Monday, July 26, 2004

Public Service Announcement

Ok, so IF you have a pair of pants that are always a little uncomfortably snug just after they've been washed,
and IF you've just spent a week on vacation with your family being a couch potato and eating a crazy amount of junk food,
then DON'T wash said pants right before you leave on said vacation,
and then DON'T put said pants on your body come Monday morning before you leave for work.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Structual Failure

In To Enginner Is Human, Henry Petroski writes:

Furniture is among the oldest of inanimate enginnering structures designed to carry a rather well-defined load under rather well-defined circumstances. We are not surprised that furniture used beyond its intended purpose is broken, and we readily blame the child who abuses the furniture rather than the designer of the furniture or the furniture itself when it is abused. Thus a chair must support a person in a sitting position, but it might not be expected to survive a brawl in a saloon. A bed might be expected to support a recumbent child, a small rocking chair only a toddler. But the child's bed would not necessarily be considered badly designed if it collapsed under the child's wild use of it as a trampoline, and a child's chair cannot be faulted for breaking under the weight of a heavier child using it as a springboard. The arms and legs of chairs, the heads and feet of beds, just like those of the people they serve, cannot be expected to be strong without limit.

It was the last bit that got my notice: "[P]eople . . . cannot be expected to be strong without limit."

I know it's probably a sign of all the things that are wrong with me, but this triggered something of a new thought for me: "Maybe I'm not omnipotent."

I'm not talking about physical things here. I'm well aware of my failings in that arena. I've got a pretty firm grasp on how much I can lift, how far I can walk, how fast I can run. I'm cool with that. But reading Petroski, I was suddenly confronted with this idea that maybe there are mental and emotional constraints upon my person as well.

A lot of my unhappiness in life revolves around the fact that I haven't managed to accomplish things I thought I should. Some of these things are simple, like cleaning up my bedroom, and others are probably a bit more important, like having a meaningful career. But when I read that paragraph, I had a glimpse of a reality where the problem was not that I couldn't get these things done, but rather that I had expected them at all.

You see, I've got a lot of expectations, and I inflict them on the people around me as well as myself. To a certain extent, they're good -- they're what gets me out of bed and to work in the morning. But at other times, they're nothing but an excuse for something to beat myself up over.

In a nutshell, the question at hand comes down to whether the problem is that I can't live up to my expectations, or that I have expectations I can't live up to. So I guess the project for the next little bit is going to be focused on working that through. We'll see where that gets me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Stuck with Each Other

When Pukka and I first met, we fought horribly and constantly. One of those first fights has legendary status in our relationship.

To be honest, I don't even remember what it was about, but I know I was upset and angry. We had been out on a date, and Pukka had brought me to the place where we had left my car. My plan was to get in it, drive away, and refuse to see him again.

Problem was, my car wouldn't start.

I'd turn the key in the ignition and nothing happened. Not even the little baby Grr, grr, grr you get when the battery's dying. We tried jumping it anyway, but no luck. This meant Pukka not only drove me home, but came to get me the next morning to give me a ride to work. It kept us talking.

The next morning, I planned to call AAA for a tow. Pukka says, "Why don't you try and start it before you call?" I thought he was nuts and told him so. The car had been dead as a doornail the night before, and I didn't expect sitting for eight hours had changed much. But sure enough, when I went down and tried my key, she started like a champ.

Fast forward to last week. We're married now, and we still fight constantly, but it's in a different way and about different things. According to the plan, I was to leave for our main corporate office on Thursday, spend two days there, then fly out to Virginia to be with my family for a week.

Tuesday I hear from my boss. The project I'm working on is behind, and he doesn't want me spending eight hours of my week on the road. The trip to corporate is cancelled. Pukka gets me for two more days.

Friday night, we drive to the airport. O'Hare's shut down because of bad thunderstorms, and there's no flights leaving the airport for the rest of the evening. Pukka gets me for another night.

Saturday morning we drive to the airport again. My flight's been delayed. Pukka gets me for another couple of hours.

It's a damned good thing I love the man, because apparently I can't leave him when I try!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Business Meeting

Yesterday was my first day working from home. Around 9:30 the phone rang, so I hit mute on the stereo and answered it. It was my boss, wanting to discuss a project with me. About five minutes into the conversation, Tigger sticks his head in my face and interjects, "Brrrt?!"

There was a pause, then my boss says, "Was that a cat I just heard?"

Guess we're going to have to get a mute button for the kitties!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


Was catching up on DatingGod today when I once again got one of those cosmic smacks upside the head.

The trigger? She writes:

The ongoing surface lure of the spiritual life is the promise of better things, more abundance, less stress, more joy, and this is all true but not in the way that it appears in the beginning. The whole abundance aspect is not about more money, but in feeling grateful and fabulously taken care of by the money-energy that is present. Less stress is about seeing that there is nothing to be stressed about, that all is well no matter what is going on. And the promise of better things is fulfilled when we choose to see the positive, the Yes, in everything and everyone.

I had to stop and read that a couple of times. Because I suddenly saw that ever since the wedding I've been manufacturing my own problems and stress . . .

I've been frustrated with our housing situation, frustrated that we don't have the money or other resources to buy a house right now, but have forgotten to be grateful that we have all we truly need (and so much more) and have a plan to save enough that we should be able to look at buying about a year from now.

I've been frustrated that Pukka's not always exactly who I want him to be, but have forgotten to be grateful that he's precisely the wonderful man that he is. Who else would remind me at 3 am that it's time to try sleeping again? Who else would brave the heat (that he hates) and the crowds (that he hates) to see fireworks (that he doesn't care about) simply because it makes me happy? Who else plays silly games with me in bed late at night, like imagining a world where the kitties became human-sized and we were the size of the kitties? And who else promised to spend his life with me?

