Pssst. You're using IE 8. My site is going to look like crap nuggets for you. There's a better way. You'll thank me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So true...

Your result for The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test...


You scored 0% Size & Strength, 59% Morality, 76% Aggression, and 82% Intelligence.

You're an Elf! You scored low in size, high in morality, high in aggression and high in intelligence to get here. The first and favorite race created by the Valar, the Elves have been in Middle Earth for many ages, and are currently the only race allowed to join their creators in Valinor. Blessed with eternal life, enhanced senses, great beauty, wisdom and skill, the race of Elves still has several black marks on it. (Kinslaying, anyone?) But hey, no one is perfect, right? Of course not, but the Elves are damn close to it.

FYI, your polar opposite is the Troll.

Take The What Middle Earth race do you belong to Test
at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I just woke up. From a dream. I dreamed I was at our lake house in Nancy. But I was running. Running through the snow carrying my newborn child. Why was I running? Because I was being chased by my apparently lesbian girlfriend who looked like Lindsay Lohan with a bad bleach job who was trying to beat the crap out of me. I find a house. With a light on. So I run inside and two old people say I can hide in their kitchen. But my girlfriend finds me. So I knock her out with a stick and keep running. I find a hospital. With an ER. They let me hide in one of their exam rooms. Eventually, they tell me I have to leave, because they need the room for a real patient. My girlfriend is in the waiting room. Thank goodness, because her medical card means that my ER co-pay is only 60 cents. Which I right in my checkbook. When I finally get back to the cabin, I am met by twenty or so people. Who are pissed. Because apparently, I was supposed to have been hosting a weekend at the lake for mentally disabled teenagers and I forgot to buy the food....



Why do we dream? What does it mean? Why is one person's dream a prophecy and another person's dream a pscyhotic episode?

I have never been a good sleeper. I sleep walk. I talk. I wake up screaming. It's like my day just continues right on into the night. I've been to a sleep clinic. I have tried sleeping pills.

I don't know.

I'm just a freak a guess.

Time for a marathon conclusion to my "Hate Your Job" series, which I would like to reiterate is just for THOSE DAYS when you hate your job. I don't hate my job. I only hate it somedays:

6. Put on your shield and armor when you enter your workplace. Everyone should learn how to create a psychic shield. Imagine that you are surrounded by an outer shell that is made of a solid material -- so strong that nothing can get through to hurt you. Some people prefer to imagine a protective golden light, but I think the solid shield is stronger. Take two or three minutes to put on your shield, every day, before you enter the workplace.

While this is almost as new agey as visualizing your obstacle, I do like this. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and visualize the office melting away. I visualize my children and my grand children and retirement and a time when I won't even talk to any of these people again. This day, this bad day, is just a blip on the timeline of my life and it too shall pass.

It works, trust me!

7. Give yourself a gift every day -- a splurge of time or sensual taste buds. Read a book, talk to a friend, eat your favorite food. Don't deaden your senses with alcohol (although if you're a wine connoisseur, your special wine can be a gift) or spend big bucks at the mall. Think simple.

I agree. I should do this more often. Unfortunately, my little gifts to myself are not very healthy. Just a cigarette. Just one cigarette. Puff puff. Just a beer. One beer. Glug glug. Just a french fry. One french fry. A medium fry and baconator later....

I need healthier gifts.

8. Find at least one thing in your life to appreciate: the softness of your cat's fur, the winter sky, the spontaneous hug from a friend. Appreciate as much as possible about your job: the money, the view from the window, the new computer, friendly conversations with the guy down the hall. Savor the experience. Appreciation is the engine that attracts good things into your life.

As far as my job goes, I appreciate the leeway I have to control my own destiny. For example, I just had to do 11 postcard layouts for ALL of our direct mailings for 2009. Every single draft I sent my boss was met by a one or two word response: "ok." "like it". "great". "Last one?"

Not one word of criticism. Which at first annoyed me, because I was sending him drafts to get his input. But then I realized, he just trusts me. He just trusts me to do a good job at it.


At home, my favorite thing, is snuggling in bed with my hubby and looking out my big picture window. Because what is staring back at me around 10 or 11 when I go to sleep?

The moon.

It's like God knew I would live in that house and sleep in that room and lay on that side of the bed, so when he created the moon he stuck it just so, so I could stare at it and remember how small I am in the universe, as I fall asleep.

But then I have to dream about Lindsay Lohan chasing me through the woods.

I don't know.

9. Tune in to your intuition before deciding what to do next. Meditate and listen to the world around you. The saying "frying pan into the fire" is real. If your goals and desires do not come from a secure place within yourself, you will find yourself paying undue attention to wet blankets ("If you quit you'll never get another job") and false friends ("Just quit! Move to Tahiti! You won't starve!"). Sometimes the same "advisor" proposes both ideas in the same week. A good coach or counselor will give you confidence in your own intuition, not impose their views of what you should do now.

My intuition tells me that my only critic at work is myself. I always think they are going to fire me. But then I am met with nothing but praise and enthusiasm for what I am doing and what I am bringing to the company. So really, the only person who thinks I should be fired, is myself.

10. Write this down somewhere: After you've left -- and you will -- all that time will seem to have gone in the blink of an eye. You will have trouble remembering what bothered you so much. The rest of your life will still be ahead of you.

Ta da! Forever mortalized in my little blog.

Hope these things were helpful to some of you. Life is short. Life is long. It just depends on how miserable or how happy you are at any given moment. Don't stay in a job that you hate. But don't quit a job before you have another one. Don't let a couple of tools ruin your daily work experience. Don't let yourself ruin it either.

Good luck to those of you who are looking for a new job!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Okay, after this I really have to get back to work!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

And for those of you who like something with more of a twang...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The Most Hilarious Time of the Year

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Bells Are Ringing...IN MY HEAD! and the fourth and fifth installments

I don't know what kind of brain chemistry issue I have (I'm sure there are many), but I would like for scientists to pinpoint the one that causes insomnia and then develop a drug that allows you to function the next day without the feeling of a warm towel being wrapped around your brain. For prosperity, I will use this time to further my series on hating your job, which I have decided is too negative even for me. I think I am going to change the title to something like, "On Those Days You Hate Your Job" or "When You Kind of Don't Want to Hate Your Job" or something. Because, again, I really do love my job most days. I just have a tendency toward fatalism on the days I don't.

So here goes.

