. I love garage sales.

I also spent some time at Walmart this weekend with my mother. I used to quite like going to Walmart because it was cheap and you could find excellent deals. Nowadays, I'm beginning to grow a wee bit suspicious of the giant chain and I now have a conspiracy theory to share with you.

You see, I think Walmart has lulled us in complacency with their low-low prices and super mass of goods for sale. For the past few years, they've taken over the U.S., spreading their tentacles into even the smallest towns, killing business that can't compete with their prices and selection. I confess, though I hated that Walmart was taking over, I appreciated that there was a place to go where I could find groceries and other goods at such a good price. Walmart got me through some hard financial times.

The problem is with the lulling. We all now instinctively believe that Walmart is the cheapest place to go for things. It's been the case for the past few years. For me, it was a question of 'do I want to drive all the way to Walmart and get things for cheaper or do I go to Kroger where it'll be more expensive but it's closer.'

Except, here's the thing: Walmart isn't so cheap anymore. Nope. I don't know if you Walmart shoppers out there have noticed but those low-low prices aren't quite so low-low anymore. In fact, compared to Kroger they're at least the same, if not higher.

I'm talking prices on produce, cleaning products, toothpaste, kitchenware, frozen foods...everything Walmart sells. Granted, it's not like the prices have skyrocketed but they've been creeping up so slowly that unless you pay attention, you might not notice. Take, for example, something I noticed. They carry a line of dog-treats called "Canine Carry-Outs." These are a more generic brand of expensive items like Begging Strips or the Purina treats. When I first discovered these treats for Sausage, I was excited. They cost $1.09 for a bag. That was six months ago. Then they went up to $1.15. Then they went up to $1.25. Now, they're around $1.49 a bag. That's a big increase over six months. It might not seem like it but did you notice how the price kept creeping up slowly instead of jumping?

I know the economy is a mess. I know everything costs more to make. The interesting thing is that other stores are lowering their prices to help us consumers out. The same brand of dog treats at Meijer, a Midwestern grocery chain, is $1.25 and has been for a while. It hasn't risen in price, nor has their price on produce or frozen foods. Perhaps Walmart's suppliers are charging more but, here's the thing, they're Walmart, I think they can afford to cushion us from the increasing prices a little, don't you?

Obviously, it's not just dog treats that are more expensive. I used to love that Walmart carried name brands but always a generic form that was comparable in quality but a fraction of the price. It's getting harder and harder to find the generic brands there. Even their kitchen section, or 'the spatula aisle' as I call it, has changed. It used to be a whole aisle of small kitchen things like lemon juices, whisks, strainers, spatulas, corn-cob holders, all those things you tend to find lying in your kitchen 'junk' drawer. That aisle used to be reliable because they had everything and it was cheap; it wasn't a name brand but it did the job. Yesterday, at Walmart, I went to that aisle and saw that it had dwindled. It's now a tiny little section and has been replaced by similar items but they're all Farberware or Oneida branded things.

Not that I have anything against Farberware or Oneida. That's good stuff. Yet it's also at least double the price of the old aisle. Yes, it's good quality but if you're at Walmart and you need to find a melon baller, wouldn't you rather get the one for $2.99 than the stainless steel one for $7.99? Sure, the quality would be better but it's a melon baller. How many melons are you really going to ball with it, seriously?

So, that's my theory. Walmart is rising their prices now because everyone just assumes they're cheapest. They're not. If you have one of those Kroger plus cards, it's cheaper to shop at Kroger (or Ralphs if you're on the West Coast). Even Meijer can be cheaper than Walmart. However, the company has everyone fooled into thinking they're the cheapest option; they're exploiting our trust. I'm not happy about that.

I'm also not happy that Walmart doesn't sell the new Green Day album because Green Day refused to allow them to censor it. I'm impressed that Green Day were able to put their principals above the potential money that would come in from Walmart's sales. I think they were right. I also think they were right when they pointed out that Walmart doesn't sell a CD that uses the F-word but they sell guns and maybe if they put Green Day's CD in the gun section, it would be alright.

Still, it's another sign that Walmart is a monster that has taken over the country. In many cases, there's nowhere to shop but Walmart. People protested when a store was going to open because they knew Walmart would kill local businesses and yet still Walmart came. Now we have no alternative but to shop there if we need things. It doesn't mean that Walmart should be taking advantage of that. I'm keeping my eye on them. I'll keep you posted.

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fridays, Father's Day and The Dread of Public Speaking...

It's Friday. Normally I'd be rejoicing about that but since it means a day of flurried activity and hyperdrive to get everything done, I'm not sure I can rejoice quite yet.

We have, as I've mentioned, an annual conference next week. It's one of those things where we're holding at a hotel and we're staying all week. There's no internet access in our rooms because it costs too much for our company. So, chances are, my blogs will be few and far between.

In the meantime, today is a day about not looking like a twit when I have to do my presentation. I haven't done one of those for ages. I have to talk about a new piece of software. I like the new piece of software but it doesn't really work quite well. At one point, I had to make up Photoshopped images to make it look like it it worked. Fortunately, since then, I've been assigned a new programmer and he's fantastic. Yet, the software still keeps...breaking. He's working hard, I'm working hard but it's always the way, isn't it?

Which means I still don't know if I can actually demonstrate the product or if I'll be doing a PowerPoint slideshow. I'd much rather do a demo so that the attendees don't wonder why we're NOT demonstrating the product since it's due to be released in a month. Yet, at the same time, I also don't want to be left standing in front of an audience and noticing that the software broke again.

Can you tell I'm excited? It doesn't help that I've just been told my session has one of the largest number of registrants. Uh, yay? This is because there's very little else going on at the time of my session and people are paying to see something so lucky, lucky me, they're coming to watch me.

Naturally, this idea does not fill me with a chair-boogie-ing sense of joy. It fills me with a teensy bit of dread.

Today is going to spent trying not to look like an imbecile when I speak to my crowd next Thursday. I'm just glad the days of pitchforks and flaming torches are over. That would fill me with a lot more dread.

Yet, it is nice to remind myself that I have two days between now and Monday, the start of the conference, to stress...uh, I mean, relax. It's Father's Day this weekend. I like giving gifts but not for my dad. That sounds mean, doesn't it? I love my dad. I just don't love buying things for him.

Like many men, he tends to have the "If I want something, I'll just buy it when I want it" trait. Which means that there isn't too much you can buy for him because chances are, if he wants it, he's already bought it. Many a Christmas, my siblings, my mother or I have planned gifts for him only to discover he's just ordered that gift online for himself. When you politely try to explain that maybe he shouldn't buy himself gifts close to occasions where others might be buying them for him, he acts confused. Sometimes, sadly, this usually also results in a bit of a lecture as to how I just ruined his holiday because I told him what someone was going to get him if I manage to stop him ordering something in the nick of time. Or he pouts and acts put out because he wants it RIGHT NOW.