But mostly I've been frustrated that I am not always exactly who I want me to be, but have forgotten to be grateful that today I am more that woman than I was a year ago, and so much more so than I was even a year before that.

So yeah, again I come to the realization that I'm making my own bed to lie in, and it can either be writhing with angst and frustration, or it can be chock full of gratitude and kitties and Pukka. Put that way, it's a fairly simple choice.

Weekend Re-cap

Honestly, getting out and about is a struggle for me lately. On my worst days, I barely have enough motivation to get myself moving, and getting myself and Pukka both out the door seems like Mission Impossible some days.

So I've been meaning to write, but I'm not quite sure what to write about. Much of the day ends up being devoted to video games. Or at least that's what I think until I started writing Pukka's parents and my sister about our weekend . . .

Friday was Gaea's Feast. We hosted in a park this month and last instead of at our house. It means that we're more accessible to folk with allergies, and it gets us out of cleaning our place. M. was the only one there, so it was just the three of us. Pukka was grilling burgers, and M. and I were catching up on her recent travels. It looked like rain and I commented to M. that it would probably start raining right before Pukka finished the burgers. I guess I should've kept my thoughts to myself, because that's exactly what happened. One second it was fine, the next I felt a drop, and the second after that there was a deluge. We ran stuff to the car, and decided to regroup at a local Mexican restaurant. Anyway, we got some dinner (and margaritas!) there and had a nice time catching up.

Saturday was kind of lazy. I went to the farmer's market that morning and bought every vegetable known to man: garlic, onions, leeks, potatoes, green beans, snow peas, beets, zuccini, yellow squash, tomatoes, beets, basil and dill. On the way home, I hit the garage sales and found some baby clothes for my sister's bellybean.

We ended up skipping the Jazz Fest which had been on the tentative plans. What little interest Pukka had was mitigated by the heat and he had plans to meet with his gaming group. And I didn't feel like going alone. So while he was gone, I cooked up my beets and ate them, since he hates them.

I put the tops of the beets into the garbage disposal, but they were more stringy than I thought, so they clogged up the drain. Turned off the disposal and reached my hand down in there to clean out the clog, and the water comes back up through the drain all beety red. I knew what it was, but it's still pretty disconcerting to reach your hand in the garbage disposal and see red water come out.

Sunday we grilled out in honor of the Fourth. Beef brats, some leftover broccoli salad from Friday night's potluck and some chips. Then we headed to Coralville to watch the fireworks there. Ran into one of Pukka's co-workers while we were there. He had come alone, and had a better spot staked out than us, so we joined up with him and chatted a bit before the show started. Also got to hear some classics from the community band. They had a pretty good show (better than I expected). Returned home for red, white and blue shortcake (strawberries and blue berries).

Yesterday I spent most of the day sorting through things from grandma's sewing room. Mom had taken most of it to her house for me to look through, and last weekend when I was home we went through and did a rough sort of what I wanted and didn't want. I had been washing fabrics from that lot off and on all through the week and yesterday I hauled the remainders out and sorted through all of it to see what was there and what I could use. Found a few strange things in amongst all the fabric and elastic and what-not, including what appears to be grandma's nursing cap. Who knew? Now I've just got to finish up washing the last of it and then get the containers put away. Should be plenty of projects in there for Christmas presents, if I can find a little time.

Yeah, so that was the weekend. I do have a thing or two bouncing around in my head. Hopefully I'll manage to get at least one of them committed to "paper" this week.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Friday Miscellany

Things I'm currently worried about:

  • Last weekend I had a dream in which I was Kevin Spacey. What the hell does that mean?
  • I think my bladder's shrinking. Every morning this week it has woken me up 40 min before my alarm goes off. It never used to do that. Darn it.
  • Sudan. My email keeps telling me I should be concerned, but I haven't read them closely, so I'm not really even clear on the situation. Maybe I should add that to the list below.

Things to do this weekend:
  • Clean out the back bedroom.
  • Move grandma's fabric stash from the car to the back bedroom.
  • Learn something about Sudan.
  • Pay my student loan.
  • Finally clean up my template.
  • Maybe learn to make real bullets so I don't have to use these asterisks.

Collected thoughts on being lost:
From Thoreau: "If a person lost would conclude that . . . he is not lost, he is not beside himself, but standing in his own old shoes on the very spot where he is, and that for the time being he will live there . . .how much anxiety and danger would vanish."

From my friend Dave:
I like the Thoreau quote, too. I think it covers much of my own feeling about being lost... i think "lost" often means you can't relate where you are to someplace you already know - not just to be able to get where you're going, but to be able to get anywhere you know about. There's a difference between being somewhere you've never been before, and being truly lost. My response to being "lost" is, if at all possible (i.e., not with a panicky spouse who can't stand being lost!) just settle down, relax, and drink in this strange new place that i've never been before and may never be again.

I suppose that's another aspect... that "lost" is a place you come to on your way to somewhere else. Lost is a transition point, a point of no importance except in the panic it inspires. You aren't lost when you're at a destination. And destinations are a place we often/generally plan to return. The place where you are lost is a place you only go once (or will only pass through again once you find the route to your destination). Lost is a place people never mean to be. I mean, even though you may be "there" in the Situationist sense, you aren't "there" in the Zen sense. The Zen master is never lost, only taking a different route. :} Being lost is not a function of where you are so much as where you are not, and if your consciousness is trying to be somewhere else, you're blowing your Zen saving throw or something. The panic sets in when suddenly you are forced to be "there" in a place that wasn't supposed to be a "there". It's cognitive dissonance, to use psych terminology. Hmm, i guess i had two points there. Maybe more.