Tuesday, March 31, 2009

tuesday's bad dates, the Florida era

Two weeks ago, I went to a conference in Orlando. It got me to thinking about the time I was in Florida for a clinical internship when I was 21. I was friends with a bunch of Canadian nurses who, like me, were there for the winter and living in hospital-provided housing. We worked all week, and spent weekends on the beach and in the bars. We always had such fun, but as I remember, I seemed to have issues with bad dates then, too.

Until my trip to Orlando, I had been thinking solely about my bad luck in the past year and a half. But it seems that my luck has always been that way. In Florida, age 21, my nickname was "Loser-magnet". (Ok, it was actually "Nerd-magnet". But that came from a bunch of Canadians and I think maybe "nerd" has a different meaning in the great white north. "Nerd-magnet" is a nickname I could proudly wear emblazoned across my chest now, as I do have a thing for nerds --and Nerd. They really meant Loser. ) In Florida, age 21, I earned that nickname.

How did I earn that nickname? Well, first there was Frank, the golf pro who took me out on a date to play miniature golf. (everyone under the age of 30 in that town worked at either the hospital or a golf course). He kept getting irritated at how uneven the playing surfaces were. And wanted to correct me each time I galloped up to the ball and whacked at it one handed. (I was playing miniature polo on a pretend horse) Then he got mad that I actually got 3 holes in one and beat him.

Then there was George, the radiology tech who accompanied us to the beach for a casual group date sort of thing. George seemed nice enough until a dolphin swam up to the shore. George had a deathly fear of dolphins. (Really? Dolphins? Is Flipper that intimidating?) He had a complete melt down, screaming for me and Sue to get out of the water and then insisted we all leave the beach immediately. SO we did. We walked back to the hospital apartments, dropped him off, and then walked back to the beach.

But I think the real clincher for the nickname was one unfortunate night at a club called "The Casino". (though there was no actual casino inside) On that particular night, Sue and I were approached by a guy who resembled a cross between Larry the Cable Guy and that guy, Ernest who was all the rage about 15 years ago. He came stumbling up to us, probably attracted by my fashionable clothing (pretty much everything I owned was tie dyed then).

"Hi" he said. "I'm Hank." His introduction came gusting out of his mouth in the fumes of his alcohol breath.

"Hi, Hank" I said, trying not to choke. "I'm Heather"

"Heather," he said, "I'm a pilot. Maybe I can take you up in my plane sometime."

"You're a PILOT? I sure hope you're not flying tonight!"

"No, not tonight. I fly all over, though. I fly to...Dallas, to um, Albuquerque...and, um to New Mexico.."

"You fly to Albuquerque AND New Mexico? Both?"

"Yeah. And to , um, Orlando, uh, Tampa, Miami, "

"Those are all in Florida. That seems safer."

"It is." Then Hank started heaving. He was getting ready to blow chunks all over the bar, the floor, me in all my tie dyed glory, everything! Nothing had actually exited his mouth yet, but you could SMELL it coming! And I was somehow paralyzed, unable to run away from Hank the drunk pilot who flew to both Albuquerque AND New Mexico.

Fortunately, the bouncers in The Casino were pretty quick. (Maybe they worked as both bounders and janitors) Two appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Hank under the arms, and quickly escorted him from the building.

Sue put her arm around my shoulders. "You sure are some kind of Loser-Magnet"

Monday, March 30, 2009

the purge continues

There are two more days left in March, but since March was such a blah month for me and April seems full of hope, I'm declaring today and tomorrow "tiny April". (This comes from my neice who had her 5th birthday party 2 weeks before her actual birthday. She annonced to everyone that she was going to turn 5 at her party. Her mother tried to explain to her that even though they had the party, she wouldn't actually be 5 for 2 more weeks. So for two weeks, she told everyone that she was "tiny 5") I see that logic as nothing short of genius! So I decided to borrow it for my own.

Anyway, the whole point of that tangental tale is that I'm jumping in feet first to get caught up on all the areas that have been sliding lately. Including blogging, exercising, and decluttering with a vengence.

Last week, I revisited the little office alcove in the Garaje Mahal. It's interesting that the second time through, I didn't have as much to get rid of with wild abandon. It was more of a mindful process. AND (maybe more importantly) the decluttering process has become more of a daily activity. Maybe that's the key: not doing spring cleaning and fall cleaning in one giant fell swoop, but working the decluttering process into your everyday routine. Do dishes? Scan the cabinet for unwanted bowls. Check email? Scan the pile next to the computer for unneeded papers. Clean the bathroom? Look under the sink for expired cosmetics. Maybe someday there'll be nothing left to chuck. Dare I dream!!

March 23: On my bookcase, I store my ballcaps on the top uprights. I have way too many ballcaps. I put 2 in the donation bag.

March 24: ON the top shelf of the bookshelf, I have an old school paper address book. I will never get rid of it. (I can never accidentally delete the paper version) On top of the address book, I had, like, 5 baby announcements. I actually wrote the baby's names down in the address books and recycled the announcements.

