Friday, August 31, 2007

Pissed Off (AKA: "We're pissed as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.")




Hail, Bloggers, and remember this day. Today is the day I discovered the origin of the verb phrase "pissed off".

Let's start at the beginning. Yesterday I overslept, so had to stay late at work. Then, after already staying late at work, I punched out and had to grade papers for my part-time job teaching software to business school students. Then, after already being at work until later than usual, I got caught in a traffic jam due to an accident. [not pissed off, yet]

At home very late, and ravenous, my usual mode would have been to grab an ice cream sandwich or three. And I had nothing ready to eat. [not pissed off, yet] However, the better angels of my nature kicked in, and I actually made a rudimentary dinner: rice and beans. (I'll tell you later about this miracle rice cooker I bought that makes perfect rice in the microwave from Pampered Chef.) Things are looking up. I washed a load of laundry and waited up to put it in the dryer. Then I dutifully folded and packed the items I need for my Labor Day weekend Up North. This is not like me, usually I would be doing everything tonight right before leaving, throwing everything in PJ's car while he urged me along and reminded me to bring what I needed. But PJ is not here to be the vacation coordinator, so I had to make do.[not pissed off, yet...wait for it]

This morning, I awoke, an hour late [getting irritated], to my alarm, and tucked my freshly washed clothing into my soft-sided roll-y suitcase before getting dressed, grabbing my leftovers from the fridge. I secured the windows (good homeowner!), checked the locks (good homeowner!), and fed and watered the kitties for a long weekend. All of this is accomplished stumbling around in my early-morning, zombified fugue state.

As I was just about out the door, I noticed an acrid smell. I smelled my hands, and ewwww! Cat pee. "Okay, be calm," I thought. "There has got to be a good explanation for this. I did pet Zizi. Maybe she's falling down on her hygiene." So I sniffed around with my super powerful nose and realized that it was not just my hands, but my suitcase! "Ack!" I thought, "Maybe it is just on the side!" Worried, I rushed to rescue my freshly laundered vacation-wear!

Ah, but it was too late. The few minutes my clothes had been in the bag, they'd marinated in the delightful miasma of cat piss. Every article needed washing. Okay now I'm pissed off.

Let's not even discuss the reluctance with which I placed all the nicely folded, yet horribly smelly, clothing right into the washer, again. Then I waited, standing there, for the clothes to wash, and put them in the dryer.

As I drove away, I got worried about the dryer being run without supervision. Somehow it gets More Dangerous when you are leaving on vacation. However, I managed to calm that fear knowing the next door neighbors are home today. They will call the fire department if anything happens.

Ah, the joys of a turn of a phrase.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm a half and half cookie- Ironic, eh?

You Are a Black and White Cookie

You're often conflicted in life, and you feel pulled in two opposite directions.
When you're good, you're sweet as sugar. And when you're bad, you're wicked!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's a FULL MOON

Take a minute and think: "What would my ancestors be doing this day, this evening?" They'd be dancing, my friends. They'd be praising. They'd be imagining mystical stuff by the light of the MOON. They'd be calling up spirits and whirling without self-consciousness. They'd be eating only until full, or until they met someone hungry. They'd be thanking the Earth for their shelter, family, and all the overflowing beauty in the world. They'd be asking to be filled with magic, or at least wonder.

When you say Thank You, do you mean it? What about when you say I'm Fine?

At the risk of sounding cheesy, let's be better than fine. Let's be honored, gracious, and thankful. Let's be inventive, generous, and pleasant. Maybe be wild and a touch overwhelming. Let's be heroic.

It's the MOON, I tell you. The MOON.

FTMs Rock My World

Who is an FTM? Well, an FTM is a female-to-male transexual (that's right, folks, in this case a woman becomes a man). The transition from female to male involves many factors, both emotional, psychological, chemical, and sometimes physical. Let's approach the wonderful FTM guys from a social and not a medical perspective, shall we?


What prompted me to write this? Well, my partner is FTM and I am more sensitive to remarks made at work, in social situations, and the media. Sometimes transpeople get trashed publicly, in jokes that would never be acceptable about gays (well, unless you are Ann Coulter talking to asshole Republicans). To make matters worse, if transmen are not being joked about they are made invisible by the public misunderstanding of the trans experience. Most people couldn't explain gender any more cogently than Bush can explain photosynthesis. They think that male cross-dressers are the only type of transgender. Boy, are they wrong. There is quite a panoply of ways to be trans, but let's not get into that now. Let's talk about transmen in particular.

