Thursday, February 27, 2014

So Not Breezy

Were you a "Friends" fan? I was, to the extent that even today, almost ten years since the show ended, things come up in daily life that remind me of an episode.

Today was one such day. I embarrassed the crap out of myself. Then I tried to make it better but only made it worse. I behaved like Monica, in "The One When No One's Ready." Remember?---"I'm breezy!"

Here, it's less than two minutes long. You should watch it.

In my case, there are no ex-boyfriends involved, thankfully. The story is that Bethanie missed her third-grade class photo today (one of four things I looked forward to her experiencing at public school) due to a doctor appointment and a lack of communication with her teacher. I was irrationally upset. I should have waited to calm down, but I didn't and I wrote a totally ridiculous email to her teacher requesting a make-up photo. Thank God I was nice - no anger leaked into the email, only craziness. The day went on and every time I thought about the email, I cringed. So I did what any totally stupid person would do -- I wrote ANOTHER email. I even referred to myself as "whacko" in that one. And as I tried to sort of apologize for the first email, I was thinking of Monica. I could've closed the apology with "I'm breezy!" But, as you know if you watched the video, "you can't SAY you're breezy... that totally negates the breezy."

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week (or trying to, anyway). To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everyone Seems to be Doing These List Posts...

...and I cave to peer pressure from time to time. But, to keep it unique, all my list items begin with the letter

What I've Been Doing Today:

Planning Meals

Pinteresting together a "Frozen" birthday party

Putting a LOT of effort into learning about social media and building a website

Pondering whether it's really called "building" a website - probably not


Praying for several friends and their various requests (medical, emotional, spiritual, marital)

Perusing a book about writing and the various ways to make money with it

Poetry! Composing 57 Haiku. Why 57? Because I set strange goals.

Putting off finishing the 771-page novel I've been reading - kinda don't want to be done with it

Pasteurizing milk

Prepping a talk on spending time with God for Rebel Christian Fellowship at UNLV

Plumping up - I've been overeating due to increased stress brought on by all this computer learning


Popping allergy meds like everyone else in Vegas right now

Parenting. With pleasure, pomp, and a whole ton of perplexity.

*Some of these are fictitious to make my life sound more glamorous
**The haiku one is totally true, though - I wish you'd ask me to read some of them to you
***Please don't leave this post without clicking on the Prancercise link and beholding it for yourself
****I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Birding and Small Business and other Latent Loves

I grew up with a dad who would kneel on the ground on a nature walk, beckon me to do the same, and tell me to stare at a certain square foot of earth "because you'll see interesting things if you study closely." Things? I didn't know what things - likely only bugs in that small of an area. Other times, on hikes or even walks in our neighborhood, he would point out flowers, leaves, birds, everything. I was taught to observe, notice, and appreciate.

As an adult, I still enjoy nature immensely. This is probably largely thanks to my dad's influence. I've been on hikes and wondered about the types of trees and plants around me, and the breeds of birds as well, but the wondering never went further until I met a real-live birder. She spends time looking for them and at them, and keeping track of what kinds of birds she has seen. She showed me her bird book and I was hooked. I bought the Peterson Field Guide for myself, got a pair of binoculars for my birthday, and love when I can spend time out searching for birds.

This might sound strange, but birds occupy a similar space in my mind that small business does. For years, I've been intrigued by unique stores and their owners and the spirit it takes to set up a shop or a service. This may have been enhanced by years I spent living in small towns, one of which worked earnestly to prevent large business from encroaching on its idyllic downtown area. Because of my conviction that small businesses are usually excellent places to support, I once convinced my husband to patronize a privately-owned bike shop rather than WalMart in our search for some cycling stuff for our kids. He found it to be a marvelous experience and he has since commented more than once that I was right (!) -- small businesses can often offer expertise and service that bigger places can not.

As with the friend who showed me the bird book, enhancing my interest in birding, the clincher for me with small business was moving to my current neighborhood. We no longer live in a small town, and the large avenue near my house has been called "soulless," (by the husband of my birding friend, by the way) but the small businesses dotting the thoroughfare add character. (Now if we could get some art to pervade the area, it would be even better. But that's another topic.) I've paid attention to a bunch of these businesses: cafes, home decor places, a toy shop, a karate studio, a theater company, a bakery, an indoor park for kids... the list goes on and on. With birding, I bought a book and binocs. With small business, I find myself craving more contact with owners and entrepreneurs -- I'm reading articles and books and looking into starting something of my own. I doubt it will have much to do with birding, sadly - because it would be cool to merge these once-latent loves. And I can't help but wonder what the rest of this decade holds for me in light of what I've uncovered so far in the way of new pursuits.

