Thursday, December 26, 2002

Getting some focus

Okay, I’ve been slacking in so many different ways it’s not funny. Well maybe it’ll be funny at some point later on, remind me and we’ll laugh together. It’s not that I’m not functioning at all, just not operating at a high level of efficiency. I’ve been getting up later in the morning and rushing down to Burlingame. While I’m there, I’m getting things accomplished, but not really engaged in the tasks I’m doing. Either they are things I just don’t enjoy doing, like screening someone else’s calls, or things that are a bit tedious, like transcribing notes or determining why a Windows 98 machine doesn’t shut down cleanly. I bite my tongue because it wasn’t that long ago I was still using Windows 98, but the inner geek in me is saying, “Windows 98? That is SO last millennium!”

Then I’ll go home and cook dinner, which typically is a healthy mix of meat and veggies. Then run errands and catch up on email, bills or hang out with my housemates. I’m trying to clean up after myself which seems to take a lot of time some days. Then there is organizing and getting things ready for the move or working on my job search.

In any case, I’ve been lazy about getting to the gym regularly. I understand that if I went to the gym regularly I would be a nice little boost that would make it easier to get to the gym regularly. But you can see that getting started is the problem here. I’ve gotten myself organized enough to plan my big storage move for tomorrow. I’ve enlisted the help of a couple of friends, rented a truck, made an appointment to view my containers and with any luck will be able to appreciate the cooler weather that we’ve been promised. I’ve even gone to the bank to get some cash should I need to enlist some day-worker assistance. I’m feeling rather good that everything is in line.

I do need to remember to send my niece’s birthday gift. Wouldn’t want to be the lame aunt who can’t get her ass to the post office. But worse comes to worse I can do that on Saturday. At her age, it’s not so bad to have something new show up a day or so later, just to avoid the ‘so many new things and not enough time to play with everything’ syndrome. In any case I wish that I could have been there to wish her a happy 4th birthday in person. Happy Birthday Kaitie!!

Once I move my stuff, I don’t have any other huge projects looming, so I’ll be devoting more time to finding a job that fits me better and taking time to brush up on my skills. I recognize how easily distracted I am and how I really enjoy being able to pursue any little thing that catches my eye. I suspect this is the leading cause for my overall lack of focus and it’s going to end.


My plan is to actually list the things I want to do or accomplish and write them down. Some of them are serious like getting my weight to a healthier level or finding a job that I enjoy doing and others are more fun, like buying gifts for my nieces who were considerately born later in the year than their parents. Yes, I know you’re thinking about something you once read that proves that written goals are more likely to be achieved than ones you keep in your head. I’ve read that too.

But wait… there’s more! Now that I’ve written these buggers down I print it out and refer to the list the next time I decide I’m going to do something. Is this something that will help me achieve one or more of my goals? Well, great, go right ahead. If not, then that’ll be a personal decision that I’ll have to address. Oh sure, I’ll still get distracted and goof around. But perhaps I’ll be able to start working toward some of these things I really want to do.

So I’m curious what do you do to get and keep yourself focused?

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Has it been that long?

I’ve started a number of entries. About 3 of them, but never managed to finish them up. Have I been busy? Yes, somewhat, but not. I think I’ve been more preoccupied and not capable of putting more than a few meaningful words together at a time. So what sorts of things have I been preoccupied with?

Well I was preoccupied with finding a new place to live for a while. I’ve had a general dissatisfaction with my living situation. I’m tired of the drunks hanging out in front of the house. I’m really tired of the trash and the ever-constant stench of urine just walking from the corner to my house. I actually jaywalk most of the time to avoid this as much as possible. I wish there was more space in the apartment for things that belong to Pab and myself. A couple of weekends ago, we moved Pablito’s TV into the living room so that he could work on the computer and watch the football game. While I thought having a TV-less living room was a great idea, it would be better to have a place where we actually all hang out. I don’t have enough company come over to use it as the parlor it was meant to be. I realize that Donna’s stuff is all over and Pab and I keep our things in our rooms only, which gives me the feeling that I’m just living in someone else’s home and not my own. Since I came into this living situation knowing that this is how it is, I mostly accepted it.

I am doing some work on the side, which is good because extra money is helpful right now. Also this is one of the two surveys that I did a lot of work on earlier this summer, so I like the idea of getting closure. I’ve been spending a lot of time redoing the graphics in the report (tables and graphs mostly) and it is mindless and easy enough to do. On the negative side, I’ve been staying up too late working on this stuff so it’s been incredibly hard to get out of bed in time to get to the gym on a regular basis. I went today and realize how much I miss it.

I didn’t miss it too too much since I caught a really good cold while I was back East for Thanksgiving and I’m just about over it. I think it’s a bad idea to be coughing and hacking on the equipment. So I purposefully took a week off to take care of the cold. I’m happy that it’s managed to run its course without turning into a sinus infection or a nasty cough.

I think I got the cold from one of my four nieces. I saw all four of them during the Thanksgiving weekend. I took advantage of the four day weekend to fly back to New York and had a really good time. It was anything but restful. I flew in Thanksgiving day and after kisses hello, we sat down and ate (yes, they waited for me, isn’t that sweet?). Lots of chatting and playing and then everyone was off to bed. I slept on the wobbly living room couch and had strange earthquake dreams. I slept well and hung around while the kids went to get a group picture taken. We hung around a little more and waited for Mom to be done with work so we could load 16 people (friends and family) into 4 cars and caravan 3+ hours north to the Baptism Event. It started to snow Friday morning, so there was the additional tension of driving north into bad weather. But everyone arrived safe and sound. Anne’s Mom prepared a huge meal, which is impressive considering that yesterday was Thanksgiving.
We ate loads of yummy meat that came from her sister Donna’s critters (she raises farm animals for fun). The lamb was to die for and the ham and pork pie from Cedric the pig was wonderful. Of course I’d eaten more meat in one weekend than I might eat in a month, so I wasn’t surprised that I had some serious veggie cravings when I got back home. The next day I took a walk to the local bakery with my cousin, Karen. We figured that it would be better to walk off some of the yummy food we had eaten. It was great having time to chat with her and catch up on things since it is often hard to find time when we are both at home and awake to talk.

Lots of time playing with the kids, then off to church (where I was pleased to see that I still remember the mass, even in my severely lapsed state) for mass and the baptism. More cousins arrived just in time for the baptism and then we all took off for dinner. After a great dinner we drove back since I had a 6:30am flight the next morning. On the way back I drove with my friend Anthony. I was glad for the time to catch up on what has been happening in each other’s lives.

I’ve had a good amount of alone time along with a good amount of time with friends, so I am feeling balanced in that part of my life. Saw yet another great Viva Variety last week and got to catch up with Jay and Danny. Played out in the storms this past weekend with Esther. She lost her power for a few days which kinda sucks for her. Me? I got to go home to my power to finish up the work I needed to do before Monday.

Now I’m trying to finish up my holiday shopping, although I have already decided that Christmas isn’t a realistic deadline given the fact that so much stuff needs to be shipped. I’m aiming more for Twelfth night (that is 12 days after Christmas or January 6) so I can still be festive and perhaps less stressed. We’ll see right? Holiday parties and plans are in the works.

What are you doing this holiday season?

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Birthdays don’t stress me out

So this year’s birthday was unusually stress-free. I went to the gym in the morning, trying to get back into going in the morning. The guy that is usually there took my number and noticed that it was my birthday and wished me a happy birthday. So sometimes it is good that they have that sort of information, because it was a great way to start my day.

I will freely admit that I don’t think I got more than an hour worth of work done that day considering that it was a Tuesday. I had a meeting, our section had a Harvest Potluck around lunchtime and then we went to an Employee Appreciation Ceremony in the afternoon. I got cards and calls throughout the day, which I enjoyed. Thanks!

After work, I went up to Marin, chatted with my Mom as I drove (with a headset for safety) and went to dinner with Esther. We had yummy sushi and I got to pick up some cell phone accessories from her that I had ordered. So there were gifts all around.

I didn’t feel any older, although I have been putting my new age into the elliptical trainer because I thought that 36 might give me a little extra slack with the built-in heart rate monitor. The only place where I am fighting the signs of aging is my regular hair dying routine. Otherwise I’m okay with being 36 this year and 37 the next. Wow, that looks kinda old now that I’ve typed it up there. I suppose I didn’t really have any idea of what it was supposed to be like at this age. It should be interesting figuring that out.

Cat will be out this weekend and there will be continued birthday happiness. Since I didn’t do a cake yet this year, we might get cake and do a Sunday celebration. It reminds me of the Bill Cosby routine where he lets his kids have cake for breakfast and when they get caught by their Mom they turn on him, even though just moments ago they were singing his praises. So feel free to join me wherever you are. Get some cake and have it for breakfast Sunday morning, it’ll be fun. Plus think of all the stuff you could accomplish with a good sugar rush.

What kind of cake did you eat?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Early Bird??

Yup yup, remember that plan I talked about just days ago? Well, I’ve actually executed said plan and I think that it might be my new Plan. Yes, The Plan. Okay don’t go back to look, I’ll just remind you, I was going to wake up really early and drive my car to the gym, then after working out, take the bus to work (2 buses actually) and then reverse the plan (although not going back into the gym unless the mood strikes) on the way home. So I woke up at 5 am as planned on Tuesday morning. I got to bed at a reasonable time and just got up when the alarm went off, brushed my teeth, pulled on the clothes that I had set out, grabbed my bag of work clothes, also set out the night before, went to the kitchen and grabbed my breakfast and lunch for the day (also pre-made the night before) and took off for the gym.

