Archive for the ‘Status Reports’ Category

So the doctor tells me…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I may have to have my thyroid removed.

More tests to do, but that’s the likely upshot.

I guess I better enjoy my thyroid while I can. Alas, dear thyroid, I hardly knew ye.

Lessons from our cruise vacation

Monday, April 7th, 2008
  • Next time you think you’re signing up for a veg*n cruise, check to make sure you’re not in fact signing up for one on holistic health and macrobiotics with just a hint of patience for veg*ns.
  • However, if you do find yourself on a holistic/macrobiotic/veg*n cruise, you will eat far, far better than you initially fear.
  • Eating gourmet five-course macrobiotic/veg*n cuisine for three meals each day will make you feel healthy and light and pure, but will still probably add the Cruise Ship 10 to your bottom line.
  • Having the opportunity to hear doctors and macrobiotics experts and yogis and monks speak on all aspects of physical, emotional, and spiritual health is amazing; being at sea while having that opportunity means missing a lot of classes in favor of hanging over the side railing on the pool deck watching flying fish in the ocean.
  • SPF 70 sunblock only blocks the sun when it’s actually applied to the skin, not just sitting in the bottle in the cabin while you’re on the pool deck watching flying fish in the ocean over the side railing.
  • I burn easily. And then I do not tan; I beige. I am, therefore, sunbeiged.

Things that probably deserve their own post

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Yes, each of these probably merits a post of its own, and my blog has been sorely neglected of late. But since I’m powering through my to do list, I’m giving them each a bullet point, and I may choose to come back to one or more of them later.

  • I’ve been working very, very hard. If you visit Magazines.com over the next few months, you may see some cool changes start to take place.
  • I’ve been traveling a lot. Since the beginning of February, I’ve been in San Francisco, New York, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Boston. And not in Nashville very much, clearly.
  • My 17-year-old cousin (well, first cousin once removed) has lymphoma. But she’s got a great attitude and a lot of fight in her. I’m thinking a lot about my cousin and her family.
  • My coworker’s 10-year-old nephew just died from cancer after 9 months in the hospital. And then, at the funeral, the same coworker’s mother-in-law collapsed, had a heart attack, and died. I’m thinking a lot about that family.
  • Karsten and I are about to go on our first cruise. It’s a vegetarian cruise.
  • This weekend is the fifth anniversary of the crazy little experiment Karsten and I performed that we like to call “getting married.”
  • I finally convinced Karsten to join Facebook. We’re now married on Facebook! I feel so hip.

How about a REALLY happy new year?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I thought about writing a year-end update yesterday, but the truth is, not all that much of note happened. And that’s a pretty good thing, as it turns out, because I was also thinking yesterday about how I’m feeling more balanced and centered than I have in — gosh, what? — maybe 8 or 9 years.

In the meantime, the highlights were clear:

  • Karsten and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being together and being crazy in love by going to Paris, world capital of romance. And it was romantic. The trip wasn’t 100% perfect all the time, but it was wonderful on balance. As for being together 10 years: wow. Our ties to each other just keep getting stronger, and having that is the best thing life can offer in any year.
  • I started working at Magazines.com in January of 2007, and it’s been a really good move for me. I worked a lot (so much so that I seem to have lost my ability to update blogs), but I’m really OK with it. In fact, by far most of my efforts and energy in ‘07 were directed towards helping make something really special happen there. And it looks like that will be the case in 2008, too, and again, I’m OK with that. (Although if that’s still the case in 2009, I will have to re-evaluate my effectiveness. I want to be able to find better balance around then.)
  • We got the front porch, doorway, and fence built, and the front of the house is transformed. I find so much pleasure in those last few yards of my drive home, coming up over the top of the hill in front of us, looking at such a charming house and being perfectly content to live there. I’ve never had that feeling about a place where I’ve lived before, and I don’t take it for granted that I’m this lucky. (And who knows — we might even be able to begin the major addition and renovation in 2008.)
  • Karsten and I got close to another song placement, and although it didn’t ultimately come together, we ended up having much-needed clarifying conversations about our level of commitment to our songwriting (both still very committed) and how to refine our writing process under our current highly-unavailable circumstances (maybe more on that later). That clarity should help us over this next year, too, as we both continue to be heavily distracted by other areas of work (me with my job, him with renovation and visual art) — we should still be able to make progress, as long as we continue to want to. And so far, we still want to.

There were other events, of course: stressful conflicts at work, pests in and around the house, disappointments, disagreements, and so on. But they don’t stand out in hindsight, and that tells me exactly what my resolution for 2008 needs to be:

I resolve to find as much happiness in the current space of every moment as I possibly can, remembering that, in the end, it’s the happy moments I’ll want to carry with me.

May 2008 be the happiest of new years for all of you, as well.

Twitter Updates for 2007-11-30

Friday, November 30th, 2007
  • it’s only 10:30 but i’m already having a no-good very bad day. rethinking this whole “being awake” thing. #

Twitter Updates for 2007-11-24

Saturday, November 24th, 2007
  • standing in line at Baja Burrito behind Craig Wiseman #

Odds and ends: the weekend recovery edition

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I’m so lame. I never got around to posting on Blog Action Day. But my excuse is that I’ve had a real roller coaster of a week. I went from, well, managing myself on Monday to having two direct reports on Wednesday, and that’s only part of it. So yeah, I really do think activism is important, I just didn’t take the arbitrarily designated day to talk about it. I wish I could link to my activism category, but I’ve been slow with this whole content import and re-tagging thing, so I’ve only gotten around to tagging one of my old posts with it. Oh well. There’s always next year.

