Category Archives: Random things in my head

Since my…

… husband doesn’t read my blog, I’m going to share a funny story.

Several weeks ago I was at the archery range when my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I looked the the caller ID, saw it was my husband’s boss, K, and slipped the phone back into my pocket thinking it was a misdial. He’s done it before and I couldn’t think of any reason K would be calling me. When the phone buzzed again two minutes later, I practically dropped my bow and ran off the range having the momentary panic that my husband had somehow chopped off an arm with a case lid or something equally horrible.

Those who know my husband (also K…. hmm, this could get confusing… I’ll call the husband KB for the purposes of this post) know he is a consummate professional and confirmed workaholic. He would say he’s not, but… he has a high-blood-pressure inducing mid-western work ethic combined with a level of perfectionism not seen since Michelangelo painted the Sistine chapel. His bosses love him, his co-workers have a healthy level of respect for him, and labor at venues groan when they see him coming because when KB is on the job – it’s a big job.

So, why did K the boss call me? He wanted me to book a vacation because every time vacation would come up in conversation at work KB would laugh it off and go on his merry way.

I am the family travel agent. I am quite nearly neurotic about travel. The way I see it, there is simply too much to go wrong to leave a trip up to chance. Airplanes get delayed (a lot), luggage gets lost (even when you’re flying international business class), hotels lose reservations when fully booked (haven’t had this happen to me yet, aaaand I may have just jinxed us…), shuttles don’t show up… I could go on and on, but I won’t. My point isn’t to make it look like I’m an uptight traveler (unless my luggage gets left on the tarmac at JFK when I’m flying business class to the UK, then I get downright pissy) – I just like to have as many of my bases covered as possible. I virtually walk neighborhoods via Google maps (This is how I found the Doughnut Plant in NYC. You must go there. You must try the rosewater doughnut.) I like to know as much as possible about where I’m going so I’m armed with information at all times. Sometimes information is even better than pepper spray.

So, I found the only hole in the company calendar for months and found a cruise that happened to fit right into that hole.

And they had a suite available.

Now, I can’t say that we’ll be eating much beyond ramen noodles for a bit, but on the rare occasion we travel together for something non-work related – we do it well and in style. Besides, on the ship we will be making up for the ramen.

We’re going back to Alaska. I may be the only person on the ship hoping it rains, because rain is like a vacation for me. I may even ask the concierge if she can make it rain for me, just a little bit every day would be perfect.

Soot poses with a Lion at Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were best friends for about 30 seconds.
Soot poses with a Lion at Rosenborg castle in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were best friends for about 30 seconds.

Soot will be coming with us. He’s great on a trip and he went with us to Alaska the first time. Soot loves towel animals. If I looked hard enough I could find some pictures of him sitting on the bed with the turtle, or the swan, or the mice.

Right now, I’m trying to convince someone to rent a 50-500 f/4.5 – 6.3 Sigma zoom lens to me. I was all excited about the Sigma 150-600 f/5 – 6.3 but the aperture was getting a bit tiny and in Alaska – which has great potential to be overcast – I need the widest aperture I can afford. Anyway, we’ll see what comes of that. I’m really not prepared to buy one (see the ramen reference above), but I’m not sure my 18-270 will cut it for calving glaciers, playful porpoise, and … you know… whatever black bear I might entice into the path of my lens while I’m slowly backing away. Very slowly backing away.

Edit: After digging through my digital archives to no avail I finally went deep. Really deep. To my print albums. The first time my husband and I went to Alaska digital cameras were still only a toy for the rich. Or, at least, the richer than us. So. Here it is. Soot and his friend the towel Elephant as arranged by our room steward…

Did I mention how much I love... I mean, how much SOOT loves towel animals?
Did I mention how much I love… I mean, how much SOOT loves towel animals?
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There’ve been…

… a new rash of posts lately stating what not to say.

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it still sort of rankles me.

Sure, as a woman who has chosen not to have children I wish people would stop saying “You’ll regret it.” I mean, too little, too late, people. But, that doesn’t mean I want to squash the conversation.

I understand these lists are about making people think. Trying to make them more sensitive, but honestly, I want to know exactly who the clods are. I don’t want them hiding behind false friendliness just because they read a list. If someone is so socially inept as to walk up to a person who makes things by hand and then say “This is what happens when you don’t go to college,” well, I think they should go right ahead.