You can see that being awake isn’t an actual requirement for this plan. I got to the gym in about 10 minutes, which was great since I somehow thought it would take longer. I looked about for a spot that I liked, parked and executed the Plan perfectly. I was so impressed with myself. I knew that this plan was brilliant and actually easy.

I decided that I wouldn’t call it perfect until I got home, but I was already writing this journal entry on the bus ride home, because I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. That is until I lost my car. I walked to where I swore I parked it. It was about halfway down the street but not past the garbage dumpsters. Hmmm. I could have sworn it was right about here, but yet it wasn’t. I wondered if I somehow managed to overlook a sign that limited how long you could park there. No. I’ve parked all day here before when I worked for the software company. I walked down and then back up to the corner, because I did drive here *really* early and I might have been dreaming that I parked here. Boy would I be pissed if someone towed my car away. I started walking back to the front of the gym and realized that it was extremely unlikely that someone had my car towed away. What was more reasonable was that it was stolen. Yep. I stopped and thought about it and it just made more sense. Why not, it was an easy target and wouldn’t that just be the best way to end my relationship with this car whose praises I sang in this very journal. I decided right then and there that I would not fall for the allure of a convertible again and I would get a replacement that was sensible.

By this point, I had reached the corner and was about to go in when I realized that I didn’t park on that side of the gym. I pulled up and stopped in the original spot and then pulled out and parked on the other side when I realized that it wasn’t Monday and I could park on the side closer to the bus stop and not get a parking ticket. Yes, and there she was, sitting with her sad grey duct tape bandages. I actually felt a little bad as I approached the car. I mean, I had already decided on her replacement. I didn’t say anything as I got in and drove home, stopping at the supermarket to pick up something easy yet healthy to eat. I just couldn’t see cooking after all the emotional drama.

Today I did the plan again and was more thoughtful in my parking place. Nothing went astray, although it was a little rough after working out my shoulders and back to stand on the bus holding on while the Muni driver did his little airbrake dance (start, stop, stop stop, surge, stop, surge surge surge, STOP, …). For four long blocks. Next time I’ll just walk.

Tonight I got a spot in front of the house and I’ll be taking the bus both ways. Yeah, check me out, taking the bus everywhere. I haven’t felt this public transportation saavy since I was in high school and to young to drive where I wanted to go.

It’s the little victories that are the best, right? Tell me about your latest little victory.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Play day

I was off today. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to work on Veteran’s Day. Actually the last time I had it off, I’m sure that I was in school. Earlier this weekend, I had a huge list of things I needed to do today, but through good planning or perhaps just good luck, the list was a lot shorter when I woke up this morning so I slept in.

This weekend I did a bunch of errands, I did *not* clean my room and I did go out and enjoy yummy Moroccan food with Di, her hubby and a few friends. Sunday I got to see a few of the people again as we went to see The Importance of Being Earnest at the Pardee Home in Oakland. I will rave a bit about the troupe that performed this. The group is called Woman's Will and is an all-female Shakespeare company. I first saw them perform Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre back in July on Di's Birthday. If you live in the Bay Area find out what they are performing and then go see them. Seriously. This play is running through early December. I had never seen this play before and am glad to have experienced it live rather than in a movie theatre. It was performed salon style. What that means is basically we were in an old historic house sitting in the living room and sitting room while actors dressed in appropriate period costume acted feet if not inches in front of us. And they were good. And funny. I had a hard time laughing because I was afraid I'd disturb their concentration or make them smile inapppropriately. Well I soon realized that they could handle this as they were professionals and I laughed out loud or quietly snickered for much of the performance. The actors were all very good and I've got a serious crush on the actor who played Algernon. I suspect it's in situations like this where being bi makes it easier for me than for others who might find themselves confused by their attraction to a male character being played by a woman. The part that I loved was that I so wanted a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich that the actors were enjoying. Imagine my thrill of having intermission be announced by the butler by informing us that tea was being served in the dining room!

Okay, back to my morning. For some odd reason we had lost power at some point (no storms or any reasonable cause) so I woke to hear my phone and printer beeping and burbling as they got juiced back up again. Then I went back to sleep. But don’t think I was slacking folks. Nope, that was actually on my list. I hung out in my little nest and listened to my housemates bustling about the house getting ready for work. I got out of bed around 9 and got out of the house by 10. I filled my car up with odd bits of things to put into storage (my snow brush, a bent trim cap for my car I’m saving so that I can replace it at some point, some extra shelves, bedding and such) and brought that over. Then I took a leisurely drive over to 19th street to pick up some dim sum for lunch. It was a gorgeous day so I decided that I should eat at the beach and did. Then I went to the Balboa Theatre to see a double feature Secretary and White Oleander. Neither had great reviews but I’d read about both of them and thought that for 2.50 a piece they’d be entertaining enough. And they were. I won’t get into spoiler details here, in case you were thinking about seeing these movies. If you want to chat about them, you’ll have to send me email. I was really annoyed with the people who were behind me during The Secretary. They were obnoxiously loud and their comments made it obvious that they didn’t get the characters at all. I’d hate to sit next to them at a David Lynch movie. I had read White Oleander before I saw the movie. They did leave out a lot of the book, as usual, but I liked the actors they cast in it. I also wondered if an artist needs to suffer in order for their work to have depth. In this movie there seemed to be a lot of suffering on the part of the characters that were artists.

After the movie I went to the market to pick up some critical items, came home and cooked dinner and prepared breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention going to the gym. It’s because I didn’t go. But I will be going tomorrow morning before work. I’ve laid out my clothes and gotten everything ready so there is no need to think until I actually arrive at work tomorrow morning. I’ve even worked out the time schedule for the buses I need to catch in order to get to work in time. The plan being to drive to the gym, take the bus to work and then take the bus back to my car and drive it home and park it. This way I move the car around more and can hopefully prevent it from looking tempting to people by leaving it in one place for too long. I am still looking for a secure parking spot. Then I’ll just take the bus unless I need the car for something. I figure that this plan will make it easier to get tot he gym regularly like I did early in the year. I just need to be more mindful the night before.

All in all, I had an enjoyable day. Lots of mindless distractions, a sunny lunch at the beach watching the waves and tourists go by, a couple of movies and a quiet evening at home.

What more could I ask for?

Friday, November 8, 2002

Influential Weather and Friends

I’ve been battling a foul mood lately and think I may have figured out why. It has nothing to do with the fact that I discovered my convertible roof got slashed again the night it decides to release 6 months worth of pent-up rain. It wasn’t stoked by anxious thoughts wondering if the shipping tape I had would be able to keep the ever-constant rain from pouring in and soaking my seats. I parked under a tree y’know and that would deter a raindrop or two. Sure it’s a good reason to be in a pissy mood, but it hasn’t gone away yet even though I was able to bring it in and get it patched for free at the body shop that installed the new top.

I’m happy to be working, even with my worried undertones. (If you are thinking that you’ll try to reassure me, hold that thought for about this for about a year. I’ll be off of probation then and am likely to be more consolable. ) I’m feeling useful and starting to find my place. I’m going to start making appointments next week to meet business partners. It allows me to get some first hand experience learning what they really want from IT and not what we think they need. This is the sort of stuff I enjoy and I want people to feel like I might actually make a difference. I took a bunch of calls today during these bizarre power outages. I still need to learn how the various systems work, but no one noticed today. They were just happy to get someone to tell them what was going on.

So what’s responsible for these up and down moods? Okay I’ll just cut to the chase, the weather seems to be linked directly to my moods. Seriously. This isn’t like the time I thought that the A’s would win if I watched their games. Even though I had an 8 game streak. On the rainy days I lean toward surly and bitter. When it stops I start to brighten up and joke with co-workers or housemates. When the sun is out, things are brighter and lighter in my attitude.

But another outside influence is the company that I keep. I was thinking about my ex the other day and missing how she would be able to distract me from my own worries enough to realize that things weren’t so bad. But I’m really happy that I have some good friends in my life right now. It doesn’t seem to matter if we are just hanging out or doing something special, I feel like I can just be myself around them. This past week, Betty had Di and I over for a Buffy night. I cooked dinner in someone else’s kitchen as if it were my own, which is very cool. Last weekend Di and I made waffles and chatted on Saturday morning and the weekend before last, Esther brought me down to south city for a real philipino breakfast. I don’t know how I lived life before garlic rice and chopsilog. Of course I will be passing this neat bit of fun eating along to any other adventurous friends. I totally love the neat diversity of this city. I still think about how thankful I am that Cabala and Shavon were there to help me move. And I’m pleasantly surprised how cool my housemate Pablito is. I had gone into the kitchen to get some water from the fridge and he was cooking some food to bring to the big game last weekend. We got to chatting and next thing I know I was helping him chop up some veggies. He seems more easy going than our other housemate which seems to be what I need right now. The other day we got a note on the fridge asking us to finish up our monthly chores. My first reaction was not pretty, especially because I had planned on doing that night. Now I wanted to be rebellious (how dare she tell me what to do like we were children) and annoyed because I really wanted to clean that evening. I ended up cleaning because I suspected that I was making a big deal out of nothing and have every intention of sitting down with the offending housemate to tell her how I felt about the note.

If I was still living with the ex, I know that it would have bothered me more. Friends seem to diffuse things for me and help me keep life in proper perspective. They rock. I went to a political issues party to figure out what the hell I should be voting for. Granted we all seemed to bring sweet snacks to share and I blame the sugar, the visiting puppies and the extra long propositions list for some of the light-hearted wackiness that transpired that afternoon. I did feel more prepared for the 8 page ballot and knew what people were running and which issues were important to me.

