Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wired Up

Vacations just don't seem to be the same now that everyone is wired up. Almost every morning I awoke to find this at the breakfast table.

O.K. Some of it was blogging and checking the weather...but unplugging from work has a whole different meaning nowadays. It literally means - UNPLUG. The only hope is lack of signal or a dead battery.

Why is it that everyone is made to feel they must be within reach at all times?

I read an article in an old Oprah magazine about a woman who gave up email for 30 days. It was like giving up crack, she said, but after the first jolt of detox, she actually found peace and other ways to communicate. Now, according to her article, she still emails, but she schedules it, chooses it when it is the best communication choice, and then (gasp) sometimes uses the phone, face-to-face, or even a handwritten note, when it is the better medium.

It is our fear of being dispensable? Can our workplace actually get along without us? Will they eliminate our position if they discover they don't need us for 1 week? It wasn't even that long ago that cell phones and email were not a part of the workplace at all...and now...they are electronic leashes that keep us tied to the job 24-7.

Hubby and I admitted that the last day of vacation was the best - when we truly felt relaxed. I wonder if that is a normal wind-down process, coincidence, circumstance, or the effect of the electronic tether. Next year, I may ban the laptops and blackberries from the house and see what happens.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Card Sharks

One of our favorite things at the Cape is playing cards. In the past, it's been adult time - after kids are safely ensconced in front of TV/video, or dozing in their beds we break out the deck and play King Rummy, or Hearts, and rarely Poker. But this year the games of choice seemed to be driven by the 7-year old cutey of our group and we were all about Crazy 8's...and of course...the age old favorite - Old Maid.
It's all about the shuffle you know.

And sometimes you need a little help with sorting the cards, and Daddy's there to cheat...I mean help.

Only two players..."I don't have the old maid...I wonder who does Aunt Wenderina?"

The matches are piling up...

And in the end...someone has to be the old maid.

Don't let that face fool you...she was a good long as we were willing to play again.
Shuffle up and deal.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're On Our Way to the Perfect World

This is the phrase Hubby sings in a childlike cartoon voice every year as we head to our annual vacation on Cape Cod. He swears it is sourced from some Hanna Barbera moment with all the characters on some kind of flying ark running around the world on a mission to save the environment. Seems to stir vague memories for me...but I'm not always sure with him.

But I must agree with the sentiment...whether it is the fact that we are on vacation from our stressful work lives, or that we are traveling with some of our best friends in the world, or that we are heading to a place where the light is crystal clear and blue-gold, and the sea is within earshot from every window, or that sun, salt, sand are all washed away in an outdoor shower as the cool sea breeze ripples across your skin. Or maybe it is all of the above. It's time for us to return to the Cape...not just any Cape, but THE Cape - Cape Cod, MA.

This is our 7th year at the Cape with our friends, the 3rd year with the addition of Lula - our favorite Chicagoland resident - but our first in a new house. We decided the ants, mice, and other detrimental factors of our old beach house rental were getting to be too much to take for the money we spent.

As always, you have trade-offs. Our friends got a king-size bed (rather than the twin cots they used to have), but it is in an open loft above the kitchen...which makes for a difficult early morning for them when early risers want coffee. The beach is only steps away - with a much shorter staircase - but it is rocky and tough on the feet. The house is pristine, clean, comfortable, beautiful, but has 6 houses surrounding it within chatting distance and people walk by our windows all day and night in access to the beach.

So - we are doing what any modern professionals would do (jokingly), we're building a spreadsheet of pros and cons, and looking for the perfect house for our perfect world.

In the meantime, we're having fun, as you can see:

If you've got a rocky beach, make rock sculptures...

Making the most of a beautiful bright kitchen.

Close-set houses? We call it a courtyard. Great for sharing a snack with friends.

And kids need so very little to be happy as clams...with clams...

And there's always those quaint shopping locales that give you
as much occasion to photograph as to buy.

And it is only Day Two.

The Perfect World Indeed!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Three Hours in an Airport

The random thoughts, observations, and actions of a traveller trapped between flights in the Charlotte airport.

