Can I Borrow Your Muse?

My friend Kris burned me a CD of Vegas Video 3.0 this weekend. I didn’t want it so much for its DV-editing capabilities as for its audio multitracking. I’ve felt like composing again, for the first time in about four years — I’m planning to hook up my keyboard, and to make some drum tracks on my computer, and to sing into my built-in monitor mic, and make some generally low-fi stuff. When my first song is done, I’ll give a cookie to the first person who can name the artist whose style I’m imitating.

Assuming I ever get it done and feel OK enough about it to post it…

Today at work, Mary (the upper-middle-aged, slightly flaky one) insisted that I must still be losing weight. "How do you do it?" she asked. I felt like telling her that she only notices that I’m losing weight when I wear two particular flattering shirts to work, but I knew she wouldn’t listen. So, I told her what I’ve been doing: walking at least once a day and cutting back on sweets. That’s all I’ve successfully done, anyway. I must admit, though, that it made me feel good to know that someone thinks I look better than I did. Maybe my weight is redistributing itself as I’m losing a little at a time.

Now comes the bitchy part of today’s variegated blog entry. I know A doesn’t read my blog, so I’m going to be blunt and blatant. [Note: I did edit this after the initial post, to back off on the animosity factor. Just in case.]

A blogs at work. A lot.

Yesterday, I decided to write down a play-by-play of all the ways she stalls from doing work vs. all the ways I stall from doing work. Loni, the third cog in our wheel-o-processing, never stalls from doing work. To give you an idea of how our office is set up: I sit at a computer and run checks through a little machine that reads the MICR numbers at the bottom. (This is what I mean by "processing" work.) If I spin in my chair to face my left, there’s another computer there where I fax and e-mail reports to clients, and log what accounts I’ve processed so far. On the other side of this computer, in the next desk/cubicle over, is Loni. Loni and I face the same wall while we’re processing. Behind Loni sits A. Loni and A sit back-to-back while they’re processing, but face the same way — away from me — when they send reports on their other computers. The end result of this setup is that I can see over A’s shoulder when she’s blogging on the computer she should be sending reports from.

Anyway, yesterday’s tally: nine blog-checks. Minimum. Because, see, while I’m processing, I can’t see her unless I do an over-the-shoulder glance just because I hear her keyboard going clickety-clack. And she’s not always posting; sometimes she’s checking to see if anyone’s responded to her post, or she’s checking other people’s blogs, or she’s taking surveys, et cetera. Me: yesterday, I e-mailed Aaron twice and looked at weather.com three times (mainly to discover I wouldn’t be taking my lunchtime walk due to snow).

Today’s tally: twelve blog-checks. Minimum. These were shorter but more frequent than yesterday’s. I only checked weather.com twice, and didn’t e-mail Aaron at all.

I guess my main rant about this is, if you’re going to blog during the workday, you forfeit your right to comment or complain about how long work is lasting. Because we work until all the work is done. Only in rare circumstances can we lock up work and just get back to it tomorrow.

On the flip side of this, though… rarely, if ever, do any of us take our allowed breaks. We take half-hour lunches when we’re alloted a full hour, and we work through our two ten-minute breaks. So, if you look at it like that, stalling at the computer ten times a day for two minutes each time is equal to taking a ten-minute break twice a day. But then you get into the "using Sky Bank resources (i.e. bandwidth) for personal reasons" argument, which I don’t feel like delving into…

Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday, A’s name was chosen out of a hat and she was named Employee of the Month. She (therefore, we, since I’m her ride) would have gotten a parking spot close to the employee door… had she not been a temp. Yep, she got it taken away from her because she isn’t a full-fledged Sky employee. Which kind of sucks in a way, but also made me snicker in a way. The major bad point to this is that her motivation is now at an all-time low. I guess mine would be, too.

OK, A… I guess I’ll know now if you read my blog.

Girl Talk and Power Outages

I got home from work today around 5:30pm, just in time to have missed Aaron before he went off to work himself. Sigh… But on a good note, I noticed that both my giant 20-disc CD-R trade (lots of The Smiths, The Cure, and similar bands) and my order from Lane Bryant had arrived.

Some of you may not know about Lane Bryant, be you a "normal-sized" woman or just a guy. Lane Bryant caters to the larger woman, sizes 14 to 28. — Guys, you’ll be clueless on the size thing. Let’s say that your average height, average weight (not-too-waify, not-too-fat) female is probably a size 12 or so. Maybe a 10.

(Hey, guys? If you’re squeamish about girlie talk, skip down a few paragraphs. I’m going to talk about my new bra now.)

When I was out lingerie-shopping with Sheryl on Saturday, we visited a place called That Special Woman. It’s actually a mastectomy-supply boutique, but they also carry plus-size lingerie and undergarments, to our surprize. When we arrived, the attendant ushered me into a fitting room and took my measurements, then brought me a few actual bras before I could announce my intentions to look for a long-line or bustier. Anyway, I did try on one of the bras she brought in… and holy crap, that thing was comfy! OMFG. It was an underwire, but the cleavage part didn’t stick out all funny like some of them do, and the back was plenty supportive. It didn’t threaten to pull up between my shoulder blades after a few moments of wear.

This bra, I later discovered, cost between $40 and $50. Holy crap.

