Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bah!

So its the week between Christmas and new year's and I'm mad. I'm mad because Target already has Valentine's Day stuff out. Seriously? You can put Christmas stuff out in mid-freaking-October, but come December 26, it's time to sweep it all away and move on to the next moneymaker? I mean, come on, can we actually stop to enjoy a holiday for longer than five minutes? I hate to sound all “back in my day...when I walked to school uphill both ways...” but come on! No wonder we're all freaking out and ADD and all that crap. We spend months getting ready for Christmas and then it's over in a day! I am kind of getting over Target after all this. And I know it's not just them, but they're the ones I see. So that's my rant. Keep the flipping decorations up, at least till new year's! For pete's sake!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Podcast Fun

New Episode of the Renaissance English History Podcast up.
http://englandcast.blogspot.com
Yay for Podcasts done in front of the fire and christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Email and fertility

I'm trying to get control of my inbox with the help of InboxZero - a site by a guy who wrote a book about how to get control of your email. Honestly, the amount of time I spend on email is seriously mind blowing. I'm especially sick of the people who "reply all" on stupid stuff that has nothing to do with me, and then like 6 people get involved in a conversation about when to have a conference call, and the thing goes on forever, and it just kills me. So I'm learning how to create rules in outlook for listservs and reply-all's. And I'm committed to keeping an empty inbox from now on. Every day I lower it a bit more. It's part of not being a procrastinator any longer.

So I bought one of those over-the-counter fertility tests at Target the other day. J and I have been trying to get preggars for a couple of months now, and since I'm a little bit older (33 - egad!) I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to just do the test and see what it said. Here's the funny thing, though: I balked at the $22 price tag. I was like, "dang, I can buy something from bare escentuals with that money..." and then I thought about it and figured that $22 for a fertility test is like the biggest spending joke ever. Should I actually have a kid soon, I will be spending way more than $22 on him. So I better just get used to it. I hope my future kid appreciates it.

Oh, and the good news? According to the test, I'm fertile. Good to know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stillness

Remember when you were a kid and December seemed to last forever? I used to keep tick marks on a white board with a picture of snoopy on the bottom, and those lines could never accumulate fast enough. Now December just flies by, and I hate it. I really want to be still and enjoy the peace and quiet of the snow, the fire, the coziness, and the lights. So I'm trying to create stillness these days. One way I've found that slows things down is that I actually say out loud what it is I'm doing - like, "I'm driving to work right now," or "I'm cooking dinner right now," or "I'm feeding the cats right now." It presences me to what's going on at that moment and helps me slow down and do just one thing at a time. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but like many good things, I read about it in O Magazine.

So I'm watching The Sing Off right now, and am happy that a capella music is getting popular again. I'm also working on my next episode of the Renaissance English History Podcast. Some of the reviewers on itunes said they wish that I did more episodes...well, I wish I had more time to do more episodes. Once my ILP is over, I'll have so much time, it'll be awesome.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving, snow days, and google wave

So I got a google wave account today. Is google taking over the world? I mean, really. Google owns blogger, youtube, voice, wave - they probably own my house and I don't even know it.

I was supposed to be down in newport beach today, but we had snow, and I couldn't get out. So we had a Snow Day which included much sledding, writing, bubblebaths, reading of Vanity Fair, napping, and watching The Princess Bride. I'm about to hit the elliptical and then keep writing for National Novel Writing Month. I'm out to do the impossible - write 30,000 words in 3 days. Crazy.

I made a giant turkey for Thanksgiving, so we'll be having turkey sandwiches for about a year or so. Fun. Between the turkey, snow, sledding, and naps, life is GOOOOOD.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Monday Mornings

Man, I love it when Monday's just flow and I get in the zen of stuff. What I've managed to do so far:

-Work out on the Elliptical while watching The Office on hulu.
-Get pumped up with a homemade iced mocha and trance music
-Do some serious work (yay!)
-Order firewood for the winter
-have morning snuggles with cats and hubby
-and am now getting caught up on podcasts.

Gotta go to Irvine tonight - late night...sigh. Need to spend my lunch hour writing 3500 words to stay on track with NaNoWriMo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

weird stuff

I was watching football today and suddenly one of those freaky cartoon Charles Schwab commercials comes on TV, right? And who is it, but my old coworker Lee Shephard. All cartoony. And freaky. Talking about investing and savings and how he's going to need this money pretty soon, and can't afford a mistake. Followed by the "Talk to Chuck" slogan. Too weird.

Other than that, I'm puttering around writing my book, avoiding the fact that Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away, and November is going too quickly. I sure love November. It's my favoritest month. I wrote 3500 words today. Good day word-wise. Feels like I've earned my tv-time now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

ERGH

It's been a busy week. I slept nine hours last night, and man, did I need it. Here's how the week went...

Friday, 10/30: J started his Landmark Forum, and I drove to Pasadena to set up the CLA booth. CLA started from 4-7pm and I drove home in Friday night traffic. Got home at about 9:30. J called at 10:30, all excited from his first day, so we talked until 1am.

Saturday 10/31: I went to Pasadena to get to the booth by noon-ish (left around 10:30). Booth time, then meetings until about 6. Came home, felt lazy and not like cooking at all, so had grilled chicken from KFC. J called at 11 or so, and we talked until 2, which was really 1 since the clocks went back.

Sunday 11/1: Went to the booth by 10. Stayed until 3 when CLA was over. Went to the Glendale Galleria to shoot the breeze until 6ish when I headed over to LAX to be with J as he finished his Landmark Forum. Was there until 10, then came home and J was, of course, totally excited about life, and we were up until about 1:30 talking.

Monday 11/2: Woke up and went to MCLS early. Came home and actually had an evening at home, but J was still in talky mood, so we were up until pretty late, despite my best efforts.

Tuesday 11/3: Worked at home but went to J's Tuesday Evening session with guests. Got home at 2am - ate at In-n-Out after the evening session was over.

Wednesday 11/4: Worked at home but went to my agreement in the evening. Got home at 1am.
Thursday 11/5: Went to MCLS, and nearly passed out in the grocery store on the way home.

Friday 11/6: Worked at home, but went to ILP Classroom in the evening. Got home at 1.

LONG WEEK. I was so desperate for the long sleep that I got last night and this morning. Life is so much better after you sleep. I've also been slightly freaked out all week by J since he's on fire from doing the Landmark Forum. He's got so much energy and has so many amazing goals and plans now - I keep wondering what happened to my husband!

Today J's friends came over - they have a six month old, and I'm having fun with her. It's kind of freaking me out about having our own. It sure does require a lot of energy.

Anyway, that's it for now. I started my novel this weekend for National Novel Writing Month and am up to about 10,000 words. Nice to be back on schedule.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Reasons I Love October...

Here are the top reasons I love October -

- The haunted house we went to in our tiny mountain town last night. Those kids worked so hard - it was awesome.
- Pumpkin-flavored candles
- Fires in the fireplace
- Soft pine needles all over my driveway
- It's cold enough to eat a lot of soup again
- Sweater weather!
- the light is all golden

And finally -
The new designer handbag line at Target is being released this Sunday (technically November, I know, but I spent all of October looking forward to it...)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting started following my bliss

I got all reinspired when I was in the UK, and am committed to making it work so that I can live there part-time. To do that, I probably need to work for myself. It's not something I want to do just yet, but I do want to start getting things moving so that when the economy improves, and when we can sell our house and move back to PA, and everything gets in alignment, I can get right on the stick and step into this dream. So I'm starting to make things happen.

My big three passions in life are music, the internet and marketing, so I'm trying to figure out how to combine those three things. I'm starting by writing to musicians and finding out what their needs/wants are with their marketing - I really want to put together tools to help them do it themselves guerilla-style rather than just charge $150/hr to manage their web presence for them. So I've started writing to friends, friends of friends, everyone, just to see what people think. I'm committed to having 50 conversations with people before the end of the Introduction Leader's Program (the Landamark program I'm on right now) which is March 19. I think from that I should be able to put together some ideas that I can start working on, and make it happen. Moving slowly and gently, though, and not rushing into this. It's like when I first started dating Jonathan. I'm going to have the rest of my life to work on this project, hopefully - I don't have to rush into it and figure it out right away...

So that's what I'm working on these days. Go me!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween

We're all in the Halloween Spirit here. I'm actually not that much into Halloween, but I love fall, and Halloween comes in the fall, and so through using the transitive proof, I love Halloween. If Valentines Day came in the fall I'd love that just as much. But it doesn't, and so it's Halloween.

Yesterday we carved pumpkins, on display here. Mine is the happy one. J's is the skull and crossbones. We used a stencil kit from Target - I wish we could claim that much skill ourselves. We watched The Nightmare Before Christmas while carving. Today I worked on a new episode of my Renaissance English History Podcast - the history of Halloween. I'm loaded up on the candy corn and am officially ready for the trick-or-treaters!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Was on vacation the past two weeks - back to the grind on Monday. Oh well, it's been nice. Went to the UK and got myself all reinspired about figuring out a way to split my time there. Thinking about the things I love - marketing, the internet, classical music - and how to put them all together. Lots of ideas floating around in my head, and thankfully I have a lovely new Muji notebook from Carnaby Street in which to capture them all.

