Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Too Old Tuesday

It seems that pretty much every few months a new reminder comes up that I'm not quite as young as I used to be.

Sometimes it's something obvious, like my back actually hurting after doing yardwork. That one I could ignore, because I'm doing more yardwork than I've ever done in the past. So I can't compare two equal examples to see what's worse. And, thus, I can't blame aging on the new back fun.

There's the non-annoyance of not being carded when I go out and order a drink. Of course, what's strange about that is that I never really got carded when I was under 21 (I always kind of looked like I was 25 - it was weird), so that's not a change. These days, though, it kind of would be nice to at least be asked from time to time for my ID.

But the worst of it is dealing with the after effects of a night's activities. Last night I didn't drink. I didn't go out. I didn't even have a big dinner. And, yet, I've been paying for it all day. What did I do? I stayed up until 12:45. Working. That's right. I wasn't having fun. I wasn't carousing. I was just sitting and working on my laptop. And, yet, when the alarm went off at 7 this morning, I thought I was going to die. I have no idea how I'm still awake after 10 tonight. I almost fell asleep at my desk at about 3. And I haven't had any caffeine.

What happened to the days when studying until 2 and getting up at 7 for classes was normal? And when am I finally going to hit the point where - supposedly - I'm going to need LESS sleep each night?

After all, if I'm going to have to keep dealing with the non-fun stuff about getting older, don't I at least deserve that?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Year the Sixth

I'm kind of taking today off from Blogging, but not for the usual "Oops... I got busy" reasons.

Today just happens to be the Sixth Anniversary of the first time I met Christopher (and we had our first date - pizza, beer, and a movie at my place).

We spent today slightly more classily: mid-morning breakfast from Patisserie 46, errands, last-minute massages at the Day Spa in Edina, some puppy time, dinner at the meat-lovers' paradise that is Fogo de Chao, and an evening of collapsing.

And, you know, sometimes life *is* that good.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mulch Ado About Nothing

Obviously, this posting is not about Hurricane Irene - which is doing massive damage along the East Coast of the US right now. And it's not about the wedding Christopher and I went to earlier today. It is, however, about Mulch.

It's about something like 275 cubic feet of Mulch which Christopher and I had delivered to us by our yard guy, yesterday.

I think I've mentioned that we had our house-adjacent landscaping pulled out earlier this year. At that time, they cleared out all of the red lava rock that had been in the planting beds. Then we painted the house, had the beds newly edged, and decided that our last step before next year was simply to get some mulch down on it.

It's kind of amazing how much mulch it takes to cover planting beds on two sides of a house. When it was covering half of our driveway, it kind of looked a little like Big Bird's friend Mr. Snuffleupagus had decided to take a nap in the yard. Gradually, I got it moved around the yard and around the house.

By the time I was done, I'd mulched the planting beds around the house. The beds at the back of the yard. The area along the north side of the house (which no one sees), and the willow tree in the back yard.

I'd also mulched two pairs of socks to the extent of deciding it was easier to throw them out than to try to clean them.

So now we have mulch in the planting beds which - hopefully - will help our new landscaping plants grow next spring. And, in the meantime, it will (again, hopefully), keep any new weeds from coming up. Because if I did all that work and anything comes up randomly through the mulch... well... I'm not going to be happy.

And, thus, although you probably thought I'd forgotten it, we have the "Mulch Ado About Nothing."

Friday, August 26, 2011


Alright. It's Friday. It's 3:34pm. I've got 1h26m left of my workweek. And I have absolutely ZERO desire to do any more work.

It's been one of those weeks. Before the work changes which have come up (which I'm still not really talking about), I was assigned a rather massive freelance edit from work. Normally not a problem, and a nice thing to add some extra cash to the wallet. But, when the work changes go into effect in the immediate future, I'll be unable to get paid the extra cash for stuff like that. Which means that I had to finish said edit before Thursday just to be safe.

It wasn't bad when I thought the edit only had 186 pages (not entirely sure where I got that number), but it became worse when I found out it was closer to 400 pages.

Oh. And one other group I freelance for sent me that piece which I figured would take 2 or 3 hours which actually took 8 hours - and much of last weekend.

So I kind of had to crank out that big edit in my evenings this week.

