Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring has sprung!

And once again my yard looks like crap. I need a new lawn mower because my little cordless electric beauty is now so old that she can't hold a charge for long. I have a really big yard and used to be able to cut it with one charge. Now it takes 3 days and we are hovering on the brink of 4. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have time to run out and purchase the latest model.

It has to be electric. I don't like dealing with gas cans and oil. It also has to be cordless because I have this horrible fear that I might be more like my mother than I would like to admit. She always had corded electrics and she was constantly running over those long extension cords. Cordless ones cost more upfront, but if you go through 10 or 20 of the 100 foot extension cords per year, it can be more cost effective to go cordless.

Right now the grass is way too high for me to cut - even with a new mower. It's at least 6 inches high and has a lovely crop of dandelions protruding from it. I love dandelions because they seem to be such happy flowers. However, I almost lost one of my dogs in the yard the other day, so it really is time to do something.

So this morning I called my trusty gardening service for my spring clean-up. I call them 2 times per year - spring and fall - to come and tame the jungle that's been created by my neglect and ineptitude. I really do like to garden, but sometimes I get distracted and the next thing you know it's progressed beyond my capabilities. So I've learned that it's best to let Mr. T and his band of merry men come and make all things beautiful again. I can usually keep it under control until it's time to call him again.

This will make my neighbors happy too. While they don't complain to my face, I know from those disapproving glances they give me at the mailbox that they believe their property values are being affected by my negligence. And when they start talking about how hard they're working on their own yards - anvil on the head!

So, it's going to be another expensive week. Last week the car. This week a new lawn mower and Mr. T and his men. This is one of those times when I'm glad I have a good job and have learned how to save and handle money responsibly. I'm smiling through the pain in my pocketbook. But, the lovely smell of my hyacinths, and the buds on my lilac bushes, cherry tree and rose bushes will soon make me forget all about it. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood - except for my yard.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I don't like secrets!

I used to be very secretive about everything because I thought it made me seem more enigmatic. It was part of my attempt at being interesting enough for others to want to be around me and get to know me. Now I don’t really give a shit. If people want to be around me, fine. If not, that’s fine too because I don’t mind being alone.

Some people flaunt their knowledge of secrets and use them like leverage, to try and make themselves more important than they really are. It’s kind of like kids who do the, “I know something you don’t know” bit to make others feel inferior. We have a couple of people like that in our office – one in particular. I really have no use for them.

In my job, I’m privy to some big secrets and I realize the importance of keeping them – even from people I know I can trust. This is business. It’s not personal. Today we revealed a big secret here at work – something I’ve known about since last October. I’m glad it’s out in the open now because the pressure has been intense, but some of the consequences of this secret are going to be difficult to handle because they involve not just assets but people.

I’m also extremely good at keeping personal secrets. I’ve kept some secrets locked inside me all my life and doubt that they will ever come out. Friends who tell me things and ask me not to tell anyone else can be assured that the knowledge will be locked deep inside me and never revealed.

But, I don’t like secrets even though I realize the necessity of having and keeping them. I’d rather just be open and honest. Unfortunately life is just too complicated for that. Sometimes life just sucks.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Holy crab cakes, Aquaman!

I’m having a hard time thinking of anything witty or profound to say today.

I have a sign in my cubicle that says, “Please Lord keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.” I need to put it in a more prominent place so I can see it better, because this has the potential to be one of those days when my sarcasm could reach new heights.

Normally, when I’m in one of these moods, the woman who sits across from me and I will talk all day about the idiocy of many of our friends and co-workers. However, she and her husband had the nerve to take this week – THIS WEEK OF ALL WEEKS – off to go on a cruise to the Caribbean. So I am left alone to my own devices. I’m adrift in a sea of snarkiness.

