August 31, 2006

Tidbits from a tired little brain

I've realized I'm ready to be an art director for my next job. All week I've been able to say, "Just rotate that" and wave my hand and CoolGirl has done as I commanded. I feel MUCH better knowing there is someone young, smart, quick and with fabulous taste in belts to replace me. It's just meant I haven't had time to write, read, or whatever on line.
Also means I haven't done much to research housing or jobs. Ugh! This weekend we go to the 'rents in NYC. Next Wednesday, a week from yesterday, I'm flying out to search for an apartment. My goal had been to have job interviews lined up already. But now we're heading into a long weekend! EEEK! My world is slipping by. I'm not panicked yet. I hope I'll be able to get a job relatively quickly when we get out there. Most people don't want to wait for their design hire so it's been hard to get a response to "I'll be there in October..."
My dog is such a slut. CoolGirl has this great knuckle-rub massage she does in Muttola's ears. Muttola's eyes roll back in her head and she gives me a look that says, "See? See, woman? THIS is what it's all about. I sneer in the direction of your absent minded head pats." In fact, Muttola neglected RyGuy for Rosetta who takes her out for smoke breaks walks, and now she's turned her little butt away from Rosetta while soaking up the goodness of CoolGirl.
My goal this weekend is to find a killer interview outfit. One that screams, "If you don't hire me you're missing out on the trendiest, smartest, sexiest designer EVER." But for less than a fortune. In New York City. Is it a pipe dream? I'm thinking of trying to score at H&M? Any other suggestions?

August 29, 2006


I'm back! No time to write tonight but here are snippets I might write about this week:

+ They hired my replacement. She worked with me today and she's fantastic!
+ I chatted with an exhibition designer who helped me figure out where to look for housing in the Bay area.
+ He's given me four great leads.
+ Muttola busted out her Alpha Female side over the weekend.
+ The weekend was VERY social and included a Sunday dinner at our former landlord's home. He's a thoughtful, caring, insightful man who happens to be Italian and connected to the Family in Rochester. I'll do an entry of "Uncle Bruce's Bedtime Stories".
+ I found out that our Subaru Outback is affectionately known as a "Lesbaru".
+ I got my haircut over the weekend. I said over and over that I'm trying to grow it out. It's shorter than ever.
+ My $90 computer arrived over the weekend. Let's just say that if your sister is also a graphic designer, it helps to casually ask, "Hey, do you have a laptop sitting around?"

It's 7:20 and I'm still at work!! I have to work around my replacement's schedule because she 'drives' the computer when she's here. I'm working on catching up on all I've missed in the blog world.

August 24, 2006

Oh yeah

I may or may not post much in the next four days. Jrex and I are driving to Rochester in the morning to bid fond farewell to friends there. Why wait for the cross-country drive when you can do mini-jaunts for the heck of it?

Two steps forward...

1. We need someone to replace me here at work.
2. We've done 4-5 1st round interviews and 3 second round.
3. The woman we've all been waiting for came through the doors yesterday.
4. She's waiting to hear from another job so she can 'decide'. What? Why would you pick a semi-organized University where you could do grad school for free and maybe have a dental plan over total chaos and RyGuy doing imitations of Diane Rhem?
5. I feel like a junior high girl at my first dance. Lingering on the sidelines, desperately thinking, "pick me!" The sad truth is, it's not because I want someone to replace me here at work. I want someone to replace me so I don't have to deal with stupid phone calls for the next month (or three). Also, I'm involved and feel responsible--which means I want to invest in training someone else and not leaving my bosses hanging.
6. The middle-ground solution is a designer who sub-leases space here. The woman who is S...L...O...W. When I tell her a keyboard shortcut to use she has to stop and write it down. Then write down why she might use it, how she might use it, and when she might use it. It took THREE hours yesterday to show her how my files are organized and how to pull art from the archive.
7. Yet I can't be evil to her. Her brother is dying of cancer. She broke down today in the middle of discussing the client's work. We talked. I listened. My boss came in (the nice one) and offered 'comforting' platitudes and a big hug. I can tell that BossOne fears sadness and death. When she left I said, "The thing is, this sucks. There's nothing that makes it feel better." She nodded and teared up again. I listened some more. In the end, I told her to give me the file and get out of here.
8. I learned how to deal with sadness in others (and in myself) from my husband. When Mom died, he never tried to make me feel better or 'fix' me. He held me when I cried, listened when I wanted to tell stories, read each thing I wrote, and made me dinners when I could barely function. Before that lesson I was a fixer. I still tend in that direction. But today, I knew how to be a companion. Thank you, Jrex, for helping me know how to do that.