What's so amazing about my guys? Speaking from experience:
  1. They are usually very attractive, in a yummy "come to mama, do you like cookies?" kind of way--long into their 40's! Unless they are serious chain smokers, or have a lot of acne, I've seen a lot of super-handsome baby-faced dudes. I mean we're talking cross Johnny Depp with Leo DiCaprio cute.

  2. They often throw gender roles in the toilet, and force their partners to do the same. For example, does your husband always mow the lawn because of his Y chromosome? Why? Does your wife always do the cooking? Why? Does your butch girlfriend always fix the truck? Why? Is your father allowed to cry? Why not?

  3. They don't freak out upon mention of cramps, tampons, or pads. This is biology, guys, no more ugly or icky than peeing in the snow. You get kicked in the balls, it hurts, you don't mind telling people it hurts and they should feel sorry for you. But if women went around proclaiming bad cramps, most guys would call a national Orange alert level.

  4. They are brave enough to make drastic changes for something they believe in, themselves and their truths.

  5. They can trade stories with you about Girl Scouts.

Of course, I'm generalizing from my experience, so if you are FTM please don't flame me to say you NEVER would talk about the horrid Girl Scouts. Yes, I know you wanted to be in Boy Scouts, but them's the facts! FYI, some FTMs are what they call stealth, which means they never tell anybody they are trans, and try as hard as they can to fit in with the current masculine ideal. Basically, they divorce themselves from their experiences in a female body entirely. That is just another way to be. Not bad, but I love the men who are open about their female experiences. I mean, how cool is that?

My particular guy is especially cool because he's bi, just like me. It gives me a little thrill that we understand each other in such a way. Although we are somewhat "invisible" to some gay and lesbian people (since we look like a straight couple) we identify strongly with the gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered community. Not just a portion of the LGBT, the whole gamut. You have to be open minded. It keeps people guessing, and it makes life very interesting!

So, the next time you are tempted to tell a joke about "trannies" (that is, if you are not trans yourself) please think again. The dude you are talking to could be trans himself.

Just to end on a light note, the other day I asked my partner if he wanted to invite some transguys who are aquaintances all over for a BBQ, no women invited. Ah poor me, surrounded with handsome men. No "ladies" to chat with. I think he saw through the charade :-) Who needs ladies anyway, even if you likey the fairer sex.

Now aren't I educational? PS--So far as I know, Elvis isn't trans. He just makes a nice photo.

Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing at night while you sleep, just for a few seconds at a time. Then, because your body wants to keep you alive, you wake up (even just a little). Once you fall back asleep, the cycle begins again. A disruption in sleep is harmful for anyone. Over time, sleep apnea causes more than "just" drowsiness during the day (while driving, in a meeting, in public). No, it doesn't stop there--people with sleep apnea run a greater risk of developing heart problems and diabetes.

This is supposed to be a funny blog, so what's funny about sleep apnea?

Well, there's this mask that blows air into your throat (or nose) from a machine called a CPAP or BiPap. The upshot is that the airway is kept open by the force of the machine. However, wearing this mask makes anyone look like the elephant man. Tres Sportif! Sometimes having a humidifier along with the machine (to humidify the air) is more "pleasant". However, when using the humidifier, the moisture can build up in the tube that brings the air to the mask, and that condensation can suddenly whoosh! down into your nose or mouth unexpectedly. Talk about a rude awakening, water up your nose. Not suprisingly, most people don't like air forced up their noses all night, every night, for the rest of time.

So, many people seek an alternative to this CPAP craziness. The doctors have to be able to do something, right? Well, yes. They can remove your tonsils and uvula, prescribe a mouthpiece that moves your lower jaw forward, and even extend your jaw with a fairly gruesome sounding procedure. All of these methods serve the same purpose: to keep the airway open during sleep. However, what it all comes down to is extra tissue in the throat. In layman's terms, that means fat in the neck!

