Sunday, September 16, 2012

This has been a great week!

Yesterday, The Husband and I went to see John Lithgow perform a reading at the library. He was charming, gracious and just plain wonderful. He did book signings after and I had a copy of one of  his books inscribed for my Goddess Nieces and told him, "You know, if this acting thing doesn't work out, you should be a teacher." He smiled and said if he hadn't been in the arts, that's what he would  have done. Just a delightful, positive, creative soul.

After hanging out with my new artist acquaintance, I had a serious case of creative space lust. I used to have my work area on a desk I built from two old cabinets and a door and it worked well for me. I had space for all my supplies and the computer, but as the kids got older, they needed the computer, so I moved to the dining room table. It's worked okay as a work space, but it's a mess, because I keep thinking because it's the dining room, I have to keep it looking nice for company. Then I realized we hardly ever have company, and just use the table once a year at Christmas. So I'm in the process of completely making it my space. It will probably look strange, but I'll be able to spread out  more. I have to take down the existing light fixture, as I keep bonking my head on it, but I'll learn how to take down a light fixture.

Can't wait to make new messes!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I tried two new things today. One not so good, the other, really good.

I bought a Groupon several weeks ago for 10 classes at a gym for $40. Four bucks a class is a great deal, right? Only if you are already a triathlete. Before I went, I contacted the owner, stating I needed a class for old, fat people. He suggested the boot camp class. Took me nearly a month to muster the courage to go and I wish I'd used the pass for yoga instead. Seriously, why are there no BEGINNING fitness classes, only classes for semi-professionals?

The second thing was to visit the local school district's vo-tech facility's bake sale. They offer culinary classes for high school students and every Friday afternoon, have a bake sale of what they've made. Gorgeous pastries and breads.

I'll use the rest of the class passes for  yoga and think about pastry while I'm doing it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Had a great day yesterday!

Several weeks ago, I contacted the woman who is creating a new artspace in my town, asking if she needed any volunteers. She did, so I met with her and helped her set up a filing system and got started on getting her paperwork in one place, and she offered me a paying job!

She's an incredible artist and has many projects going on and needs someone to sort out her portfolio, photos, etc. She's also writing a book about a family member and needs me to sort out her research, notes, etc.

It will be part-time, as  needed, but this is one of those opportunities that I can't turn down. Since I'm a research and family history junkie, this is tailor-made for me. And I think it fell in my lap because I don't see this lay off as a tragedy, but opportunity.

And that, dear reader, is the power of optimism.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unemployment, Week One

So I made it through my first week of unemployment, and am still in great spirits. I have gotten so much accomplished that I feel like I've done more in the past week than the past two years. I've finished up so many projects around the house, applied for jobs and actually cooked.

The Big One, The Husband and I went to the KC Improv Fest on Saturday, in which a friend was performing. Colin Hanks, son of Tom, also performed and it was scary how much he looked and sounded like his dad. They even had the same haircut. 

The Husband has been so supportive, and even suggested I go back to school for my MLS, which I've wanted to do for about 15 years. He said to me on Day Three how glad he was to have his wife back. That shows how toxic my work situation was.

And I figured out how to put space between paragraphs in Blogger. For some reason it stopped. Now I just have to figure out how to get the text consistent. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Unemployment, Day 2

Second day of unemployment, and still feeling euphoric. I plan on taking the next few days to catch up on stuff I’ve put off since 1998, then blitz out applications and resumes. I feel like I’ve been hustling and scrambling to take care of my kids and house for the last 14 years. I think I’m entitled to a week off. So today was even more productive: • Did laundry in the middle of the week • COOKED dinner for the second time in a row (baked ziti, and The Little one liked it) • Painted a frame for The Big One’s room • Watched two episodes of Doctor Who • Cleaned out all the dead flora in the flower beds that were burned up in the summer drought. I didn’t even know it was possible for hostas to die. I have about 6 of my 40 plants left • Crocheted this little guy
• Watched the next president of the United States blow it out of the water Tomorrow looks to be even better!