August 22, 2006

Schooling the boys

I’ve written about Smart Boy in the past. Sunday after church I took him and his two cousins up to the climbing gym. Before getting to the gym we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch.

Lesson 1: Live within your means.

I told them they could order two items from the dollar menu or one item from the main menu. I ordered large fries for all of us to share and everyone drank water. Lunch for four: $13.25. My parents always made us budget in restaurants. To this day if I pay for a drink in a restaurant I feel like the biggest spendthrift richest person in the world.

Lesson 2: Finish what you start

Because I am an evil, evil woman, I didn’t let them down until they finished at least one climb. Smart Boy flew up the walls like Spiderman. He loved climbing. When I first started climbing it took me a few weeks before I even tried a marked route (they put tape next to the holds to indicate what’s ‘on’). I played on 5.6 and 5.7 climbs for another few weeks. When I tackled my first 5.8 I thought I’d conquered the world. Wouldn’t you know it, Smart Boy completed an overhung 5.8 on his fourth climb! Rotten little bugger. His cousins didn’t fare so well. They did fine before they’d tried a climb. The mocking and posturing while Spider Smart Boy climbed made them seem like they’d trekked Everest in their sleep. Then Big Boy got on the wall, clawed up four holds and died. I kept zapping him verbally until he finished the wall. It took a LONG time, strained my recently sewn hand muscle and seemed to drive the people around me crazy, but it was worth it to have him beaming when he finished.

August 21, 2006

Black Like Me

I think I've told this story before, if you've heard it, scroll down to section 2. This first part just sets up yesterday's story.

My friend Singer is a tall, beautiful African-American woman. We were in small group together for a year. At the beginning of that year, she'd mention she didn't like people touching her, whereupon I'd lean into her shoulder, "What? Like this?" After a year of picking on her, she became one of the best huggers I know. We often joke that I broke her will.

A few months ago, I gave her a ride home after church. While walking three blocks to the car the gray sky began to drizzle and Singer flung up her hands to protect her bangs. When we got into the car I opened the storage bin and pulled out a big red velcro roller, rummaged around and gave her a blue pick/comb. She stared at me in disbelief, "OTRgirl, You are Black!! Nobody I know has rollers and combs in their car except my mother! You are the blackest white girl I've ever met."

This was quite affirming for me. I've often said that my soul is 25% black; but it's not something I can go around proclaiming. Honestly most of my white friends just roll their eyes, "Yeah, yeah, whatever." Sure I can do corn rows, finger waves, spiral curls, perms and wraps for black hair. I know how to double dutch. I love Kirk Franklin. Most of all I know that a playful insult is actually a sign of deep respect (in case you're wondering, that doesn't translate too well into white or Asian culture. And yes, I get in trouble all the time.).

Section 2
All that leads to yesterday. Singer and I sat together in the back row at church. We tend to talk and laugh a bit, so it's better to be less visible. (Though, come to think of it, that put us right in front of most of the pastoral staff. Oops!) We had an African-American pastor as visiting speaker. When he preaches, his whole church comes with him. At one point he said the American church, has 'lost its shout'. He was basing the sermon on a story of 10 lepers who stand at a distance and shout in desperation for Jesus to heal them. "Where is your desperation? What are you willing to shout about?" Somehow this led into a joking riff about how this is easier to do this if you're black. "If you haven't noticed, we're loud. I'm loud. If you're sitting next to a black person, turn to them and say, 'shut UP!' "

Singer leaned into my shoulder, "Shut UP, OTRgirl!"