So… a few days later, I visited lanebryant.com. — Actually, I visited several online stores looking for a bra just like the one I’d tried on, but Lane Bryant was the first and only place where I actually found one in my size. OK, girls, if you have big titties, or you’re a "husky" girl, I recommend this bra. Just like the one I tried on in Toledo, it has full-coverage cups, non-sticky-outtie underwires, a stay-in-place back, and it’s made of a neat-feeling cotton/Lycra blend, too. Honestly… it makes me want to squeeze my boobies like one of those stress-reliever things you see in Spencer Gifts. TMI… sorry. The underwires still get me in the armpits, though. I don’t think there’s any solving that issue.

(Hey, guys? You can come back now. It’s safe.)

After parading around in my new get-up, I reclothed myself, sat down at my computer (which had been left on to allow fellow WinMX’ers to download from me), and prepared to check my e-mail.

Cue loud, echoing, percussive noise from outside and resulting instant silence inside. Only sound: that of my hard drive spinning down. A transformer had blown, and I was in silence (but not yet darkness).

First action: look outside. I saw the neighbors congregating across the street, so I threw on a ratty old black cardigan and some shoes and went out to hobnob. The guy who lives on the corner had already gotten out the cell and phoned the city. Looked like he was still in his work clothes: dress pants, crisp collared shirt. I wandered across to the other neighbors, catty-cornered from us. I met Toby (I think), Danny (short for Danielle?) and her husband Rob (Ron?), and a few others. We chatted for a while about how much we like the neighborhood, how we got to live here, how nice this side of town is (away from the bar crawl), etc. Eventually Toby’s wife had to go get grilling-out supplies, so we all dispersed from their driveway and went back to our own houses.

The power still wasn’t on, and it was almost thinking about getting on to dusk, but not quite. So on to the second action: get out the candles. It’s not dark yet, but who knows when it will be. I’d rather be prepared than fumbling around looking for the lighter. I managed to locate one votive in a tulip-stem holder; two votives in short, roundish holders; one votive in the snowman my Mom gave me for Christmas; and one scented candle-in-a-jar from my grandmother. I lit them all and placed them strategically around the apartment. Then it occured to me that I wanted to go trim the hedges, so I blew them all out but two. 🙂

Watered the houseplants, trimmed the hedges. As I was outside, I saw a relatively rare occurence: there were people outside. Danny, her husband, and their neighbors had started a pick-up game of basketball — "PIG" or "HORSE" or something like that. Neighborhood kids were biking, skateboarding, and inline skating up and down the street, and some of them joined the game. Neighbors peeked their heads out to see if the city had come out yet, and some still milled about, meeting one another.

I finished pruning, went back inside, got my book and headed back out to sit on the front steps. (Or the "front stoop," as my Mom or Memaw would call it.) Reading was actually a facade — I was listening to the b-ball game ("How old are you? Thirteen?"), watching the kids skate up and down the street, quipping very junior-high-ish rips on one another, and eventually watching the city workers fix the transformer up the road. Once my porch light came back on, I retreated back indoors. Others didn’t, though — the game went on, at least until the families’ respective cookouts were ready for consumption.

It occured to me after this minor incident that the invention and maintreaming of electricity was probably one of the first steps toward the decline of the family and community. I won’t say I’d rather be without it, and I won’t say that it’s done more harm than good. I will say, though, that the hour that the block was without electricity was probably the most social hour I’ve seen here.

Think about it: you can’t watch TV, listen to the radio, play PS2/Gamecube/X-Box, play on the internet… what can you do? Read. Do something creative. Socialize. Gossip, even. When it gets dark, you light a candle, read or write by the flickering flame, talk with family, and go to bed. Simple.

The days before electricity had to be so different… it’s hard even to imagine.

T-minus Two Months…

Yep… I’ll be Mrs. Schnuth in about 60 days. Kinda scary in a cool kind of way.

I guess I should keep all the girls who read this updated on the wedding planning thing. Oh, yeah, and maybe Dan and Eric will be moderately interested, too. 🙂

Well, Sheryl has been kind enough to act as a surrogate bridesmaid while I’ve been getting my dress altered, traipsing 20 minutes north to Rossford on Tuesday, then on Saturday, then again a couple weeks from now. She’s also helped me find some appropriate undergarments, since the neat thingy I bought online totally peeks out of the back and armpits of my dress. Gah. Anyway, I’m sure she’s seen more of my pale flesh than she ever bargained for.

I was totally lucky to get as nice of a dress as I did for only $99 on eBay. (The auction’s expired now, but once the wedding’s done and Aaron’s seen the dress, I’ll post up the auction page that I saved.) I’m not used to wearing form-fitting apparel, so the dress actually makes me feel thinner, I think.

Speaking of… Now that I’ve been on a weight-loss kick (sort of) for four or five months, making a graph of my weight as I go, I can really tell when I gain my monthly few pounds. My graph makes a pretty picture like waves now. 🙂 I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’ll look like I do now at the wedding. I won’t look like I did during drumcorps, and I won’t look like I did even five years ago. (Would you believe I put on 50 pounds between 1997 and the year 2000? Seriously. That’s amazing to me. What’s even more amazing is how much longer than that it’ll take to get that weight back off…)

This week’s goal is to take two walks daily, preferably after meals. Should be a good week for it, except for Sunday, when snow flurries may rear their ugly heads.

