Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fighting Dirty

This article is ridiculous.

But the fact that the opening line: "Do you go from zen to harpy in no time when it comes to arguing with your guy?" spoke to me says a lot. I don't actually do any of the 8 signs mentioned in the article and I don't ever consciously manipulate my boyfriend... But...

...let's just say I realize that I could allow myself to be wrong sometimes, he could (and IS!) right sometimes and sometimes nobody is really right or wrong or better or worse. I'm learning a lot being in relationship with A and I'm grateful to him for reminding me always that he's doing the best he can.

Dear Rich Folks...

Dearest Rich Folks,

I hope that this note finds you well and prosperous. Especially prosperous, because I would love to share in your prosperity. I am a hard working, educated thirty something. I have a great credit rating and have done all the things my parents and their generation said I should do...get an education, avoid bankruptcy, don't rely on other people for money/support...and I'm struggling. In fact, I would say that I am crippled by debt - unable to imagine a future without payments greater than my income.

I'm not in debt from frivolous living, but from getting said education. The vast majority of my debt is in the form of student loans with less than 10% in the form of a line of credit that I used to support myself during school and for the three months between jobs while attending school full time.

I don't know if you can imagine how that feels...? Maybe you were once poor or middle class? Or if you were born rich, maybe there is a similar but opposite burden? I'm generally a pretty optimistic person - not so optimistic that I play the lottery on a regular basis or anything, but optimistic enough that I keep avoiding bankruptcy, sticking to my budget and moving forward. But it's hard and I'd like to put it out there to the God, the Universe and those in possession of means greater than their needs that I am grateful for your help.

I am grateful for the means that you will provide to me directly, for the business you send my way (I am a small business owner), and for the legislation you will support that will allow more forgiveness of student loans and more reasonable cost of higher education for future generations.

Thanks again, rich folks, you rock.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Key to Good Relationships is...Less Communicating?

The other day, I told E, "We need to hang up - we're just making stuff up now." We weren't literally making things up, but we were making up things to talk about...bringing things up in the conversation that were inconsequential and irrelevant just to keep talking. E and I have been known to speak on the phone for hours at a time and often laugh about how much worse/better/more it was when we lived together - at that time, a quick bathroom break or a night of sleep would be just enough time apart to catch our breaths and come up with even more to talk about!

Lately, we've been having a harder time finding time to actually talk on the phone, so we've started leaving each other long voicemail long, I mean that the voicemail system actually cuts us off because we have "exceeded the time allowed..."

...and then we sometimes call right back and keep talking...

...for as many as 4 messages worth. That's about 20 minutes of voicemail. I like to blame E for this situation, because, let's face it, the girl can talk! But I am equally culpable for it and may, in fact, have started it, because I have a minimum 30 minute commute each way every day to work. I have tried to curtail this lately - I suggested we try emailing one another a couple of times a day instead - but you know it's gotten out of hand when you have to state that the RULE (as opposed to the exception thereto) is that you listen to one anther's messages when you can and that they are not important unless we text one another otherwise. The RULE is that our messages are not important. There's something wrong with that, right?

E's step mother once told her that "The key to any successful relationship is communication." Well, in addition to my original response, which was "No shit, Sherlock," I'd like to refer to the following:

Do Less communicating. Less talking, less yelling, less arguing, less emails and IM and Twittering, less phone calling. While I think communication is extremely important, and should be one of the keys to any relationship, I also think we do it too much. Especially as most of it becomes nothing but jabbering at each other, with very little actual listening. It is noise. Let silence into your life. Let stillness pervade our minds. When you do communicate, make it count, make it sincere, and more than you talk, listen. Make every email count. Only IM when it’s necessary. Spend less time on the phone and Twitter and Blackberry and iPhone, and more time with humans, more time with yourself, more time in the present.

