Thursday, May 30, 2013

9 hundred and 90-six - Change of Scenery

Sometimes, what you really need in life is just a quick change of scenery. Anything from just sitting in a different chair to taking a day off from work can be good. Although an actual change of scenery, where travel is involved, is often better.

I've travelled a decent amount since I started this blog. Almost one tenth of the posts have been tagged with "travel" - although many of those were just wishful thinking. I've written about trips to Canada, the North Shore of Lake Superior, and New York City. I've told you about family reunions, and Vegas and Los Angeles.

I haven't told you about where we've gone for Christopher's 40th birthday because we haven't planned that trip, yet (although the rest of the birthday celebration took place 4 months ago). Which is not to say that I don't have a list of places already percolating in the back of my brain. Possible trips to Disney parks and Parisian hotels. Or the kinds of travel that involve changes in jobs - or changing offices in the same job (my company is actually moving offices in a month).

For now, though, I wanted to give you a heads-up that I'm considering changing the scenery a little closer to home: the framing around this very blog. As much as I like this current layout, I just kind of think it's time for something different. I'll start poking around and looking at what's available and maybe I'll roll something out after we hit 1,000.

In the meantime, I'm going to change my view of the living room by moving from the recliner to the couch, since it's a bit difficult to share the chair with the pooch and type all at the same time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nine Nine Five - What a Difference a Year Makes

I'm currently counting down my final three hours of being 45. I've been trying to figure out what to say about the past year and it dawned on me that while we're dealing with the cold, grey, damp spring/summer this year, last year at this time Christopher and I were down in Key West trying not to melt. 

Overall, I know that that doesn't really summarize the past year. I mean... There were all sorts of highs and lows in the past year... one week in Florida twelve months ago doesn't equate to a full year's activity.

We were eating great food, going places we'd never been, playing tourist, being social, and spending a lot of one-on-one time together. And... hmm... ya know... maybe that does kind of summarize the past year of my life, when you come right down to it.

But, at the same time, the difference between it being so freakin' hot in Key West that we basically just went back to our room and fell onto the bed under the air conditioning each afternoon last year -- and the fact that this year I feel like I might be coming down with a cold after spending too much time trying to work in the yard while it was drizzling last weekend is just a tad extreme.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nine Hundred and Ninety-four - Planting for the Future

In the same way that I've been thinking about what this blog might be in the next thousand posts, Christopher and I have been doing some work on the "curb appeal" around the house.

Last year, we had the 50-year-old evergreens torn out. We hired our "yard guy" to do it for us, because we knew it would be a bugger. And, yet, when he got done he commented that it was really a bugger. (And who is the professional in this?)

So we re-defined the planting beds, and then put in some anchor plants. Hydrangea "trees" on the outside edges of the house, and a small set of evergreens on the actual corner of the house. And we mulched everything else.

Last summer, I put in some small plantings, just so it didn't look barren. And we wanted some time to decide exactly what we wanted to do. So we went to the garden store, yesterday. Where, after two hours of wandering and pushing a great big cart, we paid quite a lot of money and filled the back of the car with grasses and peonies and a few other assorted things.

Five or so hours after we got home, we had everything in the ground. A nice gathering of peonies on the northwest edge of the house near the hydrangea, with grasses between the front windows. And an alternating set-up of grasses and peonies along the side of the house. We've planted for "visual interest" as well as - hopefully - practicality, since we want everything to just fill in and self-maintain.

Which is what I guess I kind of always hope that my blog is doing/will do.

Here's to seeing what all of them look like in two or three years' time.

Friday, May 24, 2013

993 - Friday Food Flashback

To start the long weekend, our offices closed early today at 2. It's one of the perks of working for a small company that the boss can just decide to do this. Granted, it would be nice if he'd let us know in advance so we could plan for it, but we tend to not complain as we dash out the door.

The best thing about getting off early from work is the feeling that you've got some kind of "free" time that you didn't have before. As you move through the next couple of hours, it feels like you're playing some kind of hooky - even though it's company-sanctioned.

I had skipped lunch today since I figured I'd just get something when I got home, and after a quick trip to the grocery store, I did decide to have something to eat.

There was plenty of stuff I could have munched on, but I decided to go with one of my favorite summer foods - oatmeal and brown sugar.

No. This isn't cooked oatmeal with brown sugar. This is "Quick Oats" (the flat stuff from the cardboard can) with actual brown sugar, mixed together and eaten cold/dry. And, if you're doing it right, it's eaten out of a coffee mug.