Even the friends I hardly ever see are good for me. You are the ones who send me email or call me telling me what’s going on in your life or sharing your insight with me. I know we’ll be friends for a long while even though we are too busy or far away to do much more than regular email. This isn’t a cheap ploy to get you to write me, It’s a well thought-out scheme that should work. Plus I’ve got the added benefit of birthday guilt that should be hitting you soon. Don’t worry I’m sure that I’ll have birthday thoughts to post. I’ve been avoiding thinking about my birthday. Not that I dread getting older. I just tend to get a case of birthday blues and unless the weather shifts this could get bad. But we aren’t going there today.

Where did you go today and how’s your weather?

Monday, October 28, 2002

First Day

Today was my first day at my new job. It’s been a really long time since I’ve worked in an office and the feelings were strange yet familiar. It was a lot like being warm and getting goose bumps, or being so cold your skin burns. Odd opposite feelings.

I’ve had a lot of first days. More than I would have imagined having at my age. I used to feel comfortable changing jobs every three to four years. Now I’m just happy to last longer than six months. Actually I am hoping to find someplace that I can stay for a long while. I really hope that this will be that place.

Some typical new day things - spending way too long to pick out the perfect first impression outfit. In this case also one that will be with me for the rest of my time at this job as they took my picture in it. More than one person showed me their pictures after moaning about how they won’t retake your picture no matter how bad you look or how much you’ve changed. After looking at some of these really old pictures I understand completely. And yes, my id picture looks okay.

I’m a boss again. So today I had people anticipating my arrival with a certain nervousness of change. Yes I’ll be changing things, but they’ll mostly be good things. I’ve run enough help desks to know what needs to be in place to make everyone happy (users, staff and management). So I’ll spend time getting people to relax and show me how things work around here. Aside from getting my personal infrastructure set up (y’know email, telephone, network and application access) I talk to a lot of people and get a feel for the place. In my last job I talk so much that I ended up losing my voice for a week. (Okay it was probably allergies but talking myself horse sounded better). Once that happens it’s usually obvious what needs to get done and in what order in needs to be done. It’s like a puzzle.

I need to learn the system. How do I get stuff done around here? I’m starting to understand how big things are. The last three jobs were for smaller companies. Companies that were about the size of my division, which in this case is about 2500 people. I’ll have to figure out how many different groups or divisions there are so that you too can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people. But things seem cozy enough. I’ve met lots of friendly people who stopped by to say hi to the new kid. That was really nice.

I also have to get a new routine. What time do I get up, do I go to the gym before or after work, what do I wear and how do I get to work. Right now I walk up 4 blocks and catch a bus. I’d like to maybe walk to or from work, but I need to get used to getting up early first. Doing contract work for so long turned me back into a lazy sleepy head. I think sleeping is one of my favorite things and a really good day is one where I can sleep as long as possible.

The first day is always stressful. I hate that part. Every time I think that this was a great move I get to make a fresh start and do things better this time. Which contradicts my doubts of picking this place because the job wasn’t exactly as it was sold to me. Or else everything is going too fast and I get overwhelmed. Or even worse, it’s too slow and I’m numbingly bored trying to find things to do to get me through to the end of the day.

But mostly I try to think about the good things. The new friends I’ll make. The people who will find it easier to do their jobs because of things I do. The bills that I can pay and the COBRA payment that I won’t have to pay anymore because with a new job are new benefits. Now I just need to figure out how to use this information to get me out of bed an hour and half earlier than I’m accustomed.

Have you been the new kid lately?

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Car Proud

This weekend I went to a self-serve car wash and sloughed off layers of dirt. I’m not really sure where all this dirt came from, my car was never this dirt when I lived across the bay, but it was there and really getting on my nerves. I’m not sure why this is, but I just feel better when I am driving a clean car. I can catch the gleam off the front of the car and I can’t help but smile when I can see things I never noticed before because the windshield and side-view mirrors are so clean. I’ll admit this may make me a bit of a freak.

I’m not sure where this car pride came from. It can be a hassle too. I don’t always have the time or motivation to clean my car on a regular basis. Much of the time it has a certain air of grunge to it. Not a big deal and the average person wouldn’t notice or even care. Last April, I got a dent in the side of my car. I’ll admit it’s been bothering me for quite a while. I just don’t have the money to get it fixed right now. I am amused by complete strangers stopping me to offer to fix the dent. Makes me think it’s an easy thing to pop out otherwise they probably wouldn’t be offering. Plus I find that accepting the imperfection of my car is a good thing. If I keep fussing over it, how will I ever eliminate my debt and save some money for a change?

Yesterday morning when I got to my car, parked a block from my apartment, I discovered that someone had broken into it. The convertible top had a neat circular cut near the front of the passenger side, just big enough for an adult arm to reach in and unlock the door. I didn’t even notice it at first. I actually thought that I had somehow left the passenger door unlocked. There really wasn’t anything taken aside from this case I used to hold my CD player. The case might have had a CD or two in it, I can’t remember, but the CD player is safe and sound in my room hooked to my old stereo. They tried to get into the glove box, but it was locked. The latch was a little funny, in that it gave a little before you realized that it was locked. In this case, it was ripped right off. Luckily there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in there, since it is locked and now unopenable.

I had a lot of papers and garbage stuffed behind the seats. I hadn’t thought about that, and perhaps that is what enticed the intruder to break in and take a look around. Oddly they didn’t take the change in my cup holder, and didn’t take anything out of the trunk, even though I forgot to lock the console panel between the seats. I am a little sad that someone violated my little “Zulie”. I went to the local police station to open a case since I knew I’d need that for the insurance claim. It didn’t take long, but did keep me from the gym that morning. Later that day I called and opened a claim and contacted a local auto body shop 10 blocks down the street to schedule a time to get an estimate. I am happy to say that at this point I was less stressed due to the understanding people I dealt with at the Police Station, Insurance Co and Body Shop.

This morning I brought my car in and was told that the convertible shop had my top in stock (no surprise there, since there are hundreds of Miatas in this city) and the latch was also available. If I left it today, I could have it back as soon as tomorrow. Wow! So I had them drop me off at a nearby rental car agency and got a car for the next couple of days. I am more than a little excited by the thought of being able to see out the back of my car with the top up. I bought Zulie used and the prior owner did *not* follow the proper care guidelines for the plastic window. I had a new convertible top on my wishlist of things I’d get when I could afford it. Granted this is going to cost me the insurance deductible but it’s considerably less than it would be if I paid for the whole thing myself.

So that’s where I’m at. Some times I think about what it would be like to not have a car. I’d have more money, since normal care and upkeep are pretty pricey. But I wouldn’t have the freedom to come and go as I please. I’m not sure if I would live someplace where I couldn’t afford to have a car. Assuming that I’m not stuck in traffic I love driving my car and it’s one of my favorite thinking places. Most of the things I end up writing here, begin while I’m driving in my car. With the new job, I’m not going to be driving as much. That’s okay, sometimes it’s just good knowing that it’ll be there when I need it.

Tell me what things you are almost irrationally proud of even if it makes you sound a little crazy.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Doing the DSL Happy Dance

I’ve broken down and reacquired DSL services. It’s considerably cheaper than the last time given the pricing wars of the broadband providers. I heard three different ‘get dsl’ commercials on the radio yesterday during 1 commercial break. Maybe it’s a Bay Area thing, but that’s just crazy.

I’m going to be splitting the service with my housemates, so that’s cheap divided by three. Damn, it’s practically free. Of course I had my ritual ‘I hate PPPoE’ swearing session last night as I set up the router to the dsl modem. It’s not tough, but not something that I am able to keep properly in my head. It’s like making cookies from scratch without a recipe. Maybe you get it right and maybe you waste pounds of butter and sugar baking inedible paperweights. I got it working without looking at the instructions, but also without any retainable knowledge of what I did to get it to work properly. I guess I’ll never learn.

So I’m all gleeful and happy to have the service in. I have been thinking this morning why I needed this and why dial-up was so bad. I’ve been using dial-up as my primary means of connecting to the Internet and checking email for 4 months or so. It wasn’t that bad. That is once I got over the high-speed withdrawal. It was about as bad a giving up caffeine. It was weird not seeing all the pictures, and I was able to appreciate sites that had enough text load initially to allow me to navigate without the graphics. I was too poor to do any shopping, so that wasn’t an issue. Plus I was living in someone else’s home for 3 months and it might have been a little rude to get dsl services without their permission. I did consider it and in my head came up with a little story to make it seem like I was doing them a favor. But again the lack of expendable cash was the real decider here.

So why did I get it? Well I got disconnected a lot with the dial-up service. I can’t remember if it happened this much pre-dsl, but it was really annoying to have to keep redialing and reconnecting a dozen times per session. That combined with the cheap prices divided by three made it cheaper than keeping the dial-up. But I know I’ll get hooked on the speed again.

I will be getting rid of my old mindspring e-mail addresses. I’m not even sad about that. I’ve had them for over 10 years, but it doesn’t matter. No one ever remembers them and always assumed that I have a new one. At least that’s the excuse I get when you don’t send me e-mail.

So I suppose this is simplifying to some degree. Letting go of old things. It is a lot easier getting rid of old things that drag along a buttload of spam with them rather than pleasant memories. Speaking of pleasant memories, I’ve got a date with myself this Sunday to week out a bag or two of Goodwill items out of my storage locker. That and make up some long-ass pieces of network cable to run to the other computers in the house. It’ll be fun, really. Okay, my sort of fun.

Tell me what you are doing for fun this weekend.

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Of Jobs and JournalCon

So many things going on, I’m surprised my head hasn’t exploded yet. I’m quite simply reeling from a myriad of things that have happened lately; most of which are finding my people at JournalCon and finding my job. It’s likely that I’ll bitch about both of them in short order, so I’ll try not to gush too much now.

