31 December 2012

Resolution Time


‘Tis the season for publically listing goals and aspirations. “Tis the season for telling anyone who chooses to listen what we will and will not do for the next 365 days. It’s resolution time.

Resolutions are fanciful. The idea of them carries us from the start of the adult debauchery season (Halloween) through such a time as when we’re ready to admit we’ve had enough (Christmas). Resolutions (in my opinion) represent the best of us. They say “here’s something of which I am not proud. I recognize this behavior is not indicative of the person I want to be and I hereby announce my decision to be better.” Resolutions represent honest and unprovoked self-reflection. No one can force you to make resolutions. That, to me, is their beauty. It’s not that often people admit their faults and commit to addressing them. Long live resolutions!

Now – on the eve of 2013 – it’s my turn. It’s time for me to name those attributes I typically ignore. Beyond naming them, I have to face them. This is probably the most significant resolution-ing of my life. Last year I totally avoided the process. I dedicated 2012 to making 30 über fabulous.  I celebrated three decades of doing what I was supposed to do by doing everything I wanted to do. I relished in the fact that I answered to no one. I exercised my independence in a way that I was previously incapable of doing. Trust me when I say 2012 was a success from start to near finish. (We still have some hours to go yet.) Along the way, there were some issues I noticed and that I batted away. I was focused on fun in 2012 and I did not let anything get in the way of that. But I’m still me. So I also took some notes. 2013 cannot be the same party that 2012 was. Been there. Done that. Moving on. I have goals larger than myself. It’s daunting. But it’s time I get cracking.

I have to be better.

I have to a better sister, by listening to Derek. Though I typically disagree with his decisions, he really does mean well. He needs to be able to come to me for advice after both of our parents lecture him. I tried (in 2012) to not to be involved. That backfired when (a few weeks before Christmas) my family dumped a load of “what’s really been happening) onto my psyche. I couldn’t sleep for a week. I’m pleased to report things are looking up for all parties these days, though there is a need to steady vigilance.

I have to be a better daughter, by recognizing my parents are getting older. They need their own watching. My dad is that guy who doesn’t like to book his own flights. Though he’s really into his tablet and everything that uses the Android OS, so he’s not giving up. My mom takes on too much and needs help simplifying. Much of my life is automated for convenience. But I don’t have a seven year old. There’s no reason I can’t take the time to share simplicity lessons with my mom.

I have to be a better granddaughter, by visiting and calling my only grandma more often. I could give you some great excuses, but they would still be excuses.

I have to be a better Danie, by looking beyond the short term. I have to go the gym, not buy larger clothes. I have to network on my own, not wait for invites. I have to decide what path I want to take, not decide just from the options that present themselves. I have to talk to men, not feign indifference or wait for them to talk to me. I have to grow up in 2013. I have to take the steps that will bring me to the Danie I see in the future.

Dear 2012: you were amazing. You were everything I wanted you to be and even more. You were full of debauchery and vices. You gave me everything I needed and nothing I didn’t. You were stellar and I will forever cherish our time together as among the best in my life. However, you’re no longer what I need. We can’t recreate what was. Even if we could, I wouldn’t. You’ve prepared me to take the next steps without you. Now I’m excited. And I thank you for that. 

27 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (iv)

8 December 2012


The time had arrived. It was shower day. We got up (what I would consider to be) pretty early to complete the rest of our set up. We made sandwiches - until we realized we needed more bread. We hung decorations, cleared tables and put things where they needed to be. We hid our sleeping cave, went back to Wegmans and started playing the "baby" playlist. We operated like a well0-oiled, baby-showering machine. Finally, at the height of our preparedness, Tab put a sash on Abby. I don't know what came over me (though I suspect Abby sprayed hormones from her armpits), but I started crying. Tab started crying. Abby started crying. We laughed about our crying, but we still cried. I mean it was really exciting and the whole thing is truly daunting, so it was probably a combination of that. Still, if you know pregnant ladies, have them keep their arms down just in case. 


Veggie sandwiches shaped like flowers.
Egg salad sandwiches were shaped like eggs.
Chicken salad sandwiches were shaped like chickens.

Carrot cake.

The spread.

Pacifiers.
Plates.

Prizes.

Our theme (if you couldn't tell) was "Abby's About to Hatch."
It gave us unlimited pun-ability.
Mingling.

Messages to the little lady.

The gifting process, paraphrased.

The cake pops a) behaved & b) were a hit.

Love birds.
The shower was a success. Our little baby received darling gifts. Our little Abby felt very special. We had way too much food, but we did a decent job of forcing them onto the guests. We decided to leave the real clean up for another time, and we as a five-some went to visit a couple of college friends and their 3 year old. It was precious, bordering on overwhelming. Next stop, margaritas.

I have to say our time having margaritas (with no work left to do) was my least favorite. First of all, my stomach was unhappy with the amount of cake batter / cupcakes / chips / salsa / carrot cake / wine consumed. By the time I tried to ingest a simple chicken breast, my stomach was not having it. I was forced(!) to focus my efforts on the margarita.

Aside from my poor life choices coming to haunt me, we were out. It was a little loud and ruined our happy family dynamic. Abby's order was butchered. Most importantly, it was the beginning of the end. We were all about to go our separate ways, again. There's never enough time with all of us living so far apart. I mean Tab & I live the closest to each other and we rarely get together on our coast. I can't remember the last time I saw Abby's parents, though Tab & I promised our paths would cross more often once the baby was born. We meant it too. We started syncing our 2013 calendars as best we could with the (large) number of variables in play. It's going to take a lot of coordinating. But I know us. We'll get it done.