Sometimes when I’m in one of these moods, I’ll go wander through a mall at lunchtime. I almost never buy anything, but it helps to take my mind off of all the stuff that’s creating the chaos in my life. However, today my car is in the shop for its annual maintenance, so I am wheel-less. Plus I know that since this is one of those “major” maintenance milestones it’s going to cost about $400. Ouch! ($556.14 to be exact. Damned "check engine" light! )

So I think I’ll go on Oprah’s website and read again about that “Secret” and then try to conjure up a villa in Tuscany with lots of wine, pasta and hot Italian men. I’ll let you know if it works.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Give George a Break!

Part of my book includes a section on men. It’s basically about how little I know about them, but I’ve managed to come up with a few theories. One of my theories includes categorizing men into certain types.

I thought it might be fun to find some famous people whose lifestyles were representative of these types. I don’t go to movies and I don’t normally read the tabloids or watch the entertainment shows on TV. So my knowledge was extremely limited and since most of my childhood heartthrobs, like Paul Newman and Robert Redford, are getting a little long in the tooth now, I thought I needed some more current examples.

While sitting in a doctor’s waiting room a few months ago, I picked up a magazine that had George Clooney on the cover. I read the article and thought maybe I could use George as one of my examples. He seemed to fit very nicely into one of my categories. However, being the researcher that I am, I figured I need to get some more information about him. So, I Googled him!

Holy crap! So what hole have I been living in? Is this guy ever popular! He actually has several websites totally devoted to all things George Clooney. I had no idea that there were such rabid fans out there for George. They dedicate untold hours to tracking every move he makes. Now this really captured my interest and I was feeling even more confident that he was going to be perfect.

One of the reasons I haven’t read the tabloids or watched the constant celebrity news channels is because I always felt they were so intrusive and rude. I was right! These people are ruthless in their pursuit of all things private and embarrassing. I started reading a few articles and going onto some message boards devoted to George to get a feel for him and at first it looked like I had my man.

First of all, who hasn’t done him – well besides me that is? At least that’s how it seems from what you read. The list is freaking endless. It reminded me of myself in the late 60’s and 70’s – okay, the early 80’s too. But I’m not that slut anymore and I never named names!

Not only has everyone done him, but they all talk about it. What’s up with that? What kind of low life assholes brag about their sexual conquests when they know it’s going to show up in the tabloids or on TV? It’s one thing to tell your best friend, but complete strangers! It’s incomprehensible to me.

He deserves to be able to have sex with whomever he wants without it being public knowledge. After all, if he weren’t such a public person, no one would care who he bonks. I would never brag about having had sex with someone – even if he was really famous. How crass! Of course, this is all just my opinion. George probably doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

However, I personally would be hurt if someone I had sex with bragged about it as if I was some kind of prize at the carnival. The way some of them talk about him it sounds like he’s some kind of merit badge – you know, like you get to put on your sash in girl scouts. “Look, I got my George Clooney Bonking badge. What, you didn’t? Man you must be a real dog. Everybody has a Clooney badge.”

Okay, so if I sound irritated, I am because in all this research I’ve been doing I’ve discovered that George is really a pretty good person. He’s intelligent, articulate, and works hard. He brings attention to issues that need awareness, like the genocide in Darfur. He helped raise money for Katrina victims and he stands up for what he believes in – like the senselessness of the Iraq war - even when the issues aren’t popular. Also, he’s a liberal Democrat like me, so he must be okay.

I don’t know what he’s really like. Only he and his truly best friends can answer that question. But he’s not a merit badge. He doesn’t lick his eyebrows in public or talk about all the women he’s bonked. He deserves to be treated with more dignity and respect than he gets. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t use him. That would just put me on the same low level as all his chatty conquests.

Will I stop lurking on those sites – I don’t know. He’s kind of cute and his life is far more interesting than mine. In doing my research, I’ve grown rather fond of old George and considering his complete lack of privacy I do feel kind of sorry for him. I’m older than him, (no, not old enough to be his mother) so there’s no danger of me becoming enamored of him. I’m very realistic, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine him forsaking all his women in their 20’s and 30’s for me.

When my book is finished and my research is done, I’ll probably eventually lose interest and move on to something else. In the meantime, I’ll support him because of his good works and I won’t exploit him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Life in Spamalot!