Number 4 - Focus on satisfactory, not superior performance. Use the time difference to build your new life. People often say, "I can't do anything -- I work ten hours a day!"
If you are firing yourself or expecting to be fired, your job is finding a new job. Be ethical: you owe your company the minimum you need to earn your salary." But don't be surprised if you start to accomplish more than ever and find yourself getting promoted.
Oh, I have so much to say about this one. First of all, Bransoms, in general, are incapable of "focusing on satisfactory, not superior performance". No. I'm sorry. I don't do that. If I am escorted out by security and have to start shoveling dog poop for a living, I will be the best damn poop shoveler in the land. That's just who we are. I would never strive for less than superior performance no matter how much I hated my job.
It reminds me of that Biblical parable that I also struggle with. You know the one. Some of the servants work their butts off all day, some half the day, and some the last part of the day, and they all get paid the same? I still don't understand that. I've heard many sermons, read many scholarly articles, consulted the footnotes of my study Bible...sorry. Just don't get it. Not fair. I guess consult my previous blog on fairness.
I do agree that if you are going to quit your job, you owe it to your company to work hard until the bitter end, and you should ALWAYS have another job lined up. I don't say this out of self righteous indignation, but out of personal experience. I used to work for Michael Scott's evil twin (The Office people, try to keep up). He shall remain nameless here in my blog, because he is a small, pathetic, disgrace of a man, who would absolutely, without a doubt, hire a team of lawyers and sue me for slander or libel or defamation of character. So, we will call him The Turd.
The Turd was the textbook worst boss on earth. His only skill was in hiring people, because the team of folks he has managed to assemble over the years is the only possible explanation for his success. The Turd called pointless weekly meetings that began at 7:00 am. The Turd made everyone where photo name badges, even though there were only eight of us in the building. The Turd would stick his nose in on employee lunch conversations and then when we would inevitably quit talking about whatever we were discussing he would send out a company wide e-mail banning employees from "being friends". The Turd micromanaged everything that happened in the building and could not allow anyone to have knowledge or possess skills that he himself did not. But worst of all, The Turd would hire people on pay structures that he didn't understand, which he would then change mid-stream. For example, he hired me on the basis of profit sharing, which I learned three months into the job he thought meant quote accuracy.
Profit = Revenue - Cost for anyone else confused by this concept. Sheesh.
So, anyway, after six months of dealing with The Turd, I had finally had enough. His ridiculous micromanaging got out of control, I told him so, and he sent me home that day. Sent ME home. ME!!! So the next day....
I went Jerry McGuire all up in that b*(&$.
The fish are coming with me. Fish have manners.
While sticking it to The Turd and leaving him to waffle and struggle to find someone else to do my job in a pinch felt good on the twenty minute car ride home, the thrill quickly waned and I realized I was unemployed. And, since I quit rather then letting myself be fired (which was inevitable in that workplace), I couldn't even draw unemployment.
In hindsight, I should have just put up with The Turd for a few more weeks until I found something else. Luckily it all worked out. I started up my freelance business, which kept me afloat, until I started the job I have now, which 95% of the time I love.
Number 5 - What conflict are you escaping? Dishonesty? Corporate greed? Hypocrisy? Allow yourself to wonder if these qualities are mirrored in your own life -- or even in your mind. If everyone around you seems dishonest, are you being dishonest with yourself? With others? After you resolve your own conflict, you may find the workplace has changed or you have been catapulted into a new, more satisfying life.
I think my biggest conflict at my job I have now is frustration over some people's laziness and lack of motivation and indecisiveness. I work with all good people, but some of them are content with "satisfactory performance" and that pisses me off, because I don't. Although, now that I think about it, the Ph.D. who wrote this delightful little article on hating your job may actually be on to something. I am a perfectionist. A perfectionist to the point of dysfunction. My dad always says to only hold people to the standard to which you hold yourself. Maybe mine are a little too high. I know I am always falling short of my own standards, which is a source of great stress and anxiety for me. So, I guess it follows that if I hold my co-workers to the same unrealistic, unattainable standards that I hold myself, stress, anxiety, and disappointment are inevitable. Hmmmmm......
Any thoughts?

Monday, November 24, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - Third Installment

Number 3 - Think of developing skills, not serving time. Take every course that's offered and focus on skills that can lay a foundation for your own business or next job. Can you learn HTML or PowerPoint? Can you use some evenings, weekends and lunch hours to solicit some free lance gigs?

I really like this one, because it is exactly what I did at my last job that I HATED. I tried to think of things about my brain that were worth developing (i.e. my interest in serial killers, probably not so much). I really like logic problems and puzzles and riddles. Programming was a small part of my web design degree (okay, yeah, it should have been all of my web design degree, but whatever), so I decided to expand on that. I taught myself ASP.NET and SQL Server and started doing little web development jobs here and there. It blossomed into a pretty decent freelance business, which I always have to fall back on. It also enriched my skills for the job I have now.

Anybody have any hobbies or crafts or skills they could develop? Do it!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - Second Installment

This is the second installment in my series "When You Really Hate Your Job". First I would like to respond to the comments left on my last post.

Firstly, Ty, these postings are absolutely directed at you and everyone else that we know, ahum ahum, that is stuck in a job they hate OR has quit a job they hate. Unlike the Fairy Godmother, I lack the ability to proactively solve problems; I can only complain to anyone who will listen! It would seem that the Turkey Extravaganza on Saturday is reserved for those who are either Employmently Challenged or too heavily medicated to care, so your attendance is required.

Secondly, Ashley, writing has been both a life long hobby that I adore AND something in which I have training. My passion started before I was even able to write and manifested itself in two ways that I remember. The first was when I was still in the Crayola stage of expression and I colored a picture of a cemetery. I then proceeded to make my poor mother (Mom, do you even remember this?) write out the story that I had concocted onto my little work of art. I guess I just wanted to see the words on the page, even though I was too little to read them.

The second way my passion manifested itself at an early age was on the front porch of my family's cabin in the Daniel Boone National Forest. I would force my poor family to endure these long, erratic, incomprehensible stories, which would sometimes require us all to break for lunch, before returning for a finale that never came. I am happy to say that my niece, Little Ann, has inherited this ability for the spoken word. It seems that everyone thinks it's cuter when she does it, but whatever.

In elementary school I continued my writing career and was the recipient of the Young Author's Award in the first grade for my epic tale, "The Little Green Woman." While I did not win the Young Author's Award in the fifth grade for my book "Star," it did precipitate a call home from my teacher who was concerned about the content, which consisted of a young girl being abused by her alcoholic father before running away to live in the woods. Sorry, Dad. lol

I was a creative writing major in the School for the Creative and Performing Arts in high school, and was active in the Poetry Slam Community. For those of you who are not familiar with poetry slamming, it is an artform that allowed beatniks and hippies and otherwise inspired writers to express their political, social, and religious views through the spoken word. It has since been hijacked by a bunch of angst-filled, whiny teenagers who want to make adults uncomfortable with foul language and a mysterious Brooklyn accent that only crops up at these events. I don't know. Guilty as charged.

I was an English major in college and received my Bachelor's Degree in English literature. I had my station in life clarified for me by one of my favorite professors during an Adolescent Literature class. She said, "I see that you all have self segregated. Education majors on this side of the room; English majors on this side of the room. It's just as well. Here are the people who will one day nurture the minds of children, and here are the people who will one day corrupt them."

I have nearly had the love for creative writing crushed out of me by over exposure to dead white sonneteers and professional writing, but I still maintain my love. I have two very special grandmothers to thank for that. My mom's mother, Thelma, was a teacher in a one room school house and taught my sister and me the love of reading and an appreciation for different dialects and ways of speaking. My dad's mother, Dot, was a master story teller and used to thrill and terrify us with ghost stories. She caused a scandal at my elementary school when she was invited to tell ghost stories at Halloween and, gasp!, they were ACTUALLY scary! She concluded her storytelling by passing around a corpse's hand to all of the second graders. Oddly, she was not invited back for a second performance.

So there you have it. My long winded explanation of why I love to write, and why I would feel extremely blessed if I were ever able to do it full time. I think everyone has that thing that makes them want to get up in the morning. For me it's writing. I'm pretty sure that is like a boa constrictor with a love for finger painting, but I don't inflict my hobby on too many people. Give me a break.

On to our second installment of the "When You Really Hate Your Job" series.