Czarina Obviousa on Unemployment

So I got "let go" from my job two days ago. I would like to say, I'm embarrassed, depressed, panicked,anxious and desperate. I am none of these. I think the best word to describe how I feel is ecstatic. I hated my job. It was for a law firm owned by Idiot Boss, his idiot brother, Massenbill, and Idiot Boss' wife, Airhead. Idiot Owner has the worst adult ADD I've ever seen in my life, and the three years I worked there was a happiness-suck. The only real saving grace was my co-worker, Kathy with a K, and the two Cool Associates. However, one of the Cool Associates was also let go about a year and a half ago, so that sucked even more happiness out of me. Plus, there was literally NO WORK for me to do. Seriously, I was three months ahead on everything I'm supposed to do, so for the last year have been researching my family tree to look busy. Idiot Boss is so clueless with his own business it took him a year and a half to figure that out. I am feeling so optimistic about this, and it's very out of character for me. I think having dealt with The Ex and his unemployment record, I got the tools I need to get by. Plus, this time, I have The Husband who is really a partner, rather than an opponent. I have no idea what I'm going to do. I'm not sure I want to go back to an office job. Too much sitting around, too much office politics, and no creative thinking allowed. I'm hoping to get on part time somewhere, maybe at a bookstore, or a business I LIKE and go from there. I went to paralegal school so I could learn marketable skills, so I could support my girls, and I accomplished that. Even in this economy, admin jobs are two a penny. And my first day of unemployment was more productive than the last two years at my job: Had lunch with Cool Associate Bought paint and repainted holes in my living room Picked up The Little One from school Mopped kitchen COOKED dinner (gumbo from scratch) Detailed vacuum cleaner which yielded a bag and a half of vacuum cleaner jetsam and flotsam Cleaned out one of the many rat piles of paperwork that are scattered throughout the house Finished painting and attaching hardware to a table I'm repurposing for the upstairs TV Watched three episodes of Torchwood Crocheted two feet for the Andipose amigurumi I'm making for a young friend who just went to college Painted two piggy banks for a friend Applied for two jobs And that's just the first day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Czarina Obviosa on Procrastination

So The Little One asks if I’ll take her to Target, so she can get something for her iTouch. “Sure, honey, I’ll take you. Just as soon as your room is clean.” Note this is around 9:00 AM on a Sunday. She was in her room most of the day, with me sticking my head in, “How’s it going? Are you about finished?” “Almost” was her answer every time. We had to leave for a couple of hours in the afternoon and when we came back, she went back into her room, and I assumed she was cleaning it. At 7:40 PM, she comes into my room. “I’m ready to go to Target now.” I explain to her that Target closes at 8:00 PM on a Sunday night and, the “Sherlock” season finale starts in 10 minutes. She got all huffy and mad at me, and I said it really shouldn’t take a person almost 9 hours to clean one room. I’ve been doing a lot of “your actions have consequences” with her a lot lately. I was cleaning her room a couple of weeks ago, and found her order form for a yearbook under her bed. The form that was supposed to be turned in in December. Five months ago. I told her, “I guess you won’t be getting a yearbook this year, because I never got this form. FIVE MONTHS AGO.” She’s been doing this a lot with other events. Last Monday at 6:10 PM, she announced she wanted to go to the school skating party. The party that started at 6:00 PM on Monday. The only reason I acquiesced on that one was because she found her own ride to and from the skating rink and paid for it with her own money. She’s been forgetting a lot of things like this lately. Part of my slacker mom philosophy is to not continually check up on “Do you have any paperwork from school, scouts, band, etc. that I need to see?” so that they will take responsibility for it on their own and if they miss out on something, it falls to them to sort it out. This has worked pretty well so far. A few missed events will cure them of that. However, I remember her older sister, who is almost anally responsible, did the same thing at about the same age. I have a theory that because their bodies are going through all these hormonal changes, energy and blood flow is diverted from the brain. Hopefully I can just wait it out and when the hormones have run their course, her memory will come back.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Czarina Obviousa on Perspective

Today marks seventeen years since the Murrah Building, and 168 innocents in Oklahoma City were destroyed by domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh and others. It also is the 19th anniversary of the ATF invasion of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.

Whenever this date rolls around, being the egotistical being that I am, I remember these events at they personally applied to me.

On February 28, 1983, my cousin Blair and I were driving from Austin to our homes in Dallas. We’d made a weekend trip to visit my cousin JL to make plans for a wedding shower JL was throwing the following month for who is now known as The Ex and I. It was raining and the traffic on I-35 heading north came to a standstill near Salado, Texas. We exited and decided to get out in town, because Salado is one of those cute little towns with cute shopping, etc.