Lurking around the gates until I find a seat near a plug so I can work (or more likely play) on my laptop.

Eating really really really bad fast food that I fear will be a bad idea once I am trapped on a tiny plane on my way home. {Picture oxygen mask dropping down suddenly to save the passengers}

Glare at lazy airport workers who have been sitting in the row next to me gabbing for 1.5 hours doing no work and helping no one. Unions be damned.

Make lists in my head. Yes I know I have pen and paper...and laptop...but lists in my head is ever so much more effective NOT.

Contemplate how short shorts can be before they are technically underwear. It seems to be a fine line these days.

Listen to the phone ring every 5 minutes at the gate desk where NO ONE IS WORKING. However, note the gang of non-working employees sitting ONE ROW AWAY who are not

Watch crazy high school girls who are playing on the people mover - Round 1 - walking the wrong way on the mover (minor offense); Round 2 - take airport supplied wheelchair on people mover (minor offense +1); Round 3 - stand like a surfer on the seat of the airport supplied wheelchair while riding on the people mover while screaming "secuuurity" in a bizarre accent (we are approaching a seious offense here) ...they are annoying, but distracting. BTW, they are the girls wearing the really short shorts too.

Hey - I sincerely think I just saw the Geico caveman go buy on the people mover. Life imitating art?

Wish for the 1,000,000th time that I had a camera in my head...or at least a pocket-sized digital so I can record this shit. No one ever believes me.

Is there such a thing as a punk-preppy-gansta? I swear a guy with a mohawk hairstyle (the peak died teal) a teal izod shirt with popped collar, and teal/gray madras plaid surfer shorts pulled halfway down his ass, and an ipod in his ear just rode by. Really!

I'm listening to the airport security announcement for the umpteenth time. Do they really think that announcing that you shouldn't leave your bag alone or carry unknown bags onto a plane really makes us safer?

CRAP! Wonder why I can never find the undo button after I've deleted half my blog entry.

Notice 8 Latin goofballs laughing hysterically and acting a little crazy - yeah - I think they are going to be getting on my plane. Fun.

A man walking by with a backpack is "clinking" with every step. It reminds me of the sound my mess kit used to make when I was a campfire girl. Wonder what he has that makes that noise?

Geico caveman just walked by lie...he looks just like the guys in that commercial.

Who ever decided to add flashing lights to kids sneakers? Do they have a purpose? Are they so 4 year olds who might be jogging in the dark can be seen by drivers?

How can women travel in spaghetti strap tops, short shorts, and thong sandals? Don't they freeze to death on the plane? O.K. so I'm wearing sandals, but I also have on long pants, a sweater, and a wrap and I'm cold. Is it simply because their hotness (as in Whoa Hot Mamma), translates into true heat?

Plane is boarding. Woo hoo!

Happy Blogoversary to Me

Well I made it. My posting was sporadic, spasmodic, and sometimes somniferous...but I made it here. I began this journey for many reasons. To focus some time on me and not my job. To seek new and different connections. To try to be honest about my various anxieties and interests. To exercise my writing skills beyond the typical snoozing topic of engineering brochures that is my livelihood.

I succeeded in some ways, and failed in others. I opened my blog initially in secret and slowly expanded my readership to colleagues, friends and family. Making this decision wasn't easy - it meant sometimes censoring my thoughts when I had originally intended this to be an unfettered unedited expose of my emotions, thoughts, and deeds. But in the end, it was the best choice. It allowed me to share an important part of my life with people who are dear to me, and kept me honest in a whole other way than anonymity ever could.

Over the past year I've come to love my husband more every day, appreciate the gifts in my life, find an outlet for the complaints, and discovered some new friends who were willing to come along for the ride.

I sometimes feel I skim along the surface of life, and in the next 12 months I hope to dive a little deeper. Not too deep...not at first...but maybe just to snorkel level. We'll leave the major scuba gear for a later exploration. At that point, perhaps, I will open another blog totally anonymously, and try a more unrecognizable diary of the deep dark recesses of my brain.