NUMBER 2 - Create an image that describes you in your job. Are you on a riverbank with no way to get to the other side? Lost in a jungle? Poking through a thorny hedge? When you get comfortable with the image, begin visualizing a change in the obstacle. Imagine building a bridge across the river or finding a path in the forest. Don't force the image or the change. When you're ready it will come.

I find it hard to pin-point just one image to describe how I feel on those days when I really hate my job. I keep coming back to these recurring dreams I have sometimes where I am being attacked on all sides by people. Every time I take a swing at one of them, it's like trying to punch someone under water. Gravity seems to keep my limbs limp, and all the while my opponents are pursuing me and laughing at me. Laughing at my ineffectual, limp fists.

Okay I am imaging my fists making contact. My pursuers are bloody and defeated and limping away. I am victorious!!!

Okay, this is stupid. Sorry, this one is a little too New Agey for me. I didn't write them, I'm just passing them along.

I'll work on my image. What is your image?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - First Installment


Can't live without them. Can't shoot all of your co-workers without going to jail.

It's a conundrum.

The problem with jobs is that you usually end up spending more of your waking hours at your job than with people you would actually choose to be around. Unfortunately, for most of us, that means we spend most of our life in a place we hate with people we would eat in the first half hour following a plane crash doing tasks that make us think, "Chinese water torture...I could deal with it."

But I digress.

In general, I actually really like my job. I have good, sound employers who genuinely want to see our company grow. The mundane, life draining crap I have to do is balanced with work that let's me flex my creative muscles. And the only other person in my office besides myself is Kelly, who happens to be my Jewish Fairy Godmother. So it could definitely be worse.

But there are those days.

Those days that make me want to shove someone down a flight of stairs.
Those days that make me want to eat a whole pie.
Those days that make me want to down a bottle of Makers Mark and call talk radio shows.

Again, I digress.

I have noticed that more and more of my friends have been saying, "I hate my job!!!" or actually quitting their jobs suddenly (decisions they now regret in this economic climate). Lots of people I know are looking for work, or, more frequently, looking for "OTHER" work. Some are even talking of completely changing fields, for fear that if they continue on the career path they are on it will end in a stroke or a felony conviction.

So for all of us who find themselves either frequently or occasionally thinking "I hate my job," I present to you the "When You Really Hate Your Job Series". This is a list of 10 things you can do when you really hate your job. I have this bookmarked for reference, and it always puts my job into perspective and helps me get re-focused and re-energized.

NUMBER 1 - Begin focusing on what you want instead of how much you want to escape. When you find yourself sharing the latest horror story, stop in mid-sentence and say, "What I want to have is..."

For me, "What I want to have is" more time to be creative and less time playing catch up. I want to have $500 more a month in pay. I want to spend less time dealing with corporate bureaucracy and more time spent on money making activities.

But mostly what I want is just to write full time.

There I said it.

I'd rather be writing.

That should be my bumper sticker.

So what do you guys want?

Let me know...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What have I gotten myself into!

After a hearty meal of chili, or tacos, or...I don't know...fried chicken you really need something refreshing. That's when I reach for a nice tall glass of


I don't know what it is. I just know that it looks like pond water, it's Vietnamese, and my husband drinks it.

Holy crap. What have I gotten myself into?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why'd ya sing Hallelujah? If it means nothing to ya?

There was nothing he could have said that wouldn't have crawled under my skin and set up shop. But I have to hand it to him. He managed to find the one thing. The one thing to say that would make all other obnoxious things pale in comparison.

"I knew she'd get married."

Not "Congratulations", which he wouldn't have meant. Not "To who?", though he wouldn't have cared about the answer. Not "I'm glad she's found some happiness", which would have disproved the glaring reality that he has no soul.

Just snidely, "I knew she'd get married."

Why'd ya sing with me at all?

You asshole.

There are people who come in and out of our lives. Despite their reasons for coming and going, once they are gone they tend to stay gone.

Then there are others.

The people who come into our lives. Wreak havoc. Leave. But linger.

Linger through random encounters.
Linger through mutual friends.
Linger through coincidence.

And continue their original mission for being in our lives in the first place.

To make us as miserable as they are.

I am surrounded by people who are good at letting things roll off their backs. Inconsequential people are just that to them. Inconsequential. They don't care what obnoxious people think or say. They accept that there are jerks in the world and then go on with their day.

I am not one of these people.

I internalize everything. I turn every snide remark over and over and over in my mind until all the flavor is gone. Even then I don't spit it out. I swallow it. I rehearse the things I would say should I meet this person face to face again. Go over my mental flashcards to make sure that I have not forgotten any relevant points in my campaign to make the person realize what a vile human being they are. How unfair they are. Why they should be sorry. Why "I knew she'd get married" is such a wildly inappropriate thing to say, in light of all they've done to me.

But, sadly, it doesn't matter.

Because the only thing more unlikely than me being in the same room with this person is me saying anything that would make a difference. If he cared, he wouldn't have done what he did. If my feelings mattered, he wouldn't continue to say things about me to people he knows will pass it along. If he said he was sorry, I wouldn't believe him.

"I can compartmentalize things," he used to say to me. "I put everybody and everything in its own compartment. That's how I get through the day."

He was an imposter when I knew him. Now he is just a virus. A contaminate.

Worst of all, I am letting him win by giving him a second thought. I am blessed to have many people in my life who truly care about me and have my best interest at heart. Their opinions, thoughts, feelings...they are all that matter.

Not some schmuck who will, at best, die in a "compartment" of regret. If he's lucky enough to be given the gift of clarity. And redemption.

In the meantime, I am seeking out the gift of letting go. Letting go of anger. Letting go of false control. Letting go of grudges. Letting go of the bitterness. Just, letting it go.

Maybe then when the "I knew she'd get married" comments come my way, I can just smile quietly to myself. And walk on.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Lunch Break Ravings of an Insomniac

My eyelids are twitching.

My body feels like it weighs 100 lbs more than usual.

My brain is barely making enough neural connections for me to remember where I live.

I have been up since 2:30 am.

I'm officially over it.

I have been waking up in the middle night lately for a variety of reasons. The dogs get up and click there little toenails across the hardwood. The cats climb up on my chest and try to suffocate me. I have to pee.

Regardless of the reason for waking up the consequence is always the same. NO GOING BACK TO SLEEP.

How can a human being be so tired and yet unable to sleep? I want to cry. Or throw something. Or both.


Four more hours and I can fall asleep at the wheel, hopefully be thrown clear, and then spend several months in a coma. That should be enough time to partially recover from all the sleep I have been missing.

On to more uplifting things. Some of you requested more dish on the big day. The juicy details. How do two seemingly intelligent responsible adults end up randomly getting hitched on the beach with no one present but an officiant and a handful of beach goers?

Well, I'll tell you.

Saturday September 6, 2008

Ben and I are LOSING OUR MINDS we are so excited about vacation. I haven't been on a vacation in YEARS, and Ben has never been to the beach (aside from the beaches of Vietnam where he was born and the beach he floated to when he was one year old trying to get to America with the rest of the Boat People....but that's another blog).

Dad agrees to help me schlep the dogs to the kennel. On the way back from the kennel, I randomly ask, "Dad, what would you think if I just came back married?"

I sincerely was just asking out of curiosity, as many people had said it would be a good idea just to elope. Dad, being broken down from many years of my shenanigans, naturally replies that he doesn't care what I do as long as I am happy.

That afternoon, Ben somehow manages to talk me into leaving a day early and staying in a hotel for the night. Although this tests my overly planned and micro managed brain, I agree. I am intrigued by his spontaneity...hmmm....