E-mail spam is a pretty common thing these days. I usually don’t get any at home or on my internet accounts because of the great spam filters they have. However, I do get quite a bit at work and for the last month it has been relentless. Apparently our spam filter broke and our computer guys are having difficulty replacing it.

Now I’m not a techie, so this seems rather odd to me. When a filter on my furnace or coffee maker or vacuum cleaner or anything else needs to be changed, I change it. If I don’t have one, I go to the store and buy it. Why is this so hard? Granted, there are over 500 computers in 11 states in our company, but that’s why we hire these techno geeks – to take care of everything and make us happy. Anyway, they assure us that a new “solution” will soon be in place.

At first that made me really happy because every morning I have to clear about 50 spamails out of my box before I can even get started. I don’t even turn on my preview pane anymore because of all the pictures that were appearing in it. Not that I minded the pictures, but I just didn’t want anyone cruising past my cubicle and seeing a bunch of naked people on my computer. So now all I see is the subject line and some of them are pretty interesting.

Anyway, now that the spamail is going to start being filtered again (yea, right!), I find myself perusing the subject lines rather nostalgically. Knowing they will soon disappear from my everyday life, I find myself almost enjoying the last little bit of silliness they represent. So I’ll share with you some of the standouts from this morning’s crop.

I have several offers to enlarge my penis. Since I don’t have one this is going to be interesting. If anyone out there would like to enlarge theirs, I’ll be happy to forward this on to you.

There are several exclusive rates and special offers today. They don’t say what they’re for, but I’m sure most of them are fabulous, not to be missed type of stuff.

Apparently, all the mortgages and loans that I haven’t applied for have been approved. Wonder what I was planning on doing with all that money?

I also have several offers to cure me of the many diseases I didn’t realize I had. I really need to have an in depth conversation with my doctor to find out why she hasn’t caught any of these things in those annual torture sessions she calls physicals.

Viagra and Cialis seem to be very popular this morning. I really wish I had an old boyfriend so I could try some of this right now. From the subject lines, it sounds like screaming orgasms are just around the bend.

There are lots of special medications out there just waiting for me to click on the proper link. I’m a product of the 60’s and 70’s. I grew my own pot and had regular dealers for the other stuff. No way I’m buying from anyone I can’t see. It’s a personal thing!

Some I just don’t understand. What do kanab, flomot, kahuku, analomink, a burley, and before bunkie mean. If I can’t find it in the dictionary, I’m not clicking.

There are a couple of messages where people I don’t know have referred me to the senders. How do these people know me and why are they referring me to strangers? Scarey!

My favorite is, “Make your fat friends envy you”. What about my skinny friends? Shouldn’t they envy me too? I want all my friends to envy me – even the ones who are the same size. How do I accomplish that?

Anyway, reading these subject lines – often aloud to my co-workers and bosses because I like to share - has provided me hours of amusement. While I’ll be happy to not have to go through the daily deletion ritual, I will miss knowing that I can get all love enhancers on one portal.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm learning!

I'm an executive assistant. That's what I do to pay the bills. It’s not what I trained to be. I actually have 2 master’s degrees. But I like not having the stress that jobs in my field gave me. The company I work for is worth about a billion (yes, with a B) dollars and I report to the Chairman of the Board and CEO and to the President and COO. I'm at the top of the food chain. It's a good job and they treat me very well. The 2 men I work for are really incredible - intelligent, nice, generous and happy. I'm lucky!

But it seems that I have a secret passion for writing. I've been reading forever and never considered the possibility that I might have something to add to the word pool. What could I say that hadn't already been said far more eloquently?

I actually attempted to write a few times – mostly fiction. But I always got distracted about 3 pages in and never finished. I even took a writing class at our local community college and enjoyed it immensely. But I never followed through.

Then one day I realized that this year is the 25th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis and I thought I might finally be far enough away from the pain to write about it. So, as I said below, 52,000 words later here I am.

