September 30, 2008

Too much going on!


I've got a 'tar baby' project at work that's edging out my regular client work. It's a presentation of our technology offerings that will be given by our CEO on Friday... I'm just putting someone else's design work into a new format. My coworker, Dancer, developed a great system, but she's off to our London office for the next two months. It's not that big a deal. Mostly it means I have no time to check Facebook or blogs. Woe is me, right? I actually have to WORK at work. Sheesh. Who can survive the suffering?


I LOVED the Frida exhibit, even though it was one of the worst viewing experiences ever. Too many people (why bother with timed tickets if you're going to issue self-guided tours that take twice as long for people to get through?!). Everyone wanted to stop at her 'train wreck' paintings: the miscarriage, the murder/affair, the self-portraits with nails, thorns, animals and blood. I've seen most of those in reproduction. It was great to see them in person, but most of them are small, intimate paintings. It's hard to take them in while nudged along in a mob. Frankly, viewing them in reproduction is fine compared to the gallery experience I had.

However, they also had a bunch of her paintings that I'd never seen before. There was a gorgeous portrait of her husband, Diego Rivera. I was fascinated to discover it was painted two years AFTER she found out he'd had an affair with her sister. I've rarely seen so much love in a portrait. Much of her work has a folk-art aspect. Seeing it in person made me realize her extraordinary technique.

Mostly, I came away thinking that she's the artist for a blogging generation. She was doing self-revelation when NO ONE did. Now, it almost seems ordinary. Honestly, seeing her work in person made me realize what an obsessive, compulsive person she must have been. I've never seen such tiny brush strokes! Such a repetition of shapes to make every thorn on a cactus. The only other time I've seen that degree of obsessive technique was in some of the art in Baltimore's Visionary Art Museum. I love her paintings, but she would have been a very intense roommate. Of course, she was married to a philandering jerk so they had an absolutely insane relationship.


I did check my bike seat. The woman took it with a smile and not even a blink.


I'm off to check out a small group from my church. It's run by a couple my age: Caucasian woman married to a Korean man. LOVE it! She's also a bike commuter, hiker, climber and do-gooder. She works in the poorest neighborhood on the Peninnsula and even lived there (before marriage to a guy who owns a condo). I've wanted a chance to know her better for a while and this may or may not be a way to do that. The group may be too large or too young. Que sera, sera, right?

September 27, 2008

It can't get any worse, said the pessimist.

Conversation last night:

Jrex explicates, "You know how they say the glass is either half-full or half-empty? Well, I say that the glass is half-empty and getting emptier all the time. It's always evaporating, you see."

I groaned, "It was bad enough when you were just a pessimist, this takes it down to a whole 'nother level."

He smiled, "Yup. Call me a cynic."

I mock glared at him, ". . . Honey, I hate to tell you this, but you're not just a cynic. You REEK of cynicism. People can smell your cynicism from 50 feet away!"

He cracked up laughing and I continued, "The really scary thing is that you just took that as a compliment!"

Nodding, he responded, "I am not a pessimist, I'm just a cynical realist."

"No, dear. You're not a realist. If I tell you ten good things and then one bad thing, you only remember the bad thing. That means you're not being realistic, you just weight the bad. That makes you a pessimist."

"Hmm...that's a valid point. I'm a cynical pessimist then!"

I groaned again, "Is there no hope then!?" I shrugged and grinned, "The sad thing is that at some point I'll accuse you of these things in front of other people and they'll get all weirded out thinking we're having a fight. Yet all along you and I will be fine with it. I can't believe you were happy to be called a cynic."

With a cheerful grin, he nodded.

September 24, 2008

Such as it was

Saturday I took my bike on the train and headed up to the city. After waiting in line at the museum, it turned out that one needed timed tickets into the Frida show. Grrrr.... I'd had a 'little thought' about looking it up on line before heading out, but didn't do it. I bought a ticket for Thursday night (half-price!) and decided to explore the city a bit.

