August 30, 2007

Because I'm a lemming

I mean, hey, I'm in the marketing/design world. I get it, self-promotion is good.

This guy is really good cause he's sweetening the pot with a digital camera. A nice one, not just the bootleg version he's trying to get rid of because his Mom couldn't manage to learn to use it.

He's doing the Stay at Home Dad route, Geek style. He's even coordinated with SmugMug to give away a bunch of prizes. Have I no shame? Will I do anything if the price is right? that a trick question? I've already designed for the military industrial complex--I've have no moral high ground.

From the quick overview I had today (it's FINALLY a slow day at work), Mike seems like a neat Dad who's using his web design skills and writing ability to make it work from home. Never an easy challenge. Check it out and help me win a camera!

Some things are worth not wearing makeup

I have a very carefully calibrated morning routine that allows me to wake up at 8 a.m. and catch an 8:45 a.m. train.

8:20 a.m. The Phone Rings. The caller ID on my phone shows my sister's house. I assume it's my Dad with travel plans since he's due to arrive this evening. He's spent a week in Seattle and now will join us for the next eight days.

"Imo?" It's my sister's voice. Why is she calling me Imo? I mean, I know it's what my niece calls me, but why is my sister addressing me as such?

"It's me." I venture. I'm a bit slow in the mornings.

"Blonde Niece has something she wants to tell you." This is indeed momentous, as the last few times we've tried 'chatting' on the phone it's been a random monologue with occasional laughter in response.

I hear fumbling noises, "Hey, girl! What's up?" I speak into the void.

"You come my hou ah ma nap?" I hear her breathy question and rapidly try to interpret.

"You want me to come to your house after your nap?"

"Yea!" She exclaims.

"Oh, sweetie, I wish I could but I live too far away. I won't be able to come today."

"Oh. You pla ma to?"

Silence. My sister rescues me, "I think she wants you to play with her toys."

Then more fumbling noises. In the background I hear laughter and then OTRsis gets back on, "She took the phone and carried it over to her toys."

8:27 a.m. My hair is still wet.

"Well, I should run. Can I call you back later?"

"Sure. Blonde Niece, do you want to say good bye to Imo?"

More fumbling and a breathy 'bye-bye'.

Quick hair dry. A dog walk and speedy bike ride and I make the train.


How could you not be cheery and grinning the rest of the day after that beginning?

August 27, 2007

When Geeks Mate

We had newlywed dinner guests a couple weeks ago. The husband is a Silicon Valley guy--he bikes to work, loves to read and is up on all the latest tech devices. The wife is from Orange County (a very wealthy subculture of LA). She's from three generations of fashion design and wealth. As they sat in our living room the husband exclaimed, "See, honey! A wall of books. That's what I would like to have." She looked at our bookshelves where we have every square inch filled with books. "Hmm...I could see that looking ok. If you had three books vertically and then three horizontally with a little pot or something on top of the horizontal books."

I looked at her in horror, "Jrex would KILL me if I tried to do that with the books." (I was minimizing the fact that I would hate it as well--poor Jrex, scapegoated again! He couldn't even defend himself since he was cooking at the time.)

"Why?" she asked in bewilderment. Her husband was staring at her in consternation at her confusion.

"Well, our books are meant to be read not just to be looked at and any pots would get in the way of functionality." Her husband nodded vigorously.


Last night we ate a dinner of crackers and sliced cheese as we read in bed. I kept thinking of this other couple, where books and reading were not viewed as sacred by the wife. I felt so happy that we could just spend an evening reading together in mutual contentment. I guess it turns out that in our core values our marriage isn't so cross-cultural after all.

August 20, 2007

Remembering the Dead

On Saturday the 18th, Snickollet had the memorial for her husband John (aka “Goose Husband”). She invited people who wanted to be virtually present to light a candle at 6:30 EST. At 3:15 my time, I started assembling objects. I knew I wanted to light a candle for John and one for my Mom. We never lit one in Seattle for the 10th anniversary of her death. It seemed right to remember Mom and pray for Snick and her family all at the same time.

As usual, the assemblage took on a life of it’s own. I wasn’t sure why I was placing things until I’d finished and realized the symbolism:
  • Two incomplete circles of stones. Two life-lines cut short by cancer.