Of course, the people who would do that aren’t going to change simply because they read a list that told them what not to say.

I am naturally curious. That might be the reason I get along so exceedingly well with cats. These lists make me over analyze everything that could possibly come out of my mouth until I end up saying nothing at all. I’m not naturally an a-hole, so my well intentioned questions never see the light of day because I’m too busy trying to make sure I don’t offend anyone.

Questions and the occasional social faux-pas are one of the many ways we learn. Conversation is how we experience new points of view.

Let’s stop finding ways to squash the conversation and look for better ways to open it up.

Everything I…

… need to know in life I’m learning from the practice of archery.

Today, as I was standing on the shooting line, staring at the target 20 yards away, I realized something.

I realized there are life lessons that are finally being absorbed. Life lessons I really could’ve used twenty (plus) years ago.

The most important is to breathe. Breathing is good. It’s my favorite, but in archery when and how you breathe can affect your shot. I breathe in as I draw my bow. I breathe out as I sight the target. I let the arrow fly.

Another is to ignore the little things. The little niggling things that annoy you. I was taught that until “Line up” is called, no one touches their bow or their arrows. Maybe I’m being too militant about this but it sounds like a good rule to me. Today there was a guy who is a veteran of the sport on the range with me. On his bag he had a “Vegas Shoot” luggage tag – a huge international indoor archery competition. He didn’t wait for the range to be clear before he’d pick up his bow and have an arrow nocked. Now, if he’d been aiming it while I was still clearing my arrows, I would’ve gone ape all over him. He had it pointed at the floor. I wasn’t in danger. It must have been some sort of passive-aggressive sign for “Hurry the heck up.” After the first couple of rounds I just let it go. I shot at my own pace. I retrieved my arrows at my own pace. Once I stopped worrying about that guy, I did so much better. That’s when I did this –>

Le WOW
Figure 1 – You are doing it mostly right.

If only I had learned this lesson thirty years ago. Or heck, even just ten years ago would’ve been great.

Practice makes – if not perfect – better. In my case I may have jumped to the thirty pound bow a little faster than I should’ve, but I didn’t want to buy twenty pound limbs, and then twenty-five, then thirty. And, while I’m pretty strong for a girl, a thirty pound draw was a little taxing at first. So, practice makes stronger, too. The first time I went back to the range after my initial lesson I caught nothing but carpet. Floor. The neighbor’s target. I had arrows going everywhere but my target. I was so humiliated. The next time I hit paper. The next I hit color … and now? Well, see figure 1.

Photo Tuesday

It’s another windy, windy day here in the desert and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Welcome to spring, here’s some Benadryl.

Bees being bees in the desert (Click for larger)
Bees being bees in the desert (Click for larger)

The pretty part of the season has already passed. The part where the ornamental plums bloom. That’s my favorite part of the year.

Wind brings with it dust. Lots of dust. Towers of dust that make it look like we have a ton of pollution in the air, and while we might have some pollution along the highway – it’s usually not too bad.

What else does wind bring with it? Interesting photo opportunities. I was really excited by the two photos below.

Any guesses as to what they are?

This photo has been colorized.
This photo has been colorized.
This photo has been tone and contrast corrected.
This photo has been tone and contrast corrected.

Blogging…

…isn’t something I expected famous people to do.

And I suppose that the famous person in question doesn’t blog anymore – now that he’s famous.

I don’t remember what I was looking for the other night, but I stumbled across a blog written by an actor before he got his big break and I was, I’m ashamed to say, stunned.

It was the intelligence with which the blog was written that had my jaw dropping. I never assumed this person was an idiot, but I never expected them to be so eloquent either. I was a little sad that many of the posts have been removed or made private – probably at the insistence of this person’s publicist. I was also sad that once he hit the big time, the blog was over. I enjoyed the insights into Hollywood and how it works. I remembered how much I liked being there – when someone wasn’t berating me, bullying me, or making me use a Genie lift. (Okay, the Genie was part of the job, but I didn’t have to like it.) The berating and bullying didn’t happen a lot but when it did it was devastating. Of course, that’s my own shortcoming. I can’t take that sort of thing. It makes me not come out from under the bed in the morning. Despite an unpleasant blip or two, working in TV and film was great, even though it was not a long lived part of my career and I kind of nuked that bridge when I left. Oops.

