Tags: rich living


Weekend Report, June 14-16, 2013

I'm hoping, again, to recultivate the habit of using this here bloggy thing to recount my exciting weekend adventures, in part to keep the few friends and family to read this in the loop about what's going on in my life and maybe in a weird sort of way to encourage me to get out of the house and have some adventures to write about for a change.

Part of the problem has been for a painfully long stretch of weekends the weekend report would have largely consisted of "came home on Friday, collapsed on couch, drowned in pool of self-loathing but somehow managed to get the laundry done and the house clean on Saturday, proceed as usual on Sunday." I came precariously close to quitting my job until I realized that would be throwing in the wrong towel. Instead the towel I chose to throw in was the I'm Not Taking Antidepressants Anymore towel.

Some people improve their lives by quitting drug habits. I hope to improve my life by resuming mine.

I stopped taking antidepressants back in 2007 (right around the time I was first getting involved with Mr. TBH, for those of you who have been reading along that far back) and at the time it did seem like the right decision. It may well have been. It was also around that time that I read The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron (aka The Unified Field Theory Of My Entire Life) and came to understand that my serotonin depravation might not be a permanent glitch but something I could actually do something about by arranging my circumstances so as to avoid overstimulation. I mastered the art of Doing Nothing without feeling guilty about it. I started taking fish oil and 5-HTP. I came to the conclusion that I could take care of this thing on my own without grappling with our broken healthcare system.

Then the economy collapsed and I was unemployed for three years. During that time, I finished a novel (that didn't sell), made art (that only a few people bought), put out an e-book (that's earned me less than ten bucks in royalties, last I checked) and started drawing flowers to give away to people. My experiments led me to the conclusion that I'm really not built for the bohemian life. Not that I'm not creative enough, but that I'm not very good at the self-marketing hustle and that I do kinda need the stability of a steady paycheck.

So when a temp job turned up at a Big Sprawling Law Firm, I figured it would be a good place to start so I could keep the lights on and still have time to finish my next book and send it out until someone buys it. And, all things said and done, it was. But checking back into therapy and using all my other little coping mechanisms wasn't quite enough. I invested in noise-canceling headphones and even managed to wrangle an office with a closing door, but my work still suffered and I was eventually canned.

This is my personal evidence that the economy is improving--instead of three years to find another job, it only took me three months.

I don't really want to talk too much about the job I have now, except to say that I'm willing to stay as long as they'll have me. And that this job (and the previous one) proved to me that I really need to be medicated if I want to function in an office environment. I've been back on the wee blue pills for about a week now. Those of you reading along can tell me if you detect a difference.

My birthday was on Friday. It was better than I expected. I wasn't able to get the day off (which I was a bit grumpy about) but I was self-aware enough to know that having to work a job on my birthday was not the worst thing ever, and that the Horrible Wave of Despair I felt would eventually pass, and did.

My brother docwhoopee took me out to lunch and they even bought me a red velvet cake at work in addition to the traditional Office Birthday Card. I spent the evening at home, doing preliminary housecleaning for my birthday party on Saturday. (This is one of the reasons I missed most of the Internetted well-wishes on the day itself--I really didn't have time to go and look!)

Saturday morning was spent doing all the absolute last minute housecleaning, grocery shopping and preparation for my birthday party. Maybe next year I'll be able to get things prepared in a more leisurely fashion instead of frantically vacuuming at a quarter to noon. But when noon hit, I put the sign on the door that said YES, started the first DVD of The Beatles Anthology and by noon thirty I was settled on the couch with everything ready for guests to arrive.

The first knock on the door was from one of my neighbors, who wanted to know why on earth the word YES was pasted to my door. I explained it to her to her satisfaction and she went on her way. I had a long stretch before the first 'proper' guests arrived but once they did it was a fairly steady stream of folks and there weren't even any conversational lulls for the Beatles to fill in. The final shift, if you will, was filled by dosferatu but I was so worn out by then that I was less than ideal company and he was gracious enough to excuse himself so I could zonk out on the couch and wake up to the closing credits of A Hard Day's Night.

Today I have awoken to a bit of a mess to clean up and a bit of a hangover to recover from (I really should be better about pacing myself, even if I'm not driving anywhere.) The hangover has receded by now so I guess it's time to finish cleaning.

Today I took pleasure in writing a proper blog post.

Today I learned that I don't have any sponsors yet for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. I should maybe do something about that.

Weekend Report - December 14-16, 2012

"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."
"I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"
--The Hobbit

(And for the record, no, I haven't seen the movie yet but I figure I will soon, one way or another.)

