Monday, December 31, 2012

Final countdown

Here I am, on the last day of 2012 with a final entry (hopefully).  I wish that I could say that my life was simply too busy to write, but the truth is that every time I sit down to do it, nothing comes out.

Before you start to worry, it is not because I am in a bad place with my life or have suffered some major setback.  True, my house sale is still in what feels like a perpetual "pending" status, but hopefully that period is soon to come to a conclusion.  Due to a stipulation of the short sale, I had to wait another month before getting a final answer from the lender, so with any luck within a week I should be able to have a closing date.  Of course, nothing is ever really a sure thing in life, so I say that with slight hesitation.

After much back and forth by way of housing, it sounds like the plan will be for me to remain at my parents' house until such time as I am either able to purchase a house of my own or come up with a new plan.  At this point, I am happy to stay put in this location and to enjoy the freedom of not being tied to a mortgage for the first time in more than eight years.

While many people wait until the New Year period to set resolutions for life and health, I opted to do this a little early.  In October, I joined Weight Watchers.  If you are just a casual passerby reader, you would not know that I had gotten to a point that was unhealthy with my weight and health.  I could blame it on many things, but mostly I just did not care to think about it.  With so many other things in my life that took up my time, emotion and attention, I simply could not be bothered to worry about things like exercise and healthier eating habits.

As of today, I am proud to say that I have lost over 20 pounds and am on track to lose even more.  It may sound cheesy, but it really does make a difference in how I feel about life.  Not to say that I have become Susie Sunshine overnight, but I think that momentum in the right direction is a really great motivator.


So this may not be a very long, informative or even entertaining entry, but getting something in before 2013 starts is important to me.  I hope that everyone who reads this has a fun, safe and enjoyable New Year celebration tonight. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Of all the times to write!

Just a quick little December morning blog entry.  I broke with my newly established routine and did not work out on the elliptical this morning, but I have a good semi-decent lame excuse.  The dogs. 

My parents are out at the farm working on some updates for a couple of days.  If it were for a longer stint, my mom would have taken her dogs because she gets a little lonesome for them, but for such a short trip, it was easier on all that they stay at home.

This means, as you may have guessed, that they all sleep with me.  With a few years experience in this department, it actually goes off just fine.  Everyone settles into their usual comfortable spot and waits until the alarm goes off to start jumping around.  They even seem to have mastered the idea of a snooze button in that the temporary sound of the alarm rouses them but they will resume their positions when I hit the button.

These mornings require a little more attention from me, but they are quite simple.  Actually, it is sort of fun for the dogs (I think) because with only one human in the house, they can bark as loud as they want as early as they see fit without consideration for those who may still be sleeping.  Not that they care either way.

Last night I went over to a friend's house for dinner and to hang out with her and her new baby girl.  It was fun and helpful as I am quite skittish with small babies and it is nice to be around a mom who can calmly offer advice as to how to hold them.  I think it comes from the fact that I was quite young when my brothers were born.  Adults must be quite firm with children when it comes to handling babies for obvious reasons.  I distinctly remember being told to be very careful of the heads of babies.

You know, the "soft spot" issue.  Oh, and the floppy neck thing.  Oddly enough, these are two of my biggest worries when I hold small babies.  It should therefore come as no surprise that I claim to "prefer" to hold babies when they are at least a few months old.  Three to six months, actually.  This may be about the time they start to really "see" things and can interact on a personal level by laughing at or imitating adults. 

The good news is that all the babies of my friends are growing and will soon be in that phase.  From that point onwards, I think I have it covered.  I am great at reading books and singing songs.  I am also pretty awesome at playing dolls and dress-up.  If necessary, I can even play with trains, cars and action figures. 

Anyway, enough morning chit-chat; I have to finish getting ready for work.  Have a great day!

-Megan and the Party Animals

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Remains of the Vacation

Now that I am on the tail end of my mini-vacation, I should be ready to write.  Actually, more than anything I am ready to get back to work.  Weird, I know.  It's not that there is a really pressing and exciting project.  I just miss the routine.  Sad, huh?

Lucky for me, I have several more weeks before I get another extra day off and over a month until I have anything like a vacation day to utilize.  But that is just fine with me. 

You see, if things go to "plan" I should have a very busy month ahead of me.  Not to jinx anything, but I will hopefully hear within the next week as to whether or not my house can be sold before the end of the year.  It is a little hard to wait, but I have absolutely no control over the progress of the approval, so all I can do is sit back and hope for the best.

If and when the news comes back in my favor, things will really get moving.  Literally.  I will have to arrange to have my entire home packed up and moved to temporary storage within a matter of a few weeks.  It sounds daunting, but now that I have been nudged in the direction of hiring professional packers and movers, it really shouldn't take more than a day or so.  It's not like I live in a palace.

Then, and only then, can I start the real search for a new domicile.  There are truly many options, but I need to consider the all important budget along with the restraints of location and the fact that my household includes a dog.  Oh, and I would also like for it to include space for a small grand piano.  Long story.

This leads me to the distinct possibility that my future rental space may be more house-like than apartment-like.  Which is fine by me, but may require a little extra finesse by way of the search.  But don't worry; I have watched many hundreds of hours of HGTV and I have just a slight idea of what to expect.

Thanksgiving was nice this year, despite the fact that my brother and his girlfriend were not with us.  My youngest cousin and I engaged in our traditional contest of video game dancing and I was successful in moderating my consumption of edibles and drinkables.  The proof will be at this week's weigh-in, but I think I did alright.

It really is hard to believe that I have been living here with my parents for almost five months.  Truthfully, it has passed quickly, but I think we will all be happy when this situation is done and we can all plan our next moves to other locations.  You see, I am not the only member of my family facing major upheaval in the coming months. 

My parents are facing the likely possibility that they will uproot for what will hopefully be the last time and move into the family farmhouse.  It will be an interesting and possibly difficult transition, but I think that it has the possibility to lead to some good for both of them. 

Then there is my brother.  Where do I even start with this one?  The boy/man/creature has been in school for what seems like his entire life.  On one hand, this sounds great.  He is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and will soon have his Master's of Public Health.  The next big challenge is the obvious:  he needs to foray that expensive education into a career.  I know he can do it, but the process is far from simple and far from over.

There is also the issue which I am not allowed to name which relates to my brother and his "living situation."  He knows what I mean.  He knows my thoughts on the subject.  I leave it to him to resolve this one in a proper and timely manner. 

So you see, it is not just me who is facing future uncertainties.  Who knows, maybe in a year we will have made our decisions and I will be writing to you about completely different problems.  Or maybe I will have retreated to the woods and unplugged from modern technology.  We shall see.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks-a-Million!

I just completed a lovely mid-day walk with Lena and have another 45 minutes before I am obligated to do anything, so I decided that I should go for the gusto and write on the old blogoboard.  I believe my last post was pre-election, so by now some of the uncertainties and tensions have subsided.  Whether or not you were pleased with the outcome, I do not honestly care.  As in all election years, my life continues on its own trajectory regardless of who is in the hot seat.

Quite honestly, I am just thrilled that we can now go another couple of years without having to watch political ads. 

Today officially marks the first time I have been able to take fully approved vacation time at work.  After starting my new job in July, I entered into a three month probation period during which I was ineligible for paid vacation time.  Technically I was ineligible for unpaid vacation time as well, but thankfully did have some sick time available for the great Cold of October 2012.

As it is the day before Thanksgiving, my original plan was to get out of work, grab my dog and head out to the farm.  But then I realized that my car was overdue for an oil change.  So to address that situation, I made an appointment for mid-afternoon.  After that is done I will grab my dog and head out to the farm.

Unfortunately, I am now dealing with the Mystery Cough-Related Illness of November 2012.  I blame the jerk who sits in the cubicle row next to mine who has spent the last two weeks irresponsibly coughing out into the universe without covering his face.  Now I have the pleasure of multiple coughing fits during that day that bring me to a full face of tears and snot.  Beautiful, I assure you.

In news that is not related to me, baby season is officially over.  I think that I am safe to say it here because here is not Facebook, but today I received a text that my last pregnant friend had her baby yesterday.  She was a few weeks early, so I was not expecting this message, but everything appears to have gone well, so I am thrilled. 

Turns out, most of my friends have had girls.  I don't know if this is normal, but it sure makes my shopping a lot easier.  I get a little giddy when I think of all the awesome stuff I can buy.  It does make me feel a little guilty that I have not seen or given my gifts to my friend with the sole male child, but I am sure that by the time I meet him I will be able to get some really awesome boy toys. 

Not to be too sentimental, but I would like to say that this Thanksgiving I am thankful that all my pregnant friends had their babies safely and that everyone can now start their new roles as mothers and fathers.  I am thrilled for them all, and on a slightly lesser note I am thrilled that it is them and not me, as I sleep peacefully through the night.  (Heh heh.)