***

On Thursday evening, Karsten and I went to hear Peter Plagens give an art lecture at the Frist with our friends Brad and Jed, and I’m pretty sure we were all creatively inspired. It was awesome. He basically talked about the struggle to embrace the new once you’ve become comfortable and familiar with the not-so-new, but unlike that rather trite-sounding summary, he was articulate and witty and insightful.

***

Speaking of embracing the new, I spent this morning working on updating the top-level honeybowtie.com site. I needed to replace a lot of the clunky tables, image-based text styling, and Dreamweaver-generated Javascript from oh-so-long-ago with a more adaptable CSS-based design. I’m not in love with how it looks yet, but it’s definitely a step in the direction I’m trying to go. The idea is to incorporate the blog and the rest of the site a bit more seamlessly, but I’m obviously not there yet.

***

Karsten is spending the day working (and I’m occasionally collaborating with him) on a project we’ve been trying to get around to finishing for several months now. Between all the chaos of the house renovation, my day job, our flea and rat troubles, sick cats, and vacation, it’s been delayed a bit. So with any luck we’ll have a scratch demo recorded by tomorrow night, even if it’s only a chorus. The artist we’re communicating with about this song has been waiting long enough and we need to get this one wrapped. I’m also trying to round up some other song ideas she might be interested in, so I guess we have next weekend already planned, too.

***

This vodka and tonic is simply perfect. I am a bartending genius, I tell you.

Ah, restful sleep!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night. It’s been weeks since I’ve been able to relax in any significant way, thanks to the fleas and all the rest. But after we had the exterminator come in on Wednesday afternoon, the house is much closer to flea-free.

I think I’m going to need at least another night or two of decent sleep before I’m even close to being myself again, though. I’ve been feeling so drained and listless, and emotionally raw. That’s not an easy way to move through the world, you know?

ANYway, I’m just glad to be a little more with it this morning.

Although come to think of it, Paris might not get my mind off of rats…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

OK, right off the bat, here’s the sucky thought du jour: I can’t decide if we should go through with the trip we were planning to Europe. Though I’m in luck if I need to travel, because I’ve got bags under my eyes that could hold my entire wardrobe. Why? Because we spent the night in a hotel room with all six cats while we fogged the house for fleas.

I cannot properly do justice to the level of annoying this whole flea thing is. And it’s not just fleas annoying me. Allow me to whine for a moment.

  • I’m pretty sure I saw somewhere that it’s the hottest August ever on record in Nashville. Even if it’s not, it should be. So let’s just get that out of the way right now, ’cause the extreme heat sure isn’t making anything (or anyone) easier to deal with.
  • Remember the rats? Well, they’ve apparently nested underneath and in the walls in the back of our house. (One of my coworkers suspects that this is where the fleas are coming from, but I don’t know if there’s any way to be sure.)OK, and side note — this is a bad story. Feel free to skip to the next bullet — Karsten went out weeks ago and got rid of the junk pile, busted up the old deck, and started digging out the weeds around the house. He hit a nest with tiny wriggling ratlings (it’s easier to call them ratlings than “kittens” when your aim is to get rid of them). It was an awful scene and he was devastated at having hurt them but the aim is, after all, to eliminate the population from our property. So as a compromise, whichever babies weren’t already killed from the impact of the shovel got carried off to an empty lot a few hundred yards away.But anyway, even after all that there are still rats in the walls, and we’re not sure how we’re going to win this one.
  • Baby Clyde is doing better, we think. He apparently had a blockage in his digestive tract so when they x-rayed him, his stomach looked totally full even after a day of intense vomiting. Not sure how or why, but the next day’s x-rays showed his stomach clear and his lower digestive tract filling up, so the vet was satisfied that things looked to be on the right track. But I’m still nervous because we don’t know why he was having trouble in the first place. Which in my mind means it could happen again anytime. But considering I thought he might be dying on Sunday night, I’ll be relieved if all we’re dealing with is a bad case of indigestion.
  • And the fleas! The fleas are driving me nuts. I mean, it’s just exactly the kind of thing that really gets to me. I can’t take any kind of insect in large quantities. I won’t even release ladybugs in the garden ’cause they freak me out en masse, but individually I’ll let them crawl all over my hands and arms. A whole mess of bugs I don’t like under any circumstances invading my living space? Definitely gonna mess with my mind.
  • One of the other cats, Blackberry, has had a long-standing problem with urinating where he shouldn’t. We’ve fought it for a while, but it had been getting worse recently. Took him to the vet and found out he has a pretty serious bladder infection. Uh, OK. Now I feel like a terrible cat person. So we’ve been giving him pills twice a day for weeks, and if you’ve never had to give a pill to a skittish cat, well, you just haven’t experienced life.
  • Between the overages in the house renovation and the flea/rat/vet/hotel expenses, we’ve depleted our checking account to levels we haven’t seen in years. It really sucks and it makes me feel anxious. I think having had the experience of losing nearly everything we owned and getting as close as you can get to bankruptcy without actually filing, I’m having traumatic flashbacks to my anxiety level at that time. Our situation right now in no way resembles our situation then, but it’s hard to shake an experience like that.
  • Oh, and I’m trying to accomplish about a million things simultaneously in the next few months at work. So there’s that, too.

