As I have said, I do appreciate living in Austin. If I had to live anywhere in Texas, Austin would be and IS my choice. The sprawling micro-plex provides me a great deal of charming hippy weirdness such as Gardens of the Ancients. Carol and I went there on Saturday in search of herb seedlings for our vertical kitchen garden. I wanted mints, thyme, rosemary, basil, you know...to COOK with. However this garden/nursery, tucked away in a wildly overgrown and unincorporated area of NE Austin, near the Samsung campus was less nursery than it was sprawling commune. They had organic herbs but they were more for the smoking variety than cooking variety. After stumbling around piles of cardboard out to decompose on the grounds, several dogs, a few folks sleeping in the sun that looked like they'd just come off the Grateful Dead tour, Carol and I giggled to each other and left. I may not want to buy my kitchen garden seedlings there, but it charmed me to walk along the grounds of an honest to god throw-back commune and paean to the golden age of the 60s.

And then there was Monday night on the commute home. I picked up Carol and we were weaving our way through traffic toward MOPAC expressway. In front of me on the left was a silver pickup truck with two bumper-stickers. "God Bless our Military, especially our snipers." And "Extreme Right-wing." Directly in front of me was a silver Acura with a centrally prominent bumper-sticker, the only one on the car, which said in large block letters "INFOWARS."

And I am reminded yet again, that yes, I am living in a Red State.
I left Texas in 1991. I moved to San Mateo, California two years after the Loma Prieta earthquake and about 3 weeks before the Berkeley/Oakland Hills firestorm, which I watched from my hilltop apartment in Belmont--across the bay.

Granted in 1991 I was 30 years old and during my 20 years in California I grew and evolved into the person I am now. There are things I do now that I just didn't know or think about in 1991, and there are things I thought I'd never do in Texas--like eat sushi, when I'm not on the coast.

In no particular order.

1. Eat sushi from an upscale market 2-3 times a week

2. Buy organic from my local grocery co-op

3. Grow my hair out instead of trying to shave myself bald every time summer hits

4. Work in a large company with co-workers from everywhere BUT Texas

5. Know more than 2 people, who are not related to me, who live everywhere BUT Texas

6. Often say "oh this traffic is NOTHING compared to..."

7. Fight to swing Texas back from Red to Blue

8. buy back into the 'sports' mentality. (The exception being Baseball, I've always loved Baseball and I've been a Yankees and an A's fan since the 70s.)

9. Hunt desperately for a decent daily newspaper in this gigantic place. Truly, as much as I despise Houston the city, the Houston Chronicle gets my vote. The Austin Statesman isn't fit to line bird cages.

10. Have a regular ayurvedic masseuse

11. FORMULA ONE RACING!

12. Take a deep breath, look around and smile, saying to myself "yup...this is home."
I haven't written in a bit. It's been overly busy. By the time the end-of-quarter sprint had ended at work, I was driving up to Dallas, late on a Thursday evening, for an early Friday morning date at the hospital for my Mother's knee replacement surgery. Kudos to Fredo who sent me hilariously snarky text messages, while I was sitting 2 feet away from mother in the prep-room and my struggles to keep a straight face, knowing I could not react to lines such as: "She finally having the pole removed from ass?" and "Well, your reward will be great in heaven for even doing this. Even if you do pull a Nurse Rachett or two during her recovery. Too bad she's not getting her jaw wired shut. Now THAT would present some opportunities!"

Surgery went well, I got a good weekend in with my Dad and I went home Sunday afternoon in sunshine.

And...that's when the trouble started.

On Monday at 1pm Mother was transferred to a rehab facility so she could continue to gain strength and get herself up out of bed and to the bathroom etc.

On Monday by 3pm, she had texted my sister that she was home and in bed. When Kriss told me that you had to peel me down off the ceiling; her as well.

My mother had NO INTENTION of staying in a rehab facility. She did not let the doctor's staff choose the facility best suited for her, instead chose one herself based on proximity to the house. And naturally it wasn't up to standard. (Her excuse: It was filthy, unresponsive to her needs and run by those dirty north africans.) (my dad's take on it: She was BENT and there was no negotiating with her so they got her home.) It takes a week to get home health care set up. This meant that my Father was lifting my Mother up and down when he cannot really do that. By Thursday, when my Sister arrived from Chicago, and certainly by Friday night when Carol and I arrived from Austin, my father was down with acute sciatica.

The next ten days were a blur of cancelled flights, 2-4 of us sleeping in shifts to attend two non-mobile individuals, 2 visits to emergency for pain control for my Father, 2 doctor's visits, 4 home healthcare visits, 2 courtesy visits from Mandy who also does home healthcare because we didn't have it set up for my Father yet. My sister and I lost a week at work each, and burned PTO we could have used otherwise. But we had no choice. Because of my Mother's control issues and extremely poor choices and defiance of her doctor, she'd nearly broke my Dad. There were several times I wanted to scream at her "This is because of YOUR selfishness, now I have to fix it so YOU'RE NOT IN CHARGE ANY MORE!" I didn't. In fact I never once said "this is your fault." On the other hand every time mother would wring her hands and whine "I messed this up I feel so bad." I didn't absolve her either. My only comment was "Now is all we have to work with--we'll do what we can."

We spent 10 days just getting them into moderate shape to take care of themselves before Kriss and I finally went home. I was back last weekend through this Tuesday (burning ANOTHER 2 days of PTO) to get my Dad a steroid injection which is an outpatient epidural procedure. Now his home healthcare PT starts on Monday.

My Sister and I give great thanks to each other, to our extended family of friends and cousins, our Aunt, loves, so many who helped to keep us sane, even remotely; who let us cry or vent, or yell, and who kept us laughing because if we couldn't find the humor in all this mess we were going to go insane.

This past weekend, while I was there, my Mother was actually cordial. We had a nice visit other than the stress of doctors and outpatient procedures. She thanked me for all I'd done and I think she may have FINALLY believed me when I said "You're welcome, and THIS is why I came back." I told her nearly 2 years ago that I was coming back to Texas because I felt now was the time I needed to be closer and to help more and all I got then was a viscous snort and "yeah--right."

