Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Habit Breaking

I've been wondering a lot lately why I haven't been blogging. It seems that it's an easier habit to break than I thought.

I don't stop thinking about the blog. Getting a spark of an idea, partially composing the entry in my head. Considering what would be the hook, how to flesh it out, what would be a satisfying ending. If I had only written half of the blog entries I've come up with over the past few months, this would be my most prolific year ever!

But I don't. I think the problem actually isn't my new parent status. I think it's that I've been pressuring myself lately to make my blogs less of a diary and more actual compositions. I started this blog as a way to improve my writing. Hopefully not just by writing more often, but also by writing better. Taking the time to actually revise and craft stories.

Writing stories that would get me one step better to actually getting paid to publish. Moving toward the kind of well-crafted essays that people read and completely identify with. My experiences, but with the universal marrow exposed, so everyone feels the emotions mirrored in their own lives.

But here I am. With a piddly number of posts. So instead of working on becoming a better writer, I've not been writing at all.

We're going to back to Plan A. I'm going to stop worrying so much about crafting fantastic, memorable, marrow-filled blog entries and just write.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cinderella Shoes

The other day we went to a St. Patrick's Day potluck dinner. It was a very nice dinner, with good people and delicious food, but this story has nothing to do with all that.

Our hostess, Emily, complimented me on my shoes.

"Oh, there's a story behind these shoes," I laughed.

They are gorgeous shoes. Silver and beaded, they are shaped like a ballerina flat, but with a very small heel that makes a satisfying "click" whenever I walk in them. Wearing these shoes makes me feel a little taller, a little thinner, and a lot more confident.

It was May 2005. I was working at a job I hated, for a boss I couldn't stand. I would end up quitting in November, although the fact it took me that long is only a testament to my stubbornness, even in the face of complete misery.

But in May, I was still trying to make it work. I flew to Seattle for this big conference, where a web project I'd been working my fingers to the boneon was being unveiled. After the conference, I was going to hop on a plane for Boston, for one of my best friend's bachelorette party. I felt like a jet-setting career woman. I could have been an extra on "Sex and the City."

It should have been great! Instead, despite all of my efforts, the big project was still only limping along with poor usability. And the parts that did work? My loathsome boss took all the credit for, after doing little of the actual work. I was inside this huge conference center all day long, with barely any time for sightseeing. My two cohorts, who were in the boss's good graces, managed to slip off for more of the day for shopping, eating, etc.

By the final day in Seattle, I'd had enough. I took a short lunch break and ran out to a large department store nearby. I was going to find a souvenir, dammit. An extravagant purchase that I would never make back home. Something good would come of this trip!

I had to decide quickly. Time was of the essence, and there would be no time for waffling. And then, cruising around the first floor shoe department, I saw them. With almost a toothpaste commercial gleam to their slightly upturned toes. I grabbed a salesman, asked him to bring the two most likely sizes, tried them on and bought a pair.

I ran back to the hotel, threw the bag on the bed, and was back at the conference booth in time to hear my boss patting herself on the back once again for all of her hard work. But this time, it didn't bother me so much. The conference was nearly over, I would soon be headed across the country for a weekend of light-hearted revelry, and I had a fabulous new pair of shoes.

Of course, the trip to Boston was not smooth-sailing. There was a mix-up about whether I was getting into town on my own, or if someone was coming to pick me up. I found out I was expected to get there myself and got directions for public transport ... which were wrong.

After waiting a half-hour for the wrong bus, I found the right bus, which took me to the train, which took me to a stop a short walk from my destination. I was weighed down by a significant amount of luggage, particularly one large suitcase of work clothes that were, at this point, useless to me. That case, of course, got stuck in the turnstyle while leaving the train station, and I ended up twisting the handle to get it out, thereby making later retraction of the handle impossible.

But I got to the apartment. The one-bedroom apartment which would be housing over 10 women that weekend. I shoved my bags into one corner of the living room and pulled out my new shoes. It was time to break them in!

The bachelorette party weekend turned out to be fun and frustrating in equal measures. It was fantastic to see everyone—most of whom I hadn't seen in months. But it was Boston, and everything was expensive, and people always decide to just "split the check evenly" for the sake of ease, when you didn't order 2 glasses of wine and an appetizer, unlike some .... I insisted on wearing the shoes most of the weekend, even after they gave me blisters the first night when traipsing from dinner to club to another club back to the apartment.

When leaving the apartment for that first dinner, we passed another building resident out front. She stared at my mesmerizing shoes, turning to continue watching as we walked away.

"I love your shoes!" she called. "Where did you get them?"

I smiled. "Seattle!"

So whenever I wear those shoes, and particularly when I get compliments on them (which happens often), it makes me smile. To me, the shoes signify finding the silver lining and retaining the good memories long after the annoyance of the bad ones fades. I quit that horrible job and the awful boss is just a distant memory. The credit card statement for the financially disastrous Boston trip is long ago paid and filed. But the friendships and the shoes live on!

* Image courtesy of Charmed Silver Shoes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Also Consider It At Full Volume

Maybe you already know this. But when you're picking a name for a dog or a cat, I would suggest narrowing it down to your last few choices. Then get outside. Walk for at least 20 minutes, hollering the names at the top of your voice every few houses. Then see if you still like your chosen names.

Beckett escaped again last week. We'd had a carpenter out, installing handrails on our outside steps. He also tightened the screws on the gate and added a few more pieces of wood near the latch. "This will be like Fort Knox," he confidently told me, showing off his handiwork. "Your dog won't be able to escape without breaking the whole gate, and that's just not going to happen."

We let him have the run of the yard. Since it was actually a balmy day, we stayed outside for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure he didn't engage in any funny business. The carpenter left, and Keith and I went back inside to feed Eleanor and make dinner.

A while later, we realized we had left Beckett out in the yard. Except, of course, he wasn't. And was no where to be seen, so clearly he had been gone quite some time and had made good his escape. I was hoping to go for a run anyway, so I got changed and jogged off down the street.

"Beckett!" I called. "Beeeeckett!"

But calling out a name into the great wide open has a way of changing it. Unconsciously I started elongating the vowels to make the name last as long as possible, in the hopes that Beckett might catch the last syllable on a breeze and come running into my arms.

By the end of our road I was yelling, "Behhhhy-kit!" I felt like I had moved hundreds of miles South. The name sounded so strange coming out of my mouth, yet I was powerless to stop it.

A few times, I ran into walkers or joggers and asked them, in a conversational tone, to keep an eye out for a small black and white dog that is also the spawn of Satan. With brown eyes. Once, they asked what the dog's name was. "Beckett," I replied, but saying his name normally had become strange.

He did get found. On the plus side, we've met a lot of neighbors through his escapades. But if he keeps escaping, I'm renaming him John.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Personal Care Trifecta

Since Eleanor was born, certain things have fallen to the wayside. In the first few weeks, everything except feeding Eleanor, sleeping, and occasionally scarfing down some food was too much work. By the holidays, I was actually starting to respond to email on a regular basis and getting dressed and out of the house at least once a week.

However, there were three big things that I needed to accomplish:
  1. Get a dental check-up and cleaning
  2. Get an eye exam and new contacts
  3. Get my hair cut.
In mid-January, once we actually found a nanny for Eleanor, these dreams actually became a reality. First was the eye doctor appointment, then the dentist. Finally, a few weeks ago, I got my hair trimmed for the first time in longer than I care to admit.

It was a good feeling, to finally have achieved these lofty goals. Now I can go out in public with clean teeth, trimmed hair, and able to see more than 2 feet in front of my face. Who knows what I can achieve next?!?