I’m really trying to keep everything in perspective by remembering that we have a house, we have our health, and we’re not broke (yet). But the amount of stuff we’re having to deal with is enough to make me whimper.

So yeah, I can’t decide if we’ve now spent enough unbudgeted money on all these various problems to mean that we should hold off on our long-awaited vacation. The vacation that coincides with our 10 year anniversary. The vacation we’ve been trying to take since 1999. The vacation we could really freakin’ use right about now.

You see what I’m saying? We’ve been really looking forward to this. So to put it off, while it certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, would hurt and would suck and and and. Yes, we’d get over it. But it would be a big disappointment.

Anyway, it’s not time to decide yet. For one thing, I don’t think we’re out of the woods with the whole pest control issue, so there may actually be even more money to spend. But also because we still have a little time before we have to make the decision, and I may yet come up with some genius plan to make everything work. Hey, it could happen.

Mais il y a peu de chances. Le sigh.

A little more at ease

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Well, we’re finishing up at the emergency vet. They’re treating Clyde’s symptoms because most of his vital signs look OK. But the vomiting has the vet concerned and he said if that’s still going on tomorrow, we should take him in to his regular vet. For now, he’s had forced hydration and an anti-nausea shot, and he has to sleep in a cage at home so he doesn’t eat or drink, but there’s hope for some sleep tonight.

Good, Bad, Ugly: weekend recap edition

Monday, August 13th, 2007

The ugly: we spent the entire weekend obsessing over fleas. In 8.67 years of living with multiple cats, they have never had fleas. Admittedly, our cats have been outside (on leashes) more lately than ever but I also think the flea population must be larger this year, probably due to the heat.

Anyway, we’d “treated” the cats with some over-the-counter Hartz crap a few weeks ago, but it obviously didn’t do a thing. Meanwhile, the problem was getting worse. I’ve been busy with work so I couldn’t do much about it myself and had been trying to be patient since I knew Karsten was already dealing with the rat problem in our back yard and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. Besides, he seemed confident that the Hartz stuff would work and that the fleas were minimal anyway. On the contrary, it seemed to me that if you spot one, you can assume there are dozens/hundreds/howeverthehellmany you can’t see. I regularly noticed fleas on the cats, so I printed out web pages with tips on killing fleas and left them on his keyboard. I suggested he just call an exterminator and get it over with but when he did, he only asked about the rats. He just didn’t seem to feel as much urgency as I did about having to coexist with the fleas. It was all starting to freak me out a little. Last week, when I stood in the cat room and could see the fleas jumping around, I had a major meltdown. Karsten felt bad for not realizing how upset I’d been getting about it, but I assured him that everything would be fine it we could just rid the house of fleas. So he picked up the Advantage flea treatment from the vet on Friday and we started treating the cats first thing Saturday morning.

Each cat had to be isolated so they wouldn’t lick the stuff off of each other, which meant that we could only treat three cats at a time: two of them were stuck in cages while a third got to be loose, but stuck inside a closed-off room. Meanwhile, we vacuumed the house, sprinkled boric acid powder on all the carpets and fabric surfaces and used a broom to push it down into the fibers, and washed the curtains and bedclothes in the hottest water and dried them in the hottest drier they could withstand.

By mid-day Saturday, there were dead and dying fleas all over the house. So I went around and vacuumed everything again yesterday, but they’re still dropping off. It’s gross, but it means the treatment is working, so I’ll take it.

The bad: it was miserably hot outside. I mean it. Hot. It was 104 yesterday. It makes me feel like I’m melting. And since we wanted to escape the house once we got through each day’s flea treatment, we were limited in our options.

Though actually, that didn’t go too badly: we ended up going to see a movie (”Becoming Jane”; it was OK), eating out for every meal (all the food was great), thrift shopping (I found some cute stuff), and hanging out with some Sam and Alyssa Cornett, two songwriting friends who were visiting from Chicago (which was fun).

So I guess the bad was really just that every time we stepped outside, we felt like we were about to melt into flesh puddles.

The good: even in my jangled state of mind, I wrote a few songs. Hanging around songwriters last night got me all fired up. When we got home, I dashed off two songs in fifteen minutes along with a few other ideas I’ll come back to eventually. One of the reasons I was so inspired was that, although the songs our friends were playing last night were written well and were enjoyable, they were so consistently about relationships ending badly that I felt double-dog-dared to write a heartfelt song that wasn’t about that. So I did.

Latest view of the porch

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Latest view of the porch
Latest view of the porch,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

Not much has changed in the past week or so except for the new copper downspout to the right of the porch, but it’s hard to see in this picture. I’m looking forward to the handrails, the spindles, the rest of the trim detailing, and the caps for the posts, but above all I can’t wait for the new doorway and door! That should be happening in the next few weeks or so.

Freebird

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

The bird is free! He (she? How do you sex a chick, anyway? No, wait, smartasses - don’t answer that.) must have made his way out of the wall overnight. He was sitting on the floor in the basement this morning, so I wrapped him in a towel and took him outside where he hobbled into a patch of vinca. I have no idea if he’s injured or just can’t fly yet, and no idea if he’ll survive outdoors, but at least now he’s where he should have been all along.

And I can stop being upset about the poor thing.

