Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Self-Induced Insomnia Post

As I begin this post, it is 3:48 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. I am laying in my childhood bed listening to crickets and coyotes outside and realizing just how deeply I have adapted to city life that I can sleep through airplanes taking off and touching down at our local airplanery, but not sleep through the peaceful chirp that used to lull me to sleep every evening.

I shouldn't be awake this late/early. And it's not for lack of trying that I am. I *did* go to bed at a reasonable hour, I promise. But a day of real work has taken its toll, and I currently find myself in that horrid position of having gotten too tired and having worked my intolerant muscles too far the day before and then being awakened in the middle of the night by strange sounds. (I heard the water destinkification machine kick on, and then start draining through our Emergency Drainage System. As a child, I was extremely fortunate to live in a home where my father really knew his stuff and was able to build our home himself, but that means he took some shortcuts... Like attaching the Emergency Drain in the bathroom - for child exuberance in the bathtub - to the Emergency Drain in the wellroom for water system upkeep. That created a weird gurgling from the Emergency Drain in the bathroom, which woke me up in a blind panic that the leaking-pipe-I-have-yet-to-fix had somehow spontaneously burst in July and was flooding the basement-that-has-yet-to-be-hit-by-the-Great-Purge-that-brings-me-here-in-the-first-place. So I rocketed out of bed, asserted that a funny sound was coming from the bathroom, shot into my Mother's bedroom to turn on her light and babble something about "Running water in the basement," ignored her "It's okay - it does that" as early morning babble on HER behalf, and ran to the basement. You'll be surprised - she was right. But by the time I realized, she was already out of bed and on her way down the stairs to make sure I hadn't totally lost my marbles. I love my Mumma. But now, I've put her back to bed and I've worn off my adrenaline and I'm still very much awake.) 

I don't mind being up this early. The aforementioned Father used to get up every single day, without an alarm, between 4 and 4:30 a.m. He would toddle to the kitchen for his coffee from his bedroom immediately above my own, and the sound of his footsteps creaking on the rough hewn joints would stir me from my slumber. I wouldn't get out of bed, but the rest I got between that time and when I really did get up could only be considered "Off and On." And really, I didn't mind. Eventually.

So to be awake this early is reminding me of that. 

But you must be wondering what the real reason for this post is, being that this is a work-flavored blog and *obviously* not a workday post...

Well, my point is that tomorrow is going to suck.

A lot.

Although my current intent is to post this, double check on my Social Networking Site (to make sure nothing has happened in the twenty minutes it's taken me to jot down these thoughts) and then turn the computer off (before it dies) and go back to sleep before my Adventures in Organized Religion (TM) tomorrow. The reality is that I will probably lay here for a while, doze Off and On, and then be useless the rest of the day. Which won't immediately effect me during this Sunshine Period, but *will* create a conundrum on my half-day of work tomorrow, when I really do have the opportunity to take an afternoon nap. Which will then throw me into the expecting-a-nap cycle, which will make 2:00 p.m. every day this work week absolutely intolerable when I have to be awake.

And so, tonight's adventures in the darkness reveal that I really *am* a work-minded individual. If only because I know that my sleeplessness is going to make me tetchy, and my tetchiness induces a lower tolerance for EngineerFriend-isms. 

But for now, as the clock ticks just past 4:00 a.m., my worry should be closing my eyes and keeping my Sunshine for the morning.

Sweet dreams, ReaderFriends, and goodnight.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Carry the One

There are a lot of lessons I learned in school that I never thought I would use, but do on a regular basis:

* A "Please?" will get you farther than a <push>.

* Punctuation changes everything.

* Asking to use the restroom.

There are also a lot of lessons that were drilled so deeply that I thought I would never break free of them, but find myself lacking in any real-world scenarios in which to apply them:

* Solving for X and Y.

* Diagramming sentences.

* The names of the counties in my state, set to a catchy tune.**

But one concept that I have been growing out of since my graduations (I say "s" because I start to regress after graduation, and then get better when I enroll in another program) is Carrying the One.