The first thing I need to do is start talking to musicians, particularly classical musicians, about their needs and how I might be able to fill a gap in the market. I'm envisioning some type of membership based website with an accompanying book or something like that to help musicians market themselves better online, but I'm not sure about how great that need is. So I'm going to start talking to people, seeing what might be possible, what they'd consider paying for, etc. One thing I'm clear about is that I can make this happen. So yay for me.

Then J and I went up to the giant sequoia trees, a place I've been wanting to see since I came to California. It's pretty humbling to stand in front of a tree that is 2200 years old. That tree was already big when Jesus walked the earth. Crazy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Busy Days

I'm sleepy after a long day, which came after a really long night filled with dreams of bears. But I got to watch the sunrise, which was a nice gift.

I'm gearing up to start a really big leadership program in a couple of weeks. For those of you who don't know this about me, I'm a big fan of Landmark Education, which does these really amazing personal development workshops, where you realize all kinds of stuff about yourself that you didn't even know about yourself, which often have been subconsciously holding you back. The Landmark Forum is the first class they offer - it's three days and an evening, and I did it when I was 19 (my stepmom did it, and then my dad), and it changed my life. Before the LF I blamed my dad for my parents' crappy marriage and divorce, I blamed my stepmom for my parents never getting back together, and I blamed the world in general for lots of other interesting stuff. The thing I got from Landmark when I was 19, which has stuck with me is that nothing really means anything - we humans add all of that meaning ourselves, and let it hamper us in loads of ways we don't even realize.

The one negative thing about Landmark is how annoyingly evangelical people who have done it often become. I think it's just that they have seen things about themselves that have made such a difference to them and they want everyone to have that. This is most true with the people who have just done the Forum. They come off this amazing three day experience where their most pressing life questions get answered, and they can't understand why everyone wouldn't want that. I see the same thing in people who have recently found religion. They get all holier-than-thou on you because they have Jesus and you may be going to hell. So yeah, I call these people in Landmark Landroids and frankly, I think they give all us Landmark-folks a bad name.

Anyway, they offer this very intense six month leadership course which I have dropped out of six times in my life, because it gets too confrontational, but am committed to doing this year. It's ridiculously intense and demanding, but it forces you to push through all the stuff that has held you back in the past, and the results I've seen in friends who have done it are simply amazing. And my life just really works when I'm involved in Landmark - I have better relationships, I go to church more, I sing more, I travel more - I basically live a lot more of a bigger and fuller life when I am in a seminar or program. So I've got that coming up, and am starting to gear myself up for it. March 19 is the final date - I'm going to complete it this time for sure. I can't drop out of it seven times. That's just too annoying.

My other thing I've done lately is start a podcast on English Renaissance History - it's at http://englandcast.blogspot.com if you're interested. I hope to do it once a week. Next episode - cricket and other games in the 16th century.

So that's what's going on here. Life is good and getting fuller and I'm nervously excited.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Catching up on podcasts

I'm a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to podcasts. I subscribe to about 100 podcasts. It's just too much to keep up with...so two or three times a week I catch up on many of them. These are my favorites:

-Marketplace, which I listen to every day on the radio, and only grab the podcast when I miss it. I love me some Jeremy Hobson.

-The Dinner Party Download - by the same people who do marketplace, only it's fun.

-Infomania - kind of like The Daily Show, but it's only on once a week.

- In Our Time - a BBC Radio 4 Program(me) that covers all kinds of history and philosophy sorts of things.

- The Economist - just because I love the journalism.

- The Opinion column of the New Yorker - also because I love the journalism.

- F1 Minute - enough F1 news for my ADD brain to keep up with.

- The Guardian Books podcast - I love the recommendations and discussions.

These are the ones I try to keep up with pretty regularly. I grab a bunch of religion, buddhist-geek ones as well, but don't listen to them that regularly. So I'm catching up on podcasts today. Fun times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Learning about Bear-Proofing our house

We've been getting regular visits from our new brown furry friend, Mr. Bear. He's just a wee cub now, but we don't want him hanging around as a grown up, so we're learning how to bear proof the house, so he doesn't get any ideas about eating the cats for dinner.

Other than that, not much going on. Visit from the inlaws over the weekend, and I'm re-reading Harry Potter number 6 after seeing the movie, and forgetting what was missed. I sure miss new Harry Potter books coming out.




Monday, July 13, 2009

travel and phone gadgets

So I was in Chicago over the weekend at the American Library Association's annual meeting. Lots of books and databases and security strips and other exciting things like that. Of particular interest - the mango smoothies and brazilian flipping dancers attracting attention at the Mango Languages booth (Mango is an online language learning service, kind of like Rosetta Stone). I enjoyed being in a walking city again - I really miss that in LA. I miss bumping into people, and passing by buskers and street life in general.

It's good to be home, though. I went swimming in the lake this evening, which was nice and refreshing. I've been really enjoying swimming in the lake.

For the next time I travel, though, I want this gadget. An overlay on your cell phone so that when you point the camera in your phone in different directions in cities, it adds in all the restaurants, tourist attractions, etc, right there on your screen. That is too cool.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rocket Butt

I was on a plane today catching up on podcasts and had the pleasure of watching the latest Infomania (I love current tv). Every week they take a funny theme and find youtube videos that fit with that theme. This week it was people shooting rockets out of their butts. Seriously, where do these people live? Who does this stuff? I was laughing so hard, I snorted and the person next to me thought I was very odd.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Doritos new marketing gimmick...

To be filed in the Funny Marketing Ideas folder...

Doritos is now offering a virtual concert to anyone who buys a certain brand of their chips. If you like Blink182 and you like corn chips, you should check this out. Apparently you scan the bag in front of your webcam, a Blink concert comes on, and it's all instant-gratification from there - if you shake the bag, they dance more. If you scream loud enough they play an encore. Very weird idea. I wonder how it will work out.



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dude, I've gotta stop obsessing

I'm in a melancholy Dido-inspired mood. I love Dido, but she depresses the sh*t out of me.

So it all started yesterday when I went to the Getty and swear I saw an ex-friend. She dumped me as a friend because I was too much of a flake for her. I really am a flake sometimes. I wish I could be a better friend to people, and now that I'm settled, it is getting better, but for a few years there when I was all over the map I was impossible to have as a friend, and this friend got the worst of it. Cancelled trips, just not showing up for stuff, changing my number and forgetting to tell her - you name it. And she put up with it for about four years, and finally got sick of it and wrote me off. That was in 2005, and for the first couple of years I was busy falling in love with J and getting married and all that stuff. But now I really really miss her. She was totally a kindred spirit, and I don't think I'll ever have a friend like her again. Which is really sad. But it's totally my fault, and that's the lesson I need to learn, I guess. I will have other friends, and maybe even other best friends, but I won't have another friend like her, and that breaks my heart.

So yesterday I swear I saw her. Actually, I heard her first, talking on the phone. I looked over, and I swear it was her. I totally had a freakout for a second and ran away, but then looked back, feeling brave enough to talk to her, and she was gone. So I sent her a text. Then, after looking at art, I drove home, and the entire way I was thinking about some of my favorite times with her (we both lived in London at the same time, though we're both American, and I have so many happy memories of clubbing in Soho, and walking through Regents park, just shooting the sh*t and talking about our dreams) and then I got really sad. So what did I do? Made a video with my cell phone, which I emailed to her. But I guess the sound didn't come through, so she emails back wondering who I am and what I'm doing. So then I felt stupid. So then I emailed her a general gist of what I was trying to say, and I haven't heard back from her. I feel like a teenager trying to ask a boy out on a date. It's pathetic. I just can't get it through my head that she shouldn't be able to forgive me and give me another chance. But really, my nine lives were up somewhere around 2003, and she still gave me chances for two years after that.

I guess I'm just getting to an age where I'm valuing my friendships more, and sad to see one that was so special to me go away.

I don't know whether she might google me and read this, so if she has, S, I'm sorry for being a stalker. I suck like that. And I'm sorry for being such a lame friend. And I'm just sorry in general.

---
Other than being pathetic, my weekend is going well. The neighbors who own the house next to us, which they use as a second getaway home and only come up about once every two months, are up having a bachelor party for the son of the guy who owns it. 10 boys all weekend. J is hanging out with them, fishing and going out tonight to the local watering hole, which I think is fun for him since he never had a bachelor party (he didn't want one). Me, I'm just doing chores, cleaning a little, watching Wimbledon, and generally putzing around.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Quality Alone Time

I am enjoying an empty house while J goes to LAX to pick up a visiting buddy. It's nice having Quality Alone Time. Just me and the cats, hanging out, listening to Girly Music, watching Chick Movies, doing facial masks, yada yada. I built a fire, and ate half a watermelon for dinner while watching a Renee Zellweger movie. No Sports Allowed on Girly Nights!

But now I keep peeing because of the watermelon. Sigh. The trials and tribulations I face.