Time appears to be getting away from me and I still have the task of packing ahead of me so that I can follow through with my plan to come home from the oil change, grab the dog and go.  It isn't a difficult task to pack for the farm, but it does require that I think about it or I will end up leaving behind something important, like socks.

For those of you out there traveling to be with friends or family this week, I wish you safety.  Eat, drink and be merry.  Do the drinking on my behalf, because now that I am on Weight Watchers, I am off the sauce.  Did you like how I dropped that WW bomb on you with no explanation?  Perhaps I can share more about that later, depending on how my post-Thanksgiving weigh-in turns out.  


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Armageddon cometh? I think not.

Well, it has been an eventful week.  In my own personal life, it probably measures up to be more eventful than the week to come with the election that will not die. 

First and happiest of all, my best friend had her baby.  It was a little earlier than I expected, but everything went well and I got to hold a less-than-24-hour-old baby for the first time in probably 25 years. 

The less happy part of my week was finally getting a decision from the lender on my short sale.  Unfortunately, due to the slight rise in housing values over the past few months, the appraised value of my property is higher than the offer I have had in place since August.  In normal circumstances, this is not a problem.  But in a short sale, it means that the lender figures that they could get more money from a sale and will not accept a lower offer.  So my deal has essentially fallen through and I am back to square one.

It is frustrating to be sure and more than a little disappointing.  It puts all of my future financial plans on hold and means that I will likely have to continue to drive up and maintain my property throughout the lovely winter months. 

Based on what I have observed in the media and through Facebook, a lot of people in my situation would attempt to blame this problem on the government.  They would even go so far as to try and blame the president.  But I am not that stupid.  I am well aware that I bought my house at the height of the inflated housing market (in 2004) and that within two years, I was already starting to notice a decline in value.

This brings me to a topic that I have felt like avoiding, but I sense that I cannot and probably should not ignore.  The election.

I am certain that no matter what side of the fence you fall, you are more than ready for this whole "season" to be over.  It truly brings out the worst in people.  The more I see, the more I truly believe that we are living in a warped reality.  Politicians and their employees, along with the media on ALL sides of the argument throw such ludicrous and inaccurate "information" around that we are all becoming actively dumber by the second. 

Have problems in your life?  Don't worry about taking personal ownership of them, just blame it on the president, Congress, rich people, poor people, or just the "government."  Don't stop for reflection, don't consider the forces at work that are truly beyond the control of any one person or entity.  But it is always most certainly the fault of somebody else.  Heaven forbid you ever made a poor choice in your life.

There is so much finger-pointing and character bashing that by the time Election Day actually rolls around, we are exhausted by the toll that the bombardment of negativity brings to our daily lives.  We are encouraged to blame someone, and the advertisements would have us believe that it should be directed at the person that they want their candidate to beat. 

As a trained but not practicing librarian, I am a strong supporter of fact-checking.  When someone makes a claim that involves statistics, verify it.  If they haven't cited a source, be suspicious.  The information could be misleading, imaginary or at the very least out-of-date.  No opponent will willingly point out anything positive about the other.

In the end, I have to say that American politics has become a bit like professional sports.  It devolves into "teams" and an "us against them" mentality.  Most people do not stop to consider the distinction between entertainment and reality.  Whoever wins the game improves their record or simply wins a title.  Whoever wins an election is then called upon to serve their constituency.   

NOTE:  Not just the people who voted for them; SERVE their ENTIRE CONSTITUENCY.  SERVE.  As in they are to work for US.  That includes you, but it also includes me.  And that weird person next door.  And the people living in the mansions.  And the people living in the street.  Both gay and straight people.  All religions and races.  All genders.  All ages.

So when you get wrapped up and worked up about who you do and don't like, take a minute to step back and think about what is really important.  Not just to you, but to everyone else who lives here as well.  Are your opinions based in reality, or have you become a cog in the media-machine?  Is your anger righteous or self-centered?  Are you throwing your own religious beliefs out to govern those who do not share them?  What would you think if something like that happened to you?

I will step away from my podium now and end with an exhortation to exercise your right to vote.  And no matter who "wins" on Tuesday, remember that we are all in this together.  This country belongs to all of us and we all have a right to be heard.  We do not have to agree, but we need to understand that we are the sum of all of our diverse parts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Travels

It has been a whirlwind weekend of travel and fighting infection in pursuit of a good time. 

If you did not read my last entry, I have a cold.  At least I am now on what is hopefully the tail-end of said illness, so I can survive without drugs.  This does not mean that my life is mucus and phlegm-free.  Au contraire, mes cheris!  

I shall spare you the play-by-play of my various bodily fluid issues of the weekend, for which I expect your gratitude.  But after several weeks of staying home with the dogs while my parents work at the farm or play in Grand Marais, I decided to venture out.  I thought of it as a practice run for next weekend, but more on that later.

This weekend was the fundraiser/fall dance at the Brooten Pavilion.  Many people showed up and a good time was had by all.  I did partake in a small amount of alcohol, but it was all in moderation and I had no ill after effects.  Actually, it was a very brief trip.  Due to this cold along with another complicating female issue, I opted to drive out solo with Lena on Saturday afternoon.  This kept my total trip time to approximately 24 hours. 

While the dance was certainly the highlight of the visit, I was also able to enjoy one of the great benefits that come with autumn in Minnesota.  You see, in summer, the woods become quite overgrown with plant life, and venturing out can be hazardous at best.  Once fall arrives and undergrowth begins to die off, woodland walking becomes far more feasible.

As a child growing up in the more rural areas of the state, I was given a lot of free range to wander in fields and forests as a child.  Normally I did this with friends or siblings, but I did enjoy a peaceful exploration on my own every once in a while.  So today I revisited that experience.

While my parents were in town having breakfast with friends, I left the dogs in the house, donned my work books and hoodie before setting forth into the woods.  In a moment of caution, I left a note for my parents indicating my intention in case they returned before I did.

I started off going straight into the woods, but eventually found myself on the edge of one of the corn fields.  My uncle has not yet combined all of his corn, so there is still quite a bit of tall, golden and dry stalks surrounding the woods.  I followed the edge of the corn until I reached the edge of the pasture as marked by the electric fence. 

No cattle were waiting for me, but I did not feel like risking their hasty arrival seeking food if they were nearby and took notice of me.  I am not an idiot; I know the aggression level of cattle when they expect to be fed.  So I waited a moment and headed back to find my parents arriving home. 

Next weekend I am returning to the farm with the three dogs, but without my parents.  There is a church auction to attend and a friend and her new baby daughter to meet.  Hopefully I will be able to see my grandfather and properly water the lawn for my father.   Maybe I will take another solo trip into the woods.  Who knows, maybe I will find something more interesting than dead trees and giant Labrador retriever droppings. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boogers and mucus and phlegm, oh MY!

If I make any errors in this entry, I cannot be held accountable.  15 minutes ago, I took an adult dose of Tylenol Cold night edition.  As you can infer, I have a cold.  In terms of nastiness, I do not think it is any better or any worse than any other cold I or anyone else may have had in my life.  But when I cannot remember the date of my last official head cold, I fear that it could lead to misguided expectations.

If I had to estimate, I would say that my last official cold took place in 2008, at least judging by the expiration dates on my old medicines.  Thankfully, my mother preceding me in this present ailment, so a new and unexpired batch was purchased and was used tonight.  The effects are already apparent in my sinuses and should shortly be felt in my alertness level.

Unfortunately, when one has a head cold, one must deal with a good deal of phlegm and mucus.  It is just part of the process.  This is not such a problem when one can hide in the safety of a house or bedroom, but when one should be strolling the aisles of an office building and sitting in an open cubicle surrounded by other humans, it is a bit more disturbing. 

What is also disturbing is being told by two of one's coworkers that one should go home because one "looks awful."  So after three hours of constant nose blowing, hand washing and mind clouding, I gave in and went home.  I feel like a bit of a wimp using valuable sick time on something as trivial as a cold, but when I consider that a full day of exposure could render some of my coworkers vulnerable, I am happy to be relieved of their potential blame. 

Sadly, this illness also led to my absence from Norwegian class last night and the cancellation of pedicures with my friend tonight.  I should probably add that the Norwegian class meets in close quarters and my friend is 8 months pregnant.  It makes my lack of attendance seem a bit noble.  Or so I will tell myself.

Before I succumb to the drugs, I would like to take a moment to issue a drug-related warning.  Back in the day when I had colds on a yearly basis, I developed a "go-to" cadre of medications.  First there was Nyquil and Sudafed.  Which led to night hallucinations and racing heartbeats, so I moved on to Tylenol Cold in both day and night formulas.  Eventually I discovered Theraflu, a powdered mix that one heats with water and drinks before bed.  It was highly effective most of the time.