March 25: Second shelf down was a pile of CDs for programs and classes and virus scans and such. I went through the pile, organized them into categories, got rid of the cases, and got rid of the unneeded CDs.

March 26: Also hanging on the side of the bookcase were a bunch of nametags and lanyards from classes and conferences I've been to. Why do I hang onto these? A couple were multi colored and fun, so I put them in the Easter baskets I have for my neices and nephew. The rest I threw away.

March 27: Laundry day! Two loads of laundry, two articles of clothing. I have like 7 pairs of slipper socks. How did that happen? I put two pair of slipper socks into the donation bag.

March 28: I went through the piles of papers on the desk top. Acted upon papers that needed action, filed papers that needed filing, and recycled papers that needed recycling.

March 29: I took the bag of books down to the GotBooks donation bin. Feels so good to have it outta here!

Next week, moving on to the bedroom!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

completion of artists way

I haven't posted on the Artists Way journey since March 7 on the blog, mainly because I had been doing those posts on Friday, and for two of the past three weeks, I've been at all day classes on Friday. Last Friday, I had a gigantic to-do list to make up for the previous two Fridays' errands.

But though I hadn't been posting, I was trudging through it. I say trudging because that's what March felt like to me: a long, arduous, uphill trudge. Usually February is the month in which I hit that wall. This year, it was March.

Everything felt like a struggle in March. Work, working out, cleaning, journaling, even going to see family and friends seemed like an obligation. It could've been partly because I overcommitted myself, with two back-to-back-entire-weekend-long-classes. But I think it's also because I was so ready for spring to be here. I've noticed that since I moved back to New England: the seasonal affective disorder type melancholy is back, as well. I never seemed to have that on the west coast, not even when I lived in Oregon. (It may be overcast, but it's not as cold and wintery there)

In any case, I had been dragging with the artist way thing. I've always had a bit of a struggle with the "think of yourself as an artist" thing. I tend to think: "I can write" or "I can make people laugh". But in terms of labels, I think of myself as a "healer" first and an "athlete" second, with "artist" or "writer" coming in a very distant third.

I had been ruminating on the idea of life as an artist date and the ultimate work of art. But then again, maybe that's a cop out? Julia Cameron spends a lot of time talking about syncronicity, an idea I'm not sure I fully embrace. And then last week, syncronicity showed up and smacked me upside the head.

I was at a holistic health conference and one of the books on the recommended reading list was The Artist's Way. The idea of healing as an art, not a science, kept popping up. And then, right in the middle of day two, I had this incredible breakthrough while the instructor was talking about soy and I was bouncing on a theraball in the back of the room.

TAW spends a lot of time working on "blocks" that keep you from realizing your full potential as an artist. Maybe they were disapproving parents or english teachers who embarassed you in front of the class or maybe a spouse who told you that you were irresponsible. Mid-bounce on the theraball, I realized --BAM -- that my March stagnation in...every aspect of my life, was, in fact, a block.

And just as I had been slogging through, working on "artist blocks", I need to work on "life blocks", as well. How can I expect to be successful in one area while I am completely blocked in another? (and be healthy and balanced)

So though March was an arduous month, maybe it was, in fact, something I needed to slog through in order to get to the point where I am, now.

Life may be the ultimate work of art. Just look at Henry David Thoreau.

I got a long way to go before I get even close, though.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

weekly writing assignment

I skipped on over to MamaKat's for the weekly writing assignment.

I was toying with the idea of posting my answer to LAST week's post, which I started and then abandoned because I got to overwhelmed. But after a LONG, LONG workday (13 hours) I was again overwhelmed at the prospect of tidying up and finishing last week's almost post. (It'll eventually make it out, dontcha worry). And I got to thinking that maybe I'm making things a little more complicated than they need to be.

Which led me right back to MamaKat's posting options for this week. (pretty handy how that came full circle, eh?)

I think that when it comes to prayer, religion and spirituality, people make things way more complicated than they need to be.

I've come to embrace the idea that prayer needs only to consist of two words: please and thank you.

So today, I'm saying thank you for: (1) the weather turning warmer
(2) laughing my butt off watching Scrubs with J
(3) finally plowing through the pile of paperwork on my desk
(4) having enough to eat and to choose what I eat
(5) getting back to exercising

I'm saying please for: (1) getting through my giant to-do list tomorrow
(2) my transition to advanced clinician over the next few months
(3) sticking with the triathlon training program
(4) finding the perfect present for little K's birthday on Sat
(5) continuing to connect with Nerd

That's it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eric Part 3

Happy Tuesday everyone! And time for part 3 of the Eric saga. Click here for part 1 and part 2.

(When I started Tuesday's Bad Dates, I didn't think I'd be so long winded. I promise I'll try to reign it in for future posts)


Later, as the night was winding down, I was once again sitting by the rail, looking over the water. I was nursing a diet coke and wondering how long I should let Katie and her boyfriend argue before I insisted that she get in the car so we could go home. Eric sat down across the table from me.

