Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes Pictures Aren't Worth 1000 Words. They're Just Annoying.

I didn't want to forget anything that I wanted to tell you about today, so I drew a picture to remind myself:

Can you figure out what the heck I'm trying to tell you? The killer from Scream is singing? I'm making a pie filled with nuclear waste this weekend? I don't believe in giant dinosaurs? Good guesses!

First off, the pumpkin/fire/weights drawing from above:

Anthony emailed this picture to me today. He named it "Hell_Fire". I know I put a picture of our nameless, sexless pumpkin up yesterday, but I thought this was funny - is the pumpkin upset because of the fire? Or because it thinks I'm going to make it lift weights? Not sure.
The mask/music notes are supposed to represent what we're doing tonight, Halloween night. We're going to see a friend and his band play at a place called "The Boiler Room". It's downstairs from another (gay)bar called "Scandals". Honestly, by the time this show starts tonight I'll probably be asleep in a pile of candy wrappers, half-eaten Snickers bars and silly string. I'm lying. I'm not even into Halloween enough to have Snickers in the house to half-eat. Kids don't come to my house, probably because the lawn is so unkempt and they think a couple of crazy cat-people live there. I don't bother buying Halloween candy because no one will ring our doorbell anyways. And then we'll be forced to eat it. Anyways, the plan is to go to this show, but if it really starts at 11 or midnight as rumored, I'll be in bed with the cats, sleeping.
I drew a picture of the calendar I'm marking on to count down my last weeks here. The drawing of the calendar I made is so bad I'm embarrassed, can I change my answer and say that it's...a window with drapes on it? Yes,it's a picture of the window treatments I'm going to purchase this weekend. For my grandmother. Can I please move on? This is going nowhere.
This weekend I plan on voting! In North Carolina we have early voting and there has been a huge turnout so far. I don't want to go too political on this blog, but that picture of the earth with the red "Non" symbol on it - it means I'm going to vote for the person who was not alive when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
I'm not making nuclear pie - I'm making pumpkin pie. I'm going to make our carved pumpkin watch me cut up and cook one of its friends...maybe it can see into the future and that's why it looks so freaked out in the previous picture.

Wow, why did I draw so much crap on that illustration? Just killing time, obviously. The other drawings represent me sleeping, working on an art project involving a pink tree, and booking a rental car for when Anthony and I go visit the homeland for the holidays. I haven't been up North in four years! I can't believe it's been so long.
Speaking of ridiculously long's been 15 flipping weeks since I sent my stuff to Ten Speed. And...someone help me, I can't remember, three or four weeks since I sent the follow up. I'm really starting to wonder if my mail going into some alternate universe - but my water is still running so obviously my utilities payment doesn't enter another dimension. Do you think it's something like how you always lose one sock in the dryer? You never lose a whole shirt or pair of pants. Maybe it's the same with submission packages to publishers, only they travel to a distant Galaxy, the rest of the mail goes to it's proper destination.
I'm done pondering and done trying to explain my lame illustration. On Monday I'll have pictures of wonderful pies and trees and art projects and empty candy wrappers and me napping and the drool on my pillow...I love the weekends.
Edited this afternoon to add Amy's hilarious ideas about my picture. I left her my illustration over my lunch break in order to hear her interpretation of my weekend...some highlights:
"A pumpkin from hell will force you to work out. If you
don't workout the grim reaper will show up at your door with a singing
"It appears you'll be voting on two important issues:
1.)Voting against the annual T-Rex 'Round The Globe running event. 2.)The
legalization of mango-steering-fluid pie."
" hope to load your 1988 Macintosh computer into a
poorly designed car that desperately needs new tires and drive to a very large
modern art sculpture symbolizing your level of knowledge on the cloning
tadpoles. And then you'll make another piece of tree art. Surprise,
Well, she got that last thing about the tree art right!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sexless Pumpkin

This is going to be a quick post - I'm talking to my life coach, Barbara, over my lunch hour. I haven't spoken to her in two weeks and something kinda big happened since we last talked...I got my first French manicure. Oh, and I quit my job. I already sent her a lengthy email so she already knows all the details...I'm hoping our talk today can inject me with some enthusiasm to help me close out my final weeks here with grace, creativity, and lots of office supply art.

I have no office supply art to share but tis the season for pumpkin art:

Sorry the photos are so blurry, but you should be used to that by now. Don't you love the scar on the side of his or her face? (um...not sure how to check the sex of a pumpkin.) I wish that I could say that was my idea, but no, it was part of Anthony's brilliant plan. I always draw on the pumpkin and he does the cutting out. He asked me last night why I don't do the cutting but I didn't have a good reason other than it's more fun to watch somebody else get ticked off at a vegetable.

