The Laziest Rebel

It’s not really supposed to work like this.

I mean, when you fail to post on a blog for two years, I’m pretty sure what you’re required to do by some unspoken agreement is pretend the abandoned blog has never actually existed, go create a new one, and proceed to announce the existence of the new one with ever-so-slightly abashed fanfare.  I, however, am far too lazy to create a whole new blog that will probably not really be all that different.  There’s not even any real guarantee that I’ll not abandon this one within a few days; months if I’m lucky.

And, if one is going to return to a blog one hasn’t been posting to in some time, there’s supposed to be an apologetic ‘Wha’ had happen was,’ type paragraph.  I rarely find those very interesting, so I won’t subject you to it.  Also, I am lazy, and not in the mood for self-flagellation of that, or any, variety.

So.  Recapping Thanksgiving.  Let’s talk about food.  Sort of.

Thanksgiving is kind of a weird holiday for me.  It’s too late for a last-harvest feast, and too early for a midwinter feast, both of which, on their own, would evoke a sort of sympathetic magic “much food=much plenty for the year” sort of thing.  It’s gained a sort of “Intensive Family Holiday” sheen, but for me it’s capped on both sides by family death remembrances.  Add to this the fact that I tend not to much care for the “traditional” dishes, and I end up being mostly pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.

But, ambivalence or no, I get two days off for it.  That, and a heaping helping of tacit cultural expectation.

We all know the expectations surrounding Thanksgiving: one is expected to spend it with one’s family, the more dysfunctional the better, or with chosen family if your family is too dysfunctional for that sort of thing.  Usually some number among the group (usually men) will watch football, while some number among the group (usually women) will cook, and some other number among the group (children/pets) will be underfoot.  And there will be absolute MOUNTAINS of food.

Most of these expectations are relatively mutable, except for that last.  If there are not MOUNTAINS of food, you have failed at Thanksgiving.

To which I say: Fuck. That. Noise.

For Thanksgiving day, which was just Mr. The Jeff, myself, and Dragon Age, I made a duck, a package of wild rice, enough salad for two people, and a pie plate of apple crisp.  That’s IT.  Extravagant – we wouldn’t normally have duck – but modest.  He is not really “leftover people,” and I am only marginally so.  I have a little bit of leftovers for lunch this week, a good amount of duck fat, and a carcass to make stock from.

Friday, which has become “Momsgiving,” wherein we eat Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and pretend we’re going to put Christmas decorations up for her but never really get around to it, was also an extravagantly modest affair.  I destroyed her kitchen in pursuit of cooking acorn squash, roasted mushrooms, a bitter spiced salad, and the worlds most expensive roast beef.  We joked that for what the roast cost, we should be able to prep it and then just show it the flame, and it should perfectly cook itself.  The process was a little more involved than that, but it did turn out well.  Mom made a pumpkin cheesecake.  A little bit of leftovers, easily divvied up, and that was it.

And that’s enough.  Which is really, to me, what Thanksgiving should be about.  Having enough.  Not being weighted down with blessings that we need to be thankful for – there is a point at which plenty begins to require a gratitude which ceases to bring us joy because it becomes an unceasing obligation.  “Yet another thing to be thankful for, can we please be done now? No?  Damn.”

Don’t get me wrong – gratitude is good.  About three, four times a year we get another study or demonstration of the fact that expressing gratitude makes people happier in themselves.  But sometimes, it’s too much.  There are times when it becomes an obligation to be grateful for things over which we feel we didn’t really need, didn’t ask for, and sometimes didn’t even want.  There are times, for certain people, when it feels like an obligation to be happy, to be happier than we are, or are perceived to be.  I get a little tired of that, personally.

We all had enough, and that’s what we hope for, through the darkness of the winter, enough.  We don’t need mountains of food, mountains of blessings.  We don’t need to outdo each other with how involved our cooking duties will be, with how much food we’ll need to prepare for how many people.  We don’t need to compete to prove that we are most blessed, and therefore more loved, by family or god or the universe or whoever.  Just enough.  There are millions of people for whom “enough” is an aspiration, not a reality.  Maybe we shouldn’t get quite so carried away with how much more we have than they do.


