Thursday, March 28, 2013


Recent ramblings about the city have led to some pretty fascinating discussions between my walking compatriot and myself.

As I mentioned previously, walking invigorates a creative part of the mind. Your body engages, you're propelling yourself forward without much thought**1 and your mind is left to ponder some deep ponderings.

Earlier this week, as we were strolling nonchalantly along, our conversation turned to Youthful Contemplations of 'What If.'

We agreed that, for both of us, there were individuals who shaped our lives by being in them and being themselves. Their positive impact was indirect: through watching their struggles, we decided to follow different paths.

Perhaps you've had this happen to yourself.

Somewhere in your life, there might be an Eeyore.

Photo Credit - Etsy, The Rekindled Page
You know what I mean - someone who isn't terribly upsetting to be around, but who just can't seem to see the bright side for the difficult hand they've been dealt.

As a young up-and-comer in the business world, I remember clearly when I met my first Eeyore. She was having a difficult time with her husband, her oldest child was being a monster and she felt trapped in her job and her life. At the time, I thought "So, scoot! Get the hell out of dodge, and find what makes you happy!"

Ah, youth.

So full of answers.**2

Unfortunately, it took many years before I realized that "Get The Hell Out of Dodge" just isn't an option for most Eeyores. They might as well be handcuffed in a closet when they get home at night - they're physically stuck, and cannot be unrooted.

But this stuck isn't a product of their surroundings.

It's a product of their insides.

How many times have you thought "Heck yeah, I'm gonna dye my hair/have popcorn for dinner/join the circus!" just to have that thought dashed by an angry stormcloud of brain-turmoil bubbling in with a veritable rainstorm of "What If's?"

What if I dye my hair and I look silly?
What if my boyfriend doesn't like my new look?
What if? What if? What if?

What if I have popcorn for dinner, and then don't have time for breakfast so I'll be hungry all day?
What if I eat all the popcorn and then my friend calls me to go out for a real dinner?
What if? What if? What if?

These what if's can strangle a body. And strangling is just gross.

But I've found myself in more than one unfortunate What If situation recently. Which made this conversation all the more interesting as it progressed.

Because inevitably, we reached the point where we pondered how our Eeyore's resigned themselves to their fates.

When did they give up, and allow themselves to stay in crappy situations because the What If's were scarier than the What Currently Is's?**3

What if I'm settling into that same routine?

I'm stronger than that. I see what's happening, and it's time that my what if's take a back seat.

I got a life to get on with.

Do you?

**1 Much to the chagrin of passing motorists who are trying to keep you from adorning their front bumper...

**2 The little shits.

**3 Yeah... I know. That's not a clean word. It feels funny. But it's the only way to say what I'm trying to say.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Go Walkies

Some time ago, I found myself with an admirer of the not-so-secret variety.

It was cute and fun in that this individual was puppy-esque in his attachment: full of bubbles and good intentions, but sometimes made a bit of a puddle out of things in his exuberant excitement.

For instance: he baked me a cake. Complete with homemade frosting. And while it was a wonderful sentiment, he forgot to sweeten the frosting with anything. Or use a thickening agent. (As a matter of fact... it was more like he poured chocolate soup over the cake.) But it was a wonderfully kind gesture, and I appreciated his effort.

On other occasions, he would scamper up to my desk and ask if we could Go Walkies For Lunch.

I always giggled and found an excuse: My sister was in town, and I promised to spend time with her. I had an appointment that I just couldn't break. I was coming down with a jungle virus. Something about him, while cute and fun, made me just a little uncomfortable... so I avoided the Walkies.

Over the past week, however, I've found that the warmer weather is drawing me out of the office more frequently during the lunchtime hour. I'm popping out to enjoy a few moments of sunshine mid-day every day as I stroll around the city, and it's not only brightened my mood, it's brightened my mind.

Today I strolled by myself (my strolling buddy was otherwise occupied), and found myself meandering not only with my toes, but with my brain. It jumped from idea to idea like a child with new rainboots in a spring shower.

I thought about my admirer, who made his exit from my life many moons ago (and I hadn't thought of since). It led me to wonder if I would have had a second to ponder deep thoughts while walking with him, or if I'd need to be on constant alert that he not run into traffic or excitedly piddle on someone's shoe.

