Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the dalai lama

He lives in the Colorado house. Well, a picture of him anyway.

Between bemoaning the vileness of the renters' filth and actually cleaning it up, we stopped in for dinner at a local popular restaurant, which normally is packed with a two hour wait in season. As luck would have it, was only 1/3 full this night and we were seated at a corner table by a very friendly maitre d'. Prime real estate! The waitress came up to the paper covered table (crayons were of course provided), wrote her name upside down and facing us on the paper while simultaneously introducing herself, pouring olive oil in a dish, and describing the specials. Impressive.

Wine and food were ordered, bread was eaten and my husband began drawing his ideas for the house addition on the table paper. I'm not sure this is what the town was envisioning when they told us to draw up our ideas or not though. This drew the curiosity of not only the waitress upon her return, but of the maitre d'. In the off season, there is plenty of time to chat, and chat we did with both of them. They ultimately asked if we were local, we looked at each other, and said "we are now - we've just moved back into our house!" The host promptly said he'd be right back as he had a house warming gift for us.

A gift? Seriously? He came back and handed us a photo of the Dalai Lama. A real unframed photo, not a stock promo shot, of the Dalai Lama laughing which the maitre d' had received when he met the Dalai Lama during his most recent US visit. What an amazing gift!

That gift blesses our home and as the Dalai Lama says, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." No wonder the maitre d' was so happy. An inspiration to us all.

taking a simple test

Recently a friend sent me this link to "The Tibetan Personality Test" which supposedly is endorsed by the Dalai Lama himself. He of whom we have a photo. Story to come next. Anyway, you answer four questions and the answers determine your priorities in life, what you think of certain things in your life, where certain people stand in your life (Val you and I are the same color for each other and my husband is red) and then the inevitable "if you don't send it to some many people in this time period, your wish will not come true."

So my wish probably won't come true since I don't usually send those things along. However, I do have to admit that sometimes they are kind of fun to take. I was discussing the results with Lady Trout and I mentioned that "family" came up as my top priority. Career and money being down at the bottom of the list. No surprises there. The family result I found to be amusing since being an only child of divorced parents, what posed for normal was certainly not the Norman Rockwell ideal.

She also thought that, actually, the family being my priority was accurate. She went on to comment, that she believed that I had reinvented the meaning of family. Perhaps I have. My family consists of not only my actual relatives and spouse, but also of friends who have become as close as siblings.

There are connections with friends not only on a surface level, such as mutual likes/dislikes, commonalities and whatnot, but on a soul level as well. Something you can't explain. Does this kind of deep connection mean that you've been with that person in another life? Some may think so. How would you explain it? There really are soul siblings as well as soul mates.

My sense of family has indeed been redefined over the years by learning one very important lesson: I don't believe that since you are related to someone, that gives them full autonomy to treat you in any way they choose. I mean really - why on earth would you EVER tolerate someone treating you poorly, being disrespectful, or rude just because you are related to them? Would you ever tolerate it from a stranger, co-worker, acquaintance or friend? No. Does being related somehow make it right or acceptable? No. What misplaced sense of obligation/loyalty causes this acceptance? And why would there be guilt that it's unacceptable?

To me, it is that black & white. It's not an excuse for "not making the best of unpleasant situations" or avoiding relatives so I don't have to deal with them. I have indeed learned the lesson they have for me.

Life is short and there are lessons to learn from all people who come into your life. Surround yourself with those who make you happy. Who makes you a better person? Who challenges your intellect? Choose to spend time with these people. And just do it. Frequently.

My family of choice is one that I wish upon everyone. They make me a better person. And, when it comes right down to it, shouldn't that be the goal of every family?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

mac or pc?

Guess what? My laptop is finally letting me know it's tired. It's 5 years old and I guess it doesn't owe me a thing, but the prospect of getting a new one is making me queasy. Or was that lunch? Not sure.

I have friends in both camps - pc & mac. Of course, when I price them out, the ones I chose are at least $2,000 with all the bells & whistles. I mean really, if you are going to drop dime on a computer, shouldn't it last at least a year?

All of my programs are pc versions but old. The thought of having to replace Photoshop & Dreamweaver - ugh! PC's are the most software-compatible hardware and seem to be universal in oh so many ways. I hate Vista which is why I would even consider a Mac. Bill Gates can you hear me? It's NOT good. I find the jumping icons on Macs annoying. I don't care about cosmetics, am not a gamer or video person and don't even own an iPod. Yet. I want a computer that rocks, hard.

Any suggestions out in blogger land?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Shriek outs

Unlike a "shout out" - a "shriek out" is just that. When that is the only reaction that you could possibly have.

Yesterday was a banner day in the shriek department.