Changing the front of our house and the ever-changing housing front

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Good news – we got our loan to do our front porch / entryway work! Yay! What’s especially cool about this is that when we went into the banks to start the application process, we told them what we thought the value of our house was but we aimed pretty high, knowing that the appraiser would most likely be coming in to say “yep, it’s worth that much” or not. Somehow the numbers got mixed up, though, and the mortgage guy gave an even higher figure to the appraiser, who came back saying it wasn’t worth quite that much, but placed it almost exactly at the figure we originally gave. So in just about two years’ time, our house has increased in value by over 60% of what we bought it for. Not too shabby! Some of that is directly attributable to the appreciation of home values in our neighborhood overall, of course, but the new windows and some of the other work we’ve done were factors in the increased value, as well, so that feels good.

Anyway, this means that our front porch and entryway work can begin in the next few weeks, and the bulk of it should be done by late spring. The only part that will probably have to wait is painting, which will likely happen in the fall. And for the next little while, we’ll have to use our back door only, which will be weird. But I think it’s going to look great. I can’t wait.

(more…)

One ends, another begins

Friday, January 26th, 2007

I’ve finished up with the music technology gig. I was thinking about staying on in a full-time permanent job, but decided against it.

I now have a job lined up at an e-commerce company in Cool Springs (any local tech people reading this probably already know the company in question by that description, but I’m opting for search engine anonymity) and I start Monday. Some of my friends probably remember me talking about this company back in October when I was first approached for the job. It’s been a long road to making this decision, but now I’m psyched about getting back into e-commerce directly, and dealing with fun concepts again like navigation, conversion, web analytics, etc.

I’m not psyched about the long commute to shopping mall central. I plan for me and Karsten to test-drive a Prius and maybe some of 2007’s other hybrid models, and if we take the plunge on that, it’ll definitely be an extra expense we don’t really need, but I’d just feel much less bad about the environmental impact of the commute that way.

So now I’m spending the day with a big stack o’ library books refreshing my mind on e-commerce concepts and getting ready to hit the ground running on Monday.

Heck, I don’t even know yet what the zip code there is to use for my location tag. So much to do!

NaSoWriMo: Time’s up! 13 songs drafted, none really completed, but still a success.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

It’s the last day of November, in case you hadn’t noticed, and that means all November writing projects are pretty much at their end. In my case, that signals the end of my 30-songs-in-30-days “NaSoWriMo” challenge, which I have once again failed to complete. But I don’t really care. All I’m really shooting for when I set about to do these things is to make myself write fast and get some ideas down, and I did do that.

I managed to draft 13 songs. I can’t say I really finished even one. But that’s OK. Because this was also a crazy-ass month. At work, we had a major scramble with a deadline of 11/30 (yep, that, too, is today!), and my weekly average number of hours shot way up. I’ve also been sick twice this month, including right now, which is why I’m not expecting to be able to churn out any more than I already have before tomorrow. And my current tummy troubles have me in a really bad mood and I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything. So yeah, not the best conditions for creative writing.

So it’s over, and the count is 13 songs in 30 days, sort of. There might even be a few ideas worth going back and polishing up, which is a bonus because I was really just thinking of this as an exercise. Maybe I’ll try the challenge again in a few months when it’s not looking to be a crazy month at the day job and I’ve loaded up on multivitamins and echinacea.

In the meantime, the month of December is usually a wash for songwriting. Too many weekend activities, too much commotion, not even time to sit idly with my laptop, my guitar, and a cup of coffee and mull over an idea until I find just the right thing to say. So this is probably pretty much it until January. But I’m pretty satisfied with where things stand, so I’ll be happy to take a break and then get back into it come the new year.

Hope everyone else who participated in a writing challenge this month got something good out of it!

One small year and some tiny kittens

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Well, here it is: the day I’ve been dreading. It’s been one year since my dad died. I thought I would have a lot to say about that, but I find myself oddly quiet on the subject. The only thing I’ll say is what I wrote in an email to my sister this morning:

I still miss Dad very much, of course, but I’m also amazed at how much healing happens in the course of one year. Then again, I’m equally amazed at how much still hurts after a whole year has passed. It’s almost like time and healing can be measured in two different dimensions, on two different scales, with one exceeding my expectations and one falling so very short. Or whatever. I guess that’s why it’s easier just to say “life is funny.” ;)

Shawn Colvin already summed it up for me, anyway, with this song:


One Small Year
by Shawn Colvin

One small year
It’s been an eternity
It’s taken all of me to get here
Through this one small year

The hands of time
They pushed my down the street
They swept me of my feet to this place
And I don’t know my face

Now all through the night I can pretend
The morning will make me whole again
Then every day I can begin
To wait for the night again

One more tune
That will never be done
It’s just another one for the moon
For the days in the ruin

Just today I woke up feeling fine
Like the world was mine
I was clean
And it was a dream

Where out of the blue came you and me
The Wizard of Oz had set us free
You let me float you to your feet
Just like you believed in me
It’s like you believed in

One small year
I wonder where I’ve gone
It shouldn’t seem so long or so weird
And I was always here

It’s just one small year

Race for the Cure, Nashville, November 2006Yesterday, the Race for the Cure came through our neighborhood, and I stood outside with a cup of coffee and watched them, thinking of my dad, and how he lost his race. But it was encouraging to see how many people turned out to help raise money for the cause, so maybe someday cancer will be a thing of the past.