Until then, stay tuned for more angst, sappy sentimentality, snarky complaints, and sweet hubby stories...not to mention quite a few more anxious moments.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cape Cod

Countdown to the Cape! 5 days to go!

Sunday Night at the Movies

We watched two movies back to back last night - "No Reservations" and "The Brave One".

"No Reservations" was surprisingly poignant, due COMPLETELY to the incredible child actor, Abigail Breslin of "Little Miss Sunshine" fame. She pulls your heart-strings...even if it is in such a predictable film as this. I had no idea what this film was about, and wouldn't recommend it unless you are looking for a brief diversion, or you are a fan of Abigail Breslin. But as a break from Olympics track & field moments, it fulfilled its purpose in my afternoon.

In contrast, I found "The Brave One" to be riveting and I was blown away by Jodie Foster's portrayal of a confident New York woman who is suddenly devastated by an unprovoked random violent attack in Central Park. The attack leaves her badly beaten and comatose for 3 weeks, while her fiance dies of his injuries.

Suffering from paralyzing fear, she seeks some illusion of protection by trying to purchase a gun. When told she needs a license and to wait 30 days, her heartbreaking response is, "I don't know if I can survive 30 days."

After a lifetime of free-wheeling NY living, never having been touched by violence or fear, her life increasingly spins out of control through continuing interactions with violence. A robbery in a convenience store, a subway gang attack, a sex crime/kidnapping, and a brush with organized crime. This reversal of character is captured when her counterpart in the movie, a detective played by Terrence Howard, asks her how she has recovered from her trauma, and her response (paraphrase), "You don't. You become a different person."

This story was fascinating to me - and mostly because of the Foster-Howard portrayals of their characters. The ending was surprising - a little too Hollywood - but I do believe the struggles portrayed by Foster and Howard were real, deep, and powerful.

Friday, August 15, 2008


In a few short hours I'll be meeting one of my best friends in the world...and then we'll be driving to pick up another best friend...and then onward we go north north north to Lake Placid, and we'll end here:

The Mirror Lake inn Resort & Spa

Where we may do this....

And for sure we'll do this...

And we've already reserved this...

And we'll be searching for a bit of this...

But mainly, this weekend is about this...

Cuz the last one of us has finally met her match. And wedding bells are ringing on October 31st. This is the celebration (and mourning) of the last of our single days. And about damn time too. Just in time for the rest of us to start searching for Husband #2 (just kidding babe).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The "How We Met" Story

A short time ago when I was having trouble coming up with topics, a few of my blogger friends suggested I write a how we met story. Given that our 19th anniverary is only two short months away, this seemed the ideal time to reflect...

Chapter 1. In Which Wenderina Makes Her Life Plan

Growing up I assured my mother that I need not learn the domestic arts. Not because I was going to be a career woman, but because I was going to be a kept woman. Kept in the style to which I felt I always deserved. I was looking for a man of means.

Now I never felt deprived as a child...EVER. Despite my mother's apparent leftover guilty feelings that I might have, I truly did not envy my friends their piles of christmas presents and teenage cars. In fact, it never occurred to me to think about it. I did however, dream of a day when I would not have to clean or cook or do any chores.

Of course, I wanted to be an independent woman first and could almost see my first apartment where I would live gloriously alone and do what I wanted, when I wanted, with no one else to consider. Oh...and maybe I'd have a dog...or bring my dog from home...but no one else.

I figured I'd meet the man of my dreams at age 28 or 29. Date for a few years. Marry at 32 and then spend our time leisurely traveling the world one beach at a time.

Or so I thought.

Chapter 2. In Which the Artist Crashes into Wenderina's Life and Changes It All.

The laundry room was a battle ground. You had to claim your machine forcefully, watch your supplies at all times, and if you left your clothes in the washer or dyer 1 minute beyond their cycle, you could almost guarantee they would be unceremoniously emptied from their machine and dumped wherever it was most convenient. Being my mother's daughter, however, I was known to empty the dryer of the late laundry-doer and fold their clothes neatly ready for their owner to come and collect them with gratitude.