So now, I feel like maybe, JUST maybe, my life can be my own again for a few weeks. I was delighted that I'd booked Carol and I to go see David Sedaris on Wednesday night. It was a wonderful evening out and a lovely reminder that my move to Austin did not lessen my access to arts and culture, in fact it improved it because I also have the financial ability to afford such treats.

Now if we can get through summer with out 3,000 days of 100+ degrees I may be okay! :D
All marketing
All the time

I'm a programs manager for an in-house marketing team in a large software company. At the end of Each Quarter (EoQ) We enter a SPRINT of a lot of crucial plays through various tools in order to feed leads to sales so they can close deals and meet their revenue goals, so we meet our revenue goals as a company and so Wall Street loves us. Because when Wall Street loves us, our stock goes up. When our stock goes up, we get a bonus. You see how the hamster burn out their squirrels pretty quickly. I've now been here 3 full quarters. This quarter we entered our EoQ sprint 3 weeks early. Instead of plowing through week 11 and 12 furiously, we're plowing through week 8-12 furiously. We have global sales regions and not quite global support teams. So until the first week of April, I am spread as thin as I can go: 9pm-11/12pm to cover APAC, 6am-9am to cover EMEA and 10am-4pm in the office for NAC.

I hate my life right now LOL but I am slightly kidding as I say that.

It's very easy to get totally sucked up by nothing BUT work. (And I am and I'm so very tired because my sleep is off) But LIFE must happen as well.

I got to enjoy a wonderful, WONDERFUL evening with some dynamic, sassy, funny, intelligent women. We met for dinner because Kim and her friend Terri were in town. Maida made an absolutely scrumptious dinner and we all talked and laughed for three hours or more.

It was amazing to me as we sat there to realize that I've known Maida and Kim both for 8 years now. We met here on LJ all that time ago. This was the first time I'd met Kim face to face, and it was as if I'd always known her and in a way I really have for nearly a decade.

I got home at 10:30ish, spun through my evening duties and check ins online and staggered into bed only to be up at dawn this morning to do it again (including an international conf call at 8:30) before flying into the office.

On Saturday my sister arrives from Chicago and I get a weekend of food and music with Kriss. Then Sunday night after the Clapton concert--I go right back into the stretched days for another 2 weeks.

So If I'm light on FB posts (other than reposts) and here, it's because my squirrels are blown out and my brain can't cobble together coherent sentences. But, I am still here!
Things I'm used to hearing from my Mother:

"I know you don't like me."
"I know you don't care about me."
"I know you hate me."
"I know you don't care about what I think."


Only one of those four sayings is incorrect. I do NOT hate her. Hate is a wasted emotion, in my opinion. I've wasted my emotions and my energy--both mental and physical--on hatred over too many years. I refuse to give her that power, that right, or that control. When I hate, the only one who is hurt by that is me.

I will own the fact that I do not like my Mother as a person or a family member. If we were strangers or casual acquaintances and I would not give any of my time or energy to her.

I don't care about her any more than I do a near stranger. I care about her a lot less than I care about other members of my family such as my Sister, my Father, my Aunt Sarah and many of my cousins: Carol, Sue, Shelley, and Jay. I care more for many close and dear friends who have become my family of choice. They along with other family have long since filled the gaping whole left by a mother incapable of nurturing love.

I do not care what she thinks. About anything. I don't care what she thinks about me--in fact I find most of it laughable. I don't care what she thinks about the world at large, because it's weighed down with her willful ignorance and arrogance. I do not care what she thinks about herself--it seems obvious to me she loathes herself. Bottom line is I do not care what she thinks because I do not respect her as a person.

However, none of those; NONE of those are a reason for me to not make sure she has the competent and humane medical assistance she needs.

A few people have asked me why I'm going up there when my Mother so hatefully pushes me off. That push off is spawned by her own self loathing, her own fractured perception of me, and her own fear of what's about to happen to her. She's scared, she's angry--you add that to bitter and to someone of such stunted emotional growth and you have a badger with a sore nose. That's just noise to me.

I'm going because when she went through this in 1997, the doctors fucked up her leg. Her knee replacement went fine, but they damaged beyond repair the nerves in her lower leg and in her foot. It's the reason she has been on a cane all these years. After that experience I do not BLAME her for being scared. 14 years later--different hospital--different doctors--advancements in medicine. I hope this does not happen to her again, no one deserves that and I WANT to be there to hear first hand, the outcome of this operation.

My father does not need to sit there alone. My Mother would rather he sit there alone than with me because she fears what he and I speak of when she's not there. She can't control the message and she fears that as much as she fears the surgery. A hospital waiting room is not the stage upon which I need to burden my Father with a litany of everything Mother's done to me all my life. And I'm not there to do nothing but bitch about her--but she is sure that is all I do.

My choices surrounding my Mother often come down to this: I do what I expect of myself, not what I expect of her.
So, yesterday was my Mother's appointment with her knee doctor. Neither Kriss nor I had heard a word, so before lunch today, Kriss sent a group text message to ask how it went. Surgery is set for March 29th. Last Friday of the month, that's easy to do. I say 'great! I'll be there!'

This is what I get in return:

iphone chat

Ungrateful, bitter old .....woman

Let me also point out she says that to me alone. Not to the group chat my sister opened with all three of us on it.

Eventually she relents enough to say (again to me privately)

"Good you can drive him around. He can see to drive now, but can't concentrate on it. I'll probably be out of the hospital on Sunday."

*facepalm*

May all the gods of all the worlds give me the patience and strength it is going to take to deal with this crazy bitter old woman.
Or, in my case, BOTH!

I was dead the end of last week. I spent Thursday and Friday in a twilight fog of sinus/migraine death. I woke at one point to find myself pinned to the bed by six fur bodies. I was the only human home. I was comatose, and horizontal. Who were they not to join in?! In spite of the migraine Carol and I got in the car and drove to Dallas last Friday night. My sister had returned from Chicago and we had the last of packing to do before the moving truck arrived on Monday to load her up!

