Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Up With People!

That past vestage of wholesomeness and happiness is back and driving badly in front of me.

I had not thought about Up With People in nearly two decades since they came through the college town where I was living and going to school. Those of us who were happy enough without listening to inspirational people-friendly songs made much fun of the happy pretty people who were clearly chosen for looks rather than talent (which was confirmed when I googled them and read some articles this morning). The entire event had something of a circus atmosphere with some (happy pretty) classmates auditioning for and leaving town on the bus.

We never found the happy pretty people they left behind to make room. Maybe they were not all that happy when they figured out where they had been left.

Yesterday morning, a REALLY BAD driver was annoying all the traffic around me as I was heading to work. I could not quite figure out what it was about the obviously perky fifty-something faux blonde driving an oversized Mercedes that annoyed me to the pit of my stomach beyond the fact that her driving was slowing everyone down. There was also something bizarre about a perky, fifty-something faux blonde being that far over on the east side of town.

Finally it was my turn to be the car directly behind her and I could see that she had one of those custom license plate holders and aross the top it said, "Alumni." It took a couple blocks before I could finally read the smaller print at the bottom of the holder, "Up With People."

No wonder a perky, fifty-something faux blonde driving an oversided Mercedes was on the east side of Austin: she was on her way to cure poverty with happiness.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Reward of a Job...

...well done is supposed hold its own satisfaction. I suppose that holds some truth, although, I'm not certain it holds any kind of certainty. I've worked my butt off for the last few months and it has not all led to what I expected. Some of it, in fact, has been so frustrating that the dream I had last night was so real, I'm wondering if my calling is not to change jobs and go back to teaching.

I do miss the classroom, but despite the frustrations of my current position, I have to say that more than the satisfaction of a job well done is a life well lived. Today I had my quarterly doctor's visit and for the second time, after an incredibly stressful period, rather than the stress taking a toll on my body, my bloodwork came back better than before.

Sadly, to the converse, when I've been relaxed and comfortable, my blood tests have not been so good.

It is an ironic pick your poison: do I want to go by a heart attack or HIV?

With a heart attack it would be fast, but I worry if my co-workers could find all my notes to finish the projects I'm working on (hint- check the floor of my home office). Yes, even in death, I think I would worry about the ease with which my replacement could follow me.

Thanks to the advancement in medicines, HIV would likely be slow to progress. My major fear is that it does make that blood/brain leap and I begin to experience AIDS Related Dementia. I have not found the appropriate accomplice for assisted suicide, but I would have a diagnosis as AIDS Related Dementia as a criterion for someone assisting me.

The other fear is that I waste away slowly and leave an ugly corpse, but that's just vanity, and ego is no excuse for assisted suicide.

So in the meantime...

I keep working on the stress-filled life well lived.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Under Pressure

The temperature outside today nearly matched the temperature under my collar this afternoon. Depending on which weather report one checked, Austin reached 103 degrees today. I knew my day was booked with meetings and had carefully planned my day to be prepared for them. I had not carefully planned for the meeting location to change after the meeting originally was scheduled to begin.

Flexibility - always good.

That four hour meeting today was, in part, to provide information for my portion of a grant proposal. It was a very productive meeting and I left confident I would easily be able to write a very good piece and fit it within my length constraints.

I was just down the street when my boss's boss's boss calls my cell to inform me that the piece was due thirty minutes previously instead of in two days as I thought, and that I only had one-half page in which to fully cover my topic. Because the office "liked" me they were giving me another half hour to write the piece.

I was in my car.

I was in rush hour traffic.

I had a three page draft.

I had a thirty minute deadline.

My gas gauge was showing empty.

First things first. I stopped to get gas.

The radio reported over a dozen accidents being worked at the time. I'm really glad I had turned my satellite radio off and was listening to NPR's All Things Considered at the time. Otherwise, I would have been stopped in two diffrent traffic jams. Fortunately I was able to negotiate my way around the traffic tie-ups and make it home rather quickly.

Fifteen minutes later I called the grant office and my boss's boss's boss to report that I had completed and submitted the half page. There are two stylistic changes I would like to make after re-reading it an hour later, but other than that, all I can say is, "Damn! I'm good!"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Weirdly Good Mood

I think it's now safe to say I have a boyfriend. After the evening I just had, I think it means we are together.

I came home and sent the following email - incredibly uncharacteristic of me....

A while back I was watching one of those artsy - craftsy shows where they demonstrated a birthday calendar where the dates were not listed in a weekly order, but rather they were generic by the month so it didn't matter what year it was. The idea was that you could put people's names by the date and have a monthly reminder of who's birthday was when.

I thought that was just a stupid idea when I could create a spreadsheet on the computer much more efficiently, so...

...I created a spreadsheet.

Now, I just need important birthdays (and if you are getting this, you are important!!!). If your children call me uncle, or will when they can talk, please include their birthdays as well (providing they have been born -- the two {at least} of you know who I'm talking about). You can also include spouse/partner's names and birthdays as well.