This is when the Artist swears he met me first. I, however, must have been blinded by the fumes of the 50 machines and the cheapest laundry detergents in America, to notice. It would be a year later, that I first noticed the tall blonde stranger with the horn-rimmed glasses and cute overbite who shared a suite of rooms with a friend.

Chapter 3. In Which We Discover A Shared Life Philosophy

We had just returned from winter break and one of the girls in our dorm had brought a very young stepsister to visit for the weekend. This child was a brat. Or at least seemed like a brat to me at the time. I spent much of that weekend proclaiming my desire to NEVER have a child of my own. In one of the group settings in which I made this statement, a new tall blonde stranger agreed wholeheartedly. I viewed this boy with interest.

I had limited success with boys in high school and now had been unfortunate enough to room with some of the hottest (and loosest) females in college who collected men by the boatload, but left little selection for me. I had fancied myself smitten a few times only to find the boys similarly smitten with my red-headed pixie of a roommate, the tall lanky blonde roommate, or the brunette darling of the party set roommate. Don't get me wrong - these were great girls (well maybe the red-head was a bit of a head case), but they were way out of my league and I could not compete.

I wondered, at the time, which of my dearest friends would soon be snagging this new guy in our circle.

Chapter 3. In Which Wenderina Begins to Hope, and Hopes are Dashed

In typical college fashion, the great social lubricant was applied that night. Yes...I speak of the holy grail of alcohol. Being short-funded and short-sighted, we took what we could get with our meager rations and that night's bar was filled with cherry kool-aid and seagram's gin. Wow. Let's just pause a moment and take in that choice.

We began one of our many drinking games, and took our under-age livers in hand and began yet another brain cell murdering night. I was eyeing the Artist most of the night but had not yet figured out what to do with my interest in him. After a few drinks, we were focusing all of our drinking game vengeance on one another. It was like a semi-grown up version of pulling pigtails and calling names.

After a few more drinks, my emotions took over and I found myself sobbing in the bathroom. No. Not over the Artist. Over my older sister's announcement of her unexpected pregnancy. When I got it together again and returned to the other room hoping the Artist was still interested, I found my best friend sitting in his lap whispering in his ear.

Gone were my hopes of capturing this funny, cute, ocean-eyed, interesting boy.

Chapter 4. In Which Wenderina Lives a Typical Jane Austin Adventure of Mistaken Identities and Intentions

Dejected, I retreated from the room, assured that once again I would be the cute and funny friend of the leading lady who gets the guy. But I need not have lost all hope as my best friend bounced (or stumbled) into my room and told me in a fit of gin-fueled giggles that in fact this boy was interested in me and she was just whispering information about me to him on my behalf.

Drunken Make-Out Session Pause......

Chapter 5. In Which A Brave Sober Man Returns to the Scene of the Crime

The next day, all cherry kool-aid and gin evaporating painfully from my body, I was stricken with shyness and huddled under a blanket in my room. But the Brave and Sober Artist returned to my room to say hello, to share in my hangover woes, and to see if sans alcohol, we were still attracted to one another.

And thus began our long and bumpy courtship.

So I met the man of my dreams in February of 1986, when I was barely 19. About 10 years too early for my life's plan. A few weeks later, after I had tried to dump him at least twice, he told me he loved me - and scared me to death - but he wouldn't back down and slowly I arrived at the same conclusion. And 2 years later, on Christmas Eve 1987, a beautiful diamond engagement ring appeared at the bottom of my Christmas stocking - and my wonderful, sweet, funny, talented, blue-eyed man asked me to marry him.

Crazy Boy. I spent the next many months trying to warn him away. Making sure he knew I was nuts, neurotic, moody, bitchy, strong-willed, spoiled, opinionated, and all those other desirable qualities. But no matter how I pushed, he stuck. I think sometimes I'm still surprised by that.

Post Script:

Many years later, Hubby gave me a card that I keep framed on my desk that says, "I wonder where the years have gone, but never how else I could have spent them."

I am not a religious woman, but every once in a while I find myself whispering the following prayer.