But first, some fun. Saturday was spent wandering off in opposite directions. Sue & Carol to do errands, me to a wonderful brunch with dear friends Kerry, Lisa and their daughter, Kirah. My sister was off to get her hair cut and styled by the woman who has done her hair since she was 14 years old.

When we all met up again it was at an antique warehouse in Grapevine, Tx. There are some peculiarities to moving into an 1920s urban apartment. One is small bedrooms with weird wall angles. She's had this long low, dresser that was part of an 80s monstrosity bedroom set my folks got her when she graduated from HS.

You know one of those thick, bookcase headboard things with mirrors and lights. It all ways more than a herd of elephants and looks about as appealing... When we first looked at apartments in Chicago I told her that if she found a way to ditch that hideous old dresser (the only piece of that suite she had left) I'd buy her a new one for the new apartment. We found a beautiful 20's solid walnut wardrobe with drawers on one side and shelves could be put in the other side. It had a beautiful inlay, no major dings or blemishes and was under $300.00. Because I insisted on paying for it, my sister also scored an awesome classic Tiffany style table lamp with solid brass base and stem and gorgeous stained glass.

We got her a large copper tub for the non-working fireplace in her living room, and a few other nice accent items. We all milled around this huge store and squealed and ooh'd and awww'd over stuff. I even wound up with an accent chair for the re-do of my bedroom in Austin. We piled all our finds into the back of our SUV and had her wardrobe delivered to the warehouse of the moving company she works for to be packed with her stuff.

Next we headed to a place to scope out area rugs since she has over 1,000 sq feet of solid oak flooring. We managed to hit a 50% off sale and got her three rugs, we took them home and taped them up for packing on Monday.

Dinner with the parents that night proved one of the most interesting points of the weekend. My mother showed up ON A WALKER.

Yup. A walker. She has long used a cane, because of nerve damage after knee replacement surgery in '97. But a walker?

My first reaction was 'sympathy ploy'. However my Dad confirmed that she had indeed blown out her other knee. Mind you she has needed knee surgery on her other knee and also on the one they did in '97 for a minimum of two years now. She keeps postponing that surgery and often using my sister as her excuse. (Oh I can't do it then, you're too busy so I cancelled.) Now, she can barely walk. This situation is, of course 100% avoidable. So I have little sympathy with the self-invaliding of my Mother. The other thing that pisses me off is that this happened less than a week after my Sister moved to Chicago. So, end of January. It's now the end of February. We've had video conference calls with them each week since Kriss's move. Has this EVER been mentioned? NO!

They are insisting that they have to move to Vegas before the end of this year because come 2014 they lose all their medical care from the Navy. Obama is evil of course and he's making them homeless and helpless. Yes there are changes in the plan for Retired members on Tri-Care Prime who reside more than 40 miles away from a Military 'treatment facility'. However, TriCare's website also says:
Provisions will allow Prime beneficiaries who see providers outside the 40-mile service area to remain in Prime if they reside within 100 miles of an available primary care manager and sign an access waiver. Contractors such as United HealthCare Military & Veterans, Health Net Federal Services and Humana Military will continue to assist beneficiaries in obtaining providers in their regions. Beneficiaries should speak to their health care providers and families to assess the best course of action.

By shifting to Las Vegas they are easily within range of Military base hospital facilities and they can drive my Uncle Crazy instead of me. I'm actually FOR this move, not against it.

Mind you there are very good hospitals here in Texas, in San Antonio in particular. My mother has always loved San Antonio, but now she spits the city's name out as if it were the devil itself. Why? I have no idea except that it's too close to where I live. So between now and September or October, I have to hoard my quarterly bonuses to help pay to move them across the country. I guarantee you she won't save the money to do it herself.

But between then and now she is being forced to deal with her knee issue. This could get very interesting. Kriss is gone. I am here, but she won't tell me what's really going on, or when. She simply grows more combative, more secretive and more dysfunctional with every day.

Is it wrong of me to refuse to loose sleep over this?
aamusedinatx: (dorothy)
In the face of all odds I choose happiness. This is not the easiest task. People think that 'Pollyanna' types are unrealistic simpletons who don't have a clue, much less a grasp of the enormity of 'real life'. I'm not even suggesting I'm as happy or as cheerful as Pollyanna. It is just that I have learned the hard way, over the years, what the other choices cost me. They cost me confidence, momentum, schooling, employment, contentment and peace of mind. It cost me friends and it cost me companionship.

I can and do choose to be happy in life. When incidents, people or tasks crop up that create stress and unhappiness, I examine the root cause and make determined steps for myself to address that unhappiness:

solve problem X; address a conflict with person Y; recognize stress as transient or recognize the duration so that I can apply counter measures which give me joy and balance the stress with more positive things.

If you read along on my FB you know that many things geographical, social and political outrage my sense of what is right and what is fair. I do not let that turn me bitter (I'm already cynical). In my own pragmatic way I try to channel that outrage into direct action that can bring something better to myself and people around me. I don't just sit here and strangle on my outrage as a victimized martyr. Being upset by inequality or human rights abuses, or political/financial stupidity does not mean I get to sit back and simply say "this is horrible, poor me."

But what about when that unhappiness and sense of 'this is and has been just WRONG' (and unchangeable) in my personal sphere? I came across an interesting article in SLATE today. It asked a question which looms large in my mind these days. What do I owe my abusive Mother now that she is in sharp decline?

My thought is this.

I sacrificed my happiness in a never-successful quest to please my mother for nearly 30 years. I am not going to re-sacrifice my happiness, my peace, or my sense of self to her now.

I WILL ensure to the best of my ability that she has the compassionate care I think human beings deserve, but I do not have to be her nursemaid to provide that.

Her sense of entitlement ("that's what I gave BIRTH to you for") does not make me obligated.

Her assumptions, when proved false, infuriate her. Trust me when I say crazy and mean do not improve with age.

In truth, my Mother would rather walk in front of a bus than be dependent upon me for anything, other than money. I think she fears being dependent upon me. What she fears is retaliation for all the years of abuse and derision she heaped upon me. On the one hand she should fear that. She sowed a very bitter crop and now is the harvest time. On the other hand, what she expects of me is what she herself would deliver if she were in my shoes.

Only I am not her.