I think that those of us who don’t get to great levels of success in our lives crave the notion that it’s possible. We want to think that we don’t have to get on the treadmill of life and that someday we’ll have our own wardrobe, makeup, and lighting departments to follow us around and make us look divine even though we might’ve gone out on an ill advised bender the night before. (Not that I’ve ever done that…) This craving for a vicariously successful life is what makes us put celebrities up on pedestals. It’s what makes us buy their jerseys and support their causes. It’s what makes us mistakenly think that by adopting their values as ours we’ll be closer to them.

Moral of the story: If you’re wondering how you’re going to send your child to college or how you’re going to pay for your prescriptions, don’t buy that t-shirt with the celebrity’s face on it. This is another thing I haven’t done (for real, this time – I really haven’t chosen between a hoodie and my prescription drugs, nor have I ever purchased a t-shirt with a celebrity’s face on it. Except for Morris the Cat. I did buy Morris’ t-shirt. Once.)

I kind of feel it’s unfair for them to ask us to contribute money to their causes when it isn’t disclosed what they’re doing for the cause – beyond lending their name and social media platforms. They’re making $500,000-ish a year for 26 weeks of work. Most people I know are making roughly $50,000 for 50 weeks of work… … … I feel like I’m not being clear – it’s not unfair to want to make the world a better place through crowdfunding or fundraising. This is how we get things done. And not everyone is an idiot who thinks “If I just buy that t-shirt the celebrity will be my best bud and we’ll hang out on the beach!” But I see this… desperation… on Twitter and Facebook. People literally begging for a response from those who have attained fame and/or fortune. So these celebs are asking for money from people who really don’t have it, but have some crazy idea that if they give money, Joe Celebrity will show up at their door wanting to go to a movie! I’ve met celebrities. None of them have ever asked me to go to a movie*.

I see people attending Wizard World and Comic Con, then paying $50 for an autograph, and another $50 for a photo op. Those costs are on top of the cost of admission, the incredibly overpriced hotel, and the food costs that end up inflated because of location**. Not to mention the cost of the flight or drive.

The desperation is depressing but I get it. We all want to hang out with the cool people. Goodness knows I want to hang out with someone. I don’t care if they’re famous, I just want them to be nice and cool and fun. But first, I have to get out of the house, away from my computer, and I have to meet real people***. Not that celebrities aren’t real. Most of them are. Some of them are even cool and fun. I certainly wouldn’t turn one down for a drink, but if they ask me to give money to their cause – they better be the one buying the drink.

This is not to say that celebrities and their causes are bad. They’re not. But… sometimes it feels… calculated. Some are really trying to change the world. Some are saying, “Sure, I’ll have my media team put this on my feed, but you have to pay me $5000 and give me a puppy.” I guess it is our responsibility as consumers to know how much money we have to spend on any given thing at any given time. It’s called being an adult. But some of us are better at it than others.

* I ran into William Shatner in a catering line on a movie set. He asked me “Do you know what this is?” and all I could do was shake my head and stare. I was working in lighting and never, ever expected to have William Shatner ask me to identify food. Apparently, it was fish. Needless to say, this encounter did not turn into a movie invite. Then there was the time when, after a long shooting day on a TV game show set, a former MTV VJ offered me her Subway sandwich. She didn’t like mustard and somehow the sandwich had been made with mustard. I didn’t take the sandwich because I, too, do not like mustard. This encounter did not turn into a movie invite. I’ll point out that I also did not invite either of them to a movie, maybe that was my mistake. “No, thank you. But I hear there’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show revival at the Arclight. Wanna go?” ‘Cause that wouldn’t be weird at all… Security!!!

**I paid $5.50 for a mediocre slice of pizza the other day just because it was A. my only option since I hadn’t brought my lunch and B. on the Vegas strip. Also, it was my client who paid for it because he’s a super nice guy and I talked about my cats. While I’m at it, Aria Las Vegas – you need some quick serve options for people who are allergic to wheat. I’m not, but I know people who genuinely cannot eat it.