So when I discovered that I still had some packets, I eagerly prepared a cup for myself last night at bedtime.  My normal time frame for effectiveness ran about 30 minutes from ingestion.  Imagine my dismay to find that 90 minutes later my sinuses were completely closed and I could not breathe.  Always one to take drug warnings seriously, I lamented that I could not avail myself of any other medications due to acetaminophen overdose possibilities.  Yikes, right?

But late at night when one is getting up for work in the morning, one gets a bit frantic.  Desperate, even.  So I arose and made a bold decision to take Sinex, a sinus medication around midnight.  It was effective in clearing my nasal passages to allow breathing to occur and sleep to arrive.  Unfortunately, around the 4 hour expiration time, I awoke with frenetic thoughts and crazy dreams.  I was able to finally fall back to sleep until my alarm went off, but it was not a restful sleep.

So tonight it is my hope that my lack of mixing will lead to a better and more solid sleep.  I really need my rest for work in the morning and I also need to build up my stamina for the Brooten Pavilion Fundraiser Dance on Saturday night.  One can simply not attend with wads of tissue up one's nose.  It is just not done.

Now that 28 minutes have elapsed sine I took my nightly meds, I think it is safe to attempt bedtime.  Thank you for reading through my drug induced ramblings, and I hope that you all have a safe and healthy Friday. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Day of Columbus

If you were wondering, I survived my trip to the Edina Super Target on Saturday, but barely.  Seriously, it was tense from the beginning.  Some guy rushed in ahead of me and took the cart I was heading for without so much as a backwards glance. 

From there it was all downhill.  Seriously, at one point I had to wait for several minutes while some guy carried out a phone conversation parked in front of the very item I was waiting to grab.  A pushier person would have walked up, said a pointed "Excuse me," and moved on.  But I am not such a person, so I waited.  Meanwhile, his wife/girlfriend/mistress stood in front of the cart, watching him talk and clearly seeing me behind him with my cart while taking no action.

It was all a mess of inconsiderate stopping, blocking and cutting off from there on in.  At one point, I paused to check if it was safe to head out into the main aisle when some douche-bag swerved around me and headed into the next aisle over which happened to be where I was heading as well.  I followed him into the aisle where he promptly stopped and I passed around him.  It reminded me of driving on a highway when someone passes you only to pull back in front of you and slow down to turn five seconds later.

The grand finale was the discovery that someone had been injured in the produce section.  I do not know the specifics of the circumstances that led to someone laying on the floor in front of the bell peppers surrounded by concerned Target workers, but the amount of walk-by gawking was equal to what one sees upon passing a car pulled over on the highway.  No one looks where they are going as they stare at the injured party.  Ambulances came before I left, so I assume that there was a medical emergency.  Thankfully, I did not see any blood.

You may have noticed by now that this entry is dated for Monday.  Do not worry, I am not writing from work; it is Columbus Day.  I realize that this is not a widely recognized holiday, but my employer treats it as such and I applaud them for it.  Truthfully, I have enjoyed this holiday every October for the past 11 years.  When my last employer was taken over by a new company, we quickly learned that this company would not be recognizing this holiday which was a complete bummer to me.  I am not saying that this was the main reason I left, but it certainly made for a pleasant surprise when I learned that I would receive holiday pay.

Another bonus of the holiday?  A four day work week.  It is one of my favorite things.  True, it does throw off my sense of time a wee bit, but I can handle it.  My parents have also come home, which means that I only have to share my bed with one dog instead of three.  I can handle that as well.

For those of you who cannot spend this fine holiday ruminating on the person of Christopher Columbus, I hope that your Monday was not too rough and I apologize for bragging.  May you have a day full of discovery.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Of to the market I go!

It is a little chilly here today in Minnesota, dontcha know?  We are surviving as best we can, but truth be told, I am not too upset about it.  If you know me, you know that I actually somewhat enjoy it.

Yet again, I am facing a weekend of home and dog watching, although I do have some human company in the form of my uncle who is here from Europe and is going to see the visiting King and Queen of Sweden this afternoon.  Quite exciting.

Meanwhile, I must mentally prepare myself to do some errands.  As I am able to do this without the accompaniment of children or other distractions, it might appear to be a simple task.  In most other areas of the metro it probably would be no more onerous than making the right selections and staying in budget.  Unfortunately, my "local" area is full of crazy people.

Some might point out that this is due to the fact that I now live in Edina, MN.  For those not familiar with the Twin Cities and its suburbs, Edina is what you might call "old money."  It is home to the infamous "cake eaters" of hockey lore and often is called by its affectionate acronym, "Every Day I Need Attention."

Not that I can generalize in total, because I know that not everyone fits this mold.  However, it does lend some explanation to why I hate shopping at the local Super Target.  Again, this is not a generalization about Super Target; EVERY shopping venue in this radius has this problem.  It is just that Super Target is my intended destination today.

From the start, this sort of escapade has the ability to enrage.  The parking lot itself is a fender bender waiting to happen.  Or perhaps a sign of the apocalypse.  No one yields, stops or uses their eyes to spot potential danger.  You can fully expect to be cut off, run over or made to wait for the car in front of you who is blocking the lane while they wait for the spot they want to open up.  Never mind that there are eight more openings just two spots down.

Once safely inside, it is still best to be on one's guard.  The manner in which most patrons operate their automobiles in the parking lot is almost identical to the way they maneuver their shopping carts in the aisles of the store. 

I am of the school of shopping that proceeds with caution when emerging from aisles into crosswalk sections.  I try to keep my cart to the side or out of the path of traffic when picking up my items.  In most places I have been, this is how everyone behaves.  Not so in Edina.  People come charging out of aisles without a sideways glance.  They come to a halt in the middle of sections to stare at what they might want to buy without leaving room for anyone to get around them.  They let their children ride bicycles from the sporting goods section around the store.

This is all one hundred percent true.  Do you understand why I need to build up my defenses before heading out?  It is best to be mentally prepared to avoid bouts of unmitigated rage or under-breath swearing.  If I could avoid it for another day, I would.  But I am out of so many items and I felt a little bad when my uncle could not find anything of substance to eat in the house last night other than Girl Scout Cookies and Lean Cuisine entrees. 

Unfortunately, my parents have been gone so much in the past few weeks, my shopping habits have not been robust enough to feed more than me.  Normally, my parents have their staples that are purchased throughout the week, but without them to pick up things that normal people eat, the house is full of the oddball stuff that I get for myself.  So today, I am going to attempt to pick up "real" food along with other toiletries that I am sadly in need of at the moment.

So wish me luck, but do not be surprised if you read about a nuclear breakdown in the Edina area today.  If you keep your distance, you should survive.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hvordan har du det i kveld?

Tonight the first Presidential debate is on television and I am choosing not to watch.  I am of the opinion that it serves nothing more than entertainment value in that we get to see the top candidates together in the same room for the first time.  Because really, does anything of substance or even truth come up?  No.  It is just another opportunity to shout out buzz words and avoid addressing the questions that everyone would really like answered.  Honestly.

Plus, I have already voted.  Absentee, if you must know, which really was the only thing I could do given the fact that a visit to the polls on election day in my precinct would involve taking a good chunk of time away from work and a LOT more time in the car than I care to do on a week day.

I have to tell you, it feels good to be part of the electoral process.  I really cannot understand why anyone would forgo the privilege. 

But onwards and upwards.

I have been doing a lot of pondering in recent days.  This is largely due to some slower work day schedules that involve a lot of waiting for things to happen and/or work properly, but it has also been brought forth by some correspondence and reading I have done.

As my mind swirls with the supposedly endless array of future endeavors in my life, I find myself seriously considering the option of not going into the library field.  Before you start freaking out, hear me out.  I now work for a fairly large company.  Large as in 65,000+ coworkers across the country.  This company is very devoted to employee engagement and provides numerous benefits and opportunities for life enrichment.  I have already started to entrench myself into some of these activities through volunteer work and seminars.

I am not an idiot.  I do realize that many of these engagement activities are specifically designed to make it hard for people to contemplate leaving the company.  That is no great secret. 

But it truly is the first time that I have been part of such a plan.  And you know what?  It's nice.  Really, really nice. 

So when I start to consider the library option, I have to pause and think long and hard about it.  Sure, I spent time and money on graduate school.  But I have the degree.  It isn't going anywhere.  I learned a lot from my training and there is no reason I cannot apply the principles of librarianship to another field.  It makes me unique. 

One of the very unfortunate side effects of the underfunding of libraries is that they can not afford to pay out much or many salaried positions.  This makes the potential job pool much smaller and much more competitive.  It is really hard to consider jumping out of the comfort and potential of my current company to leap into a lower paying, higher stress and very uncertain field.

It appears that I am not alone in this feeling. 

Last week, I noticed a former library school friend of mine post a cryptic status wondering about how to make the decision between stability in a job that is perhaps not as thrilling and a part time/short term "dream" opportunity.  I inquired further and received a private response.