I had a productive day today, which feels good. It was busy, with many conference calls, but it felt good to get things done and be in a zen mode while focusing on one thing at a time. I need to be like that more often. I get so much more done that way. Being consciously zen about it all.

There are eight cats in my living room sitting all around me right now. We're all just chilling by the fire, in various states of doziness. I guess I've gotta get up to feed them before I pass out, otherwise they'll be angry with me in the morning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One other thought

How much of a b*tch is Daniella on The Fashion Show? Man, I hope she doesn't make it till the end. She is just one nasty mean person.

On Profundity

I was just thinking about how I don't ever really have anything profound to say in my blogs anymore, and why this is. When I started my first blog, back in 2002, I felt like I was profound all the time. Now sometimes I go back and read that blog and I get annoyed with how self-important I was, all caught up in the drama that was my life (the broken heart, the missing London, the blah blah blah blah of it all).

So it leads me to wonder - have I really run out of profound things to say, or has my threshold of profundity gone up several levels? I still notice things, think about stuff, make plans and all of that, but really, in the grand scheme of things, it all seems so small and petty. We are truly the center of our own universes, but really, my universe just doesn't seem as profound anymore.

Who knows.

Anyway, spent the weekend doing Weekend Things including buying a new netbook (i've been wanting one to replace my tiny asus, which I sold on ebay, for a few weeks), watching he's just not that into you (the book version convinced me to move back to Cali from Tennessee, where i was in a Really Boring Relationship with a guy who Just Didn't Care despite my making lots of excuses for him), finishing up tiling the walls in the bathroom, cleaning, laundry - all that exciting stuff.

I'm behind on my words-per-day, but I'm going to do some writing before bed, and tomorrow. Hubby is going to LAX to pick up a houseguest, and I'll have the evening to myself. I'm thinking a nice fire, hot chocolate, snuggles with the cats, and my netbook, all cozy in the living room with candles. All the girly trappings.

I go up to San Jose on Thursday - haven't flown in three weeks or so, and I had been getting into a nice rhythm of not traveling, but it's only for a day, and then no flights till July. One good thing about the stinking economy is that I have a reason to not fly so much.

I've been feeling a little bit depressed lately, which has been amplified by the fact that I listened to Tori Amos for two hours today. I had forgotten how much I loved her. But she does make me peevy. And the June Gloom is bothering me. It's been nice for a few days to feel like autumn is here already, but I'm getting sick of it and am ready for the sun to come back out. And I'm reading a galley copy of Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes, whom I love. And that's about it really. I am bemoaning my lack of profundity, listening to angry chick rock, and watching cheesy movies whilst vacuming. Such a cliche.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why didn't they have this when I was single?

How funny - a singles flight on Air New Zealand. The LA Times reported on it.

The “matchmaking flight” departs Los Angeles (LAX) for Auckland, New Zealand, on Oct. 13. Festivities will begin with a pre-flight gate party at the airport, and the flight cabin itself should be abuzz with food, beverages and games. Once you’re in Auckland, you’re invited to attend a Matchmaking Ball at Auckland’s SkyTower.

How frigging creative. I love fun stuff like this.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Pirate Party

To be filed in the People who Do Cool Things file:
The Pirate Party in Sweden might have enough votes to win a seat in the European Parliament. They want to essentially rewrite copyright law so that music, movies, and all media is freely shared online. They were formed after the government shut down a file-sharing site called Pirate Bay. A bunch of geeky IT guys are at the core of the party. Go Geeky Pirates!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday at the Lake and Patriotism

It's kind of messy and cloudy Down the Hill (what we call mountain-folk call the rest of southern california) but we're above the clouds, so I went to the lake today for the first time of the season. Our lake is only about a mile from the house, and our little small town in the summer is so Norman Rockwell, I could spit. Everyone comes to the lake, gets hot dogs from the 7-11 across the street, and it's just too much Americana and I eat it all up.

Which reminds me of the fact that my hubby is friends with someone who is currently going on about how America kind of sucks, and it makes me think about how I never appreciated America until I lived abroad. Yeah, there's parts of America that are really pretty bad, and it's easy to throw around statistics about how we suck at health care and education and yada yada (and I'm not saying we don't). BUT. It's easy for Sweden to be first in everything. They have like ten people and an area like the size of California. Just like it's easy to manage a supply chain that's smaller, it's much easier to manage a smaller country (for one reason, it's not as diverse. When you look at Olympic teams, how many countries have teams as diverse as the US??? Maybe the UK and some European places come close, but no one has all the nationalities represented that the US does). Just because a lot of our schools are miserable, doesn't mean that we also don't have some of the best schools in the world. The UK has Cambridge an Oxford (and the London School of Economics. How could I miss that?). We have Harvard and Yale and Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago and NYU and Columbia and tons more that are comparable to any schools in the rest of the world.

I guess the thing is that it's just not comparing apples to apples when you compare the statistics of the US against the rest of the world. Compare the US to other countries with its size (Russia, China, India?) and diversity (um...none) and it becomes a much more flattering picture.

And I'm not all into hugging America and stuff right now, but I think it's pretty cool that I live in a country that has given its citizens the right to pursue happiness. No other country has done that. We have codified the right to try to do what we want to do . Yeah, it sometimes creates a national identity of selfishness and survival of the fittest, but that's just taking the bad with the good, and I'm learning to overlook that.

And we elected Obama. So to me, there's got to be hope for this country. Not like I don't want to get back to the UK - lord knows I do - but when I do, I'll still be sticking up for America because like Bill Clinton said, there's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what is right with America.

And with that, the patriotic lecture is now officially over.

Homemade pizza date night tonight. Yippeeee! I love me some homemade pizza date nights.

And what about The Fashion Show (which I continue to watch even though I don't like it...I just miss Project Runway so much!). This week's episode was great. I was drooling over the shoes. But I'm bummed that the guy got kicked off - I didn't like his dress, but I thought the girls were way too b*tchy about him and I wanted him to stay just to spite them.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some things I'm thinking about right now...

-bummed at missing the Champion's League final yesterday now that I know who won. Bummer for ManU. Catching up on what happened with podcasts

-heard on Marketplace (I love Marketplace...):
The pope's radio station is going to start running ads for the first time in the 78 years it's been on the air. Vatican Radio said this week it'll start taking what the pope's spokesman calls "ideologically sound" commercials come July. The first spot will be from the Italian energy company Enel. They don't call 'em ads, by the way. It's... publicity.

-think AudioBoo is the coolest new toy ever.

-and I'm stoked that I got invited to join the Amazon Vine program because I have a high reviewer ranking. All those years of reviewing books and music is paying off. Man, I'm so excited. Free books. Yay for me!

- watched The Fashion Show for the first time the other day - I'm going through Project Runway withdrawal, so I thought i'd give it a try. Bad move. Isaac and Kelly do not match up to Tim and Heidi, and the contestants all seem really weird. I like the team challenge aspect, though.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm a little bit ashamed...

...of how much I love Peter Cetera.
(she says, sneaking around listening to World Falling Down, which is like marshmallows for the ears - totally devoid of any nutrition whatsoever, but dang, it's sweet going down...)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still stewing in nomadchick messiness

Thank you to the comment on yesterday's post about not giving up on my dreams. I'm definitely not going to do that - I guess I'm more just thinking about what my dreams really are these days. I feel like NomadChick has been this anvil around my neck for so long - that was my dream when I was 24, but I don't know whether it is any longer.

And I'm thinking about other dreams that I might have now that I never had before. I've had a lot of people tell me, for example, that I take really good pictures, and I'm always walking around with a camera in my pocket, so now I'm thinking about taking a photography course in the fall. And writing classes. And who knows what else. Considering I'm not that nomadic myself anymore, is nomadchick really the highest expression of my dreams that I can think of? So that's what I'm stewing in at the moment. I still think I'm going to do something with it, but I don't think it's going to be NomadChick.

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day, and remembered all the service men and women. We had our lovely neighbors over for a cookout and sat around telling stories for hours. They are a retired couple who live in Palm Springs during the winter, and just came back up for the summer, which makes me so happy. It's so nice to see other people in the house, and it not just sitting empty.

Before that, though, I had to clean the deck. There's this really gross yellow powder that starts collecting for about three weeks at this time of year, which is followed by the worms that fall from the trees. Ick. Today I finally got seriously fed up with the powder, and besides, it's done for the season, I think. So I swept, cleaned, and rinsed all the deck furniture and got rid of a lot of it. I wish it would rain and wash it all away but I'm not holding my breath. It probably won't rain until at least late August or early September now, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I got filthy, but it felt good to work hard. I like physical labor on a fairly regular basis. It makes the shower afterwards feel so much more earned.

I was decluttering my space this weekend and found a bunch of half-finished cross stitch projects that it would be good to finish, so I'm going to work on one a bit before bed tonight, and that's really all the excitement I can think of.

Oh, and I am trying to write 1500 words a day, and got in all 1500 words each day this weekend. Now let's see if I can do it on the weekned.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Could this be a turning point?

