Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On virtual celebrity....

Oh Twitter, how I love thee!
140 characters to say anything and everything I could possibly come up with!
I recently read in Vanity Fair about the rising popularity of this social phenomenon. Twitter serves no financial purpose to anyone using it (at face value, anyway. I'm sure Ivanka Trump has upped her jewelry sales some by promoting them via Twitter), so what's all the fuss?

I was adamantly opposed to Twitter myself, until about a year ago. I was talked into it by my husband and another techie friend. They both follow gads of people and have a huge following themselves. Not the 1,000,000+ followers Ashton Kutcher has, mind you, but a following nonetheless. So I jumped on the bandwagon, damn near pulling a groin muscle in the process. I set up my page, uploaded a picture, configured my settings, and off I went into the great big unknown world of Twitter.

A year later, I'm still in love with it. Probably moreso now. I have started blogging with much more regularity and intent so Twitter is a nice way to let people know that I've just posted something to said blog. I have a lot of friends that do this. One, in particular, is a celebrity in her own right. Or, as Vanity Fair likes to call her, a Twilebrity. She has two very remarkable blogs herself, one about dating and another about bacon (all foods, really) and is perpetually being asked to contribute to other blogs, online mags, etc. She's made a name for herself, for certain. She's a great writer, witty and clever and not at all ashamed to put everything out there for her loyal readers to digest immediately. So could she have found the "celebrity" she has without Twitter? Probably. She's that good. But it might not have happened as quickly as it has. And in a world dominated by immediacy, why would anyone want to wait for something when they can have or do it right away?

So I said to my husband over dinner last night that I wanted to be a "Twilebrity." I said it a little jokingly, but part of me (the bigger part) really does want that. I love to write and I want people to want to hear or read what I have to say. Is that so wrong? There are tons of people out there who have enormous followings because of the interesting things they say.

Twitter is like a permanent, digital version of a flashmob, I think. I mean, someone says one thing and they go absolutely viral. There's a girl that spoke at an event in Boulder, CO a couple months ago, Erika Napoletano, who is a solid riot! And interestingly, I think she contributes to some of the same online gigs that the above-mentioned friend does. So that's interesting.

For someone like my husband, Twitter works magic when he's promoting his upcoming book release or his own blog musings. My best friend is a musician in Nashville, so she uses it to update her tour dates and additional performers at many of her shows (the spring tour is the tour I've been most excited about so far, but for personal reasons). And some people just use Twitter as an outlet for bitching, complaining, or just getting something off their chests.

So as much as I love Twitter and want to be a mini-celebrity, I still haven't figured out what Twitter is for me. It's a work in progress. But expect to get a tweet about this post, if you follow...

But here are some people I think you should follow, if you're into the Twitter thing:
@PressSec (yes, the White House press secretary)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On organizational tactics....

I'm a chronically organized person. I have four calendars (Outlook, Google, Desk, and Home) and am perpetually scheduling things. The fact of the matter is that I don't like forgetting things and I have a really terrible memory sometimes. If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't get done and won't get remembered.

I also happen to love making lists. I have a To Do list at my office, a checklist for weekly school assignments, a bi-weekly menu for our "family dinners". In making lists, I'm also capable of setting goals. Todd and I will begin packing our apartment soon in order to move into our new (to us) lovely little house. So I'm sure goals will be set (pack x-number of boxes per day, blah blah blah) so that 1. I don't go completely bonkers and forget to do something important and 2. we're not rushing around like headless chickens two days before we move. I know people do and/or have done that and I really don't understand how one can function under that kind of stress. Boxes will have labels and by the time the movers arrive at our house to unload our belongings, you can be fairly certain that each room will also be labeled in an attempt to make everything as easy, seamless, and timely as possible.

But mostly, I just love lists!
What are my five favorite foods?
Top ten countries I want to visit?
Favorite songs? (don't ever ask me that one though)

So I'm just going to indulge myself right now and make some lists. Feel free to play along if you'd like.