August 17, 2006

The Randomized Update

-This Saturday is the moving sale. We gave the couple buying our house the right of first refusal. And they didn't! Refuse anything. Which means we get to keep our sofa until we move! Also the firepit + chairs outside, the futon sofa in the basement, and a large mirror that came with the house...oops I feel a little guilty about that one.) Plus it should fund the living room set we'll need at the other end.

-Jrex is off on a solo backpacking trip to the Adirondacks. He left Sunday and is due back on Friday. No cell phone contact, no email. I'm finding out how wide and deep silence can feel.

-We told my separation anxiety client I'm moving. She took it well the first day. In days since she's started calling me to tell me she's scared of losing me as her security blanket. I get to be the first-day-of-kindergarden-mom, "Honey, you'll be fine. You're a big girl now. You can do this!"

-The woman my bosses subcontracted to replace me is SLOW!!! She's been working on three graphics for 2 weeks. She was supposed to do multiple shows so I could train her, but she's down to the one big show. Granted the panels are huge and she is unfamiliar with the products, but she works slow, processes slow, and asks me to stop and discuss piddly details. I'd be fine talking and talking and talking if I wasn't over here trying to design four other shows in the time she's working on one. Oh yeah, and I still have other client work to do! Yesterday I was so disgusted with the nitpicky questions, I moved my laptop into her office so I could just turn around to say yes or no.

-Because I don't think she's a good fit for separation anxiety client, it's been hard to reassure the client when she calls to ask about this woman.

-They've yet to hire the other person who is supposed to replace me doing prepress and supplemental design work. Two people to replace me. Flattering, but it would have been nice if they'd paid me accordingly...

-In other people's news, RyGuy has just not discussed the surrogate mom issue with his girlsfriend since she mentioned it. I think he's hoping it will just go away on its own. That's how he handles most relationship conflict. So far he's proved three times that you can make it for 1-2 years doing that, but eventually it all falls apart.

On the bright side though, after Friday I only have two more weeks!!! I'll be dancing in the streets chanting "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty I'm free at last!!" I'll be out of town the whole next week, so they can't even call me to demand anything!

August 15, 2006

Thanks for the memories!

Dear Mr. Big Man,

Thank you for being my husband's advisor. For showing him the consequences of procrastination and disorganization.

Thank you for the chance to live in a new part of the country for 2-3 years. And for picking an area where we'll get to downsize from a house to an apartment. For helping us simplify our lives.

Thank you for the chance to sell off most of my furniture. For helping me figure out what I value most.

Thank you for the adventure of leaving work three hours early to pick up your collie from the kennel. Thank you for telling me they were open til 5 pm and for telling me to call and make sure they bathed the dog. If I hadn't called I wouldn't have known they close at 4 pm.

Thank you for picking a kennel 40 minutes from work and 45 from my house.

Thank you for the chance to meet your assistant this morning at 4 am. She's very nice.

Thank you for the chance to drive your dog to the airport by 5 am. He's very nice and his smelly drool is a welcome addition to our hardwood floor. He is sweet though. Muttola followed him around all night and tried to get him to chase her. He stared after her darting form with old age bemusement.

Thank you for giving your dog a crate that barely allowed him to lay down. In fact, it was only slightly larger than a terrier's crate at the airport. We enjoyed the burst of fear that they would refuse him at the gate.

Thank you for leaving everything until the last possible instant. We adrenaline junkies appreciate these frequent fixes.

Thank you for taking your family on a 2 week vacation to Japan while letting your employees manage your lab's move. Your trust is invaluable.

August 10, 2006

Next year I'll miss these moments

One of the 'perks' at work are the random conversations I get to have with my co-worker, Ry Guy.