So, now, I went to this clinic called the Alternatives to CPAP clinic. For four hours I was poked and x-rayed. I even had a foot-long strawlike camera threaded down my nose. Yowie! But when each doctor explained what he or she could do, the upshot was that my being overweight made any of these alternative treatments fairly ineffective and that I needed to lose weight before any of them would work. Did I mention that losing weight can sometimes cure apnea altogether?

So, they can't do anything for me, after four hours of this examination and expensive tests. If this is the case, why didn't they tell me this before? They could have asked my height and weight, gotten out their little calculators, and figured out I was half butterfat before the whole rigamarole. Damn, people, I'm looking for something to help me get enough sleep so that I can get more exercise, so that I can lose weight, so that I can get better sleep in order to exercise and lose weight?! This is a chicken and egg thing.

What people who are not very overweight never seem to understand is that it is easier said than done (losing weight). Especially after many diets and exercise programs that you just can't stick with, or that become too hard to maintain. If it was easy, or even moderately difficult to lose weight, that would have been my first alternative! Having sleep apnea makes you tired during the day. This is a hindrance to extensive aerobicizing. Bah!

So anyway, it is this vicious circle, sleep apnea and obesity. One often comes with the other. So why did I need expensive tests to diagnose this darn thing?

I wish there was a way for America to take obesity more seriously than just demeaning and reporting on "the problem". Understand that an addiction to food is just as difficult as an addiction to any drug. So, why aren't there fully-paid treatment programs for me to rehab like poor Amy Whinehouse? She's a brilliant singer, but geez!

I won't bore you with the details of my dietary and exercise quest, like some blogs (yech, who would ever want to read about my lunch of broccoli and hummus!?). But I may write about being fat in America again. I know, cry me a river, when there's people out there without homes, food, or reliable childcare. But this affects me.

Hmmm, sorry that wasn't so funny. I live for cupcakes goshdarnit!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Boadicea Bedlam

***This short story was written in response to the Weekly Challenge posted at Indie Bloggers. Indie Bloggers is a great idea. The authors have taken it upon themselves to post only the best of the blogosphere. What a great way to get to know other bloggers! Tra-la to the wonderful women of Indie Bloggers! Hopefully they will accept this entry.***

As Jack Bauer’s personal tailor, you’re used to special requests, like sewing a Glock P36 into the sleeve, or exploding cufflinks that have to be added after 5:30 on a Friday (what a jerk!) but today, he takes the cake and asks for:

A fully-loaded silicone bustier. Jack is about to go undercover as a plus-size actress in the stage production of Starlight Express. To that end, Jack needs a bodacious figure that will evade detection from the other women in the dressing room, without attracting much attention. The bustier is to create the jiggle of a D-cup, the booty of an athletic roller skater, and the waist of a young Betty Page.

His character will be added into the plot at the Kansas City Theatre’s production. If all goes well, the show will go on the road to Topeka, Poughkeepsie, and Bar Harbor, Maine. Jack will play a Junoesque courtesan, riding on the train.

The bustier/body should be embedded with poisonous pins that can be deployed from either breast (left for a deadly poison, right for a poison that only stuns). He has yet to learn his target.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Name Fetish Rap

(drum machine)

I have a lame fetish
That ain't no lie (tap tap tap)
I got a name fetish
That just won't die

I gotta know the pro-nun-ciation (YIP)
I just ~must~ know the historical der-i-vation
And when you think I'm rabid with consternation
My obsession with names is like sex-u-al frustration

My family name is Ches-bro, I'm the maker of the cheese
My father -says- that the name is Welsh(ese)
Letters dropped through the years, like the E that is no more
and the OUGH went the way of the 'saur

yo shorty it's my birthday, gonna party like it's my birthday

I always wonder about doctors with the name of Payne
I would never submit to his surgery
I'd change my name to Cardiologist Dr. Love
Or something like Dr. Hale (and Hearty)

This madness must cease
The curse must release
I go around asking without surcease
There must be a cure
I'm kinda sick
When I have to know the meaning of Bush
Or how Richard becomes Dick

I'm biting my lower lip
So I must wind down my rhyme
I won't make it in the rapping biz
'Cause I have a hard time with slang and with keeping time

Happy 32

What is it about 32? Such symmetry. 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2

My age in human years.

