Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Prayer

Dear Cosmic Universe and the Great All,

Please hear my prayer. 

Today is one tiny measly day out of many set aside to remember the greatest sacrifice a human being can give.  Yet all I can think of is a day off from work and what will I BBQ on the grill this evening.  How petty and small minded I feel.

Instead, let me remember those that made this day a necessity.  Let me remember why they chose to give their lives for their country.  So that I could have a day off to BBQ on the grill?  NO! 

They died so that I can enjoy the freedom of putting these words out to the world without worry of secret police arresting me and my family in the dead of night.  They died so that I can vote for the best person to represent me in the government and for the right to complain about them afterwards.  And much, much more.  They died so that I can live. 

So, it is with a heart full of gratitude to these men and women that I ask your blessings on their spirits and the families and friends they left behind.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Minds

I'm glued to my laptop and to the Internet watching the BP Live Video Feed and marveling at how calm it looks when tension must be pinging off the decks of the ships above.  At times I can figure out what it is the robotic hands are trying to do, while other times the image just stays frozen.  (I think that's when the operator is on a restroom break.)

What a time in history I'm living in!  Never in all my life have I had a front row seat to see such drama in minute detail unfolding while in the comfort of my home.  Because this is a slowly unraveling story and the loss of lives are hopefully at an end, I watch and whisper prayers on behalf of the families and on behalf of the men and women trying to solve this horrible problem.  BUT I refuse to point fingers.  There's been enough pain for now and blame will be assigned in due course. 

My mind flashes back to my younger days.  President Kennedy's assassination and the subsequent assassination of Oswald were played over and over as unending loops narrated by Walter Cronkite.  I was in first grade.  Eventually, my 6 years of age couldn't take it anymore and I begged Mom to take me over to a friend's house. 

Many events have been played out between these years.  More assassinations (Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon), more triumphs (moon landing and the fall of the Berlin wall), more politics (Watergate, Clinton's scandal), and more horror (Kent State, Three Mile Island, Oklahoma City bombing, Challenger explosion, September 11, 2001 attacks).  I watched these and more unfold on television.  Then I had to quit watching television.  It was too much. 

Now I watch on my laptop. News when I want it and how I want it: video feeds, articles & op ed columns from the newspapers around the world, pictures taken by Joe Public, etc.  I feel like a scumbag for it.  A voyeur.  A peeping tom(ette).  Yet I watch.  Why?

Because I am a part of this world, like it or not.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Working from Home

How many of us wish we could (or already do) work from home?  Given the current gas prices and environmental concerns over commuting to the office and back again, I'm wishing I could. 

I sat thinking about it after my hubby, who is currently working on the Census project, had to shut the kitchen doors to make a case call.  One thing he does may appear silly at first but in reality is a good idea.  He put on his ID badge.  He was barefooted and in a rumpled pair of shorts so with the donning of the badge, he indicated to himself and those of us in the house that he was "officially on the job."

Okay, so what would I do?  At least 65% of my job is email.  I have access to my work account at home but not to the network drive or my files.  That can be readily rectified with a minimum of effort on my part.  But what signal would I use to indicate my status of being "officially on the job?" 

When I'm applying for grants at work, I put on a small Viking helmet because I feel like I'm on a campaign.  My co-workers then know what I'm doing and tend to leave me alone.  A side-effect is that I don't take it too seriously because more often than not these days, the grants are denied.   Less emotional bagage this way.

At home when I'm deep into a writing project, I put on a larger version of the Viking helmet (with blonde braids) to tell the family to not interrupt.  (Please note: it doesn't work.)  I guess I could use this for work, too.  Or I could get dressed.  Wearing the pjs and bunny slippers while working takes some of the sharp edge off for me. 

I guess what this is all about is tricking yourself into a mindset that leads you to perform at a higher level.  Isn't being human a downright funny thing to be?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weirdness Resides Between These Ears

I don't know about any of you out there, but I feel haunted.  Even writing that sentence brings on even more of the same.  I'm haunted by wacky and funny (to me) thoughts and sometimes full scenes in my head.

