Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One of Those Days

Did ya ever have one of those days?

First the scale thing....

Then...FIVE people told me I looked tired today...FIVE...and I'm not. Makes you really feel like you are looking FINE doesn't it?

Then...one person continually asked me if I was ok...continually...??? "Are you sure? You look like you are off today?"

Then an email question to two people turned into an email explosion between 20 people. You know the one that just makes you want to chew off your hands at the wrist rather than reply one more time?

Then...someone ACTUALLY wanted to order plastic neon lit drink coolers (you know those awful fake ice cubes?) as a conference giveaway. There are so many things wrong with this when you work for AN ENVIRONMENTAL FIRM IN A FAILING ECONOMY that I cannot begin to speak them.

At this point I begin to rant - I hate people. I really really just hate people.

Then...I actually found myself saying, "BITCH" when listening to the "every woman" recorded system voice on our voice mail system just for asking me for my password twice.

Some freakin' day.

A Confession of Extimacy

Have you heard the new word? I was listening to my man - Joe Connelly - from his CBS880 financial commentary today (the only sane voice in a world gone wild) and he laid out the new word of the week...Extimacy. It is the word for living your life out on the internet, sharing your most intimate secrets externally...hence it isn't intimacy, it's Extimacy.

Welcome to my extimate life.

Today, I went to the gym at 7AM....

and let's just pause a moment to applaud me for being
in my 2nd week of gym membership and activity

...and I stepped on the scale. You know, the kind like the Doctor has with the counterweight that REALLY tells you what you weigh. All I can say is Ack! I've known for a while that my cheap little scale at home is off a couple of pounds but....well....ack! I've been severely mislead. I've been betrayed by a household object.

To be honest, I've allowed myself to be deluded into believing that I can eat ice cream, cookies, pasta, bread, and multiple bowls of cereal and the scale doesn't move. Such amazing consistency! What a powerful metabolism! And with working out at the gym, that metabolism can only be increasing, so although the machine has told me that my 30 minute workout has only actually burned 134 calories, that's ok, because my metabolism is cranking along and I can go home and eat that egg and cheese bagel with no consequences.

I'm not sure I can face a regular exercise regimen AND a severe diet at the same time. I could potentially kill someone out of misplaced food rage or crazed Aleve overdosing from muscular pain treatment. But damn it. That number should never be a part of any woman's life who is not a pro-wrestler or heavyweight boxer.

Bad mood here I come.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I'm a big fan of President Obama. And I love to watch/hear the man speak. It is such a pleasure to have a president who is not constantly searching for words between "ums". I applaud his use of streaming video - like today's subtitled message to the people of Iran - but late night comedy shows?

As I watched the Tonight Show last night all I could think of was how goofy Jay Leno is and how, even in his most comedic moments, Johnny was smooth...truly the epitomy of the urbane late night talk host. What would Johnny do with a guest like this? Would he toss softballs and sit in awe of POTUS? Would he make sarcastic comments about DC politics and Wall Street greed? Would he talk tennis and golf? Would he edit out the Special Olympics faux pas?

While I do appreciate that the world is changing, and communications of our leaders must redefine to meet the challenges of 800 stations of television and thousands of spam messages per minute, I can't quite fit the role of the president with a late night talk show focused on entertainment and laughs. A one on one interview with a news anchor or features producer...yes. Johnny Carson's sad little stand in? Not so much.

Given the choice of having POTUS appear on the Tonight Show...WWJD? [What Would Johnny Do?] I think he'd prefer Jack Hanna and his animals, but that's just me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Modern English

As promised, the slightly more recognizable Modern English translation of Chaucer.

As ancient stories tell us, once there reigned
A duke named Theseus, who’d in Athens gained
The office of a governing magistrate,
Who, as a conquering general, did rate
As more renowned than any neath the sun.
Rich countries by the dozens had he won;
And in particular the region of
The Amazons, he’d won with wit and love;
An area as Scythia once known.
Hippolyta, the queen upon its throne
He wedded, and with pomp and glory led
This lovely monarch home to share his bed,
And Emily, her younger sister, too.
And so, in festive victory, adieu
I say unto this noble duke, who rides
To Athens with his armed host on both sides.
And if it were not much to long a tale,
I would relate to you in more detail
Just how the reign of Femininity
Was won by Theseus with his chivalry;
And of the raging battle that went on
With these Athenians in Amazon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Words We Use

I've been noticing how a person's vocabulary may be expanded by reading, but it does not always impact our speech. Yesterday, for example, hubby was talking to his staff and used the word absconded.