He just doesn't grasp the concept of making a wish list of things he'd like but doesn't buy. For him, if he wants it, he buys it. The worst part is if he does tell you something that he wants for Christmas/his birthday/Father's Day, we'll go to the trouble of hunting it down (as was the case with the Nintendo Wii when it was at the peak of its demand a couple of Christmases ago) and he'll get excited when he opens it. Then, less than a month later, the gift has been put aside and he's moved on. He probably hasn't played his Wii in over a year. Fortunately, my nephew likes it. If he continues to ignore it, I might just be 'borrowing' that Wii for my new house. Waste not, want not. Actually, buying gifts for my dad isn't such a bad thing. I have a nifty pasta press that my sister got him a few years ago and he didn't take out the box. I hijacked it since I knew I'd use it. If he wants it back, naturally I'll return it but, in the meantime, he hasn't really noticed its absence.

This is not to say my dad is a bad man at all. I think he's just oblivious sometimes. He's also a creature of changing obsessions. He's been into maritime books for a while now which is good because aside from Louis L'amour, he never read much. Now, he's reading the high seas equivalent of Louis L'amour but at least he's reading. I've learned more about being on a ship than I ever thought I would because as well as a reader, my dad is a sharer. This means that no matter how often you try to wiggle towards the bathroom, he'll stop you on the way and share some intriguing piece of trivia with you that ends up being a full-fledged lecture. It's not a bad thing but sometimes, he does it when you really, really have to go to the bathroom and he doesn't get the hint, even when you're diving towards the bathroom door handle and he's followed you. Other times, he'll choose to share facts from his reading when you're trying to watch TV or read your own book. Again...I think it's just a bit of oblivion on his part. He can't possibly comprehend that I might not be quite so interested in the adventures of Lord Nelson as he. I let him tell me things because sometimes it is interesting.

My dad is a special creature. I suppose Father's Day is the best time to remember that. This year I got him a bottle of nice wine. I'm not worried about him reading my blog; he doesn't read what I write unless it's an email or letter for his business. I think he'll like the wine though, I tried to pick out a type I know he'll like. It was either that or a gift card but I've been doing that a bit too much lately for him and I decided to try something different.

I hope he likes it.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Scents of Smell...

I hate humidity. I've always suspected this but I'm finally going to just come right and affirm it. I hate how when you're inside an air-conditioned place, you think it's cool outside. Then, when you step out, it's like hitting a brick wall of moisture. It hits you, creeping both under and over your recently cooled skin until you're suddenly feeling sticky and damp. Your hair begins to frizz quickly and breathing becomes just a little harder. I hate that if I leave my car windows cracked to let the fresh air in overnight, I get in the next morning and it smells like a nasty wet dog.

Actually, I'm sure that's all the humidity's fault. If my car gets remotely damp, it smells like a wet dog. I'm not sure why since it's a fairly new car and as far as I know, nothing has died in there. I haven't even had a wet dog in there, not even Sausage. The sad thing is that nothing removes that smell. Air fresheners only end up mixing with the wet-dog smell so that it smells like a lavender scented wet dog. I've officially crawled around in the trunk of my car to try and find out if there's a culprit for the smell but, alas, to no avail.

So...long story short, unless I'm telling it because then it's long story...long...it's humid outside and my car smells like a wet dog. Also, my rubbish bin by my desk smells like parmesan cheese. I've just discovered that even though our janitorial staff does actually empty the trash cans, they don't...empty them. They clearly just shake the bin into a trash bag to get out the rubbish out without having to change the bag. This is a great way of saving rubbish bags but, well, if you have three day old parmesan cheese that might have been part of your arugula-salad-with-lemon-juice-and-parmesan lunch on Monday, it's not necessarily good that they saved the bag. Also, I noticed there are a lot of cherry pits stuck to the bag. This means chances are my desk will also smell a bit cherry-like only not so fresh very soon. Exciting. Or...you know...not.

I suppose given that I sit quite near the "men's" bathroom, there could be (and have been) far worse smells drifting out. This is where I find it endearing that our new HR manager has been trying now for over two months to remedy that. She's one of these optimistic people who came into our company thinking she could get everyone to immediately do things her way. She clearly doesn't know our company. People here are...set in their ways. They know what they like, how they like it and that's that. It's not a bad thing but it's something you learn after a little observation. Our HR person didn't seem to quite get that just as she didn't seem to accept that the bathroom was really the "men's" bathroom.

I'm using the quotes around the word "men's" because we work in a converted house. There are four bathrooms in the building but unlike in a commercial building, they're not designated Men or Women's; they're just normal little bathrooms like you see in a house. However, it's understood that two of them are more 'male oriented' and two of them are girly, given away by the presence of lotions and other nice feminine smelly products in them. For some reason, our HR person doesn't like to climb the flight of stairs to get to the nice "women's" bathroom the way the rest of us females do. She uses the "men's" bathroom. Of the two "men's" bathrooms, this is most clearly a male one. It's sparse, the seat is always up and, frankly, as a woman, I would rather not use it at all unless it was an extreme emergency. I'm not sexist, I just prefer not to use this bathroom because it's a little...nasty.

HR Lady, bless her optimistic heart, hasn't given up though. She has this Bath and Body Works room spray in a "Warm Vanilla Sugar" scent that she has put in the men's bathroom in hopes that it makes it a little...uh...'friendlier'. The men, being 99% of the population that uses this bathroom, naturally, ignore the spray. I don't think they're doing it to be rude; I just think that in the masculine mind, things like that don't exist and thus they have a small cloak of invisibility that masks them from the men's awareness level. Nascar does that for me as does a lot of more "male" type stuff. Golf, for example. I know there's golf and Nascar races on the TV but when I'm scrolling through the Direct-TV guide, my mind slips straight over them in favour of something I want to watch, not really aware that it's doing so.

Same thing for our office men and Warm Vanilla Sugar room spray. Periodically, HR Lady will come through with her spray and say, "no one uses this!" as though she's shocked! Then she will inevitably squirt it into our cubicle area because we're close to the bathroom just to prove that it does, in fact, smell nice.

Thing is, it doesn't smell that nice. It's never been on of my favourite Bath and Body Works' scents because it's cloying and makes me want to drink a lot of water. It's not hideous but it tends to give me the start of one of those headaches that exposure to heady scents gives a lot of people. My cubicle-neighbour, on the other hand, is extremely sensitive to smells and will get a headache if I or her neighbour on the other side of her cubicle wears perfume. So when that spray is spritzed into our air...well, it's never pretty.

Yet it hasn't deterred HR lady from her quest of trying to get the men to use it. She's tried to coerce them into using it by teasing. They politely chuckle at her and go on to their bathroom business, conveniently forgetting to use the Warm Vanilla Sugar Room Spray. The only time this causes an issue is if they leave the bathroom door open which almost never happens.

I feel bad for HR lady. She's very sweet and really wants to fit in. She's not particularly adept at HR since she was an accountant before she came here but by carrying her copy of Human Resources for Dummies into the office in the morning, I know she's trying to learn. I commend her efforts to learn. Of course, it would probably help her out a little if she didn't carry that book around in front of us since, you know, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence. She can read it but it might be better if we don't know she's reading it, if you know what I mean.