[Emphasis mine.] This, from the Zen Habits blog, which I found by Googling "best blogs" and checking out Time's 2009 Top 25 Blogs. As they say in the film industry, "I have no notes." I cannot even think of what to add to that as it is a finer summary than I could come up with. And it fully expresses my opinion of Twittering - who wants to be Tweeted for God's sake with all the other electronic/media/noisy chatter filling up our lives already?! So, dear friends and readers, enjoy the silence.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Slowing Down...Small Sustainable Steps

Seems like everything is slowing down these days. Even thought I'm adding new blogs regularly to my following list, there is less to read; even though I want to write all the time, I find myself only writing during my "office hours." Maybe since A accepted a new job, our frantic stress-pace is easing up. It feels good. Here's a quick update of the week gone by:
  • I didn't do all the cooking I planned on Sunday night, but spread it out over the week. Hoping to make the quiche Saturday night when I'm baking pizzas so that we can enjoy it Sunday and Monday morning.
  • Still making decisions about food and still working out great.
  • Watched movies every day for a week (see reviews in separate post)
  • Spent Wednesday night having a very weird girl's night out
  • Lost A Thursday and Friday night to boy's nights out - okay, I was invited along both nights, but wasn't feeling up to it, because...
  • A coworker passed away...sudden, shocking, sad...
And the days/week to come:
  • Having friends over for game night and pizza! :)
  • Going to Sunriver in Bend, OR for a quick getaway with A
  • A's family coming to stay with us for a few days then taking a family vacation to Lake Chelan, WA
  • A's parents staying a week after Lake Chelan and his mom is going to teach me many secrets in the kitchen

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Too Many Movie Nights

Watched too many movies for the last several days - and relearned how much I love a fun comedy. I may never need to watch another movie again!

Saturday: I Love You, Man @ CineMagic Theater
Dinner @ La Calaca Comelona. Loved the restaurant, food just okay, but I suspect the entrees are where it's at and will go again to verify. CineMagic's prices went up so it's now $6-something for a movie. When the multiplexes charge 2x that, I don't think I have room to complain, but I distinctly remember their movies being $3-4 before. :( Loved the movie and wondered if I shouldn't make it recommended viewing for men?

Sunday:Paul Blart, Mall Cop @ Grand Lodge
We also purchased Ghost Stories of Oregon because it features an entire chapter on McMenamins hauntings! Was surprised to enjoy this movie, but it's definitely got it's charm and that charm is Kevin James. How adorable.

Monday: Seven Pounds @ Home via RedBox Free Movie Mondays I would place this film into the categories of "Must See" and "Never Watch Again." It's a drama, so you know there's some depth to it, but I cannot say more without spoiling. A and I both cried our eyes out, though.

Tuesday: Bolt @ Home via RedBox Free Movie Mondays because with 2 debit or credit cards, why borrow just one? This movie was FUN! I saw previews on the plane when I was going to DC and was charmed because Bolt reminds me of Chibo. A, who wasn't planning on watching this with me, also saw it and liked this movie, too. Cute for the child or dog lover in all of us.

Wednesday: He's Just Not That Into You @ Academy Theater
Girls night out! Pizza from Flying Pie, great prices and good atmosphere. I want to say it's cleaner and more picturesque than the McMennamins Theaters for the same price. A coupon in the Chinook book gets you 2 for 1 and I promise you'll go back. And the movie...well, fun, but slightly disappointing. Somehow I wanted more. The cast is great and the story is good, but maybe I needed more plot and better dialogue? Could be my expectations as I was perfectly satisfied with Bolt and Paul Blart earlier this week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cooking Night

I made a decision about a week ago: to start making decisions! During my recent trip to DC, E and I were sometimes paralyzed by everyone's lack of preferences and during the past 6 months living with A, the same thing happens on a fairly regular basis. I also recently read a list of tips for eating out - I think it was a weight loss article, but this tip was more about satisfaction - it said, "Order First." Apparently people who order their food first are often far more satisfied than other diners. I usually try to be the last person at the table to order, but no more.