I’ll start with the job. It’s cool, doing the geeky Help Desk stuff that I enjoy in an environment that I’ll be happy in. Honestly I’ll be happy any place that keeps me more than 6 months. I’ve never been envious of those non-geek types before getting laid off three times in less than 18 months. But I’m back. I’m probably going to be somewhat discreet here in any sort of specifics about the work place so that I can speak without getting outed by a clever googler. I’m buzzing with happy anticipation and trying to find a good way to break the news to the people I’ve been doing contract work for. They are good people, but this admin-type work is not me. I somehow thought that I’d organize things better, but I was wrong. It’s time to move on to something that pays better and feels like a better fit.

This weekend I attended JournalCon 2002. I was a little worried that I didn’t know anyone, that it wouldn’t be any fun and that I’d be bored or freaked out by the other 70 or so participants that have been journaling for years and years. It was so conveniently located in San Francisco and I somehow knew that I’d regret not going. In fact I almost didn’t go. I had been hemming and hawing about it for a month or so and when I finally went to register, the registration had been closed. Argh! But after sending a note to the ever helpful Jen Wade, I was able to register. Woohoo! Now I considered the fact that I really didn’t know anyone that was going to be attending. I had heard about a few of them, but I wasn’t a faithful reader or groupie by any stretch of the imagination. I started reading entries even though it was a bit insane to think that I could get to know any of these people in such a short period of time. So after a hellish day of consulting, I got back to the city just in time to depart for the banquet.

What followed was a wonderful mélange of people, panels, conversations over meals, lounging out in the lobby, bonding over bad karaoke videos and great fun. I was reacquainted with my shy side. I met tons of friendly people and listened to a lot of stories. At one point I realized that there were a lot of similarities to the time I got dragged off to my first sci-fi con. It was back in 1988 or 89 and I had a car and no money. I knew Alicia was up to something as she treated me to my drug of choice, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (they used light cream back then, none of that half n half crap) and asked what my plans were for the weekend. She told me that a bunch of them were getting together to go downstate to hang out at a hotel and if I drove them, she’d pay for all my expenses that weekend. It sounded better than hanging around Albany so I said yes. Now there are lots of things to be said about scifi conventions but the short version is that it’s a place where people who ordinarily feel like freaks and/or social outcasts in normal society can go and be themselves in all their geeky glory. I had fun, I made friends, I oogled books and baubles in the dealer room, I encountered Klingons, elves and other magical folk in the halls and I met Isaac Asimov, who lecherously felt up another friend of mine in the elevator. I had a hard time explaining why I would go to these sorts of things, after I was of legal age and didn’t need to hide in hotels to drink and party with friends. But the sense of community gathering in person to go on and on about something they love is a powerful thing.

It’s a neat sort of community and it was that same feeling that I got when I went to JournalCon. I realize that most people do things in a different order, they read and write first, then they show up to meet and greet. There were so many cool people that I was able to get to know and so many other cool people that I never got a chance to speak with at all. What is great is that I won’t have to wait a year to get to know them. I’ve already got a list of journals to read and people to get to know. While I’ve been know to do things bass ackwards, I think this time I’ll enjoy getting to spend more time with these folks and maybe even learn a little about journaling too.

Hey people talk to me!

Monday, September 23, 2002

The quiet of it all

For the last month or so I’ve been TV-less. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy television and the escapism that it allows me to enjoy on a regular basis. What I’ve noticed in the past year is that it’s not so much the programming as it is the background noise and distraction that seems to compel me to turn the damn thing on and leave it on for good chunks of my awake time.

I know it makes me feel connected to the world. On September 11th I was getting up around 6:20 or so when Becky called and told me to go turn on the television. I was unemployed at the time and was going to spend a few days visiting my parents in New York before they went on their vacation to Italy. Well, it’s probably no surprise that neither of our trips took place as planned. I also found myself glued to the TV to catch anything new they might have to say about the events as they unfolded. After about 4 days of mostly repetitive stuff, I finally ended up having to get out of the house to keep myself from becoming one with the couch.

I also found that whenever I was alone, I would turn on the TV for companionship. There are, as you might surmise, good shows that lend themselves to background noise. These can be caught at any time and watched or not watched. News programs are good for this. Others are good distractions that suck you in and get you involved. I love cooking and home improvement shows, like Trading Spaces and practically anything that is not Emeril on the FoodTV channel. I usually come away charged with neat things I could do, or thoughts like, ‘hay as a decoration is bad’ and ‘there is no way I can be compelled to cook a goose in my own home.’

I don’t really have a ton of programs that I must watch on a regular basis. Granted I would want to watch the last season of Buffy’s now that Di has gotten me all caught up with the first 6 seasons. But mostly I want to be entertained. I don’t do a lot of thinking with the TV. That is what concerns me.

I’ve had times in my life when I wanted to avoid thinking about things, because then I’d have to start doing something about my life. So being TV-less has given me plenty of quiet contemplative time. As I type this I can hear the whoosh of cars driving past the apartment and the whir of the computer fan. That’s it.

In a recent post, Spinny’s thoughts made me think about how we fill our lives with noise and don’t make time for the quiet. To think and to not think. To lose ourselves in a world that is much bigger than us, but to feel a connection to it and not feel alone.

Next Friday I will finally be pulling the rest of my stuff out of storage. My TV will emerge. I will hook it up and watch programs that will entertain me and allow me to escape, but I will make the time and effort to escape from it’s pull to enjoy the quiet and listen to the real world around me.

Tell me about your quiet times.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Furniture Envy

Yeah, stranger things have happened, but I’ve come to the realization that I’ve got furniture envy. I’ve been here for about a month now and still I’m mostly sitting on the floor (or on the bed on the floor) when I’m in my room. I’ve been thinking about my furniture a lot more than before. This morning I was sitting on the edge of the bed, contemplating clothes for the day when I got distracted by where I think things will go. That is as soon as I haul them across the bay and lug them up the stairs into my lithesome blue room. Timing seems to be everything. I’ve been busy during the day with a ton of other projects that need to get done. I also need to enlist some help to help with the half dozen bulky items and the multitude of little boxes of clothes and whatnot. I appear to have quite a lot of whatnot. With any luck I’ll be trimming it down a bit, but it seems to act like weeds, growing out of control when you look away.

I will be getting one piece of furniture on Saturday. I broke down and bought a loft bed. While contemplating furniture placement this morning, I also questioned the wisdom of a not quite-in-shape, short, 35 year old climbing in and more importantly, out of a loft bed on a regular basis. I actually thought about how and when I would admit to you that something stupid/funny/dangerous had occurred and if I would get a decent price on craig’s list for it. The allure of having a place to paint and sleep without taking up any extra space was just too great to ignore. Only time will tell if this was as good an idea in reality as it was in my head.

So, I’ve been enviously eyeing other people’s furniture. Even a crappy chair or table is better than propping myself up with pillows and using boxes as nightstands and table tops. I'm thinking that I will get a little couch of sorts for my cool window area. Something cheap or free would be nice, but maybe something that can fold out to a bed. I'm pretty sure that house guests will not be likely to be happy sleeping in a loft. This couch idea is still pretty loose, but I've noticed that there are quite a few people offering their truck to move things around the area. Very good to know especially when the sofa of my dreams appears.

This morning while I waited for my coffee to drip into my cup, I flipped through a Hold Everything catalog. My God, how extraordinarily overpriced this stuff was. Granted they are not marketing to me, but to the wealthy people looking to better organize their casual button-down blue shirts, their shoes of every color and their out of season garments in a timeless classic way. My budget is more comfortable with my plastic containers with p-touch labels rather than the discrete beige canvas with matching leather tags. It’s just stuff to store my whatnots and as I mentioned before I’m looking to reduce the whatnots in my life anyway.

On a completely different note, I wanted to wish Cat a very Happy Birthday today. With any luck she was the recipient of a German Chocolate Cherry Bundt Birthday Cake after mentioning to her roomies via IM that she loves this cake most of all.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Getting Lost

I’ll be taking a road trip this weekend to visit Cat for her birthday. It’ll be the first time I’ve driven down from Northern California to Southern California. It seems a little weird that I’ve lived in California for years and yet haven’t gone from one end to the other by car yet. Okay, I’ll just admit here that I’ve never really been to the northern tip of Northern California or anywhere in the North West part of the country either. It’s on my list of things to do and see at some point. In any case, it’ll be a trip of note (then again anything outside of a 50 mile radius of San Francisco is a trip of note) and preparations have been taken. I’ve packed, checked out the car, and through the wonders of the Internet, printed out a copy of my route to take with me.

I like knowing where I’m going most of the time. I prefer to travel efficiently, when I know the destination will be a lot more fun than the actual journey. This is different from the time-to-spare travel mode, where there often isn’t a particular destination, just lots of time to waste and taking a road just to see where it goes is a standard procedure.

It makes me think about when I was younger and we’d be sitting around the house and Mom or Dad would tell us to get our shoes on. Inevitably someone would ask where we were going. Sometimes it would be the store or to someone’s house, but every once in a while, the answer would be To Get Lost. So all four kids plus Mom and Dad would pile into the station wagon and we’d be off. We’d drive around for a while and inevitably end up at an ice cream parlor. It was good to get to the ice cream portion of this ritual. I would always be worried that we wouldn’t make it back, because getting lost was a scary thing for me when I was little. I had this naïve notion that my father knew his way home from every ice cream shop, so that all he had to do was find one and then we’d be able to get back home.

Even when I was older and could drive myself, I would worry that I’d run out of gas and get stuck some place or be late for something important. So getting lost still retained that element of fear. I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction. I know how many turns I can make before I lose my ability to backtrack to some place familiar. Maps of all shapes and sorts are a source of comfort and security for me.

