PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: friends (page 2 of 3)

Mulling Definitions

Friends are mightily important in my life. There are people I know I’d like to give more of myself to, but time/space/energy/location preclude it. But I don’t take friendships lightly, and when I have issues in a friendship, they weigh heavily on my mind. Recently, I had the small realization that just because someone SAYS we’re friends and says all the right things doesn’t necessarily equate to action-based friendship, which to me, is where the rubber meets the road. Then, there are other people who strive to be friends with the people they perceive to be “the cool kids”, so that through association, they are also cool. Does any of this feel like high school yet?

Thanks to the internet, there are a whole bunch of people out there I do call my friends. You are my online friends. You comment, we exchange emails now and then, we’re even friends on Facebook. Thanks to the internet, I found my best friend in the universe. But the internet is also a deceptive shimmery piece of film, where it is easier to ‘be’ friends than to do it in real life. And it doesn’t even have to be the internet – friends in real life, but in a different setting? One of the friends became invisible. This kind of shit really makes me weary. It’s a reason I haven’t posted in a while, because I usually blog about what’s sitting right at the top of my brain, and yes, there have been a lot of great things happen over the past couple of weeks, and a couple not-so-great, but I knew as soon as I sat down to type, this whole friendship thing would start bubbling onto the keyboard. I’m irritated. It makes me want to cull and cut and slice and dice and withhold myself from the online universe.  Yet I’m wrestling with another situation, and I want to turn to some of those people for their advice, their perspective, because I still think most people are good, and care, and want to be needed, even if it’s through the interwebs.

So I dunno. The internet brings us all closer, makes the global village a little smaller, brings us shiny fun videos to share, things we can “like” and things we can have in common. Yet it brings a false sense of closeness, too, and I hate when it slaps me in the face. I want to share my life and I don’t.  Some things can’t/shouldn’t be shared, and those are the things I muddle through with best friends. I’m a problem-solver and it sucks to not be able to find the answers readily.  Maybe that’s the point – not everything has an answer. Some sentences, some problems, and some friendships – are just left hanging.

Old Light, Love Eternal

Whenever I get an email or message on Facebook about a friend’s father dying, I have a millisecond moment where the air leaves my lungs and I feel that moment all over again, so visceral, so tangible, I can see the color of the sky and feel my husband’s hand on my shoulder in that moment, a moment I now share with another person. Fortunately, it’s immediately followed by a rush of sadness and empathy for my friend, and the knowledge and vision of what time can do, what time does. How I wish I could impart that knowledge as comfort, while knowing it must simply be lived and endured, marched through, sat within, processed. So I just say what wiser people told me, that it does get better, but not in that chirpingly “time heals!” sort of way, just that from the vantage point of another human being with a shared experience, yes, it does, it does get better. You don’t cry as often or as long, and eventually, you don’t cry every day. It’s not magic nor does it disappear – I realized this week I’ve been weepy at odd points in time, and I remembered that this is the time of year when we found out about my father’s cancer.  How life itself changed in that springtime evening, as you turn a corner and you don’t even know what direction you’re going, because once again, only time gives you that vision. How four years ago, I still had hope, I railed against the very notion of death, and put every ounce of my determination into seeing my father live.  While I would prefer to have him alive, surviving, ranting on the phone with me about politics or giving me advice, I must say, the greatest relief is that he never left my heart, it was my biggest fear that somehow he would fade or pieces would disappear, but I am so grateful that I can see him as vividly as if we’d just visited, I can hear his voice, his laugh, see his smirk.

I looked into the nighttime sky last week, noting that Orion was barely visible, just a glimpse of his belt over the treeline to the West. Disappearing as the seasons change, off to hunt in another hemisphere. I thought of all the nights, in the first winter months after Dad died, after the rest of the world was done grieving him and wanted me to return to my old self, a person I could never reclaim. I would stand outside and weep, remembering all the nights I’d spent staring at the stars in Iowa, these same stars  pointed out to me by my dad, how Regina Spektor sings about the stars as ‘just old light’, how the bowl above marks the same trek across the expanse, no matter what our pain or hardships.  As Orion slips away, Scorpius claims the summer sky, the scorpion that felled the great hunter, put into the sky for time eternal, and the same battles and journeys begin anew for someone here on earth.