While Waiting

I am in waiting limbo, and I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.

I have deemed it unlikely that I will hear back from UofM about the most recent interview, which makes me sad, but I have waited, and now I would like tobe done with waiting.  So, another round of applying and job-hunting, because the rats-on-a-sinking-ship phenomenon has worked it’s way through the ‘meh’ people, and is starting in on the people I-really-like-and-who-make-coming-to-work-bearable.  To that end, I have joined LinkedIn.  I’ve even joined groups.  Sadly, I apparently missed a presentation at WCC called “The Reluctant Networker,’ which might have been helpful.  At least I could say that I went to a presentation named after me.

I have not yet heard from Wayne State, and while it is likely, though not entirely certain, that I will be accepted, I am waiting.  My official GRE scores were 166 Verbal, 158 Quantitative, and 5 written.  (For those who want to know, that’s 96th percentile, 74th, and 94th? maybe 92nd, can’t remember, respectively.)  The only thing that isn’t appearing on my app status page is my OCC transcript, which should have been sent ages ago, and I really don’t want to have to track it down.  I’m sort of hoping they decide it’s not vital pre-admission-decision but, theoretically, they will let me know.

Money is still stupid.  I am inching closer to balance, but it is a tricksy beast.  Hence why I would like UofM to quit lollygaging and hire me now, please.  I learned recently that compared to industry averages for my position, I am very nearly criminally underpaid.  Which I knew, kind of, but it’s nice to have back up.  The fact that I am doing the industry a disservice, however, makes me a little testy about it.  I really need to get better at negotiating for my own value.

Work is.  I am trying to work on new approaches and such, but the frustration is such that it’s hard to gain traction on project delineation, let alone execution.  I still have no VP, which on the one hand means little oversight, but on the other means little to no opportunity to define new working parameters or methods.  My Director has been agitating for me to receive training on our database, but I am reluctant to incur the cost given my intent to leave, especially since the database we use is not super-prevalent.  Instead I am going to work on my SQL skills, I think.  I have the book, now I just need to do the work.  Small things, you know.

I am unsurprised, though no less miffed, by the arrival of Cold.  My attempts to ignore it do not appear to be discouraging it any.  I may have to give in and start wearing at the very least my fleece, and definitely gloves.  Maybe see if I still have some toe-sock-fingerless-gloves I can wear at work.  Especially since I have the dog with me 3-4 days a week.  It’s gotten so even walking at lunchtime is a glove-requiring activity.


Enjoy The Process

I know that I had a Thing to write about when I went to wordpress, but that Thing has fled, chased away by the stupidly large number of steps it takes to get to the dedicated to posting page on WordPress  I don’t like the quick post pages.  I am high maintenance like that.  I don’t have a shortcut or bookmark for it, either.  I’m low-planning like that.  Or perhaps it would be more true to say that I am low-execution like that.   Which, while more accurate, makes it sound rather as if I only murder a few people, now and then, so perhaps we’ll ignore the fact that I can plan from here to kingdom come, and execute very little of that.

Which has more or less to do with today’s post title, which is a mantra I have to remind myself of every so often.  I was reminded of it today, quite helpfully, by this post over here.  It iscertainly something I am excessively guilty of doing, and tes in to an email I was writing this morning.  By looking only at the carrot, we can occasionally walk off a cliff, if we’re not careful.  Which is actually not what the articl says, but is sort of an “in addition to” stream-of-consciousness type thing that occurred to me while I was typing.

I think part of the problem today is that I did not sleep all that terribly well last night.  I had very weird dreams that involved a book that required deaths to make it work.  Plus several other assorted oddities that I managed to forget some time between stumbling sleep-drunkenly into the bathroom, where I wondered why the lights wouldn’t turn on when I pulled paper ff the roll, and my morning chai.  It’s normally morning tea, but I ran out of PG Tips, and I have a hard time justifying the massive mug of tea every day when it costs $10 for 100 grams.  But chai I seem to have coming out of my ears, at the moment, so it is a more than acceptable substitute, for the time being.