I still remember my first big solo road-trip adventure. It was Columbus Day Weekend and my parents were away on vacation. I was living at home that semester and going to a local college and my brother Bill was a senior in high school. My friend Karin invited me down to visit her at GWU, where we met our freshman year. I was bored and looking for adventure, so I started making plans. I drove our family station wagon down from New York to Washington, DC. I don’t remember getting lost or making a wrong turn anywhere. I do remember driving around and realizing how insanely difficult it was finding parking in DC. But it was a fun and tiring weekend.

I’ve taken dozens of road trips since then. Most of them were uneventful, nothing important or expensive broke on the car, no one was hurt and no one was lost along the way. A few years back I was taking a walk with my Mom and we somehow got onto the subject of getting lost. I asked her where we were going those times we would ‘get lost’. As it turns out I come by my fear of getting lost naturally. Whenever she needed to go some place she’d never been before, she would ask Dad to do a dry run with her the night before. We were too young to leave home alone, so we’d get dragged along. And if you’ve ever spent any time with a child under the age of 8, you learn ways to reduce the number of questions you have to answer. Getting lost was the best way to avoid the barrage of questions we would have asked if the destination was known. We laughed as I shared my memories of getting lost.

Tell me about your memories of getting lost.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

100 Random Bits

An email list I belong to got us all listing 100 random things about each other. I found it facinating how much information you can learn from a person through these random facts. Equally fascinating how much there still is to learn about them. Here's my list:

1. I love making lists – they make me feel good especially when I’m really stressed out.
2. If I won a million dollars I would quit my job and paint.
3. I’ve only painted for the last 7 years so I still have a lot to learn.
4. I love driving cars with stick shifts.
5. When I drive automatic cars, I spend half the time stomping the floor
board looking for the clutch.
6. I’m the only left-handed person in my family.
7. I love cheese, but life has cruelly made me lactose intolerant.
8. I’ve been laid off three times in the past 15 months.
9. I hate being bored.
10. I’m easily amused.
11. I often enjoy commercials more than the TV show I am watching.
12. I always sing in the car.
13. I’ve worn glasses since I was 10.
14. I started my period when I was 10 and didn’t know what it was until it.
happened the second time.
15. I am the third of four children.
16. I learned to smoke in the girl scouts when I was 13.
17. I don’t normally smoke but really want one after I have 5 or more beers.
18. I don’t drink that much anymore.
19. I drink decaf coffee and have since May 2000.
20. 3 of the 4 cars I have owned have been blue.
21. I have 4 nieces.
22. I’m looking forward to being cool Aunt Stephanie.
23. I like brussel sprouts.
24. I’m an Oakland A’s fan.
25. I’m half-Italian and half-German.
26. I love to cook and LOVE to eat.
27. For as long as I can remember, I have gotten these odd body aches but they aren’t as bad since I’ve stopped drinking caffeine.
28. I love playing board and card games.
29. I used to have a black thumb, but have three plants that are still alive and make me think that it was just a phase.
30. My mother thinks that my bisexuality is a phase.
31. I was seduced by my first female lover.
32. My mother thinks that my last lover seduced me. She was wrong.
33. I was born and raised in NY.
34. I do not have a New York accent.
35. I love books of all sorts and love libraries because there, books are
36. I like to sleep with the window open.
37. I love limes, especially in sparkling water.
38. I used to be a lifeguard and had the best tan for 6 years.
39. My astrological sign is Scorpio with Aquarius rising as well as Aquarius moon.
40. I love listening to people’s stories.
41. I have 4 computers (2 Pcs and 2 Macs).
42. A friend told me that statistically there is one computer and one gun for every household in the US. I am obviously hording some gun collectors' computers.
43. I made a website to learn how to do HTML because all my friends were doing it – four o'
44. I got kicked out of college twice.
45. My favorite playstation game is Bust-A-Move 4.
46. I have always lived close to water.
47. I was supposed to fly to NY on September 11th.
48. I don’t have any tattoos or piercings, but keep thinking I will at some point if I could only decide what I would still think is cool when I'm old and wrinkly.
49. I puff my cheeks when I drink and got the nickname Cheeks and Puffer from my family when I was a kid.
50. A squirrel bit me when I was 12.
51. I love going to the movies.
52. I played goalie on my high school soccer team.
53. I’m a closeted pack rat.
54. When I moved to California, I devised a color-coded system and database to keep track of my possessions in my storage locker.
55. I used this same system when I pack up my stuff and moved this past summer.
56. I’m a bit of a pyromaniac and love to play with candles, campfires, fireplaces and stuff.
57. I love sensual things, rich colors, the way things feel, smell, sound
and taste.
58. I’m allergic to cats, dust, olive trees, and most grasses.
59. I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate and don’t like white chocolate at all.
60. I’ve traveled to 12 different countries and to or through all but 11 of
the 50 states.
61. I hated vegetables as a kid, but really like them now.
62. I started getting grey hair in my early 20s and I dye my hair to hide
this fact.
63. I was raised Catholic and still know a lot of the mass by heart.
64. I’ve been in the hospital twice, once when I was five to have my tonsils and adenoids removed and again when I was 27 to remove a bunch of fibroid tumors from my uterus.
65. When I was in college I sold Cutco knives.
66. I love gadgets and technical doodads and I've got a bunch of them that I really don't need.
67. My last partner had a liver transplant last year.
68. I actually like liver. I figure it’s because I was never forced to eat it.
69. I pretend that I’m not a morning person, but am usually happiest in the morning.
70. I prefer morning sex to nighttime sex.
71. I went to my high school prom with my best friend Christopher who also happens to be gay.
72. When we went back to our 10 year reunion, we were one of 4 people who were not wearing black outfits.
73. I was editor-in-chief of my high school yearbook.
74. The first time I was ever home sick I was 20.
75. I like giraffes.
76. I’ve never had a surprise party.
77. I love guacamole.
78. I tore the ACL in my left knee playing in a squash tournament and
strangely enough I was actually winning for the first time.
79. I hate being too hot, especially if my eyelids get sweaty.
80. I’ll be 36 this year.
81. I’ve never dreaded getting older and have never lied about my age.
82. I used to play French Horn and always assumed that I’d have one when I was older.
83. I don’t have a French horn.
84. I love shoes and hate when you have to break them in. Almost all of my shoes are extremely comfortable.
85. I want to learn Spanish.
86. Sometimes I talk too much.
87. When I catch myself talking too much, I will consciously try to listen
more than I talk. When I do this, my silence seems to freak out my friends.
88. I hate it when people who know it all spend all their time telling
people what to do, whether anyone wants to hear it or not.
89. I am guilty of retail therapy.
90. I miss my grandmother.
91. I’m 5”1’ 1/2 but always tell people I am 5”2’.
92. I lost about 50 lbs in the past year.
93. I learn from my mistakes and I make a lot of mistakes.
94. I collect state quarters from both the Denver and Philadelphia mints.
95. I didn’t talk until I was almost 4 years old.
96. I drive much faster than I should when I’m by myself.
97. I’ve driven in NYC enough that I can be an aggressive driver when I need to be.
98. I think I’ve got sexy ankles.
99. I’ve been told I make little noises when I’m reading or watching TV.
100. Even when I’m in a really foul mood, music always makes me feel better.

Tell me a random bit about you

Friday, August 30, 2002

Where did August go?

I’m sure it was just here a minute ago, I look up and it’s August 30th. Damn! Well it’s been a busy month for me. Last weekend I was out and about being social and planning on spending some time checking out storage places. I went out for Sushi with people I know from Brightpoint. Judy’s husband works as a sushi chef and we were able to dine well for cheap and catch up on each others lives. On Saturday, Di and I brunched. I will openly admit that it was my idea to get there early, but I didn’t take into account being out so late the night before. So my plan to cruise around checking out storage lockers turned into a nice little nap. Later that afternoon I picked up Cabala and we went back to the East Bay to have dinner with Laura and Richard. They regaled us with tales of their 3 month trip and Richard showed off his impressive souvenir collection.

The next day I went with Esther to catch a matinee of Mostly Martha in Marin. A very cute movie and one where you come out craving food. Esther and I discussed all the movies that feature food prominently, like Big Night, Eat Drink Man Woman, Babette’s Feast, and Tortilla Soup. Then we went to run some errands, pick up some food at Ranch99 and went home to eat and make what Esther calls gerschlomp. Gerschlomp is a medley of food that gets mixed together and combines to be a healthy well-balanced meal. I must say it was really good and I ended up with a few lunches worth of food to take home. I know Cat also has her cooking kit days where she cooks a bunch of food to eat that week. I really need to try to do something like this myself. It just seems so easy and convenient.

Monday night I ended up going out with Christopher. We did a little shopping and he took me to this Italian restaurant that reminds me of the ones in Silver Lake, the predominantly Italian neighborhood I grew up in. It was good to see him and to catch up. Plus I needed to be sure that he’s in good health and spirits since he’s going to help me move my furniture out of storage and into my new place. Thanks Christopher!

Tuesday ( I did mention that this had been a busy week, yes?) I met up with Jay and some of his friends to see Viva Variety, a variety show that showcases gay or gay-friendly performers. I went toViva Variety #26 and had a blast, so I had to go to this one too. One of my favorite groups was Lunatique Fantastique. They do things with found objects that will forever change the way that you look at them. One piece involved a strip tease with vegetable that I guarantee will garner a snicker the next time someone tells you to eat your vegetables.