Random Orts

1. The stoplights on the entrance ramps on I-435 make me crazy. CAH-RAY-ZHEEE. I think it’s because I had five years of dealing with those motherfucking things in Minneapolis, and they were definitely more hard-ass about them up there (only one car per green, not two), and in most instances, there is at least a little more room to accelerate than what I remember. Also, these seem to be turned on when traffic is at gridlock, vs. in Minneapolis, they just were ON during rush hour, no matter how busy the roads were, so you sometimes had the momentous excitement of going from 0 to 60 in half a city block to merge into traffic going 70 mph and your lane was disappearing rapidly. So yeah, I know, it could be worse. But with my new job (yay!) I have loooads of commuting options, because so many major streets run parallel to the highway, and my distance on the interstate is pretty short to begin with. But I still like to bitch about those lights. They are my Vietnam Flashback.

2. Boundaries are important. I think I’ve really learned that lesson this past year. My spidey sense is honed to intrusions on my boundaries and I react accordingly. Sometimes overwhelmingly. I feel very wary and watchful in a lot of different situations, I’m resentful when my time is taken for granted (or considered less-than), and I am spending less time trying to fix things and just walking away from broken detritus. It keeps my boundaries springy and happy.

3. I believe I am the last person in the metro area who is not sick of winter. Let’s face it, I’ve got plenty of my own insulation, brisk weather invigorates me, you can always put on a sweater, and as long as it isn’t icy? I’m cool. Literally and figuratively. Snow makes me happy – as long as the streets get plowed!
Snowy backyard

4. If people don’t appreciate me (and especially if they’re family), I find it triggers Instant Resentment! You don’t even have to add water, just shake the contents and presto, a fiery concoction of vitriol and cursewords. In some cases, also some sadness. I knit some really nice things this winter – one for my mom, one for my dad’s second wife, I sent them, and never heard a word. Boundaries. Silence is sometimes as loud as a land mine.

5. Other family members are fiercely protective and appreciative of me, and it makes me weep with confusion and gratitude. Sometimes my boundaries just melt.

6. There are some batshit-crazy people in the world and you just can’t understand them, because nothing starts from a logical argument. My poor brain keeps trying to scribble out equations with motivations and potential scenarios and conclusions, but it’s fruitless.

7. Even though I realize I am a Responsible Adult, it is breath-catchingly surprising when I’m actually called that. I took a friend to and from an oupatient procedure last week, and when I picked her up, they read the home care instructions to me, because I was “the Responsible Adult”. I was like, wow – really? Lady, I can hardly get my laundry done, it’s my biggest nemesis. But yeah, I guess I still qualify.

8. I picked up said friend’s prescription and was extremely disheartened to see that infant formula is behind a locked window in some drug stores. Sigh.

Sad Times

That’s it for tonight! Peace, love & hair grease…

Shout Out

Today is NOT my friend Beth’s birthday. However, she did just return from a vacation. Yay! Beth! I am so glad you are home. It IS my dear friend friend Staci’s birthday, however, so keeses to her.

Beth is my bestest friend in the world. She shares a space in my inner circle with some wonderful people, and I must say, she is the most constant presence among these people, and we email and chat so regularly that I began to flounder when she took a vacation last week.

(Thursday)

Me: “I miss Beeeeeeeth.”
James: “When does she come back?”

Me: “This weekend but not ’til Sundaaaaaaay, oh my god she’s been gone so lonnnng.”

James: silence

Me:”NNnnnNNNNNYYEErrrrrrrrRRRR!” with dramatic flailing.

Me:”I mean, she doesn’t have internet so there are all these THINGS! She is not caught up! Like, like, does she even KNOW about the iPad? We would have talked about that. The world is moving along and THINGS are happening and we discuss those THINGS.”

James: laughs at me

I will say this, though, I had one giant rant-er-iffic meltdown with my husband over the week and he handled it fantastically.  He’s my best friend of all, of course, but we also know that girlfriends listen differently than husbands do. Bless his heart, he didn’t try to fix anything or tell me what he thought I should do, he just agreed that it was crazy, and (as always) offered to slash their tires. And he bought me some dinner and made me hot cocoa with Kahlua in it.