I've been pulling my way out of a tailspin of depression (one of the reasons my updates have been so intermittent) and one of the signs I'm definitely getting better is that I decided to spend a proper weekend going out and having adventures instead of curling up in my little hobbit hole.

I got home from work on Friday and checked the local music listings to discover that The Lizardmen were playing at the Star Bar. I needed little more persuasion than that. I went from Business Casual to a few notches more casual and stopped at a crowded but pleasant Mexican restaurant for some sopa de pollo and a margarita. A guy at the table behind me was explaining to an older woman how an AK-47 assault rifle worked and the difference between that an a fully automatic weapon.

I arrived at the Star Bar at what I thought was an early hour but in fact I had missed the very first band by then. It was a Toys For Tots benefit with a long list of bands on the roster, and I found my friend Captain B setting up on the stage. I was about halfway to the stage to chide him for not telling me he had a gig coming up but before I made it there, someone else came out of the backstage area. Mod Boy.

For those of you fine people who have witnessed the way I am in the presence of a certain blond keyboardist for a certain band with a repetitive name, pause a moment and picture my reaction if that very gentleman had shown up in a place I wasn't entirely expecting him.

Yeah, it was even worse than that. I shrieked "OH MY GOD!" at the top of my lungs. Mod Boy just smiled and said hello. He had a guitar in his hand so he couldn't say much; I just stepped aside and let him get to the stage and do his thing. Then I ragged on Captain B for not telling me about the show. He apologized for forgetting that I no longer do the Facebook thing and thus would have missed the announcement there.

Captain B and Mod Boy were doing their guitar duties in what was basically the same line-up as Mr. Jay's Bowie cover band, only they did Kinks songs instead. They'd done it one time earlier, but I missed the show because I was out of town attending my goddaughter's first communion. I found a decent seat with a perfect view of the side of the stage of most interest to me and enjoyed a set of Kinks songs played raw.

Between sets, I went downstairs to find a quiet corner to curl up and write in but instead found myself catching up with Mod Boy for a bit. He told me that they hadn't played that Kinks set since 2011 and I said "Oh, you mean the time you made me cuss in front of my niece?"

(Permit me to digress while I explain that one. As I've mentioned before, Mod Boy is shouldered with the peculiar burden of being the son of a deceased musician who I will not name lest the Google find me but whom I shall refer to here as Daddy Mod. When I was up in New York for my niece-and-goddaughter's first communion, I was still on Facebook at the time so at the little social gathering after the communion proper I was doing a quick iPhone app check of how everybody I knew was doing. There was a post by Mod Boy about how he was feeling a little under the weather for the gig that night. One of his Facebook friends--whether or not he was an actual friend, I can't be sure--posted something useless like "You're Daddy Mod's son! You can do it!" or words to that effect. Mod Boy snarked that he could always try the Daddy Mod technique of getting shit-faced drunk before going onstage. And thus I dropped an F-bomb out loud in front of my niece. Thankfully, she was too absorbed in the book she was reading to have noticed.)

I told him about the work situation and apparently he doesn't do well in cubicles, either. (Then again, does anybody?) We grumped about Facebook, talked about car accidents and eventually he excused himself, as he does, to go mingle with the rest of the crowd. I went upstairs, saw The Lizardmen play some of my favorite songs and decided that I didn't need to hang around until Saturday to prove that I was cool, so I said my goodnights. Captain B said we should get together for drinks and crap movies again sometime. Mod Boy told me to email him and I told him that emailing him was like dropping a stone in a well and waiting for a splash, an accusation he didn't deny but instead affirmed, complete with stone-throwing hand gesture.

The past several Saturdays I've been in the habit of walking to the library (about a mile and a half from where I live) and availing myself of the labyrinth in the reading garden just next to it. It's a single winding path defined by bricks and laid with gravel that leads to a stone bench facing a white post that declares "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in several languages. Unfortunately, after the initial creation of the labyrinth, not much seems to have been done in the way of maintaining it, so I show up with a backpack containing gardening gloves and a few tools and spend about fifteen minutes pulling up weeds and sweeping away debris before walking the path and having a seat on the bench to contemplate the riddles of my existence. Once I'm done, I go into the library, swap out or renew my books and go home.

Today, I had a haircut appointment so I gave up and drove so I could at least renew the DVD of Rashomon that I still have yet to watch. But I did get some time with the labyrinth, and that felt good.

Once my hair had been chemically enhanced, trimmed and styled to a perfection it only sees the day I get my hair cut and never knows again until I return, I gave my friend Lake a call and asked her if she was still up for going to the High Museum. She was, but she was in mid-artwork from the sound of it, so I stopped for lunch at Fat Matt's to give her time to clean up.