19 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (iii)


7 December 2012

"Danie! It's 11AM!" - Tab 
"What?! Is that east coast time?" - me

Tab & I apparently had a very restful evening. Once we got back from the airport, we all got ready for bed. We caught up - mostly just by looking at each other and giggling. Abby asked us to be in her wedding. We squealed. Tab took some heavy duty meds and we crashed for nearly 11 hours. We awoke in a cozy cave, where (based on nothing at all) I assumed it was maybe 9AM. Abby & her mom were already out getting Abby's hair cut... because it was 11:00AM in reality. Tab & I got ready in time for their return. We synchronized our to do lists and embarked on the one thing that was at the top of all our lists. We went to Wegmans.

"Wake up."
I can't describe Wegmans if you haven't been. And if you've been, you don't need to be reminded. We browsed and we ate. Then we dawdled. In reality, that was probably the best part. I watched Abby march pregnantly up and down the aisles looking for water - but not Wegmans water, because that tastes funny.  Every now and then Tab & I would look at each other and try to wrap our brains around what was really happening. Our dynamic was changing. Okay. Maybe that's not what Tab was thinking - though I suspect it was.

The advice starts early. 
A little Abby is coming. She'll be the first of us, the eldest of the psuedo-cousin band that we'll produce. We're always going to worry about her and tell her to do well in school. We're not going to let her talk to boys (or girls, if that's what she's into) or spend too much time on the Internet. We're going to be Aunt Tab & Auntie Danie. Yes, I already have a nephew and a niece. I don't know why this feels different, but it does. It feels more serious. It may be because I talk to Ab & Tab more than I talk to my brother. I don't know. The point is, seeing Abby and being with her & Tab in Wegmans made it significantly more real.

We shopped. We hit Michael's. We went to campus and (I) bought a lot of IC paraphernalia. We got home and started assembling and decorating.
My friends are adorably short.

One bucket of margaritas, down.
Poofs for the hanging.

Mr. Abby's Dad made dinner, while Mrs. Abby's Mom rearranged the shower area for maximum entertainment.  We took a break to eat, them kicked it into high gear with the cake pops.

Remember a few posts ago, when I said I would go speed dating again? Keep that in mind when I say this; I will never make cake pops again. It's just... It's not natural. First we found out we didn't have all the ingredients. We couldn't use just cake mix. We had to add pudding mix. Then we realized one box of cake mix (+ one box of pudding mix) makes way too much batter for a cake pop serving pan. We removed some, but it was apparently not enough.

I was really trying...
The instructions said to start from the middle.
"They're too full."
"It would be funny if we looked in the oven and they were exploding out of the top..."
But I was wrong. It was not funny. It was very, very not funny. I mean yes, we laughed and ate the excess... the first time. But we were out to make approximately 72 cake pops. No, I don't know why we planned on more than 70 cake pops for 15 people, but we did. And at the rate we were operating, we were never ever going to get to bed. We were never going to get to painting eggs or making sandwiches or any of the other stuff we had to do. The cake pop situation grew grave, causing some serious delirium. Margaritas didn't help. Lionel Richie didn't help. Abby laying sideways saying "I want to help" didn't help. We just had to tough it out - while also throwing away one batch of batter and turning the very last batch into mini cupcakes.

17 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (ii)

6 December 2012

Our chariot.
We Arrived. The flight was extremely uneventful, other than making clear that I don't know how to use a neck pillow. I mostly slept until the wheels hit the ground. It's my favorite travel jolt. Tab & I looked at each other & said "we're here!" It was indeed quite exciting. 

It was great to be back, and to see how Ithaca is booming. I don't remember the last time I was there, but I think it was the year after I graduated. There may have been one other visit, but it's been at least eight years. 

Ithaca was just as gray as I remembered, and probably just as cold, thought it could technically have been warmer. It was 33 degrees and I was wearing leggings. So I should have been cold. We were also exhausted, and probably on the brink of tears. And Tab was getting sicker and sicker. 

Abby's house was the same, only painted and extra pretty.  We got to work combining our party planning lists, making an itinerary and rearranging furniture. Mr. & Mrs. Abby's Parents made dinner. I let my bag explode and took a too long shower. We couldn't go to sleep; we still had to get Abby. So we ate, caught up, and decompressed. Once we had our wits about us, Tab & I started to see the beauty of  retirement.

"What are you guys going to drink with dinner? Vodka? Rum? Margaritas?" - Mrs. Abby's Mom

I suppose that could seem normal. But to us - exhausted and travel weary - it seemed like the start of a spring break like rager. We probably would have been okay with water, but we settled on wine. Well most of us had wine. Abby's dad had a margarita, you know, from the margarita bucket in the freezer.  Duh.

Having wasted most of our shower shopping day in Newark Liberty International Airport, we did have errands to run at 9 that night. We took our list to Target, and got everything we couldn't get at Michael's. That still left us with two hours before it was time to get Abby.

We went to McDonald's.

Yes, we'd already had dinner. No, there is no good that can come from killing time under the golden arches. We started out with hot chocolate. We also had fries. And nuggets. And some sort of holiday pie resembling cake batter inside an airy pop tart. After sitting, drinking, snacking and judging the other guests, we still had an hour or so to go. The day would just not end.