I have *always* had a soft spot for math. In first grade, my teacher played an April Fool's prank on us and handed out third-grade multiplication sheets for us to struggle with. After handing them out everyone laughed and she started collecting them again. Much to my chagrin, she took mine back after I had finished the first three questions already, and was steaming forward (I got very upset). After I had finished my math courses for college, I would find myself seeking out empty classrooms where I knew math was taught, hoping for some series of equations on the board for me to play with in my notebook. It's just that crunching numbers gives me a thrill - knowing that, in the end, you will always find an irrefutable answer that will not change despite the tests of time and the wonkiness of language. (Despite this fact, Engineering is simply not the field for me. You know where you stand with numbers. With Engineers... notsomuch.)

However, I do attempt - as a grown up - to do most math in my head. Large columns of numbers get tallied on paper. Decimal places get double checked on a calculator. But simple addition is usually straightforward and easy for me.

Which is why I found it odd, while working through some redlines for a Dear EngineerFriend today, to come across this:

At first I thought it was a writing issue. Sometimes EngineerFriends can have some pretty wonky handwriting, and it just gets difficult to decipher what they're trying to say. Easily fixed, I simply tracked down another co-worker who works with this particular EngineerFriend on a regular type of basis and asked her thoughts on the matter. After a short pause, she looked at me and said:

"He carried the one."

More pause (on my part) before I said 

"I'm sorry?"

"He carried the one. You know. Like math class."

We all giggled as realization dawned. I toddled back to my desk and immediately sat down with a smile that someone so high on the proverbial food chain still follows the rules he learned as a six-year-old.

And suddenly, the whole day seemed a little Sunnier.

(Set to "Yankee Doodle")

The sixteen counties in our state are               (Yankee Doodle went to town)
Cumberland and Franklin                                (Riding on a pony)
Piscataquis and Kennebec                             (Stuck a feather in his hat)
Oxford, Androscoggin.                                   (And called it Macaroni.)
Waldo, Washington and York                         (Yankee Doodle, keep it up)
Lincoln, Knox and Hancock                            (Yankee Doodle Dandy)
Sagadahoc and Somerset                              (Yankee Doodle, keep it up)
Aroostook and Penobscot!                             (And to the girls be handy!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Calming Down

Happy Monday, ReaderFriend! (And i'n'it a loooooovely Monday'? Yes... you should laugh. A Mel Brook's quote should *always* receive laughter.)

Yes, my dearhearts, it's Monday. But it's a much nicer Monday than the most recent one. The temperature has dropped into the blissful seventies, making breathing and sleeping and sitting (and even moving) much more comfortable. The sun is shining and there's the slightest hint of a breeze, which is also nice... And today is a short day for me! (Yay!) So I'm sure that's coloring my attitude as well. (Although it was lovely to have the extra hours for a fuller paycheck last week, I must admit that the few hours of time off on Monday afternoons helps me to keep my social life in check. I spend those hours visiting people too far away to drive after-hours to see.)

Last week, I kicked myself into gear after realizing how neglectful I have been of you all. I felt absolutely horrid, I must admit, for having posted only once every week-and-a-half for you. Who am I to withhold from you the nuggets of wisdom, humor and delight gleaned within these taupe walls? Exactly.

As you may remember, the biggest excitement last week was the Ice Cream Social. It was well received, I must admit, even by the complainers of our little group. And there were even some leftovers (which I am now craving... I must resist! I must resist!) so people could have a little snack throughout Friday afternoon. (Unless you are the resident Fatty-Fat-Fatso, who cleaned out three half-gallons over Thursday afternoon, right after the social... Yes, we saw you. Yes, we know it was *only* you. No one else dared touch the stuff until I gave the all-clear. Shame. Big shame. P.S. - Don't you dare complain at me about struggling with your diet anymore. I have no sympathy for you. And it's not just because you finished all the black raspberry... although admittedly that's one of the deciding factors.)

There were other exciting moments throughout the week, though. Like when my partner-in-crime was struck ill and couldn't be in the office for Thursday OR Friday, leaving me all alone to my administrative devices. Which was simultaneously entertaining and infuriating, during moments when I needed to go copy a document onto an employees hard drive just to insert it into an e-mail, because "She always does that for me, and she's not here."