I found an Aveda training school and made an appointment for a 90 minute facial/massage session (for 'only' $50!). Having two hours to kill, I headed over to the Ferry Building to look for lunch. Parked the bike at a bus stop with people swarming around. Took the bike lights with me and headed inside.

All the lunch options in there were crazy expensive. I ended up buying a book instead and decided to head back to the area around the Aveda school and grab food there (no tourists='real' prices).

I got out to my bike, unlocked it and jumped on to cross the street. Got to the other corner and scared some Asian guy half to death as I started cursing REALLY LOUDLY. Someone stole my bike seat. Just took the shaft and seat and left the bike. So, riding while standing, I rode back up the hill, canceled my appointment (since that same amount of money will now be used for a new seat), and grabbed some food.

In the end it felt like such a waste of an afternoon. I've had a car stolen before and didn't feel as violated and pissed off as I did about my bike. I'd just bought that seat a month ago. It was woman-specific, not cheap and MINE. My bike has become an extension of my body over the last year of riding it almost every day. I'm one of the 'good guys': I'm not buying gas, not contributing to pollution, not made of money--and someone attacked me.

Next time, listen to the little voice and stay home! Oh, and in the city, take my seat inside with me. Which is what I'll be doing tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to the look on the coat check person's face when I sashay into the museum and check a bag and a seat.

September 19, 2008

Busy, busy

I just wrote an email to a friend saying that weekends have been recovery times lately. I've craved alone time. Work hasn't been stressful, but it's been unexpectedly busy the last two weeks.

On Monday we were all here until 10ish. Not due to Captain Chaos, just prepping for a surprise client visit--potential $20 million dollar account='all hands on deck'. During that frenzy, at one point Dancer and I were chatting with the Devil. He'd come in while Dancer was FREAKING out about a Captain Chaos bomb. He listened to her rant and then said, "I get the impression you all aren't that excited about the direct management you are under..." She laughed, "I'm SO not going to answer that!" He went on, "I'm working on it. It got hung up on a couple other items, but I'm working on it."

Most evenings, I end up going home and reading or watching movies. I'm still running in the mornings, still climbing with Graceful on Sunday afternoons, but I rarely call anyone during the week. However, this weekend looks to be fairly busy.

Tonight we're meeting our buddies, J and O for dinner. J finally finished Law School and so we can now 'play' with them more often.

Tomorrow morning Lovey is coming to my place so we can catch up. We have really intense activities planned. 1. Take the dog to the vet. 2. Go out for brunch...

In the afternoon, I'm hoping to take the train up to the city to check out the Frida Khalo exhibit at the SF MOMA. I've seen so much of her work in reproduction, but rarely in person. That might be my main alone time. I'm looking forward to reading or journaling on the train. Then having time to really look at the art, perhaps do some sketching, then bike/train back home.

Once I get home, I'll check in with Jrex (he's trying to finish his paper this weekend!). Then, either together or alone, go meet some other friends for a dinner party at their house.

Sunday is climbing afternoon. Last week I stayed for an hour and a half long Yoga class. The teacher minimized the religious aspect ("Imagine your third eye open to the heavens...") and it was very athletic. My stomach was sore for the next three days. I might stay for that, but we have supper club that night, so the schedule would be tight.

Supper Club is an Italian theme, so I'm hoping my cheese kit arrives today, but I bet it won't. Sigh. How COOL would it be to show up with homemade fresh mozzerrella?!

I do like our life here these days, but all this busy, busy stuff is impacting my east coast relationships. I hardly ever call my MIL anymore, barely call my Dad and am having trouble staying up to date on other relationships. I guess one can only do so much.

Anyone else have fun plans for the weekend?

September 17, 2008

The post that will show how indoctrinated I've become

So . . . the fruit of all that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reading. Our book club decided to do a practical application of the book. Saturday morning, Graceful met me at my place and we drove up to the Redwood City Farmer's market. We bought 10 pounds of tomatoes (recipe called for 30!), 5 bunches of basil and sundry other items.