I thought about the injustice of the clothing-sizing industry, after my shopping sojourn with a close friend last evening. (If the number of my pants size has an hourglass figure too, why am I considered toppling over the edge into obesity? When did Bony become Beautiful?)

I thought about what it would be like to be invisible (after a grumpy homeless man moseyed out of his way to run into me - hard enough for me to flinch and wonder if I should chase him down for an apology).

I thought about how Boyfriend of Amazingness is coming home this evening after a three-day work jaunt to the south.

I thought about how I haven't seen my Mom or my sister in weeks, and that I kinda miss them a lot.

I thought about work.

I thought about home.

I thought about snuggles and puppies and daisies.

It's hard to come back to work with a frown on your face when there are snuggles and puppies and daisies on your mind.

Happy Friday, ReaderFriends!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Sunny's Disclaimer:

I've never used a writing prompt for my blog before. As a matter of fact... I haven't used a writing prompt since I was in college a couple years ago. But today, I felt like writing. And what I feel like writing about isn't ready to be written yet.**1

So I Googled.

(Oh, Google, you amazing beast - is there anything you don't know?)

And the prompt that I found struck a chord, so we're embarking on this literary adventure together.

Buckle up, ReaderFriends! Here we go!

The Tooth Fairy: A fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?

When I first saw this prompt, I thought immediately of a discussion I stumbled across yesterday on a Social Media website. A friend of mine - who happens to have a young child - was discussing that he was about to lose his first tooth. The apparent chain of events is this:

1. Child's tooth becomes wiggly.

2. Child goes to school.

3. Child shows classmates the wiggly tooth.

4. Classmates weigh in on Tooth Fairy Gift-Giving Criteria.

5. Child comes home to inform Mom that he's ready to lose his tooth, as the Tooth Fairy will be bringing him gold in exchange.

I was flabberghasted. Seriously?! Gold?! I got a quarter for each lost tooth. (And I panicked when I lost a tooth while we were staying away from home. I was certain that the Tooth Fairy would never find me, and that I'd be out a quarter. Which sucked, as I was close to the only candy store I knew about that accepted quarters in exchange for a sizeable portion of candy, instead of just a gumball or something pathetic like that.) I couldn't imagine getting more.

Sure, I knew other kids did - The typical haul for a kid in my class was $1 per tooth. There was one lucky soul who got higher dollar values for more important teeth - up to $5 for a molar, I think. I was on the low end of the scoring stick there.

But I also knew that the Tooth Fairy wasn't as much as other kids thought he (or maybe she?) might be. So there wasn't as much weight to the ritual (outside of getting the monetary haul so I could indulge in more sugary treats to rot out the remaining baby teeth... Ironic, no?) as there would have been if my parents had insisted that there was a little fairy that came in, took my old teeth and left me a gift.

So, in my world, the Tooth Fairy was a harmless fiction. He (or, again, she - We were never terribly specific) was a nonspecific entity that my parents indulged us with as a childhood rite of passage - Not a ritual that they clung to. Perhaps that was a side-effect of having parents slightly older than my classmates' Moms and Dads. Perhaps it was a product of my parents' childhoods - realistic grandparents make for realistic children, who then have baby realists of their own. Or perhaps it was a trickle-down from our economic status. (When your family is on food stamps, you don't give dollars to children for doing what their bodies will do whether you reward them or not.) Or maybe it was a hodge-podge of all three. In any case... when I realized that the Tooth Fairy was a childhood story, and not a Real Thing, I suffered no ill effects.

But I've witnessed children fall apart at their very seams at the realization that some beloved childhood character was fictitious. Which seems cruel, when you consider that the average age of a child whose belief crumbles is somewhere between 8 - 12... and that's such a tough age anyway. Bodies are changing. Social dynamics are changing. Life is a whirlwind of craziness, punctuated by "I'm ready to sleep without my teddy bear now" and "Mom, don't kiss me when you drop me off at school anymore." To have the beloved characters that surround important events such as Christmas/Easter/Tooth Loss taken away - and to find out that they were a ruse that the world imparted upon you - must be a harsh reality to awaken to indeed.

