October 29, 2009

A little bit of this and that

I woke up this morning and just stared at my clothes shelves for a long, long time. If I could barely figure out what to wear, is it any wonder I've been having trouble figuring out what to blog about?

Nothing dramatic is or isn't happening. I'm in the catch-all status at work, and I find if I don't know what I'm doing, I'm listless and unmotivated. It's easier to troll around the internet than to do the two or three small tasks I'm supposed to do at work. Heck, I don't even fill the time with valuable trolling: learn new effects in Illustrator or Photoshop! Design a cool holiday shirt to give to friends and family! Plan trips with friends in January and February (trips are in the works, I should figure out details)!

Nah. Click. Click. Eat because I'm bored. Click. Click.

Jrex is finishing up his experiments to try to pull together data so he can finish his paper and resubmit. Means he's often busy until fairly late at night. So I chat with friends or watch movies or read.

Just finished the third in a fun set called The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier. A bit fantasy, a bit history and a lot of wonderful characters. She reveres the Druidic traditions of 6th century Scotland while also respecting the Christian 'new faith' that was just beginning to come into the British Isles.

My father listed our house! No solid offers yet, but 15-20 people came through for the open house. I suspect it was listed a little high, but we'll see what comes of it.

The man shown in this mural came by to check out the house. I used to babysit for his kids. His wife is a wonderful, gentle spirit. He's a nice guy (at least to babysitters), but in neighborhood politics, he was on the side of the gentrifiers and my parents and their friends were on the side of the co-existers. As in, kick out the low-income neighbors and bring in the yuppies, or let's figure out a way to all be in community together. At my mother's funeral, he stood outside the church smiling and greeting people as they came in: he was running for City Council at the time.

I told Dad that if that guy buys our house, Mom won't let him into heaven until she's beat him up first! He laughed.

October 26, 2009

Where I'll be finding my Christmas Presents this year

I've talked about this one before, but the video below is a really well-done reminder about fair trade and how it impacts the world.

If you want to shop, visit http://tradeasone.com/

October 21, 2009

Parallel yet divergent lives

We watched The Motorcycle Diaries on Monday night. It's a year in the life of Ernesto Guevero, later to be known as Che Guevero, and his best friend Alberto. In that year, Guevero encounters poverty, politics, indigenous people, and lepers while becomes more and more disturbed by class and civic divides.

The whole time we were watching it, I was struck by the parallels to Brother Sun, Sister Moon which tells of the early life of Francesco of Assisi, later known as St. Francis.

I think Motorcycle Diaries is a better crafted movie, but I was struck by how these two (good-looking, according to the movies) well-off young men both dealt with similar issues.

One of the logical responses to the suffering in the world is to decide that a loving God would never permit such things, therefore such a God doesn't exist. Che Guevera chose that solution. Francesco believed that God chooses to work through the humble and the weak and he began to see God in the lepers and beggars. He chose to cast off (literally) his worldly position and to place himself with the 'lowly'. In doing so he found grace.

One man couldn't believe in a revolution without guns, the other trusted the longer term, riskier idea that love WILL transform, even the powerful.

I think by instinct and pragmatism, I'm more like Che than Francesco. I want to be DOING whatever needs to happen. I chafe every time the Lord brings me back to the basics of loving him and asking who He wants to love that day through me. It seems too small, too simple. It was disturbing to think about how fragile my faith felt as I watched through Guevera's eyes. I have trouble seeing beyond what's in front of me. I don't like the insulated life we're living here in the 'burbs. It makes it too 'easy' to have faith. I prefer the robust earthiness of a faith that deals with the crap of life and can still find something eternal peeking through. Like grass slowly shifting concrete, Life persists.

It would be cool to show the movies as a double feature and have a discussion afterwards.

October 19, 2009

THIS is why I haven't done Christmas letters since moving to California

In Cincinnati, the leaves were turning. My last two days, we had the heat on in the house and wore coats and scarves outside.

When the weather starts to shift, my thoughts turn inward. I begin to reflect, to want to stay indoors more than be outside. The colder it gets, the more profound that hibernation becomes. It makes it very natural in the dark of winter, to light the warm thoughts about the past year and to send that out to those I love.

(This photo is purely for Hilary...)

When I got back here, the next day was sunny. I wore a tank top with a light shirt over it and a pair of long shorts. It's a very strange thing to 'complain' about, but I miss the seasonal slowing down. Granted, I don't want the upstate NY amount of hibernation. Baltimore and Cincinnati both had the perfect balance: three months of every season.

October 14, 2009

I think I started an avalance

In addition to the high school reunion, I came home with the intention of helping to clear out our family home so that Dad would have the option of selling it sometime this year.

I scheduled Salvation Army to come and do a pickup. I called "College Hunks Hauling Junk" and they'll be here tomorrow. (I gotta admit, it's more fun when you're making a pile of musty old blankets and papers and you get to say, "This is for the hunks." And it's especially wonderful when your father says it!)

We've torn our way through the top floor, most of the kitchen, Dad's bedroom. I've started going through the kids books in the living room. I found our stash of Pogo books, our 1950's Barbies (very bad haircuts on those babes!). OTRsis instructed me to take photos of her stuffed animals and then go ahead and give them away. We've avoided the Basement of Doom, but must face it today.