Which leads me to the *most* exciting moment-that-wasn't-the-ice-cream-thing... The arrival of the mail on Tuesday.

Two little boxes marked with a vendor's name were sitting on my desk when I returned from my lunch break on Tuesday. Slightly off-put, I wondered what they were as I tore into the first box and encountered shiny, glittery packaging encasing a little fuzzy-haired man with a grimace and wild eyes. I carefully removed him from the box and took in his stress-ball-like texture. 'How convenient!' I thought. 'Just as we're dealing with all of that reorganization stress, this shows up to help!' And so, I decided to give him a little squeeze. Maybe his eyes would pop out, or something would come out of his ears and I would be simultaneously amused and less stressed...

But no.

He started to scream at me.

"RELAX! Caaalm down, now! Doooon't stress! Taaake it eaaasy....." (Forgive the awful spelling. It's the only way to explain his drawl.)

His loud, grating voice startled me, bumped my bloodpressure and made me drop the blasted little bugger on the floor, where he promptly speechified again (this time to my toes.) Once he had stopped shouting, and I had stopped hyperventilating at being startled, I began to laugh. I had an amazing tool of comedic relief in my hot little hands, and it needed to make the rounds.

And so it did.

And over the course of fifteen minutes, you could hear a chorus of laughter from every spot the little darling stopped to visit with a frazzled worker.

But wait! There were two boxes! I said that before. What was in the other one, you ask? 'Get on with telling us!' you say. 'We don't want to hear the rest of the story until we know what *other* surprises lay in store!' Well, tough cookies. It was just more of the same. And they sound really awful in stereo, so I gave the second one to its rightful recipient.**

My real question regarding this whole situation is this, though: How did the vendor know we were stressed enough to need this little reminder to sit back and let things be for a moment? 

And that's where this article comes into play that I stumbled across last week.

It is entitled "Seven Ways To Beat Stress At Work." (Actually, it is entitled "7 Ways..." but I am of the school of thought that numbers smaller than twenty should be spelled out. Yahoo! was just lazy. But I can't say much. Remember, I'm the blogger that can't even put together posts on a regular basis. Hello, all. I'm kettle.) And even the opening paragraph made me smile:

"It's Wednesday afternoon and you're sitting at your desk at work -- your jaw is clenched, your neck muscles are tight, and it feels like something you ate for lunch is not agreeing with you. You have a meeting with your boss in 15 minutes, and you have no idea what it is about. You can't concentrate on anything. When your brain goes into stress mode at work, your ability to think and solve problems diminishes. As your options become less clear, you shift from just being stressed to panicking."

Now that's uncanny! So often I work myself into a snit because a bunch of small inconveniences create a conundrum in my tummy that broils itself into a full-blown catastrophe just through my own doings. Apparently I am among friends, as they would have written this article in hopes that one weary admin in a small northern town would stumble across it on a dreary afternoon just when she needed it most. And lucky for us, there are a number of things that one in this situation can do to help one's self settle down:

  • Focus on an image of something that gives you the experience of awe: Imagine a sunset, picture the face of someone you love, recall watching your child walk for the first time. Hold this image for as long as you wish.

  • Close your eyes or gaze at your hands on your lap and inhale while you count silently to four. Take a little pause and then exhale, counting down from four. Do this at least 10 times.

  • Imagine the sun is shining golden light upon you, creating a glowing shield that holds you and comforts you. You can imagine the faces of people whom you love as your shield. Hold this image as long as you wish.

  • With any of the above exercises, you can repeat these words silently as often as you wish: "The support I need is here. I am loved and valued."

  • Imagine support is coming up from the earth, in through your feet, and up through your body and arms as you rise from your chair and stretch for the sky. As you stretch, inhale and exhale deeply, repeating the phrase above.

  • Call or plan to meet someone who cares about you for support. Make sure you let them know that you do not want advice (unless you do), you just want support and someone who will listen.