I have no idea where my mother came up with this food. I do know that when I was growing up it was her way of getting the kids (or at least the youngest kid - me) out of the house for a little while. She'd put about a cup of oatmeal and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar into a (plastic) mug, and send me out to sit on the back steps (or, more often, the swing set) to eat it with a spoon.

As I've gotten older, I have come to occasionally add other things to it. Coconut is a nice addition, because it's just slightly different from the texture of the oatmeal. Chocolate chips are nice because... well... they're chocolate chips. But the main thing is the oatmeal and brown sugar - and the mug.

I'm sure that, way back when, the mug was the main choice because it was easier to hold than a bowl, but you could still use a spoon with it. These days, the mug is just part of the ritual of it.

So today I had my short workday, my pseudo-hooky, and my mug o' oatmeal and brown sugar (with a scattering of chocolate chips). If that's not the perfect way to start a long weekend, then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nine Hundred Ninety-two

Believe it or not, I am only nine posts away from my 1,000th post on here. I don't know that I ever imagined that I would write 1,000 different little bits of information and send them out for the world to see.

I do know that I had plans to be much more organized. I hoped to have themed days that I followed up on each week, and to be photo-filled and all that jazz. But then life kept getting in the way. I'd end up writing about events weeks after they happened, or the pictures wouldn't transfer right. And so I opted to leave those things to people who are just more organizationally gifted than I am.

Instead, I've put together this mish-mash of things, where I haven't even pointed out that I had John Barrowman sighting on one of the "Dr. Who" retrospective shows the other week - where he switched back and forth between American and Scottish accents.

You may not believe it, but I started this thing almost FIVE years ago. Geez. I started work at my current job just over four years ago. Considering that I feel like I've been at this job for an eternity, I wonder what that means about how long I've been blogging?

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do for the next few posts leading up to number 1,000 - and I definitely have no idea what I'm going to do for the ones after that - but for now I'd like to thank you for coming along for the ride.

And, in the spirit of celebrating and remembering to live each day to the fullest, I offer you a song which has had a lot of air play on the radio stations around here. It's also, apparently, #1 on iTunes in the US (beating out major superstars) - even though it has no major label backing.

It's kind of a tear-jerker if you read the info as it goes by on the screen (and definitely a tear-jerker if you know more of the story), but as a stand-alone song, I love that it's about spending time together and making the most of enjoying every moment with the people you hold dear. And, since I learned how to get video to embed just a few weeks ago, here it is:

(All of the proceeds from the iTunes sales of that song and the album it is off of go to fund research into OsteoSarcoma, so... yeah... there's that, too.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Professional Paranoia

I fully admit that, in my job, I'm never going to save the world by italicizing a book title. No one who references my job is going to say that I saved lives by formatting the footnotes correctly. No one who points at what I've done is going to tell me that life on this earth was altered because I corrected the use of a comma.

And yet, every day when I'm working on an edit, I worry that I'm going to get something wrong, and someone is going to complain.

Whenever someone does a proofread after I've done an initial edit, I'm always freaked out when errors are found - even when I can tell that they were created by the author or the formatter.

On some level, it's professional pride in what I do. But it's also paranoia.

It's like when I'm cooking a meal for a group, and I find out three days later that someone who was there isn't feeling well. I'll spend a while running it all through my head, making sure I didn't accidentally cook something that the person was allergic to. Even if the person simply has a cold - or a twisted ankle - which would have nothing to do with what was eaten.

So, when we got a physical sample of the cookbook that I did a rush proofread on a couple of months ago, I immediately went to check it out. It looked good. But there were pages in the book which I knew I hadn't seen in the proofread, which I opted to simply ignore.

And then someone came over to me and pointed at a page and said "uh-oh..." and I looked and immediately noticed a major typo on the bottom of the page. One of about 20 words on the page had a letter missing. And I looked closer and thought "I've never seen that page before." And I said to my coworker, "That's new copy - I didn't see that." She simply chuckled and blew it off, blaming it on the author and his penchant for changing things over and over.

But I couldn't let it go. Two days later, after at least one semi-sleepless night, I pulled up the document on my home computer (because I had done the proofread at home since it was a rush job), and - sure enough - the text on the bottom of that page was brand new.

Is the change from "May" to "My" on that page going to change the world? No. But knowing that the error wasn't mine certainly helped me to sleep better the past few nights.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Night... Old

There are those things that you deal with that make you realize, kind of out of the blue, that you're no longer as young as you used to be.

You find a grey hair - in your eyebrow.

You do about an hour's worth of yard work and your back feels like you've been working all day. (Believe me, when *I* start to think about how good a massage might feel, something is definitely wrong.)