Revenge is an easy road and not a noble one. Taking revenge now on an old, crazy and feeble woman is not a noble act. It doesn't obligate me to bury the past, but I obligate myself to provide for her as I can, through controlled, short interactions, keeping things polite, and making sure she has access to skilled care as she needs it. I am not her nurse, but I can make sure she has one. I am not her chauffeur but I can make sure she has transport when she needs it. I am not a martyr to her bitterness, she covers that just fine on her own.

My mother has long made the assumption that after my father dies, she will simply move in with my sister and live out the rest of her days happily ever after. Fact Check: My sister doesn't want her either. Oh, and by the way--that's my fault. :D

When I told my sister of this plan (a plan my Mother has been telling her siblings and I for a decade) My Mother has never asked or even opened that discussion with my sister at any time in the last 20 years; and certainly not in the last 10 years that my Father has been declining. Why not? This is a fairly important discussion! The reason why is because in my Mother's head this move was a foregone conclusion. She'd raised and trained and programmed my sister in a particular way in order to ensure that my sister was in perpetual need of my Mother's presence, advice and nurturing. Only something happened along the way; my sister grew into her own person, shedding her programming and training, and learning late in life that she needed to choose what made her happy instead of sacrificing her happiness and peace of mind so that others could be happy instead.

And now, she's struggling in her 40s to learn the hard lessons I struggled to learn in my late 20s/early 30s: to be at peace, to be brave, to confront insecurities, and to not let the heavy chains of 'obligation' define her. My Mother's assumptions and sense of entitlements from and of my Sister are not HER obligations or responsibility. I cheer my sister on as she struggles with this. I try to let her pick her own battles with Mother--because they are similar but not the same as my battles with her. I step in and run interference only when necessary and simply back up and re-emphasize that my sister's choices and actions are her own and are the right ones for her. That she is an adult capable of making those choices. That she needs to make choices based on what is best for HER because no one else is making those choices

And daily, I remind my sister of how empowered she truly is, and how happiness is her choice, and how she is so much bigger and more capable than any of her many challenges.

In spite of the looming issues of dealing with an aging bitter parent I continue to choose my happiness. In this situation it is the joy of being a big sister and helping and supporting her as she grows. It's in drawing my boundaries carefully and consistently when dealing with my Mother so that she has less avenue to poison my world with her own outrage, fear, entitlement, and unhappiness over the bitter harvest she reaps. I hope to mentor my sister as we continue and keep her from being overwhelmed by the backwash/backlash of my boundaries. Now that she has some physical distance from my Mother that should be a bit easier. Moving to California and giving myself that physical distance 20 years ago, helped me greatly in separating where my mother ended and where I began.

Meanwhile, even when I'm having a sucky day, or I'm incensed by some corporate demagoguery or political asshattery, I still draw a deep breath and smile because...

I CHOOSE happiness.

happiness
So, on our way into downtown for the concert last night we drove by "Love Goat." Who knew that goat love was a thing, much less a place. A place which serves alcohol and has a GINORMOUS photo of two goats...doing what goats do, naturally, and with love. Don't believe me? Look at the photo, lower left corner of the gallery on their main page.

Goats.

This is better than sheep being walked down the sidewalk on leashes in Berkeley.


Almost!
Honk, Hack, Hork, Snort, Wheeze, Cough.

Why hello Oak pollen so 'nice' to feel you invade my very soul and crush me in your yellow dust grip.


'But that's not what I came here to talk about...I came to talk about the draft...'

No, I didn't come to talk about that either. This latte is playing with my brain chem.

It's been a week. Not a bad week, but a week. Work has been churning busy, life has been busy. I spent most of Tuesday at home twiddling because I was waiting on a delivery. I guarantee if I hadn't been home it would have arrived at 8:45am. Because I was home it arrived at 5:15pm. But I stayed home and checked on email and work stuff remotely because I.really.wanted.that.bed!

I now have a lovely thick, firm, memory foam mattress. It's on the floor for now but zomg it feels so much better. My back thanks me, my hips thank me, my shoulders and neck thank me! I managed to get my old bed pulled out of there and stood upright on the bathroom next to me, but I was unable to get 71 pounds of bagged foam up the stairs. It took all three of us with the un-helpful assistance of 4 curious dogs and 2 bored cats. But we did manage to get it up there, un bagged, cut out of 2 layers of heavy plastic, 1 layer of tyvek and laid out.

Then of course we HAD to try it out.

First we had to get the sea of animals off of it so we could lay down.

Then we laid there oohing and awing and then spluttering and laughing as a variety of furry noses and tongues attacked us.

Meanwhile Tonight is Susanne Vega at the Paramount/State theater. We at the fun committee brought in 'the coffee guy' and Round Rock donuts for employee appreciation morning. So all in all, a busy, full, and good week!

If only I could breathe :D And, if when I can breathe, if only I didn't smell skunk...everywhere. It's as sure a sign of spring as budding trees.

Now back to my coffee!

~ Meri
So, the GRAMMY Awards. No I did not watch them. (I rarely watch TV you should know that by now.) However, I was pleased to hear Mumford & Sons were well recognized this year.

I'm pretty excited because this week, Thursday in fact, I am going with Carol to see Suzanne Vega at the Paramount Theater in Austin. As with the FOX and the Paramount theaters in Oakland, I love historic theaters which are preserved and reused as venues of entertainment, intellect, and public gathering. It gets my money and it gets my vote!

If there is one thing Austin has going for it, it's live music. The scene here continues to thrive with international, national, and locally grown talent that is extraordinary. The festivals: ACL and http://sxsw.com/ can be prohibitively expensive but, that shouldn't keep you from stepping out to sample music. Not when we have free concerts like Blues on the Green at Zilker Park. And Unplugged at Shady Grove, which has delicious food btw!. I'm not happy with the direction of KGSR FM after being bought by Clear Channel. But I will give them props for continuing these two music traditions. I am VERY happy that KUT, our public radio here, has branched out with KUTX and is making that into the KGSR of old--being bold and local music conscious.