The gates were down until the minute before people
arrived from the tarmac.
We moved our waiting party to the airport, where the only thing left to do was think of ways to mess with Abby. I may have been alone in that, but it passed the time. She had been pinging us all day, wanting to know what was happening. Even though she was the reason for the season, she was the only one in our quintet who had to spend the day alone. She wanted to feel as though she was part of the action. I understood that. I then used that understanding to tell her we were going to be 20 minutes late to pick her up from the airport. Sure, I was the mean one, but Tab hid behind the tree right alongside me. And Mrs. Abby's mom was off behind a tree and on a bench. Co-conspirators for life. It doesn't help that Abby is so gullible.

So there we were, hiding behind a giant Christmas tree, watching like creepers. The goal was to get the picture of Abby first seeing us. We spotted her and of course she went in the wrong direction. It made sense, she's a) pregnant and b) expecting a 20 minute wait. Of course she had to pee.

So there we were, giggling with the camera ready just outside the entrance to the ladies' room. We were so giddy, it took us a minute to realize Abby might not be the only person in the rest room. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to risk missing the shot. I also didn't want to catch some stranger off guard by snapping a picture of her as she walked out of the restroom. I was starting to drop the camera when Abby appeared!

So there we were, reunited and complete in our unique three-party way. It's difficult to explain, but I wager it's fun to watch. We three are so different and so alike. If left alone, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. It's wonderfully comforting to feel a part of something that has so much potential.

It was finally time to shower this baby.


13 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby

I live my life for myself. There's really no other way to say it. I do the things that I think are best for me. Every now and then, something comes along and inspires me to think beyond the Danie. There are happenings that humble and scare me - because failure is unthinkable. Well folks, one such happening is upon us.

Abby is having a baby. As Abby is so much a part of me (and Tab of course) this can only mean one thing.

We. Are having. A baby.

This did not just happen. I've known about it for months. Abby called when it was confirmed. After that, her mom asked Tab & I to help plan the shower. We coordinated via e mail & text message for months, coming up with the theme, menu, guest list and games.

I'm trying to tell you the baby and the shower were all quite real before now. Somehow it just became extra real.

6 December 2012

West coast represent.
Tab lives in LA. I live in SF. We somehow meet mostly on the east coast. Abby's baby shower was to be no exception. We planned our trip perfectly (as only we could do), each taking a red-eye flight to Newark. We then booked the first flight out to Ithaca. We both arrived on time, in full California style, wearing boots, leggings & comfortable shirts. We laughed.

We charged our phones and giggled for about a half hour before heading to our gate. "Alright," Tab said, "Let's shower the s**t out of this baby." But we never made it.

I mean, we made it to the gate - it was right at the bottom of the escalator. But there was no boarding. In fact, there was no plane. There was only a counter, a flurry of business travelers, and a sign.  It read "Ithaca Cancel." Being a college graduate, I looked at Tab and asked "what do you think that means?"

Would you believe our flight was canceled? I couldn't. I didn't. Tab received a cancelation and rebooking e mail from United. I did not. To me, it was obvious. Tab was going to be left in Newark while I caught the 8:30AM flight to Ithaca. I would like to report I was sad, but instead I just said "I'm getting on this flight,"  and I marched to the counter. Unfortunately, the displaced business travelers were taking up all available space and agents. So I went to Plan B. I marched up to a gate that was wide open. I mean sure, the sign said the flight was going to Syracuse, but there were agents there and the timing was about right. It couldn't hurt to ask.

"Is this flight going to Ithaca?" - Me
"No. Do you want to go to Syracuse?" - Her

Sure. I seem unreasonable. But a check in with Tab offered "let's just rent a car" and "or we could fly to Syracuse and ask her parents to get us there."

In summation, we were stuck. We were rebooked (I eventually got the e mail) and seated together as originally planned. From there, we had seven hours to kill at Newark Liberty International.

Step 1: Find an outlet
Tab is a planner. I am also a planner, but in a different way. Tab plans events. I plan contingencies. A large part of producing is having back up plans. Over time, that became second nature. Once the plan was derailed, I jumped into survival mode. That survival depended on electricity.

While many airports have accepted the reality that access to outlets is more important than access to pay phones, that memo has yet to reach EWR. Outlets were in random places, or set up so that users couldn't sit at them. Part of me felt it was deliberate. Whatever. We found a spot. I plugged in my MacMan, used it to charge Tab's phone, and turned on my mobile hot spot. Our mobile office was in business.

Step 2: Notifications 
I sent my parents this picture, alerting them our flight was canceled, and that we had set up a little office for working. I have a feeling  they read something entirely different.

My mom replied asking me about hotels and compensation. She expressed outrage and advised me to tweet. My dad called with "what do you mean canceled?" Also "did you find something to eat," and (to his credit) "did you find an outlet?"

We never heard back from Abby's mom, and we didn't even think that was odd until her dad called me from the airport where we should have been. He was sent while she was getting her hair done. Tab and I never thought to notify them individually.  Either way, Abby's dad is a dad and he was also concerned, saying "you guys are going to be really hungry when you get here." We assured him we would be alright and rebooked pick up for later that afternoon.

The fatherly concern for our tummies was endearing. I got the impression my dad was going to call the principal and demand to know why I was left unattended. Adorable. Tab & I laughed.

We sat until we couldn't sit anymore. We just needed to be somewhere else. We needed a Starbucks. We packed up and ventured out, walking every finger of the C Terminal until we found familiar territory. We then ordered lattes and set up shop again.


OH! I should mention Tab was sick, sneezing and being otherwise wet and germ-ridden all over the place. Note the Puffs near her iced chai.


Hours passed.

We did get hungry, and decided to feed ourselves - but slowly - we still had 90 minutes before boarding. We ate. I took part in a conference call. We were allowed to board. I left my bag unattended at the mention of gate checking it, embarrassing Tab and prompting her to kick it. We laughed.