We stay in Asheville for the night.

Sunday September 7, 2008

After finally getting to Hilton Head, Ben and I find a little sports bar serving up wings, beer, and football. Just killing time before we can check into our condo. That is when it hit me.

I am on vacation.

I am vacation with the person I have the most fun with in the whole world.

This is going to be awesome.

Little did I know...

After settling into our condo, we walked down to the beach. I have never been more in love with Benjamin Ha Thanh Lam, than I was at that moment, watching him see the ocean for the first time in his recollected life. When you grow up making the family trips to beach, you become jaded. Witnessing someone experiencing that realization of how small we truly are in comparison to the vastness of the ocean is...very cool.

The love dial had officially been cranked a few notches.

Monday September 8, 2007

Laying out on the beach, I look over at Ben. So handsome. So content to just be there with me. Feet in the sand. Waves crashing. Sun scorching. Snapping pics with a disposable camera. Just the two of us.

"Let's get married."

I said it like trying on a dress. Just to see how it fits. Just to see if it's my style.

It fits pretty well.

"You're nuts."


I wake up from a nap to find Ben giggling. This is not unusual. Ben is easily amused. But I can tell he's got something up his sleeve.

"Come here, I need to talk to you. I've been checking some things out online...."

He proceeds to tell me about how he googled "eloping in Hilton Head" and stumbled upon this Gail Felton who will do weddings on the beach on short notice. Sounds fishy to me. He has called her though and gotten the skinny on how you go about eloping with someone in the great state of South Carolina. Hilton Head probate court is only open on certain days, so you have to drive over to Beaufort County Probate Court, apply for a marriage license, wait twenty four hours, have them send the paper work back to Hilton Head, blah blah blah.

The last thing I want in a wedding is for it to feel like standing in line at the DMV.

I agree to discuss it over dinner at the Salty Dog though.

And we do.

We discussed everything. Serious things. Were we ready? What about our problems? What about bills? What about our families? What about future kids? What about...what about...what about....

And at the end of the meal, we knew that we had overturned every stone. Hell, we'd being doing that for a year.

This was right.

This was the time.

Let's do it.

Tuesday September 9, 2008

Driving to Beaufort County Probate Court completely sunburned.

Boring paperwork.

Mean security guard.

Holy crap, we've applied for a marriage license.

That night we stopped in a gift shop to look around. I saw a little white summer dress with a large green flower print.

Perfect Elopement Dress.


Put it in the bag.

Wednesday September 10, 2008

I have to give Ben credit. He did just about everything. He went and got the marriage license paperwork, found a florist who could do a bouquet in a pinch (with my favorite flowers: orange roses), confirmed that we wanted to be married just after sunrise the following day with the officiant.

We ran out and had a blast finding the rest of our "wedding attire". A white button up shirt from American Eagle for Ben to wear with his jeans and flip flops. White "wedding flip flops" and a white headband for me.

An hour later, voila!

We're ready for a wedding. Let's hit the beach.

Thursday September 11, 2008

6:00 Am - We're up getting ready for the big event.

I don't know how Ben truly felt, although he says he was nervous.

I was nervous too.

Not in a "What the hell are we thinking?" way, but in a "My life is about to change forever" kind of way.

As we were pulling into the parking for Folly Field Beach, it started to rain. Iniate panic mode. Then Gail pulled up in her gray Honda Accord. Noooooooo! Not on my beach wedding day!

Rain stopped as soon as I stepped out of the car.


We nervously laughed as Gail walked us through the paperwork. I held onto my bouquet for dear life. Then we took off for the beach.

There were maybe twenty or so people out. Walking dogs. Jogging. Taking in the morning beach air.

We found a nice secluded spot, right in the surf.

The ceremony in total probably lasted five minutes. But believe me when I say it was amazing. We didn't have a chance to review what Gail was going to say (good thing we weren't Hindu or something...the Apostle Paul and his love scripture made an appearance in there), but we meant all the things she so poetically recited in that South Carolina drawl.

We were hitched!!!

This was followed by me yelling at a group of women standing by, "I JUST GOT MARRIED!" They and every stranger who passed by seemed just as excited as we were, applauding, offering to take pictures. It was touching.

We took pictures for a good 45 minutes. Then we hit Stacks Pancake House for our little reception...just the two of us. We made our wedding toast with real toast. Hardy har har.

We kept our little union a secret until Friday night when we returned home. What follows is another story in itself. But those are the details. I don't know if knowing the WHOLE story cheapens it in your minds or makes it more special or doesn't even hit your radar screen. But that's how it happened.

A wedding without pretense.

I couldn't be happier.

I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bliss on a whim...

Wedding dress from a gift shop...$15
South Carolina Marriage License...$95
Wedding Flip Flops...$10

Getting married in the surf just after sunrise....priceless.

There is something about being with the person you love most in the whole world by the ocean that just...gets you. Apparently the sand between our toes, the waves crashing in front of us, and the sun beating down from the sky just gave us the extra nudge we needed.

Benjamin Thanh-Ha Lam and I married at 8:00 AM September 11, 2008 in the morning tide of Folly Field Beach.

Just an officiant and the two of us.

And I wouldn't have done it any other way....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Check Engine

The dreaded "Check Engine" light.

It came on yesterday.

Ben says it is only a $30.00 part to fix it.

I don't care.

This is the end.

The end of the truck.

I can feel it in my bones.

I think my personal "Check Engine" light has come on too. For some reason, I have been tired and dizzy and nauseous for the last two weeks. Bleck. It may be time for a trip to the doctor. Or the shrink. Or both.

Here is a short quiz for those of you who read my blog:

1) Should Ben and Ann have a wedding or just head to the court house?

2) Should I sell my truck now, while I can make a little money on it, or wait until the loan is paid off in three years?

3) Do you think it will be worth it for us to drive an hour to Savannah from Hilton Head to eat at Lady and Sons, even though we may have to wait four hours for a table?

4) In Hilton Head, what is the likelihood I will be mistaken for a beached whale and hauled off to the zoo?

5) Am I wasting my life in marketing? Should I be doing something else?

Just a few questions that have been weighing on my mind, usually when I am trying to fall asleep. Opinions, comments, and snide remarks are all welcome. Maybe this explains the dizziness and nausea...

Ben seems to think so...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Squint

Okay, so after yelling at Ben to stop squinting for half an hour in our backyard, I realized that probably didn't sound very nice to all of our nosy neighbors. He is Vietnamese after all. Still, he has the most beautiful brown eyes, which I would have liked to have captured on film. Put a camera in front of him, though, and he can't help but get a big silly smile on his face, which inevitably makes those big brown eyes disappear.


Oh, well. I still got some nice ones of him and the dogs. Just a nice quiet evening at home. Eating leftovers and enjoying the deck and waiting for the first frost to come and kill all these bugs!

Topics of the evening:

1) Vacation

We are so excited about going to Hilton Head. Ben and I are not "itinerary" people. You know the kind. Every single day of vacation planned down to the nanosecond.

7:00 Wake up
7:05 Brush Teeth
7:10 Eat light breakfast
7:15 Wow only five minutes for breakfast. Apply sunscreen.
7:20 Open a vein, because vacation is more tedious than real life

We do however have a few things we would like to work into the vacation schedule. For one thing, I would like to drive over to Savannah and be a total tourist, which would include visiting all the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil landmarks and eating at Lady and Sons (Paula Deen, people, come on now).