I never got very far in imagining "over 30" when I was in my teens and pre-teens. I could barely imagine college. Now that I am in my 30s, I'm intrigued. All those seeds I planted in my youth are starting to have perceptible sprouts.

My potential is starting to change into actual. Then there is the new potential.

It is nice when you stop wishing you could be something else. I now am 100% certain I will never be

  • An Olympic gymnast

  • A famous rock and roll star like Janis Joplin

  • An amazingly rich person

  • Coordinated and directionally savvy

  • A poet living in the Latin Quarter of Paris

  • Thin or conventionally lovely (check out those eyebrows, folks!)

But I am just as certain of my true potentials, as I have been given some very hopeful little sparkly bits of confirmation that I will be (or already am)

  • A published writer

  • A true character

  • A psychic

  • A foodie

  • A happy person with a family, friends, house, Chihuahuas, and a loving and interesting partner

  • An inventor

  • A developing soul, in the most newagey sense of the phrase

  • A person who can afford to occasionally splurge, with absolutely no reason to complain

Such a wonderful lists of am-now-or-will-be's.

What a way to be 32! Somebody told me yesterday that I am hilarious. Today somebody told me I could be a great food writer. Gosh darn. Another thing to add to my list of potential careers for my next incarnation. Currently I am working on published author, media doyenne, consultant chic smartie pants, psychic, blogger, college instructor, and technical writer. Whew! That is a lot to fit on a business card.

So you can put "generally fantastic", that will do. Kiss my arse, I'm Thirty Two!!!!!!!!!!

Amtrakking it!

Ah, when I think of my college years in dappled Hudson Valley, I also think of travelling by train. I learned how to be an effective train traveller. Shall I pass this wisdom on to a new generation of trainees?

Could NOT resist that one.

Anyhow, here are the edicts for pleasant train travel.

1) Assume you are going to be late. The train will be late. No stress, complaining to the night janitor, bitching to fellow travellers, or pacing (bags in hand) will make the train come any sooner. Relax, read your book, and people watch.

2) Wear comfortable, layerable, clothing. Nobody cares what you look like. You'll see college kids in ragged band t-shirts, old ladies in their schmatas (sp?), businessmen in their Arrow Sears Poly Blend suits. You are not going to meet a wealthy fiance(e) or a business mogul to hire you for a fantastic job on the train. If you do, well, they know better than to judge by your clothes. You will want to sleep and perhaps even remove your sneaks.

3) If you happen to be sitting without a seat-buddy, keep your luxurious "First Class" accomodations by putting your bag up on the seat in the window seat, then lying on the bag and snoring during station stops. Keep one eye open for attractive millionaires, elderly or differently abled folks, or small children. After all, you may be trying to play the system, but you don't want to be stupid or mean.

4) Keep OUT of the aisles. The train attendants, other people, and baggage will smack you. Repeatedly. Even if there is no apparent reason to hurry.

5) Bring snacks and water. It can be hard to figure out where they keep the food, and if you do find it, it is always expensive.

6) For entertainment value, visit the smoking car. Yep. That's where all the pierced, track marked, commies hang out. Old fogies with gnarly beards, ex-truckers, 40 year old groupies that dress like teenagers, goth kidz with piles of eyeliner, and anyone with a personality disorder is in the smoking car. Conversations about sex, drugs, rock and roll, and Rolling Stone abound. Check your political correctness alarm at the door. Be prepared to smell like an ashtray and talk like a trucker when you emerge. And watch out for little mini stalkers.

7) Look out the window on long trips to remind yourself that there is a world out there besides the moving sardine can you are riding in. I recall a lovely field of sunflowers to this day from my cross-country train trip.

8) For crap sake, take care of yourself. The train employees don't kiss ass (they take names). They will not wake you up in Cheboygan, carefully avoid your foot in the aisle, or keep the old guy in the seat next to you from hitting on you. Pay attention to station stops, or you'll miss yours. If you didn't hear it, ask around. A healthy curiosity for where you are physically located in the world is always helpful, as is a watch or other electronic device with time.