Descending into madness.
We boarded. We sat. We sighed. Tab sneezed, possibly on me. She then touched my face. We began descending into madness. We laughed.

And we were on our way.   

11 December 2012

Speed Dating. For Real.

Once again, I come to you to report the unbelievable.

I went speed dating.

For real. It happened.
And now I'm going to tell you about it.

Naturally the following tale has to be told with a bevy of qualifiers.

  1. The speed dating was not my idea. Anne The Reporter found a coupon through Living Social and suggested it to a large group of ladies. Of that group, one person replied, then flaked. I replied as well, entirely out of support. If you figure it takes two women to go to the restroom, it must take a small army to go through rounds of speed dating.
  2. I was not excited for said speed dating. I dreaded it almost as soon as I purchased my ticket. I operate on the practical end of almost everything. The probability of the stars aligning in a way that allows two people to be their most captivating selves within a shared five minutes is, well, literally incalculable. But even if it weren't, the odds would be so high my best bet would be a lottery ticket. Essentially, I saw it as pointless.
  3. The affair had to be kept quiet. The people who were invited knew. I told literally 3 other people, and didn't even bother offering details. I agreed to do it. And that was enough. 


And now, I take you to 27 November 2012

I had already had a massage scheduled for that afternoon. I think that timing was what truly convinced me the ordeal would be okay. I typically ride the post-massage high for days. I was sure it would last me through a few hours of forced intimacy. I scheduled 80 minutes - so that any angst could be pre-dissolved. Once my post-spa glow was achieved, I met Anne The Reporter for a cocktail. 

It must be noted that Anne The Reporter was stoked. She was excited to have the experience. I think she was hopeful. I think she had faith in the process. Anne was ready to put herself out there and let all comers do the same. 

In other words, I had no idea how to deal with her. 

Thank heaven for Ms Kerry D. She arrived and was more on my level. Ms Kerry D had played through the same "what-ifs." Where Anne The Reporter had hope, Ms Kerry D and I had reality-based trepidation. 
What if we didn't like anyone? What if we liked men who didn't like us? What if we had nothing to discuss? What if all the other candidates were in their early 20's and we were lonely spinsters who paid and still couldn't get dates? 
It may seem counterintuitive, but those shared thoughts soothed me. I wasn't alone in thinking them. I wasn't the odd (wo)man out. It was a relief. We drank. 

Miss Kerry D, Anne The Reporter, Our Heroine
moments before "the event."
We also got to talking. The conversation turned from what we didn't want, to what we did. We discussed our hopes and our standards. It's always interesting to me what shapes women. I feel like we all have experiences that make us say "never again." And we tilt our heads in confusion to other women who say "that doesn't bother me." We talked ourselves well into the future, only to reign ourselves in from kids and daycare. We had to set our sights significantly lower, for the hour of our reckoning was upon us. 

I went speed dating and it wasn't bad. I would even go again. 

I'm not going to describe the event or the venue, because neither were relevant. I walked in feeling nervous. I maintained that throughout the explainer and the first stop at the bar. I was nervous, until I wasn't. 

It turns out I can turn on the charm with a flick of my neck. I can talk to anyone and enjoy myself. I can laugh and bring laughter. I can easily go on for 3 - 5 minutes and not reveal anything personal. Speed dating was kind of my zone - one in which I could be social and learn about people. I had fun - because I never once had faith in the process. I didn't allow myself the possibility of being disappointed. I neither put myself out there nor asked any  potential suitor to do so.  No, that's not how it's supposed to work. Yes, my father was disappointed in my behavior. But we have to stay grounded in reality. 

It takes time to strike up a relationship. I'm not at a place where I am willing to give that time. I have goals for myself. There are things I want to do before I will consider myself ready for a partnership. I've seen a lot of mistakes made. I absolutely recognize I'll make (more of) my own. Still, I know I'm not ready right now. I'm okay with that. 

22 November 2012

Thankful

First off, some full disclosure: I'm still in bed. It's just about 7:30AM here in San Francisco. While I don't have anywhere to be until 3:30, waking up seemed like the thing the to do. Getting up, not so much. But waking up, absolutely.

I was going to write 'it's rare I wake up so cheery,' but that's increasingly not the case. I've been waking up early, happy and motivated for nearly two weeks. The secret is simple: vegetables. It's been two weeks since I really committed to losing this weight. I did a detox using vegetable juices (instead of just lemon juice & maple syrup) and that made an enormous difference. I'm not going to go into details, because this post is not about that. Still, it must be noted that I feel great. I'm down more than ten pounds and even though the detox is over, I'm moving forward with a deeper knowledge of what my body needs. In a word, beets.

This post is about Thanksgiving. Actually it's about "thankfulness." I don't know where to begin, I'm so full of thanks.

Family
My family is beyond. We have squabbles like any other family, but at our core, we're nothing short of hilarious. It all comes from my parents. My silly, silly parents. We laugh hard and we laugh often. We absolutely stop laughing every so often to yell and argue. But then (in a fit if rage) someone says something ridiculous, and a new catchphrase is born. I guess I'm thankful for exactly that. We keep perspective. We take the issues seriously. But when something is funny, it cannot be ignored.

Friends
I have great friends. Friends with whom I can be honest or curt. They accept me and my idiosyncrasies. I have trouble asking for help. I just do not do it. However, I do rest assured that if I did need something, I would have support.

Passion
I don't have to work today. I don't have to work today! If you haven't worked holidays for your adult life, you don't get how monumental that is. I've been able to exercise my passions as they've shifted. Not everyone has that opportunity, so I will not take it for granted.