So here's something weird that happened. My NomadChick.com domain name expired, and someone else grabbed it for a real estate blog. It's really a strange feeling. My life has been dominated, on and off, for nearly eight years, by the desire to create an online community for single women travelers. I never fully realized that vision (though in London, the Nomadchick meetup has about 400 people in it, so maybe it is getting realized that way?) for various reasons - mostly feelings of inadequacy and fear. I could probably be in therapy for ages figuring out why I never completed much with NomadChick. But I didn't, and now it's gone.

I have a couple of choices:

I could buy a similar domain name - nomadchick.net or something - and still try to make a go of nomadchick (rather like how Breakup Girl had to buy a new domain name after Oxygen.com screwed her - I love breakup Girl).

I could buy a different domain name that still has something to do with women and travel, travelchick or something? - and try to get the whole thing going again under a different name, without all my nomadchick baggage.

I could declare the thing "over" and let it go.

So I'm going to have a think on it. Either way, I'm sure that this whole "letting the domain name expire" thing was meant to happen. I couldn't just keep clinging to it and never doing it.

Anyway, that's my news. Long time no blog because I injured my shoulder and spent a week and a half completely high on painkillers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory meds. I couldn't string together enough words to make one sentence, let alone a blog entry.

Happy Memorial Day. Now I've gotta edit all my profile listings everywhere and take out NomadChick from the listings. It's a weird feeling. I'm just going to let it sift for a little bit. No rash actions. Just sit and stew in it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More Spring Weekending

Oprah says to declutter, so I'm decluttering. I had a big yard sale yesterday, and after lugging tons of bags down the 32 stairs from our house to our driveway, there was no way I was lugging them all back up again, so the stuff that didn't sell got taken to the thrift store, where I got a tax credit thingy. It was a good time. I was happy that a bunch of stuff got sold, and by 2pm I was ready to wrap up. After going to the thrift store, we went to the Mexican restaurant by the lake and sat outside enjoying the breeze and watching the water.

Now that my life is decluttered, I am amazed at my closet. Everything in my closet fits and looks good on me now. It's such a great feeling.

Today I am having a Recession Spa day, which includes having my hubby do my highlights and cut my hair (he's good at it!) and having him help with my pedicure. It's nice having a husband who's secure enough in his masculinity to help me with my girly things.

After the Recession Spa day I will work a bit in my garden, but it's a bit too cold outside to do a lot, so I will work with my pots in the kitchen. And then, the highlight of my week, the Tudors.

I love peaceful quiet weekends like this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pig Panic

Seriously, what's up with all the swine panic? Do we as a human race (and Americans especially) really just need something to freak out about at all times? Now that we live in sublime comfort (compared to the rest of our ancestors for, say, most of human history), and we don't have to go out and chase buffalo for food, and worry about starvation, cold, death by being burned as a heretic, and any other number of ways to die that led to a life expectancy of about 28... are we just finding new and ridiculous things to freak out about?

If I hear one more person talk about a pandemic I'm going to throw something at them. Seriously.

That being said, to stop complaining for a second, how much do I totally love Fresh and Easy markets? I knew I would since they're owned by Tesco in the UK, who's Tesco Local in Covent Garden I bought many a lunchtime prawn sandwich from, but additionally, they are just a really great supermarket. Like a combination of Trader Joe's (size, unique brands, lots of good organic produce) and Costco (stuff isn't unpacked all the time, it's super-cheap, free samples) it is the only place I've been doing grocery shopping for about 2 months now. And for the 30 minutes a week that I'm there, I can ignore all the American accents, focus on the wheatabix and marmite, and pretend that I'm back in Covent Garden and I shall shortly walk over to Charing Cross Road and spend two hours in Foyle's. It's kind of the way I get in the Boots aisle at Target. For a couple of blissful moments a week I can stare at the Boots brands, and pretend I'm in Picadilly and will be walking back up to Brewer Street stopping for a coffee from the Italian Stallion at Cafe Nero along the way.

It's funny how life gets all wrapped up in brands...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Art and Gardens

I am having an absolutely lovely Saturday, which was preceded by an absolutely lovely Friday. Loveliness abounds!

Yesterday I had a lunch thing in Westwood on Mulholland Drive, which lasted until nearly 4. Rather than sit in Friday rush-hour traffic for three hours, I decided to go to LACMA and take in some renaissance art. I never thought I was much of an art person. I'm not particularly visually stimulated, I don't learn much through watching movies and such, and the only D I ever got in college was art history, which was mostly slide-identification, and since it was Renaissance art, it was all Madonna and Child and I couldn't see any difference in them.

Then when I lived in London I worked really close to the National Gallery, and over lunch one day I thought "Self, you really should get your butt up there and look at some original Da Vinci's" and since it was free, I went. Man. It rocked my world. Looking at pictures in a textbook, and original canvasses is not at all the same experience. I could stare at Da Vinci's sketches for hours, looking at the scratches the pencil made, thinking how his hand was right there, wondering what he was thinking about when he was doing it. Wandering around the rest of the gallery I was amazed to see how people played with light and dimensions, and to see the amazing colors in the altarpieces. It was all a total trip and got me back into art (that snotty professor who said I was lazy and just didn't care can kiss my butt, too).

So yesterday I went to the European art building, skipped right through the Greeks and Egyptians, and parked myself in front of an altarpiece depicting the story of St. George. Fortunately I'm a medieval geek, and the rest of the crowd wasn't as impressed with the portraits of virgins as I was, so I had the spot pretty much to myself. It gave my soul a nice artistic fill-up, which it was needing. When I walked back out to the main plaza, there was a big jazz concert, and I bought a fruit salad, took it to a bench in the park by the tar pits (in prehistoric times LA was covered in tar, and the La Brea Tar Pits are the coolest thing ever - they've found all kinds of dinosaur remains in them) and enjoyed the sun and the music.

Then I drove to the freeway via Wilshire, and passed by the neighborhood I lived in the first time I was in LA, before London, in 1998. It's always fun to go back there. I loved my little studio apartment with the fold-in-the-wall bed, and I always say hello to the neighborhood whenever possible.

This morning I slept in and then got to work clearing a square of land in the backyard in which I am planning a vegetable garden. It had a lot of overgrowth and rocks that needed digging up, as well as a few odd small tree stumps, but I got through about half of it, and hopefully I won't be too sore to finish it tomorrow. Then next week I shall begin planting the carrots, green beans, lettuce and cucumbers. Won't I feel smug later this summer when I make dinner and nonchalantly say "oh, this salad? Yes, the lettuce is from the garden outside..." I make myself want to puke just thinking about it.

We had homemade pizza night, which is the Saturday Thing To Do, and then I took a long soak with Christopher Buckley. Well, his book. Not him. I also went to the library and returned a bunch of Alison Weir books I'd taken out - I'm trying out her historical fiction...I don't blame her for writing historical fiction when she sees what the Phillappa Gregory's of the world are doing, but man, I think she should stick to nonfiction. Though her history of Katherine Swynford was dry as dust, but I don't think that was her fault - there aren't a lot of records to go off of for the 12th and 13th centuries, except payments made from someone to someone else, so nearly every page says something like "Later that year, Leicester made a payment of 2 pounds to Katherine" and thus we can assume something. I slogged through it. Hopefully the murder of Lord Darnley will be more compelling.

Off to bed, and setting the alarm EARLY for the Bahrain Formula One race tomorrow - we're tivoing it, but want to try to wake up early to watch it live, and thus, send good energy to Lewis Hamilton.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Airports

I'm hanging out in the san jose airport. In the past six days I've been in the following airports - Atlanta, LAX, Ontario (California - not Canada), Charlottesville VA, and here, San Jose. I swear, I should get a job as a flight attendant...

I like airports because I'm in this world that's kind of like a video game or Second Life or something. It's semi-real - the stores are recognizable, the people look human, the bathrooms are usually clean, and the environment is a super-sterilized version of the normal world. At the same time, everyone in an airport is in their own world, coming and going, wishing they were somewhere else, anywhere else besides a sterilized airport. I like looking at the departure screens and imagining all the places that I could go. I could accidentally stow away on a flight to Singapore, and the next time I smelled fresh air, it would be Singaporean air.

A few years ago I was in Norway, and after a horrible week that included the worst heat-wave they've ever had (in a non-airconditioned hotel, of course), sickness, and a ridiculously busy work schedule, I was in the airport, which looked like an Ikea showroom, and got ready for the second half of my work-trip, in the UK. I was boarding a flight to Heathrow, which, under any other circumstances, would have made me ever so happy. But all I could do was sit under the departure screens staring at the flight to New York, longingly, wishing more than anything that I could be going home. And the funny thing was that the gates were next to each other. Going down one gangway would have taken me to Newark. The other took me to Slough (the most miserable city in the UK according to a recent study).