Favorite Ways to Unwind
1. Clean the house
2. Take the longest shower known to man
3. Sleep
4. Shop
5. Play with Leo & Suki (along with Todd, of course)

Favorite Cities
1. Kyoto, Japan
2. Toronto, Ontario
3. Seattle, Washington
4. Barcelona, Spain
5. Paris, France

Favorite Flavors
1. Almond
2. Raspberry
3. Masala
4. Curry
5. Greek cucumber paste

Favorite Office Supplies
1. Bic Pens
2. Post It Notes
3. little desk calculator (mine started working again, mercifully)
4. the hard plastic standy-uppy thing for my papers
5. Steno pads

How I Would Spend the Perfect Day
first of all, this would be a summer day with the temps topping out at 88F
1. Eggs Benedict and mimosas for breakfast
2. Go to the park with Todd and the puppies
3. Have a BBQ with all our friends
4. Play outdoor games all evening while drinking cheap beer and margaritas
5. Fall asleep on top of the covers with the windows open

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On speaking my mind....

I'm an English major. I love everything there is about the English language. Okay, everything except diagramming, which I have found to be a complete waste of my time. It accomplishes approximately nothing and should I ever take to teaching English, this will be a fairly glossed-over section of my lesson plans. I'd rather somebody understand the function of an adverb or past participle or conjunction than know what kind of stupid line it has to go on.

Really. I love English.

I can sometimes get really judge-y about it too. I find it difficult to understand how native speakers of the language have such a flimsy grasp of it. There are four very basic parts of the language everyone should know: noun, verb, adverb, adjective. True, English is one of the most difficult (Roman) languages to figure out when it comes to conjugating and otherwise USING the words, but c'mon. You need to know what those four do and how they function.

My dad was really hard on my siblings and me about proper usage. He was in Toastmaster's for a really long time and definitely honed his public speaking skills. He rules at public speaking...and he's a marvelous actor so this all works out rather well. So any time he'd hear us use "pause words" (um, like, this sort of thing), he'd snap his fingers at us. I don't really use pause words in my normal speech anymore. Sure, from time to time, I catch myself saying them, but I have this fear of hearing my dad's fingers snap any time I say "um".

I tend to use "big words" when I'm expressing myself or a thought. It freaks people out a little bit. My boss, namely. It weirds him out that I described a man as a "perfect specimen of humanity" rather than calling him "hot". The guy is attractive, but he's also a) my friend's brother and b) a professional body builder. These two things combined seem to qualify him, in my mind, for better adjectives than "hot". And while I'm a pretty heavy-duty swearer (my sailor friend has implied that I'm worse than him, which I find hard to believe, frankly), I try to rely more on "real words" rather than an F-bomb or other such four-letter nonsense. There are millions of words out there for the taking, after all.

So with all this in mind, why in the world do I have such a hard time leaving a damn voice-mail for a client. "Hi, this is Micah. Um, just returning your, uh, call from earlier. Give me a call when you, um, get a chance and we can, uh, go over your, uh questions." Then I nearly forget to leave my phone number and sound even more insane.

Honestly. I don't even know why I bother with voice-mails half the time.

And one more thing: if you don't know what a big word means, how it's pronounced, or how to properly use it, DON'T USE IT. You just sound ridiculous and I'll judge you inside my head. I just will.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On weekend romance....

Today serves up a heaping portion of Cheerios.

Last weekend was Valentines Day, as we all know. I used to be vehemently opposed to Valentines Day, choosing typically to wear black and be generally melancholy about the whole thing. I really hated Valentines Day and, to be honest, can't think of a single good reason as to why. When I was a kid (and right up until I was about 25 years old), my mom always gave me a pink paper sack full of candy, goodies, chapstick and other goodies. Lucky for my entire family that my favorite color has always been pink!

I think part of my issue is that the traditional colors of this holiday, red and pink, just don't "go" together. They look a little weird together, if you ask me. Maybe that's why I claimed to hate the day so much.

But ever since my husband began wining, dining, and jewelrizing me on Valentines Day, it's hard not to love it! Our first Valentines Day together, he took me to one of my favorite restaurants in town and gave me diamond and sapphire earrings. I mean, c'mon! How can I possibly hate a day that results in THAT?!? One year, although he was sick as a dog, he took me to a gorgeous B&B; one year, we had dinner at the restuarant where our wedding reception was, complete with a Frank Sinatra impersonator that knew one of my husband's favorite songs; last year we took the puppies to a fancy-schmancy hotel downtown.