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Interview

I haven't had a job interview since the year 2000. Between then and now I've spent my time in a flurry of childbirth, out-of-state moves, raising children, homeschooling, church-ministry leading, every-semester-considering whether to go back to school for a Master's degree, and a thousand people asking "Will you ever go back to work?"

Asking whether I'll go back to work is a funny question for the likes of me. I'm not sure I ever worked in the first place. I was employed by a college ministry, which meant I got to organize events, write talks, hang out in college dorms, walk around campus with students conversing about life and God, stay up late and sleep in. I can't go back to that; no one lets me sleep in anymore.

But I get the gist of the question -- will I help finance my kids' college? And, more immediately, will I ever get to buy myself a pair of shoes without breaking the budget? My answer has always been no. I dream of college scholarships for the kids, and every now and then put a pair of boots or flip-flops on the credit card, but I've been unable to imagine filling out a job application or reporting to a boss. Frankly, when I've been in the violent convulsions of motherhood, with tears in my eyes and someone else's poop on my hands - and someone asks if I'll ever "go back" to work I want to shake them. Vigorously.

Somehow, some way, the violent convulsions of mothering young children have given way to sporadic spasms. Suddenly (seemingly overnight), things are easier. All four children pee without my involvement. They can fill their own plates in a buffet line at a friend's potluck. And best of all - by far - except in rare circumstances, they SLEEP. THROUGH. THE. NIGHT. So, veeeeerrrrry gradually, I've come to realize that my life has changed. With more time, more sleep, a new laptop for Christmas, and lots of encouragement and inspiration from my hubby and friends - I have been able to get back to one of the things I love to do but haven't had time for in years: writing.

I've been in love with writing since third grade, when Mrs. Navarro made us write stories with our spelling words and I was in heaven as I completed that assignment every week. Now my goal is to write every day. Problem is, I don't know where I'm going with it. People ask what my passion is: fiction? non-fiction? short stories? poetry? My answer is yes. All of it. But I haven't been able to really produce more than irregular blog posts and a helluva lot of Facebook posts.

This leads me to tell you about the cute little business around the corner from my house. I love it. I love every product on its shelves. I like the owners. And I've noticed they have a Facebook page but don't really utilize it. So, after mustering my courage and practicing my pitch for a short five months or so - I walked in and asked if they might be interested in letting me do publicity work on various social networking sites for them- for free! (there goes my new shoe budget, and the college fund) - because I love to write, love their business, and need experience. (Maybe we should call it an internship so I'll feel better about working pro bono.) I handed one of the owners my "resume", which really only consists of my name, phone number, and references, but lacks the vital "job experience" portion. And I presented a list of my ideas to promote their store online. He went for it! And then he asked if I would come back for an interview to talk to him and his wife at the same time and discuss a plan.

I was elated. In my tendency to, shall we say, "overstate" things, it took a lot of willpower not to shout to the world that I had just become a real writer! with a job! promoting small business and saving the world!

My prep for the interview was mainly research. I pored over numerous articles about marketing and about the myriad of social networking sites and what they are good for and not good for. I contacted two friends who own their own businesses and asked a bunch of questions. And then I spent time composing some "sample" Facebook posts with photos I took on a quick trip back to the store.

When the interview date and time rolled around, I put on my professional, but not business-suit-professional clothes and zipped in my minivan over to the store. I was excited, for sure. I had to have a little reality check talk with myself: "Teri. Remember this isn't a corporate job. You're new. You've got something, but really only have a teeny idea what you're doing. Take it easy."

Things didn't go as marvelously as I pictured. Initially, they asked me to take on a role completely different from what I had suggested. It took a few minutes of explanation, with my heart in my gut, to convey what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do. And when I handed them my "sample" posts with photos, they glanced at one of the three, smiled and handed them back. By the end of the 40-minute meeting, I had the "job." They were interested in all I proposed. And it was ideal for my abilities and time allowance. But, strangely, I walked out of the store with a huge weight on my heart and melancholy around me like a gray block wall.

