28 December 2010

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Tonight is the girls night dinner.  Part of our eat the world adventure, we're going for Persian. And I'm looking forward to it.

I've been indulging quite a bit these last few days. The Holidays are only to blame in part.  You see, I've also just been diagnosed as Insulin Resistant and pre-diabetic.  Thankfully, it appears to be a mild case of insulin resistance, and my doctor is of the mindset that we treat without medicine if possible. So once the holidays, and all their associated obligations, are over I'm starting a carefully regimented diet and exercise program for three months.  Our hope is that this gets the insulin resistance under control and is something that I can adopt going forward, that we avoid drugs to treat.

I'm in favor of this.  Most of the eating will not be difficult. I already follow many of the guidelines when I'm in my normal routine.

But. There's always a but.  I HATE to exercise. Well, that's not completely accurate.  I like the actual exercise, and I like how I feel when I'm done. But when I'm faced with a choice of doing nearly anything else and exercising, well, nearly anything else nearly always wins. For a number of reasons. Some of them are even GOOD reasons.   Come next week, that is going to have to change.

When I write "Gym" on my calendar (yes, I'm old school like that. I like paper calendars. I track everything on paper and electronically. That's another post) I'm going to have to treat it like it is a client meeting. Something I actually must show up for and deliver.  And although I'll be dragged into it kicking and screaming, I know I'll be very grateful, if in the end, it keeps me from being dependent on medicine for the rest of my life.

So, here's to hoping I find some exercise I adore doing.  And that I can balance eating my healthy meals with lunches out with the guys in the office.  Everything in balance, yes?

Best of 2010, Part 1

I decided to do a Best Of list for 2010.  Cliche? Perhaps. But this captures some of the many, many highlights of my 2010.  I reserve the right to add to this list as new things occur to me (hence the Part 1).  This was originally posted on my Facebook, so names of people not on Twitter or in the blogosphere have been removed to respect their privacy.

Best New Music: Mumford & Sons.  I adore their Sigh No More CD.

Best Book about an animal: Homer's Odyssey- Don't ask me why this little cat sucked me in so, but he did.

Best Decision:  There's a three way tie: First, working with Carrie Tallman. We worked through some of my crazy stuff, and I made a new friend in the process. Second, Working with Suellen Germani, and Third, checking out Atlanta HP.   I've met some wonderful new friends through Atlanta HP, and I look forward to any chance to get my geek on. 

Best New Experience: Dragon*Con- y'all, I had so much fun.  Tickets for next year are already acquired.

Best Celebrity Encounter: Yes, there was more than one.   But this stands out the most. Meeting Emily Giffin at a launch party for Heart of the Matter.  Such a class act. Such a great author.  One of my faves.

Best Weekend:  Florida girls weekend - I don't care how old we are. We had a blast at Universal Studios Theme Park in Orlando. No drama, just lots of fun.  I can't wait to plan our next trip.

Best Charity Event: For The Kid Toy Party earlier in December.  So much fun and so many toys for needy kids.

Best Girls Night Out Plan:  Eating the World with my GNO dinner crew.  We were inspired by Jen Lancaster's "Jenaissance"

Best Concert: There were a lot of concerts in 2010. Hands down, the best was Green Day! Such a fun show.  I'll see them any time.

Best Blog/Community- And here we have our second tie.  First, is Bitches on A Budget. Consistently interactive on the blog and on FB, with a passionate community. Rosalyn Hoffman cares about her work, and takes time to read and respond to comments.  

Second is my SAMCRO Community on Twitter. I've never seen so many people excited by a Television show, and taking a personal interest and investment in other friends.

Third is The Belle Beat.  Bunny Belle also blogs about books, but she and I follow each other on Twitter and she's fun to read.

Best Techie Discovery: Twitter.  Y'all. I love my Twitter.  It's kind of my crack.

Best Movie: I saw some good ones. But I'm a fan girl. You know this. So in 2010, it has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Although Inside Job was really good, and I am now in LOVE with Fight Club since I (finally) saw it.

Best Bullshit Detection Moment:  Any weekend spent with my college roommate. Enough said.

Best Bachelorette Party:  There was dancing.  With a pole. And it was fun. 

Stay tuned. There will be more.

12 December 2010

It's A Renaissance

It's a Renaissance, or
Eating the World

My friend Lisa and I both read Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover if Not Being a Dumb-Ass Is the New Black, or, A Culture-Up Manifesto.