Today is Thursday, about which there is nothing terribly noteworthy.  There is a good chance I will have the apartment to myself this evening, which is actally quite glorious.  So, I lied.  There is something noteworthy about Thursdays – I can wander around the apartment in sweatpants and a showgirl giant feather fan headdress and none of you will be the wiser.  Unless, of course, I tell you all about the massive cae of whiplash I’d probably give myself trying to get to the bathroom, so maybe I’ll nix the headdress.  I can’t imagine it will make me a better video game player, anyway, which is what I am most likely to spend my evening doing.

I am currently sharing my office with a cocker spaniel.  I have to take her back to her owner soon, but for the moment, she is looking quite attractive, being all golden and floofy on the green carpet.  She needs a good trim/brushing/shaving, though.  Once she’s gotten that, I shall perhaps post a picture of her.   She has a goofy grin, and she makes pig noises when she’s excited.  I can only take photographs of one of those traits.

I could tell you about the current state of the wonders of my modern medicine, but I am feeling as if I will be less than witty if I start talking about that, so I’ll shelve that as an Idea For A Future Post (That May Or May Not Actually Happen.)

Wednesday What’s-es

It’s Wednesday!  What’s the Wonder Hamster…

Listening to:  Random soft-rock.  It’s what plays on the radio the receptionist has.  It’s better than nothing, but not a lot.  In the car it’s a toss up between DJ Shadow/things to listen that make traffic congestion bearable and things I can sing along to.  Which I seem to have less and less of – the more I sing, the more my range is shifting back upwards.  or something.  Who knows.

Eating: Better.  Salads are more daily, at the moment, breakfast more substantial.  Also, a lot of fiber lately, for various reasons that are far too boring to talk about.

Drinking: Tea, coffee, water water water.  Which is good.  It’s getting to the point that I’ll switch from hot tea in the mornings to milk coffee.  Not quite yet, but soon.

Reading: All the same stuff as last week, but also The Power of Habit, by Duhigg.  Which I actually quite recommend.  It’s very interesting, especially if you’re trying to break old habits or start new ones.   I’m in the section that talks about corporate habits, at this point, which is also good.

Watching: Still Supernatural.  Though I did finally get around to watching The Man From Earth recently, which was recommended a very long time ago by the Iowa folks.  Not bad, really.  Nothing stellar, but it’s sort of a shallow intro course in a lot of different academic fields packed into two hours with a story draped around it in a not-unconvincing manner.  I’m really not trying to damn it with faint praise, really.  It’s just sort of middle of the road.  Not a bad use of your netflix time, if you’ve got it.

Wearing: The usual work uniform, dress pants and a dress shirt, neither of which fit very well anymore.  Eventually, I’ll buy some new clothes, but right now I A) don’t really feel like it, and B) don’t have the money for it.  Which gets me off the hook 😉

Writing: Blog posts, does that count?  Everything else sits in its folders, mocking me, right now.  I need to read something.  I have the ideas, just not the words.  Blargle.

Thinking:   Right now, a lot about money.  Getting it, using it, stewarding it, that sort of thing.  I once read somewhere – probably Motley Fool, or something similar – that our social reluctance to talk about money is the root of many of our individual money problems.  That’s as may be, but I still squirm writing about it.

Feeling:  Sleepy, a little turned inside out.  I’m trying to adjust my seep schedule to allow for morning workouts, but it is not the easiest thing, going to bed while there’s still light out.  Luckily for me (?) Midsummer is coming soon, and the days will get shorter, and eventually I’ll complain about the flip side.  There is comfort in these traditions.  For me, anyway.

Wanting:  A nap, or better coffee.

Needing: To stop procrastinating on a lot of things.  Resume, job search, grad school stuff.  One thing at a time, right?  Start at the easiest, and work your way through.

Enjoying: My ability to make Trader Joe’s tiny little bags of dark chocolate covered toffee last a very long time.  Yes, folks, I am one of those people.  With chocolate, at least.  You should have seen me earlier with the bag of dried peach slices, though.  Gotta eat ’em all.  Yep, that’s me.  Insatiable fruit girl.  Wild, I know.