My fellow library school grad has been working on contract with another large MN-based company.  Said company is poised to offer her permanent employment, but she is slightly uncomfortable in the corporate environment (as are many who are attracted to librarianship).  There is a grant-funded short-term part-time archival position open at the largest library in Minneapolis, and while she has not technically been offered the job, it sounds extremely appealing to her. 

If she gives up on the corporate job, she knows that the library work will end in six months, leaving her with only the experience on her resume to show for it.  If she stays at the corporate job, she could make more money and potentially find something within the company that suits her better in the future.

Do you see the similarities?  So I am not alone.  I will need to decide what I want to do and where I want to try to be.

But now to switch gears, I want to publicly mull over an article that I read recently.  It was a dating themed article, written by a man and it related to his own personal philosophy of how to have a fulfilling love life.  Not a how-to on finding a boyfriend or husband.  Just some ideas based on his own experiences.

One of the interesting points he made centered around the idea of having value.  Bringing something useful to a relationship.  Not dating to seek validation.  Making it a fair trade.

While it is not likely that reading this will drastically alter my dating status, it does have some helpful components that could relate to other areas of life.  In my case, it helped me to shift my focus in my internal discussion about my career options.  Time will tell if this paradigm can help me make any meaningful decisions.

In other news, I am four weeks into my Norwegian language class, and I love it.  It is definitely worth the money, the drive and the voyage into one of the sketchier areas of town.  Let me demonstrate some mad skills.

Hei!  Jeg heter Megan.  Jeg studerer Norsk.  Jeg kommer fra Minnesota.  Hvor kommer du fra?

OK, so most of these phrases I already knew from Norwegian camp 20 years ago, but if I get into the fancy stuff, I will need to figure out how to change the keyboard to include the extra Norwegian letters.  And it is too late on a Wednesday night to mess with that.  I have three sleepy puppies who I need to tuck into bed, so with that, God Natt!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Stitch in Time

If you were given the choice to read about my current misgivings and malaise over the sale process on my house and something much lighter and possibly funnier, what would you choose? 

OK.

So to bring you up to speed, I am presently spending my second Saturday in a row where I am outnumbered by small terrier-esque dogs.  My housemates are pretty cool, but they can be a little whiny when they want something.  Like food.  Or for me to let them back inside.  Or to be carried up the stairs.  Or to be released from the laundry room after they trapped themselves inside. 

Other than laundry, grocery shopping and a trip up to my house (tomorrow) to get some more socks for my sock drawer, my weekend is pretty low-key.  Perfect for project work.  And by that, I of course mean my embroidery project. 

You may not realize it, but I am not what one would call a "crafty" person.  True, I have come up with some pretty awesomely sneaky schemes in my time, but I am not referring to that type of "crafty."  I mean the type of person who is good at crafts.  As in "Arts & Crafts."  Never has been my cup of tea, at least for more than a day or two.

There are always exceptions.  If you took a look at my life vis-a-vis my friends at the moment, you might detect  trend.  They are all having babies.  It is great, especially for me who has the sole responsibility of buying awesome things for said babies while still being able to sleep at night, all night. 

But there is something about this onslaught of new life that brings out a teensy bit of a creative urge in me.  Certainly not an urge to get knocked up myself, heaven forbid.  Yikes.  But I find myself a bit more willing to break out the embroidery needles and thread if it means making something special for someone new. 

My mother and her friends are the top-level examples of this sort of behavior.  Between her gaggle of pals, they can all knit, quilt and sew any and everything a child (or child's mother) could ever want.  I cannot compete with this level of craftsmanship, you guys.  So I have chosen an alternative format:  embroidery. 


This time around, I decided to take things a step beyond cross-stitch.  You know those dish towels that old women love to use that feature colorful stitched pictures of flowers, squirrels or days of the week?  That is what I am trying to do.  Thankfully, I found a website that features tutorials, kits and patterns for all occasions.  Perhaps a more organized person would have started with something less important like a dish towel, but I am not that person.  I went right for the prize:  baby bibs.

So far, I have finished one.  It is decent looking, but I am sure that my great-grandmothers would have something different to say about my technique.  Unfortunately, they are all dead, so no chance of that happening.  I am about half done with the second bib and it looks to turn out better than the first.  When I am done, maybe I will post a picture.

These first two bibs are going to one specific friend who is due in a little over a month.  If it goes over well, I may consider the idea of more projects in the future, but for any of my other baby making friends who read this blog, do not worry.  All of your gifts will be purchased at the store and made by professionals. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not the post I intended to write

To state the obvious, it is a new day.  A Saturday, to be precise.  A glorious Saturday, to be more precise.  Why?  Because it is a weekend free from obligations, at least for me.  To do with whatever I please.  Jealous?

You might be.  But you might also be my good friend J who is currently in Europe on her babymoon with her Swedish husband.  Then you would not be so jealous I would think.  But (for me) to be in Italy without being able to drink wine or eat unpasteurized cheeses, it might not be quite as awesome.  But J is not as much of a wino as I am in Italian situations.  This gal has travel mojo if such a thing exists. 

But this is beside the point.  Today I am going to do things that I want and need to do.  First item on the agenda?  Change out of my pajamas, which consists of an oversized t-shirt portraying Bucky the Badger holding a syringe and medical bag labelled "DVM" and a pair of flood-water length lounge pants bearing the Monchichi logo.  If you do not know what a Monchichi is, I am not going to tell you because you need to figure it out for yourself.  Needless to say, I look awesome.

From the point of pajama removal, I intend to don an outfit suitable for a brisk outdoor walk around one of the fine lakes of Minneapolis.  I am undecided about which one, but I would guess that Lake Harriet will probably be the pick as it is the best.  Oh, and Lena will be coming with me.  Maybe (for once) I will remember to bring along my phone so I can take some cool artsy Instagram photos. 


Apr├Ęs-walk we shall return home where I will shower and prepare myself to be in enclosed public spaces for I must venture forth to the craft and grocery stores.  This is not part of my normal routine, mind you, but I have need of some items that I do not have in the house at present.  Like embroidery hoops.  And food.  

After that excursion, it is anyone's guess.  Most likely I will be putting the embroidery hoops to use in a new but totally legitimate way.  I have a "project" to do.  I might play the piano a little bit.  Or call a friend.  Read a book.  Watch a movie.

And tomorrow?  Who knows?  Maybe I will take a madcap adventure up to my house and fetch the mail and check on the plumbing.  Being in this limbo phase where I still own a house full of my stuff while waiting for the lender to process the short sale request is both extremely easy and excruciatingly difficult.  Easy because all I really have to do is wait and difficult because I still have to pay ALL the bills associated with the property until it no longer belongs to me.  And as I do not get to enjoy much time up there any more, it seems like a colossal waste of funds.  But hopefully it will all work out in the end.  By Christmas, I hope.

Why so much braggadocio about my leisurely schedule?  Well, it is not designed to make anyone jealous.  Really.  It is more to make myself feel more positive about utilizing my time well.  With so many friends pregnant, dealing with new babies, getting engaged or married or going on fabulous vacations, I need to remind myself (in public forum) that my life is really not too bad either.  

If you did not know, I am well aware that I am 32 years old.  I choose not to label myself the same way as others might:  single and childless.  Or rather, I choose to make those labels positive.  I am happy to be here.  

This week was the five year anniversary of my youngest brother's death.  He was 19 years old.  He was vivacious, hilarious and loquacious.  He (like me) loved to use lengthy vocabulary words.  I miss everything that he brought to my life and the lives of our family members and friends.  But he could have been none of those things and I still would have loved him because he was my brother.  

There are so many things that he could have become, but we can only speculate.  His new days do not continue and he no longer has the opportunity to take a simple walk around the lake or call a friend to chat.  Every South Park episode and every Ben Folds album that has come out in the last five years has passed through without his commentary.  

But I have seen them.  I have heard them.  It is because of this that I choose to do the things that I do; I do them because I can.  I will live my life and take whatever comes with it.  If that does not lead to marriage and children, so be it.  Those things, while wonderful in a general sense and in the lives of people I know and love, do not define a person.  I love my friends because of who they are, not because of their marital or parental status.  Those things have become part of who they are, but it is not their sole definition.

Has this become a bit of a manifesto?  Possibly.  Should I get started on all the things I said I would do?  Definitely.  So that brings me to the end of this entry.  At the outset I did not intend to get as serious, but I have to go where the current takes me when it comes to writing.  Excuse me now, I need to go for a walk. 





Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Generation gaps

Tomorrow is my first night of class and I am already experiencing the expected pre-first day of school jitters.  Will I make friends?  Will the teacher like me?  Will I get a good grade?  In all honesty, I do not know if there are grades to be had.  Often in more informal class settings such as I expect to find, it is more about the process than measuring the result.

This is fine, but it also makes me a little sad.  You see, I am a good test taker, especially in foreign language class.  Not to shock you, but I always carried 100% or higher in French class in high school.  Perhaps it was because I loved learning the language.  Or maybe it was the flashcards and reviews I obsessively made for myself.  Maybe I just like to "win."  Who knows?