So I must admit that I'm grateful to my parents. They gave me just enough belief to make the events magical, without centering them around a falsehood. Santa Claus? Let's leave him a Sam Adams and a slice of fruitcake. And maybe some rum balls for the reindeed. Easter Bunny? It's okay - he'll find us at our Aunt and Uncle's house. He's clever, and even if he doesn't make it, we'll have a wonderful day with our family. Tooth Fairy? He'll do what he can. But I'm proud of you for being brave through losing that tooth anyway.

Sounds pretty good to me.

**1 Long story. I'll tell you another time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I had a moment of clarity this morning, as I sat down with my knitting project.

I started this beastie back in January. We got a phone call that Boyfriend of Amazingness' father had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Immediately we - along with Boyfriend's Brother, Sister-In-Law and Mom of Amazingness - hit the road. Plane tickets were stupid expensive to get us where we needed to be... so we road tripped. The entire length of the east coast.

It was a very long drive.

So, before we left, I packed myself an activity bag.

(Yes. I'm a seven year old girl inside. I need things to occupy my time - and my hands - for long car trips, or I get antsy and carsick.**1 When I was a kid, my sister was my activity bag. We'd play games until we got cranky. Then we'd argue until we fell asleep. Flawless system.)

For this trip, I overpacked. It's hard not to do in a crisis, especially when you're a supporter of a directly-impacted individual. I wanted to be prepared for anything Boyfriend of Amazingness needed.

I had tissues. Baby wipes. Dramamine, Tylenol, Advil. I packed a book for when we got to our final destination. I packed my iPod, my cell phone and chargers for both (and for Boyfriend's electronics, too). I packed a journal**3 and enough pens to get me into trouble. And I packed a pair of needles and some yarn.

At first I wasn't sure what I was going to knit. I had grabbed something off the top of the pile - a pale yellow skein with pink, purple, green, blue and yellow baubles of color threaded through - that was compact enough for a road trip. But I didn't know what I was going to make.

So, being the anal-retentive fan of round numbers that I am, I cast on 100 stitches and started in.

By the end of the road trip, I had spent over 48 hours in a Chevy Expedition... most of it in the back seat, high on Dramamine, truck stop coffee and Fruit By The Foot. And whenever there was enough light to keep my eyes from hurting with strain, I had been knitting.

By the end of the road trip, I had a Big, Lumpy Yellow Square to show for it. It wasn't finished, but it had a hell of a story.

I told you that story, to tell you this story.

At the beginning of the year, I set myself a Resolution.

I promised myself that I was going to stop the rushing, stop the frantic skittering from one project to the next, and Take The Time.

But somewhere between the end of December (when I made that resolution) and this morning (when I was thinking about it), I lost sight of what, exactly, I was trying to do.

I was trying to get myself to slow down and just enjoy The Ride of Life.

Earlier this week, I posted about The Waiting and how it was driving me bonkers.

This came to a head yesterday. Partly because a big plan Boyfriend and I had made fell through at someone else's hands. Partly because I spent the day marinating in the mind-gnawing silence of a Friday Front Desk. And partly because I was just really excited for a weekend after a stressful week. Plans were made for dinner at a local bar with Boyfriend and his coworker. But as I pulled into the parking lot, I got a text:

Boyfriend of Amazingness: Looks like later.

Turns out, work got crazy and he ended up arriving more than an hour later than expected. Which meant another hour of Wait for me.

So, while I waited, I killed time.

I called my Mum, and spent 45 minutes catching up with her... Which is something I hadn't done in weeks.**4

I spent twenty minutes messing around on Social Media websites.

I spent fifteen minutes playing games on my phone. 

And I spent five minutes looking idly around the bar as I waited for a table.

I was well and truly antsy by the time the boys arrived. But two hours - and a drink, a dinner and an ice cream soaked brownie - later, I was full of food and full of giggles and really glad that I had waited.

As I said earlier in the week - waiting is almost always worth it.

But lately I've allowed myself to get caught up in discontented wait. And that's not cool.

It's time for me to take the time to enjoy waiting. Enjoy having a moment to catch up with my Mum, instead of considering it a time filler. Enjoy having a moment to sit down and work on my knitting without having to clean the house for a new guest. Enjoy having a couple hours at work to get done what needs doing.