“Hey loser!” he said.

“Hey loser yourself.”

“So, hey, thanks. You know, for what you said earlier. When everyone else was cheering?”

“Sure” I said. “It seemed like a strange thing to be cheering about.”

“Well, things got kind of ugly for a while. And it’s good that the fighting is over. But I never thought I’d be divorced.”

“Of course," I said. "Nobody gets married believing they’ll get divorced. A lot of people do, though. It doesn't make you a bad person. It just makes you human."

“Have you ever been married?” he asked.


“Any particular reason?” he asked.

I was about to give one of the sarcastic, pat answers that I reserved for such questions: “I haven’t found anyone who can keep up with me” or “I guess I’m too smart.” Instead, I looked up and confessed a truth that until now, I had only verbalized to J and Isabella.

“I thought I’d be married by now. I had it all figured out. But then he decided that I wasn’t worth it. He thought he could do better somewhere else.”

Eric held up his beer: “Stupid guy.”

“Yup.” I held up my diet coke. “And your ex; I guess stupid girl for not wanting to work things out with you.”

"She IS stupid!"Eric exclaimed. Then he groaned. “Oh, I just want this day to be OVER!”

I looked at the clock: 12:45. “It IS over. The day you got divorced is over. Now it’s officially the first day of your new life. Loser.”

He smiled. “Thank God!" He sipped his beer. "You want to get dinner or something sometime? Loser?”

“Sure, I’d like that.”

Ok!” Eric held up his drink again. “To us, for no longer being losers. And to the losers who dumped us: may they grow a brain or two.”

“I’ll drink to that.”

He was on a roll now: "To Eric and..." he looked at me expectantly


"To Eric and Heather! And to hell with... what's your ex's name?"

I smiled uncomfortably. "His name was, well, Eric."

Eric's face fell.

"Why? What's your ex-wife's name?"


You could physically feel the air between us shift. We finished our drinks in silence, each looking out over the water. Eric got up to go to the bathroom. I went to find Katie and drive home.

Since then, Katie and the singer have broken up. We still go see the band, just not as often. He calls me "little Jeep girl" I call him "guitar boy". Sometimes we call each other "Loser".

Some things were not meant to be.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Plowing through round two

I'm BAAAACK! I was only in Boston for the weekend (at Nerd's) but I feel like I was a million miles away. Great class, lots to think about. And while I digest some nuggets from the aforementioned class, I'll go back to what I know best....decluttering and blogging.

March 16: I felt like I still had a few more things to tackle, so I blasted through the kitchen rapid fire. I chucked a bunch of ridiculous magnets on the fridge.

March 17: Why do I have 2 sets of measuring spoons? One set went into the pile for the second hand store. (they donate profits to a homeless shelter)

March 18: My miniature coffee maker (which I use to make tea) has some weird plastic adaptor that does...I dunno what. But for some reason I kept it, thinking I'd need it for some reason. Not anymore. Unfortunately, it's not of a recyclable plastic. So I threw it away.

March 19: On to the bathroom. And since I'd be away for a few days:
Again, why do I have cases of old contact under my sink? I chucked the contacts and all the cases except for three.
Plus, I got rid of some weird anti-cellulite cream I got in a moment of weakness. Strangely, it actually did kind of work... a little bit. But the spout thing is all clogged up now and it smells funny. I'm not sure I want that on my body. Goodbye!
And I had a giant bottle of leave in conditioner. I'm never going to be able to use it all before THAT starts smelling funny. SO I got three smaller spray bottles at the dollar store. I filled all three up and gave one to J, one to S, and kept one for myself.

SO that should take care of the 20th and 21st.

March 22: Back from the class. First thing I did when I came in was chucked a frequent shopper card I had for a little store I loved...that has gone out of business. Sad. Maybe I should have shopped there more frequently.

So round two at has gone through the kitchen and the bathroom. On to the office next week!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

tuesday's bad dates (Eric part 2)

After the Shannon conversation, Eric remembered me. Sort of. The vague glint of recognition in his eyes was replaced by a smile, a wave, and a shout. Sometimes he called me “the little girl”, sometimes “the girl with the red jeep”, and sometimes “the hot 38 year old”. He never remembered my name.

Katie and I went to see the band several times a month at local bars. I was on a mission to try as many kinds of beer as possible. Katie and her boyfriend were on a mission, apparently, to argue as much as humanly possible. They were like one of those couples who are so adorable in movies and TV: amazing chemistry when they were fighting, not so much when they weren’t. (Rachel and Ross aren’t nearly as adorable in real life) Sometimes I wished she would just date the drummer.

One night in June, the band was playing at a place called The Dock. It was located off the back of a restaurant and only open in the summer. It was, quite literally, a tent on a dock. In nice weather, they would remove the side panels and you could sit on the edge of the dock, elbows on the rail, and look out over the harbor as the boats clanged against the moorings. The Dock made me homesick for California. (can you BE homesick for a place you never really considered home?)