And that goes for home, too. I decided that unless A made any specific requests, I would just decide what we're eating each night. Asking him hasn't given me any new information, ever, so I just took that step out and for the past week, I've found myself much more satisfied by the new process. Different nights this week, I decided:
  • what I was cooking for dinner
  • what we were getting for take out and from where
  • that we weren't eating dinner at all and could grab snacks if we get hungry
  • and that A could eat this and I'll grab something later
It is working out splendidly and tonight I've decided on an ambitious cooking list:
Here's to stress relief and expressions of love through cooking!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prices Slashed

On my way home from work, I noticed signs for sales the whole way. Fabric 25% Off! Massage $39/Hour. Going out of business, everything must go. Moving sale. There really is no denying that the economy is really affecting small businesses. As a new small business owner, I can attest to the fact that our business is not getting off to the booming start for which we were hoping and planning.

I personally alternate between being glad of the sales and wondering if this is what these businesses have to do just to keep their doors open and how bad is it really? For example, what is the original mark-up on fabric? If its a 2x mark up and it's all marked down by 25% that cuts profits on that fabric by 1/2, but it may be worth it for that proprietor to get some positive cash flow.

For service industries, like mine and the massage therapist who's price was 20$ less than most massage therapists I know, I wonder if the compromise is to take less and hope for higher volume. That is, after all, the system of insurance summarized.

Just musing on this. With a big tax refund on the way, I may want to take advantage of the deals/help out some small businesses...with my business.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Best Intentions

Ugh. Best intentions to get some studying done today. The very best, but here I sit at the cafe paralyzed. I've got my computer (maybe that's a mistake as it provides such ripe opportunity for procrastination), I've got my books and I've got myriad rude people around me answering their cell phones and having stupid and loud conversations that I care nothing about. What I don't have is 1. a plan, 2. a pen or pencil, 3. scrap paper/notebook or 4. a subscription to the practice test website that I should probably get.

As stated, I have the best of intentions, but it's hard to spend money I don't have to subscribe to this practice test website even though it comes highly recommended. And tomorrow is the free day again - they host a free day 1x per month so you can test out the site and see if you like it. For good or ill, it's always a Tuesday which means it's always a day I work at my clinic - when I first heard about this free day, I scheduled it into the calendar, but still had too much going on at work to use the site. When I finally got home, I forgot all about it.

Tomorrow I have a patient coming in, bills and book keeping to catch up on and a dog date immediately after work, so I'm not sure how well that's going to work out - even so, I'm not going to sign up today if tomorrow is free anyways. Stubborn - I have the best of intentions and I'm stubborn. Meeting A in about an hour and planning to help him with his interview prep and presentation - have been inspired by his focus and hard work, but inspiration does not seem to equal my getting anything done...

Okay, once more into the fray...if I can't get to my studies, at least I can get my personal bills caught up.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Movies You Should NEVER Watch

Great day today - worked my entire shift, only goofed off a little, good talk with a pal, good interaction with A, great gift from A (thanks for the ear rings!), first BBQ of the season. I made a corn and pepper salad with the Simplest Marinade by Raw Foods for Busy People that went over surprisingly well - so well that one of the other guests asked if she could take the leftovers home! Yeah!

Also had Trader Joe's masala patties which are so yummy. Got to introduce those to both A and another Indian friend of ours who is...skeptical of pretty much every word out of my mouth, but especially anything having to do with Indian food. They both loved them, though and now I'm feeling smug. Happy that A likes them, though, because they're sure to become a staple food.

After all that good food, everyone was feeling like watching a movie. After watching the trailer for Marley and Me several times during my recent flights, that sounded pretty good. Even with the warning that "oh yeah, this movie is really sad" and the obvious possibility that the dog will die at some point in the film (hard to miss since a lot of time passes during the film as evidenced by the growth of their children), I was unprepared.

Yes, the dog dies. And it's incredibly sad, because along with the dog dying, you see the family acknowledging that despite all of his antics, Marley was really a very good dog. I cried. A cried. I heard a few other sniffles from hear and there in the darkened room. It's also sad because it reminds you not only of all the pets you have lost, but all that you are going to lose. And because it makes you wonder if you're really doing everything you can to make sure your companion animals have a happy and healthy life. Well, it makes me wonder.