Ben would like to charter a boat and go deep sea fishing one of the days we are there. I predict severe sea sickness and major vomiting. Plus, it is REALLY expensive. We shall see....

2) Keeping Up With the Joneses

I am an emotional cutter. What is my instrument of torture? Social Networking Media. Sorry did I get too "markety" for you?


I never thought I would catch the "Keeping Up With the Joneses" syndrome, but for some reason, lately...I just can't help but compare myself to every person I have ever known.

"I used to go to elementary school with her. Wow, she has two kids now. And they're firing their modeling agent at the ages of 3 and 5. And they already speak fluent Latin?

I'm a failure."

"Hey, that's that guy who showed up at the New Year's Eve party in '03. He made a total fool of himself. Wait, he's married now? And he and his wife built a homeless shelter out of recycled cardboard boxes? And now their charity "Out of the Box, Into the Box" is being featured on Good Morning America?

I'm a failure."

"There's my old drinking buddy from college. He wrote a book? While living in Italy? I didn't even know he could read. Ohhhh, his gorgeous wife taught him to read, while they were rediscovering themselves at the Ashram. Before giving birth to triplets, who have already been identified as gifted.

I'm a failure."

As my good friend Robin pointed out last night, and as Ben confirmed during our deck time, it is highly unlikely that these people's lives are as perfect as they make them seem on their profiles and blogs. In reality, I know that many of them have major issues in their lives.

Cheating husbands.
Obnoxious kids.
Bad breath.

But we can be anybody we want to be online.

Furthermore, so what if their lives are something out of a Martha Stewart magazine? It doesn't change who I am or all the blessings I have. It also doesn't make my little peccadillos any worse or any better, either.

"I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam!", so sayeth Popeye. (Who for the record, we all know lived in a garbage can and ate worms, no matter what he might project in the song he wrote about himself.)

In light of the recent self awareness I've obtained about my online toxic behavior, I think I may be deleting my MySpace profile. If I don't get to see someone in real life, or at the very least talk to them on the phone, what is the point of them existing on my "friends" list?

Not much.

Either I would be trying to impress them, or I would be beating myself up for not attaining the same level of accomplishments as they have.

Not healthy either way.

In other news:


The Office.

Grey's Anatomy.

Almost here......

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"Aunt Annie...."

"Yes, Frassy...."

"I'm grumpy."

Famous last words uttered by Ann Elizabeth on the drive to the Louisville Zoo.

We can't say she didn't warn us.

Things started out fun enough. Albeit a billion degrees of fun, there were trains and animals and Aunt Peggy...

And then...

The fun was over....

What are you going to do?

I envy children and their ability to just totally melt down. Nobody judges them, nobody blames them. We might admonish...but we also beg and plead and bribe. We hold them and comfort them and try desperately to figure out what will make them happy again.

A melt down.

Ahhhhhhhhh....hurts so good....

Yesterday I had one of those days. Unfortunately, I had one of those days on the way to a meeting. As I sat out in the parking lot desperately trying to blow my nose and reapply my make-up, I wondered, "What would these guys think if I just walked in with snot pouring out of my nose and tears streaming down my face?"

Tissues and clever make-up jobs are not the only defense mechanisms in our arsenal.

We get inside our shells and try to crawl away slowly so no one will notice.

We go into denial. Easier to do when everyone around us is in denial.

We become annoyingly inaccessible and withdrawn.

We put fences and barriers between ourselves and the outside world.

We overeat.

Sometimes, we even put our defense mechanisms right out where the world can see them. Back off, Chief!

Sometimes though....rarely....but sometimes we look the world in the face. No matter how vulnerable, or frightened, or wounded....we stand up and let the world see us for who we really are.

Like kids and their melt downs.

A very wise man once told me that there was a reason God put tear ducts on our that we can't hide it when we're hurting.


The summer house is paid in full. Hilton Head, here we come!

I got a new office building, so that I can hire some help. Hooray!

The dogs are slowly becoming domesticated. Far less insane over here on Fenwick.

I'll flesh out these updates soon. Until then, don't get on a Greyhound!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's Not Fair...

It's not fair....

My mantra. My curse.

"It's not fair" can sum up most of my problems and issues.

It's not fair that certain people (who shall remain nameless) are total assholes and still get the world handed to them on a silver platter.

It's not fair that I work with people who don't respect me, no matter what I do.

It's not fair that I won't be able to give my kids the childhood that I had.

It's not fair that some girls don't have cellulite.

It's not fair that people can say anything they want about you behind your back and will never be held accountable for it.

You get the picture.

The trouble with "It's not fair" is that it is a useless thought, and frankly emotion. "It's not fair" is a state of mind. A dwelling. It's dark, it's lonely, and it wants to keep you there forever.

The fact is, just like your mother told you a billion times, life isn't fair.

"Wow! Really?? I feel so much better now! Life isn't fair...who knew? I'm going to go catch a butterfly now, so I can release it under a rainbow made of laughter ..."

Yeah, I know. It doesn't help to hear that. So now I am trying to think of it a different way. When we say, "It's not fair," what we are really saying is, "God doesn't know what he is doing."



Yeah, that got my attention too.

Either God has a plan or he doesn't. I think it's pretty fair to say that God not only has a plan, but a pretty darn good one. I don't know about your family, but when my family would leave to go on vacation, we always had to turn around at least three times to go back for things we'd forgotten. Even after that, I'm pretty sure we always had to buy things that we had left behind once we got to our destination.

Imagine trying to create an entire planet of creatures with free wills and destinies for centuries of existence...without forgetting something.

"Oops! Ozone layer! I knew I forgot something. Sorry about the melted flesh, guys, I'll go back and get it."

It wouldn't have been pretty.

Sometimes, though, don't you feel like God forgot about you?

Um..hello? Didn't you know I wanted that job? Why'd you give it to him?

Not fair.

Um...yeah....that was supposed to be my body type. Why'd I get stuck with this crap?

Not fair.

Um...I'm pretty sure that I should be getting paid more. That guy gets paid more. What about me?

Not fair.

On and on and on.

We never consider for a moment that maybe we got passed over for the job, because there is a better one that is going to come along in two weeks. Or maybe we didn't get Nicole Kidman's body type, because the man we are meant to spend the rest of our life with happens to like ours better. Or maybe that extra money we think we need right now is just more useless junk in the garage that we'll have to clean up.

Instead, we let the storm clouds of self pity settle over us. We throw a few things in a bag: old wounds that haven't healed, grudges we've held way too long, and maybe even some self indulgent bad habits for good measure, and we check right into Motel Unfair. You won't enjoy your stay.

I think even more dangerous than saying God doesn't know what he's doing, is the other true meaning behind "It's not fair", which is this: God isn't good.

If we measure things by our own very human, very judgmental, very narrow view of the universe, I think it would be fair to say that God isn't good.

People are starving.
My car has a dent.
The economy sucks.
Pamela Anderson has her own TV show now.

Not good.
Not good.
Not good.
Not good.

Fortunately for the world, God's goodness exists no matter what our pathetic, petty, picayune scales might say to the contrary. Maybe if we would step outside of Motel Unfair for five minutes, we would see it staring us in the face.

I know I have not spent my last night in Motel Unfair. I'm sure I haven't unpacked my bag of self-pity for good.

But at least now I can see the exit sign.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Full Monty

Warning: This blog contains personal information regarding body waxing, extreme pain, and my hoo-ha. It is not for the faint of heart.