My ex and I used to spend nights at a beachside bar in Santa Cruz after days on the sand or hiking in the coastal mountains. I’d perch on the rail and lean backward against his chest, and he’d wrap his arms around me. We’d look up into the sky and he’d point out constellations while I looked for the bats that flew around the brackish water. (We never could figure out why bats were attracted to the beach) The Dock reminded me of summer nights in Santa Cruz.

Back in Massachusetts, I was leaning out from the deck, looking for bats. (They didn’t seem to like the ocean on the east coast ) Suddenly, the band gathered around the table. The first set had ended and I hadn’t even noticed. The drummer raised his beer and announced that it was a special night: Eric’s divorce was finalized.

Maybe it was my melancholy mood that made me notice. Maybe I would have noticed anyway. While the rest of the crew were cheering and clinking bottles, Eric was gazing over my head into the harbor where I had just been searching for bats. He was not cheering. He looked sad.

I reached out and placed my hand on his forearm: “I’m sorry.”

His eyes flickered down to mine and away: “Yeah.”

After the second set, we played a round of “Who’s the Biggest Loser”. I thought I had it clinched. But “I-just-got-divorced-and-now-live-in-my-brother’s-guest-room-with-no-personal-touches-except-a-poster-of-the-joker” beats “I-live-over-my-best-friend’s-garage” every time.

(Sorry to drag it out..but I'm exhausted. The finale will be here next week.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

decluttering round two and a surprise

So I have officially made a complete lap around the apartment and I find myself back at the kitchen. Decluttering....round two.

I was at a class at the end of the week in Orlando, so I doubled up on the "one thing a day" rule to make up for the days I'd be away.

March 9: I'm sort of ashamed to admit this, but on March 9, I took down my Christmas cards. See, my birthday and Christmas are in very close proximity. And I enjoy putting the cards up on the wall. Then I enjoy leaving them up for a while to make the place festive for a while later. I usually take the cards down on Valentines Day. This year, I waited until March. I put all the cards in the recycling bin.

Then, I threw away the left over candy canes. The melting them in hot chocolate is pretty over.

March 10: I went through the coupons I had in the coupon box and threw away the expired ones.

Then, I pulled out some plastic containers I had saved and put them in the recycling bin.

March 11: Pulled out a few more plastic forks to return to the "party utensil" box at work.

March 12: I had brought an extra book along the trip, one I had already read. I put it in the lending library at the hotel I was staying in.

March 15: Returned from the trip and did some laundry. It had to come at some time. I retired my favorite workout sweatshirt. I got a couple new warmup jackets for Xmas. I don't need to keep that old ratty but oh so comfortable friend anymore. It's time. Sigh.

In an interesting aside, I had no sooner turned my ratty t shirt into a rag whan I checked my email and found out I had WON these jeans from Blissfully Domestic!

I'll have a full report when I get them, but I guarantee they'll be more flattering than the sweatshirt I let go this week.

Continuing to get rid of the old and make room for the new!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

WHEW! I'm back from my conference in Florida and I'm tired as all get out! (three days down south and I'm saying things like "all get out") I believe I got all of 4 hours of sleep each night I was down there and did not work out once. Crap. I got a lot of making up to do.

The conference was great, but I was exposed to some of the strangest human behavior I've witnessed in quite some time. And I work in health care! It wasn't even the tourists in Downtown Disney, either. It was my so called "peers" from the conference. No wonder I hibernate. I'll expostulate later.

Lastly, a word on the button that has been gracing the right side of the blog for the past few days. I picked up that book at BlissDom. The author, Mary DeMuth has a great blog with lots of tips for aspiring writers. It's definitely worth a look. Again, more on that later.

For now, I'm going to see if I can squeeze 6 days worth of sleep into one night so I can be fresh for work in the morning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

tuesday's bad dates (Eric)

One thing I've learned in my dating trials and tribulations is that things can go wrong at anytime. Sometimes, things go wrong from the start and you are fighting before the waitress arrives. Sometimes it takes until dessert. And sometimes, for some reason, things go inexplicably wrong before a date even has a chance to occur. Sometimes, something ...clicks...and suddenly you both know: this is not going to work. It's not even worth trying. That's how it happened with Eric.

When I met Eric, dating did not even occur to me. He was just some guy who played guitar. I had gone out with my friend, Katie, to see her boyfriend's band. I hadn't been expecting much. I had been on THAT night out before. You know, the one where some horrible band is making a racket while your friend bats her eyelashes at a mohawked and tattooed disaster with a microphone? Ugh. Happily, that was NOT the night I experienced. The band was actually good. And her boyfriend had only one tattoo.

We had a table with 6 girls and a bottomless pitcher of beer. The music was good, the crowd was friendly. After the second set, the band came over to the table to say hi to Katie and her friends. I said hello to her boyfriend (the singer), the mohawked and tattooed disaster (the drummer), and the guitarist (Eric).