This year was decidedly my favorite Valentines Day yet.

We went to the Project Safeguard/KOSI 101 Valentines Fling in the Tech was awesome! Dinner was amazing, the band (The Nacho Men) was was just fantastic! We danced our little feet off and even got compliments from one of the KOSI DJs that we rocked on the dance floor (she loved that we were foxtrotting and waltzing, which I also loved). We bought some raffle tickets for some of the really fancy prizes, but didn't win anything.

This event is something that happens every year. It's a benefit for Project Safeguard which is a non-profit organization in the Denver area that helps women and children in domestic abuse/violence situations. We couldn't really think of a better way to spend Valentines Day. I mean, we were going to go out for dinner regardless, but dinner AND dancing? And the proceeds go towards a cause that my husband and I are happy to support? It all made perfect sense!

So we partied there for several hours before heading back up north and hitting our favorite dive bar for some karaoke with Loren, who was pretty excited that we were a) there and b) dressed all fancy-like. She's hilarious and wonderful. So Todd and I sang a bunch of songs and had some drinks (I stuck with Diet Coke, which seems to be my MO at this particular bar. As an aside, Loren was so excited we were there, she wanted to buy us both drinks and said to me, "I wish you drank more!" which made me laugh).

So yeah. Good Valentines Day. Awesome, really.
Oh, and he got me flowers, candy hearts (my fave), a subscription to Vanity Fair (which I've been talking about for MONTHS), a new book, and a funny card. Yessssss!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On expressing yourself....

I've been spending the last several years of my life studying sociology and all that goes with it. More recently, Karl Marx has been of great interest. I've identified myself as a functional socialist for a while now and am finding myself very much relating to several of Marx's ideas. As a side note: Try to separate the man from the ideas. It'll help.

Marx spent a great deal of his professional life trying to understand the working person and to better their lives. This often came in the form of attacking capitalism. Now, I think that capitalism and all of it's dogma is a relatively good idea. Healthy competition never killed anyone (and Rome, that wasn't healthy). But capitalism turns ugly really quickly. It's a lot of brute force and menial, tireless, thankless labor all to make a pair of fancy sneakers or some hotsy-snotsy car for the guy that runs the show.

This all ties back to Marx's idea that many, MANY moons ago, humans did work for the sheer joy of doing work, of creating something. And that something was just as valuable as what the next guy made. Why? Because it was an immediately consumable item. Bread and shoes, they cost the same. Because if one guy made bread and needed shoes and the next guy did just the opposite, it was an even trade. Not so much anymore.

So here's what's gotten me thinking today:
Labor is no longer an expression of purpose.

The vast majority of us go to work every single day and I'd wager to say that most of us just don't care. We work because someone told us to and that same someone gives us money for doing whatever they tell us to do. For most of us, our work no longer defines us. We're not doing something we love because, for most of us, whatever we love doing wouldn't pay the bills or feed the family. I mean, think of the guy on the assembly line at GM. He screws in a couple bolts for the car coming down the line, rinses, and repeats. Are we really naive enough to think that's his PASSION? Likely not.

There's really no easy fix for this problem. It's deeply embedded in worker alienation (being completely separated from the value of what you're producing) and exploitation. And because so much of the capitalist community is built on the backs of the exploited, even the revolt that Marx so recommended and warned of would probably have a disastrous outcome.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On giving away the ending....

I love surprises. I probably have an unhealthy obsession with them. I love being surprised, more than just about anything. I love not knowing what my husband might get me for any given gift-giving holiday. I get crazy when there are unannounced flowers delivered to my office. I even enjoy coming home to a deep-cleaned house that I didn't ask to have done.

I'm probably the most naive person alive when it comes to surprises. Frankly, I should have seen my engagement coming, in just the way that it did. I should have expected that I'd get for Christmas what I did. But I love surprises enough to just be dumb about them and let them happen the way they're supposed to.

