Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Diversity Potluck Hijinx

So the other day I thought I had left something in the freezer at work for lunch. I go to the fridge to make it and realize the freezer is void of any of my stuff. I explain this to the coworker who saw my disappointment and she said "go to the Diversity Potluck- they're inviting everyone." While I was not pleased about the idea, I ventured down the hall to the conference room. Typically, all of us in my division treat all-village get-togethers like a covert operation. We go in a group, try to be as invisible as possible, grab a plate of food and high-tail it back to our desk. This my friends (sorry John McCain reference there), was not in the cards on Thursday.

I arrive with my tiny saucer plate, to grab one or two items and am greeted boisterously by about four women who I have never seen before. "Hi! So glad you came! Grab some food and sit down!" I didn't bring anything and I told them so, explaining I forgot my lunch and it was about 4 degrees outside. "That's alright- it's for everyone!" [continues to blink widelywith plastered smile on her face] At that point I couldn't leave, so I obliged and sat down next to one of the 12 strangers in the room. Aside from my Boss' Boss, and his Boss, I know no one except for the another director who comes up to me, introduces himself for the 5th time (in a year and 1/2) like he has never seen me before in his life. The next thing I know, my name is drawn from a plastic schoolbox for a $25 gift card for a hunting/fishing outdoor gear store that I have never been before.

So here I was, showing up 45 minutes late for the meal, a stranger to all 15 people that attended and prepared food that day, made and brought nothing to feed others, and I am chosen for a gift card that while nice, is something I never desired. I felt so ridiculous. With my red face, I went back to work and was promptly teased by my co-workers for the rest of the day/my work career here for being a mooch. Great.

In other news, I am reading a book called A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines. It features the story of a young black man sentenced to death in the 1940's South, and a teacher who shows up to visit the wrongly convicted man to teach him how to die with dignity and as they say in the book to be a man. It is pretty good in an assigned high school reading kind of way and I recommend it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Awesome-ness that is Rebecca

I finally hunkered down and began at the recommendation of my friends, my little sister, my mom, your mom, Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier. Written in the 1930's, this classic mystery tells the story of the new Mrs. DeWinter and the shadow cast upon her by the late Mrs. DeWinter, Rebecca. I am only in the 18th chapter but it has started to get really good. I cannot help but smile when I get a new tidbit of juicy, gossip-like material, something to the effect of, "oh my goodness, she did not just do that!" and it comes flying off the page at me.

While it is not totally my favorite style, I am invested now in uncovering the rest of this beautifully written novel. I am just waiting for some tragic ending with a bit of stoicsm by the book's unnamed heroine, as she stands looking out over the sea upon a cliff at Manderley. By the way, while I totally understand that the author left the female protagonist unnamed to illustrate the extreme level of overshadowing memories of Rebecca's life has over this young girl, I have named my lead. I think I've been calling her Lily, Victoria, or Eloise just to have a name with the face I'm picturing. Instead of the lack of a name, I find the lead's (Lily/Victoria/Eloise's) insecurities and naievete irritating.

Anyway, I am excited about finishing this and seeing how it all works out. Two thumbs up if that were still popular. I say to those who are hesitantly waiting upon the precarious edge of reading or not reading; "jump".

(Now, please enjoy my copy's sleazy,
harlequin romance-style cover):

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Headline: Frozen in Windy Tundra Previously Known as Chicago!

This morning at 7:30, the news said it was -10 degrees outside. Sick. Seriously, I am getting tired of the wonderful statistics about this warm and fuzzy winter season. Apparently, the average snowfall is recorded at 38 inches for the entire winter. We surpassed that just a few days ago in mid-January. Don't worry, we have another 3.5 months left of great Chicago winter left. (Yes, that puts us into May, but it has snowed then too- it's wacky around here.)

I found a new "green living" type of book called Confessions of an Eco-Sinner, by Fred Pearce. It's about a guy who figures that he needs to know where all of his stuff, food, energy, etc. comes from and sets off around the world to find out. I've read so far about the gold mining in Africa and coffee farming in Tanzania and there's some interesting stuff in there. For example, I did not realize that it took over 2 tons of mined rock and 550 tons of pressurized water to make my gold wedding bands and that over 60,000 workers are mining this stuff in one location- true story. I've often wondered about this kind of thing, like "who makes this stuff?" or "are they getting fair-trade for this tiny sack of herbs and spices"? This book answers at least some of those questions. Hopefully I will trust some of what Pearce is presenting and become a more well-informed consumer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The beginning of the week

Not much today to piece into a thoughtful and satirical masterpiece of a blog entry, so I will venture to state the following:

Today is "Organize your Home Day" according to some wacky holiday calendar we post up at work. I am uncertain as to what at home I can organize, but I can certainly sort through the foot-high stack of mail that we leave perched precariously atop our shelf near the door. Granted, we take out the important stuff, but sorting things into trash, recycling, shredding, and keeping while you still have your shoes on takes a toll. That is why we ignore it. This weekend we went through a pile that I had put on our couch with the hopes that we'd get to it because we wouldn't like sitting on it. Most of the time, the dog got stuck on that side for the last few weeks. We found mail from 2007 in that pile, no joke.

My brain may be frozen due to the eleventy thousand inches of snow we appear to get dumped on us everyday.