Thank God this man found me.
Thank God for cherry kool-aid and seagram's gin.
Thank God for best friends who whisper in the right man's ear for you.
Thank God he never listened to me when I tried to break up with him and return to my original plan.
Thank God for all the patience, love, humor, and spirit this man still brings to our life together every day.

End of the "How We Met" story.

How Old Are You?

Have you ever had that question asked and you actually had to do the math to answer? You have literally forgotten your age. It has happened to me on occasion.

I've always thought I had an old soul. I was one of those kids who enjoyed the company of adults as much, or more than, the company of my peers. I was also the one who would say to my friends, "Are you SURE you want to do that? drink that? jump off that? drive that?" My nickname (somewhat with love, somewhat with exasperation) in college was "Mom". And even though my taste in movies, tv, and books can sometimes run to the juevenile, over all, I've always been older in my soul than in actual years.

But I think I've actually surpassed my "soul" age now in physical years. Because now I'm starting to think, "I don't feel old enough for that." Sometimes it's little health glitches. Sometimes it's talking to younger people and having that disconnect when shared experience is lost in translation from one generation to another. Sometimes it's when you lean in really close to the mirror and don't recognize the face staring back at you. Sometimes it's when you re-connect with an old friend and think to yourself, "Holy hell, was it really 20 years ago that we were hanging out together? Where did THAT time go?"

I wonder sometimes what I'll be like when I'm "old". And I'm starting to understand that there are a lot of people out there - our grandparents, our parents, our older siblings, who probably feel out of step with their calendar. Several years ago I heard about an experiment that a young woman did where she was made up to look like an 80 year old woman. She met up with other women of that age and formed friendships. She was amazed that they talked about many of the same things younger women spoke of - sex, relationships, money, politics, entertainment, fashion, family troubles, etc. It wasn't just a litany of illness and decay, it was a group of peers sharing similar experiences of life and much of it was not only timeless, it was youthful. When she later revealed herself to this group at her real age, they at first felt betrayed, but then were glad to learn that she had discovered that under the wrinkles, gray hair, and arthritic hands, beat the hearts and souls of young women with dreams and experiences not that dissimilar to the much younger generation.

I was looking at some pictures of my mother-in-law the other day. In the picture she was pregnant with my husband - her first born. She was giggling and had her hands on my father-in-law's shoulders and she just looks like such a young girl. I think she was about 25. I'm just fascinated by this picture. I don't know why. I mean she is quite recognizable to me in the picture - she still has a very similar smile and laugh. But there is just something about the promise of life to come in her face, while now her face reflects a knowledge of the life she has already lived. And when I showed her what I was looking at, I got the distinct feeling that she recognized that person a lot more than she recognizes herself looking in her mirror today.

I wonder if there is one little moment in time when our mind, our soul, our body, are all exactly the same age at exactly the same time. Or are we forever seeking to synchronize those three together? If there was that moment, I think I passed it without notice. Because right now, for maybe the first time ever, I feel like my body is just a little older than my soul...and that's okay. As long as there are still those people out there that recognize - like my mother in law's picture - the youth underneath and the promise of life yet to live.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In A New York State of Mind

Our family went on a little tourist excursion into NYC this weekend. The Circle Line Cruise. Only in New York can you get a 2-hour tourist cruise ticket for $27, and the parking costs $30. BUT, it's part of the NYC experience....

My hubby elbowed his way between tourists to garner a spot on the bow along the rail. As he twisted around and grinned at me - making me laugh out loud at the boyish glee on his face - he grabbed his camera and got to work.

Talented fella isn't he?

See his blog at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Painful...Just Painful

Recently one of my staff sent an email out to the CEO, HR Vice President, me, my boss, my boss' boss and a few other "persons of note." The subject line? "Reflections on 10 years". He was celebrating his 10-year anniversary.

Hello. Can you say, "Please please notice me!" any more obviously?

I have a hard time with this kind of obvious neediness.

But my boss? She totally fell for this. Hook. Line. Sinker. She strolled to his desk and said, "oh wonderful! We'll have to take you to lunch to celebrate."