One of my ONLY music laments since moving to Austin in late '11 is the dearth of jazz. I say that knowing full well I have yet to MAKE TIME to head over to the Elephant Room, Austin's prime jazz spot. However, in a music city of this size I find it astonishing that jazz seems to have only one venue. Natives, please do correct me if I'm wrong. (Hunt, you seem the most well versed of those I 'know' here.) There was so much jazz in San Francisco, and here I begin to twitch if I can't hear some live jazz after so long. I'd hate to have to burn up I-35 to Denton once a month just to hear the saxophone!

Just sayin!
~ Meri
aamusedinatx: (coffeeblack)
I slept like a baby yesterday from about 8pm to 6am this morning! As such I'm a much HAPPIER person!

Today's musing comes from the PEW foundation's News IQ quiz. I came across this on Facebook this morning and several people on my list took it and posted their results, as did I. (I'm so proud to know so many good, intelligent, curious, news junkies!!)

I tasked myself with answering honestly and correctly without looking anything up. I got all 13 questions right although I wobbled on Syria (I thought that spot on the map was Jordan, but I also know Jordan isn't THAT big), and on the graph being unemployment vs. something else, but my gut-checks proved correct. as I said when I posted my link "I'm informed by CHOICE not by ACCIDENT."

Folks I know got 13, 12, 11, and 10 questions out of 13 right. What I found curious was some of the 'reasons' behind what they did not know. I don't find those reasons WRONG, just confusing. I don't find those folks STUPID, just confusing.

One of Shalene's friends noted they did not get the photos of politicians correct. Her reason was, she doesn't watch cable tv, she gets all her news from the internet. Now I suppose there are those out there who still set their browser to serve up text-only, but I was completely taken aback by this as a reason for not recognizing John Kerry, or Eric Holder, or John Bohner. I may not like them (in the case of Bohner) but I sure as hell make sure I memorize that face if nothing else than to throw a pie at his ugly mug if I ever happen to chance upon him in IKEA. Then again--I'm one of those who reads the NYTimes obits every morning on the off-chance something there will make my day. Call me weird, that's fine.

My reply on Shalene's item was "I haven't owned a TV in 14 years." Like her friend, I get all my news from pod casts, internet news sites, some dead-tree papers, radio, billboards, conversation around me. Television is not a determining factor for me on whether I recognize a face or not.

But...I can remember when that WAS the case. I'm old enough to remember that faces I grew up seeing only came to me on the babblebox. Newspapers were 98% text and the only pictures were the front page headline story, an occasional obituary, and the ever increasing advertising. Oh, and let's not forget Sunday comics! In 1975, for instance, I would have to go out of my way to look for and find a photo of most members of congress. In 2013 you have to hide in a bunker to not be assaulted with visuals. We're on image overload these days.

If Shalene's lovely friend is successful in turning down that signal-to-noise-ratio by not subscribing to Cable TV and getting most of news from the Net I have to sort of applaud that ability. But it still confuses me. I would rather know than not know. Just because I don't like someone's politics, or rhetoric, doesn't mean I should completely ignore them.

Hell, I can even identify Snookie and Kim Kardashian in a police line up; I don't follow their exploits and drivel, but they are part of the pop-culture fabric of my world. I need to know who they are and what they look like; if for no other reason than to avoid them like the plague.

I'm all for 'blow up your TV'. Trust me. Edward R Murrow may have said it best, way back in 1958:

"For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally. If there were to be a competition in indifference, or perhaps in insulation from reality, then Nero and his fiddle, Chamberlain and his umbrella, could not find a place on an early afternoon sustaining show. If Hollywood were to run out of Indians, the program schedules would be mangled beyond all recognition. Then some courageous soul with a small budget might be able to do a documentary telling what, in fact, we have done--and are still doing--to the Indians in this country. But that would be unpleasant. And we must at all costs shield the sensitive citizens from anything that is unpleasant."

The full text of his speech can be found here.

Keep it Classy, Peeps!

~ Meri
We're #3 in the nation for worst traffic evah!

In response to that and to a very high rate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities last year; the city wants commuters to take a survey.

We're in the top ten for Urban Forests.

We're in the top 5 for healthiest housing in the US.

We're in the top 20 for Greenest Cities. In fact, come March 1st the new bag-ban goes into place. Going into stores and hearing 'paper or plastic' will now be replaced with 'and just how did you plan to carry all that?' You'd better remember to put your reusable bags in your car and keep them there!

My employer is listed as the BEST small company to work for in the US

And this was one of the primary reasons that relocating to Austin made sense for me: Best big city for jobs. The unemployment rate here was HALF what it was in Alameda County, CA.

And last (but not least) We were voted the #1 Intelligent Community of the year for 2012.

So let's keep it weird, keep it moving, and let's hope I don't pull down the collective IQ of this joint!
For some reason today I'm about two hairs away from a complete meltdown. It hasn't even been a bad day! I worked late yesterday, but that wasn't stressful really. Carol worked til nearly midnight, while I got home, had a light dinner, snuggled with the pups then went to go get her and bring her home. I was in bed by 12:30am. Carol woke me up this morning at 8am. I never even heard my alarm.

Today has been reasonably productive, for having got a late start. Meetings were good, good food was consumed, I had a 30 minute massage at lunch and yet...

I feel if one thing keeps me from going straight door-to-door, from desk to bed, this afternoon I am going to become a temper tantrum pitching toddler. All I want is to GO TO SLEEP!
It's 7:30pm and I'm still at the office. Meetings started at 11am and ended at 5:40pm! I got nearly a full day's work done in 100 minutes this evening. Eh...I can't complain too badly. It really is rare that I stay late (or has been til now.) I'm returning after nearly a week off. My boss leaves for Chennai India on Friday and is frantic, so part of my meetings today was my 1/1 with her before she leaves.

I spent last week in Chicago and the western hinterlands of Chi-town getting my sister settled and oriented in her new surroundings. It's the first time I've been gone for more than a day or over official holidays since I started in June. I had two personal/professional, emotional epiphanies: 1. Austin has become HOME! I was thrilled to be returning after a week in the cold. This was the first remote trip I'd made since I arrived here over a year ago, so that was good to know and to experience. 2. People at work noticed I was gone and it wasn't because things broke while I was away. That may sound stupid but it was good to hear and experience. People notice me when I'm here and when I'm not here. Remember, I've spent the last 9 years working in a 6-person office. Now I'm in an 800 employee global company. It is sometimes difficult to feel 'significant'.