"Hey!" I said, "Was that a Duran Duran riff that I heard in the middle of a Metallica song?"

He literally picked me up and spun me around! "I have been doing that for 2 years and NOBODY has noticed!"

"It sounds surprisingly good!" I said. (Who'd have thought that juxtaposition could work?)

He ran back to the stage and returned to thrust a CD into my hands. "Here's my CD. Listen to it and tell me what you think."

"Sure, I'd love to."

The next time we went to see the band, I told him how I LOVED the CD. It was the first one I loaded onto my new ipod.

He looked at me blankly. He clearly had no idea who I was. Apparently he whips those CDs out left and right at anyone who happens to be within range. (It would probably be more financially sound to SELL the CDs, but what do I know? I'm just some chick with a jeep)

Somebody else may have been insulted by his lack of recognition. Not me. I thought it was funny. Occasionally, I'd see a gleam of remembrance in his eyes. Not often, though.

Once, at a show at the British Ale House, Katie told Eric "Oh, Shannon says hello."

"Hmmm" he said. "Shannon. Shannon. Shannon."

Katie huffed in frustration. "Tall, thin, red hair? Came to see you every Thursday for 6 months at The Full Sail?"

"Yeah. So...is she cute?"

"You're pathetic."

"How old is she?"

"She's 26, Eric. Why?"

"Oh, that's too old" he said. "I like 'em 21 or 22."

I decided to jump in on the conversation. "Old enough to get into bars but not old enough to know about you musicians?"

"Yes!" he exclaimed. "Exactly!"

"Well," Katie replied "in that case, I'm really over the hill."

"And I have one foot in the grave" I added.

"Why?" he asked "How old are you?"

"I'm 38." I said.

"Really?" He looked me up and down in that musician-y way: "That's kind of hot."

"Oh, go play your guitar!"

to be continued....

Monday, March 9, 2009

decluttering the bins

After last week with my oh-so-emotional jump into the dreaded storage area, I decided to sort of stay there this week by going through the rubbermaid containers down there. At the end of the week, it definitely looks more organized in there, and I didn't have to give up an entire Saturday to do so. Of course, there's much more work to do, but this is all about baby steps, right? And it's ridiculous how GREAT I feel now that I no longer have that monkey on my back

March 2: Went through the "winter basket" and put a hat into the donation bag. I also found a pullover wind-proof fleece I thought I had lost. Turns out, it just fell down behind the basket.

March 3: In the "bag bin" I pulled out a duffel bag. This will BECOME the new donation bag.

March 4: I went back to the bag bin because another bag in there had been on my mind all day. I pulled out a beach bag and put it aside. It'll become the next, next donation bag.

March 5: On top of the bag bin was another cardboard box that could go in the recycling bin. (why do I hang onto cardboard boxes?)

March 6: Laundry day! How it is that I have three long sleeved gray Tshirts? I mean, I like to do the layered Tshirt thing and gray is a nice neutral. But three? I gave away one of them to J. She didn't have any gray long sleeved T-shirts. Now she does.

March 7: Brought the whole donation bag down to the salvation army. Yay!

March 8: Took a couple coat hangers back to the dry cleaners today for recycling.

I didn't make it through ALL the boxes, just a couple. But things feel a lot neater and more in control. SO next week, I'm starting from the beginning again. Back in the kitchen.

Plus, I need to double up or something, as I will be away at a class this weekend.

Happy decluttering, everyone!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

like, so NOT funny!


This weekend, I was once again presented with startling evidence that nobody thinks I'm as funny as I do.

On Friday, three friends and I met for drinks and then went to see the Shopaholic movie. (BTW: Isla Fisher may be the funniest and most adorable person on earth. LOVE HER! WANT TO BE HER!) But, I digest.

Just before the coming attractions started, four young girls, around age 12 or 13, came in and sat 3 rows in front of us. They were giggling and rustling around and finding places to stash their bags. Just before they all settled in, one of them turned around, hand on hip in that asymmetric defiant stance that teenagers do so well. "This row is only for cool girls" she announced to the rest of the theater. Then she turned around and sat down while the rest of her friends shrieked and laughed.

J and I looked at each other, and without a word, we scampered down the aisle three rows. Taking the seats next to the four girls, I looked over and said: "Hey! I heard that this is where the cool girls sit." And J added: "We got carded tonight. How cool is that?"

Needless to say, we were met with four pairs of eyes giving us the look usually reserved for their moms that clearly said: LAME! And we slunk back to our seats.

Well, at least J and I laugh about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

the artists way and the polar plunge

Today was a lovely spring-like 65 degrees. The folks doing the Polar Plunge today must have been quite grateful. I had briefly considered doing the Polar Plunge. Simply because it's something unique and challenging; it would give me something to add to the "completed" side of the life list. But when it came right down to it, I decided that I really didn't want to do it. It doesn't look fun; it looks cold. I don't like to be cold. In every picture I've ever seen of Polar Plunge participants, they look miserable. So I opted out.