Four years ago, my family took a trip to Sweden and Norway.  As a lark, and to prepare ourselves just a teensy bit for the language barriers, my mom and I took a Swedish class through a local community education program.  It was taught by an older native Swedish woman who was quite lovely and patient.  Our class consisted of about six to eight people, depending on the night.  My mom and I were by far the junior members of the class.

I learned many things in this class.  Yes, I learned some basic Swedish vocabulary and grammar.  I also reaffirmed my aptitude for learning language and desire to win, much to the annoyance of my mother.  But I also had many of my preconceived notions about the elderly put to the test.

You see, I have long believed (based on what older people have told me) that "back in their day," students respected their teachers, worked hard and never spoke out of turn because it was such a privilege to learn.  I never doubted this information because really, why wouldn't I?

Imagine my shock, confusion and horror to discover that my mom and I were the most polite and respectful students in the class.  Our older cohorts routinely spoke out loud to one another while the teacher was explaining important information.  This alone not only irritated our kindly Swedish teacher, but it also meant that when the time came to practice what we were to have learned, none of them had any idea what to say our how to pronounce it because they weren't listening when she explained it.

Now I am not an unfeeling person.  I understand that people learn at different paces and levels.  You can't control the fact that people can sit and listen to the exact same lecture and retain different facts or details.  But when you have half of a class that is not listening at all, you are losing from the start.  And I get impatient. 

But then again, you are supposed to respect your elders, which is why I never voiced my irritation to the offenders.  My mom and I ranted about it on our own, and our teacher even finally gave in and snapped at them on more than one occasion.  Lest you think that they apologized and toed the line, be prepared again to have your preconceived notions challenged.  These folks actually had the nerve to get mad at the teacher.  For what, I never knew.  But gosh darn it, if they wanted to waste her time along with ours because they couldn't be bothered to pay attention, so be it.

So I think I am justified in being a little nervous about a repeat performance tomorrow night.  My hope is that the location of the class at a church in a somewhat questionable neighborhood might make it less attractive for the older folks to approach.  But I doubt it.  I mean, who else would be interested in learning Norwegian?  Besides me, of course.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tummy rejuvenation

I am pondering the possibility of conducting an experiment with myself as the test subject.  This may essentially destroy any objectivity of the findings, but as the sole person who could potentially benefit from the results, I must say that I do not care.

To be delicate and ladylike, I am going to inform you that I sometimes (quite often) suffer from minor (major) indigestion.  I always love how they call it that in Pepto Bismol commercials when really it is just a cure for the runs.  Oops!  Did I break the etiquette barrier?  Sorry.  I guess it's too late to keep the feminine mystique going.

Back to the point, I have dealt with sporadic bouts of indigestion since I was in my mid-teens.  I am told this is not uncommon, especially in women.  And wouldn't you know, I am a woman.  So the odds were against me from the start, it seems. 

Up to now, my general stance towards this problem has been to be watchful and aware of my reactions.  I have been able to nail down a few different foods and beverages that seem to lead to more rapid and painful reactions, but it is never 100% correct.  Most medical advice has gone along the lines of using an elimination diet to see if that helps and then slowly add back in different offenders to see who are the most likely culprits.

But I have a strong suspicion that I already know the chief offenders:  dairy and eggs.  This explains why mayonnaise has been on the "no-fly" list for a while, but why am I able to sometimes eat ice cream? 

Whenever I think about this situation, my thoughts always return to a good friend of mine who actually is allergic to eggs and nuts.  At present, she is nursing a baby who has problems with dairy, so for the moment, she is off that too.  When you first hear this, you might think it doesn't sound that tricky.  But keep in mind that when I say egg allergy, that means anything made with egg as an ingredient and not just straight up eggs.

Still doubtful?  Take a look at the ingredient lists on some of your common foods.  You will be amazed how many things have egg, milk, nuts or some variation of these things in them.  I mean, just consider breakfast for a moment.  What do you normally have in the morning?  Cereal?  What kind of milk are you using with that?  Cow milk?  Can't have it.  Almond milk?  Forget about it.  Better stick with soy and hope that it doesn't fall on your allergy list as well.

Obviously, eggs in all forms are out of the question.  As is yogurt, butter, peanut butter and many types of granola that contain nuts.  In the end, you are left with meat (bacon and sausage), fruit (but in moderation) and oatmeal.  Not bad, but it sure takes the fun and variety out of the morning.  Personally, I am a toast person, and since I do not think peanuts are a problem for me, I am OK, but if not, then what?

This dietary lifestyle almost lends itself to quasi-veganism.  The kind that lets you eat meat but not other animal byproducts.  Which isn't bad, right?  But it is a lot of work and requires thoughtful choices.  So in the interest of improving my digestive health, I have consulted with my friend and will hopefully be getting some helpful tips and resources to make a good attempt at bringing more normalcy to my daily routine. 

Maybe this was more than you wanted to know.  But I think it should be interesting and for once I can write about something other than my job and the dogs. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Just call me Florence Nightingale

The final night of the puppy siege is done.  All survived with no injury.  If only the pups had kept up their first night initiative to sleep on separate chairs...

Regardless, we now arrive at Sunday morning and are excited that my father is returning today to take over the bed-sharing with two of the dogs. 

As the moment, the pups are all resting after having been outside, fed and Dingo'd.  All is right with the world.  I must now get myself clean and presentable so I may go out and get my delayed pedicure.  A home improvement emergency led my friend to request a rain check on our outing, and since I am nothing if not flexible, I agreed.

Turns out it was probably a good thing that it worked out this way because we had a bit of an emergency of our own here yesterday around the time I was to leave. 

Now that the weather has turned glorious and cool, no one minds being outside, especially the dogs in this household.  Yesterday around noon, I turned two eager pups outside for a romp and bathroom break while I retreated downstairs.  No sooner had I picked up a pillow when I heard a strange squeal come from a distance.

At this point several thoughts raced through my mind.  I was well aware of the hunting capabilities of the terriers and I also knew that sometimes small animals such as rabbits and squirrels can "scream" when they are dying or in distress. 

Prepared for the worst in the form of bloody carnage, I raced back outside to witness Thor, the boy, huddling down next to the strawberry patch and emitting a pitiful and piercing whine of pain.  Lena, the ever valiant, was leaping through the air in an attempt to bite and vanquish what appeared to be a small bee or wasp.

As I stepped out the door, Thor came racing in on three legs, sounding like a siren the entire way.  Lena came with him and even Pippi emerged from her slumber to check out the situation.

He came in the house and allowed me to look at his tender little back foot.  I quickly deduced that nothing was broken or bleeding, so I took precautionary measures and administered Benedryl with peanut butter.  One of the advantages of having several veterinarians in the family is that one learns some of the common responses to bee sting emergencies rather quickly.  As this was not Thor's first encounter with a bee that ended badly, I knew the drill.

Medicine taken we retired to the cool of the basement where I kept the trembling Thor in my lap until his little heart stopped racing and he fell asleep.  When he awoke, he was fine.  I assumed that all memory of the injury was gone, but when I put them outside later in the afternoon, he refused to walk in the grass other than a brief trip out to pee.

By nightfall, he was better and this morning he is back to his old self. 

But just think if I had needed to go anywhere or keep an appointment.  Would I have left him?  Probably not.  It is really amazing how much the lives of animals can take over our best laid plans.  Thank goodness I will be getting a good night's sleep tonight to recover from all this excitement.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Impulse buys

Just when I start to mentally prepare myself for the next wave of babies coming into the lives of my friends, one jumps right in early to surprise us all.  This afternoon at work, I received a text message from my friend who was due with her first child on September 23.  She lives out in a more rural area of the state, so I do not see her nearly as often as I would like and updates are a little harder to get through.

Nonetheless, she texted me to announce that her baby girl was born this morning and that everyone was doing great.  It was such a shock coming just over two weeks early and I was so unprepared for the news that I gave an audible yelp of surprise from my desk. 

Immediately, I sent a message back and we exchanged a few words.  Not too many, however, because if there is one thing I know about child labor from all the stories I have heard is that it wears you out.  I am totally excited to eventually get all the gory and painful details of the act of childbirth, but I think I will wait until she has a little time and distance between present and the experience. 

One of the unexpected reactions I experienced immediately was to find myself on the verge of tears.  Not totally inappropriate, but I am generally speaking not a crier at happy moments like weddings and births.  But this news nearly had me bawling with happiness.  I kept in check as I was at work and did not feel like freaking my new coworkers out completely, but I did share the news with the gal in the cubicle next to mine.

As I meandered through the craziness that is Babies R Us after work in search of some new baby gifts, I analyzed my tears a little more.  If I had to name a reason (aside from just happiness), I realized that I have been carrying a little bit of tension over my friends and their pregnancies.  A couple of years ago, this would not have been the case, but the heart-wrenching loss of my best friend's first born just over a year ago did a number on my sense of tranquility when it comes to babies.