Still, I'm enjoying her try to fight her uphill battle with her room spray. Most of us quitters would give up and just start using the women's bathroom upstairs but not our HR lady. She's determined to win over those men. Maybe if she tried another scent?

Happy Thursday...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse: Now Those are REAL Vampires...

This week is going fast. I rarely say that but, for once, it's true. Maybe it's because I bought a house, maybe it's because it's busy at work suddenly but...whatever it is, it's already Wednesday and the week is almost half over.

Sometimes it seems like the week is going too fast, like I get home from work, work out, make dinner and it's almost time for bed. Of course, that may be because I'm having fun reading at the moment and I love to go to bed early and read until I'm ready for sleep. I think I mentioned that I'm working my way through the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series at the moment. I'm on book five already. They're so easy and fun to read, I'm having to pace myself. I feel like, suddenly, it's ok to like vampires again.

I've always liked vampires. I used to read this series when I was young called "The Little Vampire" by Angela Somer-Bodenburg. They were about a vampire child named Rudolph who was too young to drink human blood but was from a family of ancient vampires. He introduces his family to Tony, his new human friend and, naturally, adventures ensue. After that series came Dracula, naturally and then Anne Rice. I loved the first four books in the Vampire Chronicles. I read the ones that she wrote after those and with each one, the mysterious, romantic and erotic world she created began to suddenly be beyond ridiculous. Lestat lost his sexy bad-boy appeal and became almost as whiny as Louis, the narrator of Interview with a Vampire.

Then I stopped reading vampire books for a while. There was plenty of other fiction out there. Sure, I read Salem's Lot, Stephen King's rather creepy foray in the vampire genre. I played vampire video games with my brother, Dracula Unleashed being our favourite. Yet I stopped searching for vampire fiction.

Then, of course, came Twilight and it's subsequently and increasingly awful sequels. While I've blogged about the fact that, if I'd been a sixteen year old girl, I'd have probably liked the novels more, I'm not a sixteen year-old and thus I think the novels are pretty awful. I've blogged about the books already and why I think they're awful so I won't go into that again. Yet, I can safely say, now I'm reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, I can point my finger at Stephanie Meyer and say, "Lady, did you think of ANYTHING original?"

Sookie's been around a fair bit longer than Bella, the whinier, more helpless heroine of the Twilight series. She's a telepath whereas in Twilight, Edward Cullen is the telepath. Sookie doesn't have many friends because people are freaked out by her mind-reading ability. Bella doesn't have many friends because she's annoying and whiny and falls in love with a vampire because there's not much else to do in rainy Forks. Sookie's boss and sometimes-crush is her boss, Sam who happens to be a shapeshifter and proves himself a loyal friend to Sookie. Bella's friend, Jacob, is a loyal friend to Bella and also happens to be a werewolf. That is, to say, in the first three books, he's a werewolf. In Breaking Dawn, Stephanie Meyer decides he and his co-werewolves are now shapeshifters because, well, why not arbitrarily change a character at the last minute?

I could continue on. There are more than a few more similarities between the books. In the very first book of the Sookie series, Dead Until Dark, Sookie describes how the vampires skin seems to glow, how the vampires are all beautiful. It turns out that it makes it much easier to get human prey that way. Interestingly enough, in Twilight, the vampires are described as having glowy skin and are stunningly beautiful because, you know, it makes it easier to get prey that way. I'll give Meijer kudos for getting around that pesky traditional " the sun kills vampires" lore; in her books, the sun makes the vampires sparkle "like they've been dusted with diamonds" and that's why they have to stay out of it because otherwise humans would realize they were vampires.

I know that, really, much of Charlaine Harris' vampire/supernatural creature lore is not original. Vampires are cold because..they're dead. Werewolves run hotter than humans because...they're part wolf and plenty more. Yet Harris presents it in such a fun, matter-of-fact way that you can almost believe there are vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves and fairies hiding in the moss-dripping trees of the Louisiana Bayou.

The other thing about her books is that...they're sexy. I'm not faulting Stephanie Meyer for the fact that her books are rated PG that even the pillow-tearing, headboard-breaking 'sex scene' has all the sensuality of a Victorian teaparty. It's nice that she can give our over-sexed teenagers something to obsess over that isn't about sex but is about love.

Yet, I'm not a teenager and I quite like reading a good sex-scene and, let me tell you, Charlaine Harris is the queen of the good sex-scenes. I never much cared for Bill, Sookie's vampire boyfriend, because I thought him a wee bit drippy yet in bed, I quite liked Bill. Of course, then there's Eric. I had to turn the air conditioning on when I got to book four because, let me tell you, it might not be literature but it is fun. And really, really...uh....hot.

I realize my mother reads my blog. Fortunately, my mother doesn't seem to get shocked when I bring up sex as I do every so often. So I don't think she's going to say, "Captain Monkeypants, I raised you better than that!" Also, she and my dad watch True Blood, the HBO adaptation of the novels so she knows what they're about. I'm going to loan them to her, in fact.

So, anyway, I guess the purpose of today's blog is to recommend the Sookie books if you're into fun reads. I have to give credit to two friends (and loyal blog readers) who recommended I read them. You know who you are...and I thank you both, Mrs. Future Texan and Mrs. Likes-Twilight-a-Little-Too-Much-But-You're-Completely-Forgiven-For-Sending-Me-Your-Sookie-Stackhouse-Books.

Granted, the books aren't at the level of, say, Jane Austen but even she has been adapted to fit the modern world with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Is it too hard to imagine Mansfield Park Full of Vampires or Sense and Sensibility And Fangs? I, personally, don't think so. Also, I think that would be intriguing. Probably horribly wrong...but intriguing.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Agency to Help you Cheat on Your Spouse; Whatever Will They Think of Next?

So I bought a house last night. I have the key and everything. After about 45 minutes of signing papers to the point that my hand ached, I was handed a stack of papers and a front door key. The little old lady from whom I purchased my new home will be leaving as of next Monday at 3 p.m., much earlier than I'd expected.

Of course, given that I have a conference at work from Monday to Friday out of town, I'm not going to get in there until the following weekend. Timing in life is always interesting, isn't it?

Still, it's my house now, for better or worse. Nine months after moving across country, I'm a homeowner. It's a scary thing to say. Yet it's also growing on me. Give me a month of driving backwards and forwards between my apartment and the house and I'm going to be ready to be settled in. I can now do things I've always wanted: Doing my laundry in machines that don't take quarters but actually belong to me, owning a grill that I'm allowed to use, not hearing the sounds of vigorous sex coming from above me, parking my car in a garage that will release me from the nuisance of having to scrape it when it gets icy out. It's a beautiful thing, at least for now until reality sets in.

Anyway, so there's really not much to say about that until I'm actually in my house. So I'll babble about other things. Something, in particular, actually. This morning, I was lying in bed and my radio went off. I'm back to listening to the awful Gamble and Finn in the mornings because the little high school station I found is no longer pick-up-able. All I get is static. I turn them off pretty quickly and put the TV news on instead but they do wake me up.