While we were in one of the cute little stores, one of the proprietors was watching TV on a little black and white portable. We asked if he knew what was going on with the traffic, and he said there was some kind of religious cult near Waco that was being invaded by the FBI.

Not the answer we expected.

So we waited it out, had lunch, did some more shopping, and headed back to Dallas after a few hours.

Thus began the 51 day media circus surrounding the event.

At that time, I was working at the JCPenney in Lewisville, Texas as a visual merchandiser. The VM workshop was just past a bank of TV displays and every day, they were tuned to the pasture outside the compound. It really became a non-story after a month or so.

Until April 19, 1993.

The Ex and I got married on April 17, 1993. Two days after the wedding, we were at the Dillard’s in North Park Mall in Dallas, redeeming gift certificates and exchanging wedding presents. We watched the compound burn down in the electronics department’s TV displays.

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have taken the timing of this event as a cosmic warning about my marriage.

When the Murrah Building came down, there was so much confusion at the very beginning. I have two very close friends who live in OKC, and immediately called them, but they had no more information than I, but they were both safe.

Of course later the entire world would know all the detail of this tragedy.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who links these events, but it does give me an annual reminder that I really have a good life. And, like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, it can all come crashing down in an instant.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Czarina Obviousa on Life Changing Moments

A few years ago, when The Ex was giving me so much grief, I was crying to my neighbor across the street. She told me, “One of these days I’m going to see you running and screaming naked up the hill and I’m going to tell my husband, ‘Yup, he did it. Layne’s finally lost her mind.’”

I have since called that moment when you realize something isn’t working and you have to make a change a “running up the hill, screaming and naked” moment.

I experienced one such moment this morning when a client called and wanted me to walk him through his settings on his email window so he could read his email better. I do not work in IT. I am a paralegal. If you are a young, college-educated person who has held a job anytime within the last ten years, you should know how to set your email preferences. You should also the difference between a Word file and a PDF.

I think I need to run screaming naked up the hill to look for a new job.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Czarina Obviousa on World Travel

Three years ago, The Big One and I were fortunate enough to take a school trip to Washington D.C. This year, we were fortunate in that we took a trip to London with her school’s marching band.

This was a trip we had been planning since she joined the band in the fifth grade. The marching band takes this trip every three years and marches in the London New Year’s Day Parade. When I was single, it was truly a dream that both of us would be able to take this trip, due to finances, but married or single, I was determined to make it happen.

The trip was worth every penny.

There were about 140 of us on the trip, students and chaperones. That is an almost overwhelming number of people to move across an ocean, but everything was planned so well, that it was amazingly smooth. I had three girls in my group, including The Big One, and we had plenty of free time to explore London on our own.

We’d made plans as a group to see certain attractions, such as the London Eye (if you ever go on this, use the Fast Pass option so you don’t spend more time waiting in line than on the actual Eye), Platform 9 ¾ (Which is nowhere near the actual Platform. It’s outside of the station, across the street from McDonald’s) British Museum, Parliament, Big Ben, etc., but I think we got more out of just walking around and seeing where the city took us. We walked at least 6 miles a day, and discovered things like Goodenough College and St. Mungo’s.

We had structured tours on the coach (it’s “coach,” not “bus” over there) with our tour guide, Darling Nikki. Nikki was smart as a whip and even though I’m sure she repeats the same information over and over again, was enthusiastic about her presentations and answered everyone’s questions. I have to give a shout out to The Big One’s Euro History teacher, because at least one kid knew the answer to every question Nikki asked.

Our first coach tour with Nikki was a general sweep of the London high points. We cruised by the Royal Albert Hall, Grosvenor Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Parliament, No. 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, Harrod’s, the American Embassy, Piccadilly Circus, the West End and ended up with a tour of the Tower of London.

The Tower was nothing like I thought. I knew it had been a prison and where the Crown Jewels were displayed, but I expected it to be more prison-like. There was a great display in the White Tower of arms and armor. We whizzed by the Crown Jewels on the people-mover so quickly, I hardly got a look at them, but was later told they were replicas anyway. We toured the dungeon and got some great photos of the Tower Bridge.