And, the weather:  Hell, I don’t know.   I work in a windowless closet, and had a lunch-and-learn phone conference on my lunch hour.  It seemed cold when I dragged my carcass over to the gym this morning, and my make up isn’t smudging too terribly.  This means it’s likely relatively cool and low humidity, like the weather report predicted this morning.  How’d I do?

May Day, mayday

While I can’t run around putting flowers on people’s doorsteps and running away – partly because of the price of gas, and partly because I do not run very fast – I can at least wish you all a happy one, and perhaps wax rhapsodic about the Waldorf Maypoles.

Or not, because let’s face it, Maypoles are kind of a you-had-to-be-there sort of thing.  I mean, think about it out of context:  a bunch of people wrap a bunch of ribbons around a really tall pole, and then unwrap it – there’s not really much there there.  Even images of it seem flat and foreign.  You could watch a video, I suppose, but I am deeply suspect of the belief that video is sufficient to experience.  You’d have to really be there, dancing around like an idiot because it is finally, finally beginning to look like a habitable world in the world.  If you’re ten, it’s finally warm enough to play on monkey bars and concrete climbing structures without chilling your fingers.  If you’re what passes for a grown up, then it’s finally beginning to look like winter isn’t actually going to last forever and you can do things in the outside world, possibly involving fossil fuels and high-risk behaviors.

Or, if you’re me, something at work is going all pear-shaped again.  Okay, that’s not exactly a May thing, more of a spring thing.  Something along the lines of, oh, look, it’s spring, things are blooming, and allergies are roaring back to life; now is a dangerous time for all things related to Alison’s career.

Okay, I’m being melodramatic.  Things are happening that are impacting me, but I am not the focus.  I still have my job, that is unlikely to change in the immediate future.  But, my boss is leaving, which puts the department in sort of a wierd limbo state.  I cannot blame her for leaving.  She has very good reasons, and I’m not really the blaming type, provided my blood sugar is adequate.  But I do lament the leaving now, when so many things are happening that need time and attention and someone who is empowered.

[Then again, issues of empowerment are a contributing factor behind her departure, so it’s a deeper problem than it might at first seem.]

But it’s just another… voice, shall we say, in the chorus singing rousing, Sousa-inspired songs that all boil down to “You need to change what you’re doing, because what you are doing is not making you become better.”  The choir is getting a little tired of singing the same songs over and over, and it’s leader, Cariad, well his arms are getting kind of tired.

You know how sometimes you start coming across the same message repeated different ways.  Call it perceptual filtering, call it something woo-woo like messages from the universe, whatever, it is something that happens.  The one that keeps popping up for me is that change takes work, discipline, focus.  That you need to make a plan, but then you need to make the plan happen, and the two types of thinking are very different, and you need to be able to switch to survive.  Or thrive, really, I’m being melodramatic again.

The Forced March of Optimism

So, I live in Michigan.  It has started snowing, here.  Not much, rarely more than a couple of inches accumulation, and only one snowfall that has made the drive home even remotely nasty.  Although, from a morning commuter perspective, the primary problem has been that it has been rain that turned into snow.  Which means snow on top of ice to be cleaned off the car in the morning.  Which makes me REALLY miss being able to take the bus.  Almost more than gas prices do.  Almost.

This morning commute – roughly 20-25 minutes either way, mostly rural roads – mans I have a fair bit of time every day to spend talking to myself.  Not out loud, although I realize that I could pass it off to just about anyone that bothered to look as blue tooth.  No, I call it talking to myself because my thoughts tend to run in a sort of conversational format.  I ask questions, I get answers.  I make statements, I get rebuttals.  That’s just how the word portion of my thinking goes.

So, I am driving along the morning after the first snowfall, grousing a little to myself about other drivers, when I made the statement ‘I hate winter.’  To which my internal perky person (I swallowed her years back, because she annoyed me.  Didn’t help.  She still won’t shut up,) responded with “No you don’t.  How can you hate a whole season?  Besides, hate is a bad word.”