Lake's schedule was such that we only had enough time to check out the main exhibit, which is an interesting sort of walk through modern art history which pauses to look at five different years--1913, 1929, 1950, 1961 and 1988. (They also commissioned a few new works so they claim to have added 2013 to the bunch. Okay.) I was able to spot the Matisse from across the room, though I was a wee bit disappointed that it was a 1913 Matisse and not a 1950 one. (If I go back and look again, I'll check, but I didn't seem to see any artists crop up in more than one year, which is a shame because the continuity and contrast between say, 1913 Picasso and 1961 Picasso would have been fascinating.)

The room before the gift shop had one of the commissioned installations--an intricate and slightly dreamlike network of shelves with odd objects and lights and plants. I got there first and waited for Lake to catch up and watched her as she looked it over.

"It looks like my studio," she said.

I convulsed with suppressed laughter--if I'd laughed as loudly as I'd wanted to, I would have frightened half the gallery--and said "Yes! Exactly!"

I carted Lake home so she would have time to get ready for a housewarming party she'd been invited to. I opted to head home and collapse for a bit.

Sunday was the O'Shea Family Christmas Cookie Party, whereby my mother shares the bounty of the thousand-odd cookies she bakes every Christmas season. Various friends, relatives and neighbors dropped by at my parents' house and it was rather nice to tell them "I have a job now" instead of "yeah, still looking."

Work is work--I'm still floundering a bit at times but getting better at figuring things out. I've started to pick back up on things I used to do that, hey, just because I have a job doesn't mean I can't still do them.

Like, for example, writing here.

Today I took pleasure in tidying up loose financial ends.

Today I learned that the Data Collection section of Form I-129 used to need a signature. (Wow, I bet you found that fascinating.)

1000 Word Pictures: Meeting Vesna in Venice

When people asked how Italy was, I’d show them this picture.

Vesna and Sheila finally meet…

"This is Vesna," I tell them, "We have known each other for over twenty years. That is a picture of the day we first met in person."

Back in the early 1990s, when azewewish and I were banging around the Duran Duran penpal/fanzine circuit one of my pen pals was freecloud13. (I miss pen pals, honestly. There was something genuinely marvelous about letters from all over the world showing up in your mailbox.) I recall Vesna as being one of the pals I looked forward to hearing from. I lost touch with everyone when I moved to Japan but when the Internet happened we crossed paths once more.

She came to America once. To Chicago. Same continent, but, alas, wrong time and place.

Then my parents booked a trip to Italy for their 50th wedding anniversary and I nudged my itinerary in the direction of Venice for a few days at the end of my stay there. I booked a wee room in a hotel around the corner from the train station and we arranged to meet there.

I sat in the breakfast room, scribbling in my catbook and glancing out the window every few moments at the passers by. I missed her going past the window, but couldn't miss her when she walked in the door.

I’ve already written 100 Odd Words about it. Here they are once more:

For a full minute, I swear we could not speak. Recognition lit up on both of our faces and all we could do was laugh. We embraced as if long parted, rather than meeting for the very first time. Words had abandoned us both and our actions and laughter spoke for us instead. You are here. You are real. You are flesh and bone and more than all the words and photographs we ever shared on paper and on screens. And yet I know you.

Finally she said, with a shy smile, the first word ever uttered between us:


“It’s you,” she continued, “You look like you.” I compared it to the odd shock one goes through when meeting Duran Duran the first time--yes, they really look like that. Only in three dimensions and everything. She understood completely.

I asked her if she had any interest in going with me to the Klimt exhibit at the Museo Correr. As it turned out, it was on her mental list of Things To Do The Next Time She Was In Venice. (She lives in Trieste, which is a doable but still longish train ride away from Venice. It's comparable to living in Athens, Georgia and thinking "I should check out that exhibit at the High Museum next time I make it to Atlanta.") She got a pass for the Vaporetto and we rode down the Grand Canal.

We got to San Marco and to the museum. I bought tickets for both of us (she braved the Italian train system to meet me; I figured I owed it to her) and we went into the gallery. The exhibit was just what I needed right then--a series of small, dimly lit and relatively quiet rooms with lots of fantastic art in them. It would have been amazing just on its own, but there was extra awesome that came with being with someone you could poke and remark that a given painting rather resembled a pulp sci-fi cover from 1972 and that person could poke you back and marvel at century-old furniture that was clearly not owned by someone who had any cats.