  • Think of something funny or watch something funny on the Internet. Allow yourself to laugh for several minutes. It always helps when you take life less seriously, even if only for a moment.

  • Before you start feeling as though I've lost my mind, please note: There are many other ways to work around your stress. Some people find comfort in menial tasks: filing, moving/lifting boxes, cleaning, or other activities that can be done on "autopilot." These can be helpful in that your hands are moving, your mind can shut off and you're still working towards your goal of doing something for your employer. Others find it helpful to leave the workplace entirely when they get stressed: walk to get a coffee, sit in the car and listen to a song, or even take a sick day (or partial day) to gather their wits. (I'm not a proponent of the Mental Health Day, but I know for some it's a must. And if I thought it would help me, instead of stressing me out more by making me feel guilty about shirking my responsibilities, I'd be all over that like sauerkraut on a sausage.)

    However, this "New Age" answer to office stress is one I haven't encountered before (outside of the breathing exercises) and would really like to see work. And so now, I present this question to you ReaderFriend:

    What do you do when you're stressed out at work?



    "I'm in a bit of trouble because I went to sleep last night, instead of working."
    (By an EngineerFriend who was slightly stressed regarding a project he was struggling with.)

    "I think I talk to you more than I talk to my wife!"
    (By a client who, in his defense, does call *remarkably* often.)

    "You know that thing, that 'I can change anything!' attitude? Well, I grew out of that right quick. It just doesn't happen."
    (By a client who's so jaded, I worry that his nose is going to start turning green. I only asked him how he felt about books versus the Kindle... And then told him technological books are a fad.)

    "I would marry her for her accent."
    (By a client who wants desperately to move to some foreign land he's visited a bunch of times because 'You fall in love a hundred times a day over there.')

    "Everyone needs a taste of the potato action."
    (By the same client, who is a proponent of potato guns in the home. He told me this witty one-liner after telling me the story of how he shot his son under the bathroom door while said son was pooping.)

    "Binoculars never seem as cool in person as they do on TV."
    (By an employee - notably, not an Engineer - who was trying to watch a bird out the window with the binoculars we keep for that reason.)

    Engineer Friend: "Why is EngineerFriend walking his dog outside?"
    Sunny: "Because if he walks it inside, it might poop on the floor."
    (I don't get witty in the office very often. It needed to be documented.)


    Have a Sunny Day!

    ** Before you go thinking I louse with the mail system, please read this: Both were addressed only to "IT Manager." We officially don't have one of those at this location. We have The Guy Who Works On Computers, but I don't think his title even involves the letters "I" or "T," and he gets hives at the concept of managerial-ism. So I gave him one of of the things, and he said "Huh." and put it in a pile to take home for his child. This made me realize how okay it was for me to hold on to the duplicate.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    I Turn The Music Up... I Got My Records On...

    Ah... Another quiet Friday afternoon in the office.

    (She says nonchalantly, as though she hasn't just spent the last two hours ripping her hair out from boredom.)

    Quiet Friday afternoons aren't horrible. Usually they can be almost pleasant, if the appropriate mix of snack and game and music can be reached (and if that pesky phone doesn't ring... Which is my other complaint this afternoon. It's actually been busy with calls for people who went home already. "Sorry, Client, that particular employee said 'Screw This' an hour and a half ago and left no forwarding address. I suggest holding your question until Monday, and going for a beer instead... Because I guarantee that's what Employee did.")  to minimize my boredom. 

    But today was not that day. I've been antsy and fidgety and less than productive for a whole lot of hot, miserable hours in an office I would vacate were it not for its orgasmic air-conditioning. So I had to find a way to cope.
    My method of choice today relied heavily upon music. Unfortunately,I was rocking out to the radio when I realized that I had it turned up a little loud. I realized this when that famous song came on that got me in trouble not too long ago:

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones, But chains and whips excite me." 

    Cue a lecherous EngineerFriend who comes toddling around the corner, wide-eyed and springy-stepped to ask what's going on with a "wicked grin." (His words. <eye roll and sigh> Not going there.)

    So I shut the radio off (after cussing at it a little for getting me into that situation in the first place) and decided to google "Office Appropriate Music."