We had our all-hands meeting this morning. This takes place each quarter after our earnings calls with investors and analysts. We've beat street estimates and blown the lid off our revenue projections for 12 straight quarters. Still in light of that and positive news on the wires, our stock dropped nearly $4.00/share today (at one point). WTF?! This is almost like being at Apple again. As our CEO says "Investors are Stupid!" Apparently so. We beat our aggressive revenue target by nearly 4 million and one analyst had the nerve to ask "why only by that much?" It feel odd working for a public company again--good but odd. Meanwhile we secured our quarterly bonuses and for that I'm happy.

I got out of the car last night and looked up at the branches spread over our drive way. On the tips of the branches were the first light green buds of spring. I was thrilled. This in combination with getting my Chicago trip out of the way also means the launch of two home-based projects I wanted to do last Spring and didn't: 1. Empty my bedroom, scrape and paint and 'make it my own'. This includes buying a new bed and frame--the current one I'm in is KILLING me!! So Expect some DIY posts with before and after shots. 2. Herb Garden. We're going vertical using wooden pallets and landscaping cloth in order to plant kitchen herbs like tarragon, thyme, chives, oregano, sage and several varieties of mint. We also have plenty of larger spare pots to plant rosemary, basil and perhaps a lime tree. These, in combination with the very large fig tree will give us a lovely bounty this year!

An amusing anecdote about the fig tree. Dharma kitty fell in love with it last year. When fall came and the leaves fell off, she had a conniption fit. I opened the back door one morning to let the animals out while I had coffee. She sat there staring up into her naked fig tree and then turned to look over her shoulder at me. She proceeded to lecture me loudly and obviously unhappily, about her naked fig tree and why was I just standing there?! Why didn't I DO something?! For the next few weeks she would go sit out there and sigh, and mutter. She'd get up and stroll to another part of the yard to look at the tree from a different perspective--nope STILL naked--and she'd protest loudly all over again. With our front tree budding (I forget what variety it is) then hopefully the fig tree isn't far behind. That'll make her happy again!

Meanwhile I ripped the band-aid off a long festering personal wound of history in FB today. I am chuckling to myself and wondering if my Mother will even notice. The only time she ever 'likes' anything on my FB it either 1. is me saying I have a migraine (instant LIKE!) or 2. I have featured or mentioned my sister in a major way. I basically went idle on FB the first of last year while doing the job hunt. Then when I returned to posting I spent a lot of time hoarding my real thoughts and shares behind the 'friends' list which excludes my Mother. Lately, however, I'm like 'fuck it!' I say what I want in my own item, as I want, when I want. OUT LOUD. Hasn't that always been my Mantra? So I notice her interacting with me less and less in FB because she truly hates my perspective, my principles, my politics, my pro-active voice for causes dear to me, and my anti-ignorance, anti-hate, anti-FauxNews stance. *Shrug*

It's hard to believe that next week is Valentine's already and that also means family birthdays. My sister, my cousin Sue, her daughter Julie, Carol's son Steven, my Mother All happen between the 8th and the 16th of February. Seriously people??!!

Screw that! I'm going to hear Suzanne Vega on Valentines and call myself happy!!!

Head Geek just yelled for us to get the hell outta here and home, so...off I go and thanks for the warm notes!!

~ Meri
and you may find yourself in another part of the world

2012 Was definitely the year for Transition and Change.

I moved to Austin, Texas and left behind my beloved Northern California, cherished friends, my life partner of 10 years, and much more.

"Left behind" can only really be applied in a physical sense. I've lived life online so fully for the past 20 years that most of my friendships have carried on even with my move. Some are harder to keep up than others but we all try even when we're sucky correspondents.

In return I experienced a lot of changes, a lot of "AFGO"s (Another FUCKING "growth opportunity") and now, a year later, the smoke is beginning to clear.


2012 GOALS:
GET MOVED without losing all of my sanity (short trip), none of my pets, none of my personal effects, and without completely alienating my cousin and her household by moving in.

I managed all of those (although 'sanity'; is a relative term.)
By New Years I was snug in a 3 bedroom house in Northern Austin and the pets were getting used to much more room and a back yard! The pups had been down to visit with me several times--in fact they both started their life with me in this same house--so this was familiar territory for them. I was very worried about the cats during the transition. I need not have worried. Our first morning there, I stagger out onto the back patio with coffee in hand to watch the sunrise and watch the pups explore and slowly realize there are six bodies stalking across the yard; Sammy and Dharma were both exploring their new surroundings with curiosity and they've been more or less happily settled since!


Get EMPLOYED. My last oh, three months, in California, my client could not afford to pay me. I'd been without reliable salary for nearly 6 months. I'd been working at 1/5th of my market rate for 8 years, nearly 9. I needed to land well and get gainful employment, at good wage and benefits. Many of you know exactly HOW difficult that is in the current economy. I gave myself a 3-6 month window to achieve that and I started applying the second day I arrived.

With luck and relief I landed a job in South Austin working for a Software Technology company in their inside marketing agency. It's a really good company, a growing company, publicly held, excellent benefits, nice perks, lovely people. I am very relieved to have made it. It was nerve wracking for it to take six months--but looking back now, I think it was worth it. It will take me a few years to make a dent in debts wracked up, but I'm on it!


GET LICENSED. Yeah, well DMV is DMV, is DMV. I'm still working on that one.

GET A CAR. I'm actively working on that one (see above which has to happen first) But Carol and I commute together. Our schedules are compatible and we enjoy each other's company. That said, I still feel the need for my own personal transport for flexibility. There's plenty I won't go off and do by myself because it would mean inconveniencing Carol by borrowing her car more than is necessary for work and essentials. This includes, dating, running off to Dallas to deal with my Mother, exploring when I'm restless and antsy, or going to work at 4am when I have insomnia.

GET INVOLVED. I'm working on that too!

Politics: I got my voters registration swapped long before anything else and survived my first election cycle in Texas since 1991.