Wednesday I had my phone installed which took a large chunk of my day that evening went down to meet Elaine and West at ConJose. It’s been years since I’ve been to a SF Convention so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s changed for me at all. I haven’t seen West in over 6 years, so it was great seeing her again. I’ll be there this weekend which will be a good distraction for me. Labor Day Weekend was Becky and my anniversary. I’m not feeling at all melancholy about it at the moment, but usually these sorts of things hit you when you are quietly alone.

Thursday was a low key day for me; I just worked and then printed up some cards for me. I figure that I may run into some people who would be good networking contacts and now I can exchange contact cards with them. I also *finally* made some artist cards that have my website URL that showcases my paintings and other contact stuff on it. I included a picture of one of my paintings too. I am very impressed with it (as one might expect) and can’t wait to hand them out.

Friday is more work, mostly seeing how the website move is going and tying up loose ends before the long weekend. I think I have to do laundry tonight, or at least organize my clothes tonight since I suspect that I am wearing my last clean pair of underwear. I miss having a washer/dryer in my place. But there is a Laundromat right around the corner, so I can’t imagine that I can milk this for much.

Well I had thought to write something other than a week in review, but hey, it’s better than nothing right?

Friday, August 23, 2002

Busy Busy Busy

I am trying to recover from the past week’s busy-ness. My sister, her husband and 4 1/2 yr old daughter came to visit on their way home from Hawaii. I had the foresight to warn them to bring warm clothes and boy oh boy did we need them! Now I’m the queen of layering when I’m not sure what the weather conditions are going to be. Granted in San Francisco, this can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. But it was uniformly cold everywhere in the Bay area, so I got to show off all four of my polar fleece tops.

The cold, windy weather aside, we had a great time; riding cable cars, going to the Aquarium by the Bay and the California Academy of Arts and Science, hitting a few cool playgrounds (what did you expect with a 4 year old?), catching a festival in Washington Square Park, and eating lots of great food. It was good being able to spend that much time with them since I couldn’t get away to spend time with them in Hawaii.

Then my house-sitting gig ended. They came back on Wednesday night so I had to get all the boxes, bags and other odd bits from one place to the other. Doing this with a Miata is akin to figuring out how to get a lamb, a chicken and a fox across a lake. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, it wasn’t like my important papers would eat my canned goods if I left it alone in my new bedroom, but it was a little tricky deciding what I could do without for the few days it took to be in one place. So I still have a few things to pick up at the house-sitting house, but I am more or less in my new apartment.

I am please to report that I was able to sleep well, so that’s good. I’m always a little restless when sleeping in a new place because of the odd sounds that are part of the normal environment. I am very annoyed that I wasn’t able to get an appointment to get stuff out of my storage containers this weekend. So I’ll be spending time this weekend finding a new storage place on the right side of the bay that allows me to go to it any time 7 days a week to fetch out my stuff. Feh! It’s not a huge deal, I’ll have to go without a microwave for a few more days, not the end of the world, really.

It was odd to have it so quiet yesterday evening while I rearranged my boxes around the room and made my bed. I’m TV-less and music-less aside from the tinny stuff I get from my clock radio. I may be able to focus on my computer studies with this much undisturbed quiet. I don’t tend to focus that much on the TV or radio as it’s mostly background noise. Once my phone line is installed I can use the Internet for my personal distraction. But this might be an interesting experiment for me since I’m noticing how easily distracted I am when it comes to doing certain things.

I’ve also been thinking about going to JournalCon which is happening in San Francisco this year. It doesn’t cost much and wouldn’t interfere with work since it’s happening on a weekend. I’m enjoying this journaling things so far and it might be neat to meet with other like minds.

I’m just going to take a brief moment to nag you all one last time to send me some thoughts about what you’d want to see in the bio section of this journal. Go ahead and follow the link on the right if you haven’t already done so and send me your thoughts. I’ve been looking at other pages and since I often decide if I’m going to read someone’s journal after reading their bio, I thought mine should look better too. Unless you are trying to keep this all for yourself. That’s okay too, I suppose.

Hey, while I'm at it, why don't you join the Notify list too? Go ahead and click on the link on the bottom of the page and put in your email. That way you'll get an email from me when I update. For some of you that might be the only way you'll ever get an email from me with the way you never write back.

Well I thought I had a few more thoughts than this, but y’know what? I’m going to post this now and maybe, just maybe those errant thoughts will return and I’ll do another entry this weekend. Wouldn’t that be cool? I thought so.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Procrastination and the Big Question

Okay relax, I know there are a lot of Big Questions out there. The one I’m thinking about today is what do I want to be when I grow up? This naturally leads to: How do I want to spend my time? And what will I do to make money to pay bills?

This topic comes up a lot since I’ve got this internal dichotomy: one side that thinks I should buckle down and concentrate on developing my highly marketable technical skills and the other side that knows how much joy I feel when I am creating and expressing myself with my art. Yes, I know that there are ways to tie these two sides together. I could work to balance them using ideas that clever people like Carol Lloyd put into her book, Creating a Life Worth Living. But this all takes time, effort and sincere introspection. This would take time away from important projects like, finding the cheapest storage units in the Bay Area, or researching the best dim sum shops in town to wow out of town visitors. I am interested in catching up on the first 6 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so that I would know what is going on in its final season. Did you know that I have 4 more cans of chick peas and I’ve yet to master the art of hummus. That’s good cheap eats and a potentially valuable skill to show off during some pot-luck, y’know. So you can see that all I’ve managed to do is hone my skills in the fine art of procrastination.

I’ve always been jealous of people who can master skills like speaking a foreign language, cook a meal where everything is ready at the same time, and negotiate bureaucracy and office politics like they were playing hopscotch. But I am a master procrastinator. I have no problem finding things to do and can easily entertain myself for days on end. But how can I work this into a valuable and marketable job skill?

Okay, unless you think this is actually possible, don’t bother sending me mail telling me to get focused. I know that’s what has to happen. I’m working on tuning out that happy little voice that sees endless distractions for my amusement and trying to find some quiet focus. My whole simplification plan really helps. I know I can do a lot of things, but choosing not to do everything that presents itself to me allows me to keep my free-time choices relatively clutter-free.

I’ve actually started a Wishlist in my Palm to capture things I wish I could do. This way I can acknowledge the desire without quashing it outright. I know that it may never ever happen. But I’ll deal with that later.

Now don’t think that I won’t ever have time to goof around. I’ve factored in plenty of time for that. It’s just that what I’m doing now isn’t working for me. I don’t see myself doing this long-term. But not knowing what my dream job is, is like going to the airport looking for someone you haven’t seen in a while. You sorta remember what they look like but try to take into account that they’ve changed over the years.

I’m going to try to sketch out a plan and see where it takes me.
So what’s your plan?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Back to the Nest and other odd dreams

I had a dream a few nights ago where I moved back home to my parents’ house in New York. It was strangely surreal, as dreams often are, and peaked my curiosity. I was curious how bad things got that I was back here again. Everyone was happy to see me and tried not to speak derisively of California. I did typical things, running errands and finding old stomping grounds and favorites somewhat strange. As if the people and places weren’t quite right, like a counterfeit version of my memories.

The odd part is that it’s been forever since I’ve been able to remember a dream. The next night I found myself working for an English family. I assumed that I was a tutor of some sort, but found myself getting asked to do all sorts of household tasks. Many of which I did improperly. So I was constantly being corrected by the lady of the house who was a mix between Julie Andrews and Patricia Rutledge’s character Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up Appearances. I was miserable and questioning why I had taken this sort of job. After days of torment which included her deciding that she didn’t like my clothes, I starting M’am-ing her and suddenly everything wasn’t as bad. This one made me question how well (or in this case how poorly) I adapt to change.

Last night (yeah, three dreams in a row) I was traveling abroad. Some guy kept calling my cell phone and yelling at me that I was robbing him blind, that my price was too high and hanging up. It seems that we were in some state of negotiations and he would do this at least once a day. Whoever I was with when the call came would look at me alarmed that someone was screaming at me. I would shrug, knowing that it would only be a minute and he’d be gone. Once I hung up on him (not sure why I kept taking his calls, but I did) and I thought that this would have pissed him off enough to stop. So as I’m dining and shopping my way through several European cities and smaller towns, I get these calls. I don’t know what I’m negotiating for, but finally he relents and tells me I drive a hard bargain and that he’ll agree to my original terms. My companion during this call must have been an assistant or something and asks if I’ve closed the deal. I say yes and he smiles saying that I make it look easy to sell art (seems I’m some sort of art dealer) and I reply that the artist did all the work and that they seem to sell themselves.

I love it when I actually remember my dreams, but most of the time I don’t. The ones I used to have a lot but don’t anymore are the “Bad Day at Work” dreams. Those are so disappointing because I never seem to be able to get away from the stress, while awake or asleep. I’m not having those dreams at all and that is very good. I’m spending a lot of time trying to get a lot of little things done as my house-sitting job is just about done. I’m not doing a very good job, but this is not the end of the world. Back when I was idle I could spend all my time running errands and doing these little things, so I know how truly time consuming they are. Now I’m prioritizing and acting like the rest of the world.

Of course I’m making time for fun, like the visit from my sister and her family for the weekend. I need to find some things that my 5 year old niece will enjoy, so this can be a pleasant diversion for all of us. Hopefully the weather will be nice. Talk to you all next week!

Sunday, August 4, 2002

Deceptive Perception

I keep getting surprised by my lack of personal perception. What I mean is that I am always so surprised to see that I am as fat as I am when I look at myself in the mirror. The thought if that seems strange to me. I am healthier than I’ve been in a while, I feel better, but I’m much larger than I think I am. As you might imagine, I don’t spend a lot of time gazing at my body in the mirror. Not that I have an aversion to it, just that I’m too busy doing other things. In my house-sitting jobs, I have a lot of mirrors around me and from time to time I’ll catch a glimpse of some fat chick in the mirror. Wow, that’s me!