    And got PILES of hits.

    (Apparently I'm not the only ignorant schmuck who has been caught busting a move behind her desk.)

    There have been oodles of studies revolving around Office-Friendly Tune-age. And here's the basis of what I've found:

    * If you work in an office (anywhere boring, really, which bases itself on client service), you have two options: light, airy, classical drivel; or silence.

    *If you work anywhere else (anywhere equally boring but less client-oriented), you have two options: headphones, or silence.

    * There will ALWAYS be someone who prefers to listen to country. (Thank goodness it's that and not Christian Screamo. Yes, it exists. Count your lucky stars and be grateful that you don't know about it.)

    * It is almost never appropriate to listen to music with lyrics in a client-oriented space. You risk offending someone with a lyric that comes out of nowhere, or leaving someone out of a genre they don't know/understand/give-a-crap-about.

    Which is all fine and dandy with me, I suppose. I'm not particularly a fan of the classical drivel, but every once in a while I do get caught air-conducting Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. And it *is* nice to know that there is a standard I should be meeting... Even though my own desk has a propensity towards announcing its sadomasochism.

    P.S. - I would love to cite the information here specifically, but it's all basically the same no matter what website you pull up. So, to make it more exciting, google "Office Appropriate Music" and see what hits you get. But make sure to check out That one was my favorite, and had the greatest wealth of information.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    I Scream, You Scream...


    As you can tell, today is not Monday. It's not even Tuesday, in fact, but *Wednesday*, and the first opportunity this week I've had to be clever in your direction.

    'Such a busy girl!' You might be saying. (Or you might be eating your Popsicle and wondering when in the world I'll get to my point...)


    Today, as I celebrate the ultimate demise of my least favorite project so far in my employment here, I consider all of the projects still left on my plate for the rest of the afternoon.

    I have to finish my invoices. (Neverending project, I tell you. Someday I'm going to drown in a sea of red ink, and they're just going to watch me float away.)

    I have to clean up the untidiness that has taken over my desk. (The only thing stopping the Red Ink Flood is the sea of paperwork sopping it up.)

    I have to do the actual *billable* work that is sitting next to my keyboard, staring at me longingly... Calling to me with its pretty Defense Logistics Agency logos and big words like "Task Deficiency."

    But that's not what's keeping me the busiest today.

    No, not even the call of actually making the company money can lure me from my current project...

    Once a month, my dear company holds a Status Meeting. It mostly concerns large numbers, mesmerizing (if not morbid-looking) graphs and the ever-popular "State of the Office" address which involves such crowd-pleasing talking points as "Core working group" and "Overall billability..." not to mention our beloved moments of health and safety. It's always a thriller, I'm telling you.

    But, despite the riveting nature of the information at these affairs, we sometimes have trouble getting attendance to the level at which it should be. A wonder, I know, considering the material... But nonetheless, that's the way it works. So we resort to a low-life, underhanded scheme to coerce WorkerFriends into the meeting room...


    Usually in the form of food.

    Now anyone who works in an office can tell you the magical nature of food within a corporate environment. It's mind-boggling how a tray of muffins or a jar of lollipops can be depleted without seeing a soul in an hour-long period. (It's true. Set a box of muffins on your desk when you're working at it, and it will last all day. Set it out and go to a 9:00 meeting, and you'll come back to a desk covered in nothing but crumbs. The sneakiness is what makes me giggle - As if being caught munching happily on a treat is tantamount to treason within a cubicle maze. "No! I don't eat at work!" And they toddle back to their seats, where the food will inevitably drift directly to their posteriors... But that's a subject for a different post. Perhaps you could check out for a little more bottom-flavored fun, if that's what you're in to. But not like *that*, because we don't do that here.) Yes, food in the corporate world is destined to live a short and secretive life.

    But this wasn't just food.

    This... was ice cream.

    Yes, for this month's Monthly Meeting I managed to wrangle the head honchos into agreeing to an ice cream social for our beloved troopers.

    Which was met with a resounding chorus of... wait for it... nonchalance.