Today he told me about a woman from his old job who stalked him. He worked loading trucks at UPS and she would send sexual notes to him via the conveyer belt. He said he lived in fear that she'd follow him out to the parking lot and clock him upside the head and rape him. So I asked him, "I've always wondered how that works. I know guys can get raped, but I've never understood the mechanics of it. Wouldn't you need an erection? And wouldn't that be impossible if you were scared?" He admitted he had no idea how it would happen. He finished telling me how he turned the woman into the supervisor and it all stopped.

Yesterday he told me that his girlfriend, Hot Chick asked him a strange thing. Apparently a year and a half ago she was a surrogate mother for her godparents. They all share a house and I guess the guy gave her some sperm in a cup and she got pregnant. When Ry Guy met her she'd just had their baby. Now he's 7 months old and the godparents just asked if she'd consider having one more so their son won't be an only child. They told her to see if Ry Guy would mind. "So, I get to go around in public with my girlfriend when she's bulging out. How do we respond when people ask us about 'our' baby? If she's pregnant she can't go out to bars and clubs anymore, but why should I stay home if it's someone else's baby? I'm sure as hell not going through the delivery room thing again. I'll sit outside the room but that was disgusting when my ex-wife had our son! And there is NO way I'm getting up in the middle of the night to go get her Twix or whatever she starts craving. She can call out for her godfather to do all that shit." But then he said he'd say yes cause he doesn't want to risk all of them disliking him.

August 8, 2006

Tagged Again

This one is about books. I grew up without a TV in the house. Reading was what we did for family time. Well that and argue, play marbles on the living room floor, play poker with Dad, listen to radio shows, create Star Wars diaromas, fight, play dress up and a few other things. I remember winning the prize for most books donated to our school’s book sale—and it was just my parents clearing a few books from our house.

1. A book that changed my life
This is tough. Honestly, my life has been changed more by relationships with people. Books are supplements and talismans of those relationships. Not to be corny, but really Jesus changed my life in a profound way. The Bible by itself not so much. But as a supplement to that relationship it’s changed and directed my life over and over.

Other life-changing relationships and the books that accompany them:
My Mom. The Whole Earth Catalog. We had a few of these around the house and I learned about composting, solar energy, sex and nutrition among other things.
Regency Romance Novels. Sorry. I know I should make myself sound smart or something. But my mom, sister and I have read enough regency novels to have earned honorary history degrees. We love Jo Beverly. When I become a torrid author with millions in royalties, then I can truly say those books changed my life! (you'll see, Dad, you'll see!)

My husband. In college I was a first-year student at the art school and Jrex was a senior at the preppy school down the road. I ended up being in his small group. He made us read Tozer’s Pursuit of God and Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer. The books by themselves were mind-blowing enough, but the whole small group was the life-changing factor. Jrex and I didn’t connect romantically until after college, but that small group helped equip me for surviving those years. It changed how I thought about God, about me and how to live.

2. A book read more than once
While living in upstate NY, where winter descends in a solid gray cloud blanket from October through mid-April, there was a book I read each March. I needed to remember that spring would come and no book better describes that creeping miracle than The Secret Garden.

3. Book for a desert island
I’m assuming this presumes a Survivor set-up. In which case, a thick book with really large pages: better for starting fires. I would also value a sketchbook or journal.

4. Book that makes me laugh
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. Here’s a snippet from Red Riding Hood:
The wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone."

Red Riding Hood said, "I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."

5. Book that made me cry
The classic middle school weep fest: Bridge to Terabithia.
Currently making me cry: Shattered Dreams.

6. Book you wish you had written
Actually, I have written a book. My master’s project was published. I wish I’d had a different advisor, different co-authors and been able to take that book where I wanted it to go. As it was, we produced a mediocre book. I'd send you the link, but you'd be able to guess which name is mine, and I'm just not that proud of it. I would gladly link to theoretical book, that one would be worth the loss of anonymity.

7. Book you wish was never written
Mein Kampf

8. Book you’re currently reading
Just finished last night, Lisa Samson, The Living End. It was a bit thin in places, but enjoyable.