Because while I might arrive at my anticipated destination just fine if I bludgeon myself into it, it's going to be a lot more pleasant if I just let myself get there when I get there.

Today isn't just a stepping stone, Reader Friends. Today is pretty damn awesome.

I'm going to go take the time to celebrate it properly.**5 I hope you do the same.

**1 It's a hoot, really. I need things to keep myself from getting bored. But I have to make sure they're things that don't require a whole lot of time spent looking at them - like coloring or reading - because if I take my eyes off the road for too long, I start feeling wobbly about the middle. And as the teeniest passenger, I spent most of the road trip in the Way Back**2, from whence it was a bit of a process to extract myself at pit stops. A sudden fit of gastronomical excitement would be terribly inconvenient. And sticky.

**2 Not gonna lie - I was pretty psyched. I love the Way Back. It was like my little nest.

**3 Mostly used for a tally - How many dead cars and dead critters do you see on the side of the road? We lost count somewhere around Virginia on the drive home, because it got dark and it's hard to count that stuff at night when you're exhausted and really just want to be in your own bed.

**4 I call her almost every day, but we indulge mostly in superfluity - Just checking in to make sure no earth-shattering crises have descended. Last night it was wonderful to have a real, solid Talk.

**5 With bacon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Throw It Out

"It's hard to hold on to negativity when you're tossing it out through your boobs."

I said this today, after a particularly awesome dance class.

After yesterday's adventures in melancholy,**1 I was thrilled today to have the opportunity to indulge in my favorite lunchtime shenanigan: Shimmies!

I've mentioned before that there's a dance studio across the street from my office, which offers a fantastic course on Wednesdays at Lunchtime called "Lunchtime Shimmy." It's a beginner belly dance class, structured by the teacher around the students who are there each week, and focusing on simple moves that can be layered and upgraded in challenging-ness depending on student ability. I really enjoy it for the social aspect, the getting-out-of-the-office, and the literal shaking-up of the workday humdrums.

Today was a focus on what a previous dance teacher called "Chest Smiles." While maintaining your head and your lower body in a stationary stance, move your ribcage from side to side, swooping upwards at each outside edge (essentially in the shape of a smile). It's a small, focused movement. And even while not actively seeking out belly dance classes to take, that's a movement I drilled often because it strengthens the troublesome muscles in my back.

I was excited today when the teacher asked me to put a twist on the move - A move aligned with the stylings of Fifi Abdou, with her high energy and charisma - and "fling" my chest skyward at the outside of each move. What I found is that it's impossible to do the move without projecting energy... And the energy I had to send out was negative.

But here's the awesome thing about expelling negative energy: Without additional negativity surrounding you, you're not going to be able to keep feeding that emotion. You're going to purge the negative, and take in what you've got around you. And, in the case of an energized, upbeat dance class... what I had to take in was most uplifting, indeed.

I returned to work with an amplified smile on my (admittedly somewhat sweaty) face, and a spring in my (admittedly somewhat tired) step. And it bubbled me through the rest of my day.

Be happy, my friends.

**1 Right down to an alarming fit of The Leaks, all inclusive with snot and facial drippage. Most inconvenient for me, and downright unsettling for Boyfriend of Amazingness, who thought I was adversely reacting to his request for a foot rub.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The More Things Change...

There are a lot of impending changes on my personal horizon these days.

But the thing is...

They're impending.

They aren't actually happening yet.

And that part is driving me bonkers.

I'm geared up. I'm antsy. I'm ready for this all to go down.

But instead, I have a serious case of the thumb twiddles.

I sit. I wait. I twiddle.

I twiddle a lot.

I know that all this waiting will be worth it, when the super cool changes do settle in to effect.

But the activity of waiting drives me absolutely, positively, pull-my-hair-out bat-crap crazy.

So, while waiting, I start thinking about other changes I would have more control over.

Something with an immediate payoff, like buying new shoes or getting a new haircut.

But I know this isn't the right solution. I know I need to just wait.

I hear people talk about "embrace the wait."

But really I'd like them to stick that up their nose.

I want my change... And I want it now.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What IS That Girl Up To?