Man, my writing is all over the place today. I can’t seem to concentrate on one topic long enough to get a good thing going. Bah. Maybe I should go watch the news… although I know what’ll be on.

Getting Old(er)

Before I get to the mushy parts (be forewarned), here’s the interesting part of my day:

So, last night was the crazy thundery ice storm of death and destruction. This morning at 9am, Aaron and I were awakened by the sound of the city workers cutting and removing fallen tree branches from the middle of the road. Fun. Once I was ready to go to work, it took 15 minutes to chisel my car out of the ice. Had I known getting my car out was going to involve ice sculpture, I would have brought an ice pick and hammer…

Anyway, all day I was peering out the office windows at the ice-covered trees. Took a couple pics through the window with my point-and-shoot, but was waiting anxiously to get off work so I could take some "real" pictures with my SLR. (For you non-camera types, that’s my bigger camera with the cool adjustable stuff and long lens.) Luckily, I got out of work at 5:30 — plenty of light left for photography, and the sun was just in the right place for backlighting the ice on the trees.

I ran in the house, warmed up a hot dog, put on socks and sneakers over my knee-highs, ate my hot dog, gathered my camera and an extra roll of film, and hit the road again, all in the space of two minutes. Gotta catch the good light, after all. Sped down to the bike trail — although I would rather have taken photos at the end of the trail nearer my house, there’s no parking at that end. I had to drive down to Wal-Mart and park on Gypsy Lane. That’s OK, though; there’s plenty of photo ops all down the trail.

Parked my car, as I said, and gathered up my equipment. As I got out and onto the trail, I was glad I didn’t bring my tripod — the concrete bike trail was literally a sheet of ice. At this point I was getting a little apprehensive about my photo trip, but crossing Gypsy Lane (toward the area I’d originally wanted to shoot, anyway) unveiled a much easier-to-travel trail, with little to no ice for a good 50 yards.

So, I photographed for about a half hour or so, using up one and a third rolls of film. I could have kept going, but I had no more film. I got what I hoped were some great shots of icicles from tree branches, frozen leaves dripping icicles, and some sort of berry or wild fruit sporting an ice covering. Trés cool. Back to the car.

My pants muddy from kneeling on the trail, speeding back toward town, I contemplated how to develop my pictures. I figured I’d hit Blue Ribbon Photo in town — I’d always rather go with them, but I usually go with Meijer for convenience’s sake. I parked in the public lot behind Blue Ribbon, walked around the building, down the sidewalk, into the door, and asked if it was too late in the day to get one-hour prints. (I was really anxious to see these pics.) No, she said, they won’t be ready today. I asked if I could drop them off, thinking I could come back after work Friday. She responded, "Yeah, but they probably won’t be ready ’till Monday."

Monday?

Then she said the dreaded words: "It’s ’cause the machine’s broke." Aargh!

I waffled over leaving the rolls or not, and opted not to leave them at Blue Ribbon to be processed at some indeterminate time on an indeterminately working machine. By this point, my photo high was deflated, and instead of dropping the film off at Meijer, I just brought it home. I’ll get it developed this weekend.

Now, on to the mushy stuff I thought about at work today. If you are ultra-sensitive to gooey sweet musings, please have a trash can, barf bag, or other handy receptable nearby.

I’ve been doing some thinking and reflecting about love. Yeah, love. Not just snoo-snoo, although that’s a very important part of love. And I’ve been contemplating how my relationship with Aaron has transmuted over time. We’ve gone from being boyfriend and girlfriend to being lovers and lifemates. (Wow, that sounds cheesy. Moving on…)

Today, I was thinking of the things that have changed — the little things that make me more aware that we’re in it for the proverbial "long haul." Things like:

  • In everyday conversation, I can start a sentence with, "When we have children…" and Aaron doesn’t even blink. We can talk about these things, because we plan on having children, as frightening as that prospect can seem right now. (And, FYI, I will be one of those parents who says things like, "You are not going outside this house wearing that." Assuming we have children that look like hoochies — which, given their genes, is unlikely.)
  • We bought a car together. Thirteen-grand worth of mutual debt, and both of our names on the title, is a pretty binding thing. It’s a good start to our future of combined debt. 🙂
  • Speaking of future debt, we can talk about buying a house. It’s not a thing to be entered into lightly, but we know we’re getting one eventually, because that’s how things work. You get married, then one of two things happens first: you have a kid, or you buy a house. (Of course, some of our friends do all three things in bass-ackwards order… and you know who you are.)
  • (Wow, this one is kind of personal. I don’t know if I should post this, but…) When we make love (I told you it was personal…), I can look into his eyes and cherish what I find there, not be disconcerted by the intensity or wonder what he’s really thinking. (No, honey, not that I ever really wondered that! Just for example…!)

Sometimes we wonder if we’re getting old, since we don’t "get it on" as much as we used to. Used to be, anytime we were together, we’d end up in the bedroom. Now we don’t do it as often… but neither of us are really upset by this, I don’t think. Hell, I don’t think I could survive a four-hour marathon make-out session like we did six and seven years ago. Damn.