I have a theory that there are things people really truly want to accomplish in their lives. Then there are things they SAY they want to accomplish, but in reality, they'd just assume watch other people accomplishing them and live vicariously through the participants. I'm like that with the polar plunge.

Last week, I talked about how I was stalled out in the Artists Way journey, stuck and uninspired, not completing tasks, thinking about abandoning it completely. And how I forced myself to sit down and think about things that were keeping me from moving forward, not only with the Artist Way, but with exercise, eating right, decluttering and so forth.

This week, I revisited the past two chapters of TAW and paid specific attention to the things that I felt the most aversion to. I found that the thing holding me back was that in week 9, it asks you to genuinely take ownership of your commitment to creativity and to commit to artistic goals for the year. To list specific steps to lead you to these goals. And to take one specific action this week.

It's much easier to SAY you want to accomplish something but then take no action. It's much easier to imagine that you truly have a goal but instead sit back and watch others accomplish their goals. It's especially easy to live your entire life as if everything out of your comfort zone is a polar plunge; interesting in theory, but something you're not interested in.

So this week, I spent some time weeding through and separating my triathlons from my polar plunges. A decluttering of the life list, if you will. I've listed some steps, and I've taken some actions.

It's scarier than jumping into the New England ocean in early March. And just as invigorating.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

what? me, normal?

It's that time of the week again: time for MamaKat's writing prompts.

This week I chose: "Normal is..."

In my little world, normal is redecorating a bar and stealing a priceless British artifact on my friend's 40th birthday. Last Saturday, we held a surprise party for my BFF's hubby. The party was at a local bar known as the British Ale House.

In the back of the building, they have a function room set up to resemble a warm, cozy British library. It has dark wood panneling, bookcases, and green sconces on the wall. There's a fireplace flanked by leather chairs with a painting of a fox hunt over the mantel. On one wall is a cluster of pictures of the royal family: Elizabeth, Charles, Diana, Harry, William, Camilla, Andrew and Fergie. On another wall is the other royal family: John, Paul, George and Ringo; Mick, Keith, Ron, and Charlie; Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. Plus, there's a framed map of the metro system. What better place for a party?

I got there early with a couple friends to tie mylar balloons to chairs, scatter confetti, and place the cake on the cake table. S had her husband's kindergarden picture sprayed on the cake (exactly HOW do they do that?), the same picture that was on the invitations.

He arrived about 45 minutes later, genuinely surprised and touched. We all ate pizza and talked and drank beer. Lots and lots of beer.

The thing about me and my two best buds, J and S; we get kind of out of control when we drink. Not in isolation. I can conduct myself with an appropriate amount of decorum when I drink in their absence. It's only when the three of us are together that my reasoning skills go right out the window.

My reasoning skills had gone right out the window when we decided that the 5 x 7" picture that was the model for the cake would look spectacular in one of the frames. After looking around the room, we decided that one of the lesser known musicians wouldn't be missed. We put the birthday boy's kindergarden picture in the frame and hung it back on the wall. It DID look spectacular! And we reasoned that it COULD be a picture of Paul McCartney in kindergarden. Who would know?

Then we went to watch the band. And drink more beer. And dance. And drink even more beer. When it was time to go, we went back to the function room to get our coats. By the fireplace, there was a dressform covered by a British guard jacket. (You know, like the dudes who hang out in front of Buckingham Palace?) Well, we couldn't leave without trying on the jacket. And taking pictures in front of the fireplace. And in the leather chairs. By the wall sconces. Next to John Lennon. And then, we (meaning I) put on my coat over the British guard jacket and ran out into the parking lot. And got into the car. And rode home. Still wearing the British coat.

Once home, J and I proceeded to take pictures of ourselves with her cell and send picture messages to numerous friends: "Hey! Look at the jacket I just stole!" Ever listen to the radio when they talk about stupid criminals? That was me and J on Saturday.

Let me just reiterate now: this is NORMAL behavior for me! J's husband was shaking his head at the two of us and listing the things we have stolen while drunk in the past year: "A cake, some wine glasses, Brian's car..." Perhaps that's why the text messages we got in return did not seem in the least surprised. "Sweet!" ; "NIIIIICE" ; "Drunk again, eh guys?"

The next morning, J and I ran to each other: "We have to return that jacket!"
But....so hung over....and big snow storm....and warm jammies....and movies on the TV.
We can return it tomorrow.

So on my way to work Monday, I stopped by the Ale House with the priceless British hierloom triple bagged in waterproof plastic. I tied it securely to the back door so that it wouldn't blow away in the storm. I briefly considered leaving the following note inside:
"I woke up on the floor yesterday morning, wearing nothing but union jack boxer shorts and this jacket. You may want to have it dry cleaned before putting it back on display"
But then I remembered that most people don't find me as funny as I find myself.