While we both laughed out loud at reading the book, Lisa decided she needed to undergo her own cultural renaissance.  So her first item of business was to throw out to our 3 Day Girls Dinner Group that we broaden our dinner out selections and try all kinds of different cuisines.  I adore food, so I was happy to say YES!  We did Thai last month. This month is Persian, and then I'm going to lobby for Indian.

The challenge is that we are all suburban girls. And the best cuisines are not in the 'burbs where we are. But with jobs and kids and spouses and boyfriends, etc, it is hard for us to get to a lot of places during the week.  Logistically this is going to get interesting, trying to find times where we can go explore Bangladeshi, Vietnamese, and African menus.  But we'll make it happen.

The other thing is that we get to go see more plays and musicals and concerts now.  Which I've always loved doing, but its hard getting people to go to things like that sometimes.  Thankfully, this little renaissance means that the Girls are excited about doing more.  We saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra Friday night. Phenomenal show. Great light show, great music, and flashbacks to 80's hair bands.  Once the jerks in front of us left the concert, we had a brilliant time.

Next week is "A Christmas Story" and January is "West Side Story"  and then I get to look for more things to do.

So this is when having friends who are excited about doing new things has its benefits.  I get to do some stuff I already enjoy with people I have a good time hanging out with.

I'm excited to see what we discover this year.

27 November 2010

My Top Albums That Aren't U2

Driving home from the movies tonight, trying to avoid the abysmal loss Georgia Tech seemed destined to receive in the Georgia-Georgia Tech game,  I started thinking about the albums I love that aren't U2. Because if you know me, you know that I'm a huge U2 fan and that any top ten list would be peppered with their albums.  But I listen to more than just U2, so I decided to make  a list of the albums I love, from first song to last.  Ok, maybe not love every single song but a majority of them.  And it isn't a top ten list, just a list in no particular order. There aren't even ten.

1.  Jagged Little Pill Alanis Morissette
Yes, I loved You Oughta Know.  But that song alone isn't what made that album for me.  I think even more than that was You Learn. Either way, I like the whole album.   I just wish I had enjoyed future releases as much.

2.  Crash Dave Matthews Band
The songs that sold this one for me?  Crash, #41, Say Goodbye. A dear friend from college  turned me on to this album.  He was biking across the country for a fundraiser, and sent me  a letter from the road. He said he listened to the CD every night before bed, and it made him think of me. How could I not go out and immediately buy it?  And I fell in love with the CD.

3. Raising Hell RUN-D.M.C
What can I say? This one defined Middle School for me.  It was one of two on this list from that era. The first CD (ok, cassette tape) I had that made my parents cringe when they heard the lyrics.  But even now, when those tunes cross an iPod playlist, I'm taken back to that era.

4. Licensed to Ill The Beastie Boys
The other one that made my parents cringe. The Beastie Boys were a new phenomenon.  If I think about it just a little bit, I can still quote most all of Paul Revere.

5.  1200 Curfews The Indigo Girls
The best of the what I liked about the Indigo Girls, live.  All my favorites of their old stuff in one place.

6.  Chronicle Creedence Clearwater Revival
This one is simple, I grew up listening to CCR. Even now, some days are still just made for listening to them.

7.  Sigh No More Mumford & Sons
The only new one I'll put on the list for now, but I can listen to this over and over. It's the instruments, the lyrics, the whole thing. I just love it.

I'm sure there are more, and I'm sure I'll think, as soon as I'm done here, that oh, this should be  on the list.  So, I'll do a part 2 later.  What are some albums that would make your list?

10 November 2010

The Church of Bruce, Bono, and Leonard

I've read that Frank Zappa said "Music is the only religion that delivers."  I've often said, only half-jokingly, that if I could get the feeling in church that I get from some music, I'd never miss a Sunday.

Music is the balm for my soul. There are songs that I hear, and I react viscerally, from some part of me I cannot name.  I feel a power, a sense of something bigger than me. . When I hear U2's With or Without You or Bad, especially live, well, I just don't have adequate words for how it makes me feel.

And the genius that is Leonard Cohen.  His Hallelujah is one of the most poetic, stirring, moving and sensual songs I've ever heard.  His simple "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" from Anthem. 

The hopefulness, the feeling that things will be a little better with Bruce Springsteen's The Rising. And the anthem of Born To Run.  Bruce Springsteen performing I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For with U2. Bruce and Tom Morello giving us a whole new take on The Ghost of Tom Joad.  Really, anything in the Boss' catalog.

