Thirteen questions

Life is moving at warp speed. I find myself with very little free time to do anything that requires deep concentration. It’s a phase. This September, I lost my Wednesday free day to myself. It has profoundly affected my weekly routine. In three months’ time, I’ve watched my home office and my somewhat organized life scatter like autumn leaves in an updraft. Also, Girl from the East turned five this week. What does this mean? Next September I get some of my life back again. I’ll also relinquish my last child to the public education system. Many, many mixed feelings.  Meanwhile, my drafts folder is stretched to the seams with unfinished posts. TeacherMommy, who also finds herself in similar blogging straits, passed this meme to me. Thank you, TM. Here we go:

1. The best investment you ever made:

Any gym membership I’ve ever had. The physical and mental health benefits totally justify the cost.  The gym is the one place where I can truly hide and relax.

2.  If you could’ve written any book, directed any movie, and composed any song, which three would you pick:
OK. I hate this question and it’s the reason I’ve procrastinated posting this meme. But, if I must produce an answer, here it is:

  • Book: “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. I could name any number of her other works, including “Alias Grace” and “Oryx and Crake” as well. Atwood’s storytelling craft leaves me breathless.
  • Movie: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I never tire of this movie or its message.
  • Song: “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division. Or, any of these 10 by Radiohead, because someone bothered to make  a list.

3. Weirdest quirk:

I am a chronic lock checker, which is a manifestation of my mild OCD. Everything that should be closed/locked needs to be closed and/or locked — doors, windows, car doors, closets, and cabinets. I’ll check and check again and then check just one more time just to make sure I wasn’t imagining the previous checks. Get it?

4. One wish immediately granted:

I wish that humans came with a built-in kill switch that could fully disarm them before anger, frustration, sadness, some real or perceived shortcoming, or the need for revenge compelled them to hurt a child.

5. Most expensive hobby:

A tie between camping and cycling. I love riding my bike. I always want to do more off-path, long-distance riding, but the cost of things such as bike racks for my car, ride fees, tune-ups and all that gear get in the way for now. Same goes with camping. I need a new tent.  Oh, and I want all that rugged mountain gear, too. Someday …

6. An inexhaustible gift card at which store:

IKEA, so that I could redecorate my house from top to bottom with cool, funky stuff. Of particular interest is my kitchen.  IKEA has such great ideas for small spaces.

7. In another lifetime, you’d be:

Tall and thin and super smart and rich. Or maybe a giraffe.

8. The most famous/interesting member of your family tree:

I am a descendent of the surgeon who traveled from France with Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. I know, right? So exciting. All that means is my family has been stuck here for more than 300 years. It also means they’ve helped form and influence this area in countless small ways. Not that it’s anything to brag about outside our inner circle.  Also, there are a few former TV personalities/anchors in the clan.

9.What would you say to your teenaged self?

Today’s mountains are tomorrow’s mole hills.

10.What do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t think I’ll ever grow up.

11. Proudest moment?

The day I decided to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start a new life outside of my toxic first marriage. I don’t know where I gathered such strength and determination, but I did it. I need some of that mojo back to find a new career.

12. Best decision ever made?

See above.  Also, going to China to get daughter No. 2 rather than continue the legal battle with my former employer.

13. What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t (yet) summoned the courage?

Skydive. Just once. I have it on schedule for my 50th birthday. I know the first jump is a tandem one, which is just enough information to give me the guts (I think) to do it. I’m also recruiting anyone else who wants to do this, too. Are you in?

The rules for this meme:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Paste these rules on your blog post.

3. Respond to the following prompts (in bold).

4. Add a prompt of your own and answer it.

5. Tag a few other bloggers at the bottom of the post.*

6. Leave “Tagged You” notices on their blog/Facebook.

7. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve written the post.

*Are you short on time? Feeling a bit constipated in the blog? Holiday stress getting to you? Grab this meme and use it as a post. Think of it as the Chia Pet of blog posts. You’re welcome.

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My first time

Now that I have your attention, I’m sorry to say this won’t be about the loss of my virginity.

*ahem*

I’ve been tagged by the eloquent writer and educator known as TeacherMommy who runs things over at Diapers and Dragons.

Her oh-so-easy challenge to me on this sleepy Monday? Cut and paste my first blog post.

This is so appropriate since May is my blogging anniversary month. Three years I’ve been doing this crazy thing called blogging. In light of that, I’ll treat you to the first three blog posts. The first one hardly counts.

HELLO WORLD!

twogirlz2.jpg Welcome to WordPress.com. What the heck am I doing?

Have you recovered from the weight of that post? Here’s the second one:

NEWBIE’S FIRST KEYSTROKES

OK. Here goes. This forty-something quasi-technophobe is starting a blog.