Take for instance a situation I find myself in now.  I'm expecting a package in the mail.  It's from a pen & letter writing pal of mine.  It's a pen & some ink samples.  She mailed it last Monday and it seems to have disappeared off the USPS tracking radar.  Unfortunately she is stressing about it.  Me?
Deep under the cement and asphalt of Langley, Virginia in a darkened lab two bespectacled men stare at a white package sitting on a stool behind the 2 inch thick glass porthole in steel encased concrete chamber.  A lone beam of light shines down upon it.  Slowly, millimeter by millimeter, a robot hand reaches for the package.
"What do you think is inside, Horace?"
"I don't know Ralph.  Could be some sort of explosive device.  The x-rays weren't very clear."
"Could be, could be."  Horace shifts his weight to the other foot and wipes off the glass with a sleeve.  "Where did you say it came from?"
"Just outside of Tampa."
"Going to Phoenix, huh?"
"Yep."
"Someone doesn't like that immigration law, I'll bet."

And it just gets sillier from there.  *sigh*  I can't help it!

What I've learned from this "gift" is not to share.  Some people give me that glazed over stare while others shake their heads and walk away.  A few will glare at me with pressed lips. 

I don't have any sort of conclusion to this post.  Just had to share.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Floating!

I’ve just returned from having dinner with poets. What a peaceful and lyrical way to wind down the day! Conversation at my childhood dinner table with the family usually ended with tension or relief that it was over. Conversation with friends is filled with light laughter and politics and at the end, you feel “nice” but not “full.” Rarely will you have a memorable discussion where the wall slides down to let the truth emerge. (I don’t know if I’m explaining this very well.)

Tonight the conversation wasn’t deep but it was musical. It was as if everyone’s story was less prose and more melody. There wasn’t dialog; there were lyrics. Sentences weren’t filled so much with words as with color and image. A simple story of learning to prepare baba ghanoush was a Poem.

Again, I shudder at the way poetry was taught in my high school English classes: analyzed to death with meanings that the poet did not intend. I don’t know if I will ever be able to read T.S. Elliott again. To paraphrase Freud here (with apologies to William Carlos Williams): Sometimes a red wheelbarrow is just a red wheelbarrow. No wonder it took 35 to 40 years for me to discover what poetry is really about!

If you know anyone who writes poetry, if you hear of a poet that is giving a reading, if you feel led to write a poem, please, dive right in! The water is great!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to the Philosophical Café!

***

Today’s special:

Egg salad sandwich on whole wheat
with a cup of chicken noodle soup

(Notice: today’s special has been cancelled.
Chef had a breakdown trying to decide which to make first.)


Please remember to visit the Nietzsche Bakery next door! Existential Éclairs are on sale this week.


***

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whoa.

I am so surprised by the fact that this is a difficult post to write. A co-worker friend who reads my blogs and knows of the “news” asked why I hadn’t written about it yet. I guess my best answer is that I want it to be written not in an emotional rush but from a few day's distance. I tend to write in an "all or nothing" framework when I feel strongly about something and that drives people nuts.  Another surprise for me was my reaction to the news. I’ve been waiting for it so long that when it came, I was thrilled yet there was this lingering, nagging bit of let-down that I cannot explain. Totally weird, yes, but I am human and therefore unpredictable – even to myself.

The news? The news is that my company gained 3 smaller clients and 1 very big client so that by June 15th I will no longer have to work for the corporate mentality of those in the basement and can work full time upstairs in the light of day with the people who “get me.” (Bohemian Artist blends better upstairs than down.)

A further surprise that came out of my journaling about the news was that my irritation and frustration with Downstairs is draining out of me. What a cool side effect! Now, I’m turning my attention to the planning and restructuring of my work life and all the possibilities. (I can dump the four 10-hour days and go back to the regular five 8-hour days leaving me more energy at the end of the day. I can ditch the Franklin Covey planner! That’s huge for me, let me tell you.) 

However, as with most everything good in life, there are strings attached. (Aren’t there always strings?) Almost everyone upstairs will be affected. More work for everyone. The staff is stretched as it is, and this adds more to the workload. 

So where does this leave me? Better situated than I was; mentally relieved, physically relieved, and so far, spiritually relieved. I feel hopeful. Perhaps my writing will return. Perhaps my attitude will not only improve but also stay that way. Perhaps mental clarity will come back. Perhaps my headaches will go away. Perhaps there's even more benefits.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend Update with JoniB

My hubby snagged a temporary part-time job with the Census people as an “enumerator.” Yeah. Since the SNL Census skit with Betty White aired, my daughter cannot help but call out “Blaarfengår!” several times a day. (Hilarious the first 40 times, it’s now getting old. **sigh**)

Hubby is under a lifetime gag order and reminds us often that he is not allowed to reveal any information. He locks up his official Census bag containing all his re-interview forms every night and keeps his cheap looking ID badge stuffed in his wallet during off times.