Of course we’re getting old. Or older, anyway. We’ve both matured a lot over the last several years, and it’s one of the things that has helped us grow closer. I’m not upset about this in the least.

And, anyway, he’ll turn 30 before I do. 😉

Fragile Moods

Lately, my emotional state has been unusually unstable. At work, I just zone out and do what has to be done, so I don’t really consider myself to be in a bad mood, even if I look it. But once I get home, one little insignificant thing can puncture any good mood I’ve cultivated and put me on a ridiculous downward spiral.

For example (you knew it was coming), today I got home before 6:00. Nice, normal day at work. Not long, not stressful. Got my raise information from my boss, got home in time for the news. Was planning to vacuum the kitchen (seriously – it’s carpeted) or clean the skanky tub or something after dinner, plus research embroidery websites so I can see what not to do on Sheryl’s and my new web venture. I was proud of myself yesterday for shaking the internet addiction and not even booting up my computer when I got home from work, so I knew I’d have oodles of e-mail waiting for me. So, after eating some pierogies, I fired up the Sheryl Special to see who loved me.

I got three e-mails from Amy, and I knew what they had to be… berating me for not mailing her the vital color swatch for her bridesmaid’s dress. I was right. She gave me a dressing-down like I deserved. Nonetheless, it still punctured my good mood. (Not your fault, Amy. You needed to give me a swift kick in the ass.) So, for the past hour or so, I’ve been kind of deflated. That one thing really brought my excitement about the evening to a dead standstill. That’s not right. I shouldn’t be this volatile. Not even a tagboard post from Timmay managed to cheer me up.

My last post dealt with a similar situation; this is becoming a trend of sorts.

What is wrong with me? It can’t just be wedding planning… can it?

Later today…

The internet is an amazing place. I was just thinking of a poem my mother used to read to me when I was little. She had a whole notebook of poems and sayings she’d collected. (I wish I knew where that notebook was.) I used to have the poem memorized, but I couldn’t recall how it started, so I Googled a line I knew for sure. Sure enough, 48 hits came back, all including this untitled poem. I found a good site about it, with all the backstory anyone knows about it compiled together.

So, here it is, the way my mother used to read it to me, including the intro:

This poem was handed to a teacher by a 12th grade student. It is not known if the student actually wrote it himself; it is known that he committed suicide two weeks later.

He always wanted to explain things
But no one cared
So he drew
Sometimes he would draw and it wasn’t anything
He wanted to carve it in stone
Or write it in the sky
He would lie out on the grass
And look up at the sky
And it would be only the sky and him that needed saying
And it was after that
He drew the picture

It was a beautiful picture
He kept it under his pillow
And would let no one see it
And he would look at it every night
And think about it
And when it was dark
And his eyes were closed
He could still see it
And it was all of him
And he loved it

When he started school he brought it with him
Not to show anyone but just to have it with him
Like a friend
It was funny about school
He sat in a square brown desk
Like all the other square brown desks
And he thought it should be red
And his room was a square brown room
Like all the other rooms
And it was tight and close
And stiff
He hated to hold the pencil and chalk
With his arms stiff and his feet flat on the floor
Stiff
With the teacher watching
And watching
The teacher came and smiled at him
She told him to wear a tie
Like all the other boys
He said he didn’t like them
And she said it didn’t matter!
After that they drew
And he drew all yellow
And it was the way he felt about morning
And it was beautiful
The teacher came and smiled at him
"What’s this?" she said
"Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?"
"Isn’t that beautiful?"

After that his mother bought him a tie
And he always drew airplanes and rocket ships
Like everyone else
And he threw the old picture away
And when he lay out alone and looked out at the sky
It was big and blue and all of everything
But he wasn’t anymore
He was square inside and brown
And his hands were stiff
And he was like everyone else
And the things inside him that needed saying
Didn’t need it anymore
It had stopped pushing
It was crushed
Stiff
Like everything else.

Tired and Crabby

I feel like crap. Not so much physically as mentally.

First off, this has been a ridiculously long week at work. I’ll probably have almost 50 hours in by the time Friday’s over and done; compared with the past few weeks of barely even making 40, it’s grueling. I know I used to do this all the time, but I was getting used to "normal" hours.

It also doesn’t help that my co-workers (and one co-worker in particular) keep complaining about said hours. I might be able to focus on what I’m doing and just push through it, were I not reminded on a regular basis how much it sucks. It also doesn’t help that three out of four days so far this week, we’ve been understaffed due to people being out sick.

To top everything off, one of my major weak points got thrown in my face at the end of the day. Anyone who reads this probably knows that I have a tendency to be about five minutes late. Consistently. It bugs me, but not when I’m half-asleep and should be waking up so I can be on time. Anyway, the co-worker/temp who I’ve been giving a ride to work made an offhand comment as she got out of the car this evening. We were confirming that 9:00am was our start time tomorrow. So, she said, "Nine o’clock," and I replied in kind, "Nine o’clock." At which point she quipped, "Yeah. Right," in that tone of voice I’d take as friendly banter from a friend. Like, if Amy’d said that, I’d chuckle and make some randomly witty remark about Diana Standard Time or something.