I’d take James and Beth into a knife fight any day.

(don’t worry, there are quite a few of you I’d bring to the party. Beth, however, would remember the tourniquets.)

Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya On The Way Out

I know, like many other people, that I will be very glad to see the door close on 2009 tonight. Can’t say that I feel that way about the entire decade, of course, because countless wonderful things have happened in my life over the past ten years. I just see 2009 as a year that brought more challenges and strife than I cared to have. I shut the door on people (some shut the door on me!), I lost my job (but gained another!), and had lots of job stress and a couple really scary health scares (bronchitis, my eyes).

All of that said, though, and some of my negative thoughts about the year, I will say that this has been the year of contradictions. My job (that I lost) depressed me beyond belief – but then I got a new one that renews and energizes me.  Unemployment depressed me, but I reconnected and made new connections and feel more ensconced with fantastic, smart, creative people than any year before. And the mack-daddy depression of them all, the grief that never leaves me, my father’s death, that got better. I no longer feel like I am the lone ox, pulling the yurt with a tribe of nomads trampling it as I strain to put one foot in front of the other. There are days with great sadness, melancholy, and some tears, but there isn’t the sense of toppling over the edge into an abyss. Time truly works wonders.

I know that in time, some of the anger and frustration I absorbed and carried this year will also fade. But now, in the moment? I’ve got a special Fuck You to a few people, and while I don’t think they read my blog, but if they do? They should be bright enough to know it’s meant just for them. Enjoy, motherfuckers. Karma’s a bitch.

As for the rest of you twatweasels I know, love and look forward to laughing with next year? Happy New Year, and I love ya. Thanks for reading and all the comments. 2010 is gonna rock.

Super Sekrit Guilty Pleasure

My best friend Liz came to visit last weekend, and we did what we always do when Liz comes to visit: Haaaaang, knit, eat, and watch awesomely awesomely guilty pleasures television. We are destined to live in the same retirement community, but it better have a DVR/Tivo.

So we went out with our pal Katrina, and tried the buffet at Masala’s. Back up. Before that, we helped bring Kat a little closer to digital enlightenment, by replacing her browser with Firefox, and introducing her to “Dick in a Box”, because she doesn’t watch TV, nor is she schooled in pop culture the way some of us are. She loved it so much she had me bookmark it for her, which cracked me up. Of course, looking back, we probably watched it 100 times, so she does need to catch up and memorize the catchy little ditty. And it’s the right time of year! Back to Masala’s. Delicious. We sampled all sorts of things and they had a lot of selections for the vegetarians (Katrina & Liz). I’m not sure what they put in the food there, besides Indian Awesome Deliciousness, but it’s filling. Like, crazytown filling. I am capable of packing it away, and by no stretch did I over-indulge, but neither of us ate dinner that night, we remained so full. I suspect microscopic dehydrated sponges in the naan, it’s the only explanation. (Now, Taj Palace still rules on the Chicken Tiki Masala and Butter Chicken, with Taj Mahal running a close number two on those dishes, but I enjoyed the variety and spice at Masala’s.)

As we were knitting and hanging that evening, I stumbled on to my new decadent television indulgence. I’m almost afraid to put it into writing, as it will take away from just how AWESOMELY WRONG it is to love it so. Have you started to guess in your head? I was about to head to bed, but then this show started….. and the dialogue….omg. This show is the food equivalent of eating butter creamed with brown sugar, before you add the eggs and make chocolate chip cookies. An entire stick of butter, with a cup of brown sugar. If you could figure out how to fry that mixture, maybe it would be equal to this show. Yes. I am talking about Steven Seagal LAWMAN. I know, they don’t capitalize “Lawman” at A&E, but they should. The first thing I heard him say on the show (it was the second episode, I’ve since caught up with the blessed On-Demand), “If you can’t anticipate an attack…… you can’t defend against it.” He is SO DRAMATIC! And so Master Sensei to everyone about everything. However, here’s the rub: the dude actually is really good at martial arts, and a fucking crackerjack shot – so I have to put a little salt in my sugar-butter rub, because it’s not like Sensei Seagal can’t hold his own, despite being rather florid and doughy (I am florid and doughy, I can say this.) He just doesn’t seem to be involved in the throes of the fracas, as he kind of rolls up at the end of all these crises. But he’s there to issue pithy zen quotes! OMG. from Steven Seagal himself: “Steven Seagal can save (your) life,” as he’s imparting 40 years of aikido training in an afternoon.