Hubby: "You would have thought I said something in a foreign language for the reaction it got!"

I guess most people would say stolen, or made off with it, or some similar and more common phrase.

Me: "Tomorrow your assignment is to use the word akimbo in a sentence. Say, 'My wife stood there in the living room with her arms akimbo...' and see what they say."

Hubby: "They'll probably make something x-rated out of that one."

Me: "They'd better not, that's your wife they're talking about!"

Hubby: "Not you dear, akimbo.."

How often do you read words that would never pass your lips in a real conversation? Yet you know the words, they are comfortable to you, they just feel too foreign to speak. A friend of mine was reading with me on a beach a few years ago and she was puzzled by a phrase. "Her august presence..." She said, "What does the month of August have to do with someone's presence?" I explained the OTHER meaning of the word august and the pronunciation I knew it as with the emphasis on GUST vs AUG. This was a whole new concept to her and she is very well read.

As the years pass and fewer and fewer people read real literature with beautifully crafted language and uncommon phrases I wonder if the books that we avid readers treasure might just become impossible to decipher. In college I studied Chaucer in middle english. It was both enticing and exhausting, and in the first read, nearly impossible to understand. Soon words like akimbo, abscond, august, and other wonderful and lyrical words will be a part of our foggy past.

Here's a treat for you...A Knight's Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the Middle English. See if you can understand this "foreign" language:

859: Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
860: Ther was a duc that highte theseus;
861: Of atthenes he was lord and governour,
862: And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
863: That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
864: Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne;
865: What with his wysdom and his chivalrie,
866: He conquered al the regne of femenye,
867: That whilom was ycleped scithia,
868: And weddede the queene ypolita,
869: And broghte hire hoom with hym in his contree
870: With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
871: And eek hir yonge suster emelye.
872: And thus with victorie and with melodye
873: Lete I this noble duc to atthenes ryde,
874: And al his hoost in armes hym bisyde.
875: And certes, if it nere to long to heere,
876: I wolde have toold yow fully the manere
877: How wonnen was the regne of femenye
878: By theseus and by his chivalrye;
879: And of the grete bataille for the nones
880: Bitwixen atthenes and amazones;

Modern English will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Did You See That?

This is what happens....

*Actual photo taken by Wenderina in Brisbane, Australia - Feb 2008.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Decades to Go

As a post script to the last entry - this morning at the gym I was embarrassed to note that the octogenarian on the bike to my right not only maintained a 114 beat/minute heart rate for twice the duration of my ride, he also pedaled at a steady 90 rpms on the cardio burn workout. I, in contrast, found my heart racing up to 145 beat/minute and couldn't get the rpms much over 70.

I blame the seat position on the bike.

Yeah, that's it.

Oh, My Aching Glutes

Until this weekend, I had not set foot in anything that resembles a gym since college, with the single exception of a continuing education beginner's yoga class that was held in the middle school gym (imagine the soothing environment of smelly teenage sweatsocks and screaming middle schoolers in the halls). So far, I'm digging it, but let's see how it goes once the novelty wears off, or the first morning I have to choose between that extra hour of sleep, or when the ache in my joints and muscles becomes more important than the adrenalin rush.

Two days later and two workouts later and I'm feeling good, some achiness and stiffness in the joints, but overall o.k. I'm pacing myself...sticking with ramping up on standard cardio machines - treadmill, bike - for the first month. I haven't jumped on the ellyptical yet...I think that will be my nemesis in the cardio world. I wish they had a pool, and the classes are all given during working hours during the week, but what do you want for $120 for two people for 3 months.

Right now my focus is strength and toning, building up my wind and controlling my heart rate. If I get beyond this, I will probably meet with the trainer at the gym for a baseline and goalsetting for some of the additional weight training machines. And maybe I'll even start to watch my diet...but all in good time. Last night, after working out for a little over an hour, I came home and plopped back on the couch...watched some tv....ate a couple of tacos for dinner and capped it off with some ice cream.

BUT, the machines at the gym told me I had worked off 350 calories, which I figure is approximately two spoonfuls of that ice cream, so I'm good, right? Geez. I don't think I'll ever look at a 100 calorie snack the same way again if it takes that much effort to work it off!

Hubby and I decided that to make the membership worthwhile (money-wise) we have to go to the gym at least 25 times in 3 months, but I'm aiming for 40. No promises.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

One small step....