Animator and Big Smile met us at the apartment when we returned. A vat of pasta sauce, tomatillo salsa and 3 ice cube trays of pesto later, we were ready to make cheese. Yup. We made our own mozzarella. 30 minutes start to finish. (You can find kits/directions at While doing all that fun and games, we roasted a chicken that Big Smile had pre-assembled. Graceful assembled a mozzarella and tomato salad with fresh basil and balsamic vinaigrette.

As the chicken finished, while we were debating whether to make an apple cobbler, Quirky Asian Woman showed up with a lemon tart. Dinner turned into a progressive affair. The chicken and salad were done at 5:30 and the five of us were starving. We started eating. Jrex came home at 6 and we grabbed him a plate. At 7 pm, Hamilton showed up with marinated steak which Jrex cooked (slow oven roast on low heat for 15 minutes then seared on high in an iron skillet). When we finally got up from the table it was 9 pm. We don't have enough chairs for that many people, so two of us were perched on one chair together. It felt really cozy and familial. Old fashioned in all the right senses of the word.

The foods were all locally grown (except the steak. Yes, it was grass raised and free range, but from Uruguay). Jrex bought us wine, but failed the mission. With all the local wine sources, he bought a box wine from Italy. Hey, it's 3 liters of wine that stay good for up to 3 weeks, and its a great drinking wine.

At the end of the night, every one left with pesto, a Ziploc bag of pasta sauce, salsa and cheese.

One funny realization for me was how weird it felt that Animator, a white guy, was helping in the kitchen. I'm used to Jrex helping out, but Graceful and Big Smile are both Asian women and somehow, in a kitchen of Asian women, it felt 'wrong' to have a guy in there. When Mom K is here, Jrex hangs out with his Dad and it's a women-only kitchen. I adjusted quickly, but was surprised to have even had that moment.

September 10, 2008

The back story and my Palin reaction

I’ve mentioned in this blog that I’m a Christian. Sarah Palin being, without a doubt, a very sincere believer, I should be ecstatic and ready to vote for McCain/Palin, right?

The reality is that by choosing her, McCain has guaranteed I won’t vote for his ticket.

In order to explain that, I should tell you some life history. (You can skip to the last three paragraphs if you just want the conclusion.)

Palin comes from a stream of Christianity called Pentecostal or Charismatic. Basically, in the early 1900’s a group of people began seeking God and the Holy Spirit showed up. People began to speak in tongues, to get healed, to speak forth what they sensed God wanting to say (‘prophesying’) and to be freed to do expressive worship, among many other ‘signs and wonders’. As has happened since the Roman branch split from the Eastern, out of one larger stream, factions divided. Today there are many different groups around the world that have different comfort levels with the power and ‘manifest presence’ of God. I’ve experienced much of the breadth of that stream.

My parents were charismatic Lutherans. They were people of deep intellect and curiosity, unthreatened by opposing viewpoints. They sent their kids to public schools and were comfortable answering tough questions. I was taught to be comfortable with people of all colors, classes and beliefs.

In college, both Jrex and I attended a church that was comfortable with the Gifts of the Spirit. I became comfortable hearing and voicing nudges of thoughts that were bigger than me. I can pray in tongues and have encountered some ‘interesting’ things spiritually (when you pray for someone and their stomach starts to ripple, it certainly ain’t expected).

Jrex moved to Rochester ahead of me. He found a church that wanted to reach out to people in one of the tougher neighborhoods in the city. When he joined, there were a number of core members of the church that also lived in the neighborhood. Within a few years, most had moved out to the suburbs. When I joined him in Rochester, I began attending that church with him.

It was a church full of very kind, generous people. I did notice that if I really expressed my emotions or was too vulnerable, people drew back and seemed uncomfortable. Most of the sermons had to do with our victory in Christ. If we had problems, we were likely being disobedient. For schooling, the children of the church either had a private Christian school, or a private Mom-run school. The front doors of the church were always locked. The back door had a buzzer that you had to ring to get in during the service.