I love the train. It is a microcosm of the world, an engaging reality show, and you can participate as much or as little as you like. When you emerge, zombified by constant noise, vibration, and being jolted from sleep (like a participant in a lack-of-sleep experiment) you will be wiser. That's why I love the train. It's very zen. Be the train. Be the wacky passengers. Be calm, cool, and collected. And above all, be curious.

What a fucking awesome planet we live on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Poor Taste

Begging your indulgence, I would like to share (and perchance, rant) about some advertising in poor taste I've seen recently. Tell me, am I wrong?

What do you think about a store called "Goin' Postal"? There is such a beast near me in Michigan. I don't know, but I think that putting the idea in consumers' heads that they could be gunned down by disgruntled employees in the store is a bad one. What's next, a party store called "Drown Your Sorrows" or "Back to Step 1"?

Likewise, what about a big ol' road sign with a larger-than-life, deep South horror story, rope NOOSE? That's about 15 feet of noose in the loop part alone. I can't recall what the signboard was for, but really...is there worse taste than that?

Another sign, from a local fine dining establishment, declares "Meat With Friends". The picture is a steak. Okay, we get it. You are meeting to have a nice beefy cow slice. But really, meat evokes so many unpleasant pictures of other things you could do with your friends on the roadside.
Photo courtesy: http://www.interestingideas.com/roadside/signs/fork.jpg

Speaking of restaurants, we recently welcomed Sushi.Come to our neighborhood. Now you'd think, even with potential language difficulties, that somebody might have mentioned that putting raw fish and come in the same dot-phrase could be disconcerting.


Is it just my dirty mind?

The Cult of the Amateur?

Last night, I indulged in watching the Colbert Report. The guest, Andrew Keen, had written a book called the Cult of the Amateur. From what I was able to gather, the author was bemoaning the ease with which everyone can publish these days. Unknown blog authors speak their minds with dubious spelling. Artists sell their beginning paintings on eBay. Advertising pays for video work on uTube. Oh, the horror!

Now, I have not read the book, but I did see the author and his reaction to Colbert's (definitely jokey, ironic, and not to be trusted) questions. The arrogance! The snobbery! Where does he think artists and writers and videographers get started? Do they just hatch fully sophisticated right out on to the pages of Art News? This is not to mention the gatekeepers. The publishing houses and other media companies, who have always had the audacity to either give us what they thought we'd like...or give us when they thought we needed, prescriptively.

What's happening is not a dilution of culture. It's just that there is now a more level playing field for exposure, and now the critics don't have a clue where they are supposed to look. The gatekeepers have control over their little plots of land, but everyone can put out their two cents...regardless if anyone is listening. This is truly the culture of the populace.

New formats are being created daily. Does poor filmmaking take away the art from a digital video? Do "texting-inspired" misspellings in that Chinese student's blog make it any less a passionate display of teenagerhood of this era, warts and all?

My feeling is that the internet is full of crap and advertising, but there are millions of paper bag luminaries out there. There's intensity, truth being spoken, less spin. There are intelligent communities being formed, of people who want to avoid bullshit elitism. Could it be that we are all getting smarter by self producing, putting content out on the internet?

Regardless of how people feel about it, the young people today have been raised with this connection to the internet. It is another channel of communication that starts to mimic our collective consciousness. They have an innate sense of how warped mass media can be, and they consume it with a grain of salt always. Just because it is on a major news channel does not mean it is unbiased. Just because it is printed does not mean it is Literature.

How long will it take the traditional media to get this? The physics of communication has changed. It's up to us to learn how to walk in a different gravity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fridays @ Work: Productivity


Productivity is a fascinating concept when you think about it.

The initial definition is not too out-there.

pro·duc·tiv·i·ty (prō'dŭk-tĭv'ĭ-tē, prŏd'ək-)The quality of being productive.
Economics The rate at which goods or services are produced especially output per unit of labor.
Ecology The rate at which radiant energy is used by producers to form organic substances as food for consumers.


http://www.dictionary.com/


However, what spurs productivity? How is productivity truly encouraged, measured, and rewarded? The answers to these questions may suprise The Boss.


Being interested in a topic, and invested in a project's outcome, spurs productivity. The more an outcome is directly meaningful to a worker, the less difficult it is to be productive. Additionally, productivity can be spurred in some unusual ways. For example, play and humor can spike levels of productivity. Google doesn't just give its workers crazy cool perks just to "Not Be Evil". Nope, it is a solid business decision to encourage creativity and productivity.