'What in the world is that Sunny doing with herself?' you may be asking.

(Or maybe you're asking who ate the last piece of pie. Well... maybe that's what I've been doing with myself. Har-de-har - NO PIE FOR YOU! It's all in my belly.)**1

Well... it's been very busy in SunnyLand.

You may have noticed that The Blog is looking ever so slightly different than it did in the past. It's lost its pleasant green-iness, and has instead adopted the look of a doodled-upon notepad.

(It's very apropo, you know. My note pads are almost always full of doodle.)

Well... there's a lot of explaining that goes into the changes.

And it's long and boring and involved and not terribly funny. So I'll let you use your imagination to come up with something better than the actual tale.

But what I will tell you is that I had this revelation**2 a few weeks ago on my drive home.

My route home heads almost directly west. And at this time of year, so close to the vernal equinox, the sun is setting at just about the time I drive home.
Which means, for a short period of time in the spring, each evening I quite literally leave the office and drive into the sunset.
That realization got me to thinking.
(Scary, I know.)
See, my evening commutes towards the blazing red sky are so peaceful. Perhaps because, at this end of the year, I know that the days will only get longer and that there will only be more sunlight to brighten my waking hours. The darkness will fade and hope will rise again.

(Winter gets pretty sucky in northern New England.)

One evening, while mellowing in that hope, I'm able to reflect on what a cranky little snot I've been of late.
Sure, I can offer you all sorts of excuses for my behavior, culminating in the fact that 2013 hasn't been nearly the pleasant year it should have been.
(As a matter of fact, it's been full of suck and awful.)
But all that suck and awful around makes it all the more important for me to put my Sunniest face forward.
Really, I haven't had too awful much to complain about lately. I've got food in my belly, warm clothes on my back, gasoline in my tank and a Boyfriend of Amazingness to make me taco salad and cocktails at the end of the night.
It's crazy, but it's true. 
For instance, recently...

The most curmudgeonly curmudgeon I know blushed and giggled as we solved a problem together.

He *giggled*

That's not abysmal.
But instead of focusing on that anti-abysmality, I've been all moody and self-absorbed.
I know I can do better. There's a new Sunny that's making herself known around these parts. At this new office, I'm able to shed the old skin of "Just The Junior Admin," and become a new person complete with responsibilities and the respect of my coworkers. Just a couple weeks ago, I spent four days elbow-deep in a backlog of filing. But as the end drew nigh, there were thanks and trophies and booze in recompense for my efforts.**3 Now I get to handle projects all on my own. Hell... I'm even qualified to help wrangle some of our most difficult residents hereabouts. And they thank me, too.
It's just a different world around here.
Sure, there will always be people who are tough to be around. And there will always be new toughness to take on. But there's a heaping helping of sunshiney-ness, too.
And really, that's what's important to share.
So, with that in mind, I've stripped down Dear EngineerFriend to its comedic bones.
It's true: DearEngineerFriend has been revamped into lackadaisy chain - the musings and ramblings of all my lifetime undertakings, instead of just those within my workplace. I'm hopeful that it will lead to new and exciting adventures in writing, and will leave you all with a more positive image of me than the snarky, discontented admin from before.
Of course, not everything will change. You'll still get the blurbs about Boyfriend of Amazingness... you'll still hear about the shenanigans of the NeighborSpawn... and, of course, there will always be tales from workland. But you'll also get new and exciting content, fresh from my brainpan as often as I can provide it.
And so, together, we embark on this new creative adventure. 
I wore my adventure socks and everything.
Thank you for everything, ReaderFriends. I wouldn't be here without you.
With Love,
Sunny Smiles

**1 Actually... I haven't been eating any pie. Instead, I've been eating as healthy as I can. Stupid medication with its stupid fat-making. Dislike.

**2 I am incapable of typing 'revelation' without first spelling it 'relevation' and then backspacing and fixing it. Don't know why... And, actually, I'm not even sure why I'm telling you. But it seemed important when it happened.**4

**3 There was also an overabundance of blood. Seriously... is it possible to file without losing at least a pint through your lacerated fingertips?
**4 See what I mean? Lots of musings. All over the place. All lackadaisy-like.