This morning, I happened to catch a commercial that, for a moment, I thought was a joke. Then I realized...it's real. It's for a dating-type agency called Ashley Madison. I say dating-type agency because it's more of a...hook up agency than traditional dating. You see, it matches up married people or people in relationships who are looking for a fling.

The agency makes a very big point of stating they don't promote infidelity but the fact of that matter is that married people get bored and rather than start having an office affair or an affair with someone single that could get hurt, why not match them up with other bored married people.

I realize now that I'm a bit of an old fashioned Monkeypants because there's a voice inside my head shouting "WHAT. THE. HELL?" Ok, so I get that people get bored in their marriage. I get that sometimes the sex blows and that people are looking for something more lively. I get that sometimes people wonder if they did the right thing and want to make sure they're happily married.

I'm sure I'll probably come across as rather dull and clearly never been married but there's a reason I've never been married: I haven't found someone I could marry yet. Don't get me wrong, I could probably have been married a couple of times by now. The closest I came was probably in college and he was a great guy but I was just too young and wasn't ready to settle down. Yet the mere fact that I'm not married pretty much should prove that I'm not about to make a choice that would lead me to, say, the Ashley Madison Hook-Up agency because I wasn't happy in my marriage. I'd rather not be married than have to deal with that idea.

The fact of that matter is people have affairs. I think part of the attraction is the illicit nature of them; they're covert, they're sneaky...they're hidden. Part of the allure is the danger in having the affair. I think there's more sexual attraction generated because it is an affair rather than the fact that there's a man and woman with undeniable chemistry. I'm not advocating marital infidelity either but the sad fact is that people cheat on their spouses. I'm not encouraging it, just stating the obvious.

It's never ok. I don't think that someone should cheat on their spouse or significant other. In a perfect world, people who realize they're not happily married should realize that early on in the relationship, try to fix it and if that doesn't work, move on. Yet it's not a perfect world. Cheating provides an ideal way to deal with an unhappy relationship, make yourself happy and no one gets hurt.

Except they do, every day. Sooner or later, the spouse/significant other will find out and it'll be ugly. There will be confrontations. There will be distrust and nothing can be done to fix it. No matter how many times the cheater apologizes, even if he/she breaks off the affair, the damage is done and no amount of concealment can truly get rid of the scar.

And now there's Ashley Madison, an agency for the sociopaths among us. Are there really couples who are completely ok with the idea of cheating? Is it supposed to be an agency for the more 'modern thinking,' people who swing, who don't mind a bit of casual sex? Or do these people have the affair, become riddled with guilt and doubt that they're doing something wrong? Does it become a relationship outside of the person's marriage-relationship? In which case...what if they get bored with their Ashley Madison hook-up? Does the cheating circle continue?

I guess I just don't understand it. If you get married, you get married. There's a commitment to honour, no matter how boring or bad it seems. I get that some people don't believe in divorce but, then, um, shouldn't they not believe in cheating either? I get that some people don't have the courage to get out of an unhappy marriage but is it really better to pay an agency to help you cheat? How do you explain that to your kids? "Sorry, darlings but your daddy and I are staying together because we want you to be happy. However, every now and again, you might see one of us with an Auntie Ashley or an Uncle Madison. Just ignore that, ok?"

Yes, because that's SO much better for the kids. Yes, I know that Ashley Madison probably also promotes discretion. Yet does that mean if you don't get caught, it's ok?

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not talking about sex and being a prude about that. If couples want to swing, power to them but at least let it be a joint discussion. No, this isn't a blog about the immorality of sex, it's a blog about how flabbergasted I am that in a world where gay couples still can't completely be together because the law says so, it's ok for married couples to pay an agency to help them cheat.

There seems to be something a little upside-down about that. Feel free to disagree.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Step in Admitting I'm an Adult...

It's Monday again. It comes around too fast. I mean, you barely have time to register it's the weekend and then, bam!, off goes the Monday morning alarm.

I like Mondays where I can ignore the alarm. However, until I either become independantly wealthy, win the lottery or write a mega blockbuster-book, I'm not likely to be able to ignore it unless I take a vacation day here and there.

Still, it's the start of a new week. I should look at that as a positive thing. I close on my house this evening, if all goes well. Tomorrow I'll be a homeowner. I can't lie and say the idea doesn't fill me with a little fear. It means I'm a grown-up again. I like pretending I'm not. I like hiding behind my Green Day albums and monkey pajamas and ignoring the fact that I'm a thirty-something. However, I can't really avoid being a grown-up now. The time has come for me to stop renting and start investing in equity. Or that's what people keep telling me. I'm not 100% sure what having equity will do for me but I'm sure if I look on Wikipedia, I can find out. It seems like a good thing, anyway.

So, Monday is a big day for me. After that, it should feel like a relief and I can start getting excited about my new place. Of course, I can't actually get in to my new house yet because one of the reasons I won the bid is because I gave the little old lady who currently owns the property a couple of weeks extra to move out after we closed. I can't begrudge her that. As a widow moving far away, she needs time to pack up properly and say goodbye to her home. Though I will say it would be rather nice if I could at least look at the house without her watching me. That was the problem each time I looked at the home; she never left and so it wasn't like I could walk around and poke into closets. It's still her home, even if she is selling it. I suppose someone bolder than me would have no problem with it but, to me, it felt intrusive. Also, since she watched my every move, it was a little off-putting.

So, when she goes and I get my key, I'll actually be able to wander around, seeing how much work needs to be done immediately and what I can put off until I've moved in. I think I've already picked some paint colours for the rooms that need to be painted because the walls are grubby.

Of course, there is another side to my fear than just me realizing I'm an adult now. It's the fact that it means I'm putting down roots. I might have mentioned before that sometimes I have a little trouble with commitment. I tend to shy away from it because the idea of 'settling', of not having the option to change my mind in a hurry...that scares me a little. It means I can't run back to L.A. because I'm bored in the Midwest. Well, I could but I'd REALLY have to make sure I wanted to because selling a house isn't easy. It means I'm here for a while, it means Ohio is my new home. Literally.

I'm trying to be happy about these things but it's a change for me. Yet if the change feels right, maybe it'll reflect more of a willingness to commit in other areas of my life. Maybe I'll finally be able to date more seriously without being afraid that I might be making the wrong choice for both him and for me. Who knows? All I do know is that I'm at an exciting fork in the road of my life. I don't really have a choice in my direction any more. I am doing this; I am buying a house.
Yep. Those words are still a little scary. I think it's time for a chair-boogie to recover.

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Art of Arranging a Face After a Chair-Boogie...

It's finally Friday. I wonder how many people say that on a Friday after a long work week? I know that I, for one, am very glad. It's definitely been one of those weeks even though I only worked four days.

I did end up having my dance party yesterday. In fact, I'm having one today as well. I've found that as long as I don't flail too much, people tend not to notice my chair-boogie-ing as long as I curtail it when I hear people about to pass by. I've actually discovered it's a great way to get rid of the crabbiness of a gloomy morning. Yesterday, I was in a foul mood because my morning alone-time had gone away. Yet after a heavy session of the chair-boogies, I was grinning like a loon.