Refreshed, amused, happy-to-be-alive workers are powerhouses. Sometimes taking frequent breaks leads to a greater amount of work achieved in the long run. Ever catch yourself rereading a sentence in that business letter over and over again? Catch yourself working for too long on a PowerPoint graphic? Get up and stretch your legs. The goal is not to see who can be chained to his or her computer for the longest unbroken stretch of time!


However, there is a dark side to this argument. As many a current or previous temp secretary can tell you...there is an art to Looking Busy. If you don't look busy every minute of every day, people start to look askance at you. Even if you worked really hard, in a concentrated and focused manner, on the previous task, taking a break is never truly allowed. You have to Look Busy or you get the boot. Even without anything in the In box. Full timers (or people who have always been full timers) don't even see that talking about Jane's bad back, Peter's trip to Spain, or the latest customer hijinks are actually non-work activities, just like when you might, say, mail a letter or make a blog entry. So most of us have learned the scary art of Looking Busy. In truth, we should learn the more subtle art of being honest to ourselves, our companies, our coworkers, and our bosses.

Taking a break is good for you. There, I said it, I've blasphemed. No, I do not believe that you get to brag about working 14 hours straight-- especially if I could do the work in 8 hours with breaks. Just filling time with seriousness does not a productive worker make.


So, what can the well-meaning boss do? Well, judge people by their actual productivity. How much work is done. Not the manner in which that work is completed. If I can work better with my dog on my lap, with a mouthful of Krispy Kreme, why would you want to stop me? If a trip to the water cooler every hour makes the rest of the 55 minutes in the hour twice as productive, why the heck not?


Finally, how can productivity be rewarded? Well, PAY is always a good thing. However, public praise can be useful (if not overused). Also, let your workers know that productive moments need breaks in between. Understand that we're all different. And for heaven sake, have some fun. We know that junkets to customer sites aren't all bad, that the wine-ing and dining isn't 100% pure torture. Admit to the fact that your 15-hour days weren't all time "strapped to the rack". Some of those hours were time for bs-ing, talking about your children, watching tv, or eating room service. Sure you needed that time to be productive. But practice what you preach. Let's all just be honest about our jobs, our needs, our strengths, and our weaknesses. How many hours in the day do you actually want to pay me to be uptight about things like pretending to be something I'm not?


Playing the Look Busy game is so BORING. Wake up people.


Much love, as always, with my angst,

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Raincoat Flashers: Shameless Self Promotion


I've embarked on a new blog: Raincoat Flashers.

I'll post a picture, then I'll ask participants to create a sudden, or flash fiction, to accompany the picture. Within a week, the chosen piece is posted on the blog. The idea is to encourage the writing and reading of experimental, concise, and beautiful stories.

All comers, professional or amateur, student or instructor, are welcome.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Revisionist Future


In my browsing of recently updated blogs this morning, I stumbled upon this Ah-nold Buck at http://zamorysh.blogspot.com/. The blog was written in Russian, so I cannot give proper credit to the artist or blogger. However, if you happen to read Russian, have at it, and comment here with details.

I cannot help but wonder about the inspiration for such a dramatic Photoshopping of the dollar. Was it done in jest or in all seriousness?

I need to go here because I'm not a very informed politico, but c'mon California...you hired the Terminator to be your Governor. Bah!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Free Fantasy Fiction Library

Okay I'm an uber-geek. If you, too, are ubergeeky, check out these free books.

I just found this link, but I do see a few authors I would read.

Enjoy!

I'm going to be in Hufflepuff!


Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Get Rosey-ed.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $100. Do not even get a cup of joe from your favorite place. Nope. Go straight to my friend Rosey's blog.

She is an enormously talented, cute, and quirky woman. A professional artist, she has shown work at many art shows and published many pieces in On Our Backs. She also has a portfolio website.

Love her!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Les gémeaux (Gemelles?)

I am a fraternal twin, my sister's name is Carrie and she lives in Madison, WI. She has a LiveJournal if you are interested. Most of her blog entries are epic dreams or simply strange dreams. Although we don't speak every day, its like we walk beside each other often. We were never alone in the world.