  • Two candles. Two lights that burned in the darkness and warmed those around them.
  • My Mom’s circle had more stones, closer to a life ‘full of years’. John’s was tragically short.
  • At the beginning of Mom’s circle, seashells. For her these symbolized baptism, new beginnings, fresh life. She often used shells when she spoke on starting life with God. She would pass them out to participants as a meditation aid and a tangible reminder of a retreat.
  • At the beginning of John’s circle, a black egg. For beginnings and for a Goose.

  • In my Mom’s circle, a march of quirky figurines. The nail figures were sculptures that graced our library shelves growing up (I ‘appropriated’ them when I left for college). Mom loved little sculptures and she loved to worship YHWH.
  • I didn’t really know John, so I didn’t want to presume about his life. I did put a little metal stone with “Believe” near the end of his circle.
  • At the end of Mom’s life, a metal stone that reads “Sabbath”. She was trying to learn about rest and about simplicity in her last couple years of life.

  • For both of them, the upward twist of driftwood: beauty emerging from the scouring and buffeting of life.
After I’d finished setting up, I heard the door open behind me. I thought it was the dog and turned to shoo her out of the room. It was Jrex. He’d come to join me. Instantly I wanted to sob. He was here and her husband isn’t. He’d known this was important to me and came to just be with me. Jrex knows the power of presence. No words, just standing there meant a lot to me. I also realized I wanted to be alone with my little ceremony. It felt very private (even though I took pictures to share with the ‘net…don’t ask for logic). I lit the candles and we were quiet together for a bit. Then, quietly he walked out of the room and shut the door gently behind him.

I watched the two flames for a long time.

August 18, 2007

Let's all go to the Lobby!

Last night we rushed off to the movies for the 7:10 showing of Stardust. It was sold out so we bought tix for Bourne Ultimatum instead. However, once in the theater we decided to step into the 7:05 showing of Ratatoulle (sp?!) with the option of leaving for the 7:40 showing of the movie on our tickets. We never left.

I know most of you have probably already seen the 'little Chef' in action, but it was really fun. The physical comedy was amusing and the animators walked a very fine line of maintaining the 'ratness' of the animals without them being completely repulsive. For some strange reason, we both were STARVING on the ride home.

On the way out, we stepped into The Invasion. It's the Nicole Kidman redo of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Much of the film was shot in Baltimore. Even in the 10 minutes we watched, it was fun to see the old hometown. The firm I worked for in Baltimore printed most of the signs that hang in bus stops in the movie. My picture is on one of the "Missing" fliers though I don't know if it's ever visible in the movie. I'm hoping to go back with our three friends who moved here from old Balwmore. It's not the kind of movie I usually enjoy, but for nostalgia and personal history, I'll do it.

Has anyone else seen any good movies lately? Did we take the right pick of the non-Stardust options?

August 15, 2007

It was evening and it was morning. The first day.

I forget if I mentioned this was going to be happening, but I’m in Seattle right now. My sister’s husband had to go out of town for a week and we figured that would be a great time for me to come up and meet my new nephew. The theory is that I’m up here helping out. Thus far I’m feeling much more like a pampered guest with play privileges.

For this visit, it’s just the three of us Body Part kids. No spouses, no dog. I told OTRsis that I feel like I’m at a slumber party with dolls. Sure, the bigger doll keeps asking me to read her stories and play games that circle around to ‘There’s Daddy!’, but it just feels like fun.

The Morning: Movement

In the morning we met my brother at Golden Gardens (I keep calling it Golden Gate), it’s a beach/playground area on the Puget Sound. While I assisted Blonde Niece climb UP the tunnel slide (over and over and over), a woman came by to offer her a balloon. Apparently, she and the other 20 adults milling around next to the playground were waiting for their kids.

We’d noticed a banner reading “P2S —You did it!” and assumed it was for a graduation or birthday. Turns out, P2S stands for “Providence to Seattle”. A group of 20 college kids were due any minute after biking across the country. They’d started June 10 and rode every day except for stops to work on Habitat for Humanity projects. The whole ride was a fund and awareness raiser.

Blonde Niece finally decided she was ready to go build sand castles so we waddled briskly over to where OTRsis had set up camp. Eventually, my brother joined us and Blonde Niece proudly showed him her handiwork. All of a sudden we heard screams, shouts and yells—the bikers were coming! The approach to the beach involves a long downhill that gives a glimpse of the ocean, then parralels the beach for 500 yards before turning back into the long parking lot. As we turned to watch the bikes streaming down the hill, we started sniffling. The raw exultation called for a response and all we could do was tear up!