And then there's the whole idea of trying to train a new hire at work this week. Thankfully, only part-time yesterday and today, but - still - trying to do my own job AND train someone else to do basically the same thing... kind of hurt my head. I've been having to do enough work to stay caught up, while also NOT doing work so that I could make sure that there were things I could use for training. (So far, the training is going well - although my inbox is a bit ragged.)

Which leads me to the next however long I'm here. Trying to maintain my inbox. Trying to stay awake. Trying to remind myself that leaving work more than an hour early would probably be a bad thing... (Right?)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wemille Wednesday

Today is the last day in my office for the person who - quite frankly - has been keeping me sane for the past 2 years (we both became full-time at the same time). Christopher and I have joked about that whole "sanity" thing from time to time, and she also knows that it's how I feel. But she has gotten a new job away from this office - where we frequently have to have "luncherventions" to keep people from shooting their computers, or their co-workers.

And, yes, her departure is going to mean a bit of a move up in the office world for me, too. So, good news for her AND good news for me. (Although - until my change in status is solidly official I'm not going to say much more about it.)

It's a strange day, though, and it's been a strange couple of weeks. We've become good friends - and so it's hard to imagine not being able to send messages and chat all day during the drudgery of the workday. Luckily, over the past few months I've been trying to expand my work-friend base, so I won't be left eating lunch in a corner or anything.

But I don't know that any time soon there will be someone I'll want to eat lunch with once or twice each week. Or to talk about both work and non-work for 15 minutes in the garage after work before driving away. Or, frankly, to be able to call a silly name like "Wemille" - a nickname she got because an author sent in a note to her a while ago which, frankly, looked like it was addressed to "Wemille." (In the cases where she is called Wemille, I'm called Mitch. Which is an even longer story...)

So we've spent today sending totally random emoticons in our Instant Messages. And counting down the time until she can fly and be free of here. It's a good day, really.

After all, I got to use the title "Wemille Wednesday" for a blog post. Can't complain about a day like that, right?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No. I'm Not Dead.

Once again, I find myself looking at my blog and thinking "Whoa. How'd I miss another day?" Here's how I did it this week:

On Tuesday, I blogged.

On Wednesday, after a massive couple of days at work (not longer-than-usual hours, just a lot more stuff filling the hours), I came home and collapsed. I thought "Gee, I could do a blog post about something" but couldn't come up with the "something." Instead, I decided to leave it to Thursday.

On Thursday, Christopher was out to dinner with a friend of his, and I needed to do a quick edit. A "quick" edit that I started at 7pm and quit working on at about 11:30pm. And I was nowhere near done. Not even remotely. In the middle of it, I sent an email to the person who sent it to me and asked for some clarification. Then, at 11:30, I sent an email saying (in essence) "This is a lot worse than I had ever expected, and won't be done until the weekend." Luckily, that was for a client I've worked with many times before, and I'm usually really good with their deadlines (they often give me things at 3 in the afternoon and say "We're really in a rush, could we have this by tomorrow?" - and they do), but this time around there was just no way they could have it before the end of the week.

On Friday (last night), Christopher and I made a semi-home-made pizza (we bought a pre-made crust but put Christopher's amazing red sauce on it before we topped it), and watched some TV. His back was bothering him, so he opted to head to bed early - and I decided that sounded like a good idea. I didn't even turn my computer on all evening.

Which leads us to today. Let's see... I sprayed the yard with weed/feed stuff early in the morning, then started a load of laundry to clean the clothing I got weed/feed stuff all over. Then I went out and tackled a return at IKEA (which took 40 minutes - about 35 minutes longer than I had expected), ran an errand at the Mall of America, and capped my errands with a trip to SuperTarget. All of which were packed with Back-to-School shoppers.

I spent the afternoon (as in 5 hours of it) finishing that edit from the other night and doing one actually-quick one as well.

Now, thankfully, it's time to get myself put together and go to a wine and cheese night complete with a "cake tasting" for someone's birthday. Here's hoping I stay awake at least long enough to get to the cake.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Travel Monday/Movie Tuesday

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging as much, lately, is because I've actually been spending some time with Christopher. He finished the last of the classes he was taking at the end of July, and after finishing a round of freelancing, I kind of opted to let it slide for a little bit. The slide, however - for better or worse - is coming to an end this week, so I'll be back to barricading myself in the basement with my laptop again coming later this week...