I've gotten bikini waxes. They hurt.

How much more could a Brazilian-Full-Monty-No-Muss-No-Fuss-Front-to-Back wax hurt?

The answer?


I have decided that I can no longer be trusted with myself. I need a conservator of my well-being. Someone who takes me gently by the hand and leads me back into the asylum.

I have been toying with the idea of getting a Brazilian for a long time. I've been getting bikini waxes for years, and Brazilians just seem like they would be so much Skimpy bikini here I come.

Four pant sizes later, I have no business wearing a skimpy bikini, much less subjecting some poor aesthetistician to my body contorted into all sorts of embarrassing positions. But I am going to Hilton Head and I want to be able to flounce around sans worries on the beach.

I figured it would be smart to test out the Brazilian before my vacation, in case I have some sort of bad reaction to it.

This is the last smart thought that I had.

Ben had already gotten me a full day of pampering at the spa. Massage, Facial, Eye Brow wax, Lip Wax, Pedicure, and Manicure. What a perfect opportunity to tack on the Brazilian I had always wanted to try?

What follows is an account of what happened in those hours at the spa. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Saturday morning I took three Tylenol extra strength tablets and headed off to Abu Ghraib...I mean the spa. After a lovely thirty minute massage with Sven, I figured I was plenty relaxed to survive the Brazilian like a pro. I was led into the facial room and Sadie the sadist, my aesthetistician, informed me that I would be getting all the waxing done first and then the facial. That way I could wind down after she was done.

Eye brows. Rip Rip Rip. No problem.

Upper lip. Rip Rip. Pointless. Fortunately, I don't really have that much hair on my upper lip, so she just removed the top layer of skin for no reason. Oh well, no biggie.

Now the moment of truth. I ask Sadie, "Does this hurt much worse than a regular bikini wax?"

Sadie replies, "Um..well...I have to be honest with you. I've never gotten one done myself before, so I don't know."

Red flag.


But I don't run. Instead I spread eagle and invite Sadie the Sadist to dive on in.

Now, in my mind, I had envisioned there was some way that these extreme waxers managed to remove every last hair without actually touching my most sensitive lady parts. I couldn't imagine how, and there is a reason...because there is no way to remove every last hair without actually touching my most sensitive lady parts. My gynecologist hasn't been that involved in my lady parts.

Now as mortifying as voluntarily being molested by a total stranger might seem, this thought really doesn't cross your mind. In fact, no thoughts cross your mind, because the amount of agonizing pain that you are in makes your eyes fog over and your brain bleed.

Think being smacked in the pubic region with a hair brush made of nails while making small talk...

For an hour and a half.

That's right, people.

One and one half hour.

90 minutes.

I managed to make it through without crying, but that was probably only because I was unable to blink for over an hour. All of Sven's hard work grinding the myriad of knots out of my back, was completely wasted now. The facial might have been relaxing, had my groin area not felt like someone had just run over it with a lawn mower. As I sat in shock, while someone whose name I didn't even catch rubbed my feet and painted my nails, I glanced over at myself in the mirror. I looked like a newly released POW.

Sadie has assured me that if I get Brazilian's regularly that it will only take half an hour and be far less painful.

I am waiting to see if Brazilian's are indeed like child birth. If I somehow mysteriously forget all the pain, maybe I'll be back in a few weeks before my vacation.


The things women do in the name of beauty.

At least I have pretty toenails, while I rehab my hoo-ha.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Holy Anger Management, Batman!

Christian Bale was arrested this week on charges of assaulting his mother and his sister THE DAY OF his Batman London premier. I couldn't be happier.

Hello. My name is Ann Bransom. And I am addicted to celebrity gossip.

What is great about this story is that it has so many ingredients that hit my sick palate . For one thing it is Christian Bale, who prior to Batman was kind of a D-lister anyway. Once catapulted to A-list stardom what does he do? Reveals his temper problem. Beautiful.

Secondly, of all the people for him to assault, he chose his own mother. I can take or leave the sister. But his mother??? I have heard two versions of the story, one being that his sister asked for 100,000 pounds (he loses points for the fight involving foreign currency that I can't convert. I mean was she asking for $10 or a $1,000,000?). The other version was that his mom was talking smack about his wife, from whom he is on the verge of separating (points for bringing a failing, fake Hollywood marriage into play AND for the fact that his wife used to be weirdo Wynona Ryder's assistant).

I don't care which story is true, but Christian has admitted to having a temper problem and that's all I need. Christian, in the immortal words of Chris Rock, "There is a reason to push an old man down a flight of stairs, just don't do it!"

The only way this could be improved upon, is if Christian and his family got their own reality show. I'd be the first one setting the series recording on my DVR.

Other stories I am currently obsessed with:

1) Michael Lohan possibly having an illegitimate daughter, who clearly wants her 15 minutes in the spotlight. Don't worry little darlin'. If he is your dad, then you are about to develop an eating disorder and a cocaine addiction, which will launch you to stardom. If he isn't your dad, congratulations, Michael Lohan isn't your dad. Win win.

2)Michael Lohan being banned from Lindsay's I-Am-Pretending-To-Be-A-Lesbian Party. (Bonus points because Dina Lohan said publicly that she was "thrilled" he had been dis-invited. Ouch!)

3)Emphysema suffering crackhead, Amy Winehouse, saying she wants five kids when her husband gets out of jail. Amy, there isn't enough oxygen in the world.

4)Anything involving Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen. Has anyone seen two people less aware of how they are coming off to the world? Anyone? Give the kids to Amy Winehouse. They'll have a better shot.

5)Dr. Drew (Pinsky) publicly diagnosing Britney Spears mental disorder as Federlinus Syndrome. Dr. Drew said, and I quote, "If you take Britney's life and put a moment in time where things started getting bad, it's the moment she got involved with Kevin Federline. That's when things started to unravel."

Thank you, Dr. Drew. Thank you.

Alright. I know today's post was stupid, but I needed something to do on my lunch break.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jingle Bells...

I have had Jingle Bells in my head all morning. I've been humming it. I've been whistling it. I have been driving my dogs nuts. I am soooooo ready for winter. I know, blasphemy! I'm sorry, but my ancestry has not prepared me for 103 degree heat indexes. My people were hiding in caves for longer than most for a was hot outside!

I am a person much better suited to fall and winter. That smell the first day the leaves start to fall. The sounds of football games drifting through barely cracked windows. The taste of popcorn right out of the kettle at the local pumpkin festival. The hollow thumping of an over-sized spoon scraping gunk out of a jack-o-lantern.

Then the sky settles into the soft gray of winter. A light snow dusts the ground. Tacky lights are strung from shrub to shrub. Santa looks lovingly down onto the Baby Jesus in the manger (at least in my neighborhood). The kitchen becomes a symphony of sounds and smells. Cinnamon, nutmeg, baking bread. Family seems closer. Childhood not so distant a memory. Everything a little less bitter, a little less hard.

I can't wait.

Maybe the reason I am longing for the seasons to change is because this one has been particularly busy and strange. This past week brought new floors, new dog trainers, a death, more work. The yard is overgrown. The house is a mess. That bikini body I am trying to develop seems miles away. The vacation I was so looking forward to now seems like more of a financial burden than anything else. I just feel so negative lately.


I just want to take all that negative-thinking, self-defeating, over analytical crap and spit it out, curl up with a blanket and some hot cocoa, and watch the leaves drift aimlessly to the ground from the trees behind my house.