Or you run into your neighbor when out walking the dog and decide to spend the evening on your neighbor's deck having some wine and hanging out. And as you start to feel tired, you gradually make your excuses and head home, where you turn on the TV and realize that it is just barely after 10pm.

What's worse is that I'm pretty sure that the three or four glasses of wine I had over the course of four hours are probably going to give me a hangover in the morning.

Of all of the things that I've lost over the past 20 years, the ability to fend off a hangover is definitely one of the things I miss most.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Newly Minted Possibilities

Tonight's blog post needs backstories - not just one, but two. But I'll make them relatively short and they'll make the post worth it. I promise.

Backstory #1 - I grew up in a small town in South Dakota. My parents have been together for 57 years. When I think of the Marriage Equality stuff, I think of that small-town upbringing and my parents' marriage and it makes me happy and excited and a little... I dunno... let's call it "wistfully ponderant." (You already knew most of this if you've been paying attention.) 

Backstory #2 - In small-town South Dakota (see above), whenever there is a major life event being celebrated (birth, graduation, milestone birthday, wedding, shower, etc.) people make cream cheese mints. When I was growing up, the "mint molds" - were in short supply and people would trade them back and forth. 

We borrowed a bunch of them prior to my older sister's wedding, so that we could make tons of mints - I believe they were in the same colors as the bridesmaids' dresses - blue, green, and yellow, maybe? (Or was there a peach color, too? I remember having to mix food colors at some point.) 

When we were getting ready for graduation, it was a challenge, because lots of people all needed those roses and leaves so that they could be prepared for their own parties. 

For Christopher's birthday party last winter, I made mints, in fact (blue roses and green leaves), to match his birthday cake. They looked like this: 

They're kind of time consuming, but overall they're pretty easy to make, which might be why they're a cornerstone of so many of the memories of the celebrations in my life. 

So... there are the backstories. And now on to the "real" story.

With all of the Marriage Equality stuff going on this past week, we've been kind of insular in Minnesota. Pretty much everyone we know knows what's going on, but you kind of forget that you haven't talked to everyone about it at every turn. 

Well, on Monday evening, the phone rang. By the caller ID, I knew that it was my folks - who had just returned home from their night away celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary. 

I picked up the phone, and the first thing I heard was my mom saying "So, what color mints do you and Christopher want?"

And, you know, just hearing that made all the rest of the celebrations pale in comparison.

I think you'll agree that it also solidified my parents as, quite possibly, the coolest parents around. 

(Although - a reminder - we're not planning any mint-related celebrations at this time.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wallflowers Wednesday - Episode 5

Alright... Since no one asked questions after last week, I decided we should do this, again.

Today's "Wallflowers" episode is Episode #5. It's longer than the rest - and a little darker (both in tone, and in lighting). Even so, to me, this snarky, sad, joyous, wistful, ridiculous episode is pretty much what a great evening at home with friends is supposed to be like - conversation, challenge, and togetherness. (Granted, to be brutally, boringly, honest, no gathering in my home would ever include the pot smoking. Although... knowing some of our friends, much of the conversation might have happened along the way even without it...)

So, yes, some of you will want to be wary of the language and smoking in the episode, but if you have issues with that just ignore it and pay attention to everything else. I defy you to not identify with at least two of the characters at least once or twice in the episode. (And, yes, I still want Bryce's hair.)


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuneful Tuesday - How My Mind Works

As you can probably imagine, it was a little hard for me to focus on much of my work, yesterday. Instead, I was keeping one eye on my edit and one on the proceedings at the MN State Senate.

But, as you probably know by now, my brain works in kind of odd, musical-theater ways. And so I found myself with primarily three songs going through my mind whenever I wasn't listening to the debates.

Through the magic of the Internet and the fine folks over at YouTube, I figured I would share them with you, here.

First, there's what was going through my head Monday morning while walking the dog:

"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella

Then, as things got closer and closer to their conclusion in the Senate, I found myself flipping over and watching this video, simply because it is so fun and so full of future promise:

The Glee version of "This is the New Year".

Instead of going out to party with people and celebrate, Christopher and I came home to have a "normal" evening together - walking the dog, having dinner, sitting on opposite ends of the couch with our laptops - that kind of thing. And, with that, I found myself with this running through my head:

"A Quiet Thing" from Flora, the Red Menace.

And there you have it: my vision of Marriage Equality in three songs.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Question I Never Really Expected

Today, as some of you probably already know, is my parents' 57th wedding anniversary. And, no, that's not a typo. And even though I frequently forget how old I am, I've done the math multiple times on this, and I'm pretty sure it's right, since I turn 46 in a few weeks.