I’m going to have to work a mirror into my new place because it has been motivating to keep my eating and exercising. I am curious to see when I reach the point where my mind’s image of me matches what I see in the mirror. It’s very similar to the way I feel taller than I am and only when I find I can’t reach something does it dawn on me that I’m short.

Last Sunday I went to the beach for the first time in ages. I don’t think I’ve done a “Day at the Beach” in the Bay area since I’ve moved here almost five years ago. My house-sitting housemate, Cabala, has been taking regular treks out to the beach and I’ve been envious, so she invited me to go and I said yes. So I guess this is as good a point to mention that it was a nude beach. Yeah, that’s right, me at a nude beach. Again it gets back to perception. I’m not an especially modest person if the situation merits it. I have no issue changing in the locker room at the gym or walking around nude at Osento (a local woman’s spa), so I decided the same rules would apply. The beach itself wasn’t crowded and once I slathered my ever-so white bits with SPF5000, I was able to enjoy how great it was to feel the warm sun on my whole body. Very cool, I must say.

Then because a trip to the beach isn’t really a trip to the beach without going in the water, I braved the cold Pacific Ocean. It was pretty much the same feeling, except when the cold water reached my tit line. Damn, does the lycra make that big a difference? I’d like to say that sitting around naked on a beach and in an ocean was this huge experience. But it wasn’t. It didn’t seem particularly strange since everyone else was naked and no one was making a big deal of it. It *was* nice not having a suitful of sand when I got out of the ocean, but not a huge deal. The whole experience had a quintessential Northern California feel to it.

The other thing that had been on my mind was that I was getting into a rut, and I’d been feeling a need to do something new. I actually created this spreadsheet that outlined what I was doing, wearing and eating so that I would have the right stuff at the right house. When I sent it to Cat, she wondered if I was actually wearing the same clothes and eating the same food week after week. In a way, I am. It reminded me of the last time I had a long-term house-sitting job. I had been trying to meet some of my online friends and ended up making a weekend of it. It all started with a ride on my friend, Fid’s motorcycle down to the city to meet another friend, Scott for sushi. Afterwards we played poker with Fid and some of his friends and then drove up to the Catskills to meet Barb at her country house. Now I will preface this with the fact that I did let a friend know where I was and who I was with for this weekend. It was my first time on a motorcycle, first time eating sushi, and first time meeting Fid, Scott and Barb in person. I’ve played and lost at poker before so that was nothing new. I did get out of my rut. I did have a ton of fun and discovered some wonderful things, like riding across the Tappan Zee Bridge as the sun set was beautiful beyond words, I love sushi and think it tastes better when eating it with good friends and a cup of coffee tastes so good when you are freezing cold after driving for an hour in the early morning on the back of a motorcycle. I didn’t enjoy the fact that I got sleepy and couldn’t doze off on the bike. My butt was extremely tired sore and my sense of humor damaged after Barb’s directions had us taking a right turn down a cow path (on a Honda CBR – sports bike) and not a left to the farm house. We stopped to ask directions, I insisted, and talked to one of Barb’s Deliverance-type neighbors to learn that the fast way to the old Dietz farm was back the way we came.

But the experiences stay with me and while I don’t do this a lot, I feel energized when I do something out of the ordinary. My house-sitting jobs will be coming to an end soon. By August 22nd or so I’ll be in my own apartment and beginning that new adventure. Last weekend we painted the room (Lithesome Blue) and I can’t wait to be there. I’m still fussing with the logistics, but suspect it’s not going to be as bad as I think it will be. Which wraps around to the original deceptive perception topic. I’ve been making lists like crazy and figure that I’ll just take one thing at a time and eventually it’ll all get done.

So is it just me or do you have these skewed perceptions of yourself and your world?

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Goodbye Peach

18 summers ago we got a kitten from our cousins. They had named this kitten Ghost, but it didn’t work for us, she was a white cat with big tabby-colored spots. She was friendly and curious and when offered a bit of a juicy summer peach would actually eat it. So we named her Peaches. She was a hunter cat, climbing trees and always tempted to pounce on anything even if it was just your foot under a blanket (ouch!), but would allow you to hold her and pet her, but never stayed long. When I lived at home, I was her preferred piece of furniture. If I were lying on the couch, she would come up and lounge on my hip or curl up on my stomach.

I’m not sure what makes a cat decide that you are her people and that this is the place she will come back to every night. But this must have worked for Peach since she did just this for the past 18 years. She liked a good fight and for years we called her boo-boo face because she always had a scratch or two on her. We hoped that the other guy always looked even worse. Now she was a moody cat and would often get irritated about something or someone. One of her favorite hiding spots were on the dining room chairs. Since they were typically tucked under the table, her position was secure. However the backs of these chairs had slats just wide enough for a kitty arm to reach through and swat at the offending party. Both the dog and the humans learned to watch for the little white arm or risk getting scratched.

A couple of days ago Peach got shot in the head by a pellet gun and was found on the front steps of our house covered in blood. She was still alive but not doing very well so Mom and Aunt Alice took her to the vet to put her to sleep. Right now I’m sad and furious. Sad because she couldn’t end her life in the peaceful way that she had lived hers. Furious because we are pretty sure that the ‘kids’ who live across the street were playing with their gun and shot her. Of course they denied it, and the police can’t be bothered by the situation, but other neighbors have complained about damage done to their property by these kids and their gun. Mom is going to talk to a bunch of people to see if anyone else can be outraged by this and at least investigate. More times than not seriously damaged people started out their careers of cruelty with animals and worked their way up to people. My parents live in an area that is more like Columbine than not. I just hope that these kids don’t end up living in their parents’ basement when they grow up. If they are allowed to get away with this I’d be happier if they didn’t continue to live in the neighborhood. I want them gone before they do something worse.

I do truly believe in what comes around goes around. It’ll make it easier for me to get over this horrible thing. It’s strange how people can look at animals one way and others can bring them into their homes and hearts and turn them into so much more.

I’ve been exceptionally affectionate with the four cats that are in my life right now. I hope my body can withstand the allergic reaction because the rest of me needs to enjoy these connections while I’ve got them.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Convertibles are so cool

It was a beautiful day today. Granted I was up late the night before and slept until 10 am, but the day I did see was wonderful. The night before I had dinner with my friend Christopher. It dawned on me that I have known him longer than anyone else, aside from my family. How long would that be? 22 years. We met in 9th grade. Our lockers were only a few apart and his door opened so that I could see the inside of his locker door. He had this picture of an old man with a cigar stuck up his nose. It was gross and I told him so. He laughed. So when we met in the graphic arts room later that year, we already had this antagonistic relationship. We’ve been friends ever since. I’ll note here that he still does things to get a rise out of me. Last night it was sticking his food-covered tongue at me. This time I laughed and told him it was gross and to grow up. But really I hope we never do.

But I digress, let me get back to today. I have been teaching Christopher the ways of the mobile phone and had planned on going to pick one up for him this afternoon. I had coasted across the bridge with my gas gauge on E last night, so getting gas was priority number 1. My gas gauge doesn’t have the nifty little light that tells you when you are really empty and the last gallon is being consumed. So I try to keep things well above E most of the time. I kept expecting her to sputter on conk out on me, but she didn’t. Another catastrophe averted. I thought things would be okay since my cell phone had a fresh battery and I only seem to need to call AAA for assistance when I have a low battery and no spare.

So fresh from the gas station I head off to the city where they must have been giving something away. Why else could the traffic at noon on a Saturday be worse than any time I have crossed on my way to work in the morning? I arrived to hear the new Robert Plant CD blasting on the stereo. Christopher decided to hold off on the phone until later but wondered if we could go to Target instead? Of course we have to drive some where, the top is down on the Miata and it’s too nice of a day to be inside. We brought CDs to play. It would have worked out great if my tape player hadn’t kept ejecting the speaker/tape doodad that you use to hook up a portable CD player. I guess I better buy one of those head cleaners when we get to Target.

I’m getting better at getting around in the city. I managed to find the way to the Target in Daly City without getting too lost. We shopped, bought mundane things like paper towels and soap, had lunch, bought a cool plant and headed back. It was a fun day with a great friend in a cool little car.

I am so glad that I bought it just over 5 years ago. It’s been fun and economical. We used it to carpool to work saving bridge fare and getting from home to my office in 20 minutes during rush hour. The numerous trips out to see the area or just running errands is so much more fun with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Sure I’ve bought my share of hats and sunscreen but it was all worth it. I got my title in the mail the other day. So now the car is all mine. Some days I wish that she had a more spacious trunk or a back seat, but most of the time she’s perfect the way that she is. I love driving people around who have never driven in a convertible before. I love the sheepish smile they get when I ask them if they’d like it if I took the top down. Playing with the wind is way cooler in a convertible. Even if it’s a little cold out, I can always turn on the heater. Some days I think about what I would get if I had to buy another car. I go through all the options but today I know I’d get another car just like the one I have now. I know that when I’m old and looking back I’ll remember how cool it was to have had a convertible. Who knows maybe I’ll still have one then.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Keeping busy

I've been thinking of things to share for a while. I've been busy working. The last couple of days I have actually had full days where I'm not keeping busy. There is still a lot to learn, but my mind has been more task driven and now I have tangible tasks to do. So I'm happy about that.

I've been working out my plan for a simpler existence. Living with less (eventually, really I'm working on it) and finding ways to live on less. The past couple of months house-sitting with just the bare essential possessions has made me see that it's possible. Sure I still look at things that I think I need, but the desire doesn't burn as hot as it used to.