Being a twin is an amazing experience. A symbiosis develops over childhood. You think as a pair (even if in disagreement), negotiate as a pair, and can't imagine not being in a pair.

How is life different? Well, imagine being born into a partnership. You are blamed for all your partner's mishaps. For example, if your twin says something mean to someone you are actually accountable. Also, if you dress in something hideous, your twin gets the reputation for being unstylish. However, you also get credit for being smart if you twin is smart. You get special recognition (good or bad) on a regular basis.

And since this is a funny blog, what's funny about being a twin? Well, there was the time that we tried to trick our 5th grade teachers by changing clothes during recess and going to the other's class (we were never placed in the same class in K - 6). It worked too well. The teachers had no clue, and Carrie ended up taking a pretty important "placement" test for me. Good thing she's smart.

Another funny thing was the gift situation. My family was backed in a corner. They had to give the same gift, but slightly different (different color, design, etc.) If different gifts were given, somebody was always dissapointed. I remember the one Christmas my sister got a complete stereo- speakers, record player, 2-tape deck, tuner. Wow- the ability to make mix tapes! And I got...a 22 caliber rifle. Now, I was (am) a tomboy. I did like watching Dad pour metal bullet slugs, clean his muzzleloader (was into recreations), and shoot. However, I don't recall ever asking for a gun, especially considering we (Carrie and I) already shared a "sawed off" 22. Shhh! Don't tell the authorities. It is illegal, but that helped up to hold the thing, since rifles are heavy. Neither one of us shot at anything living, just pop cans and milk jugs filled with water. Anyway, that was a dramatic Christmas. My father swears, to this day, that I asked for the darn thing. I never shot it.

We have always compared ourselves, whether or not it was smart. We compare salaries, test scores, numbers of friends, pant sizes, and hair length and beauty. Carrie can't help but be envious that I have a life partner, PJ. I can't help but be jealous of her salary (especially considering we have the same job).

Speaking of having the same job, we ended up in the exact same job, coming from two entirely different directions. Get this. Carrie has a BA in Fine Art Painting. I have a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. Carrie has a MA in Teaching with a specialization in Art Teaching. I have a MS in Information with a specialization in Human Computer Interaction. Carrie has worked as an ESL teacher in Korea, as a substitute in Alaska, as an art teacher in North Carolina, as a prep cook, as a gardener...and now she is working as a Documenter at a large organization in Madison. I, on the other hand, have worked as a writer, a college teacher, a temp secretary, a dishwasher, an interface designer, a librarian...and now I am working as a Tech Writer at a small organization. So, from two entirely different academic backgrounds and work histories, we both end up working with writing and training responsibilities for software companies. Weird!

We know each other so well. Carrie calls me when she is a)Bored, b)Upset, c)Proud. I probably do the same thing. I know when it is very important that I pick up the phone, and other times when I can ignore the call (if in the middle of a movie or something) when she is just bored. We talk about all those things that most people get annoyed with us for. For example, when we go out to dinner we'll tell the other exactly what we ate, exactly the modifications we requested for the meal (she'll request no mushrooms or meat, I'll request no Swiss cheese or raw onions). Now, most people cannot stand to hear this level of detail, but to us it is interesting. She'll tell me about the most recent person she has a crush on. I'll tell her about any drama with the dogs or PJ.

There is really a lot more about being a twin, but I'm getting distracted. One thing I can say is that I cannot imagine NOT being a twin.

One last note: please don't name your twins rhyming or alliterative names. Arrrgh!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Meme, Asked and Answered

1. You are alone in a room with George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice. What happens in the first 5 minutes?

Assuming I am properly prepared, I begin briefing them on their re-education. For their first acts as normal people, Condi is forced to watch Lil' Bush on Comedy Central, and write a blog entry about whether or not she is like Lil' Condi in the show. Cheney is going to be getting a bikram yoga lesson and learning How Not to Be Evil. Finally, George, well, he gets to prepare for a high school debate where he has to argue the side of Hillary Clinton for presidential election against Guiliani. (sp?) For a level of difficulty, we can assume that points are deducted for using several different words to express the same meaning in the same sentence.