I worked from home yesterday. I was able to cook a few things which I will be taking to two Thanksgiving dinners today. Below you see a cranberry bourbon relish, which I only made out of curiosity. But believe me, its totally worth sharing.

Alright. It's nearly 8AM and I have things I hope to accomplish. I have a casserole to bake and lemon bars to cut. I also need to get to the gym, do some laundry and clean my apartment.

I'm going to start with breakfast.


01 November 2012

Plumped & Ready

I'm not quite sure how to tell you this. I, myself, can barely believe it's true. But facts are facts and there is no hiding from said facts. So here goes.

I've gain a bunch of weight. A. Bunch. 

This isn't one of those Oprah "how did this happen" moments. I know exactly how it happened. I've been able to trace it very clearly back to August. 

I left my old job. 
I started celebrating. 
I have not stopped. 

It's gone from "cheers to this new opportunity," to "cheers to the ability to go to happy hour," to simply "cheers." I started walking less and taking the bus more. In my defense, the walk to the new job is twice as long at the walk to the old job. Also, I liked the feel of being one of the masses. But guess what? Plenty of the masses walk to work. And a 30 minute walk is not at all ridiculous. And friends are capable of more than just eating and drinking. 

Now here I sit. Plumped up for action. I've gained 20lbs this year. I'm pretty sure - based on the way my clothes (don't) fit - most of that came between August - October. The thing is, I also gained 10lbs in 2011, putting me 30lbs from my healthiest and 50lbs from my goal. 

I have 50lbs to lose. That's nothing short of disgusting. And I am disgusted. 

At the same time, I'm a little proud of me. I've had this weight before. I've gained this weight before. Only then, I didn't listen to my body. This time, I'm paying proper attention. My body is unhappy. It's had it's fill of risotto balls and steak fries and breakfast burritos (with tator tots INSIDE). I can't remember ever loving brown rice as much as I have in the last two weeks. I've been craving plain oatmeal. I've even lost my taste for lattes. My insides are itching for improvement. I went to a boxing class last night, even though I was sure I was going to pass out. Surprisingly, my body was ready. Not only did I survive, I was even giddy afterward.

So yes, we're 50lbs from the finish. But for once my brain and my body are in sync. The gallbladder has been quiet. I feel good. My skin looks great. All signs point to better health. It's go time. And that's exciting. 

17 September 2012

A Trip to Dayna's House

Every so often - perhaps every other year - a friend of mine asks me to be a guest blogger on their site. I find the offer to be wonderfully exciting. I mean you guys choose to come here. You choose to read me, mostly because you know me. I'm constantly amazed that you care to read what I think. Guest blogging takes that a step further. To be asked to be a guest is to be invited into someone's house. It means someone trusts me enough to yield a blog post to me. They expect I'll have something interesting to say. They trust I won't disappoint their readers. That's huge. And I take the responsibility seriously. First came a post for Brian Allen, then came Find Me Frugal(er). Now comes Hold The Phone, my friend Dayna's blog. I tried to write about myself. But you'll see that didn't happen. 

When Dayna asked me to be a guest blogger, it took me a whole night to decide on a topic. I woke up the next day with a clear subject matter in mind. I decided to write about myself. Honestly, it's a fascinating topic, about which I am the foremost expert on the planet. I was going to write about being selfish, versus being self indulgent. I've been feigning selfishness lately, while being self indulgent. I mean to say instead of doing what's best for me (selfish) I've been doing only what I want to do (indulgent). I'm not proud of myself, or of my new habits. I planned to regale you with examples to clarify my intent, and to show you where I failed.

This post is not that.

Instead, this post will tell you a tale, possibly showing you more about me than declarative sentences ever could.
 

06 September 2012

The View From The Other Side

It's been nigh two months since the deal went down. I'm six weeks out of news. I've missed a few mass shootings, at least one hurricane and two political conventions. I mean to say those events have happened, not that I've lamented not having them on my radar. It's oddly liberating to only hear the news you want to hear. If you've never worked in news, you don't know what it's like. There's a point where child molestation is just a thing. The details may give you pause, but only briefly. Scams happen, and you find yourself blaming the victims. People - real human beings - are shot and killed, and you question their motives, the capability of their parents. You don't believe in honest politicians, bankers, wait staff or cashiers. Working in news weighs on your soul. That goes for both the stories you tell and the ones you don't. Now I simply don't have to know. It feels good to have a choice. I choose science. I choose business. I choose all sorts of things that don't embitter me toward society. Let's agree this new life is already a win-win. 

The positives don't stop with a more saccharine outlook either. Oh no sir  (madam), the change in careers has somehow freshened my outlook. Everything is an adventure now, and I apparently enjoy adventuring. My alarms go off early - like catch the school bus early. I battle my neighbors for the hottest of the hot water. At 6:35 I get it. At 6:50 I don't. I've recently started making my own coffee and even my own breakfast. That's a lot more difficult than it sounds. First of all, there's coffee at work. There is also breakfast. I don't need to feed myself. But it is the smarter / cheaper / healthier option. Still, when I'm trying to jog for the bus and my coffee is sloshing and I don't know if I have a napkin in my purse, it does not seem that way. And yet I do it merrily.