“Okay fine.  I don’t hate winter.  I just hate having to drive in it.”  At this point I turned on the first of the very rural roads – so rural it has no speed limit (this is fairly common in Michigan, even near the less rural places where I live.)  Looking down the lane of the road, every tree and weedy seed pod was lined in its own little shell of snow.  Always beautiful, as Ansel Adams well knew.

At which point Perky Voice practically crowed, “If you didn’t drive in it, you wouldn’t get to see this!”  I will spare you the extra exclamation points she added to the statement.  I grumbled in response that it would still be prettier from inside a place with a fireplace and warm beverages.  Perky Voice scoffed at me.  “As if you would ever live any place that rural.”  There were exclamation points on that one too.  They were not nice exclamation points.

At this point, I conceded defeat, and enjoyed the drive, at least until I ran into the portion where the sun was shining directly at me through snowglare, at which point I drove my car into a pond.

Okay, that’s not true.  I got to work just fine, actually.  But, more to the point, that’s how my version of being optimistic works.  It’s just a part of me that I can’t turn off that just fights longer and harder and dirtier than my misanthropy works.  Which is pretty phenomenal, given how well-developed my misanthropy muscle is.  I don’t know if that’s how it is for everyone else – if it’s a constant fight, and one side is just better, stronger, more persistent, or has a pipeline to one’s guilt complex.

Cariad says it’s because I grew up with dogs.  Not to say that dog people are optimists and cat people are pessimists, more that his theory is that it’s hard to be pessimistic around a dog that likes you.  Growing up with that kind of reinforcement is a kind of conditioning, that eventually turns into optimism.  Maybe he’s right.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I can’t shut it off.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  Maybe, since I don’t know t yet after all these years, that means it’s just a neutral thing.

Intelligent Stupidity

So, one of my favorite bloggers has been participating in NaBloPoMo, or whatever the alphabet soup is.  Blogging every day, is my point, which she normally doesn’t do.  Her stuff isn’t always earth shattering, or even very directed.  It’s very every day life sort of stuff.  In a recent post she mentioned that it’s halfway through November, so we only have 15 more days of ‘inane crap.’

Which made me a little sad.  I like her mundane life stuff.  I mean, yeah, I like her book reviews and everything else as well, but the mundane life stuff is just as good, it makes the blog just as interesting to me as the insightful, thoughtful stuff.

I remember thinking ‘she doesn’t need to have something specific to say for me to want to read it… oh.’  That’s what I do.  I wait until I have something ‘good’ to say, then never think I have something good to say.

Maybe my audience, such as it is, feels the same way.

Not really momentous enough to be an ‘aha’ moment, but there it is.

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You should also check out the habit blog.  I don’t know what it’s normally like, since I came to it during their November project, and my poor work PC gets skeeved out by the number of images it has to process in order for me to go back through it.  But it looks really cool, is what I’m saying.

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I’ve been playing around recently with mindbloom, which is a nifty little thing.  Kind of flash and image heavy, but still the kind of motivational tool that I like.  If you use it, you should be able to find me, either by name or email.  In theory.

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Thanksgiving, it approacheth.  Apace, the irritating little fucker.  This year, I plan to continue our fledgling tradition of not having turkey, mostly because I don’t much like it.  The current options under discussion are a beef burgundy type dish, and duck.  Much will depend on how many people we end up trying to cram into our little apartment.  It willbe followed by the slightly less fledgling tradition of Day-After_Thanksgiving at my mom’s house, where we once again *intend* to put up her Christmas stuff, but that may or may not happen.  I think we’ve only managed it once?  Maybe twice.

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And now, for a moment of jubilation at having health insurance once again.  Which means that Cariad and I are going for physicals!  For the first time in ::mumblety-mumble::  Which is all in all a good thing, even though we have “Healthy Blue Living” insurance, which states that unless I am ~100 pounds lighter, I either have to ‘commit to a healthy lifestyle’ by joining one of their approved weight loss programs, or pay a higher premium.  ::le suspire::  Oh, and follow my doctor’s plan for managing depression.   Which is less irritating, but no less daunting.