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Hello, Friends and Lovers!

Just thought I’d check in with a status report regarding last year’s birthday pronouncement that “today” would no longer be about me… In essence, it would be about you

and you, and you…

I pledged to spread love on the day I happened to be born—the day of love. So now I’m right back here to tell you, “I love you guys!”

But I also promised to adopt the whole notion as a new way of living, a new way of being me. Quite a tall order. Good thing I didn’t give myself a deadline for this project.

Because I can’t say that I stuck to my new-found calling all of the past 365 days… I can’t even say that I thought about it for half of them. But I can say that the whole premise is becoming more comfortable, making more sense to me now on more days than not. It’s a conviction I’ll continue to live into.

But I can report that for today, what little I did was for other people. Except for that 90-minute, full-body massage. After all, I still love me, too.

OMG

Give me an O! Give me an M! Give me a G!

What have you got?

An Overwhelming realization. A big fat “OK!” even.

That it’s not Me!

And finally, I Get it!

About this time last year, I started on a journey of self discovery to try to figure out what the heck is my purpose on this earth?! What is my unique purpose? After this many years of existence, you’d think I would have a solid grasp on my own reason for being.

Because if not, it’s sort of embarrassing, isn’t it? Not to mention that God’s patience with me may be wearing thin… Indeed, what the heck have I been doing all this time?

On this Valentine’s Birthday (what I’ve always considered to be MY day), despite the fact that popular culture designates it a day for all lovers or conversely, “Singles Awareness Day”, the truly personal, most unique meaning of this, MY day has finally dawned on me.

Just because I don’t have the kind of love I think I want, the close presence and romance of a best friendship, it doesn’t mean I can’t give love.

What the hell have I been thinking?!

Could I have been any more dense all these years? I was given the gift of life on the day of love! Why has it taken a lifetime to realize that my natural-born purpose is to give, spread, share, be love?

Though it may be a “high (difficult) calling” for me, henceforth, I vow not to expect, require, hope that you will remember my birthday or that Valentine’s day is actually MY day. Because it’s not anymore.

Today, I start off toward next Valentine’s Day, planning, practicing, and exhibiting the many manifestations of love that it is my unique Purpose to give.

So look out, people. My purpose is also wrapped in creativity. That part, I got a long time ago. 😉

 

Eat It with a Spoon!

A while back, I had occasion to notice a couple of people as they ate their salads at lunch. Because they were father and son, I noted (or feministically assumed) that their common method must have been influenced (or imposed?) by the common female in their lives. Regardless, in that family, they attempt to eat lettuce and the other possible uncooperative vegetative components of a salad by scooping and balancing them onto a fork before the fork meets its oral target with whatever is left on the fork. At that rate, just how long do you think it takes them to eat a salad? Perhaps it depends on the salad?

I didn’t have time to find out! But it caused me to examine my own familial tradition of stabbing salad components with a fork to bring them collectively to one’s mouth. I must say that after a long history of personal salad satisfaction, I find little fault with this inherited practice that sometimes does require chasing the tiniest, last vegebits around the bowl or plate to spear them.

Oh, alright, I admit that in the final-stage attempt to appease the ingrained mantra to “clean my plate” (or is it my learned desire to glean everything I’ve paid for?), I have been known to use the surreptitious nudge of a finger to coax those last bits onto the fork.

I suppose that means I’ve adopted a hybrid approach for the efficient dispatch of a salad.

In Copenhagen quite some years ago, I was game to try whatever the locals ate. And so I discovered the fast-food offering of a potato salad, or rather a salad potato. The picture showed a baked potato with toppings that seemed to sprout out of it. Damn, but there was lettuce on that potato!? Not to be confused with potato salad as we know it nor potato on/in a salad…

With my fork, I explored that novel concept reservedly, not knowing how it might influence my culinary practice all these years later.

These days I confess that I eat a lot of “prepared” foods as dinner entrées, but I also make a huge green salad with a variety of vegetative enhancements to accompany the entrée. I continue to use the preferred method to stab at both the entrée and the salad in turn, which yields immediate gratification. But when I get down to the last bits of both—or maybe even before then—I give up on the stabbing method … I find that I have taken to combining the entrée (“potato”) with the salad. Because at this point, even the fork-scooping method is futile.

Yes, I have embraced a new methodology: Eat It with a Spoon!

Mix it up, eat it up, eat it all up with a spoon.

Dig, dip into it all with a vessel that though it has measure, is prone to overflow.

Is it a potato or a salad? A salad or an entree? Who the heck cares?! Eat it all, eat it up with a spoon…

I just set my alarm clock for the last time…

I mean I’ve set it to my new workday wakeup time of 6:30 a.m. instead of the 5:30 intrusion that has alarmed me for most of the past two years.

Gone are the days of being startled awake at such a ridiculous hour. Because tomorrow I start my next career adventure…

After a really difficult decision that forced me to choose between two very different job offers, I chose the path most people would not. Are you surprised?

Mind you, the first step in the process of choosing either one was to decide whether I could leave full-time contracting for the first time in nine years. After being my own boss (more or less) under my dba, FineLines, for as long as any single full-time job I’ve ever had, it’s huge to think of giving up that independence.
It’s also “great” to ponder giving up paying for my own health insurance…

It’s hard to think about not having those breaks of time off between contracts.
It’s equally difficult to imagine actually being paid when you take time off…

Given that my 90-year-old mother will be moving to live near me soon, it would be nice, I reasoned, to have a constant job schedule for a change, so my care giving also can be predictable. Having a steady income in the countdown years to Social Security benefits is another point in favor of going full-time, right?