When we got married, we moved into a house across the street from the church. Jrex was taken aside by men from the church and berated for exposing me to such a place. He explained that I grew up in a worse neighborhood than that one. Perhaps placated, they just assumed we both were weird.
Jrex and I went through some horrible years early in our marriage. Rather than dealing with any of it directly, my pastor just told me to ‘duck and let God get him’. I had a couple of good friends in the church, but their advice usually was to pray and trust God. I met weekly with an older woman in the church (I’d asked her if we could meet, it wasn’t required). In many ways she and I were very similar: strong-willed, bossy, natural leaders. She was wonderful on many, many levels. She called me out on my attempts to control Jrex, challenged me to trust the Lord, and prayed faithfully for me. Over time though, I noticed that she got a lot of migraines. I noticed that as I followed her advice, Jrex and I had more and more distance between us and I was more and more angry with him. I’ve never been a passive aggressive person, and I began to have those patterns. It took a while, but I realized that she was spiritualizing things that were emotional and pragmatic. Submitting to my husband didn’t mean never telling him what was bothering me. It meant talking things through and trusting him to make the final call. I tried to tell her my observations, but she thought I was in rebellion.

In the midst of all that, I was introduced to another group of Christians in the area. Their pastor passionately embraced my design/artistic gifts; he wept after reading a book I’d made expressing my heart for the city. My other pastor had looked at it and said, “What do you want me to do with this?” With the second church, I went to healing retreats in which the emotional garbage could get untangled while still dealing with the spiritual elements. It was a church where God could still speak, but the world was a place to be embraced not feared.

[It should be noted: after the death of the pastor of the first church, a new pastor came who has truly led the church out of fear and into social justice and revitalizing the city. So, the people were willing, God answered our prayers for the church, it just took longer than we expected…]

When I watched some clips of Sarah Palin speaking in her church, heard some of her childhood pastor’s words, I was strongly reminded of that first church in Rochester. My concern about her is that in the strength of her ‘righteous’ beliefs, she truly believes in a religious dictatorship. I do believe that Jesus is The way, The truth and The life, but I also deeply believe that God made our minds, that he doesn’t rape us into belief. He woos us, loves us, convicts us at times, but it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. I don’t want a government that blares Christian music and thinks that American Christianity should be forced onto every person.

Mostly, I’m tired of fear mongering in the name of Jesus. I’m tired of a world full of enemies from which only the Big Powerful Republicans can save me. I’m really freaked out by Mr. Rove in the background. He doesn’t even believe in the law, much less in God. The great manipulator is NOT someone I want around another four years.

When Jesus came with skin on, he didn’t rise to power or take over the government. Instead, he lived among the poor, without fear. He met enemy soldiers and treated them as human beings, even healing their servants. His biggest condemnations were for the religious powers of his day and he was killed for it. I know that He loves Sarah Palin (and Karl Rove—God being able to do the impossible), but that’s not reason enough to vote for any single faith to take over our country, even if it’s supposed to be ‘mine’.

September 6, 2008

Why can't they choose to grow?

Back in Baltimore, I worked for a married couple. As I was leaving, their marriage was deteriorating. They have two young kids (Verde Girl, 8 and Verde Boy, 6). Song Verde was not only my boss, but my friend. She and I often drove together to client meetings. She created my position after meeting me, she told me how to negotiate with Glum Verde, her husband, for a higher salary, she gave me wonderful gifts and made sure we got bonus checks after big jobs.

A few days ago I emailed her, both to find out how she was doing and to ask about something. I'd also received one of those Social Security forms that shows your financial history for future Social Security checks. The four years I worked for the Verdes? Nada. No record of any income. The short version is that Glum Verde pocketed the money. In the fifteen months since their divorce, he's not paid any child support, has cleared out their IRAs, retirement and savings and apparently become quite the ass. Song Verde is taking him to court over all this and will hopefully sort out my Social Security issue along with all the other stuff.

