Rude Awakening

Nov 30, 2007

At six o'clock this morning (aka stupid o'clock), a car alarm in the hotel parking lot starts blaring. Apparently, the owner of said car is sleeping right through the noise because the car didn't stop wailing for a full fifteen minutes. I assume it finally gave up since no one was paying any attention to it - except me.

My next door neighbors were quite obviously awakened, too. But they thought of a way to distract themselves from the noise. A very loud way.

It's surprisingly easy to be mortified with sleep in your eyes.

Skulking Around The Bookstore

Nov 29, 2007

After I finished all my customer visits today, on my way back to the hotel, I dropped into the national chain bookstore here in Yakima. Not because I wanted to pick up the latest bestseller, but because I wanted to take a look at the paperback release of a book I recently enjoyed in hardcover.

Here's the fun part: the paperback version has a bonus short story AND an excerpt of the next novel in the series. But, I'm just not into spending money for a book I've already read when I really just want the bonuses. So, I sat in a comfy leather chair in the back of the store and read the extra 20-something pages, carefully NOT bending the spine or curving the pages. That would have been rude.

Blame It On Technology

Nov 28, 2007

"Scientists have found intriguing evidence that one major reason so many people are overweight these days may be as close as the seat of their pants. Literally. According to the researchers, most of us sit too much. . . . It turns out that sitting for hours at a time, as so many of us do in these days of ubiquitous computers and electronic games and 24-hour television, attacks the body in ways that have not been well understood."

Thank God that mystery is finally solved.

Love At First Sight

A couple months ago, I went shopping for boots. But then I spotted this beauty:

The Kenneth Cole Reaction "Front and Center" Mary Jane is officially my favorite pair of shoes, and I wear them every chance I get - with jeans and trousers, for play and for work. I'm wearing them right now with a chocolate brown chenille sweater and taupe trousers. Last weekend, I wore them with dark blue jeans, a burnt orange cashmere t-shirt, and a red suede jacket.

Love, love, love these shoes.

Update: Tonight, I'm in Yakima, WA, where it is snowing! I walked a couple blocks to a restaurant for dinner in the slush and snow. And guess what?!? These shoes have boot tread! Walking in the snow was a breeze! Yay me!


Nov 27, 2007

I was planning to follow-up yesterday's very short posting with some of my adventures. But (you knew there was a "but" coming) I'm just too tired to think of anything interesting to write.

You ever reach that point to sleep deprivation where you hallucinate just a little and your skin feels like it's going to crawl right off your body in search of the nearest horizontal surface. Yeah, that kind of exhaustion. It's really early and I'm going to head off to bed.

The rest of the week is filled with lots more travel and customer visits. So, I'll make plans to write more, and better, for the next three entries - to finish off NaBloPoMo a little better than this.

Cutting It Close

Last week of NaBloPoMo, and this post almost didn't make it today. No excuses, and not much more to tell - just a very busy, very long day. More tomorrow.

Being Away From It All

Nov 25, 2007

Today is part two of "Getting Away From It All." I've finally lost track of time - which usually takes me at least a week to do. But, I'm sure it has something to do with that massage I had today. Much more fun (for me) than what Handsome was doing. Although, he was grinning from ear to ear when he finished. I think he had a good time, although I cannot imagine much that's more enjoyable than 90 minutes of pampering.

Too bad tomorrow is Monday. Back to work, or perhaps I should think of it as a way to prepare for my next massage.

Getting Away From It All

Nov 24, 2007

Handsome and I are hiding out at an undisclosed location. While it's cooler and drizzlier (is that a word?) than we would like, we're far away from our work and obligations. So we're doing a lot of relaxing, which is probably what we need more than anything else. Rest . . . finally.

Thanksgiving Redux

Nov 23, 2007

The smoked turkey from Woody's in Centerville is much better than the smoked turkey from Rudy's Smokehouse (numerous locations). The gravy base and peppermint bark from Williams & Sonoma rock the planet. Aunt Kim's mac & cheese is out-of-this-world, but she still won't share the recipe. Mom's corn bread dressing is the best dressing ever created, and I did not get enough of it.

But most importantly, there is never enough time with family.


Nov 22, 2007

Tonight, we watched the Uptown Lighting on Post Oak Boulevard in Houston. And this is always one of my favorite fireworks shows because it's long and beautiful and has a bright, loud finale. It's always choreographed to a Mannheim Steamroller medley, but a fireworks show in the middle of skyscrapers is breathtaking regardless of what music you play with it.