The adventure began one week ago when my husband prodded me to start one. Not so much because the so-called blogosphere needed another, but because he thought this on-hiatus career woman needed an incentive to keep writing and learning about modern technology.

Turns out, he was right! Darn him.This is a perfect example of how our marriage works. I know where everything is in the house, remember that he has a dentist appointment today at 3:35 p.m.; he knows what’s best for my soul.

I’m content to operate in an analog world. He gently nudges me toward the digital domain. I like my paper and pen journaling process. I like to write letters. I enjoy the tactile sensation of leafing though a magazine, the daily newspaper. I like used book stores.

It was he who has delicately suggested over the years that I open an e-mail account, set up a Web page, get a cell phone.

So, a week ago I began a blog in another location, because it looked simple. Wrong.Turns out the whole platform was incompatible with my Mac. Bye-bye first blog, hello current incarnation. Newbie has her wings. Now it’s time for some flying lessons.

And here’s the third:

DO HOMEMAKERS HAVE W-2S?

This is the rhetorical question posed to our accountant, after I quickly thumbed through our late-but-we-bought-time tax returns: “Why the $@#% am I listed as a homemaker for 2006 when I worked the majority of the year??”

There is a form — listing my earnings outside the home — clearly attached to the document. Nowhere on that form from my former employer does it say “homemaker.”
I’ve worked full-time since the late 1980s, with one six-week maternity leave in the early ’90s. I left the workforce in November 2006. Yet, it doesn’t matter to accountants and the IRS. I’m no longer a “wage earner” and “income producer.”
Twenty years of work and nothing to show for it. Not even a final shout-out on the tax form.
That’s sad.
In the seven months that I’ve lived the life of a homemaker, housewife, “housefrau” or domestic goddess, however you spin it, I’ve realized not much has changed in terms of the public’s perception. Like it or not, this is the official label affixed to my backside.
It deeply disturbs me that I am deeply disturbed by the title homemaker next to my name. Why?
It discredits all the women out there who are honored by the title. It belittles our mothers and grandmothers, many of whom didn’t have “the choice” that I had to pursue a career and have a family.
Still, I’m bothered.
I didn’t walk away from a career to be a homemaker, although I did want to be home. It hasn’t been easy, the letting go of the working life, the mindset.
I came home for my daughters.
One, a newly hatched teenager, hit a rough patch this past year. My nights/weekends/holidays shift was adding a lot of potholes to her bumpy road. Simply put, I just wasn’t there for her when she needed me.
My other daughter is a toddler, recently adopted from China, and in need of a lot of love and attention. I made a minimum one-year commitment to dedicate the time and attention I once devoted to my career, to her so that she could get the good start in life she deserves.
I’ve never worked harder in my life than I have in the last few months.
Try fitting all that on a tax form.

Have I changed? Well, we all do in one way or another. Blogging probably has not helped me with my health and fitness goals. But, it has helped me understand the Internet and social networks. I’ve connected with so many wonderful, talented, funny and helpful people online. I’ve even met a few in real life, too.  In ways they may not know (or maybe they do a little bit) some of my online connections have had a great impact on where I am today both in the virtual sphere and in real life. Right off the top, thanks go to MamaMary, Dharma Bum, Teacher Mommy, Melissa of Rock and Drool, JD at I Do Things, and Laurie at Foolery.

Next week I get to meet Ms. Bossy as her (No)Book Tour wends its way eastward and pauses in a suburb of Detroit. Not only that, it will be a live broadcast somewhere on the Internet. Huh. Better get my camera face ready.

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When ideas aren't fresh, reheat

Brenda at MummyTime always makes me laugh. Although we’ve never met  (she lives in Australia, for Pete’s sake!) I have the feeling she’d be the life of the party. I imagine she has a big personality. I’m guessing she has one of those loud, infectious laughs that invites you to join in, even if you don’t know the joke.  I picture a friend who laughs at all her foibles and makes you feel good about your own. Now she’s started this online party and used the word flog. It seems like a good idea on a snowy day when a fresh post seems about as accessible as an open swim at an outdoor pool.

mummytime

Check out her blog and the others linked up to it today.

Meanwhile, let me pull some leftovers out of the refrigerator and heat them in the microwave:

  • I’ve had a freakish few days. On top of all the stuff that makes up my life, the tending to children, the side work that’s making my eyeballs swell, and the volunteer commitments that excite me but threaten to explode my calendar, I’ve gotten a little loopy and careless.
  • I’ve broken two mirrors in the last few weeks. Yesterday I dropped one hand-held mirror and two wine glasses. Not sure what this does to my luck-o-meter.
  • On Tuesday night  I arrived around 10 p.m. at my gym, as is my habit. The maintenance guy always teases me that I’m early and then we laugh. On this night, he was dead serious in telling me that some oddball had been lurking outside the gym and peering in the windows. At one point, creepy guy approached a member at the door asking to be let in. (Access is by an electronic key card since it’s a 24/7 operation.) The member declined and the maintenance man asked the lurker to return during business hours. I asked maintenance guy if he called the police to report creepy guy.  He said no. I suppose that might be an overreaction, but it made me realize I need to be more vigilant, especially running around alone at night the way I do.
  • At the coffee shop where I write and edit on Wednesdays, I had a close call with my laptop computer. It’s a newer model MacBook. I left it unattended for a few minutes as I do on occasion to get a coffee refill, buy a bagel, or go to the bathroom. What do you do? Pack up the operation every time you leave your table? I found out later from a guy sitting behind me that two young men were lurking by my table, eyeing my computer and looking around.  The guy behind me didn’t say anything to them but his presence must have been enough to deter the would-be thieves.  I guess I’ll be packing my laptop with me now. The thought of replacing it along with all the lost data is scary beyond comprehension.
  • Last week a client gave me tickets to a professional basketball game. The event was a special night focused on the client’s business and its high achievers. As I was maneuvering my way through the crowd, balancing a tray with drinks and food in one hand, and guiding along my four-year-old with the other hand, I lost my balance and gave the people sitting directly below an unexpected shower. Thank goodness it was only water. After I apologized and got over my embarrassment, I started to find it unbearably funny. I  had to get up and walk around to hide my laughter. I’m an inappropriate giggler at times. That night, the laughs burst out of me every time I envisioned that arc of water splashing on their backs and their puzzled looks as they looked at me and dabbed at the back of their necks.
  • That’s it for the reheated tidbits. Now brush your teeth.
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It's all awesome until someone gets jinxed

awesum

Hey! I’ve been tagged again. This time the award comes from the wildly talented scribe known as TeacherMommy who crowned me a Queen of All Things Awesome.
In this meme I’m supposed to balance this big tiara on my head and list seven things that make me awesome. This is no easy task for someone who is tone-deaf when it comes to singing her own praises.
It’s taken me weeks to come up with this list. I asked for family input and I received suggestions that are not suitable for family audiences (from the husband) and ones that have all the weight of cotton candy (from my 3-year-old, who said I am “her darling.”)
Left to my own devices, I came up with this:

1. I’m fiercely devoted to all living things. If you drop off a bleeding, flea-infested animal at my house and ask me to watch it for a day, I’ll feed it and brush it and bandage it and love it and name it George. I’ll totally forgive and forget that you never came back for it — ever. I have gnarled, twisted, Charlie-Brown-Christmas-tree-plants in my house from Clinton’s first term in office that I cannot bear to toss. I kept a cat for 16 years that was so mean that his chart at the vet’s office had a picture of satan on it. No lie.

2. I’m low maintenance, which I’m pretty sure is why my husband married me. I’m not a diva or a daddy’s princess. I don’t require two-carat diamonds or luxury autos or weekly pedicures. I’m a DIY kind of woman. I’m falling in love with second-hand. I’d rather have a picnic on a scenic overlook than dine in a four-star restaurant. I won’t turn down an offer for a fine-dining experience, let’s make that clear. But, if you offer me a choice, I’ll pick the mountain view.

3. I once carried a sizable rock down the side of a mountain because I wanted to prove a point. I carried it over narrow, slippery bridges spanning swift-moving rivers while wearing a 40-pound pack on my back. Along the way my travel companions teased me and urged me to toss it. I cradled it all the way to the trailhead then set it on the ground momentarily to load my gear into the waiting truck that would carry us to civilization. Once back at our bunk house, I realized I had left the rock behind. I made my husband drive us back to the trailhead to retrieve it. I guess that makes me fiercely devoted to rocks or too stubborn to give up on a quest no matter how ridiculous.

4. I have never gambled in my life. I’ve been to Atlantic City and Las Vegas as well as third-rate casinos in between and never rolled the dice or placed a bet or even played the slots. I think I may have purchased one Lotto ticket in the early 1990s but felt incredibly stupid for doing so. I just don’t get gambling.

5. I am an absurdly loyal person. If you tell me a secret, I’ll keep it. Even if there is no longer any reason to keep it. Like, if you tell me you are pregnant, I’ll still deny knowing it when you are screaming in the agony of labor. Even if everyone else in the room knows the secret, I’ll play as if I was out of the loop the whole time. You simply cannot extract from me other people’s secrets.

6. I’m a chameleon. If I spend even a short amount of time in a place far from home, I will take on the rhythm and inflection of the language, as well as the mannerisms of the inhabitants.  At one time I had an extensive repertoire of character voices that I could do on command, including Louis Armstrong, Donald Duck, Marvin the Martian, the Cowardly Lion (Wizard of Oz), and several Winnie the Pooh characters.