    Yes, the EngineerFriends I had worked so hard for barely seemed excited at all for the prospective frozen treats.

    Eliciting responses for flavors was like pulling teeth. First, I got blank stares. My second response got a chorus of "whatever you get will be fine..."s and by then, I had had about enough. I was going to get Ice Cream, damnit, and they were going to *like* it!

    So I bummed a head honcho's credit card (totally liberating feeling... Keep it under $65, and they don't even ask for your signature...) and bought four gallons of ice cream and a basketful of sprinkles and sauces. I toddled back to the office and immediately began rallying my troopers.

    "Are you excited for the ice creamy goodness today?" I would ask.

    "Oh... sure." was the response at 9:15 this morning.

    "Oh! Kind of!" was the response at 10:40.

    "Oooh! That's right!" was the response at 12:10.

    And finally, at 1:30 this afternoon, I was approached with this whisper of a thought, bordering slightly on hushed concern:

    "Will we be eating the ice cream soon?"

    With a smile, I said of course, and that there was a small basket of candy bars in the kitchen to tide anyone over who would simply faint at waiting for a whole hour and a half more before the ice cream was produced for consumption.

    There will, of course, be some downfalls to this highlight-of-my-week. As I set up at 2:45 for the meeting to begin at 3:00, there will be those who straggle into the kitchen and insist that their bellies cannot wait a moment longer. There will be those who arrive at 3:20 and grumble that the good choices are gone, that what IS there is melted and that they really don't like ice cream at all. But for now...  I remain hopeful.
    And for now, they just called my name in the lunchroom. Perhaps I should go see what's going on. Sweet afternoons, my ReaderFriends.

    **Note: They thanked me! They actually *thanked* me!! For my thought, and my hard work, and my orchestration of this delightful afternoon... Right out in the open, in front of God'N'Everybody... That was weird. Kind... but weird.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Green Land

    OH MY GOODNESS! You poor dear! Sit down! Sit down!!

    I know... it's crazy. It's WEDNESDAY, and it's been over a week since my last blog post. How did you survive?!

    (I know. You probably ate lots of bacon and drank lots of rum and got through just fine without me. But humor me, dear. It's been a long week.)

    First, I must apologize. The busy nature of my schedule notwithstanding, I've been fighting against this inexplicable bout of writer's block lately. Which is frustrating. I want so badly to share witticisms and fun thoughts with you all, but find myself zapped of creative energies enough to bring these intents to fruition. But NO LONGER! Today, I break the block and *make* myself find something to tell you about. 

    What an exciting week it's been! Last Wednesday I packed myself up and got myself together and shipped off for Lands Unknown for my very first ever historical recreation event. (Recreation, as in fun. Not reenactment. We're not doing anything over again - we're starting fresh, because we're cool like that.) I exercised muscles I forgot that I had, made friends I didn't know could be so cool and had an all around glamorous time under a completely different name that was just totally awesome. And it was good.

    But all good things must come to an end... As did my adventure. And with the end of my adventure came my re-immersion into 

    But then, upon my arrival back in the office, I found I had forgotten to do something before my departure...

    Water the plants.

    I wish I could tell you I lived in Green Land. No, not the country... I mean the state of being. That happy place where so many of my cohorts can go to commune with nature and bring forth shoots of new life from dry, hardened dirt.

    But I do not live in Green Land. I don't visit there, either. I don't call, text, or smoke signal. For the most part... I pretend it doesn't exist.

    Because I kill plants.

    No, I don't think you understand.

    I KILL THEM. They see me coming, and they just *die.* 

    Now this is an unfortunate habit for an administrative person. 

    I sit at the Reception desk of my dear office. And the Reception desk is disgustingly close to all communal company areas... Like the kitchen, the copy rooms, and the area where clients congregate when they step off of the elevator. It is the last where I find myself standing, hands on hips as I survey the carnage this afternoon.