That's still a few months away though.

For now, I'll leave you with a thought, as my lunch break is almost over.

"It's not fair."

Ever said that to yourself? Ever dwelt on it? Obsessed over it? Cried over it?

I have and this week I have had not so much an epiphany, as a thought. An idea. I'm still turning it over in my mouth, moving it from one cheek to another, tasting it.

I'll elaborate later...

For now, enjoy some Gus. He too is ready for some Jingle Bells:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pink Slipped...

Nola has been officially pink slipped. After a short and glorious reign as alpha dog in this house, she must now come to terms with her new position as lowly pack member. And who can we thank for this long overdue usurpation? A little Angel of Mercy known as Vanessa Bell, a la Bark Busters.

After a mortifying five minutes of watching Nola and Gus maul her, during which Vanessa tried to "ignore" their behavior, I could tell that even the seasoned Bark Buster knew we all had our hands full. Especially, after Vanessa's dominating growl, meant to strike submission into the heart of any dog, only made Nola declare, "Ah! A duel!"

Ben and I both needed an education, and boy did we get one. Essentially the chewing, the nipping, the jumping, the not coming when called....all only symptoms. The illness? An unbalanced pack. One in which Nola apparently has assumed the roll of Alpha Dog, creating a tremendous amount of stress for her. She is, after all, only about 60 lbs to Gus's 100 lbs, Ben's 225 lbs, and my none of your business lbs.

She has been officially relieved of her duty. It was not pretty. She peed on the floor. She cried. She jumped. She scratched. She was visibly shaken. From what horrific torture you ask?

Sit and stay.

That's it.

Sit and stay sent her reeling into a dimension of confusion that she is still recovering from.

I could go on all day about the training process, but I'll just say this for now. Bark Busters is awesome, and my dogs are already visibly improved. Our biggest obstacle now is Gus thinking the Alpha Dog position is vacant. It isn't. He'll figure it out just like Nola did. They have a long way to go, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay tuned for updates on how their training is going.


What's that?....

Oh, I'm sorry, I almost forgot.

Two other members of the household want me to make an announcement...


Friday, July 11, 2008

Little Snotprints on the Window Pane...

Little snotprints on the window pane
Gone tomorrow
Never troubling me again

Okay, so maybe that poem was about "little fingerprints". And maybe my grandmother just made it up, even though she swears it's real and that she just can't remember the title. It is still very poignant and very true.

My dogs are two of the most obnoxious, ill-mannered, destructive maniacs that were ever born. They have cost me a fortune in home repairs and shoe replacements, not to mention the expense of just feeding two hundred pounds worth of dog. They jump, dig, chew, bite, and just generally act a damn fool. Gus was actually expelled from obedience school.

That being said...

I still love them so much that I actually stayed up half the night crying into their fur, because of a little book called Marley and Me.

Thanks, Dad. Great read. I'll have my therapist send the bill to your house this week.

I am officially a member of the Bad Dogs Club. I am one of those people who doesn't care how bad my dogs act. I still love them like children. And it's a good thing, because in anyone else's house they probably would have bought themselves a one-way ticket to the pound.

Sunday. 12:30. It all comes to an end.

Bark Busting is about to begin.

I fully intend on giving this dog training my all, if not for the fact that it is costing me half a paycheck, then for my own personal sanity. However, if at the end of the day they are still delinquents, I will love them anyway.

We have them for such a short while. They give us their loyalty, their love, and their undying matter how we treat them in return.

And then they're gone.

So, I'll keep hiding my shoes in the closet. I'll share my bathroom with the cats, so the litter box will be behind closed doors. I'll replace the vacuum cleaner once a year. I'll keep looking out the window through a film of snot.

It's all a very small price to pay.

If you can't understand that...

get off my planet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Food Must Go On!

In spite of the fact that I am on this insane 1500 calorie a day diet, the food must go to speak. Cooking is one of my greatest joys, and, oddly, one of the things that seems to surprise people most about me. I think I inadvertently give off the impression that I am too much of a Diva to cook, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Not only do I cook every day, but I thoroughly enjoy it!

My kitchen is like an orchestra. Constantly alive with the sounds of chopping, mixing, and sizzling. It also has 3 rules:

1) There should always be something baked from scratch to offer guests.
2) Everything that can be homemade, should be.
3) Everything must get used, one way or another.

For example, tonight I had 3 bananas that had gone too ripe. We do not throw away overly ripe bananas in this house. Instead, we make banana bread.

Of course I don't get to eat any of it. Not enough calories budgeted for banana bread. Luckily, I am engaged to an eating machine, and he is only too happy to oblige. He could barely wait for me to take the picture!

I have, however, found some of my recipes can be worked into my diet. The following will be featured on this week's menu:

Chicken and Dumpling Soup
Pork Fajitas
Potato Soup
Chicken Tetrazzini

I am salivating just thinking about. For the record, naysayers, in spite of eating only 1500 calories a day and running every day like a maniac, I actually gained half a pound this week. Half a pound!!! It might as well be twenty pounds, I am so depressed.

Oh, well.

5 days and counting until Bark Busting....
6 days and counting until laminate floors....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day?

For the Fourth of July, my aunt was sweet enough to invite my family up to her house for a cook out. As usual, I brought my camera, in the hopes of perpetuating the myth that I somehow know what I am doing with this piece of memory catching equipment. I truly don't, and yesterday I didn't get very many good shots. I'd love to take a class, but I can't seem to find any in Lexington, KY that are for amateurs. Oh well.

Something was off yesterday, though. In an ironic way, it sort of drove home something I've been recently pondering. Why can't I bring myself to depend on somebody?

Over 200 years ago, our forefathers declared themselves "Independent". Tired of being in a relationship where they weren't validated, valued, appreciated, or treated as an equal, they said, "Enough!" Sound familiar ladies?

And while every year we get together with friends and loved ones and celebrate the concept of being independent with the traditions of overeating and blowing crap up, do we truly value independence in our culture?

Being a single gal in her mid-twenties, unwed, and with no children of my own, I can say that my Independence Days have never drawn as much as a sparkler. For example, I have never:

1. Been thrown a Congratulations-On-Buying-A-House-By-Yourself shower
2. Been given a photo album devoted solely to pictures of the day I got a huge raise
3. Had my parents shed tears, because my cats learned how to use their new cat door for the first time
4. Come home and found balloons and a sign in my front yard, proclaiming, "It's a Promotion!"

I recently joked on Mother's Day that I was declaring a "Single Non-Breeders Day", where everyone had to shower me with gifts and come fix stuff around my house. Only my sister was amused.

Our culture certainly doesn't value DEpendence either, though. Magazines are covered with headlines reading,

"Single and Loving It"
"How to be Happy without a Man"
"How She Moved On"

How many times have we seen a woman on a talk show finally making the decision to leave an abusive jerk and the crowd goes wild, Gloria Gaynor comes blaring through the speakers, and confetti rains down from the ceiling?

So which is it? To be Independent, or not to be...that is the question.

And I think I may have finally figured it out.

We value Interdependence. Allowing yourself to depend upon another human being, who shares your values, your ambitions, your principals, and ultimately those experiences that make us part of the larger human experience. A man and a woman devoting their lives to one another in front of family and friends. A mother letting go of a toddler to take his first steps, but still being behind him in case he falls. A father receiving a pile of tacky gifts once a year in June and still being truly happy, because he knows those gifts mean he is surrounded by love.