Although, waiting 45 minutes in a pushy crowd while a local pops band plays Christmas Carols is a bit of a stretch, it was definitely worth the wait. Next year, you should go - you'll love it!


Nov 21, 2007

I'm out here in Seattle on business till Thanksgiving. Handsome is telling me that Texas is expecting a cool front to come in Wednesday night. And he's all excited since we'll be spending Thursday evening outdoors at the Uptown Christmas* Lighting, and he loves cold weather.

So, I check the weather forecast. Yeah, it's going to be really cold. insert sarcasm here The predicted low (43 degrees) for Thanksgiving night was today's high here in Seattle. I used to think that was cold, too.

* I KNOW it's actually the Uptown HOLIDAY Lighting, but I just can't bring myself to submit to the change. If Santa shows up and we're all out in the cold singing carols, it's Christmas. sticks out tongue

Salon Joy

Nov 20, 2007

Life is good when you've just had your haircut. Especially if that haircut looks really good, and reduces the excessive weight one's head must carry. While it is a blessing to have lots and lots of hair, it can be a real pain in the neck (sometimes literally).

Still, there isn't anything like that "just from the salon" feeling. Mainly because your hair won't look this good until the next trip to the hair stylist. Probably because they can actually see the back of your head. And also because they're getting paid to make it look that good.

Blog Update

Nov 19, 2007

As you can tell, I've updated my blog for the Holiday Season. It's just last winter's theme rehashed, with a splash of color. I'd like to create something completely new, but I have neither the time nor inclination to spend untold hours in photoshop or tweaking code. So here it is.

NaBloPoMo Midway

Almost there folks - only two weeks left. And it's Sunday night, and I'm tired. The good news is that this week is a short one. I can hardly wait to get home for Thanksgiving.

Socks: A Metaphor for Love

Nov 17, 2007

In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, socks are a recurring theme. Harry's first pair of socks are holey castoffs from a family that despises his very existence. Later, new friends and an adopted family provide him with nubby, woolen socks as an expression their care and love. Eventually, he begins to return the gift of socks to those he holds closest to his heart.

Now, every time I find a pair of soft, funny, or warm socks, I am reminded of the simple acts of kindness that display so much tenderness for others. Love isn't always found in extravagance. (Though who I am to complain if someone wants to shower me with jewelry and designer handbags.) Love is always found in the little things - kind words softly spoken, a gentle touch when life gets rocky, and fuzzy socks.

Do Not Use Priceline

Nov 16, 2007

So, I recently purchased a hotel room through priceline. When I got there, they hotel didn't have a record of the prepayment, so they charged us again. Except they charged us $80 LESS! $80, folks.

And now, while Priceline will have the hotel's charge reversed, they refuse to credit me the $80 price difference. They said that the hotel's rate should not have been disclosed to us, and that they have to make a profit. Blah, blah, blah. Smells like corporate BS to me.

The hotel had no way of knowing we were priceline customers. The lower price was the publicly available rate for the room we reserved, and I could have gotten the same rate at any time without the "help" of those scalpers at Priceline.

So, here's what I've learned: you will lose money by shopping at Priceline. Don't believe the commercials. Instead of saving you "up to 50%", they will charge you a 50% fee for the privilege of working with them. It's insane.

Long Days Getting Longer

Finally done with sales meetings. Flight was delayed. Bad weather in Seattle. Might get to sleep sometime before tomorrow, maybe. Customer meetings first thing in the morning. I am so tired.

Rubbing Elbows

Nov 15, 2007

The best part about week long sales meetings is getting to spend time with one's colleagues from across the nation. Often, sales is a solitary pursuit, where you see only customers and a handful of teammates throughout the year. But, for a week every November, we all get together for some training, a few awards, and a good time. I just wish the DJ would have played a little longer - it's just too early to wrap it all up.

I See the Strangest Things

Nov 14, 2007

- A dually conversation van. It seems out of place in Seattle. Now, in the south, I could imagine a nice redneck family tricking it out with custom paint and a gun rack.

- Bicycle cops at the airport. Granted Sea-Tac is a huge airport, by why not give them one of those golf carts? Or a segway? Maybe they just pissed off their boss.