    I forgot to water the plants before I went on vacation. The current state of affairs finds me gazing at greenery in states of disrepair ranging from slightly-wilty-around-the-edges to mostly-yellow-with-just-a-little-green to back-to-becoming-one-with-the-dirt-from-whence-they-sprung. This means that one of two things could have happened:

    1) Some kind soul took notice of their plight and watered them for me on Friday afternoon. Then another kind soul, not wary of the actions of the first, did the same. And now they're drowned.

    2) No one has touched the blasted things since I left.

    I'm leaning more towards the second on this list. The droopy leaves and absent puddles of water lead me to think that these poor critters are famished, dying for a drink from the wellspring of the bathroom. They cry out to me, "Please, Sunny! Help us! We're dying!"

    But that's a problem.

    I could water them. But they're so dry right now that I risk OVER-watering. And that's a horrible, fatal thought in and of itself. The oozing, dripping puddles that leak from the bottom of the planters and pool across my desk, the windowsill and my printerstand* wreak havoc on my workspace and my calm. Water stains soak across the paperwork that litters my desk, and inevitably I find myself cussing at an empty roll of paper towels long before the mess is tidied up.

    I don't set out to be a horrible plant mommy. It didn't happen overnight. As a child, I helped tend our vegetable gardens and could (for the most part) tell the difference between baby corn stalks and baby pigweed. However, as I grew older, my abilities lessened in direct proportion to the amount of time my father had to help me with my green endeavors.

    It is a conundrum that does not go unnoticed. For my high school graduation, a good friend gave me a wonderful plant encyclopedia that, by rights, should help me grow anything out of plain old dirt. But it doesn't happen. I soak the dirt tablets, I set up the pots, I push in the seeds and sometimes can even get little sprouts to spring up... but then they collapse in a glorious blaze that would make Bon Jovi stand up and take notice. Tender shoots curling, browning and disintegrating back to their origins in a catastrophic meltdown. 

    Every. Single. Time.

    Actually, I had the opportunity to perform a study in which I tested my hypothesis on the speed at which a plant would die with my care, and without.

    A few months ago, I graduated from college. Throughout a series of honors ceremonies, I found myself gifted with six potted plants and one cut arrangement. It spoke volumes to my abilities as, one by one, the plants gave up the fight and stopped trying for me. At the end of the graduation ceremonies, I boxed up all six potted plants and sent them to live with my mother (or, those whom I had attempted to care for and killed entirely, to be thrown away by my mother onto the farm where they could be given the burial they deserve). At the end of the ceremonies, the only flowers that still looked halfway decent were the three-week-old gerbera daisies in a vase on my kitchen counter.

    It just boggles me. Why are plants such a necessity in the office environment, or indoors at all? In the movie "Music and Lyrics" with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, Grant's character states that "Plants make women comfortable." This is hardly the case. Comfort does not spring forth from dead vines curling and crusting around my desk leg. Don't argue health benefits either, as if my measly fichus is going to offset the reams of paper we throw away every day. And as for the aesthetics? Hah. Don't make me laugh. 

    The real question is this: How many receptionists cry out in frustration at the realization of the plight of their surrounding vegetation, and the further understanding that their best efforts will almost certainly mean an untimely herbal demise? I'm certain I can't be the only one.

    *Not a smart move. 

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Holiday Celebrations

    YAY! Another Monday out of the office!

    Although it is Monday Noontime Noms day, I think I'll take this opportunity to recoup. (Read: Nothing really exciting happened in the office this week. Outside of the stray giggle, nothing worth sharing crossed my path. Slow and boring, I know... I'm so sorry.)

    It's been pretty dull and dreary in the world of EngineerFriend lately. A dark darkness descended upon my Smiles and there were days when I felt nothing at all, much less sunny-sunshines to share with my Dear ReaderFriends.

    But NO LONGER! I shall not be reigned in by the doldrums! I will break free and shine my light. *hums* This little light of... No. Not going there. 

    I think it helps that I've been so busy over the past few days. There have been no free moments to sit and wallow in selfish misery. There has been no downtime to recognize any darkness, much less acknowledge it and allow it to color my mood. Instead, I have been up to my tiddlywinks in busy preparations.