I can't tell you now, even days later, why I was upset. I fully appreciated that I had just been given authority to take over "marketing" for a business I love, by people I like, with no expectations because anything I come up with is an improvement over what they are doing, which is nothing. But when I had the chance at the end of the day to process the experience with my husband, the main problem became clear. I had put effort into those darn sample posts - my first "professional" creative writing - and my client didn't really care. My husband is an engineering consultant and he told me how much time and effort goes into proposals they write. But the client only wants the bottom line. Yet they still have to write the proposal. Same with me - I couldn't have gone in empty-handed - I had to know I had something and even that silly effort of handing them the papers and having them handed back was a necessary part of the interview. My writer-self couldn't help but think of William Faulkner's quote, "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." In this case, my darlings were those samples, not edited out in this case - just ignored.

And so my story ends. And begins. I had an interview. I got the job. I'm as thrilled as I can be. We will see how this work fits with the work I'm already doing - mothering, being married, occasionally vacuuming. I must admit I'm a little starry-eyed. The opportunity presented itself so gradually and gently it all seems too good to be true. I am aware that I have a tremendous amount to learn. Additionally, I have the prospect of starting my own business to consider. I don't know what the future holds, but one thing is now behind me: that first interview.

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Friday

A rainy night should be the perfect time to get out of the house, away from my normal nighttime mothering and housekeeping responsibilities, and over to a coffee shop. I made sure I had my cash and my laptop and hit the road. When I pulled up at the 24-hour Starbucks, I parked and turned off the engine and just sat there. The rain collected on my windshield and cars drove by in a steady stream. It was peaceful in my car, and lonely, but a good kind of lonely. I am equal parts introvert and extravert but tonight I was dominated by the one who is not at all thrilled by the prospect of walking into a super-crowded coffee shop full of chatty people. I sat in my mini van for a full 45 minutes trying not to stare at the couple embracing in the rain; trying to muster the wherewithal to march in and order a coffee; trying not to feel a little creepy and foolish for sitting there doing all that trying. Finally, I picked up my purse and headed in. I ordered my venti-sized decaf latte and found a perfect spot in the corner where last week I noticed a guy lean back and go to sleep. I worked on a few of my writing projects tuned out the odd conversation at the next table. Just before ten p.m., I looked up and noticed a man staring at me. I recognized him. He was the guy who'd had my spot exactly a week ago and made use of it as a napping place. That was it. Time to leave. I should have paused by the door to see if he took over my seat, but I didn't. I was looking forward to home, pajamas, and sitting in my house in total post-kids'-bedtime-quiet - a rare happening. Besides, I know he made his way to that corner spot. In a bustling shop, it was the place to be.
Today my daughter emphatically stated that part of her lunch tasted like fingernail polish remover. We had a guest, who was being served the same dish so I gently chastized my daughter for being rude - she knows it's bad manners to criticize food while it's being eaten. She tried to make it better: "Well, it doesn't taste like BAD nail polish remover."
I'm trying to read a pretty heady philosophy book right now. To my dismay, two other books I've been looking forward to reading just arrived at my front door from Amazon. They're oddly similar to a temptation - except that reading one book over another isn't a sin. Still, somehow I feel like it would be cheating on the difficult book to pick up one of the others.
With news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death this past Sunday, I've been on an addiction-article-reading binge. Based on my own struggles, and those of my family members and friends, plus the insights of these articles, I can state that I don't believe addiction is selfish; I do think many of us are often only a breath away from stepping over an invisible line toward harmful behavior; and there are some darn good writers out there who are also addicts.
As the Olympics opened tonight, I am heartily missing our cable. It's time to figure out how to work it back into the budget, but this is something we should have thought of in time for tonight. Now I have to invite myself over to friends' houses.
This is my picture of the week, and my product recommend. If you're gonna buy a hammock, go with ENO. Good quality, good selection. And if you aren't going to buy a hammock, why not? Aren't we always saying we need more relaxation in our lives? My hubby and ten year-old daughter are pictured above.
Today is 2-7-14. It's a math problem! Two times seven equals fourteen. I don't know what this means but it won't happen again until July 2nd, so be sure to take note.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Careful, Careful Analysis of This Year's Superbowl Teams in Order to Choose a Side

I'm making deviled eggs and baking brownies and buying beer for today's game, but I don't know who I'm cheering for. And people keep asking. Well, my son keeps asking. I know far more Broncos fans than Seahawks fans, and I'm all about people-pleasing, so it's likely I'll cheer for the Broncos. On the other hand, all my spare change goes into psychotherapy to get over the people-pleasing so maybe I ought to think this through a little more carefully.