I'm not promising a gift, but it may help me remember to send one of those Internet cards (as long as they stay free).

Happy Birthday Everyone!

Check out my blog sometime: (*disclaimer - don't read it if you don't already know that I'm gay.)

I think everyone on the list except one already knew I was gay. I wanted to include some kind of "oops" line at the end, but that would have just blown the joke.

I already have two dates that have two birthdays and one double birthday/anniversary on my calendar. I can't wait to see just how many of my friends are Libras like me.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Read the Package!

Last week, I was about to head into a meeting that was scheduled to last four hours. Because the day had been one of our typically busy days in the office, I never stopped for lunch, but since I was getting hungry, I decided to walk over to the convenience store behind the office. I wanted some highly caffeinated drink and some substantial snack (and I needed to get cash to pay for my share of a birthday present).

Chips and such didn't really seem filling enough, so I decided to get some of the meat snacks available.

I went back to the office, gathered my notes for the meeting, and started reading the back of the package of meat snacks and it made my day!

The first paragraph declares, "It all started in 1885." (I was hoping the meat had not been dried back then.) "My great-grandparents settled in the north woods of Wisconsin, bringing with them family meat snack recipies and an adventurous pioneer spirit."

I can just see them packing the wagon:

"Honey, don't forget the meat snack recipes."

"Dear, where did you put the adventurous pioneer spirit?"

(Hopefully under some axes and lots of clothes if they were heading to northern Wisconsin.)

But even better than the imagined conversation between great-grandpa and great-grandma was one of the disclaimers in a box at the bottom of the package: The meat contained herein is for personal use only. I have a rather vivid (and warped) imagination. I have yet to be able to imagine a use for 3.65 ounces of chunks of beef which have been highly dehydrated that is not personal. I even emailed the company, since they clearly have had experience with people using it for non-personal uses. I have not heard back.

Apparently people who make meat snacks are very enthusiastic about their business. My first encounter with this excitement was a letter I received last fall from a vendor who would be displaying at a conference I was scheduled to attend. He was so happy to be killing and drying cows.

He was so happy to be killing and drying cows that he obviously skipped English class.

I had to go back over his letter and repunctuate in order for it to make any sense. I almost made a copy and mailed it back to him, but since I sometimes do my own creative interpretation of English standards, decided not to invite karma to do it's turn. After reading the comments on the package this past week, I regret throwing that letter away. I guess I'll have to go back to the same conference to get meat-boy's letter again.

Until then, I think my entertainment will be purchasing various kinds of meat snacks and reading the packages.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hooked on...

I'm hooked on two other blogs so far.

My friends Kristen and Sean have a regular journal of their beautiful little girl's development. I'm addicted - I have to check at least once a day to see what new adventure she has had.

I heard an interview with Joe on OutQ radio on Sirius Satellite radio and had to check it out. He's just a guy, but I love his blogs and check them out daily as well.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Joy of...

...being alone!

People who meet me, often have a hard time believing how painfully shy I am. For years, I have practiced and forced myself to go out in public, give presentations, lead groups, performed on stage. I'm actually pretty good at it and display a very confident persona when in those situations.

However, when the experience ends, every ounce of my personal energy has gone. My body may still be charging ahead, but my mental self wants to crawl in bed for a couple days. In those situations, I'm always hyper alert to read the non-verbal communications of the people around me and work to respond appropriately to the verbal communications as well. Maintaining that level of energy through a period of time saps the spark of life.

Audiences take a great deal of energy, but the largest draw on my personal strength is one-on-one experiences. Intense attentiveness sucks out who I am as I feel required to be in the same place as my companion. I want to be nice and supportive. I want to care and be cared for, but too often, conditions predicate reciprocation and the negotiation of those terms takes more concentration than monitoring an entire audience.

Once the terms are determined (with friends, lovers, partners, co-workers) then the energy drain is not the same and can sometimes flow the other way.

It takes some time to recharge the batteries.

For me. The recharge comes from serious alone time. I don't want to be on the phone. I don't want to be with anyone. Even the dogs can demand too much attention. Give me music, a book, something to cook, and increasingly, a chance to write. That combination gives me a private outlet without mental concentration outside my own sphere. As I turn the pages or the food comes together and as the words fill the white space on the page, I can see an accomplishment that is just for me and by me.

Today was an awesome recharge day. I accomplished many housecleaning tasks, got the needed groceries, and cooked. I made probably the best hummus I've made so far: I discovered a new recipe and I, of course, took off with my own variation. I also did some experimentation to figure out a recipe I've been considering for over six months - that started out of a joke in my office. When I get it worked out, I'm sure there will be a blog about the various awards I win with it.

Now, my mental batteries are nearing full again, but my physical batteries are wearing down. I'm all showered and know there are clean sheets on the bed. There aren't many nights better than that. I'm going to bed alone, but it's oh so nice!