The screaming bikers swept into the area where their parents were gathered, then turned and attacked the beach. They rode to the water’s edge, dropped the bikes, then piled into the sea surrounded by and filled with screams and cheers. Even my bro got a little watery.

The Evening: A Different World

My sister’s friends came over to watch the kids so we could go out. We’d already decided that part of what we want to do this weekend is remember Mom in honor of the 10th anniversary of her death. She died at the end of September, but we won’t be together then.

For dinner my brother and sister took me to a fantastic Morroccan restaurant. From the outside it looks a bit sketchy, but inside? Wow.

The whole meal involved communal plates and fingers as utensils.

Before the meal each of us were given a gleaming white towel. Then our host brought over a metal container to catch the water he poured over our hands. A guy seated next to us was eating alone. I wondered what he thought as we toasted Mom with our water glasses and reviewed what our parents had done, both wrong and right. Mostly right and often quirky, but each of us are grateful for our parents and for each other.

August 12, 2007

Where I've been of late

It’s been a perfect storm for non-blogging. My new job is high-intensity with very low privacy. My project manager can watch what I’m doing from her desk. The train only stops at the San Carlos station once an hour, so I have no wiggle room to linger and read a little bit o blog before riding off to catch my train. In the mornings I’m trying to crank out some work before that same project manager arrives with her questions, whines and rants. Obviously, on the good side, it keeps me honest, but sheesh, I miss the occasional break to read about ya’lls lives.

The other factor has been that we’ve had a LOT of socializing this summer. No time to read blogs while driving two hours north to a wedding reception on the beach in Marin County.

Last night we grabbed dinner with a buddy of mine from grad school. He’s Indian and used to REALLY late hours. We met him at 8:45 pm, drove 20 minutes south into Seoul/Dehli and wound up at a hole-in-the-wall Pakistani restaurant. Great food, the best tandoori chicken I’ve ever had, but as my friend said, “It’s a very third-world atmosphere”. It was. We had to ask for tea at least six times before they brought us two cups (for the three of us), he had to ask for what he ordered twice. There was a crying baby, lots of loud chatter and not a single white person in the room. I loved it.

It turns out he’s really lonely. Most of his co-workers are older or married and none of them drink. He’s really excited to reconnect and has offered to have us join him and a manager from his job for flights around the Bay area. Apparently it’s only $25/person since the guy is part of a flying club. Hmm…fly down to Monteray for lunch? OK! Lake Tahoe for an afternoon boat ride? I’ll fit it in. The down side is, of course, it definitely won’t help my blogging.

August 9, 2007

A whole lotta nuttin

Most days I catch the train at 7:45, then bike 10 minutes to work. At the end of the day, the theory is that I'm leaving at 4:50 to catch a 5:18 train. Yeah, right. I wouldn't think 'losing' those extra five hours would impact me this much, but I'm getting worn out. Today I woke up early (thanks to someone else's alarm), but instead of just rolling over and insisting that I deserve/need/must-have-or-I-will-DIE more sleep, I decided to get up. Heck, I even walked the dog. I decided to take the 'late' train and get to work by 9:15. Then, being clearly out of my mind from waking up when it was still dark out, I got inspired to wash, grease and refill my bike tires.

Whirling in my brain for future posts:

-Conversation with a recent Boston transplant about what to wear for job interviews in NoCal.
-Sense of being in a foreign country when moving here from the east coast.
-How Muttola fooled the beach-based wedding reception into thinking she was a calm, well-trained dog.

What can I say? It's an exciting life here in Cali-forn-I-A.

August 5, 2007

Sunday Link Love

With this witty respose to the haircut 'drama', I might have to forgive him for becoming a millionaire at the expense of innocent doctors:


For projects that need a fine art touch, download from I spent time today drooling over details of Gaudi's architecture. Who has ever thought of decorating chimneys as though they are sentinels?

Finally, here's a fantastic short animation created entirely in Flash: Little Foot.

August 4, 2007

The question you forgot to ask in the interview is if I've ever done the bar scene...