Gotta get back to work...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


People, this is what it's come to:

I'm making toilet-paper-roll animals. (No balloons to be found.)
I call this creation the "Dasch-Poo-Pard". The delicately crafted leopard body is made from an empty toilet paper roll and accented with hand Sharpied and hand Highlighted fur. The professionally attached tacks provide the daschund-esque legs. This fabulous piece is accented with carefully assembled paper clip and toilet paper poodle head and tail. Notice the detail on the head - this poodle even has eyebrows. This piece is completed by its placement in a beautiful mountain and sky filled landscape. (There are no windows in my office so Amy printed out the landscape picture for me so I felt like I could see has not worked, but good try, Amy.)
Okay, so I'm desperate and bored...but I'm pretty impressed with my continuing creativity. I was pretty sure the only thing I'd be able to do for the next 25 days was mark off my calendar...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


At work we're already starting to plan for next year's budget - which starts on July 1, 2009. Even though I'm leaving my boss asked me to see what else I thought needed to be added to last year's budget to round it out for the upcoming year. Other than adding extra money for electro shock therapy for the other members of the team, I didn't have much to add. However, it did inspire me to work out my own monthly budget for when I'm unemployed. You have to click on the chart, below, to get it large enough to read. It's worth it. There is an entire row dedicated to monthly chocolate expenditures.

Okay, hopefully you read it and can see that I'm screwed. Do you see anywhere that I can cut back? I mean, I think it's already cut as close as it can be, don't you?
In other news that is not related to me being broke: It snowed overnight! And on my drive into work! Driving a 20 year old truck with no safety devices (okay, it does have seat belts, but that's it!) and rear-wheel drive during what feels like the Apocalypse is not fun. As if I needed any more reasons to be glad I only have 26 days left...
Also, I got a flu shot today. I'm not big on vaccinations, or eggs being injected into me (did you know there are eggs in there??) I would rather not get the flu. I mean, I'll be far too busy doing photo shoots for my billboard, I can't take the time to be sick.
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Art Projects and Costumes

I had a great weekend that went by too quickly...but coming back this Monday was not nearly as hard as usual. I just realized, I only have 3 Mondays left after today! (I have some three day weekends coming up.)

On Saturday I woke up early and worked out and had breakfast and meditated and practiced my opera singing and all that stuff...then I showered and put back on my cozies and my bathrobe! I laid down on the couch with two books and soon was joined by some fuzzy friends:

I actually dozed off again since I was so relaxed. When Anthony rolled out of bed it woke me up, but at least I got him to take a picture of us. I am always very happy when my whole "family" is inside together safe and sound. Nola wanted to tell me how much she loves me, so shortly after this she left a dead bird by the front door. I forgot to tell Anthony it was there and he almost stepped on it...whoops. Thanks, Nola.

Saturday afternoon after a nap (there was a lot of that going around) I worked on my tree in circle again. This is what I had last week:

And this is how it turned out!

For some reason my camera was turning things a little pink, so the color is a bit off in spots, but you get the idea. Oh how I wish I could stay home all day and make art...oh wait, in six weeks I can!

Saturday was jam-packed, after I finished this project we had to figure out what our costumes for the evening were going to be, because we had a Halloween party to go to. I'll just tell you right now: Anthony and I stink at this whole thinking of costumes and dressing up thing. It's not that I don't let to get dressed up...if someone else picked out my outfit and did my hair and makeup and paid me large sums of money to do it, I'd be good to go. We drove around our town for an hour going to stores trying to think of what we could was really exhausting. Anthony bought us some peanut butter and chocolate fudge and a giant peanut butter cup so we could keep up our energy.

So during this whole excursion I decided what I would be and got what I needed while we were out and about. Straw. There are straw bales up all over town and I just stole a couple of handfuls from a bale...don't tell anyone. However, Anthony STILL didn't know what he was going to be by the time we got home...and the answer was in the bathroom all along. Don't ask me how he got the idea, but somehow he ended up putting a roll of toilet paper on his head under a winter hat and decided he was a Conehead. I told him to put ski goggles on it and be a skiing Conehead:

I cracked up every time I looked at him. I thought I was going as a farmer girl or something, but with the straw in my hair and in my overalls, everyone thought I was a high-dollar hooker, so I went with that. Sorry, wrong party. Everyone thought I was a scarecrow so I just drank my red wine and nodded my head in agreement.

On Sunday I went to the store to try to find this stuff I need for an art project Mom and I want to do. I couldn't find it, but check out the view from the parking lot:

I didn't really do anything creative the rest of the weekend, unless napping again counts...I did make meatballs and soup, so that was something.

Now I'm back at work, on my lunch break, counting down the minutes. Actually so far I'm just counting down the days (27) but if you know me you know I love a good countdown, so I'll probably be counting the minutes sometime soon. My boss said so far 20 applications have come in for my job. Yay! I hope someone will be very happy here because I know I'm going to very happy not here!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trees In Circles

This morning I woke up to the news that Asian stock markets had plummeted over night and our own stock market is likely to follow and the United States will probably have an 8% unemployment rate by early next year. What did I do? I smiled!

I have never felt so great about not having a job before! I figure this is fodder for another book, either titled, Wow That Was Stupid:Why Quitting My Job During The Worse Economic Crisis in Recent History Turned Out To Be Kind Of Like Jumping Headfirst Into A Toilet Bowl Filled With Piranhas OR The Best Move Of My Life: How I Made My First Trillion Selling Paperclip Sculptures On Ebay During The Worst Recession Of All Time, depending on how things turn out.