I like airport time, and plane time, because I'm pretty much un-get-a-hold-of and the world moves in slow motion for me. Plus there's expensive sodas and Cinnabon, which normally I would never go near, but Airport Calories don't count (they apparently get taken away when you go above 30,000 feet). So it's a good day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sick

So I got really sick last weekend. Like, REALLY sick. Like, going to the hospital because I was throwing up so much I was critically dehydrated sick. And I've decided something. Being sick as an adult sucks. When you're a kid and you get sick, it's totally cool. You get to stay home from school and watch crappy daytime tv - when I was a kid it was stuff like Mash and Hogan's Hero's reruns intersperced with the ITT Tech commercials. (Incidentally, these days I tivo Melrose Place reruns on the Soap network because no matter how many times I've watched it, I still have to root for Amanda and Kyle to work out because they were just so sweet and normal together. I'm just not down with Amanda and Peter.)

But when you're an adult you don't get people coo-ing over you. You get to clean up your own throw up messes. You still have to feed the cats and clean the litter boxes. The emails still pile up. It's just too much effort. Seriously, it's just not fun. Fortunately for at least the first day I had my hubby helping, but then he got sick too, so we were just a sick mess.

Also, I found another chin hair last night. Who decided that it would be a fun thing to give women chin hair when they hit their 30's? Like I don't have enough hair-related stuff to worry about already. Now I get to examine my chin once a month in a magnifying mirror just to make sure I don't look like the witch from hanzel and gretel.

ERGH!

Anyway, the whole throwing up repeatedly thing has had me rethinking pregnancy. I was all for it last week, which was, admittedly, during the "let's have a baby" part of my cycle, and I got caught in the cute baby section of Target, but still. I was all like, "ok, I'll make an appointment with my doc, let's do it." But now I need a break from throwing up. A big break. And I want to eat a magic mushroom on a beach in Goa first during a spiritual Indian yoga retreat. That's not really something you can do when you have a kid. The magic mushrooms, that is. The yoga retreat would probably be good for the kid. So I'm going to refill my pill prescription and tell my parents they won't be grandparents for a while yet. I still got stuff to do and places to go before I'm ready to pack up the RV and go on family camping trips to Yosemite.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Still trying to make up my mind what to do when I grow up

I'm having a Weird Day. Well, actually it's been a Weird Week. I went up to San Mateo on Wednesday, and am going up again this week. I'd say I'm getting too old for all those long days, but I'm not. I guess I'm just lazy at the moment. The past two weeks have been really stressful, and I'm finding it difficult to manage life in the midst of stress. Like the huge piles of mail that seem to be mating and having children every time I step away from my desk.

So I tried to spend this weekend just chilling out. Went to the video store and got two movies, made a big batch of Italian Wedding soup to graze on all day, have been reading, napping, etc. I must get to the mail pile at some point, but it will still be there tomorrow, and I'm not going to mail any checks on a Sunday night, so I'm just going to listen to Bruckner and deal with it tomorrow.

The thing that made today Weird, though, was that I watched a wonderful movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which I highly recommend. But the building that one of the main characters lived in is the building I used to work in, on John Adam Street, WC2H, near the Charing Cross Station and the bend in the Thames. It got me really missing London. I'm really struggling to figure out how I'm going to get back there. When I first had to leave I was all full of optimism. I'd get my MBA and would find a company to sponsor me, or I'd just start a company, or I'd become a famous writer, or I'd get married to a British man, or something simply because I had to be in London. It's where my soul is supposed to be. When I would go back on vacations I'd send postcards to myself, reminding myself of how happy I am there, and warning myself not to get lazy and complacent. (On a side note, the first time J and I went to London, he said he was amazed because I was like me, only totally different. It was like me on steroids or something. He said I was happy and energetic and alive in ways he'd never seen in me before).

Which now, seven years later, it appears I've done. I keep trying to believe that everything happens for a reason, and I'm on a Path and I'll be led back there when the time is right, or I'll just figure something out and the heavens will open up and everything will be magic again. But the chances of that happening, especially next year if I get pregnant, are getting more slim. So I give myself pep-talks. Ok, this is the year when I really figure my sh*t out, right? No more being Lazy. Whatever it is - marketing for libraries, freelance marketing, who the heck knows - whatever it is, I'll do it This Year. And another year goes by, and I've not done it.

I don't want to just have another pep-talk with myself. I want to cause a transformation in my thinking, Landmark-style.

So rather than thinking about what I want to be when I grow up, I think I need to focus on the lifestyle I want, and then create something that fits within that.

The first thing is mobility. I want to be able to spend summers in the UK, and the school year in PA. And I would like to travel to CA on a regular basis. I want my child to be fully aware of, and engaged with, the larger world around him/her, and to experience it firsthand. I want him to be both a cricket and a baseball fan. Thankfully, with the internet, that is possible in ways it never was even fifteen years ago.

Second, I do not want to have to travel for work a lot. I want the travel I do to largely be pleasure. I travel for work a lot now, and I'm growing weary of it. A few times a year, maybe even once every six weeks or so, that's ok. But not every week, or even every month.

Third, I want to work for myself so that I own my time. Whether that means having some consulting gigs, and then having clients of my own, I don't know. And I don't mind hard work and long-ish hours. But I want to control those hours.

Fourth, goshdarnit, I want to make a good salary. I won't hide it. I'm good at what I do, and I need to learn how to charge for it properly. It's one thing having a salary, like I do now, and quite another to say up-front to a potential client "I think this is what I'm worth" and give some number that seems huge to me, but probably isn't so bad to them.

One good thing about the economy right now is that everyone is hunkering down and it's giving me a chance to plan and think and come to some decisions so that when things turn around - and they will - it will be good timing. I need to get on people's radar now, so that in a few years they'll hire me and I will make this dream-life thing come true.

I'm too young to be giving up on my dreams, right? I mean, everyone is too young to give up on dreams, but I'm particularly too young. And then I can watch movies with buildings in London and not cry inside.

Besides, this whole Getting Back To London thing has become the Story of my Life, and it's getting a little bit boring to keep repeating. So I've gotta stop it and just figure it out already.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Check-in

It's March 1 and I thought I'd do a New Year's Resolution Check-in.

1. Listening to new music... In February I discovered - or rediscovered - Finzi and Vaughan Williams choral work, Jill Scott, Ingrid Michaelson, Deuter new age music, Armik (kind of flamenco type stuff) Asa and Pink Martini.
2. working out five times a week... yep, this has been going good, and I upped the workouts to 45 minutes a session rather than just 30. Good stuff.
3. cutting back on sugar... Well, it's a little weird because I have now cut out all artificial sweeteners and am drinking "regular" coke, and iced coffees, but it seems to be true that artificial sweeteners stimulate a sweet-tooth, at least with me, because I suddenly have no desire to eat much chocolate. Very strange. Again, I wish I could quantify this somehow.
4. drinking more water... averaging 6 glasses a day.
5. going to one museum a month... did not do this in February, but will try to do two to make up for it in March?
6. finding a church for spirituality and friends... I did go to the Methodist church down the hill, and am planning on checking out Episcopalian church in Lake Arrowhead next week.
7. finding a choir or starting one... I had been starting one with a voice teacher, but that hasn't really gone anywhere yet. So I've got to get on that again.
8. reading at least one "smart" book a month... I did read more books this month, but none of them were non-fiction ones. There were some "intelligent" ones, but not any non-fiction.
9. journaling and meditating daily... Not every day, but I have been doing better. Plus yoga three times a week.
10. playing the piano a few times a week... I played the piano once a week during February. Need to get that up, but it's a start.

I'm also planning my trips to Iceland and back to London later on this spring/summer so I'm doing better with the whole being Grown Up Girl and not being so neurotic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maternal Visits

I'm in the midst of a Maternal Visit, with all of the stressiness that entails. Fortunately I thought ahead and the whole thing is only lasting until Thursday. Then I'm going to target for some retail therapy including new shoes. New shoes fix all stresses, I've found.

Today we went down the back of the mountain to the high desert. We ate buffalo burgers at this kitchy cowboy place in Littlerock, and then went to the poppy reserve, which isn't in full bloom yet, but will be in a few weeks.

Later tonight I tried to explain the humor of The Daily Show, and we have now reverted to watching Golden Girls reruns. I'm planning to make my escape to the bathtub to read soon.

I'm giving up Diet Coke for lent. No more artificial sweeteners, mostly because I want to get off of them when I get pregnant, so this is good practice. J is giving up meat so I'm going to have to learn more veggie recipes. So that's the news from here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Things

I have been snowed in since Thursday night, so going on a week. Here is how I have been occupying myself, especially during the three day weekend...

- long bubblebaths. I finished two books this weekend, and started a third. My minimum bubblebath time is at least 90 minutes. And it's lovely now that we have a huge window installed next to the tub, which J put in last summer. I open it up just a crack to let the cool air in, and watch the steam come rolling off my knees, and listen to the snow falling down in chunks from the trees when the branches can't handle it anymore. And I play with the cats, who seem to be massively interested in all things soap-related. They try to catch my toes, sticking out of the bath, and then I pull them under the water and they go chasing after them (the toes) until they're up to their shoulders in bathwater. Then they look at me with a weird expression, shake off their arm, and fall for it again. Whoever said cats were the smartest animals around clearly didn't live with nine of them.