Today I joined a gym. Holy crap.
One giant leap for Wenderina.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Forgotten Pleasure

Today I walked in the cold sunshine to the cafeteria. I hand picked each lettuce leaf, each cherry tomato, each cucumber. I gazed at the basket of hard boiled eggs until I found just the right one. Then I moved to the grilled chicken and picked 5 juicy slivers. Adding the crunchy croutons and slathering the whole selection with spicy italian dressing was the finishing point. I grabbed my favorite diet raspberry snapple from the cooler and slowly walked back through the sun and the cold to my office.

At my desk I ignored the blinking message light on the phone, the blinking instant message notification on my screen, and noted with disinterest the 22 emails that had arrived in the 15 minutes I had been away. I reached into the bottom of my bag and found the novel I've been reading at the pace of about 2 chapters a week and opened it.

It's Friday and both of my cubicle neighbors are out today, many of the staff have gone out to lunch and the only sound is the hum of ventilation and computer...the sound of energy sizzling in the air. The sound you rarely notice until it's not there.

As I make my way through a few more pages in the book I suddenly realize how quiet it is and how peaceful this one little moment feels. It is fleeting, the phone soon rings, people return from lunch, the pressure of a task that must be done intrudes. But for that a brief blink of time I re-discovered a forgotten pleasure.

One quiet stolen moment, and the awareness to appreciate it as a gift.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is There a Camelot?

Last night I had dinner with a colleague who has become a good friend. We were comparing notes on the myriad challenges we face at work - including struggles we've had between us and our immediate team. Over dinner (and drinks) we shared a lot of frustrations, laughs, stories, and other nonsense, and it reinforced to me again, that if I just meet people on a human level, we can work just about anything out.

But then there is the Middle East...
(I know your head is spinning with that segue, but that's how I roll...)

I saw a documentary last year where a jewish mother and a palestinian mother were being interviewed. The palestinian woman had a daughter who had been a suicide bomber and the bomb had killed the daughter of the jewish woman. They were interviewed separately and in those interviews they were struggling to find the compassion and commonality to understand one another's pain. The palestinian woman, in particular, was touching as she talked about having no idea her daughter would consider such an act and how it tore her apart to think of the pain and devastation it had caused.

Eventually, a meeting was arranged between the two. And this is where my human connection story fails. There was no way for these women to see eye to eye. The hatred is fully entrenched. The sense of being wronged, of being persecuted, of being victimized is so embedded in their being there was no hope of a woman to woman moment of truth.

As I watch the new administration looking at new ways to address these multi-generational conflicts, I wonder if a possibility exists that reason can overwrite history. Can past wrongs be acknowledged and forgiven? Can borders be re-drawn and accepted? Can a new camelot arise with Might FOR Right, instead of Might IS Right? Will my generation or the next ever realize a basic human connection?

--------------- WEST WING INTERLUDE ------------

BARTLET: The Mideast reminds me of that joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says “Everything is terrible. It can’t get any worse.” The optimist says “Oh, yes it can.”

HARPER: It can get easy to forget that there’s a silent majority on both sides who just want to live their lives.

BARTLET: Unfortunately, you spend all your time focusing on what’s drowning them out: the invective and bomb blasts.

HARPER: Isn’t it our ultimate moral responsibility to them?

BARTLET: It’s quicksand. An ego trip.


BARTLET: Chasing that Nobel Peace Prize right down the same sinkhole.

HARPER: After 50 years of strife and futility, there’s no dishonor in failure. The only dishonor might be not to try.

--------------- WEST WING INTERLUDE ------------

Amen Sister. Rather than allowing every media outlet and pundit in the world to tell us why not to try, why don't we wait and see if President Obama, Secretary Hillary, and Mr. Mitchell can all work together to pull that sword out of the stone.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Daylight Savings Killed My Clock

I always struggle with the first few days after we move the clock one way or the other...but not as much as my clock. I arrived at work to find the 12-inch DEADLINE clock on my wall quivering between 12 and 12:15. It was 9AM. I figure Daylight Savings Time killed it. It just couldn't face the fact that all of my deadlines were now 1 hour closer to being due.

I totally get it.

Movie Recommendations

This weekend I was able to view three movies - from Oscar winning to unknown - and yet if you asked me to rank best to worst, it wouldn't stack up with the popular opinion.

Best: Taking Chance. A 2009 HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as a guilt-ridden U.S. based Marine (Colonel) who is busy crunching numbers while his fellow marines are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every night he reads the newly posted list of fallen Marines. On this night, he reads a name of a young Private First Class (PFC) Marine named Chance Phelps from his hometown and he determines to volunteer for escort duty. The movie chronicles his journey from Dover DE to the burial site in Wyoming and his interactions with people along the way. This movie was deeply touching and I was absolutely compelled to watch every frame. Some internet research yielded what I had known all along - it was based on the real life activities of the marine. His journal became a highly circulated email story and eventually found its way to HBO. The truth in this movie shone through from beginning to end.