Johnny Cash, with his "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" to covering Nine Inch Nails' Hurt in a such a poignant way, with the crescendo of the piano.  The man without whom we wouldn't have much of the music we have today.

My heart breaks a little every time I hear The Pogues' Love You Til the End- and at the same time, it makes me believe in romance.  Elvis Presley  singing You Were Always on My Mind.  The first time I heard Falling Slowly and I had to stop and look up Glen Hansard and wonder how it was I didn't know about him until that moment.

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Pachelbel's Canon in D.No lyrics, but soul stirring none the less.  

I have a soundtrack for everything. The songs that make me want to work out. The songs that make me want to dance. The songs that bring out my inner badass. The songs that make me say it is time to challenge the status quo. Songs that make me want to be a rebel, to find that liberation that only rock and roll brings. Songs that simply make a car trip more enjoyable.  I could go on and on.  I won't. I have a soundtrack to create.

23 October 2010

Mourning What Might Have Been

I got some news this week that put me in a bit of a funk.  Thankfully, nothing serious, and most certainly a first world problem. But still, it caused me a bit of angst.  I’ll get to that but you first need the back story.

Several years ago, I was part of The Crew, a group of friends and alliances formed through a bunch of young singletons moving to the city and conquer the world as corporate drones. We became friends out of necessity, each of us new to the area, with few ties and needing camaraderie.  There were seven of us at the heart of the group, with a few others added in over the years as people moved to town, or old relationships rekindled.

I have very few memories of my first five or six years here that don’t somehow include the Crew.  We spent weekends together, hitting local bars and restaurants; grilling out by the pool; playing ultimate Frisbee; and just being together.  We had our own Holiday dinners together before heading out of town to our respective families. Some of us vacationed together. We spent weekends in the mountains, hiking.   We were, in a lot of ways, our own real life version of Friends or Beverly Hills, 90210 (the original, not the remake), complete with all the variations of relationships that went on in those shows.

I remember thinking several years ago that this would all end, eventually. Or at a minimum, change. We’d get married, change jobs, move, and lose touch. Like the characters on Friends, time and circumstance would eventually cause us to part ways. Yet, I thought we’d connect for weddings and births, exchange Holiday cards, and celebrate major life events.

Despite knowing that most of us would eventually become only Christmas card friends, there are a few people from the Crew I thought would be in my life forever.  Friendships I put a lot of effort into.  This week, it’s become apparent that save for one couple, I’ve been left behind? Moved on? from the Crew.

I lost frequent contact with the person in the Crew that I was closest to.  Someone who, perhaps, I fell a bit in love with at one point. Someone who gave the signals that perhaps he was interested as well, until I learned that was largely his modus operandi. When my personal and professional life settled down, I reached out again to this person, telling him how much I missed our friendship, how sorry I was that I hadn’t been able to put the effort into our friendship as much lately, and that I wanted to make our friendship a priority again if he was willing. Crickets. I’ve never received any response from him. At a Christmas party a couple of years ago, after this attempted reconciliation, I saw him and we exchanged the type of polite, impersonal conversation you share with people you don’t know at a first meeting. 

While it had been evident in other circumstances- a birthday dinner, a dinner when one of our Crew was home from London for a few days-it finally became clear to me at that party that I was no longer a priority with some of these people who I had at one time considered amongst my closest friends.

What it took me a while to acknowledge is that I never was a priority with these particular people. I can see with time and perspective, I always put a lot more into the friendship with these two individuals than they did with me. I chose to not see it when it was going on, because my perceived reality made me happy. I enjoyed being with these people. It filled some void I had, and gave me a pseudo-family.

I learned yesterday that one of these people has married, and the other is now engaged, and I am feeling a sense of mourning. Grief for what I now realize is what could have been.  If our friendship had been equal, if I had been a priority to them, if I had not been largely out of touch for a couple of years because of constant travel and incredibly long work hours, I may have been a part of these celebrations.

If I’m being honest, there was an element of self pity in there as well. With these two marriages, I’m the last of the Crew to settle down. Yes, I’ve got the mortgage and the good job and the home repairs that make you an adult, but I don’t have the husband and kids.  And at this stage of my life, I’m relatively certain that is not in the cards for me, which I am working to be OK with. Still, it makes one feel a bit defective when you feel like all your friends are on board the same train, and you’re standing on the platform, watching that train pull out of the station and leave you behind.  Like I said, that’s a moment of self-pity, and I quickly pushed that to the back of my mind.