Ok. I've been with the firm 18 years....and not since my 1st anniversary has anyone (other than the automated employee reward program) noticed nor taken me to lunch. And that is just fine with me.

The lunch has been cancelled twice (by me) due to conflicts, but finally the doomsday arrived and we headed out for our little celebration.

O.K. It got even more painful than the needy little email he sent.

  1. On the way there he asks, "Where are we going?" Upon reply, he gushes "Wow, an upscale restaurant, you guys must really like me."

  2. Once we arrive all three managers at the table ordered soft drinks. He asked, "O.K. if I get some wine?" (I would have said no, my boss answered, "sure!")

  3. THEN he asked, "If it's okay with all of you, I'd like to offer grace with a word of thanks for all of you and our company." Here I said, "No, I'm not comfortable with that." I mean, come on! First off, mixing religion and work is always inappropriate. Second, two of the four of us are Jewish and really not interested in praying to Jesus.

  4. We got past that awkward moment and his wine arrived. At which point he raised his glass and said, "To me!" Could it get any worse, you ask?

  5. Then, he asked about who we thought the next CEO might be...and would he ever be in the running somewhere down the line in his career?

My response should have been, "Keep Praying...." but instead I just kept my mouth shut.

Am I too sensitive to this? Am I too cynical? Or was this really as painful to hear about as it was to experience?

As far as I'm concerned, there is only room for one prayer in the workplace:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You Had Me at Hello...

Amybow visited me this week and accused me of being a lazy blogger. I told her indeed I am not, I am a busy blogger, just not busy blogging...and I am a sad blogger because during my downtime I have been succumbing to the absence of my maniacal pet who drove me crazy on a daily basis and now leaves my life strangely devoid of presence.

Amybow's further accusatory statements included, "You're just retyping someone else's words." and I am shamefaced to admit it is so. I used a great great grandfather as a crutch. I will continue his story, but will only post one entry per week so that my own voice will ring out again.

The last few days, I have found a friend in a new book on CD - Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Given to me by my fellow commuter - Boss Lady - she warned me that the book opens with a rather glutunous outpouring of self-pity and depression but if I hung on I would get into it.

Um. OK. Sounds like the ideal thing for me to be listening to right now. Especially on a road-rage filled highway as I travel to my insane job or to my stunningly empty house.

But...despite Boss Lady's warning, this book had me at Hello. I think it is the IDEAL time for me to be listening to this book. It is about a brave self-discovery in the face of crippling emotional, chemical, and physical depression. And when I realized it was being read by the author - and is a true portrayal of her life over one year of travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia, I sank even deeper into the story.

I listened to this book this week when I was stuck in 2 hours of rush hour traffic. And loved every minute of the delay. I listened to this book when I stayed much too late at work to get my head above water after several weeks of sticking to my 6:30PM departure deadlines, and I wished that the drive home had taken longer. I have a feeling I may listen to this book more than once...and I will probably want to buy the book and revel in its pages as well.

Have you ever had that kind of immediate and intimate connection with a story? I felt it also with the "Dogs of Babel", which I was stunned to realize was written by a woman, while I felt it captured a man's voice exceptionally well.

If I look way back in my life I think I recall the first time this connection happened, and once again it was an auditory experience, not a visual one. In 5th grade, the three grade-level teachers each selected a book and created a slot for reading to a group and then allowed all 5th graders to select which book they wished to read in a group setting. It was like a several week long extended storytime at a bookstore...hearing these teachers who were trying so hard to teach us long division and basic principles of science and history, snuggle down in a chair with us surrounding them seated "indian" fashion, and enter a world of fantasy or adventure. I participated in three reading groups that year - and to this day I remember each teacher's name and the book they read. Mr. Loun read, The Long Walk by Sławomir Rawicz. Mr. Ferrington read The Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov, and my favorite - the one that touched my soul - was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. There is nothing like a boy and his dogs story.

So now, if this book plays out as good as the first few chapters, I can add a new book to my short-list of favorites. Those books that speak to your soul and are the ones you know will be dog-eared and well-worn as you read and re-read them year after year. The books that had you at Hello.