We lost our movie and Applebee's gift cards from Christmas. I swear I washed the clothes that came out of the same gift bag but alas, there are no random gifts to be found. Not a clue. Maybe those items will come to light during our "home organization" day.

I have not chosen who should be playng in the superbowl. Just to make it interesting, I may be rooting for Phily if my husband is rooting for Warner's Cardinal team. I also called the Ravens being in the superbowl but I think its a toss-up between them & the steelers. Ces't la vie.

Have you ever considered that your family may not be the most extremely dysfunctional group of related people on the planet? If not, I highly suggest The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. As her "childhood" is described, I cannot but have my jaw drop every few minutes from the shock of how selfish and odd her parents were and how deeply that affected her and her siblings' lives.
It really is astounding and I am certain she is not the only child who grew up with self-absorbed to the point of extreme negligence. This memoir is certainly un-put-downable.

Off to save the world, or at least organize something.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Snow Day.

It took 25 minutes for my car to defrost on the inside this morning. As pleasant as that was, I am now pining for living in any other state that would prevent this intolerable circumstance from ever occuring again in my lifetime. I have now affirmed that you may write to me in Las Vegas, Nevada or Portland Oregon. At least maybe in a year or so. I know that this is the best place for us right now with family and jobs, and I know that the last two winters have been especially harsh, but come on. This is recorded as the 22nd measurable snowfall of this winter- Almost a month of snow, and because this is Chicago, we will have at least 4 more months of winter. It is sickening.

Now as I sop up my tears, I would like to say that I am hungry, even though I ate breakfast roughly 3 hours ago, and I am tired, after my 7.5 hours of sleep. I am attempting to write up and edit our bike plan draft for work. I am psyched about biking but looking at a written plan about biking is not the most interetsing thing in the world. It will be wonderful when it's done, because a long-term plan will be in place, and depending upon available funds, might be brought to realization. I hope so.

I renewed the passion for bicycle riding I had as a kid as I sat on the stationary bikes in the gym. I figure it's not the same, and it might be fun to actually travel someplace, so I would like to get a new bike this spring. Think of how many trips to the library I will be taking on my shiny schwinn! Although a basket may be a good idea, I don't want to look like the old man you always see pedaling slowly down main thoroughfares with nothing in the front or rear baskets and no particular destination evident. It weirds me out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm the Cause of Earth's Destruction

So I found this website called My Footprint.org. http://www.myfootprint.org/en/

It allows you to take a quiz to find out what your footprint in terms of household, food, material goods and energy. I am bummed because I feel like I do some great things to reduce energy, save water, etc. and according to the quiz it would require 5.5 Planet Earths to support my lifestyle for my lifetime. Seriously? Am I contributing that many more toxins and granola bar wrappers to the polluted oceans and filthy air than other lazy butts?

I have planned on doing more anyhow, and found this really great book called "Go Green - How to Build an Earth-Friendly Community" by Nancy H. Taylor. It's a handy dandy little resource that I plan on finishing and trying some of their tips. In the short term, I have already joined the recycling team at work, and sent the coordinator some new ideas that I haven't heard discussed. I also am planning on bothering our apartment complex to coordinate a recycling program onsite. I guarantee about 90% of people do not recycle because the bin is not picked up oustide their door. We have to save our recycling for weeks then spend gas an dcarbon emissions to travel about a mile away to sort it on our own outside. Guaranteed, we are almost the only people who do that here.
Tonight I also swapped two of our bathroom fixture lights with CFL's (Compact Florescent lightbulbs) and thought at first it was the same level of lighting. I forgot that the CFL's burn brighter the longer they're on. Now our bathroom appears to be bright enough to be landing planes on. Oh well, we won't have to replace the bulbs for another nine years, so as long as we bring them with us when we move, all's good in the brighty-mcbright bathroom.
Future projects, program the thermostat, buy more local foods, and insulate our windows with that cellophane stuff ASAP. They did a horrible job with the windows when they re-did the apartment building. We freeze!

Do the "Right" Thing

In addition to the title of this post being a rockin' Spike Lee movie, I found a related quote in a book that I just finished and wanted to share my thoughts. The quote was something to the effect of,

"There are no right decisions, just different ones."
- A Great & Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray.

So with that in mind, I was pondering my life's choices and the potential results that could have risen from me making another choice or me having chosen not to choose at all. I've always believed that if you changed one thing or decision, the effect would ripple throughout the rest of your life, even if miniscule compared to the original debate/action. If you'd believe this quote, which I think is valid, there is not necessarily evidence of such a thing as fate if everything in life is a result of choices made or left unmade. I just loved this idea and yet it sort of creeps me out. That is all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Inquiring Mind Wants to Know

This is the first entry. I have decided that I should begin a journey into blogging. This journey I am certain will be full of unnecessary commentary, faulty prose, and things that the average person would find stupid, irrational, or boring, but I will do my best. It's my blog anyway, so what do you care?

I figure I will be jotting my innermost thoughts about life's entertainments and successes/failures. My current attempts at bettering myself include the following:

* Reading
* Movie Watching
* General Life Observations
* Improving my work performance

I figure it's easiest to begin with basics. And now, ladies and gentlemen, here we go down the rabbit hole.