I’m a researcher by training, so I’ve spent the last few months surfing every website I can find researching everything that has to do with writing, querying, submitting, formatting, etc. I’m even a regular lurker on some blogs and have just had the incredible distinction of winning the title of “Best Suck-up of the Day” in Miss Snark’s Idols of March contest. I love Miss Snark and have learned a lot from her so I’m truly honored. (Yup! Still sucking up.)

Even with all my research I’m a total novice in the world of publishing and all of the seasoned pros are probably going to try to make mincemeat out of me. What they don’t realize is that I’ve spent most of my life in the meat grinder, so there really isn’t anything they can throw at me that hasn’t already been done at some time or another. I’m very tough and resilient. So bring it on!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

So why am I writing a book?

It was purely an accident. I didn't start out to write a book. I'm a long term cancer survivor and I started out just writing an article about the benefits of cancer research and why everyone should support it. About a month later, there were over 32,000 words staring back at me. Now that's way too long for an article, so it became a book.

I've never written a book before so I had no idea what to do next. I e-mailed my first draft to to my sister to get her opinion. We went back and forth for a couple of weeks and I made some big revisions based on her input, then I sent it out to some friends and acquaintances for their opinions. All the feedback I got was very positive, but everyone said they felt there was a lot more to the story that I wasn't telling.

They were right, of course. There were some things that just seemed too painful and too private to tell. It wasn't going to be easy to drag those things out of me. I decided that I needed a totally unbiased opinion, so I hired a professional editor to critique the work.

Now, I know that hiring an editor is like heresy in some writing circles. Many people view them as money grubbing creatures whose only interest is in taking a poor unsuspecting writer's money. This may be true in some cases, but I followed all the advice and guidelines for selecting this person. I went to Writers Digest, Publisher's marketplace, AgentQuery, Preeditors & Editors, and all of the online sites and read everything they had to say about the process. I had e-mail contact with several of them and asked tons of questions.

When it came time to make my selection, it was part credentials and part intuition. The person I chose is a published author - several books with knowledge in the memoir genre. She has an MFA and taught for 14 years. And, most importantly, she seemed to understand what I was looking for in the critique.

Her critique came back with the information I needed. What was there was good and it could be publishable, but it needed to be about twice as long and I had to dig deeper. She listed several areas that needed to be enhanced and asked many questions that helped me understand what more was required. It was a good lesson in trying to hide. You just can't do that when you're writing memoirs. It shows!

Based on her feedback and that of my friends, I went back to work. About three weeks later, I had over 52,000 words and had at least addressed all of the points the editor had made. I knew there was going to be more to do, but my brain went into deep freeze, so I quit and sent it back to the editor with a request for another critique.

And that's where we are today. I'm waiting for her to get back to me. It's been just over 2 weeks and one thing I am learning in this process is patience - definitely not one of my virtues. She has given me a date for her response and last time she was right on time, so I'm choosing to believe I'll be hearing from her very soon.

There's lots more to say about this process, but it's time for the rest of my life right now.

Wow, I have a blog!

I always wanted a blog. When I was a little girl growing up, I always dreamed of the day when I would be able to send messages across the world just by thinking them. Now granted, this isn't exactly the same thing because I have to actually type in my messages. However, considering that personal computers hadn't even been invented when I was growing up, this is pretty cool.

I am a mostly ordinary person. A woman in her 50's who has never been married, has strong intimacy issues and is commitment phobic. I am currently in the process of writing a book about my life and this blog will serve as a forum to talk about some of the processes I've been going through in writing everything down.

I won't talk about what's in the book itself. If I did that and it ever actually gets published, no one would buy it because they would already have read it on my blog. One of the main reasons for writing the book - aside from the need to purge my soul of all the pent up crappy karma - is because I want to retire before I'm 70.

I'm a liberal democrat, I have 2 cute dogs, I own my house, I have a great job and I have good friends. I'm happy now. It took a long time to get here.

I have a few things to say. Hopefully if you are reading this, you will enjoy the posts.