So, the point of all this? I’m not sure. Perhaps my own catharsis, closing the door on a previous phase of my life. Solidifying these as nice memories with people I needed in my life for a particular reason at a particular time. People and times I can remember fondly but leave them in the past, where they belong.  Instead, I can focus on the people who are still a part of my life. The people I prioritize, and who prioritize me. Celebrate what is, and what is to come, not mourn what might have been. 

26 September 2010

Things I Don't Need: The Urge to Purge Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about working with a professional organizer.  Let me tell you, it is some of the best money I've ever spent.

I feel so unburdened now, so liberated.  I feel in control of my environment. I feel like I can maintain this. In fact, I have. 

So let me tell you a bit about this journey.  

Entire families live in houses the size of mine or smaller. So how is it that I had no extra storage capacity?  It was a couple of things: as I said in my original post on the Urge to Purge, part of it was laziness and part of it was a sentimental attachment to things that didn't need it.  But one key thing is that I think you have to be in the right headspace to take on this type of effort.  Now, I wasn't a hoarder. I just had too much stuff, and was holding on to things I didn't need. But it was overwhelming to get started on clearing it all out.  It seemed  like too big of a job to start.

But earlier in the year, I got my finances in order, then I worked with a life coach and got my priorities in order.  I think getting my environment in order was the natural next step.  

I worked with Suellen from Creative Order (http://www.creativeorder.com).  Our first meeting, she walked through the house with me, and listened to my goals.  We talked about a plan of attack, and agreed to 4 sessions about 4 hours each.  I secretly wondered if that would be enough. But it was.  We worked through the house room by room. The first thing we tackled was the master bedroom closets.  Remember the "Monica Closet" from Friends? Picture that times two. Or three.  

But we did it.  Here's what they look like now:

The best thing is that since we've done this, I've hung up or returned to the proper drawer or put in the laundry hamper each piece of clothing that comes of off me.  No more piling things at the foot of the bed, or tossing onto the closet floor when I'm in a hurry.

And the guest closet, where the Halloween and Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, and luggage are stored?  It used to be so full that when I had guests, they couldn't actually hang clothes in the closet.  Now?

There are two easy tricks I picked up.  One is a bin that goes up and down the stairs with me. When I need to take things upstairs, they go in the bin, and at the end of the day, the bin goes upstairs with me, and things go in their proper place.  Similarly, when something from upstairs needs to come downstairs, same concept.  This is Magic the Cat trying out the bin:

The other thing is simple storage. Items I need on occasion but not all the time. I needed an easy, but out of the way place to keep them, and keep them organized. The solution? A re-purposed over-the-door shoe rack:

One of the other quick wins?  A re-organized personal workspace.  This is where I pay the bills and shred documents.  Yes, I have a study, but I didn't want this set up there.  Like Suellen said, to be something I'll keep up with, it needs to be an area where I'll use it. So this little unused space in the living room became the perfect work nook.

One of the best things about this effort was the amount of stuff I was able to donate and, for stuff that couldn't be donated, throw out.  See these bins? They all used to be filled with STUFF.  And now they aren't. In fact, they are ready for donation.

That's eleven bins, if you're wondering.

So, like I said, I feel so free now. I feel organized.  I know easily where things are. It is easy to keep things in control because nothing is out of control.  It's expanded into other areas. I've ruthlessly cleaned out and reorganized drawers.  I'm much more discriminating in what I buy, because I realize that now that I know where everything is, I don't really need anything.

Overall, I still think my house is comfortable. You could come in and make yourself at home.  It isn't so perfect that you're afraid to touch anything.  But there's no embarrassment for an overfilled storage bin or too many magazines piled on the coffee table.  They're dropped off for recycling at a local school once a month now.

Suellen was great.  Non-judgemental, supportive, full of ideas, and respectful of my unique style.  I'm so glad I did this, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend hiring someone to anyone with organizational challenges.

To wrap up, I'm going to share with you a list of ten things, in no particular order, that I've discovered I don't need any time soon. I have enough of them, and I know where they are:

1)  Jeans
2)  T-shirts
3)  Purses
4)  Knickers
5)  Shoes
6)  Boots
7)  Bath soaps
8)  Exercise clothes
9)  Socks
10) Linens