I've been gathering material to start studying to get certified as a Microsoft Professional. I enjoy learning new things, so I just need to kick it up to the level where I can pass a test on the subject matter. While I do find pleasure in being knowledgeable in many different areas, it's hard to find my focus. It seems like the right time to do that now.

I've been noticing things outside of my head more. I think having more time for quiet introspective is to blame. Just the amount of time I spend in my car is enough. For example there is this one exit ramp off of highway 280 into San Francisco that just scares the shit out of me. It's got a swoopy sort of beginning that dips down before a steep incline that turns to drop down onto Sixth Street. In some ways it's like a roller coaster ride in your car. Often the traffic gets backed up, so you can't get a fast ride. Going slowly this evening I notice how low the barriers were on either side of the exit ramp. I was stunned at the potential danger of this and wondered if anyone ever thought about doing themselves in by forgetting to turn. Dark thoughts. I liked it better when I pretended that I was riding the roller coaster.

On a positive note, we have cracked the third cat. It's only taken a month and a half, but the last cat is letting us pet her and has been 'hunting' leaves and bringing in for us. Rather than just putting them in the compost tin, we've been collecting her 'love' for us in the cast iron kettle that sits on the garbage can. So now they all fight to sit on our laps in the evening and I am escorted upstairs to feed them breakfast every morning. It's just too cute and Cabala and I are enjoying it while we can.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Things are always changing

Well it’s been a while since I’ve updated and there are lots of reasons for that as you may have already surmised. One task that’s been occupying my time is searching for an apartment in the city. The house-sitting job has been a godsend, but with a mid-August return date, I needed to get my butt in gear to find some permanent digs. I’d put off picking a specific location for my new home while I was job searching back in April/May. Now that I’m working almost full-time for the research consulting firm in Burlingame, it made sense to find something on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

While I am still searching for the dream job (you’ll see more about that eventually, but send me a note off-line if you want to help me find it sooner) I had been leaning toward moving back to SF, rather than other places in the area. The climate, diverse people and attitude suited me more than other places. So, I started looking back in July. I have to say that craig's list is a great source for all things and I can’t recommend this community bulletin board enough. I was introduced to it by my friend, Brian, when we worked together in NY and I was looking to move out to California. Thanks Bri! I decided that I wanted to live some place convenient to commuting to the peninsula, had reasonable parking, a neighbor feel, trees and of course a nice apartment with cool roommates.

As much as I could go on about the minutia of my search, I won’t. It was fascinating to me and I suspect less so to anyone else. I did look at a bunch of apartments. I was afraid that I’d end up picking the first one I saw. It wasn’t that great, although the view of the Pacific Ocean was to die for. This would have made me very popular with visiting friends, but living on a fog bank wasn’t going to cut it for me this time around. So I ended up in the Mission district on a tree lined street close to public transit but with reasonable parking (In the four trips I’ve made to the apartment I’ve found a spot within a block or two) with 2 laid back, neat (clean-wise although they seem neat in a cool way too) housemates. There is even a back yard should the need to barbeque arise and enough storage for my basic needs. Yeah, a lot of my stuff will stay in storage. I’ll be looking for the cheapest and most convenient possible way to store the remainder of my stuff for a while. I am hoping the ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach will allow me to let some of it go eventually. I *really* have a lot of stuff.

And I guess the other big thing is that I have a job. I keep pretending that it’s not, but I keep coming to the same place every morning and working on non-personal things all day, so it certainly seems like a job doesn’t it? I’m not sure what my title is and I do pretty much everything without any specific focus it’s hard to describe my job. I have a support role in the company (small- working with a husband & wife team) and have prepared sales and marketing materials, answered the phone, developed a project timeline for the marketing of an upcoming study, updated the contact database with new clients, organized a pile of technical equipment, provided software and network support. I will be doing more sales and marketing things which are different than the computer/network support I’ve done in the past. I like the fact that I was hired based upon my potential to do this sort of work and that I’ll be able to do a lot of different tasks outside of my primary career path.

I think I like it. Today I was very happy with my decision. Other days I fluctuate. It’s a little scary to be out of my element, but there were a lot of days when being in my element sucked big time. With every job you do, there are tasks you enjoy and those you don’t. I ended up doing a lot of tasks I hated because I was paid a generous wage to do so. Now I’m rethinking the whole thing. I made a lot more money before, but it was spent without enough thought and didn’t go as far and last as long as it should have. I’ll be poor and in debt for a while, but I am hoping that I’ll find something that will make me happier in the long run.

What are you happy about these days?

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Ticket of the Month Club

This morning didn’t go according to plan. I was way more productive than I have been of late, so I wasn’t out of the house until way past noon. I was getting myself set to go out when I heard someone knocking on the door at half past one. It was one of the neighbors asking if that was my blue car parked outside. Seems the meter maid was right outside. Well by the time I grabbed my keys it was too late and the ticket was already written. Damn, that seems to be the story of my life. Helpful neighbor guy said I should try to talk her out of it, so I pulled out my lost-my-job sob story. She looked sincerely touched, but said she still was going to turn it in to her supervisor, as if that was the best she could do. Geez, how lame is that? You’d think that if my karma was good, she’d be ‘family’ and my cute smile and sad story would have had her ripping up that ticket for me.

Ah well. I’m still kinda pissed off about it. I’ve never been able to talk my way out of a ticket of any sort. Maybe I’m just not that sort of person. I do seem to be the kind of person who would somehow get signed up for the ticket of the month club. At first I joked about it, but then I looked back in my checkbook to see when I’ve written checks to pay for parking tickets, I saw an alarming trend. In the past 3 months that I’ve been unemployed I’ve gotten three parking tickets. I suppose it could be a coincidence. Perhaps I’ve got more time to go places where tickets are given out. I was too busy working to get parking tickets before. And now boom, three tickets at one-month intervals. You have to admit that you’re even starting to wonder if this club exists.

Okay, while you were waiting (I know it didn’t seem to take very long) I went and checked the Internet for the club. Hmmm…these folks didn’t seem to be listed. I found this one site that had a variety of monthly clubs like cookie of the month, bama pie of the month, chocolate of the month, cigar of the month, Delightful fruit club, but no ticket clubs. The once a month club sounds like someone’s sex life, but appears to be a philanthropic organization to help you find time to do good deeds regularly. I even found a show of the month club that sounds like the sorts of tickets I would enjoy, except that it’s in Boston and way to far to travel to see a show. I kept going and found some truly bizarre clubs like fuck of the month and the odd, yet popular, weed of the month.

So this may be a closed membership, but if you ask nicely I might be able to sponsor you. I seem to be connected in all the wrong ways.

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Sunday, June 23, 2002

Six Months of Effort

In one week, I'll have been working out for 6 months. I'm rather proud of myself. I've been slacking the last few weeks, but for the majority of the time I've gone 5 days a week. I've been keeping track (more or less) when I go and what I do. When I don't go, I try to write down why, so I can see if there are dangerous trends I need to be aware of.

I feel better on the days I work out and I know it. I don't like the way the gym gets hot during the day, so I try to get in early. Also I'm less likely to run out of time if I plan to workout first thing.

I start with 20 minutes of cardio. In the beginning it was less, maybe 10-15 on a recumbent bicycle since that seemed to be the easiest for me. Now I'm hooked on the elliptical trainers and do a solid 20 minutes each session. After that I do weight training, either upper body or lower body.

I mostly keep to myself when I work out. It's nice having people around but not feeling compelled to have to talk. I always listen to music when I'm upstairs doing the cardio portion. Last Friday I forgot my headphones and CDs at home and didn't enjoy it as much. The equipment has a little TV, CD and cassette player. I may look at the images on the TV, but it doesn't keep me going during the tough parts like music does. I don't listen to music when I am weight lifting. I like to concentrate on what I am doing, and listen to whatever they are pumping through the stereo system at the time. That and watch people.

I am more aware of muscles, both my own and those around me. I may stare at someone as they are working out, not because I'm attracted to them as much as I admire their muscles. As convenient as it would be to be able to work out at home, I still like going to the gym, at least my gym, because I can see other people working out.

I'm going to be adding some free weights to my routine. I mostly use the machines because I know them and it's comfortable. I've been reading up on the benefits of using free weights. I just like having more options available to me. I am starting to get a little bored with my current routine, so I think this will help. Before I would add weight and that kept me challenged for a while.

Six months. I took some before pictures about a month or so ago. I wish I did this back in December, but I still have a lot of room for improvement now. I'm working up to doing a Body for Life Challenge. I've been working on my diet lately since that seems to be the tougher part for me. Even with all my free time, I've having a tough time dealing with eating six times a day. I need to do this cheaply, but the three days I tried, I felt like I spent the whole damn day in the kitchen preparing, eating and cleaning up. I'm going to try my friend, Cat's trick by preparing food in advance and putting it into tupperware containers. That will also help me get my eyes to see the right size portions.

In the months that I was able to work out 5 days a week, I have been rewarding myself with little treats, a CD, a new top, etc. After 3 months, I got a big treat, new sneakers. I keep thinking that 6 months is a big deal, but can't come up with anything that seems quite right. Maybe it'll come to me when I'm not looking.

Exercising doesn't seem like much effort now. I remember one morning in March thinking how I'd love to call in sick and take a mental health day. I didn't because it would mean that I couldn't work out since my gym is only a few blocks from where I worked. I realized that I had changed enough to have this be something I look forward to and in some ways is a reward to me. Considering how much I hated gym class as a kid, this is a huge deal. I'm very proud of myself that I've gotten this far and I look forward to getting to the end of the year and seeing how I look and feel then.