Let's see... today's game is already a little special in that it falls on my favorite holiday. Problematically, Groundhog Day is underrated and the Superbowl is sometimes... (ahem)... the opposite of that, so I find my opinions feeling a little underdogish right from the get-go. And that brings me to my first analysis:

I always like an underdog. During playground fights between strapping youth and teeny nerdy ones, I'm cheering for the teeny guy. If a small business vies for success just blocks away from WalMart - I am going to bust my butt to buy stuff at the small business and tell perfect strangers on the street that they should shop at the small business (this totally happened the other day and the lady swore to me she'd go - I have to believe her -- surely she wasn't just trying to get rid of me.) In today's case, I hear that the Seahawks are the underdog. So one thought-through "Teri point" for the Seahawks. SeaHAWKS... underDOG - all this talk about animals brings me to my next analysis:

I have a dog, and I adore her - you could say she's the Labrador of my life. However, while dogs are like my cozy cottage - birds are my exotic vacation home. I'm a birder. If left to my own devices, I would sell my home, farm out my family, and head out on a Big Year (presumably with stolen money, so let's hope I'm never left to my own devices). I have binocs and a bird book where I'm checking off every species I spot. And speaking of the bird book, it makes no mention of a Seahawk. To be fair, my book is the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America and for all I know, Seattle chose a bird of Eastern North America for their mascot. Or a bird of A Completely Different Continent. And I don't have time to go to Barnes & Noble to check out all those Peterson books today - there is way too much going on. Just the same, a hawk of any kind is a bird, which makes the Seahawks cool in my book... I mean, my figurative book - we've already established they don't exist in my actual book. Another point for the Seahawks.

Let's look at history. Not NFL history. MY history. Way back in junior high, I was a Raiders fan. This has no bearing on today's game - but they did get me some fast cash against my step-dad in more than one game and my high school boyfriend bought me a totally rad Howie Long #75 jersey in 1988. As far as the Broncos and the Seahawks, though - the only NFL game I've ever attended was a Broncos-Chargers game long, long ago in San Diego. The game didn't hold personal meaning for me, but I attended with some SERIOUS Broncos fans and was even persuaded to apply blue and orange lipstick as a show of loyalty to the people who were my ride back to Vegas. Despite the bad memories of men with too much beer in their bloodstreams asking me for kisses with that lipstick - I have to give a point to the Broncos nostalgically.
Teri & Sandee at a Broncos game, early 90s (that is NOT my hairy leg in the background)
On the other hand, I have a profound love for Seattle. If I fantasize about a place to live out my later years - it's Seattle. One of the happiest moments of my life was sitting in Ivar's eating seafood and looking out across Puget Sound. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to be left alone to gaze across the water and continue to eat bowlfuls of clam chowder. I also like Pike's Place, all of downtown, "Sleepless in Seattle," Pearl Jam, Starbucks, my brother and his family who used to live there, nearby Snoqualmie Falls, the rain, the trees, the berries found RIGHT ON THE BUSHES all over the place, even the memory of my young daughter falling in the water feature at the Seattle Children's Museum and having to wear a "Who's Your Daddy" t-shirt for the rest of our visit while her clothes were in the museum dryer. Point for Seattle, even if their mascot is a fake bird.*
Cayna, age 1, at Seattle Children's Museum
Let's round this up. I like the Seahawks' colors better than the Broncos'. One point.
I like Denver almost as much as Seattle, half a point.
That Seahawks guy made an ass-fool of himself on national TV, point for the Broncos.
I'm sure some of the Broncos guys can be jerks at times, point for the Seahawks.
Kevin has a Broncos jersey in the closet that I bought for him at Savers - I could go to the party looking like a real fan, point for the Broncos.

Final score: Broncos - 3.5; Seahawks - 5

I will focus on my sculpture and let you know how it turns out.

*Further research reveals the Seahawk is an augur hawk. Maybe Seattle Augurhawks just didn't sound right?