- naps. I'm not a big napper. I usually wake up more tired than when I napped, and just want to go straight to bed. But I've been enjoying naps at the big picture window by the bed, with at least one or two cats snuggling with me, looking out at the trees and snow falling. Very cozy.

- cooking comfort food. On Saturday I boiled down a chicken carcass to make stock and made some lovely homemade chicken soup with carrots, celery, corn, and rice (cooked in the stock). That saw us through the weekend. Yesterday I made shephards pie, which is the ultimate in snowy comfort food. And I've been making a lot of grilled cheese to eat with tomato soup. I also made chocolate chip cookies and roasted a chicken tonight. It's gonna be a good week for food.

- playing oblivion. I'm almost done with the game (just the Dark Brotherhood and Daedric Shrines quests to do yet) and need to download the Shivering Isles expansion pack. And ever since I got my invisibility power, it's becoming less exciting because rather than kill monsters and goblins, I can just make myself invisible and run right past them, but really, there's nothing better than spending three hours listening to an audiobook, and hunting around Cyrodil for nirnroot (of which I have collected 263) and killing those stupid trolls. I hate trolls.

- downloading music. I'm so happy with my new music and the end of my entertainment crisis. I'm all inspired to start another choir-for kids this time, and go to choral workshops, and take some choral conducting classes and get myself more voice lessons. I'm also having fun organizing all of my previously unorganized music so that when I get a new zune - if my state income tax refund ever comes - I'll be able to stick it all on in good format rather than the hodgepodge that's on my archos jukebox right now. At last count I have over 6000 music files on my external hard drive that need to be catalogued. Gee. If only I knew where to find some music librarians...

Lately I've discovered, and fallen in love with, Jill Scott (call me slow - the rest of the world is already in love with her), Santogold, and the Blue Heron Choir. I've also rediscovered She and Him, Ivy, and Bliss.

So that's been the way I've been keeping myself occupied with this snowiness. Today I got out and shoveled for two hours, hence the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Shoveling burns like 500 calories an hour, I read. I'm sore in places I didn't even know existed. More tomorrow, I think. It beats the elliptical machine. Today I enjoyed shoveling by listening to What Would Google Do on my mp3 player. Hopefully the car will be cleared out tomorrow. The hard stuff was doing the berm today. I've never used the word "berm" so much since living up here in the mountains. I never even knew what it meant a year ago. Now I use it in everyday conversation about six times a day. Weird.

Currently reading: Right Before your Eyes by Ellen Shanman.
Just finished: A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (part of a wonderful series of chick-lit mysteries set in 1930's London, and a new discovery of mine)
Currently listening to: Elgar and the English Choral Tradition with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Also loving: Dragonnette

Monday, February 16, 2009

Snow...again

I'm glad I didn't buy new springtime patio cushions when they first came out at Target a few weeks ago, when, coincidentally, we also had a warm spell and I thought winter might be over. No such luck.

We had snow all weekend last weekend, but it wasn't really sticking, until Monday morning when I had to go up to San Mateo. I wound up getting stuck up there because J got stuck on the mountain and couldn't come down to get me at the airport. Which was a fun excuse to go to the gap and buy some new clothes, I admit, but still, it wasn't under the best of circumstances.

Then on Thursday we checked the weather again and it predicted this storm coming Friday, with a break on Saturday, and then the big whopper on Sunday and Monday. So we went down the hill and got groceries, etc., on Thursday night so we could just hunker down and be warm and not worry about having to go anywhere. Now we're getting a weird mixture of sleet, hail, snow and rain, plus it's wicked foggy. I'm making a shephard's pie, which seems about the most appropriate food to have on a day like this. I'm slightly worried because I'm running low on diet cokes, but I can always walk up to the liquor store to get some. And our tv/dish is working, so really, we have everything we need and life is good. It's nice to be snowed in when you don't have to get anywhere. And I have an empty calendar this week.

I'm happily getting back into reading since I finished the newest Matthew Shardlake mystery that I was waiting for such a long time. It seems my entertainment crisis is abating somewhat, which is nice. Now if only the snow would melt so I could start working on some of my other new year's resolutions which include doing sociable things. It's hard to be sociable when you've got two feet of snow on the ground and can't get anywhere.

I think I'll play the piano some tonight, and catch up on a pile of magazines that need to be read. It's nice to be cozy, but I sure am looking forward to sunshine again soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

It is well with my soul

J and I had a harrowing day. It's been snowing all weekend, which hadn't amounted until much until this morning, when, of course, I was due to go up to San Mateo for the day. With no plows coming through until 7am, and a 6:45am flight, we were fighting our way up the hill of our driveway at 5am with huge big chunks of snow coming down at the rate of several inches an hour. We needed chains almost the whole way down the mountain. I got to the airport at 6:15, just barely in time for my flight.

J took a nap in the Target parking lot while I was on the most frightening flight of my life, as we were going through the rain clouds. They had warned us it was going to get "bumpy" - they didn't tell us it was going to get like a roller coaster. We were literally being knocked in every direction, up and down, sideways, and directions I didn't even know existed. The seatbelt dug into my lap and I hit my head on the window and the guy next to me had his seatbelt on too loose and got thrown up six inches in the air. So yeah, it was scary.

At the same time J was trying to head up the mountain and the chains snapped. He wound up stuck in a snowbank with the rear of the car hanging out into the road. Finally a tow truck driver came by and offered to "drag" him back up the mountain. Ever see those people in roller rinks join hands and whip the "end" people around the corners? That's what J was going through as this tow truck dragged the little car through the rocks and such along the side of the mountain road. Thankfully there wasn't any damage to the car, but now the chains are caught in the wheel and he's going to have to cut them, which is going to be a job.

It's been a very tiring day and I'm glad to be going to sleep soon. While I was on my scary flight trying to stay calm I listened to one of my favorite hymns of all time, It is Well with my soul. The guy who wrote it had some tragic stuff happen - a baby die, losing everything in the chicago fire, then all four daughters die in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. As he was going to join his wife in Europe, and passed near where his daughters died, he wrote the hymn as a reflection of what was still good - mercy and grace and love and forgiveness - and that things were indeed well with his soul. Once we got above the clouds I was feeling quite close to God, and it wasn't just the fact that I had almost died. I felt a loving presence reassuring me that things were ok, and it is all good with my soul.

I'm going to bed soon. Another long day tomorrow, and a three day weekend to look forward to. I hope i have good dreams. Last night I had a dream that I was at some conference and crashed a bunch of high school reunions, totally piss drunk, saying I was a spokesman for Coke, and then passing out. One funny scene I remember was when everyone was posing for the class portrait, and I popped in, yelled "Spokesman for Coke" and then passed out. Very strange dream indeed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Snow Day

We had some snow today which was nice - only a few inches, so not enough to disrupt my planned travel on Monday and Tuesday, but enough to coat the trees and look pretty. I had a fun indoor snow day. I read an entire New Yorker in the bathtub, and started reading my new CJ Sansom book - he writes these amazing Tudor mysteries that will definitely end my reading drought. I also rearranged my books a bit tonight - J and I have been switching around storage units which has necessitated a bit of reorganization - and I found a lot more books appealing than the last time I looked. I forgot I have a new biography of Henry VIII waiting to be read, some chick-lit that looks actually grown up, and a new Paulo Coehlo book. So I'm excited. I'm also still listening to books, which is something I never did before, and finding it very enjoyable, though I'm not sure whether to count it as reading it or not. Anyway, that's for me to work out.

J and I made a homemade pizza and watched the new Dragons Den. I absolutely love that show. It's my new favorite tv. I wish it was on every day and not just once a week. I also am happily not watching Idol this year. I always used to wonder why I watched it anyway, but it seemed like everybody else in the country did, so I went along with it. Not this year though. I am happily off of Idol.

I also did mundane things like clean some kitchen cupboards, do a bunch of laundry, and clean the bathrooms. Good snow-day things to do. And I played Oblivion for two hours. I've finally completed all of the quests except for those in the Dark Brotherhood line. My story with Oblivion is that I've been thoroughly addicted to it for almost a year, on and off. I love RPG games, and this one is a whole other level. With most games you follow a very clear quest line, and while you can choose your armor, and maybe even enchant your weapons, it's all very scripted and you do it in a certain order. With Oblivion, you go through the beginning tutorial, come out, and while there is a main quest line, you don't have to do it. You can go on and join the Mages Guild (magicians), Fighters Guild (private fighters for hire), Thieves Guild (yeah, thieves) and lots of other factions. There are like seven or eight towns and the Imperial City, each of which has lots of quests from random people. You can collect/harvest ingredientes from the countryside and make alchemical potions which you can sell for loads of money, you can hunt for rare plants called nirnroots, you can randomly wander around and loot caves, forts, and ruins. You can buy houses in the towns and become a merchant. You can just about do everything in this game, except get married. So I've completed all of the quests outside the Dark Brotherhood. I saved that for last because they are the assassins and it makes me a little queasy being a paid assassin. There are supposedly lots of plug-ins you can get to extend the game, so I'm going to check those out and maybe that will give me more to do, too.