You can't really even ruin a movie for me. Tell me the end of The Sixth Sense and I'll still freak out and cry. While I don't care one iota about Avatar, you could tell me how that ends and I won't care and won't remember and will be surprised if and when I ever see it. I've seen A Christmas Carol about a hundred times and I still get weepy at the end. Ask anyone who has ever watched a movie with me and they'll say the same thing. Hell, I don't care if you tell me how LOST ends or that the "thing" was a polar bear or whatever. I simply do not care. Because by the time I get around to watching anything, I'll have long since forgotten about what you told me. The ship sinks. Carrie gets married. The losers win. Blah blah blah.

A friend once told me the end of Psycho while I was watching it for the first time. He felt terrible when he found that out. But, not surprisingly (har har), the end still scared the crap out of me.

So with as much as I love being surprised, you'd think I could handle giving out surprises of my own.

I am terrible about surprises. I get so excited about them that I have to tell people about them right away. I'm like that awful SNL character that gets so worked up about surprises, she jumps out windows.

Case and point: I got my husband a new butane cigar lighter for Valentines Day after he conveniently lost his other one (for which I am more grateful than I could express). I was so excited that I'd found this particular lighter that I sent the purchase order to him via email that very same day. So now, I'm trying to figure out what else I can get him that WILL actually be a surprise.

So yeah, you can tell me the endings of every movie ever made and I'm not going to care. But do not, under any circumstance, ask me about a movie I've see that you have not.

Friday, February 5, 2010

On smelling the roses.....

I have to schedule my own down time. I never just take it. I have to plan for doing nothing. My life is an endless stream of schedules. Many people could tell you that the following statement is true: I live my life in 15-minute increments. I've been like that for the last 7 years (or longer). I think I just like to know what's going on all the time. Which makes it hard to be spontaneous or to have "me time."

In fact, I currently have "do nothing weekends" scheduled every three weeks on my calendar. It doesn't always work out that way, but at least they're scheduled. At least I know I SHOULD take time for myself.

I'm not sure when the last time was that I just slowed down and did nothing. Or at least, slowed down enough to enjoy what I was doing. I'm always racing from one event/activity/commitment to the next. I very much enjoy DOING things. I love being involved and feeling like I'm contributing in some capacity or another. I suppose that at some point, however, I need to contribute to my own well-being.

I get manicures every other week. I used to say that it was "me time," but the truth is that lately, I find myself looking at the clock while I'm there, thinking "I have to be home by 6:45pm so that I have enough time tonight to get everything done." There's something inherently wrong with wanting to rush through a manicure. In 318 days, I'm going to treat myself to a spa day and not rush through it...for the first time in 11 years.

I so often rush through things that I claim to enjoy. But why rush if the point is to enjoy? I rush through dinners, which is being comprehension given how much I love food. I rush through books, never really taking the time to get involved. I rush and rush and rush. And for what purpose? Because I've been doing it for what seems like my entire life? That doesn't sound like a good enough reason.

I'm a chronic planner.

I love surprises, but I don't like being thrown for a loop. So yeah, if you asked me what my finances will look like in October 2011, I could tell you. No seriously. I could.

I like feeling prepared. Maybe that stems from being laid off of one job and quitting another. Or from having a roommate totally bail on me. If I hadn't been prepared for a windfall, it could have gotten really bad, really ugly, really fast. But I was prepared. So my life continued on its typical course and there I went.

But is being prepared what might be trapping me in this life of rush rush rush, go go go?

Slowing down and taking time for oneself is something I've preached for many years of my life. I do think it's important. I think that, amidst all the drama and craziness life often throws our way, sometimes the best thing to do is just....stop.

Putting that into practice, however, is a totally different story.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On forgetfulness.....