Shriek out #1: To my peeps at the Towers. Congrats on now having 7 cars, 5 adults, 2 children, 5 chickens, 1 dog and 1 cat. The shriek is for the addition of one adult-a new boyfriend who is SUPER nice.

Shriek out #2: The cost of getting my wedding dress cleaned. Yikes!

Shriek out #3: My small friend Studley. He, his mother & I were in the coffee aisle of Trader Joe's and I told here that there were two kinds of coffee that were really good (French Roast and Moka Java). She was in front of the unleaded versions and said, "they don't have that one in my weenie version." To which Studley used his outdoor voice and said "weenie! weenie!" The shopper next to us snorted as he walked by.

Shriek out #4: My friend Susan. For being brave enough to buy, and use, a new hair color.

Shriek out #5: Sarah's suggestion about meeting for lunch and then going to 4 Seas Ice Cream. Oh, and also for her fabulous house which is like an overflowing treasure chest.

Shriek out #6: For my Liz Kinder birthday present. Thank you Lady Trout.

Shriek out #7: To my indoor cat Mercedes. For calmly eating some plants outside and not running away after jumping out of the open kitchen window.

marginal?

What is it about people not thinking before speaking? I don't know about you, but that was a childhood lesson right up there with please and thank you. OK, we're all guilty of doing it, but I'm still appalled at what I hear.

Example #1: The last job I had was, initially, a great job. Until I began to notice the extremely high rate of employee turn over. Eeek. One of these numerous new hires was subjected to the always embarrassing "meet the new/current employees" gathering.** There were 5 people at the table. Four of whom already knew each other. I was odd man out. So I looked at the new hire and told her who I was and what I brought to the job. Including that I had a Master's degree. She was very nice and mentioned her qualifications (she had been CEO of a non-profit company, etc.) and that she never finished her MA as she didn't see the point. We laughed about that, but, not to be outdone, the boss jumped in and said, "well you should tell her what your MA is actually in, since it's not really relevant to what we do here."

WHAT?! When does higher education not matter? And, looking around, I realized I was the ONLY one with a MA at the table. Now, I do realize that an MA in European Renaissance Art History isn't currently in high demand, but it sure does make me an intelligent employee. Was I being put down for being more educated than anyone else at the table? Was she trying to make me look like an idiot since I had a degree that their new hire did not? Or was she just an imbecile?

Later that day, the new hire was being shown around the office, and upon entering my designated space in hell, the boss said, "this is where the marginal employees work" as her way of introducing it. Again, WHAT??? Was that really out loud? I'm going with the aforementioned imbecile conclusion. The new employee had the grace to look embarrassed but the boss kept rambling on unimpeded by propriety.

I wrote my notice that night and left the company shortly thereafter. Oh, I absolutely have to post here the job notice as it actually appeared on Craig's List (really!) advertising my vacated position. It was also the impetus for the woman who had been hired to replace me to depart forthwith.

Looking For A detailed orented Person With A Medical, Health Care , or Clinical Backround. Must Understand Progrm Consepts. Company Developes Programs For Doctors To Communicate With Patient Reserch. If intrested Please Call Maria or Mandy At 508-***-**** Or email Maria at [email address removed] The position Is a Permanent placememt full time with a salery of 40-60 thousand per yer based on Experience.
Location: Welfleet

I immediately sent my resume to the staffing agency that posted this since they clearly need a copy editor. Oh, make that my marginal resume.

Example #2: A person we know received a message, "We have a project and only need a moderately competent person to complete it. Would you be interested?" I don't think the call was returned.

Shouldn't you at least say please when asking someone to do something for you? Or is that now only moderately appropriate? Or just marginal?


**My friend Valerie was tortured by a similar experience - a new boss asked what he should say about her [this after 4 interviews with him]. She noticed that he had her name on his sheet as Natalie. She mentioned that she would like him to perhaps get her name right.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Birthdays

I like birthdays. Other people's especially. Even more when there is cake. I mean GOOD cake. Not the glop from the supermarket that makes your teeth itch and tongue feel greasy from the lard in the frosting.

When I met my husband, his family had a tradition of all getting together for one another's birthdays. Usually not on the day itself, but somewhen shortly thereafter. I came from a family where there were no themed birthday parties of 52 squealing children meant more to impress the mothers than the kids. No pony rides. No clowns (thank goddess on that one). Mine were more subdued and generally made up of my parents and/or my grandparents. Maybe going out to dinner. But there was cake. Glorious cake home-made by my mom. Yum. Perfect.

But something happened and the family birthdays slowed down and have now come to a complete halt. How sad. We don't get to see each other all that often and kids grow up so fast. What a shame. So much cake to be had.