In an age where people talk about divorces and second (or third) marriages almost as often as they talk about "first" marriages, I understand how amazing 57 years of marriage to one person is. And I'm also old enough to know that this does not mean that they've had 57 years of "wedded bliss." While they're still two of the most romantic people I know, theirs has not been a marriage of happily-ever-after fairy-tale-style smooth sailing.

What it has been, instead, is a marriage. It's been arguments and swearing. It's been tears and frustration. And it's been kids and grandkids and dancing in the kitchen. And kisses that my siblings and I still pretend not to see from time to time. And it makes me happy and excited to look at them and think "Of all the things I inherited from them, that's what I most want people to see in me."

Which makes all the recent legislative news in Minnesota that much more interesting.

You see, after we in Minnesota defeated an "Anti-Gay Marriage" amendment to the state constitution last fall, we've had an amazing thing happen. The state House of Representatives voted last Thursday to approve the "Marriage Equality" bill - which would grant gay people the right to legally marry. The bill goes to the state Senate, tomorrow, where it is also expected to pass (based on the fact that people seem to be voting along party lines, and the Democrats took control last November).

Assuming this happens, then Governor Mark Dayton has said that he will sign the bill - and hold a huge celebration for it - on Tuesday. Marriages could begin as soon as August 1st.

On Thursday, gay men and lesbians in Minnesota started showing up on Facebook with new relationship statuses of "Engaged." There's a restaurant in town offering to throw a full wedding and reception on August 1st for one lucky couple. And there's one strange side effect I hadn't expected: I've been getting asked by friends (and strangers, too, actually) if Christopher and I will get married.

Many years ago, before I came out, I had always kind of assumed that a wedding would be in my future. But after 20+ years (I came out late) of being told that I couldn't get married, I kind of stopped thinking about it. And now the possibility is suddenly there in front of me, once again.

It's oddly exciting and terrifying all at once. It's a feeling of power, sort of. A feeling that each one of us - gay or straight or somewhere in between - has the right to take destiny into our own hands. It's such a simple thing - something so many people take for granted. The chance to say "Yes, we're going to get married" and, equally as empowering, the right to say "No, we're going to stay the way we are."

Even though I have no idea what our eventual answer will be, the more I think about it, the more thrilling that question - that simple "Do you think you two will get married?" - becomes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Write, Delete, Write. Repeat.

I'm having one of those days/weeks where I seem to constantly second guess what I'm doing.

Do I really want to wear this shirt, today? (Nope, take it off and reach for something else.)

Is that really what I want to take for lunch? (Nope, give up and decide you're going to buy something, instead.)

Should I stay and do the dishes, or will that make me late? (Don't do them, you'll be late.) (Oh, but how 'bout just one dish? Or a few more?)

How about writing a blog post about what you're watching on TV? (Nah. Boring topic.)

What about one that talks about some of the funny things you've been finding at work, lately? (Hmm... For that I'd need to get some direct quotes, so maybe next time.)

Why not discuss something like belated birthdays, or Mother's Day ads, or finding that the stores are already in full summer swing, when we've only been in spring for about a week? (Just not feeling those.)

So I keep writing the starts of posts - if I even get that far, and then deleting them and moving on to the next one.

Wednesday's post was easy - it was about something that happened (in essence) that day. I think I only delete the first couple of lines once before moving forward.

Perhaps a good night's sleep will help. If only I could stop trying to figure out what to blog about and go to bed...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Wallflowers" Wednesday

Are you watching "Wallflowers" - the web series - yet? If not, why are you not watching it?

It's an amazing little show. Each 15-minute episode is a look into the lives of a group of hopefulllessly single New Yorkers, just trying to get through the day.

The first episode (which - I think - I've actually gotten to link in at the bottom of this post!) starts out in a kind of "daters anonymous" group meeting, which is led by the oddly ominous Janice. And it's there that we meet Bryce, Victoria, Martin, and much of the rest of the core cast. Our other primary location? Bryce's office, populated by people who could probably make life great (if you worked with them) or hell (if you needed them to do something they didn't want to do).

It's a comedy, sure, but it's also a little more serious than that. The characters obviously (to us, at least) like each other. They just don't want to admit it. At least not to each other.

There have been four episodes, so far - plus a nifty little teaser between episodes 3 and 4 to explain the recasting of one of the main characters. (One of the problems with a web series is that good actors - and this series is filled with great actors - occasionally have to take other jobs to do things like pay the bills. This isn't a problem with most TV series, partially because the pay is usually better. Partially because the actors usually aren't.)