Music: Austin is a MUSIC town and that is one of many reasons I really do love it here. In March I was at the Austin Music Awards and watching really wonderful live music, local and national acts such as Quiet Company, Caroline Wonderland, Alejandro Escovedo, and Bruce Springsteen (Keynote). In July I was at the Backyard for Joe Cocker and Huey Lewis and the News. In February I'm seeing Suzanne Vega, and in March Eric Clapton with the Wallflowers as the opening act. I am LOVING Austin as a music city; love love LOVING IT!

Food: Austin is also a foodie's heaven. It's not just TexMex and BBQ here. Later I'll list some of my favorite venues. Carol and I have a goal to eat our way through the entire region, one restaurant at a time. Every time she takes me someplace new, I'm staggering out well fed and teasing her "you've been holding out on me!"

Community: This has been a bit more difficult for me. I'm stuck in the hinterlands of suburbia and I need to get more in tune with this place. Slowly but surely I'm increasing my awareness of what is happening in Austin. Part of this challenge is I do not live in Austin proper or even Travis county. So we don't get to vote on things like a new state-of-the-art teaching hospital for UT.



2012 WINS:

I survived my first summer in Texas in 20 years without killing anyone, including myself. 100+ degree days SUCK, but hey, at least there's AC.

The allergies haven't killed me either.

I landed a great job, great pay, great people.

I am living with and near family I truly love and adore--many of them who have access to this blog now: Carol, my Sister, my Aunt Sarah, a variety of Second Cousins and more.

Other than allergies, I am HEALTHY (over fed, but healthy)! I have full medical coverage for the first time in nearly 6 years and have been through the full panel of check ups. All systems are go.


2012 CHALLENGES:

Mother
Mother
and um, MOTHER

Good God but she remains a piece of work. I've been playing bad-cop to my sister's good-cop and spent much of the year counter-acting her selfish and childish behavior by giving support to my sister and to stay in touch with my dad. This will remain a challenge with a unique twist as January of 2013 saw my sister transferred to Chicago, IL with a big promotion for her work, and now my parents are threatening to move to Las Vegas, near my uncle (her brother). Which means I'm here in Austin--having moved to be closer to family (at my sister's pleading/request) and now she's in Illinois and my parents are moving to Nevada! Yippy fuckin SKIPPY....

But you know what? This move has been good for so many other reasons then just nearer my parents. I'm happy in our hippy-empty-nester household: 3 adults, 6 animals, lots of laughter and sharing. I am near family I really DO love and that's good too.

Other Challenges: rebuilding a personal life with local connections, loves, and friends. Not many of those. I'm 10-20 years older than most of the girls I work with here. I do have a few friends at my new job, but we live far flung from each other, so very little socializing after work. While at the Backyard in July I spent a lot of the pre-concert time sitting on the lawn, scoping out the sample of Austin ages 30-60. After about an hour I turned to Carol and said "If this is my dating pool, I'm gonna become a nun!" I mean it jokingly, but um... not entirely :D

Kink: The Kink community in Austin--isn't really... it's mostly private, and one to one. What clubs there were, were mostly LGBT focused--which is fine, but I'm not seeking LGBT as a predominate life choice for myself right now.

Creative: I'd let this blog lapse because I felt tired, dry, dull, and voiceless. Too many other things were pulling me in other directions. Lately--the past 3 or 4 months or so--I've felt far more vocal and had far more volume of words spinning in my head ready to get out. I plan to continue this trend and look to you all to keep me on the "straight and narrow"; (or is that "crooked and bent";) path of engaging, writing, speaking, and continuing to live my life outloud.

And so going forward, I have a plan. Having a plan is a great thing for many people. For me having a plan is guaranteed to mean that life will slap me upside the head on a regular business saying "yeah fuck your plan!";

Just sayin!

~Meri
"From Springtime in Arizona, to the Fall in Monterey, the raceways were the battlefields and we fought them all the way." (Speedway at Nazareth, Mark Knopfler)

So about 4 years ago, when the Enigma sold his company, he bought the one car he'd always wanted A Lotus. The car that goes zoom is a lot of fun. (So long as I'm not trying to climb out of it in a skirt!) Since he purchased it I have been encouraging him to do a racetrack weekend so he can learn the safe way to drive REALLY fast. Like me, he's more than a bit of a speed freak. So, why not take it out where you can indulge that and NOT be worried about getting a ticket?

Four years later and finally he did. We got home last night from the Corkscrew Invitational at Laguna Seca Raceway. He spent two days with a driving coach, three heats on Saturday and again on Sunday for about 40 laps. I spent both days up in the suite with the SF British Motor Car club taking photos, cheering, squeeing, watching his group plus several other groups (Porsche club, BMW group, Shelby club, HOD (Hooked on Driving) Advanced Drivers club, and a supercarts group) run as well. The 2.25 mile track is car racing as I remember from my childhood, watching TV with my dad and in the early 80s when my first brother-in-law was a race car driver. Laguna Seca is a historic track. The hairpin turn is named after Mario Andretti. The straightaway after Bobby Rahal. Another curve after Wayne Rainey.



Saturday morning dawned very wet. The fog was so thick it was actually raining and the track was both cold and wet. This made the Enigma VERY nervous. The car doesn't handle well cold and wet. His coach was a nice guy, Kiyoshi. Kiy is also a Lotus driver. The two of them got on very well, and the first few laps round were to familiarize the driver with the track. I really like Kiy and he was very good at explaining the science of why the driver follows the line, what the apex is for, traction circles and the like. He spent as much time looking at me, making sure "I" got it, as he did the Enigma. He didn't have to do that, but he also recognized that I was familiar with all of this and very very interested. Basically, as long as Kiy was in the passenger seat with the Enigma, I was not worried about him or the car.



Fortunately my club wrist band gave me access to the suite and to the cold pit, the garages and the paddock. I had as much fun wandering the paddock looking at cars and listening to the drivers and mechanics as I did watching the track. The food was from Bernardes Lodge in Carmel Valley and delicious. This is a luxury car club, I realize, but man they treated us well! The BMC group was racing Aston Martins, Lotus, Lambos, Bentleys and a few stray Porsches; an Ariel Atom and one Audi GTR.