But then she said, "Just kidding. I’m really tired," and shut the car door on her own rambling half-apology. Maybe I took this wrong, but that kind of admission — "I’m really tired" — strikes me as less of an "I didn’t mean it" and more of an "I didn’t mean to say that out loud." I don’t know why I’m letting it bother me, but I am, and it does. I know I have a problem with tardiness (not retardness, though sometimes I think I have a problem with that, too), but still… no one likes their faults to be pointed out to them.

Speaking of my faults, I’d better go wash some dishes.

Random Thoughts

Today at work I jotted down several blogworthy thoughts I had over the course of the mind-numbing workday:

When the temperature in the office reaches a certain point — say, 75°F or so — the vents open to allow outside air to filter in and cool things down. Over the past couple of days, this outside air has smelled of a slight tinge of spring. So cruel… so cruel. Barely above freezing, and my nostrils are dreaming of the spring thaw.

Some people at my work have accused others of being resistant to change. One person in particular, by the name of Loni, has done this accusing. Since our boss has begun a transition in our record-keeping from Microsoft Excel (which Loni set up herself about three years ago) to an Access database, it’s amazing how resistant this accuser is to change…

I read an article about premarital counseling in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It had mundane but important questions like, “will you love your spouse if she gains 50 pounds?” Then I realized how much Aaron must really love me… because I have gained 50 pounds since he met me. Literally. I’m surprized he hasn’t staged an intervention in the meantime. 🙂

I’m not eating enough. (Nice segue.) I wake up too late to eat breakfast (I have to be awake awhile before I can stomach it), then when I eat lunch, I just have one of those little Weight Watchers-type frozen meals. When I’m done eating, I’m still hungry. I wait the prescribed 20 minutes after eating, for the food to “hit bottom,” and I’m still hungry. It’s easier to ignore the hunger while I’m at work, but I’m sure that it’s not healthy, anyway. Then I come home and am either too hungry to eat, or I go on an evening-long food binge. Ramen… canned veggies… hot dogs… ham… plum… all the stuff I probably should have eaten (or not) during the course of the day, crammed into a few hours of down-time at home. I need to fix this if I want to lose weight and be healthier.

Loni was telling about the wedding she went to in Chicago over the weekend — apparently the bride wore a scarf over her shoulder, bearing her family’s Irish colors. Neat idea. Then it occured to me… if I were to claim so-called citizenship of only one family in my genealogy, which would it be? There are certain lines I’ve been inclined to research more than others — some because they’re easier to find, some because they’re more interesting to learn about, and some because I’m closest to their descendants. I think I’d probably claim citizenship in the White family if I had to choose one. That’s my Granny’s mama, Maudie (which would be my mom’s mother’s mother’s mother, my great-great-grandmother). Interesting that I choose the matriarchal line; we’ve got some strong females in my family. …So what happened to me?

As far as my last blog entry, where I wondered if I’d become less of a person because I’ve ceased to struggle against my less-than-relevant job, I’ve come to a conclusion of sorts. I’d rather be sated, unruffled and relatively content in a job I didn’t intend to work than be miserable and unsatisfied in the same job. If I can ride things out, waiting in the wings and watching for opportunities, and make rent money in the process, why not?

Mary at work thinks I’ve lost weight. I was wearing my new black pants with the elastic waistband that doesn’t make my fat ooze out where it shouldn’t, and on top of that I wore a thigh-length blouse. I think it was all an optical illusion, since I’ve really only lost six pounds.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: no, I didn’t write all of this at work. I took notes so I’d know what to write later. I don’t have that kind of free time at my job…

Momentum

Before I begin… the jury’s still out as to whether or not I’m a big goober for pretty much mourning Mr. Rogers. When the general sadness stretches to a second day, I think it qualifies as mourning. I think his passing reawakened the memories of my early childhood, when things were simple and I knew all the words to every one of Mr. Rogers’ songs and Daniel Striped Tiger was the sweetest thing on TV. Maybe I realized what I’d forgotten since then. Maybe I realized… I don’t know. What’s important, maybe. And that even amongst my friends, I don’t think I would be so thanked and loved and missed. Even when he was alive, Fred Rogers got “Thank You”s on the street from grown-ups who loved him as children, and appreciated him even more as adults with perspective.

But that’s neither here nor there. On to my intended topic.

A, my co-worker at Sky Bank, graduated with an art degree almost a year ago now. Naturally, she’s peeved at having to work a job that gives her no satisfaction and no personal reward. She’s on the lookout for a job in California, so she can move out to where the proverbial “action” is. And every single day, she never tires of telling me and/or my other co-workers how much she dislikes her job. — Well, maybe “dislikes” isn’t the right word for it. Well, maybe it is, at that. She’s disappointed in the fact that she has to work an unfulfilling job that is unrelated to her degree field, just to pay the bills. She’s frustrated that she was unable to land a job that is rewarding to her and for her, and takes that as some sort of personal failure, I think.

…Is this sounding familiar to anyone yet? Like, how I felt about six months ago? When I was in precisely her situation? That being: working as a temp, wanting to be hired on permanently for security’s sake, yet still frustrated at the scope of my job position and its irrelevancy to anything I really intend to do for the rest of my life.

Thinking on this makes me face a tough question: Am I “at peace” with my station in life now? Or, does the fact that I have ceased to struggle (for now, at least) make me a weaker person?