Of course, when I do that, grin like a loon, that is, I have noticed people do look a little worried. They get a wary look in their eyes and sort of back off. I'm guessing I might look a tad crazy because I have a big old grin on my face. People tend not to like it when someone's smiling and they don't know why. It worries them, as though there's something they're missing. It's not like I'm about to tell them that I had a refresh dance in my chair to Green Day's "Static Age" song and it made me feel significantly chipper. Instead, it's my little secret that I've taken to inventing new dance moves that can only be conducted properly when sitting in an office chair at a computer.

See, I just had a dance and now I'm grinning and I bet when my other coworker comes in, she'll say, "oh-oh, what's wrong?" because apparently, when I grin, it's alarming.

I'm not sure what to do about that. Despite the fact that I do gripe a lot, I'm actually not a constantly miserable person. In fact, most of the time I'm actually quite upbeat. I just don't walk around telling jokes and being chipper. I've been told that I often look angry when I'm concentrating when, in actuality, I'm concentrating. That's actually made me extremely annoyed, to be honest. When I'm working and focusing on my task, I don't have time to arrange my face properly. I tend not to think about it because, you know, I have other things to think about like work. Yet, in the past, people have said, "What's wrong!" when they've seen me in a concentrating phase which, instantly, both manages to distract me and irritate me.

Still, there's not much I can do about it. I could sit there and focus on making my face look more pleasant and grinning wildly as I work but I guarantee if I did that, people would still ask what was wrong because I'd be smiling and, honestly, who actually grins wildly the entire time they're doing a task at work?

I had another coworker in L.A. who had the same problem. People would always tell him he looked pissed-off even when he was just working. So he bought one of those smiles on a stick and would hold it up to his mouth whenever someone came into his office and said that. I liked him; he was a bit crabby most of the time but it was a familiar crabbiness and his sense of humour made me laugh a lot.

I have a different batch of coworkers these days. I like them a lot. For the most part it's a fun group of people all with unique personalities but a lot of fun. They're very different from my L.A. coworkers/friends. In L.A., there were a lot of single thirty-somethings in my department and that was perfectly normal. In the Midwest, almost all of the people in my age group are married or getting married. It's a different atmosphere but it's not a bad thing. In a way, it's comfortable. I'm long used to being the lone single in a group. The fact that there is at least one other person in my department who is single is a nice thing. Of course, that automatically means that because we're friends, people often wonder about us. It wouldn't be the first time that because I hang out with another female a lot, people assume I'm a lesbian and my friend is my partner. I find that highly amusing. I'm definitely not gay. I like men a lot; I just don't meet men that much and, when I do, they tend to eat crayons or only have been divorced for a month. Just because I have female friends does not mean I am gay. It's sad when your own brother admits that he wondered for a while too. Mostly, I was just amused.

Anyway, I digress. It's a gloomy Friday and I have a meeting in five minutes which means I only have a quick moment for a chair-dance. Which I'm doing right now as I blog because I'm good at multi-tasking. I'm already feeling better and feel like grinning again. I'll probably scare my boss in my meeting. He's mentioned that I look suspicious when I smile. I should be annoyed by that but actually, I kind of like that. Nothing like scaring your boss a little.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

To Dance Party or Not to Dance Party, That is the Question...

I woke up to a very loud thunderstorm this morning. It was one of those storms that was amazing to listen to while lying in bed: The heavy beat of the rain, the roar of the thunder and the constant flash of the lighting. It was magnificent. This is one of the things I missed while I lived in Southern California. The fury of a spring/summer storm is something to behold here in the midwest.

Now I'm in the office and trying very hard to keep up my more positive attitude. Normally, I get into the office and I have the first hour alone. It's a beautiful thing because it gives me a chance to plan for how much I think I can get done that day, see what's on my calendar, drink coffee and just wake up.

Apparently, there's such a thing as a 'summer schedule' for mother's in the office. I suppose it makes sense. Without having to run around, packing their kids onto the bus, they can come in early and leave early. Which means I apparently no longer have my hour of peace. I'm trying to be zen about it. The trouble is when you're not 100% enamoured with your job anyway, every little nuisance factor seems a little magnified.

Still, I'm trying to file it away as one of those things which really isn't a major issue, it just requires a readjustment in thinking. Yay. I have company in the mornings. Whoo-hoo.

Ok, so I said it required a readjustment in thinking. I didn't say I'd be able to render sarcasm out of my personality, did I?

So, now I'm here. It's gloomy and rainy outside. I think it's supposed to clear up later but I've stopped believing in weather reports because they're always wrong. What I want to know is how come weather reporters get to be wrong so often and they still have a job? Most of us would get fired if we gave that much wrong information out. And while we're on the subject, I've always found it amusing when they say there's a "50 percent chance of rain." I mean, seriously. Isn't there ALWAYS a 50% chance of rain? It's either going to rain or it's not. That's 50/50 odds. Of course, I'm not great with numbers but on a simplistic level, that makes perfect sense.

I did get word that I'm supposed to close on my house on Monday. I'm waiting for the scary sheet to be emailed that tells how much I'm going to have to pay at closing. This means a big fat check must be written. This means I have no money. But I'll have a house. That is a good thing....right? I'll be a homeowner. Scary. A year ago I hadn't even figured out where and when I was going to move back to the Midwest. Now I'm buying a house. Life moves quickly, I'm seeing that more every day.
Lately, my blogs have been rambling rather than focused on a specific topic. I have contemplated giving up the blog. I enjoy writing it but I don't get too many people reading it and I wonder if there's much point. Yet it is therapeutic and it is a way for me to get some writing in almost every day so I'll have to think about that a little more before I decide.

Yet, rambly or not, blogging is fun for me. Writing, generally, is fun for me provided I don't get bogged down in the reality of trying to become a published writer. I'm working on a short story at the moment. I have no idea if it's any good but it felt good to write last night. It's been a while since that happened and I'm grateful to have the feeling back.

There's a lot of things I'm grateful for in my life which is why I often feel bad for complaining so much. Hence, on this rainy gloomy morning, I'm going to attempt NOT to complain about the fact that I no longer have my alone time to get work done. Instead, I'm going to ignore the fact that there's anyone here besides me.

I still better not have a private dance party like I sometimes do in the mornings though. It's nice to spin in my chair and boogie to the frenetic tones of Green Day on my iPod. Even if I ignore my coworker, there are limits to how much I can do so. She's not the type to write me off as being wacky and funny. She'd more than likely pronounce me an attention-seeker who was odd for the sake of being odd. She does that quite often. Sadly, I'm naturally odd. I've tried to fight it but sometimes you have to give in.

Dance party it is.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kerplunk....Green Day, Work and the luck of Diablo Cody

It's rainy, gloomy and thunderstormy out there today. The morning waited to begin this gloom until after I was out of bed a fact for which I am actually quite grateful. It's much harder to get up when you hear the pelt of the rain against the window and the crack of the storm outside. When you're already up and deciding what to wear, it's not so bad. In fact, it's quite helpful.