That nite, I got a call from S: "Did you guys steal a jacket on Saturday?"
Me: "Steal a jacket? Um, why do you ask?"
S: "Because I got a call from the manager of the Ale House saying they got the jacket back and the plow guy saw a girl in a red jeep tie it to the back door."

Crap. Now when I go to check and see if the picture is still in the frame I'll have to park down the street.

Why couldn't I just behave like a normal person?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

tuesdays bad dates (Dave, part ll)

Ok, in Dave's defense, it could have been the timing. Our ill-fated date took place Sunday evening after a weekend that he spent with his 5 year old daughter. I can imagine that after spending all weekend with your beautiful little princess, you wouldn't be in the best of moods having to bring her back home... to a home that isn't yours.

In my defense, HE PICKED THE TIME! I don't have a crystal ball to know that he was coming to a pizza place on the way back from dropping off his daughter. I don't have a magical mood ring to tell me he isn't feeling up to snuff. I do have a cell phone, though. He could have called me to reschedule (it's a sad, sad fact that I'm used to being stood up. I don't take it personally anymore). He didn't call to reschedule. He arrived on time, right after dropping off his daughter. And that's how I ended up spending Sunday evening defending two people I had never met: his daughter and his ex-wife.

We met at a great little Italian place on the waterfront. It has a great salad, pizza and beer special. It has an outdoor deck that overlooks the harbor. It is quite frankly, the perfect spot for a first date (you know, if you're not into kayaking or rollerblading).

We met, got our seats, exchanged pleasantries, and ordered. So far, so good. I had not been insulted before the waitress arrived. A personal best for the year! I asked him what he did over the weekend. He told me that he had his daughter over.

He showed me a picture of her and told me her name and that she was 5 years old and in kindergarten. I told her how cute she was and how she had his eyes. Then I asked what they did.

He told me about the disastrous dinner they had on Friday night. He had cooked seafood linguine with a light cream sauce and she refused to eat it. Then she said she wanted...

"Wait!" I said, "Let me guess -- chicken nuggets?"

"Yes!" he said, "How did you know?"

" 'Cause she's five. All five year olds like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, frozen pizza, grilled cheese, cereal, and either Danimals or Go-Gurt. And that's pretty much it."

"That's exactly what she eats," Dave said. "Except that she also likes gummy treats. Do you have kids?"

"No, but I have nieces. They've been five."

"Well," Dave continued, "that doesn't excuse the fact that she didn't even take a bite of the meal that I spent so long cooking for her. It's her mother's fault. She spoils her. She doesn't make her try new things. She lets her eat whatever she wants and doesn't care about her nutrition at all."

"Dave, relax. I'm sure the seafood linguine was wonderful. I would have eaten it right up. But I'm not five. Five year olds don't eat things like scallops. It's like a texture thing. She's fine. All five year olds are picky eaters. She's just being five. Seriously, she'll be ok. And the important thing was you two got to spend time together, right?"

"Well, yeah. On Saturday I took her shopping for a birthday present. I was gonna get her a bike. She picked one out that was the same color as her old tricycle. The same color as her room. The same color as half her clothes."

"Let me guess! PINK! or Purple. But probably PINK!"

"How did you know? She wanted the pink and purple bike."

"Because she's five. All five year old like pink. Or purple. But mostly pink."

"And then we went to pick out a Halloween costume. She wanted to be the SAME THING she's been for the past two years. She wanted to be --"

"A princess!!"

"Yes, a princess. Were you stalking me this weekend?"

"Um, hello? FIVE! Five year old girls and princesses are like peanut butter and jelly."

(At this point, I'm thinking things are going just swimmingly. We are talking and forming a bit of a bond. We have dessert menus and we haven't killed each other. Plus, he thinks I'm some kind a guru with encyclopedic knowledge of the behavior of five-year-old-girls.)

"Well, somebody needs to put their foot down. It's just irresponsible to let our daughter behave like that. She needs to have boundaries. And not letting her eat the same things every day and have everything in the same color and have the same costume year after year after year is the first step in teaching her some boundaries. But does her mother do it? No! I have to be the bad guy and get her upset and have her cry all weekend. And then she goes home and her mother doesn't reinforce anything and she just continues to behave like a spoiled brat!"

Ummm.....what the hell just happened here?

"Umm....I'm sorry you had a bad weekend."

"Did your nieces act that spoiled when they were five?"

"Well, yeah. They were five. That's how five year olds act. She's not spoiled, Dave. She's fine. All five year olds want to be princesses and watch the same DVD over and over and wear their Cinderella dress for days at a time without changing. It's normal. She's doing all the right things for her age. Try not to worry so much."

"Forget it." Dave said. "You finished?" He pointed at my plate.


"Ok. I'm sorry. I just want to go home."

And that was that.

I still see Dave from time to time when I run or bike or blade on the canal. We always smile and wave and say "Hey." But timing is everything, they say. And our timing just wasn't right for something to begin.