9. Book you’ve meant to read
Life of Pi. It sounds fascinating, but I’ve yet to think, “Hmm….I have a free Saturday, I want to spend it in a boat with a boy and a talking tiger.”

10. Tags
I actually want to tag people without blogs. Respond in the comments if you want to… OTRsis, OTR Dad, and OTR mama (my Mom’s best friend). Anyone else a reader? If so, let me know if you go for it.

August 7, 2006

Crimes against humanity

See that little orange thing in the sky? That’s the sun. At 6:33 AM this morning. It’s been a general policy of mine to NOT see pretty sunrises. Sunsets? No problem. I love watching a lovely sunset. I love watching the stars at night. But morning? Ugh. Notice the light posts? I was stopping by McD’s on my way to a client meeting at 7 AM. Ante Meridian=Anti Me.

The worst part is that very early in the morning or very late at night, I get a bit slaphappy. This causes me lose what small filter I have blocking comments from popping out of my mouth. We were meeting a new client to look through their national call center and come up with a navigation system for the space. The guy showing us around seemed to have a good sense of humor, which only encouraged me to do little quips here and there. I even managed to fake it like I had some creative notions despite the hour. I suppose they wanted us there before most of people arrived for work.

Near the end of the tour he mentioned the remaining administrative banners they would need. “We’ll also need signs for ‘store service’, ‘after-sales’, and ‘cash room’.” I grinned, “That’s so when the burglar breaks in, he’ll know where to go.” He laughed, but my boss looked mortified!

I’m actually really excited to work on this project because it’s the call center for my favorite store. I volunteered to relieve them of the leather chaise lounge in the ‘as-is’ section, but sadly, he also took that as a joke.

August 4, 2006


I'm sorry for the lackluster blogging lately. Between interviewing potential replacements, surfing the net for jobs, correcting my on-line portfolio, and being semi-brain dead due to detail overload, I just have had a hard time knowing what to write (much less actually proofing my posts!!)

Today we interviewed the supposed finalists for my job replacement. But my bosses didn't like them. They offered $29-32,000 range for salary! That's an embarrassment. I've been grossly underpaid, but not like that. The woman we interviewed asked for $43,000 which is MUCH more realistic, esp since my bosses don't offer health insurance. I had no idea what they planned to offer and I feel so ashamed they went so low. In any case, we're back to the drawing board (no pun intended). Which means more interviews, more interruptions, ugh. I'm sadly neglecting the few clients I have right now.

Really, the bottom line is that I'm done here. It's very hard to make myself care. I wish I knew how to write about such things and make them totally hilarious. I love how finslippy can talk about the weather, or dooce about going to Old Navy and make it funny. Alas, alack, you get no such brilliance here.

August 3, 2006

Trudging along

A few days ago I sat back in satifaction after hitting 'save' on the last page of my on-line portolio. Then I received an email from my father detailing changes to almost every entry. He'd copied the email to my sister as well. She was mildly offended on my behalf though I wasn't upset at all. It made us laugh about all the letters my father's father corrected and sent back to us. (I once told him how much fun I was having during my sumer vacation and received by reply post an essay on the civilization of Sumer.) However, I was humbled and awed that my father would take so much time and care to help me.

Then, today, a designer friend came by and sat with me while we rewrote just about ALL the text on my site. Dad tweaked my own wording, she tweaked most of my concepts. It took 3 hours! I understand family being that kind, but am blown out of the water by MP's willingness to help me. She was able to target the language (and my thinking) toward a design audience (things like changing the word 'problem' to the word 'objective', etc)

How should I repay her kindness? (really I should be thinking of ways to repay my Dad, but that's a bit easier to figure out.) I gave her a ride to her car place today, but that hardly counts! Any ideas?

August 2, 2006

Duckpin Bowling

There may be a national association, but I’d never heard of this sport before moving to Baltimore. Basically, the balls are smaller, they don’t have any holes in them (bigger than a Bocce ball, much smaller than a bowling ball), the pins are smaller and you get three tries per turn. We had two lanes to ourselves, which meant one of us was scoring (double-digit addition in my head, o my!) and two were bowling at any given time.