- Boxer shorts hanging out of baggy jeans. On a girl. At a crosswalk. And her whole bottom was out there for all the world to see, not just the top couple inches. Perhaps she'll get a degree in marketing. She certainly got my attention, and that of several men.


Nov 12, 2007

My mother once told me that she avoided drugs, tobacco, and alcohol because she liked being in control of her body and having a clear memory of where she had been, who she had been with, and what she had done.

When I was nearly sixteen, she lost all control and entered the downward spiral of clinical depression, leaving a husband and two daughters to struggle to the surface alone. It was then that I discovered the power of self control - although mine was far more dangerous than hers.

Within the next three years, I would drop to ninety-six pounds on my 5'7" frame. Such drastic weight loss was accompanied by amenorrhea and hypotension, enough to endanger my life. My aunt "accidentally" discovered the anorexia when she opened the door to my room as I was changing. It's not often when your relatives get the chance to count your ribs, but at sixteen, I had discovered a way to control my body, my life. I never once used drugs, tobacco, or alcohol, but while my mother battled her demons, I learned how to truly control my body - by starving it.

I don't know that I've been the same since.

Vanity, Thy Name Is Woman

I'm in California at a national sales meeting, and one of my girlfriends (a colleague) asks me what I do to get such thin thighs.

"Your thighs don't touch when you walk. What are you doing?"

I don't think I've ever been so flattered, so I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. What is one supposed to say? The image in my mirror tells me a completely different story, but it's a story of starvation and denial that still haunts me after nearly two decades.

I wonder if I'll ever be able see the truth in the mirror. I wonder if any woman ever can.

A Woman and Her Worries

Nov 10, 2007

I woke up at 3 AM with another nightmare. Going on three weeks now, I find myself startled to wakefulness in the dead of night by some horror I can't remember. Sweating, pulse racing, hyperventilating fear. And my mind can't make sense of or even recall the dreams that are driving this anxiety.

I pray this comes to an end soon. I'm tired.

Thank God It's Friday

Nov 9, 2007

This week has passed in a blaze, and I'm a SO glad it's over. The problem is, my week starts again with a flight at stupid o'clock Sunday morning. You read that right - Sunday morning. I have to be in a mandatory sales training event next week, starting Sunday and running through Thursday. So, I'm not going to get much of a weekend, am I.

And while I'm looking forward to a week in California, visiting the Mother Ship, these week-long events usually result in information overload. Past experience has taught that my brain will be saturated by Tuesday afternoon. Let's hope it's a little better this year. Maybe I can make it to Wednesday without my eyes glazing over!

The Annoy-a-tron

Nov 8, 2007

This is absolutely brilliant. I can't think of a better way to drive someone absolutely insane. And the creators are right, "it's very effective at disturbing that guy in the sales department or your "friend" down the hall." Or your parents.

Recommended Listening

Because I spend so much time in a car or on a plane or in transit of some sort, I "read" most of my books in audio format. And while it lacks the tactile experience of an actual book, it's better than listening to hours of bad music, vitriloic talk radio, or the snoring person sitting next to me on the plane. And also, audio books are kinda fun. Most of the time.

I recently picked up a couple of Robert B. Parker audio books. Mr. Parker, of Spencer for Hire fame, writes two other series which I actually prefer to his Spencer books. Well, I thought I preferred them . . . until I heard them read for me. His constant dialog annotation, "he said/she said" is tolerable in written form, but in audio it's like a constant tapping slowly driving you insane. Every single line of dialog. For hours! Gah. Enjoy the books, but skip the audio version.

Then, there are those works which are simply read, not narrated. There's nothing especially passionate about the reader, who simply does not qualify as a narrator or story-teller of any kind. Just reading in a solid consistent voice. And while these are pleasant, they don't help the listener get truly sucked into a story. You always know there is a stranger just reading a book to you. These are mostly non-fiction, educational titles. Required reading, but certainly not entertaining.

Finally, there are other authors whose audio books are narrated to perfection. The Harry Potter novels come immediately to mind, with Jim Dale's voices and intonations. Just beautifully read. Perfect for long drives, or to help a tired sales rep fall asleep in a strange town. Also, Janet Evanovich's novels, especially those read by Lorelei King, are truly enjoyable. Ms. King creates a voice for each character, but also adds laughter and sighs where appropriate. It's like having your best friend tell you a really great story.

May I encourage you to indulge in a few listening experiences of your own and to share some with the people you love. It's easier than reading aloud on your own and much more fun!