My morning far surpassed the previous evening. Scenario: I had eaten dinner and Anthony and I were about to run to the store to get soy milk and chocolate chips. He was going to have cereal for dinner and I was going to make some chocolate chip muffins for dessert. Then we were going to lounge on the couch and watch the unrated version of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Reality: The moment I laced up my sneaks to head out the door, our friends called saying they had broken down about half an hour away and needed Anthony to pick them up; they'd buy him dinner in return for the favor. The problem is I drive a teenytiny truck and the maximum number of passengers it can fit is three, and to actually fit that many in one or two of them need to be the size of an 18-week-old fetus. Anthony drives a work van since he's a house painter, which can only seat two, plus a couple people tied up and gagged in the back. So we couldn't both go to pick our friends up. Anthony left to get them and I stayed home. I moped around for a while and watched Lindsay Lohan on Ugly Betty, but then I got off my duff and made this:

It's what I started working on this past weekend and it's not done yet. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but it's still a work in progress. Then today at work I made this (still stuck on the Sharpies):
What is it with me and trees and circles? I don't really know, it's a phase, I guess. I must say that since turning in my notice my creativity has been bursting out of me, I have all sorts of ideas for other books and art projects, not to mention the fact that next week I should get all of my pre-course homework for the life coach training I'll be starting in January. Which reminds life coach has been in Spain for a week, she has no idea I've gone and made all these decisions!
Random person asking me a question: Jen, how long has it been since you submitted your chapters and query to Ten Speed Press?
Jen: 14 freaking weeks!!! And three weeks since I sent the inquiry letter wondering if my package was eaten by badgers and/or sea monkeys. What is going on??
RPAMAQ:I don't know, what about the package you sent to Chronicle Books?
J:It's only been about 2 months plus a week since I sent my stuff to them, it takes about 3 months to hear back.
RPAMAQ:How long until you hear from Skirt! about the essay you sent last weekend?
Jen: They take six to eight weeks, so I've got a long way to go.
RPAMAQ:Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Jen: Do you have any chocolate? Nevermind, but thanks for your interest. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Day After THE Day

Yesterday was a scary and wonderful day for me. I knew the time had come for me to move on from the position I'm in. If the tears on Sunday nights, the likening of returning to work after a vacation to Hell, and my extreme feelings of depression when I thought of myself still being at this job in a year weren't enough of an indicator that I needed to quit, I don't know what would be.

Yes, the economy is terrible. Yes, I have free health insurance through this job, and a 401 (k). But it's just not where I belong. Over the past few months I've written a book, created a blog, gotten an article published, and have been creating art again. This job stimulated that. I've also read a few books that pushed me to make a choice for myself instead of worrying about what everyone else in my life would think about me; one of those book was by author Martha Beck. My mother and I have each read some of her books and Mom shared a quote from one book with me, which I had not fully absorbed when I first read it:

"Do whatever work feeds your true self, even if it's not a safe bet, even if it looks like a crazy risk, even if everyone in your life tells you you're wrong or bad or crazy"

Between talking to my career coach and talking to myself, I know my true joy is going to come from helping people connect with their own true paths, helping them to follow their hearts, and helping them to find their own way. I want to make art, write, blog, and be my own boss. Now I'm actually on my way to doing that.

I'll be here for six more weeks, then I plan on taking a few months off from traditional "work". In January I'll start a nine month online/telephone course to become a life coach myself. Personally, I would change the title to "Awesomeness Inspirer", but that's just me. The program was designed by Martha Beck and she teaches some of the courses; the rest are taught by her master certified coaches. I will also be writing, making art, blogging, and enjoying my life with my time off. When the time comes I plan on getting something to make a little money, but I hope to be working as a life coach before the end of next year is up.

My actual experience of quitting went very, very well. I'm always surprised at how things turn out when I face my fears. It turns out that many things aren't nearly scary as I pictured.

For now I'm satisifed with my life direction and am continuing to make office supply art. Right now all I feel is:

(and more Joy, with blue!)

I'll miss the access to all the free office supplies, seeing my coworker Amy everyday, the paycheck, and....well, that's it. I won't miss wearing the same thing everyday, the 350 mile a week commute, the endless emails that have to go through 6 people just to be able to get a new sign put up...Corporate America is not for me.
Yay me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holy $%@&#, I Quit!

Yes, it's true. Today I quit my job. My last day is December 5th (to give them time to find and train someone new). I can't blog much though, because during my lunch hour my boss took me to lunch. Even though I quit. Weird, huh?

The quitting itself went sooooo much better than my overactive-to-the-point-of-misery-and-insanity imagination thought it would. I was picturing gun fire and claw marks and lightening bolts being shot from eyes. None of that happened, I barely even cried!

Tomorrow I will write more about it, about my plans, and I'll draw you some purty pictures, too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pretty Colors

Since the economic downturn began, the company where I work, like many others, has been tightening it's belt. This primarily upsets me not because I think I'll get laid off, or because our benefits are being cut back, but because it means we have less freedom to order office supplies, a smaller selection of office supplies to choose from when we do need them, and the office supply closet now has a lock on it.

Imagine my unbridled joy yesterday when my boss gave me four little colored notebooks and three new Sharpies! Colored Sharpies! She gave me red, blue, and purple. She did not do this out of the generosity of her heart or because she knows I need to be able to be creative at work or I'll shrivel up and die, she did this because one of the sales reps that is constantly haranguing her to buy things gave her a bunch of free stuff. I know this because the sales rep's name and phone number are all over the new merchandise. But who cares! It's free stuff! That I can use to avoid doing any work!