Anyway... There have been four episodes and the teaser (if you choose to watch it), so far, and so even if you watch them all at once that's only about an hours' worth of TV. And there aren't any commercials, so you're not committing a ton of time to it. Although - trust me - you wouldn't mind committing more time to it.

I have found myself at the end of each episode wanting to know more about these characters. Wishing that I could hang out with (most of) them. Hoping to get to know them better - though not too much better.

And, although you really ought to start with episode 1 (below) so that you can get a good feel for the characters, I will say that if you've ever had one of those blind dates, you're absolutely going to love episode 4. (If you've never worked with an embedded video [Hi, Mom and Dad!] you can click on the arrow in the middle of that image for "Play" and if you want to enlarge it, you can click on the little "square" in the lower-right corner of that image, as well.)

Once you watch that one, you can find out a lot more about the show - and find the other episodes - at (Or if any of you need me to put up links to the other episodes, just let me know in the comments on this post and I'll do that for you!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

When Things Go Right

At work, I have been dealing with a really, truly, mediocre piece of non-fiction. Well, it's sort of non-fiction, but it has a bunch of fiction in it.

It's a kind of "how-to" for dealing with some of life's less pleasant legal situations. And while a bunch of it is fact-based, there are also a lot of mostly-not-real "what-if" situations described in it.

And, because of it's strange, genre-straddling nature - and because I was working on two other high-profile pieces early last month - this one maxed out my time. (For context, normally, for a first-round edit, we get a maximum of 4 business weeks - you'll need to know that in about two or three paragraphs.)

I spent all last week frustrated with how little progress I was making. And I kept having to remind myself that there were so many different little weird ancillary problems coming up in the office - and the book had so many little strange quirks of its own - that it wasn't my fault that I was cutting it so close to the deadline.

So I actually brought it home with me this weekend and spent time on it, yesterday. And then I went to work an hour early, today, to get a jump on it. And then, about 2 this afternoon, I started to try to figure out when it had been assigned to me.

On first figuring, I'd had it for over 3 weeks (I took it over from someone else who was too busy to get to it). Then I looked closer. I finished a behemoth proofread 3.5 weeks ago. But then I had done a 2-week edit. So, really, I had only had this one on my desk for... umm... gee... I guess that explains why the edit seemed to be kind of a killer. Nothing like doing 4 weeks' worth of editing in about 1.5 weeks.

But it's done (for now - it'll be back in a few weeks for another go-round). And my calendar's next true deadline is about 2 weeks out. Of course, having said that, I'm sure that all hell will break loose tomorrow. But at least from about 4:45 this afternoon until I left the office at 5, my work life was grand.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Time Shift

I've realized, recently, that the worst thing about the weird weather isn't the fact that I'm still driving to work during white-out snow conditions in May.

It's not even that I've only worn shorts twice so far this year.

The worst part is that, since we really haven't had spring, yet, by the time it finally rolls around it will already be mid-May.

And then, if the weather follows the past few years, we'll be in summer by mid-June.

This means that winter - which typically (at least mentally) only lasts until March or April, will have lasted an extra two months.

I'm sure that if the weather patterns stay like this for the next few years, we'll all get used to it and re-adjust. But, for now, I find myself looking at the temperature and watching the frozen precip fall, and thinking that we must still be in March.

This is, obviously, why the year seems to go so quickly.

And, no matter how you look at it, it kind of sucks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sometimes I Forget Things

Sometimes I forget a lot of things, actually. 

Things like the hammer I meant to bring up from the basement, which was the only reason I actually went down there in the first place, although by the time I came back upstairs I'd also changed into my pj's, brushed my teeth, and brought up sodas to put in the fridge. 

Or whether you list the names "Last, First" or "First Last" when writing up footnotes in Chicago Manual of Style style. 

Or that if I want to get someone's birthday card to him/her on time, I probably need to send it more than two days in advance (or, more likely this year, two weeks after).

But one of the things I've noticed that I've been forgetting often, lately, is what it feels like to enjoy a job. And, along with that, what it is I really want to do with my life. 

I keep hoping that sometime I'll be walking into the basement, realizing that the book I meant to take downstairs with me is still on the dining room table, and it will hit me. 

I try to convince myself that opening myself up to that type of serendipity is why it's okay that I'm forgetful about other things. 

In the meantime, I'm kind of just happy that I haven't been kicked in the head by a moose - although some days it sort of feels that way.