Unfortunate Event

Nov 7, 2007

So, I got a speeding ticket today. Which totally sucks because I had been using my cruise control ALL DAY to stay only 2-3 mph above the posted speed limit. And then I stopped for a restroom break less than 5 miles from my next customer visit. It's only five miles; I don't really need the cruise control for that short of a drive. Right.

Half a mile from the school, I get stopped by a state trooper who is none to happy about people breaking laws on his stretch of highway. He didn't even blink when writing the ticket. Not a smile, not even a "please drive carefully and obey the speed laws" when he released me. He probably saves his joy for other speeders with expired inspection stickers and broken tail lights.

Here's what I noticed - he approached the car on the passenger side. I think that's the tip off: Driver's side and you've got 50/50 odds that they'll let you go with a warning. Passenger's side and you're guaranteed the ticket.

Not Feeling So Hot

I have the worst stomach ache right now. This is almost as bad as that time I had food poisoning and ended up in the hospital. Serious pain folks. That's all for now.

Irreverent Humor

Nov 5, 2007

May I recommend to you The Devil's Dictionary, "Ambrose Bierce's collection of dark and bitter definitions for common terms."

Take a look at abdomen, or absolute, or male, or just about anything else. I nearly spewed my soda onto my computer.

Lucky Number 7

Today Handsome and I celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary. Today also happens to be Guy Fawkes Night, aka Bonfire Night.

While the Brits celebrates "the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot," I like the idea that Bonfire Night is ours. Handsome and l get to celebrate our anniversaries with fireworks, or maybe a little bonfire of our own.

Recommended Reading

Nov 4, 2007

I just finished Lisa See's Peony in Love, and like the earlier Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, it captured my imagination. Ms. See tells beautiful stories, rich with culture and history.

Both books deal with love, pain, and redemption, and each gives insight in a culture wildly different from our own. In Snow Flower, we learn about platonic love and responsibility through the ritual of foot-binding and the tradition of shared secrets. In Peony we study love through grief and obligation through the lens of ancestor worship and Chinese superstition.

It's quite an education to get lost in Lisa See's novels. They're the kind of novels whose characters and settings stay with you and which inspire you to further study. It's a rare and wonderful combination, and I hope you'll enjoy both works as much as I have.


Nov 3, 2007

Saw this billboard:

CALL: 123-4567

Not sure what they actually meant, but how would one go about renting sin? I'm not brave enough to call and find out.

Once Upon a Time

Nov 2, 2007

As a child, I was extremely protective of my little sister. Still am, actually. And it's our mom's fault.

When they brought Leah home from the hospital, I was pretty jealous - what two year old wouldn't be? Especially if that two year old was the first grandchild and had two aunts and four uncles to spoil her. Then comes the interloper. A wriggling, screaming interloper who also happened to be an attention hog. And cute!

Anyway, our mother's brilliant idea was to GIVE Leah to me. "This is your baby. You're the big sister, so she'll always look up to you. You have to look out for her, protect her, teach her. She's yours."

I took her completely seriously, and from that moment, Leah has always been my baby. Even those few times I almost killed her. Like when I hung a swing from nails set into the house rafters and put Leah on said swing. Or that time I took her out of the house first thing in the morning to go swimming in the "pond" in the driveway. Or that time she fell off the sofa - I SWEAR she fell. I didn't push her. Really! I think I still have the marks from the all spankings I got.

And I've always felt more than a little responsible for her. The time she fell off her bike and broke her arm, I was the one who cried. When the neighborhood bully was pushing her around, I was the one who bloddied his nose. When she decided to get married, I nearly lost my mind - no one could be good enough for my baby.

Leah has a birthday next week, and I'm not close enough to take her to lunch or wrangle her kids for a few hours or be protective and responsible in any way. But boy do I ever love her, and I'd still do almost anything for her.

Happy (early) Birthday Le!

Start Your Engines

Nov 1, 2007

So this is day one of the NaBloPoMo thing. Feel free to play along at home. I'm hoping to spend a little time telling you some stories, discussing some of my favorite books, and generally filling space for the next 30 days.

Since I'm still a bit under the weather today - thanks to the Mother of All Colds (tm) - I thought I'd refer you to some older writings that will tell you a little about me and my life and the people I love.

About Handsome.

About Leah's kids.

About Leanne.

About that one time at that funeral.