Speaking of raising money for good causes, last night, we went to two fundraisers. The first was for the Nashville Humane Association: Anipalooza. Heh. We went to the one last year, too, and I’m sorry to say that this year’s wasn’t as good as last year’s. Last year they had doggie speed dating, which was just about the cutest thing ever, but that was gone this year for whatever reason. The music in the main tent was also too loud, meaning you could barely hear someone shouting next to you, and you sure weren’t going to casually mix and mingle and get to know new people.

Karsten and kittens at Nashville Humane AssociationOn the plus side, there were kittens inside the shelter, which just about makes up for any shortcoming in event planning. Just like last year, Karsten was in one of the cat rooms playing with kittens most of the time we were there, and drew a crowd watching him get the kittens all excited. You should have seen these kittens crawling all over Karsten. I took pictures but they only hint at the stinging cuteness of it all.

After that, we went to back to our neighborhood for the “Heart and Soul” benefit at Werthan Lofts, for the American Heart Association. The contrast was stunning: someone there must be a professional event planner or something. They gave out wine glasses to each attendee, along with maps of the building showing the lofts that were open for the event. And then they had signs up on the hallway walls and balloons marking the entrance of each open unit to help people find their way through the somewhat confusing layout of the building. Plenty of volunteers, plenty of wine, plenty of cool people, and plenty of music ensured that it was a great party. A lot of folks were there from the Germantown neighborhood, too, which was fun.

My two favorite men in the worldA Vietnamese coworker of Karsten’s used to say: so much good, so much bad. I think of that a lot, and I consider it a victory when the bad doesn’t overshadow the good. Right now, as much as it still hurts to miss my dad, I know the good in my life — like loving and being loved so deeply by someone as wonderful as Karsten, and having a job I enjoy, and being part of a community of great people, and living in a home we have the ability to enjoy and improve, and having good friends, not to mention that I was lucky enough to have had a dad as wonderful as he was — all that good is as bright as sunlight and nothing can overshadow it. And I guess that should be enough to get me through another small year.

Party recap

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Oktoberfest looks to have been a big success for the Historic Germantown neighborhood, and our party was a blast. Thanks to everyone who came and partied with us, and my apologies to anyone I may have offended by suggesting they patronize the beer vendors while the festival was still running. We bought plenty of beer from the beer vendors ourselves. Yessir, plenty of beer. Yowch.

We probably had 80 people come through our house on Saturday. Bunches of people from the neighborhood, scads of coworkers and some former coworkers, quite a few songwriters and musicians, and some random good friends from who-knows-where. And 2 dogs. (Luckily, the cats were locked up in the office/studio/cat room for most of the day.)

We had drunk people climbing the scaffolding, but no falls. We had people from across the political spectrum, but no brawls. We had over a dozen people on our front stairs, and they didn’t collapse. All in all, a good day.

Home again!

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

And a post about our travel ordeals is on Metroblogging Nashville.

Since what I wrote there was mostly trip complaints, here are some of the trip highlights:

  • Getting to see our friend D, who was a colleague on the infamous Indy gig.
  • Getting to see J & H, who were colleagues at the (infamous?) healthcare gig but have since moved to the Minneapolis area.
  • Getting to see brandismarie91, whom I haven’t seen in something like 10 years.
  • Eating at Chatterbox pub for Friday dinner and drinks.
  • Eating at French Meadow for Saturday dinner.
  • Eating at The Egg & I for Sunday breakfast/brunch.
  • Eating at Chiang Mai Thai for Sunday dinner.
  • Exploring and eating at several places in the Global Market.
  • While D was playing a league game of soccer, Karsten and I took the light rail to IKEA, which meant passing through the Mall of America. I’d seen the mall before and knew its enormity, but Karsten, I think, was unprepared. He was stunned.
  • Going to the Minnesota Zoo.
  • Seeing a white-cheeked gibbon show off how well he was able to swing from one end of his habitat to the other. He made it look as effortless as a marathon runner crossing the street.
  • Checking out the Loft, a cool writers’ center with a nice little cafe and the most wickedly cool staircase I have ever seen — it’s designed to be reminiscent of a book, with frosted plexiglass sheets that look like pages winding around the railing all the way up. I took pictures, but I don’t have them up yet and I don’t really think they do it justice. Here’s a small one on the Loft web site.
  • Checking out Wedge, a grocery co-op.
  • Checking out various other local coffee shops and bars.
  • Petting D’s two cats, Bea & Greta.

But at this point, I’m just happy to be back home. I’m even happy to be back at work!

2005 Year-End-y thingy

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before?

Started taking anti-depressants. Got my first single-song contract. Somehow that combination seems very rock’n'roll, so I’ll leave it at that.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My 2005 priorities were to improve my nutrition, improve my fitness, improve my finances, and improve and advance my songwriting. I stuck with those, for the most part. I think I let the nutrition and fitness slip a bit now and then when I was too depressed to pay attention, but I did pretty well on the finances and the songwriting.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one close to me, no.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Lordy, yes. My mother-in-law in March, and my father in November.

5. What countries did you visit?

I travelled frequently between the southern and the midwestern United States. Seems to me you should need a passport or something to cross the Illinois-Kentucky line.

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?

A pay raise.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 5th, 2005. Something tells me the loss of my father will remain a pretty significant event for me for a long time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting the single-song contract, I guess.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Being unable to keep working while spending time in the Chicago area. It has cost me professionally, I fear.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

If depression counts, yes.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

It’s a tossup between my Treo 650 and my 17″ Powerbook. They’re both rockin’.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Karsten’s. He was a total trooper.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Some of my relatives.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Into the new old house! Lots and lots and lots of money went into fixing up the house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The house! The single-song contract!