This is what I created. Perhaps I should have chosen something that goes better with purple, blue, and red, but flowers were what I felt like drawing. Someone give me some new theme ideas, the only things I ever make are flowers and trees and suns. I'm like a 13 year old. Maybe it's time I added unicorns to my repertoire.

In other news, my truck is better now. Or that's what they tell me, I haven't gotten to drive it yet. Air in the brake lines. Happens to me all the time.

I'm going to sign off now since I need to do some stuff on my lunch hour. Mostly thinking about unicorns, but some other important stuff, too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Truck Doesn't Like The Commute Either

Despite the fact that the brakes on my truck weren't operating properly this morning and it's a Monday, I'm in a great mood!

As for the brakes, I am lucky my retired parents who have two vehicles live ten minutes away and are very, very generous with the lending of said cars when I'm having vehicle problems. For all I know my truck just didn't want to commute 35 miles each way today and decided to take a sick day, but it seems very possible I'm going to have to shell out some more cash to have it fixed.

But who cares? This weekend was so satisfying that even the double whammy of having to be back at work and the truck issues don't even bring me down.

Here's what I got done:

1. Above is the essay I gave to my mom to proof and she finished editing it in no time flat. I made the changes and submitted it to a publication that actually pays for essays, so wish me luck.

I made blueberry walnut oat muffins! They are not this blurry in real life! I was involved with a family road trip on Sunday, so I made these for us to snack on - and thank goodness I did, it was a long trip!

I made life! Not like what you're thinking! I finished another polymer clay art project this weekend. This one is much smaller than the sun; it's about 5 inches across. Once I completed it I didn't think the tree stood out enough so I went back and added white acrylic paint to it's edges. I love this medium! I also started another, larger project, but I'll wait until I'm done to put a picture of it up. I also bought foam board, cut it out in the shape of the sun I made last week, painted it, and mounted the sun on it so it will have some strength and stability. I still don't know how to mount it for hanging though.

I made earth! Okay, I can't take credit for the creation of any of this, but I did take the picture. This shot is from the previously mentioned road trip this weekend. Anthony, my mom, my stepdad Joe, and I all piled in the car and drove from Western NC to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. DEEP within the park on the Tennessee side there is a really neat place that was formerly a settlement called Cades Cove, it's beautiful there. We saw, not kidding, 2 jazillion deer. Maybe more. It was cool.

And yes, I finally got my pancakes. The Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg was packed; there was a line out the door and the outside host had a radio to call to the inside hostess to tell her how big the parties were. I got Sugar and Spice pancakes and made a declaration to myself right then and there: If there was a pancake on the presidential ticket they'd have my vote! Actually, the declaration was, "OMG. I love pancakes. So. Much." Which of course I already knew, but it's nice to have your feelings validated.

I did some other things, too, but I don't have the pictures to back them up. I am hoping to have a really great week that doesn't involve spending too much money on fixing my truck.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Fashion Edition

Since I haven't made any office supply art all week and someone left a magazine that I could cut up lying around, I decided to blog about something I care about very deeply: Fashion. You can tell I care about fashion by my look today: I'm wearing the pants with the staples in the hem, I'm sporting un-plucked eyebrows, a somewhat wrinkled shirt, and as always, something is stuck in my teeth. Not sure what it is. But onto the topic at hand. Behold:

1 & 2. When I started in my job I was allowed to pick out the uniforms that everyone on my team would wear. I really, really pushed for the looks depicted in items one and two, but sadly budget constraints forced me to go with a slacks and blouse combo instead. For those of you, not naming any names *coughAmycough* who think I sound old when I use the words "slacks" and "blouse", leave me alone, it's time for my prune juice.
3. Seriously, if I had known that heels with socks was in style this season, I would have lost a lot less sleep at night.
4. A fuzzy, leopard print hat with a feather would look good on me. In a parallel universe where Britney Spears was a maven of good taste.
5. I'm just not a big fan of heels unless you're going to wear socks with them.
6. She has a chicken on her head. Do I have to say anything else?

In other, non fashion-related news, it's Friday and I'm in a great mood! My career/life coaching session this week really helped me to open up to what I really want to do for a career and gave me some ideas about how to survive my job with a positive attitude while I'm still here. I don't have another session with the coach until October 30th but I've made kind of a big decision about what I direction I'm going to go in. I'm not quite ready to blog about it, but I'm really excited. I figure that I'll have to do lots of little jobs to be truly happy and make a living, but I feel really good about that.

In fact, today I wrote another article that I'll try to get published, hopefully in a magazine that might even pay me a little for the article. Sometimes I get to a place where I have a great idea and I can write and it comes out of me naturally. Other times it's not nearly so easy and I'd rather sit on the couch drinking my prune juice.

As has become tradition, I have to tell you how many weeks have passed since I sent my submission package to Ten Speed Press: 13! I sent the followup letter almost two weeks ago. And I sent it from a different location in case my friendly neighborhood postal worker has it out for me. Quite a bit of time has passed since I sent my stuff to Chronicle Books, too. About two months, actually. I'd love to hear something, but not hearing anything is better than getting rejected.