Maybe it is irrational, but it will probably be like this until sometime next year after the last of the expected babies for my friends and family members are done.  In the meantime, I am channeling my feelings into shopping and maybe even a little embroidering project and possibly some more cross-stitch.

In other news, my doggie weekend continues uneventfully.  Tomorrow I am getting a pedicure and leaving them to their own devices for a bit.  Sunday I may go out again.  Crazy, I know.

This morning, I had a bit of a crazy impulse moment.  My company's internal website just started locally based social pages for internal sharing, and on a procrastinating whim, I decided to peruse the page for the Twin Cities.  I was attracted to a thread in which a coworker was consulting the experiences of others to help him decide if he should pursue an MBA and if yes, where he should go.  The responses were interesting, and I found myself briefly considering a return to graduate school.  Fortunately, the financial requirements put me back in check.

However, in reading the thread all the way to the end, I found that the original post-writer came back to offer up a little explanation of his background and perhaps to brag a little bit about all the seemingly ah-maz-ing things he has done thus far.  Rather than just snort in disgust and move on, I read.  Maybe it is all part of the whole "don't knock it until you try it" mentality that led me to read Twilight.  Maybe.

Either way, I was caught by a casual description of the author's experience taking Norwegian language courses through a local Norwegian-American church organization.  To clarify, I have always wanted to find a way to take Norwegian classes that are affordable and could maybe, possibly, hopefully one day give me the ability to converse with natives.  On the off chance I ever get the chance to go back to visit (or live).

So I braved the work firewall and went to the website of the church.  Classes are starting next week and the price was reasonable.  I signed up.  It is funny because just the other day I had marveled at the fact that this was the first fall since 2008 that I have not had homework.  Not that I expect a ton of homework to come with this class, but I look forward to practicing my skills on my grandfather and maybe others in my family.

PLUS... the name of this blog is in Norwegian, right?  It is time to acquire the skills to support the awesomeness of my blog name.  Good justification, at least to me it is.

Check back periodically and see if I can manage to insert some useful phrases and demonstrate my linguistic prowess.  I promise to try my best.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Branching out

It is truly a magical time, you guys.  I have spent this year (so far) doing a lot of new things.

New job, moving and selling my house, paying for new school loans.  You know, fun stuff.

Oh yeah, and I finally gave in and read the craptastically "amazing" Twilight series.  I would apologize to all of my friends and potential friends and readers for my assessment, but I am entitled to an opinion and now that I have actually read all of the books, I am qualified to express it.

If you are not familiar with me and my ways, you may not be aware that I have a tendency to resist things that I sense are silly or will waste my time.  This is, of course, subjective to my personal taste as some may argue that I willingly spend a great deal of time on silly endeavors such as blogging, reading or talking to my dog.

The whole Twilight thing is a case in point.  I knew the basic premise of the storyline for the "saga" because several of my friends were fans and felt compelled to share.  Also, I am not blind or deaf.  I have seen all the hoopla on TV and online about the books, movies and more importantly, the actors who star in the movies.  Even my idyllic romp through Tuscany in 2010 was marred by friends giddily traipsing through the streets of Montepulciano pretending to be Bella, Edward, Ginger or whoever it was that was in that part.

My point is that I spent a great deal of time making fun of the books based on what I had gained through hearsay and not through personal evaluation.  And I always find that arguments are much more compelling when one has the facts.  So I read them.  And now I can mock them.

This brings me to another such scenario:  Pinterest.  Earlier in the year, I watched with skepticism as one of my dear friends whiled away the hours exploring the "wonders" of this website.  When I asked her what exactly it really was meant to be, she had a hard time explaining it.  She invited me to join, but I sensed that it was perhaps a magnet for the crafty or wannabe crafty set, and I declined.

But eventually, like many things, I capitulated and decided to make an informed decision.  I joined and navigated my way through the rules of "pinning" things to my "boards."  It was actually fun at first, but my interest dwindled a bit after a while when reality set in and it became clear that I was unlikely to ever use any of the fabulous recipes or make any of the seemingly easy projects.

That is not to say that I do not check on things periodically.  I like to see what other people are into, for the most part, that is.  Some people are just a little overzealous in the amount of pins they collect.  I mean, seriously, WHEN are you ever going to find time to do any of the 300+ DIY decorating projects you have lined up for yourself?  Are you really a sewing master?  Do you really think that sprinkling epsom salts on your stovetop will make it clean?  (Don't actually do that, it's not a real tip.  I think.)

Despite my pessimism and slight irritation over some of the pins I have seen that are either downright wrong or insanely stupid, I find that the most perplexing situation I have found involves MEN who use Pinterest.  Let me qualify that statement:  STRAIGHT men who use Pinterest.

In specific, there is one male pinner I follow who really isn't a close friend, but he is a Facebook friend and I have known him since childhood, so I thought maybe he would have some interesting or funny things to share.  After all, he is a comedian.

At first, his stuff was pretty entertaining.  Then he started pinning fashion ideas for himself.  Again, not a terrible thing, but a little weird.  Maybe my personal experience is too limited, but I do not interact with many men who give that much forethought to their wardrobe.  But whatever, cool.

Then he started a board entitled "girls, do this."  Don't freak out, it is nothing dirty.  It is, more or less, a way for him to show the women of the world what kind of fashion and accessories he finds to be attractive.  Sort of a template for women to say, "See gals?  If you dress like this, I will find you hot and might consider making you my girlfriend."

Oh, did I not mention that he is single?  A girlfriend might actually take offense to this unless he was paying tribute to her natural style by telling other girls to be as awesome as her.

And it really isn't that the outfits or shoes are ugly, inappropriate or demeaning.  It is just weird.  I do not understand the purpose.  Is it to be funny?  Flirty?  Assertive?  Ironic?  As far as I can tell, these are things he really does like. 

But this leads me to the inevitable fact that in order to pin these items, he has to go looking for them.  Sure he could troll the fashion boards of female friends and just repin.  But I get the sense that he is going out to clothing sites and pinning directly.  Either way, this guy might just have too much time on his hands.  It may be time for a "pintervention."  Do you like that?  I am sure I am not the first to use it, so I won't lay claim to it, but it is good.  I know.

OK, so it is time to take my next allergy pill.  You know how I know?  My eyes are burning.  And no, it's not because I am mocking too many people tonight.  It really is allergies.

Oh, and wish me luck.  I am in charge of all three dogs tonight which means slumber party!!!!!  But we cannot stay up too late; it's a work night. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A little something for you

Slow and steady wins the race.

This is my mantra as I try to focus my eyes long enough to complete an entry.  You see, my seasonal allergies have smacked me in the face and nearly stolen my sanity.  As a person who rarely gets ill, this is as close as I have come to being really ill in quite a while, and it is not comfortable.  Thankfully, my life is not too crazy-hectic at the moment, so I will survive.

Last weekend represented the first time since starting my new job that I have had any time off other than regular weekends.  True, it was a government holiday, but I will take what I can get, even if the freebie day is consumed with snot-rags and hallucinations.  Sadly, when I really stopped to think about the last time I took a true "vacation" day, it starts to look pretty bleak.  As close as I can figure, it happened sometime in April.  Yikes.

When I have had lucid down moments lately, I have taken to thinking about where I want to be one year from now.  If all continues to go as scheduled, I should be done with my home-owning relationship by that time and will actually have the freedom to really reconsider my life.  Work wise, things are pretty good.  I like where I am and I like my prospects.  True, it is no library job, but the amount of rejection I have faced on that front has left me desperate for working in a place that actually wants me. 

It is strange, though, because I have spent so much time wishing that I could ditch the trappings of the big city life for a simplified existence.  Now that I am facing the possibility of pursuing such an option, I have no idea where to start. 

But rather than continue to rant about this, I am going to heed the ache behind my eyes and get ready for bed.  I just wanted to be sure to write something in the month of September before things start moving along too quickly.  So there you have it.  Something.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Advice OR Sorry For Being a Jerk

Folks, I know we've talked about this before and we will probably talk about it again.  I am single. 

I know that I have ranted about my irritation with the dating "game" and my desire for reform, but you should know that it was to no avail.  The problems persist.

Not that I am desperate.  Please know that I am not to the point that I will throw myself into whatever new-fangled dating scheme has come on the market.  I am still an advocate for good old-fashioned chance encounters.  Taking the reins and making things happen can actually work in other areas of life, but this is literally a crap shoot and you cannot control the outcome.

I write this because I have once again come up against the well-intentioned attempt of one of my loved ones to set me up on a date.  And as always, it was a short-sighted endeavor fueled by a desire to see me settled and "happy."  To clarify, I have no problem with the fact that my family loves me and wants what they think is best for my life.  I just have a different opinion of what that picture actually looks like in the end.