Anyway, that was my snow day. I'm going to bed soon. It's only 9, but I've been waking up early every morning to get on an early schedule so that on Monday and Tuesday when I have to get up at 4:30, it doesn't kill me so much. Am thinking I will get up at 5 tomorrow. Sheesh. Wednesday, after my travels, I'm sleeping in till 8.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stuck in the Cat House

Since there are so many stray cats in our neighborhood, and we feed them, they hang around quite a lot. We always feel bad during the rain/snow so a few months ago J built a little cat-house on our deck for assorted cats to live in. Fluffy Cat is taking ownership of it. Today it is pouring with rain and Fluffy is out there enjoying the warmth. After I took this picture I went out and rewrapped the cushion in a towel and turned it over so the dry side was up, and threw another towel in, and took out the black sweater, which was soaked. So he should be pretty warm and cozy. It sounds like a children's book - Fluffy Cat Has a House.

I'm enjoying the rain, and also my warm house with the rain pattering on the roof. It's nice to be inside and warm. I feel really bad for all of the people who don't have warm houses with lots of cats to snuggle and hot chocolate to drink and fires to curl up in front of.
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And in other news, the new CJ Sansom book came out today. The tudor mysteries featuring his Matthew Shardlake character. I love them. I devour them. I went to Borders since today was the release date, and their copies hadn't even been shelved yet, but they got it out of the basement. It felt like when the Harry Potter books came out. I'm excited to end my reading drought.
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And also while I was in Glendale, at the Borders on Brand, I got lunch in this little walkway between streets with lots of outside cafes, and four of them had closed. Sign of the times, I guess. Sad.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Year's Resolution: Check-in

It's early February now, and I thought I'd do a spot-check on my New Years Resolutions:

1. Listening to new music... I've definitely been doing this.
2. working out five times a week... this too, which is going more easily now thanks to my audiobooks.
3. cutting back on sugar... I feel like I've been doing this, but I should quantify it somehow.
4. drinking more water... definitely doing this.
5. going to one museum a month... did it in January.
6. finding a church for spirituality and friends... haven't done this yet. There's a Unitarian church down the hill I'd like to check out. Maybe this Sunday.
7. finding a choir or starting one... I did find one, but it's mid-term now and I can't join until September. That wouldn't be so bad if it's what it came to, but I'm holding out hope I can find something else.
8. reading at least one "smart" book a month... does listening to a book count? Otherwise, no.
9. journaling and meditating daily... not every day, but pretty good. Plus I started yoga.
10. playing the piano a few times a week... haven't done this, but I did have a lovely time playing the fiddle a couple weeks ago. Must do that.

So I'm doing ok, huh? Need to find church, sing, and play piano and violin more. Everything else is on track. That's good to know. I am going to check in like this once a month.

I would also add to it that I should write more. Every day. 500 words. No excuses. It's like a muscle, right. The more you do it, the better it becomes.

Ok, so that's my check in.
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A friend of mine just had another baby. Babies everywhere! Why won't people stop having babies already?!? Sheesh. Like I didn't have enough pressure already. Ick. Babies. Pregnancy. Who needs it. (Grandparents and husbands, I suppose)
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And when is Project Runway coming back?!?! I'm totally missing it. I know, there's legal problems. I'm watching the canadian version on youtube till it comes back. I miss that cute Heidi and Tim.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Keynesian book club

To be filed under the People Who Do Cool Things category: Keynes is all over the place these days. He was even featured on This American Life this week. He's a celebrity. So this economist fellow is reading the General Theory and posting notes and explanations every day on his blog. A little too much economic theory for me on a regular basis, thank you very much, but still very cool.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Things I may Want to Give Up for Lent

So here's the scoop from Grownup-Central. I've been traveling up to San Francisco really often on long day-trips (leave home at 5:30, get home at 8 types of days) so I've decided that the best thing for me to not feel incredible pain on those days would be if I actually woke up pretty early all the time. I'm not a big waker-up-early person. I work at home which affords me the luxury of rolling out of bed at 8, getting tea and wearing my bunny slippers to work. On days I work at home I don't even wash my face until the evening when I take a bath. Nice, huh?

Anyway, today was the first day of my big Waking Up Early Schedule and you know what? There's actually life at 6am. Weird. The hour from 6 to 7 was largely spent wondering why I thought it was important to get my body used to waking up early anyway. Then at 7 I decided to be super proactive and I did a yoga video. At 7:30 I wrote in my journal. Then the tea kicked in and I was pretty awake. We'll see how this goes, but it would be quite lovely to have morning quiet time with the cats. It would make me feel very zen and mature.

So the whole Lent thing. I'm not Catholic, but I like the idea of giving something up - showing that I have power over it rather than it over me. I've been thinking of giving up Diet Coke for a while anyway. It's really bad with all that aspartame, and especially when I'm pregnant next year, I won't want to give that stuff to Baby. So hence, I do believe I shall give up Diet Coke for 40 days. It seems really harsh. But then again, Jesus wandered around in the wilderness for 40 days, so surely I can give up some chemical-laden-non-thirst-quenching drink for 40 days. I shall, however, indulge in regular coke from time to time (the kind you drink, not the kind you snort) because it's mostly the artificial sweetener that I'm trying to get my system off of.

How about the free Grand Slam at Denny's tomorrow? Since I wake up so early these days, I might just go get me one. Something to look forward to.

Oh, and as far as my entertainment crisis goes, I still haven't managed to find any books that really excite me. So I'm doing the next best thing. I'm listening to books. It feels kind of like cheating, but I am getting only unabridged ones, so I figure it's kind of ok. I'm listening to Bill Bryson's book on Shakespeare right now. I love him. He's just the best. He's also the one author that my non-reading dad actually reads.

The new Matthew Shardlake book comes out on Thursday, though, which is what I've been waiting for to kick-start my way back into the literary world.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On remembering why I don't drink (and more great music I'm finding)

I went to a conference in Denver over the weekend, by myself. This is a Big Deal because I have some irrational fears with traveling alone. I guess I feel like if I leave J for a weekend and go have fun and dump him with all of the Cat Responsibilities, I'm a Bad Wife and he'll find someone who won't do that to him. Obviously this is irrational. A) I'm actually working at these things, so it's not like I'm just hanging around at the spa, and B) he'd kinda like me to be me, which includes this travel thing. But nobody said that irrational fears have to make sense. Especially your first few years of marriage. Especially with someone who's Single Girl identity was as strong as mine was.

So anyway, I went to Denver and remembered how much fun I have traveling alone. I love my Airplane Time when I can just think and listen to my music and nobody is asking me to clean up cat poo or cat puke or do anything. It was always special to me, and now even moreso. I also loved having a ginormous king sized bed all to myself. The one thing I did to take advantage of being out without my hubby, was get ragingly drunk on Friday night. J doesn't drink, and I generally don't drink at home, so this was out of character. Add to that what altitude does to alcohol (I heard it makes every drink the equivalent of four) and I was toasty on my three glasses of wine (with no food). I woke up at 5am thinking I was dying of thirst and drank one of the overpriced bottles of water in the hotel room. I still don't think I've fully hydrated myself yet. It was a forceful reminder of why I don't drink much. But I did have fun riding the elevator at the Curtis Hotel (all the floors have music themes so that when you get off the elevator on the Elvis floor, a voice sounding like Elvis says "hey baby, don't be cruel, you're on the fifteenth floor." I had to check out each floor to see this kitchiness for myself. The people riding the elevator with me were none to happy).

The only time I was in Denver was in 2000 when I was chasing an Inappropriate Man. Actually, The Inappropriate Man who led me to London. It was a very bad time in which I lost every shred of dignity I had managed to create for myself, and it was weird being back there as a grown up, and not caring about said Inappropriate Man. I didn't wonder how he was, or visit the concert hall where I saw him perform, or anything like that. For three reasons. 1) I was too busy. 2) It was too cold. 3) I really didn't care. Being grown up and not caring about the Inappropriate Man who so dominated my life from age 23 until 29 was weird. It felt comfortable, but strange.

In keeping with being a non-irrational Grownup Girl, I asked J to go run some errands tonight so that I can be alone in the house with the cats. We have a bit of snow on the ground, a nice fire going, and the cats and I are all curling up listening to Locatelli. It's a good evening.