After our tour, we were free to explore on our own and got our first experience with the London Underground. We did pretty well, but did hit some hiccups getting back to the hotel because several of the lines were closed. We eventually found Platform 9 ¾, after some assistance from the very helpful transportation worker. We found ourselves on Carnaby Street and Soho and ended up in the M & M store. The M & M store is pretty much a huge tourist trap, and I was extremely disappointed they did not carry raspberry chocolate almond M & Ms.

The next day we got back on the coach and headed north to Windsor Castle. Again, we were treated to a history lesson from Nikki, and I still can’t believe she can keep all those kings and queens straight. We were able to tour some of the inside of the castle and I think everyone’s favorite was the princesses’ dollhouse. Even in December, the grounds were beautiful and think they must be truly spectacular in the summer.

When we returned to London, my little group had our time on the London Eye. I am a total tightwad about touristy things, but this was totally worth it. After that, we walked over to the National Gallery. We had a short time there, but I think we all got to see the high points.

That evening, The Big One and I saw a performance of Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. I’ve seen Phantom twice before and while I enjoyed those performances, it’s not one of my favorite shows, but because this was in a small theater or maybe because I was watching it with The Big One and it’s her favorite show, but this performance was amazing. We were close enough to see details and some of the behind the scenes work. The marching band’s halftime show this year was music from Phantom, so it made the event even more special.

The next day we headed north again to Stonehenge and Bath. Any photos or images I’ve ever seen of Stonehenge do not even begin to do it justice. It was everything I imagined it to be.

We drove from Stonehenge to Bath, and most on our coach fell asleep. The Big One and I may have been the only exceptions because we didn’t want to miss a minute.
We toured the baths at Bath and the town. I insisted the girls tour the Assembly Rooms, even though apparently The Big One and I were the only ones who’d read anything by Jane Austen. I got chills, thinking that JANE AUSTEN HAD ACTUALLY BEEN IN THESE ROOMS. And the fifth grade boy in my got the giggles because the Jane Austen Center is on Gay Street in Queen’s Square. Also, apparently, there was a pizza baker at the birth of Baby Jesus.

The whole city was beautiful, even on a drizzly day and unlike London, felt like a real English town, not just a business metropolis.

That evening, we met up with my old friend, English Boyfriend. We dated for about ten minutes in college, and he lives about 2 hours north of London. I hadn’t seen him in 26 years, and I learned it’s nearly impossible to find anything to wear that makes one look 26 years younger. He took us to Covent Gardens and met us the next morning at 221b Baker Street. That afternoon, the girls and I toured the British Museum, the Charles Dickens House, the Globe Theatre, the Tate Gallery and walked over the Millennium Bridge.

Our last full day was the New Year’s Day parade. The kids all got on a coach to go to the parade start site, and I sneaked off to get a few photos of Abbey Road. It started to rain about an hour before the band passed me at the end of the parade route, but I saw nothing but smiles on all the kids.

I’m so grateful we had this opportunity. I’ve dreamed of going to England since I was a kid, and am so glad I got to experience it with The Big One. She even actually wanted to hang with me on the coaches and tours rather than the other girls, so we really got to spend a lot of time together.

Here’s what I learned:
• No matter how old they are, you have to tell kids things over and over again. While taking a photo of No. 10 Downing Street, I had the follow conversation. FOUR TIMES. “What are you taking a picture of?” “No. 10 Downing Street” “What’s that?” “It’s where the Prime Minister lives.” REPEAT FOUR TIMES.
• No matter how old they are, kids are still going to get away from you.
• Even though Tourguide Nikki was cute, blonde, skinny and brilliant, she had bad teeth, so that English stereotype may hold true.
• Avoid Asian tour groups at all costs. Another stereotype, I know, but in our experience, it was absolutely true.
• Even if I walk 10 miles a day and eat nothing but sandwiches, I will not lose weight.
• It is possible for me to sleep sitting up on an airplane if I take enough Ambien.
• My 10th grade daughter will probably be fine in the world on her own.
• Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is much smaller than I thought. But it seems larger than life in person.
• The car-payment boots I bought were totally worth it.

And for the first time in my life, my mom was wrong about something. Wearing jeans in England will not make me look like a tourist because EVERY DAMN PERSON IN LONDON IS A JEANS-WEARING-TOURIST.