I haven’t seriously thought about finding a new job for a few months now. When Aaron and I went in for the credit check before we bought our new car, I was told that my nine months at Manpower didn’t bode well for my car credit, since it’s a temp agency. Also, since I’d only been working at my current job for three months at the time (now five), the short timespan hurt my credit, as well. That really shot any ideas I’d had of changing jobs. Even if I could find one. I’m currently rebuilding my poor, shoddy credit, and I need all the help I can get, so staying at Sky made sense.

Now, though… I find I’m just running on momentum. Doing a day’s work, just like every other day. I try not to complain, since it just wastes energy and ticks off everyone around me. Brings them down. One of my co-workers calls me “the perfect worker,” and I think I resent that, but I’m not sure. Conscientious, sure. Dedicated… maybe on the surface. But mainly just doing my job. Doing what needs to be done, just because it’s there.

A’s rebellious nature is awakening something in me that has lain dormant for a few months, though. A desire to fulfill myself. To remember, as my mother used to say, who I am and where I come from.

To go off on a brief tangent (it’s really related, trust me)… Back in SOC 101, the graduate student teaching the class told us about Roles. I forget if that’s the correct terminology, but it serves the purpose. Since the human race is, at its core, a race of social beings (though some of us might not want to admit it), each of us is defined by our roles in society. There are minor roles and there are major, defining roles. To find out who you are, you must define yourself in respect to others, and the activities you engage in with others. For example:

+ I am a fianceé.
+ I am a daughter.
+ I am a grand-daughter.
+ I am a Sky Bank employee.
+ I am a web designer.
+ I am a drumcorps alumna.

And so on. These all define me in relation to others. But one of these (listed or not) is my major role in life. For parents, it’s usually their parental role. For corporate CEO’s and upper management, maybe their job position is their major role. For me… I’m not sure anymore. When I was a music major, and even before that, in high school, I could say unequivocally that my major role was that of Musician. When I changed majors, I changed who I was intrinsically. For a while, I almost made myself believe that my main role was that of web designer… but I still maintain that my design skills are mediocre at best. Within the design industry, at least. (Doesn’t stop me from trying.)

Finding a wedding photographer who has a day job has made me see things a little differently, though. It’s obvious to me that she defines herself as a portrait photographer. But… she works 9-to-5 (or thereabouts) in an unrelated corporate setting, where she has a 401(k) and five weeks vacation. She only does photography on evenings and weekends. And she has a decent-sized studio and an impressive body of work. She’s a photographer with a day job.

I need to seek out who I am again. I need to go out and do the things I love in my spare time. I need… I need.

And when I figure it out, I need to dive into what I love and immerse myself in it for a time. Think about it while I’m processing checks and invoices at Sky. Think about it during lunch. Think about getting home to it and doing what I want to do, instead of what I have to do. It doesn’t have to be my full-time job. I am not my job. I am me.

Whoever that is…

 

P.S. – To anyone who ever said to me, “we should start a business…” I’m currently considering it. I have no client base. I intend to enter the web design foray by donating my design time to local non-profit organizations. I have no immediate business plan. I need friends. If you were ever serious, let me know. I’ll do it on my own if I must. It won’t be instantaneous profit. But if you’re looking for something that may fulfill your need for accomplishment, let’s talk.

P.P.S. – If you ever read my blog, A: I’m sorry, but I found your LiveJournal a couple months back, and never told you. I’ve been reading your blog without you knowing, and I apologize for the intrusion. If you read mine without my knowing… I guess we’re even. 🙂

A Letter To Myself

(To Myself eight years in the past: February 1995)

Dear Self,

If this letter reaches you when I hope it will, you will currently be failing all of your classes except Athletic Band, attending camps for the Northern Aurora Drum & Bugle Corps, IRC-ing too much, racking up too much credit card debt, and trying to get into a relationship without getting laid. Life is pretty fucked up for you right now. I know.

If I told you everything you needed to know to straighten out your life in the next few years, then I wouldn’t be here later to tell you about it. We don’t want some weird Back to the Future II paradox going on… so I’ll tell you about the little things, and advise you about the bigger ones. I wouldn’t want the major things to change, anyway… but you’ll find out why later.

First off, I know you’ve been seeing guys from the IRC [internet relay chat]. I think you’ve already found this out the hard way, but always meet guys in public. Never go to their house to watch a movie the first time you meet. And don’t feel obligated to go further than you want. Oh, yeah… and watch your roving hands. They could get you in trouble.

Matt is a dork, but he’s harmless. He’ll go away eventually. Jon isn’t worth the heartache. He’s too old for you, and no matter what it may seem like while you’re together, he’s really not your type. Don’t sweat it if nothing ends up happening between you two. Adam is a total dork, too. I don’t care if he is a bit of a local celebrity. He’s called the Virgin Freak for a reason. Don’t go to his dorm room, and don’t make out with him. It’ll just cause an IRC soap-opera, and you’ll end up being weird about each other. Better off just to be IRC buddies and leave it at that.

Bryan is a different kind of dork — he’s got more relationship experience, and he’s more “normal.” If you’re going to make out with somebody, he’s probably the one to make out with. As far as physical stuff goes, he knows what he’s doing. Even if he does make fun of your ratty old shoes. — And don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself. Tell him to buy you new shoes, and tell him you wear a size 10. See if he does anything about it.