***I’m working on meeting real people – hence the woodturner’s association meeting, the romance writer’s meeting, the book club, the return to archery, and hopefully soon, my not-so-triumphant and probably injury-filled return to fencing.

My mind… (Warning for four letter words. If you have no appreciation for coarse language, turn back now. It’s okay. I won’t hold it against you.)

… has been a bit unsettled of late.

Partly because I agreed … again … to do something I really don’t want to do. It’s not illegal. It’s not even particularly dangerous. It’s just … argh. If I talk about it, I’ll get really pissed off and say something I, or someone close to me, would regret. Long story short – I’m going out for a few days to do work I quit doing two years ago because it made me cry. So, if you see me in the next few days, I apologize in advance for growling at you. It’s not you. It’s me. Maybe next week I can take you out for cocktails to apologize.

It’s almost 2AM (see, this dumb favor is giving me insomnia) and I was reading a book that kind of, as the kids say these days, ‘got me in the feels.’ It was called Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. It’s certainly not something I would’ve picked up except I thought it was a cute concept and it was on the swap table. What’s “the swap table,” you ask? I go to a romance readers’ group at my local library and the lovely lady who organizes it asks everyone to try to bring books for the swap table if we can. We bring books that we’ve read and are willing to allow others to read. Anything that isn’t taken at the end of the meeting goes to the library bookstore. So, we support each other and we support the local library. I’m all for that. Since I’m an e-reader user, I often end up bringing back whatever book I took the previous month. I hope that’s not cheating, but I’m not giving anyone my iPad. I’ve got Fruit Ninja, 2048, and Peggle on that iPad. Those things and the Kindle app keep me busy in waiting rooms.

So, this book is about a writer, Abby Donovan, who is lost in a sea of writer’s block. Her blockbuster came out a few years ago and she hasn’t been able to get past chapter five in her new book. Her publicist comes up with the brilliant idea of having Abby join Twitter.

This is how she ‘meets’ Mark Baynard.

Large swaths of the book occur over Twitter, so I can see how someone unfamiliar with Twitter might not really get it, although Mark does ‘teach’ Abby how to use Twitter. I even picked up a few pointers. (I’m almost jealous I didn’t come up with the idea since dialogue is my jam.)

As happens in most romance books, we eventually discover that not all is as it seems *SPOILER ALERT* – Mark, instead of being a professor on sabbatical, traveling the world for fun and sun, is actually a patient being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma and it’s not going well.

This is where the ‘feels’ part comes in.

Cancer sucks. I have been lucky enough to not be touched too closely by it as yet, but I know lots of people who have. I have a friend I went to college with being prepared for a stem cell transplant at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore right now. She has AML. She eats healthy food and loves her cats, yet she has Leukemia. I sent her a pair of space kitten leggings to wear in the hospital. I do hope they brought a smile to her face. I have another friend whose wife is being ravaged by breast cancer. Another friend who lost her mother to skin cancer. I knew someone who was taken by stage IV colon cancer before she turned forty. That’s some effed up shit right there.

So far, cancer has tiptoed around me. I know four skin cancer survivors, one breast cancer survivor, and one colon cancer survivor. With any luck the survivor list will continue to grow. It would be better if no one had to deal with it in the first place, but for now, I’ll take survivor.

What’s kind of awful about this is that I don’t know that many people! I’m a bit of a hermit. I don’t have a lot of friends! Yet look at that list… and those are just the ones I can remember right now – at what is now 2:30 in the morning.

In the words of the great (celebrity-I’m-currently-obsessed-with-of-the-week) F*ck Cancer. Let’s get this bastard.

Here's a cute picture of Ember to make you smile now that you've read my sad, depressing, ranty post.
Here’s a cute picture of Ember to make you smile now that you’ve read my sad, depressing, ranty post.

Another new…

… page.

As promised I have added another gallery. This one contains pictures of various items I have made by hand.

There are warm glass projects. Beading projects. Lathe turned projects. There are projects I haven’t even categorized beyond ‘jewelry.’

So, if you’re so inclined, please take a look. I don’t have an Etsy page, but if there’s something that strikes your fancy feel free to send a direct message via Twitter (I’m @mercurialforte) I am usually able to put most items together quite fast.