2. What two food flavors compliment each other best? Why?

Ah, bread and butter. We're not talking Wonder Bread and Promise Spread here, folks. I'm talking real, warm, Zingerman's bread with crispy crust and flavorful spongy interior. Then Irish butter fresh from the foil wrapper.

3. What country would you flee to if you had to right this minute?
Canada

4. ABBA - Yes or No?

How could I not?

5. You are alone in a room with George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice. What happened in the last 5 minutes?

George is bewildered: "W. Dub-uhl-you. It's like two V's. Two V's just stuck together in the middle. Joined-like. Attached."
Dick is sweaty, but hasn't escaped the duct tape.
Condi has a lesbian lover named Rocky, and has zillions.

Fridays @ Work: Spirituality in the Workplace

Spirituality in the workplace is not just at issue during the winter holidays. No, it is an ever present reminder of our differences or similarities. Being cognizant of our coworkers’ spiritual standing may not be relevant to the task at hand, but it does come up. When it does come up, prepare to be

a) Alienated

b) Comforted

c) Offended

d) Surprised

e) Irritated

f) Happy

g) Supported

Watch yourself, calmly now, become offended at not only what people believe, but what they do not believe. For example, my wonderful coworker was taken aback when another woman referred to her Buddha Belly (she was pregnant). She did not like the Buddhist term applied to her child. Not only did this affect my coworker, but myself. I felt a little taken aback also. What was wrong with a Buddhist belly? Although I am not Buddhist, I do ascribe to some of the qualities of Buddhism, including those of Kwan Yin. I felt like she was saying that the concept and practice of Buddhism was wrong, and somehow morally bankrupt. However, upon further thought I realized that was not the case. She just felt uncomfortable embodying Buddhist concepts as a devoted Christian.

In another circumstance, I noticed that all of the women in my department (there are no men in my department) are Christian of some variety, and they regularly go to church. They talk about church, confirmation, baptism as a matter of course. There is no analogue to this regularly scheduled spirituality in my life. I do try to go to solstice occasions at the local Unitarian Universalist location. However, it is not that regular. I don’t feel anywhere near as comfortable talking about this as they do about their churches. They can so on and on about what the preacher said in the sermon, what kids wore for baptism, and so on. But I would not feel comfortable talking about Wicca, what craft we performed, what blessings we spoke, or what ceremonial garb we wore. It is just not as normal, or as accepted. Sure, if there are Wiccans out there reading this you might think: well, come out of the broom closet for Goddess sake! However, I don’t take lightly the decision to potentially impact my professional career.

Not only am I Wiccan, but psychic. What a fantastic resume booster! Where others can write: Elks (read: Christian Charity) Club as a reference, I might not get as far being a member of a Wiccan community group. After all, some people still think Wiccans worship evil spirits, or the big baddie himself (whose name I will not deign type here). Others think that it is just a big RPG for preteens and computer programmers. (I did just find out that my URL Rowanwand is actually the name of a clan of witches in a RPG. I, personally, am close with the name Rowan since it is my mother’s maiden name, and it is also known as a magical tree.)

Other times I think about the fact that we get all the Christian holidays off, but Jewish, Muslim, and other holidays? Well, we’re out of luck. Not to bemoan the fact, but that can be alienating too. People celebrated full moons for many more years than they have celebrated the great sacrifice of Jesus, or the dominion of one all-powerful God.

I’ve veered off-topic.

What I want to get to is this. Religion and spirituality are tricky topics. Remember The Passion of the Christ (still haven’t seen it, meant to, just for reference)? What about the Blair Witch Project? Think about how mosques are being conflated with centers of warfare in some places in this world. I hope we can continue to share our faiths, and keep openminded about the results of our discussions. Spirituality adds such richness to our lives, and is such a big part of the personality I’m not sure we could ever hope (or want) to leave it at home.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Painting Journey

My new, yet dear, friend Marsha has begun a painting journey. She has set out to paint small, en plein air paintings and blog about the experience. The small format is engaging, and each painting seems to contain a distilled moment: intimate, serene, natural, and cosmic, all at once.

Check out her blog. She plans to paint for the month of September in the notoriously beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It goes without saying, but please enjoy her wonderful work, and support it by purchasing a painting, if you have the desire and means.