I'm going to try not to let the gloom affect my mood. I'm not feeling gloomy today. I'm no more enamoured with my job than I was yesterday but somewhere between my attempt to attack my job with enthusiasm and gusto and today, I realized that sitting there whining about having nothing to do is actually not a very Monkeypants thing to do. I'm generally a self-starter. I don't need someone to give me projects. I'm usually quite good at making up my own. I think I've been tripping over the fact that even after nine months, I'm still the new Captain Monkeypants on the block and I've been afraid to overstep my bounderies.

I recognize this place. It's the time in my job where I stop worrying about getting in trouble for doing the wrong thing and I start making decisions on my own and standing by my decision. It's also the time where I start figuring out how to tell my boss what to do. I'm a bit of a bully sometimes but it works quite well. I'm not mean; I just know what I want. And, at the moment, what I want is to be respected and needed in my position, not to sit here any longer realizing that if I didn't show up for work, the only people who'd notice were my office-mates who'd notice it was nice and quiet.

So, armed with this attitude, I'm feeling better about things. The 'busy work' needs to get done and if I sit here waiting for my coworker to help, I'll be waiting forever. Someone has to do it and that someone is me. Don't you feel like there should be some triumphant anthem swelling behind my bravado?

I'm fed up of blogging about work anyway. I think it's time to talk about something else. I'm not sure what that will be there. Let's see...I could blog about Green Day. I happened to listen to an online webcast of KROQ's "Breakfast with Green Day." I confess, it made me sad. If I hadn't moved to Ohio, I would have found a way to be at that breakfast. I got to do it with Linkin Park a couple of times. Green Day would have been way better. Not to say that Linkin Park aren't good but they're my number two band. Green Day are number one.

One of the interesting things I discovered was that Green Day named one of their new songs on their 21st Century Breakdown album, "East Jesus Nowhere." It turns out that the band had another name for the song but they saw Diablo Cody, writer of the movie Juno wearing a Green Day Kerplunk t-shirt and renamed their song after a quote from Juno. I happen to think that is pretty cool. Lucky Diablo Cody. I have no idea if she really is a fan of Green Day or she's one of those people who liked the design: A punky looking girl holding a gun. I know Diablo likes New Kids on the Block and lots of bad reality TV because she writes a column for Entertainment Weekly every once in a while. Again, lucky Diablo Cody. I'd love to write for EW. At the very least, I'd like to have Lisa Schwartzbaum's job since she irritates me every week with her bizarrely overworded reviews that often forget to mention the movie itself much at all.

Either way, whether Diablo is a fan of Green Day or she liked the shirt, I think it's pretty cool that Green Day are still in touch with the world enough to do that. There are a lot of big bands and solo singers who see themselves as seperate from their audience, like because they're rock stars/pop stars/country stars, they're better than the people who pay to see them in concert. I don't get that from Green Day or Linkin Park. That's one of the reasons I enjoy their music so much: Because the people behind it are real people.

One of these days I'd love Green Day to name a song after something I wrote. That would be pretty fantastic. In the meantime, I'll just continue to listen to them and get inspired to write. That's one thing I love about music in general; one song can create a novel in my head. There's a lot to be said about that.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Which I Attempt to Look Upon my Job with Enthusiasm and Gusto

I'm back in the office today. While I'd love to be overjoyed about that...it's the office. It's hard to be overjoyed about my cubicle. I'm really trying. Sometimes I do thinks like have a mini dance party to try to make it seem more lively but I have to be careful that the people coming down the stairs don't see me. I'm already getting a bit of a reputation for being odd although I think it was phrased more as 'dramatic'.

I'm also horribly afraid that I'm getting a reputation for being a complainer. One of my flaws is that I'm impatient. If I'm supposed to be working on something, I expect those who are supposed to be working with me to work. Unfortunately, that's not always the case so I have to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for something to happen. Lately, I seem to have little to do. I'm not bragging about this. I hate not having much to do. I need to be busy, I need to have deadlines otherwise I become a chronic internet surfer. It's not like I haven't tried to find work to do. I told my boss I needed more projects so he gave me one. I finished it.

I'm going to try to focus on the 'busy work' that I have to do. I do have some projects but it's nothing urgent, nothing that people will even notice is getting done.

My problem is that when my mind is not engaged in a project, I surf the internet. A lot. I will be working but I'll also have at least one web window open where I'm researching or reading an article. This is fine provided I'm getting my work done. It's also fine as long as the company president isn't pulling the internet logs. Unfortunately, I heard a rumour he is. If he looks at mine, he might have a fit. I do surf a lot but, in my defense, I'm working at the same time. I just have a touch of ADD when my brain is melting from the dullness of my work.

I'm going to try to throw myself into my busy work with gusto today. We'll see how that works out. I no longer have to run home at lunch to tend to a needy little dog. Who, incidentally, I miss horribly. I complained about him last week but having him around was rather nice and I missed his company last night. It was just so quiet in my flat. My parent's get back tonight so hopefully he can resume his normal pattern of eating and sleeping without too much more upheaval.

On days like this where only mind-numbing duties lie before me, I remind myself how fortunate I am to have a job. I have a paycheck. At the moment, I have a light workload. There are people who would beat me up and sit on me for complaining about something so minor as not having work to do. They'd probably be right. I deserve to be sat on for complaining so much. It's just that I see all the work that needs to get done and I feel like I could help. Yet aside from offering, which I've already done, there's little action I can take without permission.

Thus, I shall now attempt to not compulsively surf the internet and I shall throw myself into my exciting project with full abandon and enthusiasm. And a lot of coffee.

Wish me luck with that.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Musings

It's a gloomy Monday morning but I can't complain. I took today as a vacation day from work and so, for once, I got to sleep in through the gloom.

Naturally, I didn't get to sleep in as much as I'd like. During his time with me in my apartment, I spoiled Sausage by allowing him to sleep in my bed. However, now we're back in his home, my parent's house, he doesn't have that luxury and he's not taking too kindly to it. He likes to bark very loudly from the foot of the stairs which is my wake-up call.

Nevertheless, I don't mind him barking anymore. It's not going to disrupt my neighbours and so I can relax and stop worrying about the dog.

Now I can start worrying about closing on my new house next week. So far, things aren't going quite as smoothly as I hoped. My mortgage broker has turned all my paperwork over to his underwriter. This would be good except...she seems to have lost a lot of my paperwork. I keep getting emails from her asking for things like my paystubs. I've given them every paystub I had for the past four months. Also, she's not terribly pleasant about it. I'm sure it's just because it's an email but the tone of them seems to imply that it's my fault she doesn't have the paperwork. I'm politely just resending everything to her. I'm hoping it goes through.

If it doesn't, I'm not sure what will happen. I have a conference at work coming up the week after I'm supposed to close. After that, the little old lady living in my house is supposed to be moving. I'm not terribly sure what happens if closing is delayed. If it is, I'm not going to be a very happy Monkeypants. I've gone above and beyond to make sure I have everything my mortgage broker could possibly need. He's had over a month and a half to process my loan. Needless to say, I'm trying not to stress but it isn't going well.