Personally, I wasn’t the least bit curious or worried about what he is doing on the job. That was until he mentioned the dress code. The shoes, to be specific. The requirement is to wear shoes that can be worn comfortably all day and that can be used to run in. Yes, the code actually says “to run in.”

Now I’m starting to worry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers' Day!

I'd like to add my voice to the thunderous greetings today: Happy Mothers Day!

And to you men who tell your children that your wife is not your mother and that's why you aren't buying anything: CHEAPSKATE LAZY EXCUSE!  She is the mother of your children and (let's be honest here) sometimes has to "mother" you when you are sick or otherwise down.  Get off your butt and give her a big hug, kiss, and a heartfelt thank you for all she does.

I'm blessed with a hubby who "gets it."  Yay!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another Jewel in the Desert City

Okay, so maybe I should focus on what is GOOD about living in this city of Phoenix, Arizona. I hate the dirt, the traffic, the violence, the endless cement and asphalt and the way the big old shade trees are cut down and spindly “native” twigs are planted in their wake. Coming from the green farms of Minnesota, I find I complain about most everything here in the city. However, there are some advantages.


My hubby and I visited the Phoenix Art Museum during the free admission time of First Friday this evening. The City of Phoenix promotes the first Friday of every month as the night to celebrate local artists and their art. They have free shuttles and the Art Museum is open from 6 to 10 p.m. I’ve been anxiously waiting for my schedule to clear so that I could enjoy the Ansel Adams exhibit.


Some of the more striking aspects of this exhibit, in my opinion, are those photos that were taken in the late 1920s to late 1940s. My favorites are the old buildings that are now gone and roads paved over and buried under the wheels of the twenty-first century.



While he traveled the world and photographed most of the United States and its people, Ansel Adams bequeathed his wealth of photographs and negatives to the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson. How cool is that?

The exhibit is here until June 6th. There is free admission every Wednesday 3 to 9 p.m. (compliments of Salt River Project) and the last First Friday to view this exhibit is on June 4th. Please find time to see this wonderful exhibit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time for Another Carnival!

The 10th Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is now up at Whatever!  Head on over for your pen, pencil, ink, and paper reading pleasure.  There is something there for everyone! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stream of Consciousness on a Sunday Night

Warning: this may not be coherent as I am typing this directly into Blogger.

It's Sunday night.  The laundry is still in progress and my thoughts and emotions are flying.  I'm trying to reconcile two of the many faces I wear.  This weekend was Bohemian Artist.  Friday, I worked on collage.  Saturday, I wrote many pages and I read aloud some unfinished pieces at "Sound Effects" in the afternoon.  Today I'm exploring drawing, art journals, and thinking about learning to make my own paper.  (Yes, I did do some yardwork and ran errands, too.)

Tomorrow is Sucksville Schmuck.  Monday morning begins in the cold corporate caverns of the basement with no windows and a [groan, gag, grimace] staff meeting.  I hate them.  Staff meetings such as these are like water-boarding.  Okay - too extreme.  Let's just leave it at "I hate them." 

This weekend was rewarding, lending itself to personal growth, spiritual freedom, and a lightness in my chest.  Tomorrow brings dread and a heaviness that brings me to my knees.  (Yes, I've had a few glasses of wine.)

My challenge is to carry the Bohemian Artist with me into the dreaded staff meeting.  Do I sit and draw while they talk and talk ad infinitum?  That could trip me up.  I just don't find personal value in that place.  However, I must continue there as I am the sole breadwinner of the family thanks to the economy.  So another face creeps in: Responsible Person wearing an ensemble of guilt. 

I should explain something here.  I work in Sucksville 20 hours a week.  The other half of my time is completely different.  I work upstairs in the same building with wonderful people of my age group who share my personal values (and enjoy two windows in my office).  We know what is important and what is not.  I have authority and autonomy.  I can listen to classic rock music there.

I guess I just need to go back to playing the lottery.  (Now THERE is another blog post:  Lottery players are statistically lower income daydreaming drones like me who end up funding a bunch of public institutions that are mostly enjoyed by the well-to-do.)