I hope to make more art this weekend, write, get my article proofed (Thanks, Mom!) and submit it. Also I hope to eat pancakes. I was very disappointed about the lack of pancakes I consumed on Tuesday, so I hope the family trip to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains this weekend pan(cake)s out better.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Conference Highlights: Shiny Head

Last Sunday through Tuesday I was over in Nashville, Tennessee for a conference about how to pass time when you're bored out of your mind and the man next to you keeps eating the free mints and rustling their wrappers until you think you might have to excuse yourself to the bathroom to scream. That was a slight exaggeration, because the conference was actually about nothing. The highlights:

Sunday: I have friends in Nashville, Casey Kelly and Leslie Ellis, they are singer/songwriters that I know through my time at my previous job, where we had a monthly songwriter's in the round musical show. Anywho, they are great and we've never been to their house before. We saw an owl, which was awesome, it was HUGE! It was hanging out in a tall tree in their backyard and we got to watch it take off while the sun was setting. Very picturesque. Leslie made us a lovely vegetable-filled dinner, which I needed badly after a day filled with carbs and cream cheese and trail mix. She also did the "scratch and scootch" with her cat, Bo. This basically means she gets on the floor and scratches his back until he scootches away a few inches, and she follows him and scratches him until he moves again - apparently they sometimes traverse the whole house this way. Bo is one of those cats who stares at you, right into your soul, until you blink and then he laughs at your lack of willpower. I liked him. Dinner also involved copious amounts of wine for me, which means I remember getting home and getting in bed but not much else. Fun times!

Monday: I had to go to the conference all day. I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't serve Barbecue at lunch. I got the old vegetarian standby, pasta. It was actually pretty good. I spent a good part of my day staring at the top of the head of the man sitting in front of me. He was bald and he had the shiniest head I have ever seen. It was actually reflecting the ceiling lights and I thought I could probably see my reflection in it if I got close enough. I mentioned this to Anthony, who thinks he must wax it. Is head wax a real product, available to the general bald public? I must research this. After the conference was over we went for sushi and walked around Centennial Park, which has a recreation of the Parthenon in it! It was fun to walk around.

Tuesday: The morning was more conference stuff. One woman talked twice as long as she was scheduled to. She mostly complained about the marketing department of her place of employment. I stared at Shiny Head the whole time. When the conference ended Anthony and I tried to have lunch at the Pancake Pantry, because I love me some pancakes and this place is pretty well known. Sadly we could not find parking and it was very busy everywhere and both of us were starving and very close to gnawing on each other instead of pancakes. We went to some diner instead and I had something that was definitely not a pancake. Oh well, we're going to Cades Cove and Gatlinburg on Sunday, they have a Pancake Pantry, too. After lunch we went to the Nashville Zoo:

This is me laying in the grass, I was so tired from being at the conference for two days.

This is a cloud leopard but it reminded us of Nola when she's trying to get outside. He or she (didn't have a chance to check the plumbing) was beautiful but really seemed desperate to get out.

If that was Nola than this was my other cat, Coconut. It's a Bengal Tiger and it was as far away as it could possibly get from the annoying and noisy humans. Much like Coconut.

This is a picture of me and Anthony just chillin' out.

Me again, not my best angle.

These are elephants. They were pretty close to us, it was neat.

The real reason I didn't write what some of these animals are is because I have a terrible memory and very little knowledge of what your more foreign animal names are. Llama is pretty much my limit on exotics. So this bird, above, is a big, bluish purple bird, okay?

After the zoo and on the way home, we were scanning through the radio stations and a song by Justin Timberlake came on, "Rock Your Body". Anthony really and truly thought JT was saying something about a laser printer. I told him what the words were, but he kept singing about the laser printer and also added in some lyrics about color copiers and scanners, it was probably the best part of my day because I was laughing so I hard I was able to ignore the scary, mountainous, curvy, truck-filled road surrounding us.

Then I came home. No more conferences for me this year, thank goodness. I've been to three and that's plenty!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Appropriately Flushing Toilets

I have waaaaay too many topics on my mind that I'd like to blog about right now and I'm having trouble deciding on which one to go with. So I'm going to write about none of the topics and instead share this sign with you. It has recently gone up in my place of employment in the ladies room, on the wall next to the toilet:

I actually work in a different area than where this sign is posted. My toilets flush themselves, thank you. (I know, you're jealous.) Apparently upstairs there is a problem with people and them taking care of their business, if you know what I mean. What truly makes this sign so interesting to me is that it says "flushes appropriately". What does that mean?? I love the wording at corporate jobs, everything from emails to signs near toilets. You can't just say what you mean, which is "Damnit, no one wants to see your poop! Flush the toilet!" Nooooo you have to use big words even if they make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. What would "in-appropriate" flushing be? If I flushed wearing a feather boa? If I clogged while I flushed? Bottom line: I don't belong here! I don't know how to flush appropriately!

Which brings me to my life coaching session today...but I'm going to leave you on the edge of your seat (or couch or lounge chair or unicycle or whatever) because I want to take some more time to absorb what I worked on today and work on some of the homework assignments I was given, then think of something silly to make up about it to share with you.

Also, very soon on the blog I will be posting pictures of zoo animals. More information to follow....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Values and Other Homework Assignments

I'm still in Nashville, Music City, staying in a fancy hotel and spending my company's money. But I'm learning lots and lots about customer service. And also about networking. Two of my favorite things!