Maybe the proper food comparison should be somewhere in the cheeeeese category.  I’m feeling charitable & won’t go straight to Velveeta – maybe a port-wine potted cheese product? Or the bacon-flavored one, yeah. Whatever it is, it’s great for casual entertaining.

Wellll, hello Economy….

Nothing like getting fired on a Monday. It’s happened to me once before, ages ago, and as I compare this time to that time, there are significant differences. Back then, I was mobile. I had an apartment, and I had no ties. Here, I’m in a house, married, and love where I live. Back then, you found jobs through newspapers and headhunters.

Now, there’s the internet. And if you noticed your internet service was slower this week, it’s because I was burning up the cable lines with all my networking! Which is the most encouraging thing to be able to do – there are so many people out there who are ready and willing to help, with ideas, and leads, and words of encouragement. Advice and perspective. It’s all so…. oddly good in what is arguably an extremely stressful time.  Oh, there are still spontaneous freak outs, and I don’t expect they’ll end entirely – but as I watched who came forward to reach out, and who walked away, I found myself feeling glad. Shedding dead weight and negative energy you grew so used to it became invisible.

It may not pay the bills, but getting emails from my treasured clients, concerned about my departure, will be one of the treasures I take from this experience.   And I have the confidence that when I look back on this point in my life, it will simply be the point at which the new path was forged, and I will be seeing it from a much better place.  That first dismissal… I still laugh about being let go the week of Thanksgiving….because the turkey business we had fired us.

(and if you know of any marketing/branding/advertising/media/strategic type of jobs, do send me an email at plazajen AT gmail —dot commmmm.)

peace, yo! And oh, yeah, Economy? Turn yer butt around!

Because I Didn’t Want Anything To Get Blowdy. *

We’ve both got a nutso week here at Chez NuWo, and so I was close on my  husband’s heels this morning, leaving for work. Up until I got behind the wheel of Mimi and tried to turn her on. I was greeted with a strobe-light effect from the automatic headlights, and the worst rapid-clicking sound you could imagine.

I paused.

Then tried it again. (Perhaps I just had an out-of-body experience and it didn’t really happen.) (Denial)

More clicking. I tried to turn off as many things as I could. A/C. Radio. Lights. (Bargaining)

Tried it again. Nothin’. (Acceptance and Panic)

At this point I think at the least, it’s a dead battery. At the worst, the car no longer has an engine, as the “Service Engine Soon” light does remain on. So I sent up the ChocoCat signal (Dulcedosa to the rescue again! Though I yanked her into fourth gear out of first, unfortunately.) I look at the clock and realize James probably hasn’t turned his phone off yet, so I call him. He informs me there’s a battery charger in the back of his truck, and what settings to put it on. So off I go, I plug it in, and wait. After twenty minutes, I think it’s good and charged and then stop. What to do next? When you jump start your car you keep them both running. Do I leave the charger plugged in while I attempt to start it? My gut said “no”, but at this point, I can’t check with my husband, so I call the next person who comes to mind: Shan, my creative director at work. He confirms I should unplug everything, then unclamp the contraption, THEN start it up, and sure enough, it fires up and I gingerly start driving.  Carmen still rode backup, just to make sure I didn’t sputter out, and off it was to O’Reilly’s for a new battery.

I go in, and am helped by a young woman who informs they do NOT install batteries. I look at her and start bargaining. She informs me that she herself has changed a few batteries in her life, and she’ll take a look at it, but they are not licensed or insured to do it. I offer to be a willing student, just tell me what to do.  She proceeds to test the battery (dead), and then goes at the battery hold-down and gets the battery out. Without breaking a single long, fuschia-french-manicured nail. I am agog. And paying very, very close attention, because I do like to learn things and feel capable. Carmen heads off to work once she knows I’m not going to be stranded and she gets another pair of Friendship Angel wings.  I pay for the battery, we get it installed (I use “we” quite loosely), and I handed her a $20 while thanking her profusely, because by golly, she not only earned my appreciation, but my respect and amazement. She didn’t want to take it, but I was having none of it.