Stemming from the family birthdays, the tradition of regularly getting everyone together in the midst of our busy lives was very appealing to me. The birthday part was just an excuse. My husband and I are blessed with some really great friends and maybe this was a way to make sure we all stayed in regular contact. Thus "the usual suspects" came into being. Coincidentally enough, there was a birthday almost every month. Sometimes two!

The birthday person gets to pick where they want to go and/or what they want to do. Sometimes it's dinner at a place we haven't been in a while or sometimes it's trampolines, sometimes it's a party under a tarp. When one of the suspects had a baby, there was a tutu party. We all wore tutus and it was a blast! Her children have been firmly embraced in this tradition and are just as much a part of this group as the rest of us. One member moved to Boston, several new ones have joined up or have been sucked in. Willingly. Sometimes different circles of friends overlap and start their own friendships. The fluidity is great. But the best part? They all get along even with very different political, religious, social, economic and personal views. There are no arguments, no bickering or posturing, no "oh no, we have to go to that party with them - can we avoid it?" Proving that this "village" of people can make a difference. They do to me anyway. New ideas are born and encouraged, new friendships made, different points of view are listened to respectfully. Old stories are told, new ones are created.

And there is always cake.

Flocks of Hummingbirds

Another lifetime ago, I was intorduced to Colorado on a tip. Literally, I received a plane ticket and accommodations at Copper Mountain as a tip while bartending at the Snow Barn at Mount Snow in Vermont. Seriously proving that you can never tell what drunk people will do. Anyway, I LOVED Colorado and after snowboarding my face off for the allotted two weeks, I was always hoping to go back. I liked everything about it.

Well, a number of years later, I re-met my now husband (long story) who, coincidentally enough, owned a house in CO and voilĂ ! The tenants announced that they were moving out in April. My dream of returning was soon to be realized. Huzzah!

So, after much plotting, planning and packing, we were off to the Rockies. Thirty-six hours later, we stopped at Garfinkel’s and had a few beers with my husband’s sister and brother-in-law and some of our friends from the area. Sitting at a ski resort’s slopeside bar in the summer when there are only 20 people in the place is a little disconcerting. One bartender, not five. Twenty customers, not hundreds. Sunny skies, green slopes, flowers, marmots and magpies everywhere. The song of the mountains was music to this Virgo's soul.

Enough cocktails later, off to the house we went. To find disaster where once a home had stood. And I do mean disaster. The tenants left the place befouled, besmirched and we were stunned that people could chose to live in such revolting conditions. I've been in cleaner fraternity houses. Really.

We slept on blankets on the floor that night, rather than the broken and cushionless full size couch that they had so graciously left in the middle of the living room, and woke up with rashes. In the daylight, the horror continued. Part of the front door was ripped off. The front fence was broken and sagging (it was otherwise a beautiful wrought iron picket fence) and the yard was in shambles. There was unspeakable filth all over the walls and ceiling of every room in the house. I think they were making beer at one point. I hope that's what it was anyway. Bugs in the cabinets from all the leftover dog food. Unidentifiable substances in the refrigerator from April. Broken windows and shelves, carpets that had been used by the three dogs living there. Three? There was a dead 8 person jacuzzi in the backyard next to a makeshift fire pit only feet from the house. Hello - anyone heard of wildfires in CO? Jackasses. As the day drew on, my disillusionment grew. The gross lack of respect only further proves my husband's and my theory that our society certainly is training its members well to not be accountable for their actions. Never mind being ashamed of bad behavior. But I digress.

While evaluating our situation, I looked out of the window to notice our next door neighbor sitting on his porch, playing a guitar and drinking his coffee. There were flowers all around him and several largish buzzing insects. Bugs? Here at 9,000 feet? No, wait! Hummingbirds!Positively squealing with joy, I ran out to meet this neighbor and get a closer look. Nick, a very pleasant man from somewhere in England by his accent, patiently informed me that there were indeed hummingbirds in my new home town. LOTS of them.

Later on that day, after spending over $500 in cleaning products, including enough toxic waste to kill every cootie that could possibly exist in the bathtub, we came back to find a hummingbird feeder and food on the stoop. No note. We promptly hung it up and waited to see who would come by. At 9pm, it was more likely to be some of the local color than a bird, I have to admit. The next morning we were rewarded by a whizzing noise followed by a ruby-throated humming bird. Then another. And another.

The symbolism of hummingbirds is this: "It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and its presence brings joy to the observer. If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in, and make the most of your new circumstances. You don't waste time looking back and wishing for "what was" for you are concerned with making the most of "what is." You take great pleasure in spreading joy and love and beauty to all around you, and have the gift of taking that inner joy into new and different surroundings. You have a talent for finding the good in people, and are not put off by a gruff or abrupt exterior, for you know that, if you can only get beyond that tough outside layer, you'll find goodness and beauty inside."

How appropriate. We were home.