Aside from that, the weekend went nicely. Sausage and I arrived at my parent's on Saturday night. We watched some lovely recorded episodes of "Iron Chef America". Also, I've been addictively watching "True Blood" and to my delight, HBO ran the last couple of episodes last night so I didn't have to wait for my Netflix. It's a bit of a silly show but I rather enjoyed it. I'm having a little trouble wondering why Sookie Stackhouse doesn't pick Sam the Sshapeshifter over Bill the Vampire because, frankly, Bill's a bit of a drip. However, it's still fun to watch. The only problem is it makes me want to walk around talking in a Southern accent. Given that I have mostly a British one, this would be a little odd.

This is one of my more random posts, for which I apologize. Sometimes I have a topic in mind; other times, you get these more rambly blogs. Tomorrow, I'll probably be back on track being free from the responsibility of The Sausage as my parent's return from the U.K. tomorrow. I'm still thinking about having him move in with me when I get my house but we'll see. It depends on how much I like my carpet.

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Home is Where my Bed is, Contentment is where my Heart Lies...

It's Friday today and I'm in a far better mood than I was yesterday. I apologize for that by the way; some days you just wake up crabby and moody and the shadow of the day never quite goes away.

Today seems better though. The mere fact that it's a Friday helps. I had a nice relaxing evening with Sausage last night, ordering pizza, watching a little "True Blood," and catching up with a good friend on the phone. That's always a mood enhancer.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. I have a bridal shower tomorrow and after that, I'm heading to my parent's to house-sit/drop of The Sausage. In a way, I'll be sad to lose him from my apartment. Aside from the stress of having to leave him alone all day, having those liquid brown eyes following me with adoration (even if he is really just waiting for a snack), is a lovely thing. Last night while eating my pizza, I was sitting on the floor. He was on the sofa behind me and he just put his head on my shoulder. It was a nice moment. It's about as much of a Marley and Me moment than I'll ever get.

As of Monday, I'll be a dog-less singleton again. I'm going to start packing to move though when I look around, I feel like much of what I need to pack can just be taken as I need it. I can pack my media up, my CD's, my books, my DVD's. I can take my Christmas decorations and storage-type items. But when do you decide when to take things like cookware, silverware, bathroom stuff? I use all that now. It's going to be a balancing act between when I decide to physically move into the house and move out of my apartment. When my bed goes, I go. That's pretty much all there is to it, I suppose. I always say home is where my bed is. I have a bed at my parents. Thus...I have two homes.

Given that it's a Friday, I'm prone to ramble. I'm rambling now. I was reading a friend's blog today. She just bought a unicycle and juggling pins and is going to bartending school. She recently graduated with honours from college with double degree in Engineering and Philosophy. She has decided she doesn't want a 9-5 job and is now exploring different paths in life. I'd like to admire her for that but mostly, I can't help thinking how lucky she is to have friends and family who are supporting her as she goes through a stage in life many of us go/went through. I graduated with a degree in Technical Theatre. When I left school I became...a legal secretary. I wanted to go to law school, you see and that was my way of figuring out if I really wanted it or if it was a the effect of reading too much John Grisham. It turned out to be the Grisham effect because I realized law was boring. I moved on to other fields, medical, journalism, video production, market research and various other fields. I had my writing ephiphany and from then onwards, I realized it wasn't about how I earned my paycheck, just that I liked my job enough to keep doing it so I could keep writing.

I'm reminding myself of that now. I'm letting this job trip me up, fall into a pit of insecurity because I'm just not being utilized enough. I need to remember that while I need to like my job, it isn't where my heart will ever truly be. My heart is mentally sitting at a computer, the sun pouring in while I hold a cup of coffee, a warm brown Sausage dog at my feet and a novel open on the screen. I can have that no matter where I'm working and when I picture that, I realize it's not so much about getting a good review from Publisher's Weekly, it's not about debating with acolytes of Nathan Bransford about craft vs. profession and what makes us writers and it's not about those rejection slips I get regularly. It's about that level of contentment in knowing I have the power to create anything on that Word document.

I hope my friend discovers that somewhere between learning to ride a unicycle, juggling and going to bartending school. I hope that someday, just as I did, she wakes up and realizes that working in an office, working a regular day isn't imprisonment, it's a means to support the things in life you really want to do. It'd be nice if we could all have our dream job but sometimes we think we know what that is and then, when we have it, we realize it's not what we thought it would be. For me, that was theatre. I loved it. I love it still. But I got burned out from it, I got tired of working 18 hour days, tired of seeing the magic of the theatre in it's realistic, down-and-dirty reality. I still love it and wouldn't mind doing some light theatre work but when I actually got to do it, I realize it wasn't my dream job.

I'm sure there is such a thing as a dream job. Right now, I think it would be nice to get paid to blog. I'd love to be a television blogger; I do that occasionally on my Captain TV blog but not as often as I'd like to. I still get to do it though, I just don't get paid for it. So, in a way, I am doing my dream job, blogging here every day, blogging sporadically there. I just don't earn a living from it. Yet when I do it, my heart is there and I am happy. Contentment is where my heart lies and it lies with writing. It's a nice realization.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A "Five Things" Kind of Day....

I think I'm in a bad mood today. I can blame it on the fact that I'm tired or I can blame it on the fact that lately, things just haven't been going the way I planned. I suppose I should be glad that life isn't predictable but, at the same time, it's nice when I know I'm going to have a good day or at least have good things happening.

Part of it is work. No matter what I do, I seem to be treading water here. I tried talking to my boss to tell him I wanted more responsibility and he greeted that idea positively. Yet, all of the projects seem to be falling to my co 'team member' who has been here much longer than me and likes to have job security so she never says no.

I like job security too but given that I currently have maybe two projects to do, neither of which could make or break my company, I'm beginning to wonder what's going on. I keep getting told there's a learning curve here and that after a year, I'll be given more work. I thought this was nice at first. Now I realize it's just a little....silly. I'm perfectly capable of handling a heavy workload. I have skills to offer. I'm willing. So...why wait? I mean, ok, so it's their payroll but if you have an employee that has asked for more work, does it really make sense from a business viewpoint to keep that employee with a light workload? It's nice...sure but....it's a for-profit business too. It's just not making much sense to me.

I've realized that being happy in a job affects my life a lot. I don't want it to. I want to go home and put the workday behind me but I've never been able to do that. Instead, I dwell. I hate that I dwell.

If I was writing at the moment, I'd be better. I could convince myself that my true passion is writing and my day job doesn't matter. I'm not writing though. I'm trying but I have to climb out of a very large hole that Amazon.Com, Publishers Weekly and my own self-doubt dug for me. I shouldn't have to but the hole is there and whenever I think I'm ready to clambour out, I look over at my shelf of unpublished manuscripts, the slew of rejection emails I have and just sit back down in that hole. It's quiet there. Quiet and dark and there's no pressure.

I can't sit in that hole forever though. I have to write something again soon. Something with a beginning, a middle and an end. It's not a lofty goal. At least, it didn't use to be.