In the meantime, though, Christopher and I have done things like going out to dinner with friends - in the middle of the week - and going out to one of our favorite pizza joints on a Friday night (which is usually our "go home and crash after work" night). And, on Saturday in the late afternoon, we even did the almost-unthinkable and went to an actual movie. Together.

We'd been getting told to go see the movie for a while. And, well, as much as I believe my friends when they tell me I'll like a movie, I'm always a little leery about seeing movies people tell me I'll love. I tend to get my hopes up too high, and then I get let down. Add in the fact that it was a Woody Allen movie that everyone was pointing us toward. AND the fact that it's set in Paris - so everyone was sure I'd love it - and I was really nervous.

But, throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best, on Saturday afternoon Christopher and I found ourselves headed out to see "Midnight in Paris."

It doesn't have Woody Allen in it, but the male lead is a disenchanted Hollywood screenwriter played by Owen Wilson - who has the Woody Allen whine down pretty well (for better or worse). He's in Paris with his fiancee and her parents for a pre-wedding trip, and they just happen upon an old professor of hers whom she has a crush on. And, well, we find that maybe Owen is really more in love with Paris than he is with his fiancee.

For the record, I almost said that Wilson plays "the main character," but that would have been wrong. We'd been told that the opening sequence is kind of a "love note" to Paris. And it is a very nice montage of places throughout the city. Parks and buildings and avenues and all sorts of great things - very travelogue-y, but very pretty. And, since the movie all takes place there, the love lingers.

So, anyway, Owen's character is in love with the idea of 1920s Paris, and - magically - finds himself there, where he's swept up in the wake of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and an amazing pantheon of artists and writers. And one especially lovely young woman played by Marion Cotillard (who is, frankly, always especially lovely).

It is a movie about dreams and realities. About love and about passion - two very different things. And, yes, it's a movie about Paris. (Oh, and to prove just how French the movie is, it actually has Carla Bruni - yes, THE Carla Bruni - in it in a really amazing little role.)

Friends of mine who know me well may be surprised to know that I did not shed any tears at the end of the movie. I did, however, a couple of times in the middle of the movie while our "hero" and "heroine" were walking the streets of the city. There was a moment (maybe two), somewhere in there, which felt so quintessentially Parisian that I just couldn't help myself and I found myself longing to be there again.

By the time the movie was over, Christopher and I were both talking about wanting to go back to Paris. But... ah... that danged "dreams versus realities" thing stepped in. Again.

Overall rating: A. Sitting here trying to find things that are wrong with it, I'm currently unable to. But even so it's not an A+, because... well... it's just not. (See it, and I think you'll understand what I mean.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How You Are in "Real" Life

I'm sitting here watching the reunion show for "Food Network Star" and I'm listening to people kind of... well... tear each other apart. Some of it is through clips from the season, and some is simply part of the reunion show.

Anyone who watches "reality" TV knows that editing can play a huge role in how a person is portrayed and perceived. Clips can be strung together to make an angel look like a devil, or a loon come across as the only sane one in the house. At the same time, though, there is the realization that every clip that shows up on TV *did* happen. The context might be messed with. The intent might be mis-played. But whatever we're seeing actually did happen.

So, I just heard someone say "I'm not like that in real life. Am I like that in business? Yes. Am I like that in a competition? Yes. But that's not how I am in real life."

But... Umm... If you spend 1/3 of your life (on average) at your job doing your business, doesn't that mean that you ARE that way in real life?

I work with this type of situation every day. I think that - for the most part - I'm exactly the same person in the office that I am out of it. (For better or worse.) My sense of humor is the same. My loyalties to my friends are the same. My desire to produce a good product that I can be proud of is the same. And, yes, the troubles I have with "suffering fools gladly" is exactly the same.

I work with two or three other people who have a tendency to drive me pretty darned close to the edge of wanting to not be professional with them. But they are friends with other co-workers I really enjoy. And I'm constantly told that they're "not like that when they're not at work."

My question? "Why not?" Or, more appropriately "So why do they have to be like that at work?"

People who don't speak to you at work, but want to be chummy as soon as you leave the office. People who are rude and unpleasant for 8 hours of the day, and are apparently sweet as pie as soon as the clock strikes 5. I'm sorry, but if we - as people - are really only awake for about 16 hours per day, and if 8 of those hours are at work, it seems to me that the jerkiness actually *is* the real life way that these people are.