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Speaking of Locatelli I have found a new way of getting music. Here are the three basic music services I use for discovery/ownership.
1) Rhapsody because I love the on-demand feature for my favorite songs.
2) Pandora to discover new music
3) eMusic to download the new music discovered via Pandora

I've found that Rhapsody, while thoroughly awesome and an amazing bang for the buck, doesn't really help me in discovering new music. I'm pretty certain this is down to my inability to pay attention to their recommendations for me, or the radio stations, but either way, there you go. Pandora is a wonderful way of discovering new music that I might like - I found Adele that way, and I'm totally digging her (her song Best for Last is sublime). But there's no on-demand beauty like with Rhapsody. eMusic is simply amazing in terms of download prices (they don't have the big names, so can sell stuff for as low as 20 cents per track) but there's no on-demand gorgeousness with eMusic. Sooo, all in all, it's becoming a complicated form of discovery and ownership, however I can't really complain because I am totally digging on my new music and my entertainment crisis, at least as far as music goes, seems to be abating. I should add that I have also subscribed to a bunch of music podcasts to discover good new music, which is very helpful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nimrod makes me cry

I'm listening to Nimrod from the Enigma Variations (Elgar is wonderful, I've rediscovered) and he just makes me bawl my eyes out. I started listening to a CD I've had called Poppy Classics - all these quintessential British pieces - when I saw the recent Reece's Peanut Butter Cup commercial that featured Jupiter from The Planets. So now I'm thinking about June in Bath with Vaughan Williams and Elgar. J and I are going to go back to London, and hopefully Italy, during August and I'm hoping I can catch at least a couple of Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

Ooh, the other fun thing I'm going to do this summer is go to Iceland for the summer solstice. We are combining it with a trip back home to PA. Actually, I'm combining it. J is going to stay in PA and hang out with my parents and Lancaster friends, and I'm going to go to Iceland for a weekend from NYC, which is only a four and a half hour flight and really cheap. I've been wanting to go to Iceland for ages - midnight swimming in the Blue Lagoon, etc. I'm going to stay awake the entire time and pretend I'm 23 again and get ferociously drunk on Icelandic beer. Oooh, I can't wait.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weekly Recap

I have just discovered Kate Ryan on Friday on eMusic - and I am also totally in love with eMusic. I don't know why I never played around with it before. I think I just assumed it was kind of crappy. I don't know why. Maybe because everywhere you look they're giving away free downloads, and I kind of went with the "perceived value" line of thinking, ie if they were giving it away all the time, it must suck. Shame on me and my snobby attitudes.

But I rediscovered them when Rhapsody didn't have something I was looking for, and they did. For the "People who do really Cool Things" file: I heard (on NPR, of course) about these guys who wrote songs in honor of each US President: Of Great and Mortal Men isn't a compilation in the traditional style of school songs about Presidents - they aren't songs with lyrics like "Buchannan watched the clock while the country fell apart/Just hanging around eating pizza till Lincoln would start." They're more like folk/popish songs that evoke the feelings around the presidency that they're about. And they're on eMusic.

Earlier this week I had a weird couple of days. To start with on Monday night I had insomnia for the first time in years. I was awake until 3:30 having imaginary conversations with everyone from Jesus to Lil Wayne (is he on every hiphop album made?) and then had to get up at 5:15 to go up to San Mateo. Man, I'm getting too old for that stuff. When I was in college I could go for three days on coffee and Turkey Hill Iced Tea. Not anymore. It was some kinda painful. I kept just counting down the hours until I could go to sleep. To make matters worse, I had to rent a car to drive to the office and they gave me this Jeep, which was huge. I guess they thought it was an upgrade, but I hate it when car rental places give me big cars as an upgrade. I drive a freaking Chevy Aveo. I only know how to drive small cars. I can't drive a Jeep for pete's sake. So I drove like a grandma, with the windows open to keep me awake. I finally slept on the plane on the way home. Then J picked me up and brought me dinner, and when I got home I just patted the cats and went straight to sleep. The next day I had to get up at 6 to drive to San Diego for a meeting, so by the time I got home on Wednesday evening, I was in dire need of a nap.

That night we went out for a drive to watch the car's odometer pass over 100,000 which was exciting.

Yesterday we went down to Carson where J's grandma used to live before she passed away. His parents are fixing up her house, getting it ready to sell when the market starts to turn around, and J was putting in flooring in one of the rooms. I dropped him off and went off to the Natural History Museum, in keeping with my "visit one museum each month" resolution. We got home late, and spent today just being lazy. J is watching the rap channel and I'm listening to non-rap music with my wicked noise cancelling headphones. And we've had a fire going on all day, and ordered pizza. Lazy days are good.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More on my ongoing entertainment crisis

Back in 2001 when I lived in London and was super trendy, I had a mac. One of those turquoise clamshell ones with the little handle so it was kind of like a cute briefcase. Like the kind Aiden bought Carrie on Sex and the City when her computer crashed. Anyway, I had itunes on that, but since then I've not been an itunes person. I subscribe to Rhapsody, and love it, and I have a creative zen 80gb player along with random assorted smaller ones that are better for travel, but I'm still a (reluctant) pc person, so I don't do much with itunes. But for fun I downloaded it the other day and was totally blown away by all the radio stations. I'm not sure why I find it so amazing - they just put streams of various international radio stations all in one place - but I'm just thrilled with it. J and I have been listening to hindi pop from Mumbai, and trip-hop from Frankfurt. It's pretty cool.

I still haven't been able to find books I want to read, but as it's Sunday, I'm planning to do a big closet-and-bookshelf clearout today (took down the Christmas decorations yesterday and need to reorganize the bookshelves) and I'm hoping that something in my huge library of unread books will show up. I have a new Haruki Murakami book that might be interesting.
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Yesterday I made really delicious sticky bbq ribs, and they were so easy. I'm not a big beef-eater (as opposed to beefeater, the British soldiers that wear the funny red outfits) so I don't buy a lot of it, but it was on sale for like $1 for a huge package so I bought it and figured I'd do something with it. I browned the meat, and then threw out the oily grease, put the meat back in the pan, covered it with bbq sauce and a little sugar and paprika, and then filled the pan mostly up with water. Let it come to a boil, then turned it down and let it simmer for 2 and a half hours, turning them over once. We have this tradition of getting bbq on the day of the Super Bowl (because we used to live by the famous BBQ King on Cesar Chavez) but after eating the stuff I made yesterday, J has declared that we don't ever need to buy bbq again. I really enjoy making new foods and trying new recipes. I guess that's the eggs talking or something. Nesting instinct.
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Speaking of nesting and eggs and babies, we were out at Carrows (our new favorite place to eat because two people can eat, and get desert and drinks and it's still less than $25 including tip) and there was the most adorable baby ever at the next booth over. J was just going crazy. 2010 is the year we have planned to have a baby, but at this rate, we're going to have to get pregnant tomorrow just to keep him from having his Baby Fits.
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I have a busy week ahead. I fly up to San Mateo for the day on Tuesday, arriving back home at 9ish, and then get to wake up early and head down to San Diego for a 10am meeting on Wednesday, which means I'll need to leave at about 7 or so.

When I have those kinds of busy times I realize that I spend a lot more time worrying about them in advance, than just being in the moment with them when they're going on. Inevitably they're never as bad as I think they're going to be, and I'm never as tired as I think I'm going to be, and I spend so much time and energy worrying about them for weeks ahead of time, that I lose a lot of life that way. I need to come up with a new resolution - not to worry about the stuff that hasn't happened yet. Because I'll either be really tired on Wednesday morning, or I won't. Either way, worrying about it isn't going to help me get more sleep.
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Oh, and the Big News, I got my official invitation to the inauguration. Too late, though. I can't get a flight this late without spending a fortune. On one hand, I'm like, "yeah, well, it's history, and I want to tell my grandkids that I was there!" and on the other hand, I think that it's not really worth $1000 to be able to say I was somewhere when I'll get a better view at home in front of the tv.

So I really have become a practicle person. I guess I really am out of my 20's now. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Entertainment Crisis Part 2

I'm very happy that some of my friends have recognized my Entertainment Crisis and are coming to my aid. I'm totally digging on Vampire Weekend, She and Him, and Martha Wainwright.

Also absolutely loved The Darjeerling Limited, which is playing on HBO now. Not only does it feature a kooky story, but the Indian scenery, and the train rides are amazing. I really want to go to India before I have a kid.

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In other news, I've had a cough since shoveling snow two weeks ago. It's not really bad, but it's there. The point is, I make fun kinds of hacking noises, which is totally hot. I know how to bring the heat, let me tell you.

But I've been working out and have happily lost two pounds. Yay for me.

And I'm trying to set up singing lessons and get a choir started. Also yay for me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Entertainment Crisis

I'm experiencing an entertainment crisis right now. I don't like my books, I don't like most of my music, and I never like anything on tv. So I play around on youtube and read every article in Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. I used to devour books. Now I look at all my chick-lit and get seriously annoyed with the main characters. I need to discover new books, I guess, but I don't know what I like anymore. It's so weird. I really loved The Pillars of the Earth and the sequal, and the Matthew Shardlake tudor mysteries, but I've read them all now. I'm sure I must have some books that I want to read. I bought a new Haruki Murakami book recently that's been sitting around waiting to be read. I could read that.

It's really weird. Does this happen to everyone when they're in their 30's?

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Today I am having a Recession Spa day. The idea of dropping $150 on highlights and coloring and cut seems terribly impracticle right now when so many people are hungry/broke so J helped me do highlights, and gave me a cut that basically just chopped off my split ends and took some of the weight off the top with one of those razor-shaver things which I bought at Sally Beauty Supply for like $4. After a blowout, it looks almost like I came from a salon, and cost me $13 in color and highlight kit, and $4 razor. And I didn't have to tip him. Now I can buy the $60 gap jeans and $50 Hayden-Harnett bag at Target I want and not feel in the least bit guilty.