We emerged into the museum's collection of art from centuries past, styles I’d seen plenty of during my stay in Italy, but quite the contrast from the modern works we'd just seen. We found a room with glass cases full of ancient books and two enormous (but mostly illegible) globes. We peered at them, trying to trace the contours of the continents, but it was all lost in a muddy blur. Vesna noticed a hand-written sign that said "NO KLIMT HERE" and it read to me as if Klimt was forbidden. ("No Klimt here! Stop Klimting! Go Klimt somewhere else!")

We grabbed postcards of our favorite paintings from the gift shop and I asked Vesna where we should go next. (She’d lived there for years until the Euro came around and doubled the price of everything, forcing her to move back with her family.) We found a cafe and drank a spritz and she told me of the Kafkaesque horrors of finishing her degree at the university in Venice. Instead of the usual tourist spots, I got to see things like the historic Jewish neighborhood (where the bridge over the canal had the vestiges of gates that were locked at night in times past) and The First Place Vesna Got Lost In Venice. We stumbled on a park that she hadn’t seen before and saw, to our astonishment, actual Venetians playing with their children.

We meandered back to my hotel room and just sat and chatted there, enjoying the tiny luxuries of air conditioning and a toilet you don’t have to pay 50p to use. She picked out one of my ten thousand flowers to keep.

I walked her to the train station and we sat on the steps and looked out over the water. I asked her for suggestions for my final day in Venice. She pulled out her tattered map and showed me a small island with a church on it and recommended the bell tower for an amazing view of the city. (She was right, by the way.) Finally, it was time for her to go. We embraced one last time and agreed that we really had to do this more often. She walked up the steps into the station and I walked back to my wee hotel room, my head still spinning from the miracle of what had just happened.

3000 Words of What I've Been Up To

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, right? I don't have time to write down all the awesome, but I have just enough time to post three pictures that sum up the most amazing things that have happened to me since my last post.

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Today I took pleasure in having a day to myself after a stressful week.

Today I learned that my iPhone is not playing nicely with iPhoto but that there are ways around this in the meantime.
  • Current Music
    INXS, "Shine Like It Does"
  • Tags

A Few Words From Pienza

I just watched one of the most spectacular sunsets of my entire life from the roof of the place where I've been staying in Pienza for the past ten days.

Tomorrow, I leave for Venice.

Wednesday, I'm going to meet freecloud13 in person for the first time after years of knowing her.

My life really is that awesome.

Today I took pleasure in seeing an amazing sunset. Seriously, it was like a symphony of light with multiple encores.

Today I learned how to buy stamps in an Italian post office when you don't speak much Italian.
makeawish (by piperredfern)

Weekend Report, February 17-19

So 2012 is off to a pretty good start. While I was up at Chattacon, I got an email from a legal staffing agency asking if I'd be interested in a temp gig at a large law firm to do scanning, copying, FedEx labels and other scutwork for about a week and a half. I figured hey, that's at least less money I'll have to borrow from Mom and Dad at the end of the month, and I showed up bright and early Monday morning.

I was one of two temps. The immigration department of a large law firm was tackling a labor-intensive project that I will not go into details about because I am a professional. We printed out documents and letters and check requests and FedEx labels and scanned filings that were being prepared for mailing. (The firm keeps most of their files electronically, but immigration law still has a heck of a paper trail.)

The work started to slow down by Tuesday, but I'd apparently made a very good impression and I figured I'd be able to get some better assignments now that I have reminded them how awesome I am.

By the first day of February, the second temp was gone and I was still there. The lawyer in charge of my tempage had me look up patents for an O-1 filing. A day or so after that, she came into the office I'd been using and closed the door behind her.

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Today I took pleasure in switching off the alarm and going back to bed.

Today I learned a much easier way to set up a playlist in iTunes.

Weekend Report, October 14-17

Yes, you can tell it's a heck of a weekend when it starts on Thursday.

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Today I took pleasure in getting all this written down instead of putting it off.

Today I learned that I can make my usual breakfast smoothie with plain yogurt and it's still drinkable.
  • Current Music
    Andy Hunter, "Angelic"
  • Tags

Sheila Goes Ranty Mode

But she does it on one of her other blawgs so you'll have to go there to read all about it.

I'm still not sure if I'm even making sense with it. It still feels like I'm kind of flailing and pointing and gesturing and not really articulating my ideas very well, because they seem so obvious to me I don't even fully know how to transmit them to anybody else.

But I plan on future posts where I can slow down and go over things a little more thoroughly, so maybe I'll be able to point and gesture in ways that get the idea across.

Today I took pleasure in letting the cool air in through the screen door.

Today I learned some fascinating and disturbing things about the notion of the "mammy" figure in popular culture.