When I say Jrex was good I mean that he got strikes* or spares** most turns. Granted, on his next turn (when the extra score matters) he almost always got a gutter ball. But then he’d still end the turn with a spare. When I commented how good he was he responded, “I’m really not. If I scored over 200, then I might say I’m good, but I don’t.” I squawked at him, “Honey, sometimes you’re SO Asian!! 200 would be phenomenal in my book. ‘Good’ is if you get more than one lucky shot and actually manage to aim the ball fairly consistently.” I managed one strike and two spares, so I was quite happy with myself.

*Strike: every pin knocked over with the first ball you roll. You get an X in the score box. The next two balls you throw (in duckpin) are added to a base of 10 points and put into the X score box. The balls you knocked over on that turn are then added into the score box. It’s like doubling your shot.
**Spare: With your second ball you knock over any pins remaining from your first roll. You get a / in the score box and your next roll is added to the base of 10.

My favorite part was how each of us tried to influence the ball's trajectory by leaning our bodies.

Here’s me (in a photo that makes my butt look as big as Texas):

My Dad:

And Jrex (his lean has much more style and subtlety than either Dad’s or mine. Mostly it’s in the hands):

Just three lanes down from us there was a bowling league. They had tiny little leather bags for their duckpin balls. I find it hard to imagine taking myself seriously as I walk out the door and call, "Honey, I'm off to duckpin league!!" But, perhaps, with how good Jrex is, it'll be him calling to me as he waltzes out to his league games!

National Building Museum

This is my favorite museum in DC (at 3rd and G--if you want to visit). Sure I’ve been to amazing art shows in the National Gallery, but as a building I love this one most. Each time Dad has visited we’ve stopped by the Building Museum. We both love architecture and enjoy the mix of art, design and inspiration found in exhibits about people moving, or the Rural Studio school.

This photo is taken in the cafĂ© at one end of the atrium. This building was built by the Civil War Veterans’ bureau in the later 1800’s. At the time one-third of the Federal Budget was for CWV’s. The architect considered the end user's needs, as well as future building needs, with great care. He built deep, shallow steps, easier to climb if the disabled.
He put elevator shafts in the building even though they were just beginning to be used. No one approved their use, but he left the shafts for the future nonetheless. Around each office level he ran a system where someone could attach papers to a mechanical device that would run them around the building to another office. The top of the atrium is lined with clearstory windows; once opened, the building itself functioned as a natural air conditioner.

As a designer, the thought behind a design matters almost as much as the end result. Just being in this building gives me a profound satisfaction that it was done ‘right’.

The show we visited was The Green House. Dad bought me the show book (unprompted—really!!) to inspire me to build a house. Actually, Dad really wants me to buy a piece of industrial wasteland in California and transform it into a lovely dwelling area. He was inspired by a home, shown in the exhibit, built out of old shipping containers in a corner of an industrial area. The property is enclosed in 12-foot metal walls and contains a lush recycled-water stream and tropical garden. I, too, am inspired by the thought. I don’t see it in the next two years, but I love considering what we could do in the future.

August 1, 2006

My replacement cometh

I don't have long to write. We're in the middle of a day of four interviews for my replacement. The first one just left, the next is due in five minutes.

I'll be back soon to tell you about my excellent weekend. Here's a preview:

-Friday night was fun! Turns out Jrex is good at bowling! Nine years of marriage and I had no idea!
-Saturday Dad and I went to DC to go to the National Building Museum (more about that soon) and the recently opened National Portrait Gallery.
-Sunday I went climbing with an international crew: an Aussie, Dutchwoman, two Brits, a Scot, and two French people. Found out that if a woman is known as the 'village bicycle' it's not a good thing (means everyone in town has had a ride...) I love learning slang from other countries.
-Yesterday I put my on-line portfolio finally! Started filling out applications. We shall see...
-Tonight we're going to an Oriole's game. Jrex won tickets yesterday in a lottery.

Oops, next interviewee is here!