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?

Live Like You Were Dying” written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman, and recorded by Tim McGraw. It really is a great country-pop song, but its significance this year has partly to do with how ubiquitous it was (#1 on the charts, for, like, EVER and winner of who-knows-how-many “song of the year” awards), but also, of course, in my life, how timely it was. I just wish my dad had had an opportunity to do the kinds of things the song suggests — living an uninhibited life knowing that your death is imminent — because he was too weak to do that in any kind of physical way. But he “loved deeper” and he “spoke sweeter” (sometimes), for example, so at least some of it was true for him.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Heh. My answers to these questions prove that the world is so not a binary place.

i. happier or sadder? More of each.

ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner but, in some ways, less fit.

iii. richer or poorer? Lower income, greater net worth.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I don’t know. Maybe cooking.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Crying.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

My mom is coming here the week prior to Christmas and leaving Christmas morning, so I’ll be seeing her off and then Karsten and I will probably spend the day lounging around the house with the kitties.

21. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Apparently the neighborhood has a big party, so we’re going to check that out.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?

It may be corny but I found myself falling in love with Karsten again and again.

23. How many one-night stands?

None.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Arrested Development. (”Come on!”)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’m too tired to hate. I have some pretty annoyed dislike for some people, but it’s a pretty passive dislike. Hate seems so much more active and energetic than I have the capacity for.

26. What was the best book you read?

To be honest, I did very little reading, and what I did read tended to be pretty fluffy, like “The Lucky Guide to Shopping” or “What Not To Wear.” They were both pretty good, though. ;-)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Was “Garden State” this year? I can’t remember. If so, like many people, I discovered The Shins because of that movie, and I love them. Also, I think Anna Nalick debuted with “Breathe (2 AM)” in the beginning of the year, and that has become one of my favorite songs ever (although most of the rest of Wreck Of The Day doesn’t impress me much). I think Keane got most of their visibility this year, too, and I just love them.

28. What did you want and get?

A single-song contract. :-)

29.What did you want and not get?

A promotion at work. Not just for the position of manager of our group, but for the next level of seniority within my own position (from Senior Business Analyst to Consulting Business Analyst). I think the perception is that I’m just not ready since I wasn’t around much of this year to prove my value, or whatever. It annoys me because I already deserved it for the work I’d done before this year so it’s like I’m being passed over for the second time.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Tossup between “Garden State” and “Sideways.”

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Haven’t gotten there yet, but I’ll be 32 and I’m having a pizza party with, like, two attendees. (Everyone else is going to be out of town.)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Oh, how could I narrow it down? I don’t know. It’s really kind of depressing to try to pinpoint.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

I was shooting for urban professional sophistication with a twist of unexpected hip, but I probably missed entirely. ;-)

34. What kept you sane?

Now THIS I can get specific about. Karsten, for a start. Every day in some way, Karsten kept me sane. Then there were the long walks; the gardening; the cats; putting the kitchen together; Absolut Raspberri vodka & tonics; pedicures; girly-scented body washes; dying my hair burgundy.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I don’t think there was one, really.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I guess it was the lack of response immediately following hurricane Katrina.

37. Who did you miss?

Too easy. I missed my dad as he was before the strokes made him less communicative.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

I think that honor goes to nothinganything. Congratulations! I don’t think you win any prizes, but, really, isn’t my fawning admiration enough?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:

We don’t live in years; we live in moments.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I think, more than anything, it’s this from “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush:

I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.

I should be crying, but I just can’t let it show.
I should be hoping, but I can’t stop thinking

Of all the things we should’ve said,
That were never said.
All the things we should’ve done,
That we never did.
All the things that you needed from me.
All the things that you wanted for me.
All the things that I should’ve given,
But I didn’t.

Drawing to a close

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

So I guess I haven’t posted in a while.

It’s not for lack of stuff to write. In fact, I should probably be journaling like crazy through all of this because, as I explained to over the phone a few weeks ago, I could write a freakin’ book about how weird and surreal this whole process has been — and strangely comic at times, believe it or not. But the energy to journal just isn’t there, so I’ve been skipping it.

But let me see if I can explain. No, it’s too much to explain. Let me see if I can summarize.

My dad is dying, but typical of my dad, he’s being stubborn about it. If the doctors say he has days, maybe a week, then by god, a week comes and goes and he’s smiling and having a rare good day at the end of that week. If we get the impression, as we have several times, that this day might be his last, then by god, the next day he’s alert and nearly talkative, and we’re left scratching our heads and drying our tears and just trying to ride out the emotional tidal waves.

My mom and I went to meet with the people at the funeral home a few weeks ago. Fortunately, my dad already made all his arrangements six years ago when his cancer was first diagnosed as malignant. Unfortunately, it was like a freakin’ Keystone Cops routine with these guys at the funeral home, and although I found it all absurdly funny, I know my mom didn’t see the humor in the ordeal.

If there’s one bright spot in this whole sea of darkness, it’s that my sister and I have largely reconciled. It’s a long story, but it comes down to what my coworker and friend Keith described as sounding “like a Lifetime original movie.” A significant letter that apparently never arrived at its destination, a conversation where both participants had completely different understandings of what was said, that sort of thing. And that’s the basis of what’s been keeping us distant for lo these last nine years. So although things aren’t perfect now, there are signs that our relationship may improve with time, and I think my dad has been coherent enough to realize that, which must help him feel a little more at ease, since I know the strained relations between my sister and me have bothered him terribly.