Tomorrow I have another session with my Life/Career Coach, Barbara, and I had quite a few homework assignments to complete before our meeting. One of them was to go through a list of values she provided me and, in a sort of complex process that involved a grid and a protractor and a pair of alligator boots, determine what my top ten values are. I had to break the rules and wear snake skin boots and picked 12 values, but that's me, always breaking the rules.

It blows my mind that someone could actually come up with these top ten values, based on the list she provided:
  1. America
  2. Credit
  3. Dominance
  4. Flamboyance
  5. Influence Over Others
  6. Life Insurance
  7. Materialism
  8. Metaphysics
  9. National Security
  10. Obedience

Those do not represent me at all and I am not kidding that those were on the list. Luckily, there were plenty of things on the list that felt right to me, these are my top 12, some tied based on my protractor-calculations:

  1. Healing & Life
  2. Joy & Clarity
  3. Love & Energy
  4. Spirituality
  5. Authenticity & Satisfaction
  6. Family
  7. Health
I also had to take two tests online, one was the Keirsey Tempermant Sorter II test, I've taken something like this before when I was a kid (my mother and I didn't shop together, we did psychological tests together) and my results were similar to what I've had in the past. I am an ENFP, which means Expressive (I've also heard Extrovert), Introspective (Intuitive), Friendly (Feeling), Prober. That's me, I certainly like to Probe. Supposedly someone with this profile likes to bring harmony to groups, which is true for me. The other test was the Self Directed Search test, and it turns out I like things having to do with Socialization, Artistic Expression and supposedly Convential occupations, and I don't think that part is true. I can use a computer, yes, and file things, yes, but I don't want that to be my whole work life. I thought it was quite funny that the test told me some combinations of characteristics have less job options than others; mine is one of those combinations. Why can't I just want to fix cars or something?

I'm confident I'll find my way and that when I find it I won't be going to conferences feeling obligated to pass out my business card and make small talk with people who are wearing too much cologne.

Ta Ta for now, I have to go work on my line dancing....

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Awesomeness Represented In Clay

I am so happy right now. By the time you read this I'll either be sitting in a meeting about customer service and the seven best ways to improve it that don't involve Valium or eating some weird conference lunch food, but as I type this on Saturday, I am happy. This is what I created, or completed creating, today:

I jammed out to some No Doubt and then some solo Gwen Stefani and rocked my radical dance moves and went to town finishing this project. I started working on one of the sun's tentacles but wasn't feeling it, so I went with my gut and scrapped it and started again. I'm really happy with the results and when I feel this good it's hard to believe I ever have to sit in a windowless grey office entering data about...well, nothing, in my opinion.

Someday (hopefully someday very, very soon) I plan on experiencing this joy, much, much more often.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Swirl Therapy

Yesterday I was having a grumpy day. Instead of doing what I usually do when I'm grumpy (crying, being mean to small children, consuming entire cases of Willy Wonka chocolate bars, shooting squirrels with BB's) I wrote a long-winded email to my life coach, asked to leave work early, and swirled my worries away:

I wanted to continue this swirling project today, but I couldn't find the pen I used yesterday, which was running out of ink and had a light line to it, so I couldn't pick up where I left off. Oh well, it's pretty the way it is.

My life coach, Barbara, also sent me an email back and it really helped me feel better, especially the part where she told me that this will be a great enhancement to my life but if I have an erection lasting longer than four hours I should seek medical attention...wait, that was some junk email I got, what she said was even better: "As long as we look outside ourselves for answers or validation, we're going to be confused because everyone will have their own perception and ideas of what we should be doing. The key, which is one main thing I want you to get in this coaching work, is that ALL the answers lie within YOU." Wow, that sounds pretty good to me! What do you think? Ha, okay, nevermind.

I'll work on internalizing that idea this weekend while I'm away in Nashville for a work conference. Which reminds me, I need to go pack my cowboy boots and fringed leather jacket for the trip to the Country Music Capitol. Hmmm, my brain just reminded me that I don't own either of those items, so I guess I'll just have to go country in spirit, not in fashion.

And to wrap this post up...12 weeks and nothing from Ten Speed Press! Hopefully they didn't get my follow-up letter this week and decide to burn my submission package....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It'll Make Hair Grow On Your Feet

The pain and suffering (greatly exaggerated for primetime TV) of making the stuffed shells was well worth it. This is how much the recipe made!

We didn't eat all that...yet. Actually, I sent the small dish to my parents, put the round dish in the freezer and then the big dish made about five meals. They were delicious! In fact, look at Amy's "full" tummy:

Yeah, looks real full, doesn't it? She ate more shells than me and I know for a fact she ate a hot dog for lunch and yet she still looks like that. Unfortunately the shells did make her feet hairy:

My shells are so good they will make hair grow on your chest! And feet! Eat up!
The shells made me look deranged, see?

We look like twins: The one who is normal and has a flat stomach and the one who was dropped repeatedly on her hed.