Our timing was great, however, for just another BAD DATE.

Monday, March 2, 2009

the dreaded storage area

This week I finally bit the bullet and headed over to the storage area that I had been avoiding. It was kind of a weird experience. I got almost a viceral reaction to cleaning this place. Ever watch "Clean Sweep" and see crazy nutbag packrats crying over the thought of giving away a broken set of dishes? That was me. Only I wasn't crying. And it wasn't dishes.

I finally resolved my issues and got down to clearing and cleaning!

February 23: A hat and gloves into the donation bag.

February 24: A wallet I had gotten as a present and never used. I never will. But I know somebody who would like it. I put it in the "re-gifting box".

February 25:A fleece that I haven't worn in years into the donation bag.

Feb 26: A sweatshirt into the donation bag.

Feb 27: I have a giant oversized sweater that I used to wear with leggings and cuff boots. Seriously. I loved that sweater. I still kind of do, its really soft and warm. But its completely out of style. And huge. And purple. I sort of looked like Grimace when I wore it. It might fit a plus sized person like a normal sweater. Donation bag.

Feb 28: Laundry day! A towel in the donation bag.

March 1: A box into the recycling pile.

Next week, I'm hitting the rubbermade boxes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March Goals

It's March 1st. The end of my least favorite month (yeah, I'm unfair to February) and the beginning of -- well, it's not spring yet here, so I can say its the beginnin of wishful thinking.


February goals:

1) Get My Finances in Order: Well, I changed all my bills to online statements, started tracking everything on the Ace Money program, changed some things around for my 401k, tracked my spending for the month and evaluated my spending habits, and came up with a plan for the next 30 days. I'm gonna call that a success.

2) Read 3 Books Off the Bookshelf: First, I had to finish the books from last month. I finished "The Purpose Driven Life" and sent that off to a friend, and finished "Twilight" and sent that off to a different friend. She was sick for a week and sent her husband out to get the other 3 books in the series. She's sending them my way in March.
For the financial books, I actually completed FOUR books: Money and Mindfulness, Nice Girls Don't Get Rich, the Suze Orman 2009 Plan, and Yes, You CAN Get a Financial Life (ok, I have 2 chapters left in this one but I'll finish those today) They are responsible for the sucess with goal 1 and my plan for the rest of the year.

3) Get Rid of One Thing a Day: I hit a bit of a snag here last week, but I still managed to complete this goal.

4) Post an Entry Every Day in Feb: I was so sucessful in this goal until yesterday! What happened? I was at a birthday party and thought I would get home earlier. Instead, we got drunk and out of control. So I had to put off the goal post until today. But overall, pretty good for the first 2 months of 2009. I will NOT be repeating this goal in March. Blogging has been taking up too much time on a day to day basis. Plus, I'll be away a couple times in March. So...I'm thinking probably 4-5 times per week in March.

5) Lose 2# this Month: You know? I did that without trying in December in January. As soon as I posted it as a goal, I failed at it. Of course, I did hit a snag with lots of goals the last 1/2 of Feb. So for March, I'm focusing more on an eating plan than on weight loss.

6) Go to Bliss-Dom: Done and done. ANd lots of fun.

7) Tune up the Guitar and Play ONce a Week: When I wrote this last month, I thought I'd start playing once a week and suddenly I'd be playing every day. Not so much. I DID do once a week, but just once a month. I think I had spread myself too thin in Feb. So in March, I'm gonna continue with this, but cut back on some other areas to allow myself more time for this.

8) Have a Pajama Party: I actually went to a PJ party at BlissDom, as well as having our own PJ party. It was smaller than we anticipated (lots of illnesses going around this winter) but still lots of fun. I witnessed what I can only describe as a "kid tornando". I'm fully recovered.

9) Keep Going with the Artist's Way: I'm actually going to repeat week 9 and continue along.

10) Keep Going with the Triathlon Training: One small setback from a cold that wouldn't go away. But I'm chugging along. And as the USTri Assoc says: "It's March. The real training starts here"

March Goals:

1) Stick to an Eating Plan: I played around with this in January to find something that worked for me. And stopped in Feb. To give myself some structure, I'm pulling out the old weight watcher's points program books to track the consumption against the workouts. Let's see where I am in April.

2) Continue Getting Rid of One Thing a Day: I bit the bullet and plunged into the storage area. So it's getting a bit easier again.

3) Three More Books from the Bookshelf: This month, I'm focusing on Exercise and Fitness Books.

4) Crank Up the Tri Training!!

5) Complete the Artist's Way Program this month.

6) Continue One Time a Week with the Guitar. I'm clearing up some more time for myself.

7) Complete the Two Work Projects I've Been Dragging My Feet On. Don't need to get into specifics here. But you all know how it is.

8) Get My Taxes Finished and Filed.

9) Take the CHEK Wellness Coach Class. It's good to expand your work skills, especially in times like this

10) Complete 2 Projects from my "Project Box"