For a long time, I think my brother didn’t get the whole thing — he’s developmentally disabled, borderline retarded but still basically functional and normal-appearing — but several people within and outside of the family have made efforts to clue him in. Now he’s acting out in ways that suggest he gets it and he’s not handling it very well. He’s supposed to be on Medicare but that benefit is currently being contested, so getting him psychological help of any kind is not easy. He’s having to tough it out on his own, and I hate that for him. I sure wouldn’t want to be going through all this without the benefit of Prozac — let alone without being equipped with the emotional maturity to process even comparatively simple issues well.

And my mom is struggling hardest of all. Her husband of 40 years, her closest and dearest friend by far, and clearly the best companion the universe could have ever invented for her, is becoming — or perhaps has already become — unrecognizable to her, and she’s still feeding him, bathing him, and performing plenty of other thankless tasks out of love and duty and determination to see him die with whatever dignity is still possible at this point. Her dilemma breaks my heart every day, and as stressed out and wound-up as she defininitely is, she bears it all so much better than I can ever imagine doing myself.

And Karsten — well, what can I possibly say about Karsten that does him justice? After losing his mother seven months ago, I’m sure it’s suffocating for him to be in an environment where the reality of parental death is thick in the air. But he knows I need him with me, and he’s there for me. We’re in this together, after all, and thank whatever gods there may be for that. This man is like oxygen to me — I simply can’t imagine breathing without him. Especially not right now. And he’s consistently the one person who can relax me, who can always make me laugh, with whom I can just walk and walk and walk for hours and talk about anything or talk about nothing — and it’s the only kind of therapy that could possibly do me any good right now. He soothes my soul.

So there it is, in a nutshell. The cast of characters, the somber scene, the barely-crawling pace of it all. It’s draining as hell, and I feel like I’m in limbo no matter where I am, but I’m trying to make the best of it and find the moments of levity, the revelations of truth, the opportunities to draw closer with the people from whom I’ve moved away so many times — and trying to laugh and love as much as possible at all times. I think that’s all there is to do. I think that’s all there is for any of us to do.

Health and happiness to you all. I’ll update again when I can.

The year in review

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

Borrowed from and many others; edited for stuff I care about answering. I linked to a lot of stuff throughout; my apologies if any links lead to where you, dear reader, cannot follow.

Review of 2004

What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before?

Ran a road race. It was the Park Forest Scenic 10, and it was quite the learning experience.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did, for the most part.

I wanted to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles) but I only ran a 10-mile race. Still, it’s close.
I’m doing OK with the three goals around my nutrition.
I haven’t really made much progress on my guitar playing.
I have sort of made more time for songwriting.
The debt is effectively gone.
And I’ve done better with organizing my wardrobe, but I’m planning to address this in the new house in a major way.

What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

More time with friends, more time for songwriting, more money to spend on fun things. I’m starting to get closer to attaining all of these, and I want that trend to continue.

What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Work dates come to mind first: March 29th, when we launched our product to the corporate campus; November 15th, when we shut down the legacy product.

And, of course, November 2nd.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I dunno, maybe writing 15 songs in 30 days, even if that fell far short of my 30-song goal.

What was your biggest failure?

I can’t think of anything significant. I feel good about that.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

I injured my knee doing a 10-mile run on May 31st. I probably already had an injury, but the long run flared it up. That turned into iliotibial band troubles, which led to hip troubles, which led to possible bursitis and a prolonged break from running. I stopped running for the month of June, but spent July and August training for the Scenic 10, and I wasn’t fully recovered. I laid off for the rest of September, October, and ran a few miles in late November before realizing I still wasn’t recovered. I probably won’t be running again for a few more months, much to my frustration and dismay.

What was the best thing you bought?

My Clie.

Where did most of your money go?

This year was all about finishing up the debt repayment. And since I’m such a Quicken addict, I can give you percentages. Aren’t you excited?

The vast majority of it went toward paying off a single credit card. (23.94%)
Another large sum went to taxes. (13.53%)
Then rent. (9.27%)
Then another credit card. (7.99%)
Then savings for future house renovations, 401(k), and downpayment, respectively. (7.67%, 6.20%, 5.79%)
Household expenses. (4.58%)
Another two credit cards. (3.06% and 2.59%)
Groceries. (2.11%)
Car stuff. (1.66%)

Ain’t we got fun?

WAY down the list, you start to see things like:
Vacation (0.99%) - but this includes the trips to Chicago for my dad’s chemo treatments. Whee.
Songwriting (0.66%) - we’ll spend more on this in 2005 when we record some more demos.
Dining (0.65%) - we don’t eat out much.
Entertainment (0.50%) - and most of that has probably been spent in the past month.
Recreation (0.12%) - this includes my race fees and running shoes. Whoop de doo!

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Our new kitten, Bopper.

What song will always remind you of 2004?

“Live Like You Were Dying” written by Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols and recorded by Tim McGraw.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Take vacation time. I worked a hell of a lot of hours. All that overtime certainly helped pay off the debt, but I have serious knots in my shoulders to show for it. Our in-town vacation, while fun, wasn’t nearly enough.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish there’d been no reason for all those trips to Chicago for my dad’s treatments. But I’m glad I was able to be there and help out, and I’m certainly grateful to for generously volunteering to watch our kitties during one of those trips. And when I say I want less of it in 2005, I mean that I want my dad to be healthy again.