Second: The Magdalene Sisters. This was a library find and an interesting and disturbing story. Based upon fact, but written as a fictional story, this 2002 movie depicts the asylums that were managed by the Sisters of Mercy. The worst part about these asylums is there seemed to be no rhyme or reason of why girls were committed there, except a perception of sin. The movie followed three new inmates and one existing inmate through their multiple years, essentially held as captives with no hope of discharge. One girl was raped at a family wedding - so her family committed her. One girl was seen flirting with boys at the gate of the orphanage school she attended - so the orphanage committed her. One girl had a baby out of wedlock, so her family committed her. When I described the movie to my husband he asked, "what century was this?" According to the footnote at the close of the movie, the last Magdalene "Laundry" was closed in 1996. Astonishing.

Third: Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven't heard of this 2008 movie you are totally out of touch. I was expecting a life altering experience based on the press surrounding this and its recent sweep of the awards, but maybe that was the biggest problem. My expectations were so high, there was probably no way for this movie to live up to them. The child actors were phenomenal and the circumstances of poverty in India and the struggles they are going through as they evolve into a new center of commerce were well represented. But I found myself checking my watch continually for the last 45 minutes. I also thought the brother filling the bathtub with cash at the end (won't say more to ensure no spoilers) was odd and maybe a little over the top symbolism. Overall, not the WOW I expected.

I'd recommend all three of these films. But manage your expectations. Don't expect life-altering experiences or you're bound to be disappointed.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

To Say or Not to Say

Earlier this week I went on a rampage. A full out four-letter word rant about a member of my staff posted on this site.

It was warranted. It was cathartic. It was a gleeful experience.

It was probably also unwise. I deleted it.

While there are only a trusted few that I work with who read this little blog o'mine...you never know how things can get around. A random keyword search, as we all know, can take you to places you never dreamed. Given that my photo is everywhere on this site, it would be very quickly identified as my words should anyone stumble in.

Minnesota Matron is now censoring her blog because a family member just got a computer and indicated she was interested in getting into the internet blogging thing and searching on certain words that the Matron knows will beat a path to her door. Old posts about this relative are now disappearing as she seeks any entries she has created that might be hurtful or offensive - although they were never meant to be that.

Today, I had a meeting with the same person that I was ranting about two days ago. I was honest with her, in a much more diplomatic way, about my puzzlement (ahem...I said I was diplomatic) at her behavior, my expectations, my disappointment. I'm not sure it all sunk in...but it was at least a constructive conversation.

The other day the evening news cited a recent study that people who can show anger at work are healthier and more effective. Hubby has recently been told he needs to stop "mothering" his staff. I've been told alternatively that I expect too much from staff and just the opposite, that I'm too easy on my staff. This CNN Article says WOMEN who show anger at work are seen as being out of control. What can you do?

It comes down to the age old question of whether to say it or not. Is it going to solve anything to indicate disappointment? Is it going to change behavior? Is it, instead, going to de-rail something that isn't really THAT bad, but just not quite as good as you'd like it to be. Is it appropriate to put it in print...even somewhat anonymously? Is it better to stuff it all down into that hole in your stomach or blurt it out of that hole in your face?

Hopefully, you all have those trusted confidants who will patiently listen to your rants and will nod in total agreement and support with your frustration. They will offer you the confirmation you need that you are NOT crazy...and that everyone else is. They will not rat you out. They will not repeat your comments inappropriately. They will be there as your release valve.

They. Save. My. Life.

That way, even if you can't say it to the person directly - or at least from your emotional core - and you definitely can't put it in writing - at least with all the four letter expletives you are feeling - you can at least get it OUT.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The First Casualty

I swear I'm not turning into one of those people. Really, I'm not. I'm not an obsessive cat person so I can't believe I'm writing a post about my cats again...I'm deeply embarrassed. But this morning, as I lay in bed contemplating the newly fallen snow, my two cats were - as is their morning routine - chasing one another around the house. The first few times they did this, I was concerned for their wellbeing - especially when I hear sounds that remind me of a horrendous fall down the stairs - but they seem to be able to roll with it. Every once in a while I find a small but distinct blood spot which indicates the play escalated to a new level, but all in all, they seem to understand boundaries and how to survive rough play.

Today I descended from the bedroom though and found this:

My favorite lamp....

...sheared off at the joint...

...and the culprit returning to the scene of the crime.

Who knew the first real casualty would be an inanimate object?

Kitties: 1

House: 0