Sorry I'm a bit of a misery-guts today, as my mother would say. I'm just feeling a lot of inner turmoil and stress. With my parents away, my friends constantly busy and my siblings all occupied with their own lives, the only outlet I have at the moment is in the form of a long, brown dachshund who is good company but doesn't provide much comfort unless I'm holding something edible in my hand. I keep hoping he'll have one of those "Marley and Me" moments where he'll sense I'm having a cruddy day and just sit with me but Sausage is...a little dense. He doesn't get it.

Yet I'm starting to enjoy having him around. He's starting to get used to being around too, I think. I only have two days left with him before I can take him back to his real home. I will miss having him around for the company though leaving home alone in his crate is hard. I hate doing that to him but it's for both of our own goods. My torn carpet is evidence of that.

On days like this I have a little tradition. I remind myself that my life is pretty good compared to most and to prove it, I make myself name five things that I love in my life or for which I am grateful, not including family because that's just a given. Today's top five are: The fact that I'm able to buy a new house, 2) That I'm getting to experience springtime in the Midwest. 3) That I do have a passion for writing even when I'm in a dull spot. 4) My nice Roxy flip-flops that my friend gave me for Christmas because they're comfy and don't make that flip-flop sound. 5) For "Iron Chef America" and "True Blood" for giving me something to enjoy watching during the slow summer TV months.

I forgot to mention that I allow myself to be random in my 'five things'. I could probably come up with a hundred more but those are today's. They remind me that life is never as dark as it seems and that there's always bright spots that make it just that little cheerier, even in the form of flip-flops.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Vampire Trend

It is a nasty, damp, steamy day out there. We had thunderstorms last night, not the air-clearing kind but the clinging kind that come in, rumble, rain and then evaporate, leaving the air heavier and stickier than ever.

It's grey and gloomy and feels like a 'stay in bed' type of morning. Unfortunately, I have work commitments and I had to rouse myself. I also had to rouse Sausage who does NOT like to get out of bed until he's ready. He growls gently at me when I make him get up. It makes me laugh. I don't think he means to be funny.

Things are going a little better with the dog. I think he only barks a little in the crate and settles down to sleep after he realizes he's in there for a while. At least, this is what I've convinced myself. There's less guilt involved in that. Doggie day care didn't work out. For one thing, they never called me back and, for another, I realized they'd need proof that Sausage had his vaccinations as a puppy and, naturally, I don't have that proof.

So, it's just me and Sausage for a few more days. We have a routine now, at least I think we do. I get home from work and we walk. He hates walking because he's a lazy dachshund. Once he's done his business, he doesn't see the point of walking anymore. I think exercise is good for him. In disagreement, there will be times during our walks in which he will sit himself down on the grass and refuse to move. Then, when I make him get up, he gives me disgusted looks and trots along until he decides to sit down again. Like I said, we have a routine.

Of course, having a routine with Sausage means my regular routine is a little off-kilter. I haven't been able to write in a while because of house-buying, Washington D.C.-visiting, Sausage-sitting and various other interruptions. Of course, I do recognize the fact that I could still find time to write but...I'm not. I hate that I'm not. I hate that the past few years have spurned a flurry of books from me and this past year has been very thin on the writing front. I love to write. I want to write. It's just been a bad year as far as getting anywhere with my writing. I can blame the economy a little for that. I can also blame my writing for that. I'm writing what I want, not what's popular.

At the moment, I should be writing vampire novels, it seems. That's the trend. People give credit to Twilight and Stephanie Meyer's other vampire books. I don't. Vampires weren't invented by Meyer, they were just Victorian-ized, stripped of their natural eroticism and made sparkley. I'm reading Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books at the moment and enjoying them immensely. Now these books are what vampire books should be: Sexy, funny, witty and clever. While I know the actual writing in them isn't perfect, the beauty of Harris' books is that I don't care. I'm so taken in by the story and the characters that I forget to notice the writing. To me, that's the mark of a good writer, not necessarily the structure, the words, the grammar and the formal side of the craft.

What I love about Charlaine Harris' books is that she has fun writing them. You can jump right into the story and when you're reading them, it seems perfectly natural that vampires have come out of the coffin and are fighting for equal rights in society, that shapeshifters are lurking in the shadows, trying to hide what they really are by keeping a human form, that mythical creatures lurk in the woods. I enjoy reading about Sookie because she acts like a real human; yes, she makes some unwise choices because she's a little naive but...I find it perfectly believable that she would fall in love with a vampire. I also rather like that though she loves the Vampire Bill, she's still horribly disgusted with the more bloodthirsty vamps and the fact that they're actually...you know...dead. She's also declared that she adores sunshine and has no intention of becoming a vampire. I love her for this. Unlike, say, Bella Swann from the Twilight novels who fell for a vampire, is enamored with their beauty and was already begging to be turned into a vamp at the end of the first novel. Sookie also can take care of herself or, at least, thinks she can and tries admirably. She doesn't always needs to be rescued. I like that in a heroine.

Anyway, these are only two of the vampire series flooding the market. In the teen market, in particular, there are multiple other series or stand-alone books on the Barnes and Noble display tables. Next season on TV, a series called The Vampire Diaries is being filmed for the CW network. Now there's talk about a remake of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. If you've seen the first movie, you'll know it was awful. It was bad. It was campy crap that only has significance because it was the springboard for the brilliant TV series by Joss Whedon.

Of course, Joss isn't going to be involved in the movie. From what I'm reading, he wasn't asked and the studio responsible for the stupid idea is hoping to jump on the vampire band wagon. Also, knowing what I know about Joss, he probably said, "what a dumb idea," shrugged, and continued filming Cabin in the Woods or whatever is the name of his new movie. You see, Joss probably knows what all we Buffy fans know. Buffy was only Buffy because of Joss. Take the Whedon out the equation and essentially what you have is...the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie with Donald Sutherland, Luke Perry and Kristy Swanson which...sucked. Joss wrote the script for that movie and was essentially taken out of the equation because the studio so heavily rewrote his script. When the movie bombed, Joss took his idea and made the series which, to me, is still some of the best television ever created.

I know I won't be going to see that movie. What's the point? I've lived in Buffy's world and it's in Sunnydale, California which, blew up at the end of the series. Buffy and the slayers are all around the world these days. That's the Buffy I know. It'd be a little like going to see a remake of Star Wars in which Luke Skywalker was allowed to exist but there could be no Han Solo, Princess Leia or Darth Vadar because the studio didn't have the rights to the characters. Dumb, right?

I could rant all day about this but it won't do any good. Movie studios are greedy. They've long forgotten to make movies for the filmgoers, concentrating instead of the cheapest way to make a lot of money. Fortunately, there are talents like Joss Whedon out there to give us what we really need: Good entertainment that actually makes us think a little at the same time we're laughing.

I've digressed from my original point which is why I stopped writing for a while. I want to wait and see when the wheel of trends turns, what will be next. We've had pirates, wizards and dragons recently...I'm curious to see what's next to be in vogue. Then again, if I get my act together, maybe I can try creating something original that sparks a million other ideas.

You just never know.

Happy Wednesday