After a night of shells, hot apple cider, and Scrabble (I didn't win a single game) we slept a restful, delightful sleep. And then I got up this morning to meditate. Some guidelines I live by:

Successful meditation:
get in touch with feelings
silent mind

Not so succesful meditation:
yelling at your cats
restarting the session three times
having to go to the bathroom really bad in the middle

Today I had the Not So Successful Medication Experience. Coconut kept pushing open or pawing on the office door, I was not able to hide from her this time. I stopped once to kick her out, once to feed her, and once to put her outside. I restarted my 15 minute timer each time, but by about 11 minutes in to the third try I could not hold nature back any longer...and that was the end of my meditation session this morning. Maybe I'll try again later, after I've given the cats and myself some very strong medication.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

BBQs and Stuffed Shells and Stiff Drinks

At lunch time today I have to go to a BBQ. Yes, for me it's a chore. BBQ's usually have lots of food I am not crazy about. You know, like pulled pork and pulled chicken and pulled coleslaw and lots of white bread...yuck. But I have something to look forward to. Tonight Amy is coming over and in preparation for her visit I prepared stuffed shells last night, illustrated here:

In case you can't read the steps...
Step One - Sit on the futon and hope one of the cats makes the stuffed shells for you. I tried this for a quite a while last night. I even left the house to see if maybe they would be prepared by the time I got back. But NOOOOOO.
Step Two - Close your eyes and picture yourself making the shells. Yes, it's okay to have a stiff drink first. Maybe two. I did not actually have a stiff drink last night, but it seems like it would have helped. ALOT.
Step three - Boil water and cook shells. Make filling for shells. Note that the amount of cheese required for this recipe may induce death in those with pre-existing heart conditions. Be thankful that you don't care about silly things like cholesterol.
Step four - cry and swear when you burn your hand on the shells. Note to self: Items that were just removed from boiling water may be hot. Have another stiff drink. Maybe two.
Step five - Use a spoon to stuff cheese mixture into shell. When you realize this method isn't working, clean your hands by wiping them on your jeans and then stuff shells with your fingers. DO NOT LICK FINGERS BETWEEN STUFFINGS!
Step six - Pass out from exhaustion. Hope cats don't eat shells, as you've left them on the counter since you're somewhat delirious and also a little drunk.
Step seven (not illustrated) Put shells in fridge and leave them for someone else to bake the next day. Preferably an oven, because it's unlikely you can generate enough body heat or hot breath to properly brown the cheese on top.
Step eight (not illustrated) - Enjoy! I'll post some pics tomorrow of the real thing and hopefully Amy's satisfied, full stomach. Amy, be prepared to show me your stomach.

In other news...I meditated again this morning, mostly to recover from this epic cooking experience. Wish me luck at the BBQ...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

I did not, I repeat, did not, get up at 5:45 am as planned this morning. I had a slightly rough night: Cats on me, cats trying to get under the covers, boyfriend asking me if I'd burned the cookies (huh?) I decided to skip working out in the am with the plan to walk this evening. I stuck to my guns with the meditation though. Did you ever think you'd hear "guns" in the same sentence with "meditation"? It's kind of like hearing the words "kitten" and "slaughter house" together in the same sentence; it just doesn't fit.

And that's why I need to meditate...I get distracted very easily. In order to meditate this morning I had to hide from my cats. I got up, petted them, then fed them. When they were in the cat room eating, I ran away and hid in our office and closed the door and didn't turn on the lights. I was that afraid that they would know I was in there if the light shone under the door and that they'd start scratching the door asking how on earth I could rationalize the idea that it was okay for me to be awake yet not petting them. At least when I do yoga in the living room they can crawl on me and get some lovin'. Anywho, I "meditated" for 15 minutes in the dark and it was an enjoyable experience that I'll keep up for the week and then take from there.

Want to see some pictures? Of my cats? That's what I thought. Besides, the least I can do for them since I hid from them this morning is put up pictures (albeit blurry ones) of them:

Nola. In bed. She thinks it's her bed; she's even partially under the covers.

Very blurry picture of Coconut. I took this because I thought she looked like one of the pillows that morning. They don't shed, though. Nor do they have ears or paws.

Want to see how much Anthony loves me?

That's how much he loves me. He also has video of me in a sweatshirt and sweatpants cleaning the freaking toilet!!! I don't know why he feels the need to take pictures of me when I look like...okay, I probably normally look like this at home, but nobody has to see me!!! He did take this picture of me, too, though, so I can forgive him:

Okay, last picture, I promise. This one actually has to do with being creative:

It's my newest polymer clay art project! It started out as just the orange yellow part and I was going to make a tree to put on to it, but I liked that part so much I didn't want to cover it up. Anthony suggested making a sun out of it, my other favorite subject matter besides trees, and I thought that was a good idea. What do blues and greens have to do with suns? Who knows, this project is ever-evolving and some point may become a sculpture of a donkey with a Christmas wreath around it's neck, trailed by a parade of ducks and spiders.

And now I'm going to stop writing....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick Post

Today was a good day. I see a light at the end of the dark, dismal, dreary tunnel I call "my current state of employment". I told my coach, Barbara Brady, is that I normally become depressed on Sundays because I know I have to go back to work the next day. Later in our conversation she told me that she gets excited on Sundays because she knows she gets to work the next day! Talk about a great way to live! So that's my aim and where I am headed.

I had to email friends/colleagues to ask them three questions:

1. What do you see as being my 2-3 unique gifts?

2. What do you see as being my 2-3 unique gifts as it relates to people?

3. How have I positively affected you in your life?

I am interested in what they have to say. I'm going to stop writing now because I'm tired of thinking and tomorrow I'm getting up 15 extra minutes early (5:45, yikes!) to fit in time to meditate, one of my assignments for the week.