When I got to work, Shan gave me a bit of a hard time, saying how funny and ironic it was, this independent, strong woman who can do anything, but when it comes to something with a carrrr, (yes, he got sing-songy) I had to call a MAN.

I’d like to point out that the difference between me and a man? (besides the obvious)

I call for information BEFORE I potentially blow up my vehicle or electrocute myself.

I rest my case. (But thanks, Shan! I knew you’d know the answer!)

* I am coining my own slang. “Blowdy” is short for “shit gettin’ blowed up in here”. In other words, you want to AVOID The Blowdy. Unless you’re looking for blowdy as part of an action movie. Car chases and Blowdy, YEAH!

Dan and Hillary Got Married!

So,  I am terrifically behind. I haven’t blogged our Cancun vacation, I haven’t blogged the garden, I haven’t blogged, I haven’t updated to the latest WordPress version 2.8.2, which sort of works out since I never did a bunch of those earlier versions either. I have the automatic upgrader installed, but it refuses to cooperate. Shrug. SO I am going to check off one of my promises, which was to my former co-worker, good nerdy gal pal Hillary, that I would blog about her wedding!

Dan & Hillary got married on July 3, 2009, at the rooftop garden downtown atop Cosentino’s Market.  The views were stunning, the plot of grass and trees amid all the steel and glass just felt idyllic. I admit, I also have a soft spot for twinkle lights.  We were on the other end of the building from the much-ballyhooed Jones Pool, and this was the very first event to be held there!

I’ll share my pictures, but I have to warn you: I challenged the hell out of myself and my camera with the night settings, lack-of-tripod, and a sky rapidly approaching dusk. Let’s just go with the fact they captured more the SPIRIT of the event, k?

This was the view from our table:

View from our table

Her bridesmaids came out first, and then Hillary walked in. Here is a photo of the beaming bride, and it looks like I put her into a 1976 television set:

The Bride

Dan and Hillary’s children participated in the ceremony – they were precious! It was a little challenging to hear everything, but the great thing about weddings is that things pretty much roll along and you get pronounced married and everybody cheers and the soft-hearted even shed a few tears of joy, because every wedding reminds you of the day you made similar promises.

May I present the just-married couple!

Just Married!

I think what I loved about this wedding was that it captured the couple’s personality, and the fact that they were already married in their hearts and minds long before they made it legal in the eyes of the state.  And, not to hijack this post about them TOO much, I have to say, it’s just wrong that we still don’t allow gay people to have those same civil rights. My father used to tell me marriage was just a piece of paper, it was what was in your heart that mattered.  Love is love. Gay people, straight people, bi-people, all people, will love each other with or without a piece of paper. With or without the Catholic church, with or without government sanction. What really gets me is the legal fact that without my piece of paper, I could be kept from my husband’s side in the hospital.  Without that piece of paper, no matter how great my love, no matter how many years, shared bank accounts or possessions – the legal system says, “Nope.”  As do the heretics who fear the ‘sanctity of marriage’ being corrupted by Teh Gayz.  Marriage is a ceremony, legal unions are another. If churches want to sanction gay marriage, more power to them. If some churches don’t? Well, sounds like a church that’s probably not worth joining. Legal unions should be available to everyone!

Whew. Sorry Hil. Except I know you’ll understand and agree; this rant has been sitting in me since CA went all prop-8 nuts.

LOVE! It makes the world go ’round. And it’s gorgeous and dizzying on a rooftop.

P.S. – they’re working on a website, but for now, you can just pop over and the page background is an awesome photo of the happy family.  Yay!

Miniature Bottle Collectors, Prostitots, and Knitters.