What was the best book you read?

“About A Boy” by Nick Hornby. Much better than the film, although I love Hugh Grant (or “Huge Grunt,” as Karsten and his sister refer to him) in just about anything.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

I don’t know, really! Maybe it was the discovery that I can, in fact, write lyrics to existing melody. Not that I haven’t done it before this year, but I usually choke when faced with a melody I have a lot of respect for.

What did you want and get?

Pre-qualification for the mortgage I wanted. I’d say “a house,” but we haven’t quite signed the paperwork yet.

What was your favorite film of this year?

It may be 10 years old, but I just saw “Before Sunrise” a few months ago, and I loved it so much. “Before Sunset” was very good, too, but it felt a little contrived whereas “Sunrise” just felt spontaneous and beautiful. Wow.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My birthday hasn’t come around yet in 2004. I’ll be 31 on 12/23.

What is at least one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having to deal with my sister’s ridiculous crap on top of everything else.

Who did you miss the most this year?

My good friend and former co-worker, Tom Johnson. He’s a nut, and I love ‘im, and I miss hanging out with him.

Who was the best new person you met?

No one but Karsten has ever made more of an impression on me in a shorter span of time than has. I was hoping to find good friends this year, and he’s a great find and a definite keeper.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, keep a brave face, and enjoy yourself every minute you can. Life is short and precious.

(Actually, I’m sure I learned that long before 2004, but it’s a lesson I keep learning again and again.)

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You just might find
You get what you need

I don’t do resolutions…

Friday, January 2nd, 2004

but here are some things I’d like to accomplish this year.

Run a half-marathon, at least. I had hopes of running the Country Music Marathon in April, but between the weather and my wicked work schedule, I lost a lot of valuable training time in November and December. With only three months left to train (and at least two months of bad weather left, and still a fairly wicked work schedule), I won’t make the marathon. I’m still hopeful about the half-marathon, though. And even if I don’t manage that one, I’m intent on being able to do it by the end of the summer.

Increase the amount and diversity of raw veggies I eat. I already do fairly well at this, but I’d like to be better about it.

Increase my nutrient:calorie ratio. Same as above, and will certainly be aided by implementation of above.

Decrease the amount of useless fat I eat. Again, I’m pretty good about this, but I still munch a little too much chocolate a little too often, and french fries never did anything good for anyone, even when they’re only eaten once in a great while.

Improve my guitar skills. I let this slip because of my wicked work schedule, but I really need to work on my guitar playing. It could be such a valuable songwriting tool, and I just haven’t taken the time to practice and improve.

Make more time for songwriting. My day job has been top priority for a few months, and that’s fine because it pays the bills. But once the big push is over (and it should return to normal by the end of March), I need to get back to spending serious amounts of time on writing songs.

Accelerate debt reduction plan. As of yesterday’s session with Quicken, my… our… THE debt will be paid off in May 2005, which is thrilling (only a few months ago I was excited to think it would be paid off by September 2007!) — but I’m a never-settle-for-less-than-everything kind of person, and I want to see if I can make it go away even faster.

Organize my clothes. This seems so minor in comparison to the others, but it’s really such an annoyance. I have a fairly generous closet space, but I have a lot of clothes because I basically have four wardrobes: my smart-and-professional work clothes, my sexy-and-stylish out-and-about clothes, my ever-growing collection of workout wear for all seasons, and my comfy-and-hip stay-at-home clothes. I need to find a way to make it all tidy and easy to access.

Random countdown & countup

Sunday, November 23rd, 2003

Milestones upcoming and past. This helps me stay aware of what a given period of time feels like.

  • Just under a month until I see my dad, maybe for the last time.
  • One month exactly until I turn 30.
  • Two months (when the music executives are all back in their offices after the holidays) until we can really get back to trying to pitch our songs.
  • Three months, maybe four, until I can pay off the heaviest credit card I now carry.
  • Four months until the system I work on is widely released.
  • Five months until the Country Music Marathon.
  • Two years until I pay off my credit cards under the new, more aggressive payment plan.
  • Two years and four months until we can buy a house.
  • Two years and eight months since we left California.
  • Almost two years since I stopped dating other people.
  • A year and ten months since we left Portland.
  • Nine months since we came to Nashville.

Song demos up on honeybowtie.com

Saturday, November 8th, 2003

I spent a good chunk of time this morning updating honeybowtie.com, and specifically linked several demos to the Songs page. Since I mentioned to some folks I saw a few weeks ago that I would be sure to send a link to some MP3s of our Nashville demos, I thought I’d go ahead and post it here.I only got three songs added (one was already there), so here’s what’s up there right now:

  • Get It Wrong, a pop-py tune we co-wrote with our friend Lair Morgan. The demo is sung by Dawn Martin.
  • Traces of You, a slow- to mid-tempo ballad. Demo sung by the lovely and incredibly talented Wendy Jans, who is also a wonderful songwriter.
  • You’ve Lost Me, a sorta raucous country-bluesy tune. Sung by Susan Clinton, who happens to manage Bayou Studio — where we recorded the demo.

And there’s also Mango Sun, which is a reggae tune we demo’ed in Chicago last year and pitched last August for a film placement. Nothing ever came of it, but some of our friends have told us stories of waiting more than 18 months to hear news on a pitch, being sure it was dead, and then getting a cut. So I guess ya never know.