My mind is like a trap. Really, it is. There's very little I can't remember (unless, of course, it's where I've misplaced my keys). I have memories from 25 years ago that are remarkably clear. I remember meeting my childhood best friend when we were three-years-old. I can probaby rattle off memories from every single year of my life. The one that's sticking out right now is from Grade 2, Mrs. Mosby's class, during spelling. One of my classmates (who remained a classmate until senior year and was BFFs with my boyfriend by then) spelled WHICH, but spelled it WITCH instead. We also learned how to address envelopes that year, in total and complete fashion. Mine read:
My Full Name
123 Main Street
Arvada, CO 80004
North America
Milky Way

Seriously. That happened. Another weird thing I remember? The son of my grade 2 teacher, I'm pretty sure dated my neighbor's best friend in junior high. She'll read this and probably verify either way.

I have very painful memories from junior high (I think we all do) and I sometimes think about those girls and how I was treated and get mad. And then I remind myself who I am today and that their shitty behavior made me a stronger person. Just like the Xtina song, "Fighter". I remember the speech that I gave in my grade 8 English class and I remember my friend, Jenn, peeling sunburn off my face during that same class after I'd gone skiing the weekend before and thought it unnecessary to wear sunscreen (I now wear no less than four layers of facial protection when skiing).

By the time I reached adulthood (which I may very well be still reaching), I'd ammassed quite a collection of memories and continued to collect them. My early 20s are all pain and self-destruction and poor choices and yet, I remember then vividly. Can't forget them, try as I might. Because music is a huge part of who I am, I've even tried to delete the memories by getting rid of all the music associated with that period of my life. Sadly, it has not worked.

So when someone tells me that I'll eventually forget someone or something, I want to believe them, but I also know that it's probably not the case. People, places, incidents, whatever...they stick with me forever. Both good and bad, it all sticks around.

I remember being 19, coming back to my college campus after a break, being stupid happy...over the moon, really. One break later, that was a 180* shift.

I remember how I felt at every single Varsity basketball game I ever cheered at. My favorite? A game that would take our boys team to the state semi-finals...#23 (some of you know who I'm talking about) hail mary-ed the hell out of a basketball from half court with less than 10 seconds left in the game...and made the shot...Best. Game. Ever.

I remember every cookie my dad ever made for one of my piano recitals. I remember how proud my choir director was when I made the All State. I remember breaking all my CDs with two very dear friends in Canada. I remember quitting the worst job I ever had and feeling so powerful for doing it.

I remember it all.

So I'll remember this year. I'll remember one of the worst things, but I'll also remember that my husband and I bought our first house this year. I'll remember graduating. I'll remember it all.

Monday, February 1, 2010

On getting over it....

Every so often, things will come up in our lives that are just worth getting over.

Getting over it takes less energy and stress than pondering over it.

Like the time that I saw this gorgeous jacket at a consignment store and didn't buy it. It could have been my "signature jacket" that Stacy and Clinton so suggest every woman have. Two days later, I went back and it was gone. I pined over that jacket for days. DAYS, I tell you! And for what purpose? It's not like I could go back in time and buy the jacket. There's just no point in going over and over and over things...this whole "coulda woulda shoulda" thing doesn't accomplish anything.

I feel like these things come up all the time, even in our interactions with other people.

For much of my adult life, I've found myself to be a pretty accepting person. I won't force my life on you if you won't force your life on me. So I've always sort of naturally assumed that if I ask someone to do or not do something around me, I'll be given that respect with the understanding that they can ask the same of me.

So what do you do when someone doesn't respect your wishes? Get over it. And if necessary, do some purging.

I don't normally bring the Bible into my blog (as I try to be all-encompassing here), but I have this tattoo on my back - part of which is just embarrassing - that is the Hebrew words for LOVE and SACRIFICE. The whole point of this tattoo comes from my days in Bible college and from a section of the Bible found in Romans 14 (round about verse 19 through 23). It basically gets to the idea that if something is okay for me, that's fine, but if it's not okay for you, then it's probably better and easier for me NOT to do something...and vice versa. It's a rule that I generally live by.

Case and Point: My sister doesn't drink. She doesn't enjoy it and I think it might make her feel weird when I go out with her and get loaded (this has happened only once and I was young and selfish and self-destructive). So instead of forcing her to feel uncomfortable, it's just easier on both of us if I drink a diet Coke and be done with it. Life without booze is certainly manageable for me.

So what's my point here?

If I ask you to do or not do something, please respect that. I'll grant you the same.