What failed in this latest attempt?  Perhaps it was the fact that the proposed date lives at least an hour away from me.  Or that the matchmaker was relying entirely on word-of-mouth, with that mouth being the sister and sister-in-law of the man in question.  But really, to be honest, the most crucial component of the failure was the fact that she couldn't even tell me his name.  Not even his initial.  Because she did not know it.

All in all, the only thing that could be known about the man (other than what could be seen in his awkward color-coordinated extended family photo) was that he liked to read and play piano.  To be sure, these are both things that I myself enjoy, but as the lone factors they are insufficient to pique my interest.

So again, let my story be an example or template for you of how to properly set up a single friend on a date.  First and foremost, do your research.  Knowing me from birth is great, at least it is great for the person you are trying to convince to go out with me.  Try to know (or learn) as much about BOTH people before you even approach the idea of making a match.  Think long and hard about their personalities and what you know they like to do.

Do they both like to read?  Great.  Take it a step further by asking what kind of books they like to read.  If one likes to read Steinbeck and the other prefers Harlequin romance, you may have a problem.  Do both people like comedies?  Cool.  Slapstick or satire?  Think about it.

I am not suggesting that you conduct personality inventories on both parties or put them under the microscope at such a magnification as to be analyzing their genetic compatibility (although I wouldn't be upset if you did).  Just a little investigation and common sense are sufficient. 

One final little tiny thing.  If you do not find one of the people to be interesting, attractive or special, that is probably a good sign that your friend or family member may not either.  Just a good rule of thumb.  If you really like your friend/family member, you want the best for them, right?  Not just the first available person you could find with gainful employment and most of their original hair.  Correct?

For those of you who will read this and be sad/worried/upset, relax.  This does not mean that I have given up on dating.  It is just an affirmation that I have waited 32 years, and I can wait a little longer if it means being with someone I actually really want to date.  Not just whatever I can get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Can we say RANDOM?

Welcome back!  It is August 23, 2012 and I am writing in my blog.  You might assume that my life has taken a crazy turn for the busy, and I won't stop you from this assumption.  And it isn't totally wrong either.

My new job is going well, but seriously, it does not encroach on my personal life in any way, which is nice (for a change).  Meanwhile, back at my old job, things are not quite as clean.  But there is always room for improvement, so hopefully things will turn around for them.  I am just glad that I got the hell out of Dodge when I did.  Yikes.

As for my house?  Things are moving forward.  Onward.  Upward?  Twirling towards freedom?  (There is a Simpson's allusion that just happened, did you know?)  I have an offer on the table and it is now just a matter of getting my lenders whatever information they need so they can make a decision about whether or not to accept the offer, which is a short sale.

In my (optimistic) opinion, I should be house-free by Christmas.  Until then, I keep paying the bills while remaining encamped at my parents' home.  So far, it has not been that bad, but I suspect when the winter confinement starts, things might start to get a little more tricky for us from a psychological standpoint.  There are many potential outcomes in circulation for what I will do when I have the financial freedom to seek out a new living situation.  So many, in fact, that it is hardly worth getting into them right now because it would make your head spin.

Long story short, I am starting to get my head around the idea that I will finally be able to have options.  One of the downsides of home ownership is that one's options become very limited.  Not just financially, but in general quality of life.  I love the show House Hunters International and secretly wish one day to be featured as I seek my new living quarters in some fabulous place like London or Stockholm.

In the past, knowing that I have this house/mortgage weighing on me has kept my imagination in check.  But now, very slowly, it is starting to run a little wild.

Perhaps I will move up into the north woods and become the next big hermit author of the great American novel.  Maybe I will get a nice little apartment in this area, keep my current job and enjoy the proximity to civilization and the workplace.  Maybe I will build a yurt in the tundra and live with no indoor plumbing.  Or not.

This much I do know:  I am not buying another house.  At least not in the near future.  I have student loans to repay and other financial responsibilities that will not go away with the sale of my house.  My plan is to live on a different kind of budget; one that does not require that I fork out nearly half my monthly income to put a roof over my head.  At least if I can help it.

So does that help you understand where my thoughts have been as of late?  I know it is a stupid excuse and I should really get back on track with writing, but I am not making any promises.  But stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Can you tell it's been a long day?

Just when you think that you are finally "moving on" with your life, you find that you are still following similar patterns.  First of all, my job is fine.  Sure, things are a little slower at the moment than I would like, but compared to the alternative 13 hour day my former coworkers are experiencing today for company conversion, I cannot complain.

My house remains on the market.  It has been nearly three weeks, and I am not that surprised.  There have been almost eight showings, which is good (I think), but the comments I have received have all pertained to things over which I have no control.  No fireplace, not big enough, short sale, blah blah.  All things that people could have figured out from reading the listing, but who reads nowadays?

I know I have said it before, but I will say it again:  it feels a lot like online dating.

You put your best image forward with nice pictures.  You get a fun and catchy write-up.  And then you get interested parties who clearly do not read any of the crucial information you put forth but still want to meet in person and see what you have to offer.  I sense a pattern.

Tonight I am going to a book signing.  I have never been to one before, and I am nervous, excited and a little scared.  It is for a book written by one of my favorite bloggers, The Bloggess.  She is funny, crazy, clever and has an affinity for taxidermy.  It's hard to explain.  Check out the website and then read the book.

As for the rest of the weekend, I haven't really decided what to do.  I do need to move some of my scattered belongings out of the basement and into an upstairs closet now that is now available due to the return of my visiting uncle and aunt to their home in Belgium.  That's right, the country.  As in the place where waffles, chocolate, beer and fries come from.  All the major food groups. 

But right now I am at the computer reveling in the fact that I have two days of not working in a row.  You might not be impressed, but maybe you do not understand.  You see, I have not had a non-weekend, non-holiday day off since sometime last winter and I will not be eligible to have one until winter comes again. 

It's my own fault, really.  I didn't take any time off between jobs, and I really should have.  Not that I would have gone anywhere, but it might have been good for my mental health.  Of course, that would have happened in July when we were in the midst of the horrendous heat/humidity wave that has ensconced my beloved state for nearly the entire season. 

Speaking of weather, today has been AMAZING.  Temperatures in the upper 70's and I am in HEAVEN.  If I didn't have this book thing tonight I would totally be going for a walk around the lakes.  I guess that can wait until tomorrow, right?  Because this weather is supposed to continue all weekend, folks. 

That said, I would like to give a nod and a shout out to my former coworkers who will or may already be stuck indoors at their respective locations to endure an extended workday to convert their old computer systems over to the new company's platform.  I do feel sorry that you must be indoors on this glorious evening.

OK, so this has been a pretty wordy entry for me.  I am quite proud of myself.  So on that note, I shall conclude.  Should tomorrow's house date/showing produce any new comments or positive results, I will be sure to mention it.  Otherwise assume that my house, like me, remains single.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oh la la!

Yesterday I experienced something new.  I had long been dreading the event, but I always knew that one day I would acquiesce and allow it to happen.  Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it.  Sure, it tickled a little and I was a little tense at times, but once I just sat back and let it happen, it was fine.

So what was it? 

I should just let you stew about it for a bit.  Let your imagination run wild. 

OK, there, rein it in.  Don't go too far. 

Any guesses?

Isn't this game kind of fun?

Alright, I get it.  Just say it, already, right?

I got a pedicure.

Are you shocked?  No?  Maybe you do not fully understand the gravity of the situation.

I have always been a bit self-conscious about my feet.  They are on the bigger side, but they are no more than what one would expect from someone of my greater height.  It really comes down to my toes.  I have been blessed with some special gene that makes my toes long and skinny.  Almost finger-like, in my opinion.

Seriously, it took me a long time to even contemplate being comfortable wearing sandals because I thought everyone would be drawn to stare at the freak show.  When I finally was brave enough to try, no one even commented, so I grew more confident. 

But when it came to the thought of a pedicure, I drew a line.  No way was someone going to get that up close and personal with my feet to view them let alone TOUCH them.  Gah.  Gross.

My aversion to pedicures is long-standing and well-known among my closest friends and family.  So my split second decision yesterday to venture into the unknown came as a bit of a shock, even to me. Around noon, my best friend called up to see if I wanted to come with her to the little nail salon by her house to get a pedicure.  And I said YES.

I do not know exactly why I did it.  Maybe I was tired of staring at the calluses on my heel and was finally ready to shed all the dead skin.  Maybe I was tired of being ashamed of my feet.  Or maybe I was having an out-of-body experience.  Who knows.

But I did it.  And you know what?  It was nice.  I got to sit in a nice massage-chair while a very nice woman pampered my least favorite body parts.  I even had my nails painted.  My favorite part was the Micro-plane cheese grater type contraption she used to shave off the dead skin on my calluses.  It did not hurt at all and made a huge difference.

So will I now become one of those girls who has to get her feet done?  Maybe.  But it was only $23, so I think I can swing it once every couple of months if it always feels this nice.