And don’t be such a prude. Don’t be afraid to let guys touch you in your bathing-suit area. Sure, wait on sex, but don’t be afraid of physical intimacy.

On a different subject: I know it’s early in the semester, but I regret to inform you that you’re going to flunk out. No, no, not permanently, just for a semester. It’s OK… this is going to be the best thing for you so far. You know you’re getting sick of school — admit it. When you come back almost a year from now, you’ll be ready to be here. While you’re home, you might consider getting a job. Don’t wait for Gary to goad you into it.

Oh, did I mention Gary? He’s Mom’s new guy. Get used to him; he’ll be around awhile. You’ll think he’s a total dick, especially when Mom starts bringing him home while you’re living there. He’ll try to start treating you like his own kid, and trying to “raise” you or something. Don’t be all pissed off about it. You won’t want to admit it, but he’s got some valid points. For instance, your job (or lack thereof). You’re not going to find something you really like, not at age 19 with no experience. You just need something to get you some money. Save up for drumcorps next year.

Drumcorps is going to be the most kickass thing in your life for quite a while. You’ll wish you’d gotten involved in it sooner — as it is, you’ll only have three years of marching eligibility. Make ’em good ones. Talk to people. Make friends. Don’t be afraid to be a dork. Get in shape before you get there. Go check out the Rec — it’s right across the street, and it’s actually pretty cool. Go jog or something. Being in shape will help you enjoy the experience more. It’s totally intense, as you already know. And it gets better.

Off-topic: Steve P. is an asshole. He might be fun on the trips up to Saginaw, and he might like some cool music, but he’s generally an asshole. If you ever consider him to be attractive, smack yourself. You’re too desperate. Something better will come along soon, I promise.

What else…? Oh, yeah. Stop using your credit cards now. Use the job you get in the Fall to pay them off a little. You might want credit sometime in the next seven years, and it’ll suck to be without for that long.

Take pictures of everything. You never know when it’ll be gone, and you’ll want to remember, and you’ll be frightened at how much memory has passed you by. Take pictures of friends and loved ones, of places and events and buildings. Take pictures of Tom and of Memaw. Take pictures of your boyfriends (and I use the term loosely). Chronicle your life, so you won’t forget the bad parts. Or the good parts.

Something else: when you come back to school next Spring, your roommate will be a little weird. Be ready for it. She’s cool, but she’s weird. She’s got cool friends, too.

Now, not to get you too excited, but… you’re going to meet somebody. Somebody Special. You might not know it at first, but he’s different. He’s not going to try to get you in the sack on the first date. He’s funny, and honest, and tall. He will love you to the ends of the earth. It’ll be cool. Only thing is… he can’t sing, and he doesn’t like drumcorps. 🙂

I don’t want to give you too much to think about at one time, so I think I’ll leave it at that. Just remember, when things seem totally fucked up, and all you want to do is sit in your room and eat and be miserable, and Life seems intent on fucking with you, and you think you’ll never get out of your funk… remember that things always work themselves out eventually. It sounds like so much crap, but it’s true. It’s just a matter of sticking it out and doing what needs to be done.

Things are going to look up for you. It’ll be a rough year ahead (except the kickass drumcorps part in the summer), but it’ll work out. You’ll see.

— Your Future Self

Great Weekend

This weekend was the most fun and productive one I’ve had in a while. Saturday started off with lunch (of course), followed by the Wedding Fair at the small (aka Woodland Towne Centre). There, we ate some yummy moist wedding cake, avoided the DJs, talked to photographers, and ended up choosing one. She has interesting, professional-looking work; she has a good sense of humor; and she has very competitive prices. We scheduled a meeting at her studio for the following day at 7:30pm for contract-signing and an engagement sitting.

After the Wedding Fair was an attempt at the monthly BG Flea Market, held at the fairgrounds. However, by this point it was after 3:00, and most of the vendors were closing up shop. We walked in, saw this, and opted to wait until Sunday. So, we went to Wal-Mart instead.

At Wal-Mart, we got some basic necessities, like new dress pants for me and a can of compressed air for my streaky laser printer. Then back home to chill for a couple hours before heading back out again.

That evening, we met a couple of friends up at the Red Robin in Toledo for dinner. Excellent food, great alcoholic milkshakes, biggest BBQ Chicken salad in the known universe. Weirdest mascot you’ve ever seen. It’s a giant red robin (go figure), in the new-Freddy-Falcon style, for those of you from BGSU. You know, the cartoony-looking Freddy with the creepy big eyes and huge smiling beak. Mark got a picture of Aaron with the scary robin dude. We’ll see how that turns out.

Anyway, after dinner, we still had a couple hours before we had to be at Frankie’s, our destination point for the evening. So, we hung out in Barnes & Noble. Aaron & Kris both bought William Gibson’s new novel, Pattern Recognition, and I bought a copy of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. We tried to waste a decent amount of time there, but eventually we decided to go seek out Frankie’s, where none of us had been for years (and some of us never).

Back in the heyday of the Alternative Music Scene, Frankie’s was apparently the place to be to see great bands like Goober & the Peas, the Afghan Whigs, the Smashing Pumpkins, Pure, and dozens of other groups whose flyers are posted on Frankie’s Wall of Fame. Now, though… Frankie’s has turned into a bit of a dive. Unbeknownst to us, of course, until we found the place and wandered into the cold, dim bar.