Mid day the track dried out a bit. 2nd heat The Enigma did better, looked more solid coming through the back straight, more confident, but still a bit 'slow'. He was pointing by everyone who came up behind him. The Lotus is the perfect car for hugging a curve, but it doesn't have enough power to keep up with a Murcielargo in the straightaway. Still he was pointing faster drivers by because he wasn't laying down his own power soon enough.

By 3pm, and the final heat of Saturday, the sun was brilliant. The track was dry and hot. The BMW group had a qualifying heat with full on pace car lead in etc. You could smell rubber, oil, and transmission fluid waft up from the tarmac. The phrase "running on fumes" really has very little to do with how much gas is in your tank. It's more the wild eyed look you get as the track and that paddock is overrun with the various fumes of hot racing. I stood on the outer deck of the suite with a few of the wives who varied from bored to envious. Me, I was almost envious--I would have been out there on that track in a heartbeat, but this was HIS weekend-not mine. Lap 5 of that final session, I saw him round turn 10 and lay it down, full out, and blow past a Porsche and the Audi. I started screaming!!! I was so excited for my tentative, diffident Englishman I could have cried. Two laps later the checkered flag was out to signal last lap. I flew down the Paddock as they all rolled in. To see the joy in his face and the animation to his body and gestures after that heat was one of the most thrilling things I've seen after nine years with this man.

We had a lovely dinner and a relaxing evening in the hot tub at the hotel that night. It was so nice to have time away, with each other, not on a clock, no other real demands on us. It's been almost two years since we've taken this sort of opportunity, for a variety of reasons.

Sunday dawned clear, so while the track was cold on the first heat, it was dry at least. The confidence of Saturday's last race meant he had a very very good first heat. The 2nd heat was just before lunch. I was standing outside on the suite deck again watching the laps and shaking my head. He wasn't driving as well, he wasn't coming out of the turn smoothly, he wasn't laying it down. On lap five the knot of cars he'd been in came round again and he wasn't in it. I frowned and waited, a few more cars came round and then I saw him coming into the hot pit. Mechanical problem? Flagged? What?! I muttered "oh gods don't let us drive home in a rented Ford!..." He rolled to the end of the lane. The pit boss leaned in to talk to him through the window for a few moments and then waved him back up into the track for the final laps. He came through for the final lap and once I saw him go through, I hit the door and headed straight for the Paddock. I wanted to know what happened. I was standing at the corner of the garage, out of the way. When the car drove up Kiy looked over at me and gave the thumbs up! (We're OK!) then he twirled his fingers. "Really?!" I mouthed. He nodded, his helmet wobbling and repeated the thumbs up. AHHH! He'd spun out.

His confidence and ego took a huge punch with that spin out in turn 6. Kiyoshi was good at talking him down out of his tree, welcoming him to the 'club', talking about his own spin outs, what there is to learn from the experience, reiterating that the car and the driver were unscathed, which is a WIN...etc. I stayed quiet. If the Enigma decided not to do that 3rd heat, I wasn't going to say a word, but since we were standing in the 'paddock' the phrase that kept running through my head was 'when you fall off the horse you get right back on.'

We went up to the suite and had lunch. Many of the drivers came to talk to him, all clapping him on the back, laughing, telling their own spin out stories. I couldn't quite tell if that was helping or not. He asked to go for a walk afterward, expel the last of that pent up adrenaline. We strolled through the rows of cars, trailers and RVs in the paddock as he talked about his uncertainties and waring with himself. He had mixed feelings about the experience and understandably so. I finally said "get back on the horse." He agreed, saying he was so glad they waved him back on the track from the pit. He didn't want to be pulled in, he wanted back out there to prove to himself he could do it. I was so proud of him.

Jokingly I suggested we go to the GotBueMilk trailer to see if they had pictures from that heat. "Maybe they caught your spin out. (They were the official racecourse photographers for the invitational.) I was KIDDING, but when we go there, we found they had indeed captured the whole thing, about 20 frames worth from the nosing into the corner wrong, to the braking when he shouldn't have, to the lift, the spin, the HUGE cloud of sand and dust which enveloped the car, to the dust settling and him driving back onto the track to the black flag pointing at him to pull him into the pit for a chat. I flinched at first, but he sat down with the mouse, staring at the screen, talking through the points with himself, repeating what Kiyoshi had explained to him. He wanted to see, understand and learn.

"They say Ann has trained a few Lotus drivers...I'm going to ask her to go with me on that last heat."

I wanted to burst into tears. Early in the morning, before the first heat even, he'd thanked me for coming with him, saying he knew himself well and if I had not been there to share the weekend, he would have talked himself out of day two and simply come home early. Now here he was determined to finish the invitational.

We went back to the suite and watched the BMW qualifier round and the HOD advanced driver group. He paired up with Ann and went back out for his final heat. Before he left I kissed him and said "I love you, have fun, be confident." I stood watching. He was slower but his line was good, his confidence came back after a few tentative laps, his turns were great and by the final two laps he was back to unwinding properly in the turn and laying it down in the back straight. I smiled and again met him in the paddock as he parked. Before I could say a word, he and Ann were pulling off the helmets, shaking hands and I heard him say "I'll see you in ThunderHill in a few months!"

I think I just became a raceway widow.

I couldn't be more proud.
Well that's a good question!! I've been re focusing, working hard, trying to play hard, trying to get this second life venue off the ground and damnit if that thing hasn't simply EXPLODED on me!! I thought it would take longer, but oh no.

I won't go into to some of the faceplam-ing borks I've done. I'm quite frustrated with my learning curve and the expense I've gone through to fix my mistakes, but along the way, I've been helped and supported by good friends, in-world and out!

I'm not sure if this HTML will work, but I'm going to paste it in hopes you can see, what I mean when I say events have assploded!



Won't you come check us out? :D

Nope apparently I can't post iFrame info :P

lets try this: http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=bluffsartscenter%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Los_Angeles

Seriously

Aug. 25th, 2010 03:42 pm
Who died and made me den mother?!
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