What is the lesson to be learned here?  Never say never to beauty and spa treatments, especially when they include a lengthy sit in a massage chair and fuchsia nail polish.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keeping momentum

It has been two years since I started this blog and it appears that I have done a terrible job at growing my readership.  Of course, this is obviously my own fault entirely, but I am going to attempt to do my best to not go off in the way of several of my former favorite bloggers by simply disappearing from the face of the earth.

I imagine it must be quite difficult to be widely admired and followed by readers worldwide, so I am perhaps going to keep my goals smaller and more realistic.

Life has somehow managed to get in the way of writing.  Or perhaps I have simply needed a little time off to deal with the strange reality that the career change I was hoping for (into librarianship) appears to remain eternally elusive.  Unfortunately, paying on my student loans is not dependent on my being able to find gainful employment in my chosen field, so I must work however I can.  If it must be in banking regulatory compliance, so be it.

Yesterday I had a bit of a scary moment.  I very nearly erased the ongoing work of one of my coworkers, but thanks to the awesome power of the IT group and their recovery techniques, all was saved.  Just when I was starting to worry about my decision to leave my former job, I had a conversation with one of my friends and former coworkers today that reaffirmed my decision.  If there is anything I have learned from this prolonged experience, it is that it is simply not worth it to spend one's worthwhile waking hours at a job that makes one profoundly unhappy.

Total job satisfaction may be impossible, but I think there is much to be said for a job that does not bring you to tears every evening over the sheer futility of it. 

So, YAY for my new job.  In other news, my house is still on the market.  10 days running now.  I somehow suspect that my realtors prediction of a two week selling period will not work out to be true, but this was always my real expectation, so no biggie.  I can hold off on the apartment search.

But this whole thing brings me to a new thought.  For many years I have been restricted by homeownership.  Yes, I know it is a dream for many, but it has long been a weight around my neck that has kept me from pursuing new and potentially exciting options in other regions of the world.  I may now tentatively consider the possibility of moving somewhere new. 

Where?  I cannot really say for certain.  Maybe Hawaii.  Maybe Paris.  Or maybe just downtown Minneapolis.  Time will tell.  But I am going to brush up on my French in the meantime. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tame and sane happenings

Every time I start to write in recent days, I stop myself short.  You might assume I have caught a case of writer's block, but you would be wrong.  To put it simply, I find compelled to share things that are actually interesting.  Things like... listing my house, starting a new job and so forth.  Not things like how my dog doesn't like to eat first thing in the morning or how my allergies are taking over my life.

But then, if truly wild and crazy things are not happening, how can I write about them?

Last weekend, my brother came home to attend an outdoor concert at the legendary Cabooze bar stage in Minneapolis.  The band was Beirut.  If you've never heard of them, do not worry.  They are not terribly mainstream, but my father loves them.  However, other than my father, most of their fan base consists of heavily tattoo-ed hispter-esque 20-somethings.  Or younger than 20-somethings.

Hence, my immediate family was asked to come out to support my father to make sure he was safe and did not come home with any weird tattoos or piercings.  It was an OK evening, in truth.  My mom and I spent most of it seated at the beer garden/patio located directly to the south of the stage.  From this point we were able to hear the performance, sit comfortably, converse normally and drink copiously. 

It was an interesting conclusion to the historic day on which I listed my house for sale.

I now find myself one week later, facing a much more relaxed agenda for the day.  My father is still out on the farm, my brother is back in Madison and my mother is up in Ely celebrating the girls' weekend that I am obviously missing because I am not eligible to take any time off at my new job as I am in the 90-day starting period.  Call me immature, but I have placed an embargo on communication from the northland as I do not need to be reminded of what I am missing.

So yes, I am here with the three dogs.  My big plans for the day?  Driving back up to my house to fetch the mail and do some cleaning.  By way of an update, I had three showings in the first week.  I don't know if that is high, low or average, but it is better than nothing. 

The wonder of the Internet has now made it possible to receive comments and feedback online.  While I know it shouldn't, it makes me a bit nervous to get feedback on my house.  I both welcome and fear the criticism as it can serve to give me advice on how to improve my property but it can also be a judgement on how I decorate/clean/organize.

So far, I have only received comments for two of the showings and neither had anything exactly negative to say about the property itself.  One buyer decided they would rather have a unit with a fireplace and the other does not want to do a short sale.  Neither reason represents anything over which I have any power at this point.  Although it does slightly perplex me why people with these two major criteria would even bother to tour my home when it is pretty clear from the listing online that I do not have a fireplace and that it is a short sale.

But whatever.  I can wait. 

So unless some wacky hijinks happen today on my journey up to the house for cleaning, I would not expect to see anything too hilarious up in here.  But do not let that stop you from having a fabulous weekend and enjoying this (finally) good weather!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Swish

I hate to say this because I think it sounds dumb, but listing one's house for sale feels a lot like posting an ad for online dating.  You put everything together in what you hope is an appealing package.  Then you close your eyes and wish really hard that someone out there sees it and says, "A-HA!  This is the one for me!"

Hopefully my house's personal ad is more fruitful than any of the dating ads I have made over the year.  That is not to say that I have never had any success in generating interest; however, this time I really need someone who is ready for commitment.  I mean business with this one, you guys.

In other news, it has been a hot and humid summer.  No surprise there, I guess, but when you live in a part of the world where you endure endless months of winter on the promise that you will get to enjoy the relatively pleasant and mild summers we are rumored to have, it is a bit hard to take.  I had visions of outdoor activities and taking my dog for long walks.  Sadly, in this kind of weather, even my dog cannot bear to be out for long.

So how is my new job going?  Good.  It is such a total differentiation from the pace, atmosphere and intellectual demands of my last position that it is almost like I am living in a dream most days.  Thankfully I am starting to get into the routine and have discovered that my team is pretty cool.  In a company this size there is no way that I will ever have the level of intimacy I experienced at my old place, but sometimes anonymity can be fun.

This brings me to my one and only complaint so far. 

I have moved from a front end production-oriented arena to a cubicle farm.  Not that I mind the peace and quiet.  At least I wouldn't mind it if it were not for The Swisher. 

On a floor full of cubicles, one finds oneself amidst a wide variety of different work teams.  Yes, we all work for the same company, but in very different capacities.  For instance, immediately across the aisle from me is a man who appears to work on some very high-level technical information.  In general, he is a quiet man, which I appreciate.

To his credit, he also appears to be very interested in staying properly hydrated.  If only he could do this in a less conspicuous manner.  Every time he takes a drink of water from his bottle, he feels compelled to swish.  Repeatedly.  As if he were at the dentist's office.  Which he is not. 

Did I mention he does this EVERY TIME HE TAKES A DRINK?????  If he only did it once or twice a day, I could handle it.  But when he is at his desk, it happens literally every five minutes.  My only breaks are when he is away or when someone in the area is actually speaking or making some kind of noise to drown it out.

I know.  It sounds ridiculous.  A more creative person could perhaps pretend it was the sound of waves crashing or the wind.  But I am no such person. 

Will I say anything about it?  No.  But I secretly keep hoping to find out that he and his team are only on contract and will be heading out on their merry way.  Maybe tomorrow? 

Other than that, life is pretty much OK.  Obviously, nothing is quite settled with my house as it has only been on the market two days and the photographs just went on today.  Until that whole ordeal is done and over with I cannot really start to plan my future.  The idea of being untethered is glorious, but I am not there yet. 

So in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my sheltered shaded ramp parking and the quasi-peacefulness of my cube.  And I will be happy. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Listed!

So much has been happening, you guys. 

It may be a bit presumptuous to refer to my readers in plural as I suspect I have a readership following of zero now that I have taken a de facto break from blogging.

But I have good reasons. 

First, as you know, I have started a new job.  Two weeks in and it is going well.  Everyone is nice, I am learning quickly how to do the work and it is blissfully free of daily drama.  Also, the commute from my parents' house is awesome.  10 minutes, maximum.  Best drive EVER.  The hardest part has been trying to remember where I park every day.  It is tougher than you think.

This brings me to the obvious downside to the equation:  my house.  You see, I am a homeowner of a townhouse that has declined in value.  Hardly a unique position to be sure, but one that has given me no end of concern over the past several years. 

Now that I am working too far away to reasonably commute from my house, I finally have a good reason to make an honest attempt to sell the place.  As I had concerns over the readiness of my house for sale, I went up this morning to start a cleaning and organizing extravaganza.  My parents joined me a short while later, and by the time the realtor showed up at 12:30 p.m., it was looking pretty good.

So good, in fact, that I decided to put it on the market today. 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My realtor was very optimistic that things will happen sooner than I assumed.  This is good.  Very good, actually.  But it is a new process to me, selling a house.  I know there will likely be some bumps in the road, but at the end of the day if I can be free of the weight of homeownership, I think I will be a much happier person. 

But I will let you know how that goes.