Shall we talk buses? There are two routes that get me near enough to work to walk. One is full of Super Yuppies - Michael Kors totes and Tory Birch wedges. Every bus is extremely full and sometimes the drivers don't even bother to stop. The other route is (what I call) Yuppie Light. Its buses run less frequently, so I get the same driver when I'm on time. She'll even wait for me to walk/jog with my coffee. I nearly always get a seat and the people are what I consider to be regular. Our gadgets & accessories are comparable. We exchange pleasantries. One day a lady told me I had toothpaste on my face. That was nice of her. I mean I can't make coffee and look into a mirror people. 

So I work. At noon, I'm hungry. I try to fight it. I don't want to be a cliche. But something about noon just makes my tummy growl. I fight the masses for food. I work more. I get back on the bus and I go home. It's crowded. I'm part of the pack. I enjoy it. I really do. I see things along the way that make me smile. I feel good. It might come from years of being on the outside. I spent more than a decade waking up when people were going to bed or punching in as they were about to punch out. I'm just now getting a taste of what's supposed to symbolize success. It's a novelty so far and I can see how it could get old in the future. I'm okay with that. I'm living for the now. 

Of course there are challenges. I'm now that person available when my friends have to work. I can take my work home with me. I never know if I'm doing enough. I'm not sure when to stop. The only person who doubts what I can do is me. I don't know the proper level of frustration for obstacles. I'm in foreign territory, making up the rules as I go along. I've already made some mistakes. I'm still smiling though. It's exciting. It's an adventure. And I like adventuring. 

31 July 2012

Yes, I Quit my Job. No, I Don't Have One For You.

I don't like to write when I'm angry. It rarely ends well. Feelings get hurt. Boundaries get crossed. In one case it gets you sent to Fr. Vito's office. In another, you get to spend time with a child therapist.

I don't like to have the same things bothering me for any measurable amount of time. The topic becomes a distraction. It clouds my judgement and sours my mood. When I am bothered, I write.

When there is something that makes me angry and that stays top of mind, I become paralyzed as I consider the resolution. And I simply do not have time to be inactive. So allow me to make a few things clear.

Yes, I quit my job.

More than that, I switched careers. The circumstances (at this juncture)
are irrelevant. I had to weigh my options and brace for a change. Then I had to do the deed. This was not a decision I made easily. I had to talk to my parents. I had to talk to Kate. I had to accept some realities about where I was (and was not) heading professionally. I had to reassess and redefine. I had to see myself differently, as I am perceived by outsiders. I had to let go.

I had to wait for the right opportunity.

I had to formally resign from my job, my career... my "Plan A."

The actual resigning was underwhelming. On my end, it was a defining moment, the culmination of months of consideration. I basically prepared a dissertation, detailing why resigning was the right choice for me at this time. It was a tough realization, tantamount to accepting some sort of future failure. It was a big decision for me. On the other end, my bosses were either nonplussed or apathetic. I presented my decision. I prepared my arguments. I had delusions they would want me to stay - that they valued my contributions. I had been prepared to bring them along on the path to enlightenment. I had points and subsections and examples to show them 'no, this is the time.' I was prepared. And it
was all for naught. My translation to their reaction was "they don't care." It was a decision-affirming ego blow. I had labored over this move, and had been met (at the higher levels) with ambivalence. Down on my level -- the worker bee level -- my leaving was an event.

I spent two weeks battling wide, questioning gazes. People were sad to see me go. People were curious about my new role. People began weaving their own versions of how it all happened. I got really sweet phone calls and messages of support. There was a distinct lack of apathy among my peers. I was slammed with the warm and fuzzies. My last two weeks passed quickly. Then -- after my badge was deactivated and I had received my last paycheck -- I found myself in front of a boss asking to have an open discussion. Two weeks later, I was ready.

I said things I had needed to say. I said things that made me feel in control of my life and of my future. I said things I should have said before then. I should have been open about my thoughts and feelings well before the end. It sounds like the simplest thing in the world, and it never crossed my mind. I never thought it plausible. I worked and lived in fear of the repercussions of something said out of anger or in sadness. I had been afraid of getting in the way of my own self-serving intentions. But you know what? Honesty did not hurt. No one can help you if you don't help yourself. No one can give you what you want if they don't know what, exactly, that is. Don't get me wrong, there were people who knew my ambitions and who simply did not care. But it would not be fair for me to be angry or hurt or devastated because things did not go as I had planned. At least not entirely. I had been waiting when I should have been clamoring. I realized that at the last possible moment. It's a lesson I'm glad to have learned.

No, I don't have one for you. 

My new job will have me reporting to someone with whom I used to work at the old job. This has led to my learning some ugly truths. First, some clarifications.
This new role was not given to me. I earned it. I earned it on my own, using my special blend of skills and talents. I do not take - nor do I need - handouts. I'm a qualified person who has found and pursued other interests. I have ambition. I take initiative. I say this because it needs saying. Yes, I've had help. And I'm deeply grateful for it. Still, it's important to know how to network. Networking is never "I'm going to need you to get me a job," or "take me with you," or "tell me what to do." It's never "can you do this for me," "what should I be doing differently," or "how would you do this." Networking is not mentoring. It's not implying I got lucky and that I need to (in some way) pay it forward - specifically to you. To suggest my only qualification is who I happen to know is to imply I am undeserving. And that's where I draw the line. You don't know me. You don't know what I've spent, what I've studied or what I've sacrificed. You know what I let you know. Until you've built the bridges, gone back to learn what you've missed or worked harder than others, you do not get to ask why me and why not you.

There are a lot of people who are really happy for me. There are a lot of people who have suggested we may work together in the future. They've suggested I keep them in mind if I see anything that may be good for them. That's fine; it's even exciting. I've been humbled by the well wishers, just as I've been enraged by the opportunity seekers.
There's a fine line between trying to keep in touch and trying to use me as a Danie-shaped life raft. I simply cannot abide. I don't want excuses. I just want apologies. I just want to be clear. Yes. I got a new job. No. I don't have one for you.