It's not that we don't value independence. It's that we value interdependence more, because it means simply...that we are not alone.

That we are in the frame.

Not just taking the pictures.

Most people remember the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal..."

I like the last line better.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

In other words, we rely on God for protection, and each other for support.

Happy Interdependence Day.

Monday, June 30, 2008

When The Weather Gets Hot....

Work is almost tolerable when you get to end the day by popping the top on a nice cold one and grilling out some burgers. I have no idea why I waited so long to buy a grill. I had one at my apartment years ago that I didn't know how to use, but Dad chucked it across the yard because he stubbed his toe on it or something and that was the end of that. I have lived in this house now over three years, and this summer I decided to take the dive and buy a really nice grill. Best decision I ever made.

So this month is a busy one. I am tearing up all the carpet in my house and replacing it with laminate flooring. Hooray! With two dogs and two cats living in a relatively small house, it's just too much hair for carpets. I think I will be more diligent about keeping the hair in check when I can actually see little black and brown and gray tumbleweeds rolling across the floors, rather than it getting buried deeper and deeper into the carpet. It just wreaks havoc on the allergies and I'm sure dust mites and all kinds of other microbials that my sister talks about are building colonies and time shares and whatever.

I also have a trainer coming from Bark Busters. It has become very clear to me that I have failed as a dog owner. My dogs are completely insane. Getting a second Labrador Retriever was supposed to make the first one act less nuts....


Now the insanity just outweighs me. They chew. They jump. They nip. They bark. They lick. They get on furniture. They bolt out the front door. They drag me all over the neighborhood on walks.

The only thing they DON'T do is come when I call.

I chose this dog trainer, because she has a lifetime warranty. I pay her an obscene amount of money, and in return she has to keep coming back until my dogs are perfect angels, capable of outdoing any dog at Westminster.

We shall see.

A lot of other stuff is going on, so with all the hullabaloo my fiance in a moment of genius and consideration got me a day at the spa. Manicure, pedicure, massage, facial, eyebrow wax, lip wax, on and on and on. I shall be the fairest in the land....

and probably the most in pain. I made them add on a Brazilian wax. I've gotten bikini waxes before, but I'm thinking about going the full Monty for my vacation. I want to test drive it first though, because if it causes a week's worth of agonizing pain then it will ruin my vacation.

OUCH. It hurts just thinking about it.

Nighty night.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lazy Days Ahead...

Remember Saturday mornings when you were kid? Here was mine...

First I would be woken up by my older sister (always the early riser). Then, I would stagger into the living room in my footie pajamas rubbing my eyes. There would sit my parents in their matching, uncomfortable wingback chairs reading the newspaper. I'd climb in my mom's lap and pretend to read the paper too. She'd tell me to stretch my toes out and try and touch the bureau drawers located approximately four feet away. She said it would make me taller, and I believed her.

Dad would see that everyone was awake and head into the kitchen to make a huge breakfast, which included every assortment of artery clogging meat, protein, and morning confection you could imagine. For moi: two eggs over easy, two pieces of bacon, two sausage links, a glass of milk, and a cinnamon roll from the middle of the pan. I refused to eat the inferior edge rolls.

After breakfast we would all scatter, but for that first hour of the day, every Saturday morning, we were a family. One of those great sitcom families. Albeit a sitcom where the five year old eats her eggs over easy, but still. It was a different time. A better time.

Things are so different now. Until recently Saturday mornings were just another work day for me. I would grab a cup of coffee and head into the office to work on whatever freelance work I currently had on my plate. I never had a day off.

Now, I have realized I need a day off. Two in fact. Saturday and Sunday. Like every other red-blooded American. My fiance has to work Saturdays, so I can't recreate the calm togetherness of my youth, but I can for damn sure relax for a bit before I start my day.

This morning, it is a cup of coffee and some homemade biscotti. That's right. HOMEMADE biscotti. The agenda for today you ask?


Ben, the aforementioned intended, doesn't believe me. He knows me too well. As soon as I am finished typing this blog, I will begin straightening the things on my desk. Then I will notice that the desk really ought to be dusted. By the end of the day, the house will be spotless, the yard will be manicured, the driveway will be repaved, and I will be complaining about NEVER HAVING A DAY OFF! I know; I have issues.

Speaking of days off, I have finally done it. I am taking a vacation. Six glorious days and five glorious nights in Hilton Head. I haven't been on vacation for eight years. Now that I think of it, I have been saying, "I haven't been on vacation for eight years" for three years now. You do the math. I was an English major.

I have been all over the country in the last few years. I have even been to places that have a beach. Even put my feet in the sand. But work-related travel, does not constitute a vacation. Unless, you wake up every day for more than three days with nothing on the agenda except laying on the beach, listening to the waves, with a fruity little drink in your hand, you are not on vacation. Period.

More on my vacation planning to come....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another long day...

Today started out weird. Every song I listened to on the way to Cincinnati this morning made me cry. Just one of those mornings I guess. Itinerary:

5:00 Wake up and get ready
6:00 Get in car and head to gas station
6:15 Drive to Cincinnati
8:15 Arrive at shop 15 minutes late
8:20 Get the disturbing news that my hard drive (which I had sent to our IT guy to try to recover data from) is fried beyond repair. 3 weeks of marketing data gone.
8:45 Head over to Coffee Shop for meeting
11:00 Head home to Lexington
1:30 FINALLY get home and begin working again.
5:30 Go to clock out and realize that I had not been clocked in

5:40 begin this blog....

I am not really comfortable with writing about work, although it is one of the largest facets of my life. I some how feel like committing my true feelings about the work I do will suddenly find their way into my employers inbox and that will be that.

What can I say....

I am a marketing manager.

What's difficult about that is the constant measuring. Web statistics. Customer surveys. Profit Versus Revenue Versus Cost. Budgets. Business reply counts. Number of sales calls. Email campaign bounces. Email campaign unsubscribes. On and on and on.....

I care a tremendous deal about what people think. Why shouldn't I? It's my job to care what people think. But being constantly at the mercy of makes you extremely paranoid and self aware to the point that you take everything personally.

"Take me off your f*&king mailing list! I never asked for your #$&* and the last thing I need is more spam!!!"

You want so badly to respond and say, "Hey, Potty Mouth. If you will recall, eight months ago you signed up to be on our mailing list. And by the way, you hurt my feelings. And if you would just ask nicely, I would gladly remove you from our mailing list and never violate your precious junk mail folder again!"

But Potty Mouth doesn't care. Potty Mouth is having just as bad a day as you are, and simply imagines some automaton sitting in a cubicle grinning insanely from ear to ear for no reason and filing his complaint under the unsubscribe list and never thinking about it again.

But he didn't get an automaton. He got me. And what Potty Mouth will never know is that I will dwell on his e-mail for probably the next forty-eight hours. Congratulations, Potty Mouth. You win.

Which brings me to tonight. Girls night out. This is a new weekly tradition being started by my friend Robin and I and a few other victims. Tonight it will be just Robin and I though, which is fine by me. What's great about Robin is her complete acceptance of herself. She is the most self aware person I know and acknowledges all of her traits with gentle credence.

Robin would not be effected by Potty Mouth. Robin would send him some good vibes and go on with her life.

Hopefully she will rub off on me tonight, as I am sure tomorrow will be filled with Potty Mouths, Web Traffic Declines, and Customer Survey Cards written in blood.

Just like every other day.