Since I'm supposed to be studying, I don't want to start down the list of memories about my relationships with animals and I can't handle thinking about losing my current companion dog, so I'll just close with the recommendation for filmmakers everywhere: Stop making your movies so damn sad - when they're that sad, we'll only watch them once! Like Nights in Rodanthe, I'll probably never be able to watch Marley and Me again. But maybe I can read the book...maybe.

I'm not stalking, I'm FOLLOWING

I love following blogs - when Blogger made this feature available, I had no idea what a time saver it would prove. At that time, I was regularly reading maybe 3 blogs. As time goes on, that list grows - in part because I do seem to want my daily fix of other people's lives/observations/writing/recipes and in part because "following" makes it easy (that is, allows me to be a lazy reader). At present, I think I'm actively following 10 blogs - not many by blog reading standards, but a healthy amount from my busy B perspective.

I love that I can just log onto my own blog and see if anything new has come up. I don't have to click on my "favorites" list or type in the 10 URLs, I don't have to have fill my inbox with subscription feeds and I don't ever miss a post because the 10 I'm following aren't all everyday writers. I can log on and write my first scrambled thoughts of the day or my closing musings and catch myself up in minutes. Yes, I love following.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

PS, DC, I love your timers

In DC, while I was doing all that walking, I learned to love the timers associated with the pedestrian walk signs. When the sign clicks over to walk, a timer starts letting you know how long you have to get across the street. Very useful! If you just get to an intersection in my town, you don't know if the light just changed or is about to go red. When the timer gets to zero, the traffic light does change immediately to yellow and then red, though, so you do have to hustle if the numbers are in the single digits.

The Metro rail system also had timers in all the stations telling when the next train was coming, which was uber-convenient, too. I found these things especially useful as our hosts had few clocks and I didn't wear a watch the entire week. I really just ambled about with no real concept of the time and that was nice.

And even though I slept late every morning I was there, I somehow adjusted to the time there over the course of the week, because I'm knackered by 9 o'clock and have been waking up every day at 5am now that I'm back. That one hour extra in the morning is really annoying - I'm not actually awake enough to get up and do anything about it, but I'm awake enough to have a hard time falling back to sleep.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Had 2 interviews this week - no, A is the one who's getting laid off, I just decided to apply for a promotion. With all the uncertainty of his job position and where we might land if he gets an offer out of state (or country), I really should probably not have applied, but I was thinking that getting upgraded at my job might help, even a little, should he decide to stay on the closing crew and work through the bitter end.

So, two interviews for me this week, too. I had almost decided to call and cancel them both and say that I really am not interested, but was advised that that would look flaky and that I should go ahead with them. The benefits, I was told, would include: 1. practice interviewing and 2. making contacts. Seems that way, but I almost think a bad interview can make you look more flaky than just canceling it altogether.

I did learn a lot, from my first interview, especially, but I also found the exercise somewhat ill-timed, coming right on the heels of my vacation as they did. I don't know about the contact part of things, but I guess you never can anticipate when or how someone's good opinion of you will come into play. A perfect example of this occurred serendipitously when my coworker spoke with one of the managers I was applying to work with and gave me a glowing recommendation. I would never have thought she would or that that the opportunity for her to do so would arise. So, maybe meeting those folks will be practically useful one day in a way I can't anticipate.

Another way that this process may prove useful is that now my current managers know that I have aspiration and would like to move up in the company. My application may not be very strong considering that I am currently in a "clerk" position and there are a couple of other layers between clerk and the positions for which I applied. If nothing else, I feel like clarifying that point also creates the case where I can ask for more training and more responsibility.

The depressing thing about these interviews is that I don't think I will be offered either of the positions. My manager had explained the scenario surrounding one of the positions, so I knew that one was unlikely, but I did not expect that fact to be spelled out to me during my interview or to be spelled out to my coworker. (And I guess it's too much to ask that my application for that position be kept confidential, too?! I guess confidentiality is not a universal concept.)

On the other hand, maybe I should just be happy with my current job - my schedule just got shifted around to one that fits my life a whole lot better, I know my work, it's easy work and I get plenty of time to surf the web, catch up on my blogging and check my Facebook...yeah, I love office hours.