15 July 2012

30.5

No doubt, it's been a party. I've been selfish. I've been (responsibly) reckless. I've been ridiculously indulgent.

I've been happy. And I'm pleased to report none of that is about to change.

Still, I feel a need - a propulsion really - to take or define my next steps. This may be the pressure people expected I'd feel along with my last birthday, or rather something akin to it. I don't feel any actual pressure or obligation to do anything. I just feel like I want to do something. It's glorious in the simplicity of its origin. I want to look forward & shape my next decade. The last one was full of responsibility and obligation and discipline. And that worked well. No one could argue me a failure. Counterintuitively, it's time to take some risks.

I've grown bored. With complete faith I can execute what's expected, I realize I have to set my sights higher. I have to raise my expectations of myself and of those around me. I have to try new things, in new places. I have to let go of behaviors or (in)actions directed toward me. I have to be as confident as everyone thinks I am. To me this means... well I don't know what it means. But  finding out seems like it's going to be a lot of fun.

28 May 2012

A Case of The Have Nots

What has two thumbs, types with one hand and is guilty of falling head-on into a vat of first world problems?

This girl.

Lately I've been fixated on what I don't have. It's ridiculous, and I know that. I really, really know that. I scold myself every time it happens. Because the reality is, my life is wonderful; it's literally full of wonder. I have things I want, but don't need. I have family. I have friends. I am loved. I have options. I have opportunities. There is nothing significant for me to lament. Still, just before the Memorial Day weekend, I started brooding over missing minutia.

That's not entirely accurate. (I am often derailed by alliteration.) It's not that what's missing is in some way small or insignificant. Obviously the universe is bringing me to some greater truth about the course my life should take. But it's difficult to say my life is not exactly what I want it to be, when there are so many good things in my life.

All of this started because I wanted to go camping.

I love camping. I love nature. I love loading up the car, driving off the grid, setting up a tent and eating grilled deliciousness. I love hiking and being humbled by the majesty that's just out there. I started thinking about camping -- about what it would really take to organize an excursion -- and I realized I don't have those people anymore. I'd have to go it alone. I exist in this space where career is important and thriving is essential. I'm caught up in being hyper-focused. But in staying hip and current and metro, I've fallen out of balance. I suppose that awareness made it easier for me to see myself as "not having."

I don't have camping buddies. And I don't have my best friends at my disposal. I don't have anyone calling me over for a holiday barbeque. I don't have anyone having casual dinners, where the guards are down and there is absolutely nothing to prove. I don't have the luxury of sitting around a fire pit and comfortably talking about nothing. I'm always on. It's exhausting.

Pirates Cove
However I am pleased to report I am on my way to a solution, thanks to a lunch appointment with The MMJ. She and I met way back in 2002, when we got our first jobs at the same TV station. Oodles of life lessons later, and we're now both in San Francisco. I talked to her about living here and friends and no backyard barbeques. She understood -- which made me feel better. And she offered a remedy; we went hiking.

Our time along the coast did not fix everything, but it was very nearly what the doctor ordered. I don't know who I'll eventually rope into camping but in the interim, I'll take small escapes to the life I used to have.

21 May 2012

The Reasons

I always say "later."
I always say "when the ducks are in a row," "the stars aligned," and "when the poop is in its proper group."

I always have a reason why I can't, even though there are so many reasons  I should.
Even now -- in these moments I'm taking between that thing that's overdue and that other thing I want to start -- it feels good. It feels right. It feels cathartic.

As The Musician loves to quip: "you know you're a writer, right?"

I am. It's what I like to do, and I can't explain why I don't do it.

I'll never get to tell the tales I've been meaning to tell, especially if I don't make any effort to try. My hesitation (as always) comes from a self-imposed set of rules I am loathe to break.  I feel it's my obligation -- for your visit to my Internet Living Room -- to be a proper hostess. I want to pour you a drink, offer a homemade snack, and ease your mind into the adventure that is my life. But I don't really have time for company. At best I can meet you at a bar, where we huddle at a table while I rant and you try to keep up.

My life is not where I thought it would be. It's better. I can't exactly tell you why. I definitely have more stresses and less free time. I'm more frustrated and my future is more muddled. I have thrice as many gray hairs as I did last year. At least. Still, I wake up smiling. I swear I can taste excitement in the air. I giggle a lot. I compliment strangers. I cannot be bothered by the small stuff and... things are just great. You guys were there when I was (what my mom calls) snake-belly low, so I'm obligated (by me) to share with you now that I'm not.

I'm inviting you to my Internet bar. And the first round is on me
.

01 April 2012

On Men & Dads & Babies

So.

I've just returned from my first holiday since my last one. I went to Cancun with my dad, stepmom and two of my three brothers. The trip itself was -- well actually the getting there was a process worthy of a tech savvy Odysseus. But the actual vacationing was blessedly simple, with margaritas, food, sunshine and sleeping. I could regale you with every happening, and one day I might. Maybe. But something my dad said to me stuck with all the way back to San Francisco. It kept me from sleeping on the plane and pushed me to write even as I was on the shuttle back home. The last thing my dad said to me before getting into his own shuttle was something like "remember. I want a granddaughter. Make that happen."

I told him he had at least five years to go. He said "Five years, two years, one year. Make it happen."