It’s interesting to stay in a large hotel that caters to groups. Long, long ago, when I first started in advertising, I became aware of a whole universe of magazines that cater to what we call “vertical niche markets”. No, not those markets. Magazines like, “Spudman”, or “The Gobbler” – designed to communicate pertinent information to someone growing potatoes, or raising turkeys. There is absolutely something for everyone, and the internet only proves that more and more.

Hobbies have their own idiosyncracies. For instance, the very same weekend 100 devoted knitters descended on St. Charles, so did a group of international miniature bottle collectors.  And kiddie pageant-goers.  Now, I was intrigued by the little bottles – at first confusing the gathering with an opportunity to buy wee bottles of alcohol, but all their little rows of colored bottles, with unique stoppers and corks – it was a whole subculture devoted to their hobby. The other one? Dubbed “the prostitots” by those who had been there last year, I have to admit, it was disconcerting and a bit sickening, seeing the made-up face and hair of a 20-year-old woman wobbling above the body of a 7-year-old. I just don’t get it. Fortunately, most of those families were in the other hotel, so the cross-pollination was limited. Oh, and there was also a marching band there, and a few wedding/bachelor/bachelorette parties.  One of my weekend highlights came on the last day in the hotel, as I urged my fellow knitters to look to my left, so they could see the five-foot-tall inflatable penis passing through the lobby. (Next favorite highlight? My roommate Pat chirping, “I rode down the elevator with it! I’ve never seen one with a smiley face before!”)

I had a fantastic time. I took two sock-design classes, one with Cookie A. and the other with Wendy, of WendyKnits. I made new friends, connected the dots between Plurk and Ravelry friends to their real-live faces and voices, and got to shop at The Loopy Ewe. I drank margaritas made with Herradura, and snagged some Ted Drewes from the snack station. (They really spoiled us with the snacks. Ooof.) And then I returned to reality, and the re-entry into the atmosphere was tough. I’ve been slammed at work (thus no blog) and some of my mojo is missing. It’s like I’ve got a knitting-weekend hangover. A YarnOver, as it were. I’ve still got to organize and put descriptions on my photos, but I’ll give you the few I’ve done thus far….

Me with Wendy. She is a blast, and it was great to meet after all that Plurking:

Me with Wendy!

My roomie Pat. She rocks. She also now goes by Ricia. Ricia rocks, too.

Spring Fling Roomies!

Karen (I love this picture because not only do I adore Karen, it’s like she’s posing for this very beatific book cover, and I’m crowding in, ruining the shot. True to form, of course.)

Spring Fling

Kym (her husband joined us for dinners, and I adore him, too. They need to come visit us because JWo and Chuck would hit it off like nobody’s business.)

Spring Fling

Lori – I so wish I’d known her when I lived in St. Louis. Like-minded and boy howdy, could the two of us cook up some trouble together.
Spring Fling

Helena – what a fascinating life she’s had. After traveling the world with the Foreign Services department, she just wants to retire and settle down in Wisconsin. I also was witness to her first-ever shot of tequila (Patron, of course! Would I steer a gal wrong?)

Spring Fling

And then there was a little bit of Loopy Ewe shopping….

Spring Fling Purchases!

Duet sock yarn in Pickled Peck, YoYo CashSport in Hulk Smash, Scarlet Fleece in Poodle Skirt, and the miniature sock blocker peacock. WITH the gifted bag from Keri, 3AM Enchantments!

Keri is such a sweetheart, a couple months ago she emailed me about finding some skull beads. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good online digging detective project (zombies!), and she was so happy with the results, she made me a project bag! Knitters are the awesomest. And I finally met Ms. YoYo (Alyson) and her hubby Travis. Stupidly, we didn’t take a picture together, but I have this one of her hanging out with Cookie:

Spring Fling

…and then we were spoiled with some Spring Fling swag….

Spring Fling Loot

Namaste Knitube bag, Loopy Ewe mug, Schaeffer Nichole yarn, WendyKnits pattern, Laura Nelkin pattern, temporary tattoos & Loopy Ewe pin.

That’s all I can muster for one post – of course, there are more stories (Trader Joe’s shopping!) (one cah-razay lady who had the hugest chip on her shoulder about Ravelry!) but that’s gonna have to wait! Howdy to all my new pals, and I really understand why you start waiting for next year the day you leave.

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