Overall, I'm just SO sad for them. I'm frustrated with Glum V, but mostly just sad for him. I prayed frequently that he would choose to grow up, that he would yield to the Lord nudging him, calling him, inviting him. It really felt like I saw the tipping point for their marriage come and go. You can't make anyone change or make the right choices, but I'm so sad for him that he's choosing the super hard version of his life. And that he's messing up two kids in the process.

I have other stuff on my mind that I want to post:

-Reaction to the Palin choice
-Musings on having a fashionable MIL
-Reflections on why cooking has usually felt like a duty, not a pleasure

So much to say, so little brain left...

September 4, 2008

Beelzebub called, give him a call at your convenience

I mentioned a while ago that one of the VPs in our company is "The Devil". Not because of his horrible deeds, rather, he buried us alive in 9 packs of Oreos. As my coworker, Dancer, and I were bemoaning cookie evil, we'd just said, "I can't believe VP gave us these. VP's the Devil" when he walked into the room.

"Did you hear you're the Devil?" I called out?

Well, the joke has continued from there. We've had discussions with him about whether the creative department people should be known as 'minions' or 'dark angels'.

I came back (from getting my hair cut and colored) to my coworkers calling out as I passed,

"The Devil stopped by to talk to you."

"Beelzebub asked you to call him."

I gave him a call,

"VP here".

"It's OTRgirl. I heard I was wanted On Low".

"What? Are you calling me Low?" he tossed back.

"Well, as opposed to On High. Someone said Beelzebub called."

He laughed, "I was stopping by to tell you one of our clients was praising you. But, then, I guess if you made her happy, that would be a bad thing. You've failed in your mission, Minion!"

September 2, 2008

Food and other Guilty Pleasures

I've been reading this book for the last two weeks. Barbara Kingsolver and her family made a commitment to live for a year on food they grew, or could purchase from local sources. Part memoir, part sermon, part history, it's been eye-opening and challenging. They moved from Tucson back to his family's farm in Virginia in order to make it possible.

The biggest take-away for me has been renewed commitment to go to the Farmers Market and support organic, regional growers. Of course, living in California means I have year-round access. Which is due to living in an irrigated desert . . . I'm not sure which is worse, carbon footprint or overuse of water.

I've found a market in Redwood City, just north of us. RC is as close to a 'blue-collar' town as there is in the Bay Area. The Farmer's Market is similarly utilitarian--just what I need. I found fresh fennel and English peas, then searched online and found a recipe that called for both. The Tahini dressing is really good.

For the last couple years, I've left the food exploration to Jrex; he enjoys it and I like eating the results. Reading the book and going to the market has renewed the fun of finding something new. It's also renewed some of my desire to be a little more of an Earth Mother 'like my Mom'.

Mom was a farmer's daughter, and in the midst of living in the inner-city, she maintained a garden. You've all heard of community plots of course, but ours was in the cemetery! As the second largest cemetery in the country, Spring Grove had lots of, how should we say it? Undeveloped Land. I hated gardening as a kid: hours of boredom in the sun. We couldn't tell what was a weed and what was a plant, and she couldn't figure out a way to show us, so she'd send us off to play. Then, once harvested, I didn't like the results either. Mom was from the boil it school; being forced to finish a mound of dark green, slimy spinach was my worst nightmare. I didn't eat a Spinach Salad until high school, and didn't really start eating salad as a regular thing until getting married.

I don't aspire to impatience with children or veggie murder, but I would like to be the kind of woman who gardens, who bakes, who creates feasts for family and friends. It may not be how I'm wired long-term, but Jrex is enjoying my current trend toward the Farmers Market and cooking (though I don't think he enjoys how much I spend at the grocery store! I'm always buying the cool gadget that we don't really need...).

Next weekend? Citrus Honey Scones...