See you tomorrow!


I fully intended to post the letter I sent to Ten Speed Press this weekend, inquiring about my submission, but every time I tried to publish my post I got an error - and it had to do with HTML and the screen had a big, bright red line on it and it reduced me to weeping, so instead I'll just have to give you some highlights. The letter was ridiculous, words like "badger", "pizza sauce", and "hairspray" were used; I also told the acquisitions personnel that they had sweet-smelling hair.

After that I made this sculpture out of paper clips, silly putty, used paper towels and cat hair:

Didn't it come out great?

Okay, you got me, the foliage is changing and it's beautiful around here.

Speaking of beautiful, today a cab driver asked me where I was from. I said Connecticut. He said he thought I must have been from Tennessee. Pause. He thought this "because you're the only Ten I See." This is why I need to get a new job!!!!

Speaking of which, career coaching appointment at lunch today, I'll fill you in if I get a chance.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Not Fun: Assigning my "team" tasks that involve spider web/bubble brainstorming assignments about how to exceed customer service expectations and having to make my own example to show to them:

More fun: Turning one of the bubble drawings into a fun mythical animal, the Three-Pawed, Bi-Winged, Single-Tailed Bobbling Wunder Confusitor:

Yes people, it's come to this. When I say "TGIF" I mean: "STGIFOMDOWAIMDSDLPCMASMCH" (Seriously, thank God it's Friday, or...I don't even know what I was spelling out with all those letters, but it had something to do with me getting so desperate I was willing to have myself cloned just so I could avoid being here.)
The weekend is greeting me with open arms and a warm, but slightly delirious and wacky looking, smile. I'm ready. My plans include: Not making plans.
In other non-weekend related news, it's been 11 weeks and still nothing from Ten Speed Publishing. Earlier in the week Anthony said maybe he threw out something from them. I paused. Sensing my fear/rabid teeth about to sink into him, he said, "I'm kidding, I open everything I don't recognize, even junk mail. I look at every envelope. Seriously." I retracted my claws at that point, but last night I asked again, "You didn't throw away my rejection letter from Ten Speed, did you?" and he said no again. I don't want a rejection letter, but at this point I'd like to hear something.
And what I hear now is the sound of the Internet calling, begging me to read blogs and tell it funny stories and paint it's nails. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Career Coaches R Us

Today was the day. I spoke to my new career coach, Barbara, for the first time. She offers a free consultation and in preparation for this she asked me four questions:
1. What do you really, really want?
2. Why do you want this?
3. How will your life be different once you have this?
4. What's standing in your way of having this?

My answers:
1. I really, really want to have fresh, minty breath.
2. Hello, who doesn't want fresh, minty breath?
3. Old men will smile at me, children will wave, squirrels will gather at my feet, birds will twitter around my head, singing a happy tune.
4. My love of garlic and onion hummus.

Okay, those weren't my real answers. They were more along the lines of:
1. I want to feel free! I feel dragged-down and miserable right now!
2. I want this because I want to continue on my journey and find the right career for me.
3. Once I find this I'll wake up happy and feeling alive each and every day.
4. FEAR! FEAR! FEAR! Is standing in my way.

The session went really well, she said herself that I sound like a younger version of her and that I'm very self aware, which is a good thing. The process might take about 3 months, I'll identify my values, gifts, passions. We'll do all phone sessions, which is a change from the therapy route that I've taken so many times, where the person who is trying to help you mostly watches you cry and curl up in a ball on their upholstered furniture. Over the phone she won't see me in the fetal position.

I feel very positive about this, she's sending me some "tests" and other evaluation tools, our first session is Monday, October 6, over my lunch break, and I have two more scheduled for later in the month. I hope to be living a freer, happier life in a few months...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesdays Are For Weebles

Last night I left work (I love it so much that sometimes I don't leave! Kidding!) and went to a store that is close-ish to my job to pick up something for my mom and, bonus, to AC Moore, which was in the same plaza as the other store. I love AC Moore, I want to buy everything with the exception of the fake flowers and the sewing stuff, because I wouldn't know what to do with either of those products other than staple the flowers to a piece of fabric and wear it on my head as a hat. While I was there I did buy many more colors of polymer clay so I could create this:

Kidding, again. I did start another polymer clay project last night, but I only got to work on it for about half an hour since I spent a good part of my night kicking Anthony's butt in a game of Scrabble.

This lovely *coughpieceofcrapcough* unfinished piece is what I did today at work. We are low on office supplies and what with the collapsing of our banking and economic systems as we know it, I've been trying to make due with what I have. I'm a trooper. Trouper? Yes, Trouper, I do not work for the state police. I got bored quickly of this project, though. First of all, it was supposed to be trees, but it looked more like broccoli...maybe I need more fiber? Also, it was just tedious and for some reason I wanted to incorporate pink. So then I made this:

I know, awesome *coughartmyasscough*, right? Then I taped the two pieces together and cut them up to make a snowflake, or what a snowflake might look like after we're attacked with nuclear weapons in a few years:

Seriously, I am not feeling very creative today, work is draining my energy and I can't wait to talk to the life/career coach tomorrow. Always good to pin your dreams on someone else's abilities, I always say.