7. I have never broken a bone in my life. I’ve never had surgery. I have no major medical conditions.  I am incredibly blessed with good health. I supposed I’ve jinxed myself now and my next post will be dictated from a hospital bed where I’ll be immobilized in a full-body cast after falling down the side of a mountain because I wagered that I could hop on one foot while juggling a rabid dog and a boulder. Awesome.

Rather than tag seven other bloggers like I’m supposed to do, (notice I didn’t list obedient as one of my awesome qualities) I’m going to list seven new blog discoveries for you to check out for yourself. If your drafts folder is empty or you don’t have time to craft an original post, by all means, take this challenge and run with it. Happy reading.

The Draft Queen —  I can’t leave comments on her Blogger blog, so I’ll praise her prose from afar.
Small Town, Small Times — Welcome to JCrewville
Chains of Yesterday — Raw, honest writing
Holli’s Ramblings — Adventures of an expat in Ghana
Yellow Trash Diaries — She makes me laugh every time
Ordinary Art Blog — Writing so beautiful I weep tears of childish jealousy
Mouthy Housewives — It’s all stuff you know about but don’t want to admit

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Monday meme on Tuesday (barely)

Just when I was feeling like it would be hopeless to squeeze a post out of my sleep-deprived head and steady my frazzled nerves enough to type something readable (3 hours of supervising a novice driver AND two massive pre-schooler separation anxiety meltdowns AND four hours of sleep) along came this little award and an easy meme. Praise you, blogging gods, for this unexpected treat.

Thank you, Mountain Momma Musings, for the props. I love that this momma lives in the mountains (Lake Tahoe!) and seems to live the life I dream of having someday. She is a fellow writer and doesn’t seem to take life’s bullets and arrows too seriously.

fabowidget

This meme asks me to name five obsessions. That’s easy. I’m an obsessive sort of gal:

1. The White Stripes or any band/project/production/commercial involving Jack White. It started with my love for local music and Detroit pride and a bunch of other six-degrees-of-separation stuff. Nearly a decade later, I just can’t shake this fixation. I don’t want to. Let’s just say a few shoulder-to-elbow encounters in smoky night clubs were the icing on the red, white and black cake of my adoration.

2. All things books, including libraries, nifty little independent bookstores and random piles of books at garage sales. I like the smell of old books. I like the smell of new books. I like cracking open a new (or new to me) book and getting lost in its words. I almost always carry a book with me.

3. I’m not a random TV watcher. Here’s what I do: I pick one show and then go crazy over it. I won’t watch anything else. Just that one show. A while back it was LOST. I was bordering on obnoxious over that show, chatting on forums, forming LOST discussion groups at work, reading every Web site on the Net for meaning and clues and spoilers. My latest obsession: “Six Feet Under,”  which I never watched when it aired on HBO, but now devour on DVD.( I’m looking a little embalmed lately from lack of sleep.)

4. All things Southwest and particularly New Mexico. I don’t know if I’d ever move there, but I sure do love the food and art and culture and jewelry and landscape and the almost indescribable  feeling it gives me every time I visit. Whenever I’m out  there, I  get the urge to sell my house, quit my job, buy an easel and set of paints and just go all Georgia O’Keeffe on everyone.

5. This is a new one: Resale. I’m fortunate to live in an area that has a wide array of vintage, contemporary and upscale resale shops with buyers of discriminating taste or at least creative vision. This is not the Salvation Army selection. This is not flea market or yard sale leftovers. Perhaps I’m getting smart about my money. Perhaps it’s the economy, but I’d rather pay $3 for a beautiful set of art deco candle sticks than $12 for something ‘cool’ but ultimately cookie cutter and sold in mass quantity at one of the big-box stores.

That was the easy part. Now for the difficult task of narrowing my list to five other bloggers. Make sure you stop by Mountain Momma Musings, where last I checked, she issued a memo to clueless tourists.

If you see your name below, please accept this delightful award, and tell us about your obsessions and tag five other bloggers. If you’ve already received this award, because there are a lot of these badges flying around in the blogosphere, now you have a matched set.

1. MamaMaryShow — Mary is a self-appointed “that girl, you know the one I’m talking about …” mother of two girls, in training for a marathon, and working on an inspirational book about women who’ve lost their fathers.

2. Diapers & Dragons — Teacher Mommy is brave enough to teach high school English. Her written words are a thing of beauty. Really.

3. MummyTime: She lives down under, near a train track and an airport. Oh, and four kids. No wonder she’s sleep deprived!

4. Mommyhood and Life — Coco is an amazing writer who bares her soul and inner-most secrets. Then, she pulls the rug out from under and does a weekly Time Warp feature that makes you laugh so hard you pee your pants. Just make sure you’re not sitting on your hard drive when you let loose.

5. My Babcia’s Babushka — Isn’t that a great name for a blog? She’s another fellow Detroit-area blogger who I’m just getting to know.

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