I laughed in his face and sent him on his way. That was not the first time we'd had that conversation. It wasn't the first time my father made it clear he does not care about my happily ever after. I am but a vessel through which he can have smaller people to spoil. I've accepted that. I think it has to do with what I'll call "traditional minority breeding habits." My mom was 19 when she had me. My dad was 21. The fact that I'm 30 and childless is an anomaly not just to them, but to the rest of my family as well. Leaving home, graduating from college, establishing a career and the rest of those kinds of things are nice. But if I called my dad and reported an accidental pregnancy, he'd be quite excited. The trimmings of my being married, wooed or even in a relationship would be nice, but decidedly not necessary. I get that. Single mothers do it, and they do it well. So to my dad, if that's the way it has to be, that's the way it has to be. I get that.

This stuck with me because I'd already explained to my dad that I am not out to date right now. I'm not in the mood to be in a relationship. This year is about Danie. It's for me to be selfish and do exactly what I want to do. And don't allow yourself to think I want to do anything salacious. I want to learn more. I want personal growth. I want to laugh and have fun. I feel like 30 was a finish line and by crossing it, I have outrun insecurities and the expectations of others. It's liberating. And the idea of making plans based on the feelings of a +1 are not appealing. This is my time. I've never been happier. I tried explaining that to my dad. He literally shook his head at me. So I tried a different approach. I explained that I've been "out there." Men have been measured, and found wanting. If you're not hip to the biblical lingo, It means they're disappointing. This is not the same as "bad."

I know men with contagious ambition, who search for spiritual connections and have altruistic intentions. That is not to say they won't sleep with you, then return to their +1, or live-in, or other woman deserving of their time, if not their honesty. I know men who will open the doors, pick up the tabs and confess their purported fears. But that doesn't mean the name they gave is actually their own. Men are simply not as I want them to be. They're not even as I would accept them to be. I tried explaining this to my dad while leaving out details fathers do not want to hear from their daughters. In the end (well the end for me), my dad said it was all my fault. That every failed attempt and relationship-hood came down to me. My standards are too high, he argued, and that I have to recognize someone may not be where I want, but they may be "workable." I told him my job is to work on me, to become the best person I can, and that I'll be responsible for another when I have children. I will not put myself in the business of turning boys into men and men into adults. My foot is down. My father is disappointed. My future is decided.


07 February 2012

New Zealand Chronicles | Transitioning

12 December 2011

I observed my very last full day in New Zealand by taking the bus. Long live public transport! Ang bought me  a ticket for a ferry ride and tour of Waiheke. We had been sitting on it for my entire trip, waiting for the weather to improve. That did not happen. So, on a dreary Monday, I hopped on the Link, and went. 

The bus was weird. There was no automatic counting machine. I just put the money on a tray and the operator counted it by sight, or maybe it was measured by weight. The operator also gave change, from a tray full of money that was essentially unguarded. The whole thing was unsettling.

The ferry ride was nice not spectacular. It was raining. Everything was bleak. It was kind of a downer way to start the end of my trip. The bus tour helped; the driver was hilarious. Still, I found I wasn't motivated to get off the bus and walk through the town. Don't get me wrong, the views were still beautiful, and it was cool to be on an island where everyone owns a boat and the houses and worth millions. I know I would have enjoyed it more if Angie had been there. Her silly excitement (even for things she's already experienced) is contagious. But she had to work. Also, she and The Squash Player had their own Waiheke trip planned. No comment.



Love these guys!



My chariot.

It was pretty delicious. But how can to go wrong with meat
surrounded by a flaky crust?
I did not have any great mysteries revealed to me whilst on the island. I appreciated it for what it was, then I ate a pie. Angie told me I had to have a pie before I left. I was hungry. There were pies in the ferry terminal. It seemed perfect. Angie said she thought she had her first pie in that same terminal. We're so kindred. 

The ferry ride was kind of the end of my vacation. I started thinking of souvenirs I still had to get, postcards I still had to buy, pictures I still had to get from Angie and the stuff I still needed to pack. I started making lists. The flip had just about been switched. I did more shopping down near Queen Street at Global Culture. More money spent on me, but I got a few things for others. So I was getting better. It was the start of a spree. I got nearly all my shopping done that afternoon. I want to say I even started organizing my luggage, but that can't be right. 

Our grand finale dinner was at Prego. It. Was. Divine. First, we split a loaf of bread. Not just any bread. It was Pane di Grano Duro. Yes, that's excessive, as in entirely not necessary. But it was as good as Ang told me it would be. Granted I didn't think it would be an actual loaf, though after that latte in a bowl thing I really should have learned. I had the fish of the day, which I think was trout, over risotto. I also had a side of asparagus. It was all extremely delicious. We talked about a whole lot of nothing; safe to say we had covered all the major topics in the 10 days prior. We just enjoyed what we had. Life was good.

So good you guys. So. Good.
After dinner we stopped at Lime to see Matt. He makes an excellent gimlet. We talked about Internet data plans, among other things. Matt would not let me take his picture, because he's difficult. I listened to he and Ang gossip. The Squash Player appeared. Matt ordered a pizza from Chapel which was a) delivered and b) not even sold at full price. He's apparently difficult and special.

Difficult.

Difficult and special.
As you would probably guess, Ang, TSP and I ended up at Chapel. I was there my first night. I was there my last night. Ang tolerated TSP & I discussing books for a little bit. there was also further discussion of the builder from the previous night. Good times. I ordered a silly drink that had previously gone ignored on the menu. Ang & I stayed (not too) late in the night, discussing girly things and giggling. I love my friend.

Then it was time for me to come home.

Where the magic happens.