    Today was the culmination of the last 36 hours of waking efforts for me as I chauffeured my favorite (admittedly, only) Mumma in a parade. She is the librarian in a small town just a few miles from home (hers... not mine. It's a significant hike for me to get there), and a phone call on Wednesday took my weary weariness and flipped it upside down, shook it until its eyes crossed and then set it back down with a firm warning that, if it didn't get its act together and start playing for the team, it would be given a time-out. And then the work began.

    The phone call went like this:

    "Hi, Sunny?"

    "Hi, Mum."

    "Are you going to be able to drive me in the Parade on Monday?"

    "Of course."

    "Okay, that's good. And by the way, I threw away all the signs you and your sister made last year. It was an accident. I'll need some more."

    "Umm... okay."

    "And no one knows the theme, so I'm sure whatever you come up with will be fine."

    "Right. Lovely. I'm not upset at all at this enormous, sudden responsibility. I have to go pick my fingernails off with a seam ripper."

    "Okay. Love you! Bye."

    <End of Conversation>

    Don't get me wrong. I very much DO love my Mumma. She's the only Mumma I've got, and I would indeed do almost anything for her. (Almost.) But there are times when I'm convinced she doesn't really understand what she's asking, or how much is involved (when she asks her anal-rententive, perfectionist daughter to "pull something together.")

    Like telling me mid-work-week that I have four days to come up with an  idea for a float, create the posters and banners for the float, and decorate the truck. I came up with the idea for what might work on Thursday, had the time to create the paper products I needed on Friday and started cutting. I worked for four hours cutting things out on Friday night... ten to twelve hours cutting things out on Saturday (I lost track, and took a much-needed grocery shopping break mid-afternoon, because there was no way this project would be finished without the support of my favorite Captain)... and then six hours finishing the cutting and doing the pasting and magnetizing last night. 

    Which was all well and good. I had some FANTASTIC posters that I was really proud of, but there was still work to be done.

    (Unfortunately, I needed another break and decided to go see "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" last night instead of staying in and finishing the extra bits that would have really gotten our communal acts together. Short Sidenote: Dear Alan Tudyk... You are amazing, and incredible, and I wouldn't think twice about having your children. Except that they would be smarter than I am, and funnier than I am, and witty and clever and full of fun... And would probably run me into an early grave. But other than that... You are a god.)

    This morning, I awoke early (enough for a weekend, or pseudo-weekend as the case may be) and got myself ready (even had breakfast - that's a big deal!) and zoomed out the door. I screeched into the meeting spot on fumes in my beloved ZoomMobile  and immediately went to work. Forty minutes, a more-than-pink sunburn and a hearty wish for water later, and the truck was decorated. "Our Public Library Celebrates the Fifty Nifty United States" was the announcement from each side of the truck. The hood announced opportunities to "Shout Them, Scout Them, and Learn All About Them at Our Public Library." The tailgate touted our patriotism by loudly proclaiming "North, South, East, West (In our calm, objective opinion...) OUR TOWN is the best!" Flags flapped, balloons billowed and one glowing librarian sat proudly on a spare tire in the bed of the truck, waving to children on the sidelines who recognized her for her work at Storytime.

    And it was then that I realized all hope is not lost. I may be going through Dreary Darkness (TM) at work right now. My office may be having more tendencies of awfulness than are typically present, and my beloved EngineerFriends may be difficult, but at the end of the day, I STILL can make a difference. Because at the end of the day, it was my effort that allowed her to sit so proudly in that truckbed and wave to her little ones. And it was her wave that brought a smile to a little one's face (even if they didn't get any candy from us, which is really the reason they're there.) So, at the end of the day, my efforts brought a smile to a child's face. And that makes a difference.

    (Admittedly, so did the shiny trophy that they handed to Beloved Mumma after we won third prize in the Children's category, after a two-year dry run.)

    Now, I must away. It's time to hang up my writing hat, slip into something a little less revealing and a little more SPF-enhancing and go celebrate my freedom of smoked meat, strong drinks and Things That Go Boom In The Sky. This is America, ReaderFriends. It's how we roll.

    I hope you have the fantastic-est of fourths! :)