On the other hand, last week I ran into a situation where someone in my office was being... well... to be polite... a total ass - as he has been ever since he started. And, for the first time, I decided not to just sit back and take it, and I told him so. I emailed later to apologize for being as straightforward as I had been, and offered a few tips for how we might work past the situation.

What I got in response was something from him saying "Hey. No problem. It happens." Which, I guess, means that he's accepting my apology for calling him an ass, but not apologizing for being one. Gee. That makes me feel *so* much better.

Sadly, I doubt that the people I work with will ever get to watch themselves on a reality TV show. And - considering that reaction from last week - I'm guessing that all we'd hear afterward would be "But, that's not how I am in my real life."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Food - Fondly

I found out this week that a favorite pizza joint (I started to write "restaurant" but that didn't sound right) in St. Paul is going to be changing hands later this month. Or, rather, it has already changed hands and is going to be having a full makeover - both of the decor and of the food - within the month.

The place is called Grandpa Tony's. It's been around for years and has really really good basic pizza. The thin crust pizza has a cracker-y crust around the edges, and the sauce is really good. And, well, there's word that the pizza will no longer be on the menu.

I'm guessing that Grandpa Tony's decided to call it quits because, a couple of years ago, a Little Caesar's pizza went in right across the street. So you had the old, good, more expensive pizza place across the street from the new, really pretty awful, cheap place. And, it seems, cheap but pretty awful has won.

So Christopher and I made a pilgrimage over there tonight with his sister (who will remain unnamed since I didn't ask if I could put her name in here) who lives in the area. The pizza was still basically the same, although there was a bit less pepperoni on it. But we had the same waiter we've had in the past and overall it was good.

The menu is definitely beginning to change (they've now got a wine list) and the decor has been re-done. And they now have 2 desserts on the menu, one of which was an amazing fresh, warm, gooey chocolate brownie with (not quite enough) vanilla ice cream.

We left having enjoyed the evening, although we are kind of worried that too many more changes might not be in our favor. We'll keep trying again, though, and hoping for the best. At least for now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Something That Makes Me Happy

I know that, yesterday, I posted about a few things that are kind of freaking me out in the world at the moment.

Well, today in my inbox I got a poem sent by the nice folks at Knopf Doubleday, home of the Borzoi Reader.

It seems that we, as a nation, have a brand-spankin' new Poet Laureate, in the person of Philip Levine.

Now, I have to admit that I don't know much about Mr. Levine. Nor do I really follow current poetical trends or anything. But I do love - rather a lot, actually - the fact that our nation, in all its screwed-up-ed-ness, still has a Poet Laureate.

And, having read the one poem which the nice people from the Borzoi Reader sent out to my email, I've got to admit that I'm rather glad that - for this moment in time - it's Mr. Levine.

The poem can be found by clicking this link. (I'm not copying and pasting because I don't want to muck with copyright stuff.)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Here's to mountains and oceans and valleys and all the little stuff that makes them so grand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Quickies

A few quick things, since I'm soon to head for bed, but I don't want to leave another day with a blank screen:

- I found out today that the person who keeps me sane at work will be leaving the company later this month. I suspect it will be a bumpy ride - personally and professionally - for a while.

- I'm kind of freaked out by all that is going on in the world at the moment. Riots all over England. Monetary weirdness. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

- I don't understand how our TiVo decides what things it wants to advertise when we press Pause. How is a luxury car tag connected to an ad for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in the background?

- Gorgeous weather, here, today. So of course I have a major sinus headache.

- Want to know why I'm firmly against the people who think that the Defense of Marriage Act is a good thing? Check out this link and tell me how what the government is doing in the name of that act is good.

- I did a bunch of weeding in the front planting beds (which are currently mostly devoid of plants), this past weekend. My legs are still killing me.

And, well, that gets you caught up on what's in my mind, lately. At least the short version. I'll try to give you the longer version, soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Working for/on the Weekend

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on editing a couple of things for the freelance side of my job. I do this fairly often (since my base pay is kind of bare minimum, it's how I afford to do fancy things like put gas in my car and buy new socks), and I usually get a good mix of manuscripts to work on.

I've worked on a lot of fiction (my favorite, I'll admit), as well as some political rants (from multiple sides of the aisles), some religious essays (and some religious tirades), and a bunch of memoirs. I guess that's what you get when you're working in self-publishing. Everyone is writing whatever stories they need to tell, and the strange and/or unsaleable isn't really weeded out along the way.