Jrex just left to go into lab for the morning. This afternoon we get to head up to Marin County for a West Coast Reception at a beach. Ah, the beach. Sun, sand and seashells, right? Nope. It’s north of San Francisco and therefore COLD in the summer. The classic Mark Twainism is SO true, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” We’ll go from 70-80 degree sunshine here to possible fog and 50 degree weather up there.

In the meantime I’m surfing the net looking for cool party elements. One aspect of my new job is that we plan Events. As in, “this party has no budget, we’ve only got $70,000 to work with” events. I’ve already designed the signage and graphics for the official tech-geek part of the trade show; this party is a different animal. The party is at The P4lms in L4s V3gas (top floor is home for a herd of Playb*y Bunnies), all we have to do is add a theme overlay to the already overloaded party venue. Three zones, a trade show debuting a product called “R3d Sh1ft” and voila, a party called “Spectrum” with Red for the dance club, Blue for the Pool area and Green for the lounge. Robo-sexy serving women with colored wigs, laser light shows in the dance club and videos splashed everywhere.

Um. I’ve never been a party girl? I’ve only planned one event in my life and I just went with the first suggestion for everything! You like this person for flowers? OK, done. First church we saw? Fine. I know nothing about ice sculptures as martini shoots, fire shots in barber chairs or creating an event that is “sexy but not trashy.” I’m supposed to be helping to find asset images for what we could do at the party. What do I search on Google?! The important thing is the concept and I have no idea what I’m doing!

August 1, 2007

Doing the Mosh Pit

(sorry, this one is a little long...)

I know you’re all clamoring for a Harry Potter review, or at least, my Dad is, but that’s not what’s on my mind.

I’ve been thrashing around emotionally tonight. As usual, poor Jrex has bourn the brunt. Are there issues in our relationship that are relevant and worth thrashing about? Sure. Yet after exploding all over him, I sat and thought about what was really happening inside me. Is it merely that I’m at a boiling point due to deep-seated concerns about our life? Perhaps. But it’s also just a general frustration with my life.

It’s weird. Last night I was ready to post about how amazing it is that I’ve felt surrounded by community after less than a year here. I went to my small group last night, an unofficial group of women loosely affiliated with my church. In honor of my birthday two different people brought cakes and we went out to a little cafĂ© called Vino Locale that specializes in local wines and foods. We brought the cakes, did some candles, talked and shared life. I’ve never had a birthday that lasted for two weeks. This is ridiculous.

Yet all of a sudden tonight I feel like I hate my life. And it’s not PMS!

I think it’s mostly a reflection of disappointment. Since getting married much of my life has been about making the best of changing circumstances as Jrex’s career takes us around the country. On the whole, I’ve done an OK job at finding the good wherever we’ve ended up; I’ve found wonderful people and collected a degree and some cool jobs. Yet I always come back to a sense that I’m in the wrong life. I know I’m in the right marriage, but we’ve ended up living a DINK (Double-Income, No Kids.) life I never envisioned. It’s VERY hard for me to make it fit.

So then I get my first “career” job. Maybe THIS will be fulfilling and give me something to really dive into. But, no. The job has a lot of potential, but the current reality is a department in transition and full of toxic people. Which means I get to be the cheerful, non-complaining, non-cussing, non-backbiting, relatively calm freak in the midst of chaos. The mental disconnect is that I had a really peaceful feeling about the job beforehand. Jrex and his Mom also had peace. It feels like I was directed to this job only to get there and find out it would involve much more character building than it would fulfillment.

Sigh. I’m very tired of character. I’m tired of being the conflict-resolution facilitator. I’m tired of having to be strong. Tired of listening to everyone without always feeling heard in return. I’m just bummed that the dream job feels a bit like a set-up. I’ll rally and regroup and pray for my co-workers and love them where they are. We’ll see the department turn around and become a wonderful place to be. I’ll be part of that. It’s just that tonight, I’m tired.

So I took it out on Jrex. As usual.

I suspect that whenever my life feels disappointing, I want him to step up and be my super-hero, which is an unfair burden on anyone. When the rest of my life feels small, I thrash around in the safe place of this relationship. A place that has become so close to my ideal that the gaps between reality and my dreams drive me crazy.

I’m sorry, babe. I still think the questions I asked you are valid, but the torrent of emotion around the questions was driven by a different stream.