One of my classmates is a developer here in the neighborhood. He and his wife have been looking for a single-family house on our street. Apparently, O street is THE street to live on in our neighborhood. The little trees that were planted when we were kids have grown into a flowering mass that makes our little block feel like an oasis in the city. They came through on Sunday to look around. Definitely interested, not in a rush.

I wasn't either. I thought maybe Dad might sell next year. The realtor came yesterday. She confirmed what I've been telling Dad: don't worry about fixing it up, just clear it out and clean it and it will sell well. Sure it's beat up, but whoever moves in here will already love old houses and will want to fix it up according to their tastes anyway.

Dad and the realtor chatted away. Then she pulled out a listing agreement, and he signed it! The house goes on the market a week from Sunday!!!

That's crazy talk. The house next door sold in 23 days. This one isn't as perfected as that one was, but it's a charming, quirky little house and should go quickly. It's actually freaking me out a little. One of my own charming, quirky characteristics is being comfortable thinking about any theory, but then being surprised by my emotions when theory becomes reality.

I'm not entirely clear what Dad's plans are at this point. The one he's talked about most is buying an empty loft and paying to have a condo built into it. It looks like he might make a fair amount of money on this house, so that's actally very realistic. The realtor thinks they can do well buying an empty space since no one is buying right now. She's on the hunt for a building with an elevator and a 1500 square foot space.

In the meantime, I've been plugging Seattle. Not because I don't want Dad to remain here where he's a bit of a celebrity (aka Character), but because I've learned the hard way that it's better to plan for the worst. Unfortunately, if something bad happens, nothing compares to family.

October 12, 2009

Home Again

I'm working from home this week. Literally. In Cincinnati. I'm in my Dad's bedroom, taking over his desk until Thursday.

I came home for my 20th high school reunion and to help Dad clean and organize the house. I'm currently downloading some updates and drivers, so trying to do a quick post while I wait (i.e., this will be scattered and likely full of typos)

Impressions from the reunion:
"OTRgirl, you look just the same! You haven't aged a day. You're still as funky as ever."

(Due to some fun family drama, I'd spent the morning running around to the pharmacy. I didn't have time to clean up before the school tour, so I ran out with leggings, boots, miniskirt, cute jacket and my little wool cap.)

My Sadie Hawkins date (who has now been with his partner for the past 10 years) was there. A couple of his comments: "You didn't bring your husband either? I can say this to you then, I told my partner not to come. Honestly? There are so many of us here who want to catch up, who wants to waste time talking to someone's spouse?!" I'd been sad that Jrex wouldn't be able to make it, but it probably was for the best.

A note about our Sadie Hawkins date. He was from the 2nd wealthiest suburb in Cincinnati. Grew up going to cotillions. One of the popular kids, tall, thin, dark and handsome. From 7th-9th grades, I'd been completely embarrassed about living in the ghetto. I'd always said I lived downtown, near the library. It was sort-of true: I could walk to the library in 15 minutes. By 10th grade I mostly stopped caring what other people thought about me, but I had residual fears of being judged. DS picked me up at our house and we went down to Mulane's for dinner. Since I'd asked him, it didn't feel like I could ask him to pay for dinner, but I couldn't afford to pay much. We went dutch. Mulane's had great food, but it was in the bottom of a downtown office building. Nothing fancy.

At the reunion, DS was talking to me and one of the other kids from the art room. He said, "Oh my God. I think I might have told you this on FB, OTRgirl, but in high school, I thought the two of you were so sophisticated. I just thought you were just beyond high school. For Sadie Hawkins, I picked OTRgirl up at this cool townhouse and we ate ate a really sophisticated restaurant. It was so much fun." I rolled my eyes and said it certainly wasn't how I felt at the time!

Overall, it was like our 10th renunion. A reminder that we went to a great school and that I actually likes a lot more people than I remembered. In a city that is often segregated by class and race, our high school drew kids from all walks of life. Just from being forced to deal with so many different people, we received great training. Our classmates are scattered all over the country and the world. My Dad told me that when he joined the Cincinnatus Society, they did introductions. People weren't impressed by his Dartmouth/Harvard Law credentials as much as they were by the people who'd graduated from my high school.

October 5, 2009

Out of the Kettle, into the Fire

So . . . my work load this week. As of this morning, it was all manageable. A Conference Guide (a few updates) and a User Guide (tweak the layout a little and then hyperlink the entire document to create an interactive PDF. Which means, click the content on the Table of Contents and you'll jump to that page in the document. Fun, huh?)

Then, today, it all changed. One of our internal account leads is working on a small show. I've earned her respect since she was the lead on the last big conference where I was design lead. She's slow to trust and very demanding. Her client used to work for that big conference's mother company. She's also very demanding and very slow to trust. It didn't make sense to throw them a new designer. Which means we're bringing in someone to do my hyperlinking and I'm jumping into this one.

Deliverables by Friday?
-Program Guide
-Pocket Schedule
-Badge layouts, six variations
-Table Cards
-Powerpoint Holding Slide

I have a few elements that were already designed, but I have to layout all of those, get approval and layout production files. By Thursday night. I fly out Friday morning for Cincinnati.

(Going to my high school reunion as well as going through all Healthcare Proxy, Living Will, Executor documents with my Dad. Help organize the house so he could be ready to sell it. Ironically, all of that was on the agenda BEFORE my father-in-law's accident. As you can imagine, it's even more imperative now.)

If you don't see any updates this week, I'll leave you to guess why...