Some things I've edited have really not needed an editor (I've read a few things where - frankly - I only made one or two comments per chapter), and some have been really really bad. Things where the document wasn't even spell-checked. Or where the full "documentation" was something like "Wikipedia." Or one piece of fiction where the hero miraculously ran a mile across rain-slicked grass in a massive storm in the middle of the night, all with his hands in his pockets. And don't even get me started on the piece where one "journal entry" started in 1985 and ended 50 pages later in 1992...

But in each piece I've tried to find some glimmer of hope. Some spark to hold on to. The fact that Wikipedia guy had strong convictions. Or that the hero - with just a few keystrokes - was able to check his pocket for his keys, then take his hand back out to catch himself before he fell. Or that the journal entry (though in need of a major slice-and-dice) was filled with great details.

And then there came the past two things I've worked on.

One detailed the death, by drug overdose, of the author's child. It could have been a really moving story, had it not been written - and sent for publication - all within 8 months of the time the child died. So much anger and frustration and blame floating around in the manuscript. I wanted to sit the author down and say "Stop. Wait. Listen to what you're saying." But I know that other people in the office have already tried that, so I did my best to soften the edges of that book and sent it on its way desperately trying not to let it depress me - either for the subject matter or the serious damage done to the English language.

The piece I've been working on this weekend is a memoir of the author's parent's life, which was filled with love, abuse, alcohol, and - eventually - murder. About 1/4 of the book details the abusive relationship. About 1/2 of the book details the murder investigation and trial. About 9/10 of it is depressing, even though the author clearly means it to be a cautionary tale for others in the same position.

I feel pretty bad for Christopher when I'm working on things like this. They're so depressing to me, and I have to both read them for content while also paying close enough attention to make sure that they're all correct on the page. No skimming allowed. So I find myself barricaded in the basement for hours trying to get through these things and desperately looking forward to getting out the other side. (And then, ironically, in a month or so, I'll probably be writing some winning sales copy for the back covers in the hopes that the books will sell...)

From time-to-time on days like today I come upstairs and watch total fluff on TV, hug Christopher, scratch the pup, and hope that the next manuscript will be lighter.

Christopher uses times like this to remind me that it's extra money.

I use times like this to remind myself that my life is pretty darned good - especially since I have Christopher around to remind me of, well, anything.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life in HD

A few months ago, Christopher and I upgraded our main "normal" TV to a flat-panel HD one. (And, no, I can't give you more technical details than that.)

I have to admit that I've come to enjoy it. On some levels.

On the one hand, it's bigger and so you can watch wide-screen movies and TV shows without having it all either cropped or letterboxed to the point where what you're watching is almost too small to see. And the HD-ability is pretty cool. Seeing things like the blades of grass in a TV commercial (or being able to tell that the guy is actually standing on a green mat) is kind of cool.

On the other hand, it's bigger so you can see everything better. And the HD quality means that you see EVERYthing. And, well, there are some things that you really don't need to see all of. Like when you accidentally stop on a surgery channel when you were looking for FoodTV. Or when you're watching a movie and keep getting distracted because you can tell that the star is standing on a green mat, instead of actual grass.

And, you know, sometimes life is like that, too.

Sometimes you want to see every detail and know exactly what you're dealing with at all times - to be able to count every blade of grass and know that some are less-green than others.

Other times, though - not all the time, but occasionally for a break - it's nice to just see the green mat and be happy.

Now if only I could figure out a way to see the happy, albeit fake, green mat and color in my own blades of grass...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Just Not Us

My folks were here in town for the past few days, which is a major component in why I haven't blogged since last week.

They came into town on Friday night and we had a great time. We went to a Pink Martini concert (they performed with the Minnesota Orchestra) on Saturday night. On Sunday night we had dinner with Christopher's folks after having shopped and gone to a movie earlier in the day. Last night - capping off the food-fest - we went out for pizza before we came home and spent time getting everything packed up.

And, this morning, they packed up the car and headed south for Missouri.

The house is oddly quiet tonight. Odd, in part, because evenings at home with my folks are usually pretty calm - TV or book kind of nights. And, yet, the fact that we're down to half as many people in the house is definitely noticeable.

Travel... brings people together... and, well, it gives them a chance to get together again in the future.