After the door-dude found us and took our seven bucks apiece, we wandered about, reading the Wall of Fame and wondering what the hell happened. As the first “band,” MC Habitat, was setting up its turntables and mics, we made a break for the outer room, where lived two pool tables (in use), six chairs, and three dirty tables. We pulled a table from against the wall, found four chairs without too many tears in their linings, and proceeded to sit and freeze our asses off.

We sat there for an hour.

Finally, after one of our friends came to join us and promptly gave up and left, and a few of Kris’s friends (who are also friends of the band we were there to see) showed up and said hello, and after our tizoes and nizoes were frizoze, we decided to go check out band number two of three: The Satisfactions. This band is from BG, which gave us pause. Historically, very few bands from Bowling Green have amounted to shit. The Satisfactions were no exception. Their set started out mediocre, and only went downhill. By the end of the set, the lead singer took notice that the crowd (except their groupies) no longer gave a shit about their music, and decided to go climb on the light rig just above the stage. When he didn’t fall and crack his fool head open, or bring the lights crashing down on everyone, he climbed back down and lay on the floor in the midst of the disinterested crowd to sing the remainder of the penultimate song.

The final number of their set took the proverbial cake, though. The opening riff reminded me of a song I knew, and I tried to pin it down as they sang the first verse. I still hadn’t figured it out when Kris poked his head in between Aaron’s and mine and started singing, “I’m comin’ baaaack with my dinosaur aaaact…” Their chord structure was an exact mimic (OK, ripoff) of Matthew Sweet’s song “Dinosaur Act,” from the 1993 album Altered Beast. We sang the chorus a couple times, as the band sang the words to their own little song. Then, mercifully, they were done.

After that came the band we’d actually gone to see: The Soledad Brothers. (You know, I think eventually I’ll put all these paragraphs into my reviews section…) The Toledo-based Soledads were once a two-piece, but have added another Brother to the mix, to make one drummer, one guitarist/lead vocalist, and one guitarist/saxophonist. This is the most explosive band I have ever seen live. The genre is blues. The atmosphere is electric. The volume is loud.

Yeah… I think I’ll expound later in my reviews section. At any rate, we got out of there at around 2am. Kick-ass show. Amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Go to their website and take a listen, though they’re much better live than in the studio, IMO.

So, Sunday morning/afternoon rolled around, and Sheryl called. She wanted to go to the Flea Market. Well, I’ll be damned… so did we. We told her we’d give her a call when we were going to head out there. We finished waking up and getting ready, then called Sheryl and left a message to meet us at said Flea Market at two o’clock. And we went to have our lunch at the China Dragon. Yummy.

When we got to the fairgrounds, Sheryl was inside waiting. She surprized the hell out of us by giving us the gift of a prepaid cell phone. Apparently, her Japanese friend Mariko was going to come visit, and Sheryl had gotten her the phone for her stay. But… Japan says that the U.S. is going to war in March, and that was going to be when Mariko’s return trip would have been. So, she opted out of the visit, leaving Sheryl with much unhappiness and a paid-for cell phone.

But once again, the BG Flea Market was unfulfilling. The only real amusement came from the generic Ken-doll look-alikes, dressed in full 80’s gay regalia, with black mesh tops and shiny shorts. We made the rounds of the building, thanked Sheryl and bid her adieu, and headed off to do our grocery shopping.

Usually, we do shopping and laundry on Sunday evening. But, since we were planning to go meet with our photographer in the evening, we’d had to rearrange our little schedule. So, off to do shopping and laundry. Fun times.

By the time we were finished with laundry, it was time to get ready for engagement photos and head off to Fostoria. We’d never been to Fostoria, so driving at night in the boonies was a lot of fun. Anyway, we got there with little incident, and found the studio no problem.

Carol Creeger reminds me of someone’s mom. She has an open and honest sense of humor about her, but is totally professional about her work. We sat down and completed the contract first, with her giving us some time to discuss while she set up the studio for our portraits. Once all the details were ironed out, she gave us the nickel tour of the studio and got us ready for our sitting. She shot digital, which was excellent; she got to see the images as she took them, and got to get our approval before keeping them. We got a feel for how she works, and she got a feel for what we like. I only had to mention my stupid double-chin once before she adjusted our posing and her lighting to make it disappear. We also learned not to make Diana say anything silly before taking the exposure, because Diana’s eyebrows go up and her mouth looks funny. 🙂

After the sitting (which was short and sweet), she showed us around her office, and we just shot the shit for a few minutes before Aaron wrote her the check for the deposit. The engagement sitting is included, and we’ll get a matted 8×10 of one photo for guest signatures. We can also order reprints — we’ll probably get some wallets for $15 a dozen, which isn’t unreasonable. Two weeks before the wedding, we need to send her the remaining balance plus our sheet of necessary shots. Overall, we came away from Carol’s studio with an overwhelming sense of relief, and the knowledge that we will have some quality photos of our wedding day.

Nine o’clock. Hungry. Dinnertime, chillin’ out time, TV time, printer-cleaning time, computer time. Which then brings us to now. Which is midnight. Bedtime.