One significant drawback of taking a full-time job is that it would make it kinda difficult (but not impossible) to cling to my unemployment shtick/persona. This blog would never have been started without the recurring theme of joblessness throughout my career. I have so much material yet to blog about!

But with all this and other factors, I have almost convinced myself that becoming a captive again is the best choice right now. Actually, I was hoping to make this my last job choice ever before retirement (which is still not going to be in this decade), but I’m not quite ready to say there might not be other possibilities to consider at some point.

Good then. My brain is tricked into thinking that this decision doesn’t have to be forever. Ah, that feels a little less scary.

Now to consider which opportunity to embrace, which path to take? The two could not be more different.

There’s the corporate job with big industry, the type of job that years ago, I would have expected and wanted to end up in. I’ve been contracting for this company the better part of two years, and so it would almost be like just a continuation of what I’m used to… such as getting up at 5:30 in the morning? Ooh, no, thanks.

But it’s actually a pretty exciting program to work on, one that has international significance and requires a SECRET security clearance. OMG! How cool would that be?

The other opportunity is with a non-profit. Right away you know that spells less money, right? Yep, it’s true. But I have an established work relationship with this organization, too. I’ve been doing work for them on a freelance basis for more than a year. And doggonit, but I enjoy the type of work I’ve been doing. I love the work they do, which is equally engaging if not yet international in impact. And I’d be working from home. Throw the annoying alarm clock out the window!

Still, I owed it to myself to consider all aspects–or as many as I could think of–of both, pros and cons, tradeoffs and negotiations, which I mulled over and fretted over, lost sleep over. But the more I compared them, the less different they seemed. On the subject of employee benefits, I was surprised to discover that they seemed to be on a par. When time ran out, I had to just make a decision. Turn one down; accept the other.

Here’s the serendipitous if not ironic part: the big industry enterprise is a corporate sponsor of the little non-profit.

When I walked out of the office of big industry on Thursday, I still didn’t know if I’d made the right choice. Who in their right mind turns them down? Why, me of course.

So tomorrow I start my latest career adventure working right here in my home office. You see, this way, my brain will be tricked into thinking that I’m still an independent. We can ease into the realization of this full-time employee thing later. Much later than 5:30 a.m.  …

Nuts!

Conscientious consumer that I am, after having a surprisingly uncharacteristic experience with a particular product recently, I felt compelled to bring it to the attention of the company. I wrote the following letter in hopes that they would tell me I really wasn’t nuts.

Dear Nut People:

I write to you regarding a recent purchase of your Emerald Sweet & Salty Mixed Nuts (9 oz).

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed in the product, which was not up to your usual standards. Although I really like the taste of um, the product purported to be within the plastic container (aka your nuts), I am not overly fond of the taste nor texture of the plastic container itself.

Enclosed please find the product label as proof of purchase, along with the unexpected sample of the plastic container material, which I am no doubt fortunate to have not ingested! Indeed my delicate palate recognized it immediately as a manufacturing process faux pas. It was totally lacking in flavor and its texture resembled nothing nut-like at all!

Please forgive me if I have gone nuts over this, but I’m thinking the traumatic surprise I endured entitles me at the least to a lifetime supply of Emerald nuts! Despite the trauma and mental anguish this has caused me, I am nonetheless capable of being completely reasonable so as to allow you to determine the type(s) of nuts and the frequency/quantity in which I find myself nuts.

As stated, I included the product label and the actual offending bit of green plastic (same as the container material) as enclosures. Visual and tactile aids never go out of style.

My goal of course was to score some free nuts! and to have some fun in the process.

My efforts were rewarded promptly, if not in the same spirit of fun. Within two person-weeks or something like less than 10 business days, I received the following response by mail:

Thank you for your recent letter concerning Emerald Sweet and Salty Original Blend.

Diamond Foods is proud of its reputation for high-quality food products. Our strict quality-control standards, special processing equipment and continual quality checks help to ensure a product that is free from any undesirable material. Therefore, we are at a loss to explain the foreign matter you found. We have notified both our Quality Control and Production Departments of your experience.

We apologize for the quality problem you encountered and any inconvenience you experienced. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Enclosed is a refund. We hope you will replace your product and continue to enjoy our Diamond Foods products.

Encl. Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2

Score! The “Emerald Snack Product Coupon 2” enclosure was actually three coupons – two for free products and a third for $1.00 off.

Sigh… These nut people chose to acknowledge my complaint but not my creativity. I suppose you could say, what do you expect from a company of nuts?

On the other hand, I suspect that they privately enjoyed what they politically correctly ignored. And so my work here is done.

 

 

I don’t even know what to call this

“T is for Thursday”? “T is for Turtle”? “The last Thing I could have Thought of that I’d have to deal with Tonight”?

Help me out here. My Thoughts are all over the place from a quite unexpected event this evening, and I can’t seem to hone in on what it “means” or what I think about it. Yet, I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post here somewhere. So without too many interruptions (of which there have been a couple), I just want to throw this experience out there to you while it’s immediate post-real-time.

Today is my “Friday” this week, because I’m off tomorrow. I came home with little intention for this evening, except to gear up for the “other” work I need to accomplish this three-day weekend and perhaps get some rest in advance, because I seem to have come down with a cold.

So I’m putzing around – you know – the little stuff you need to accomplish, but which serves the important purpose of helping you avoid doing the big stuff you really need to do. I unlocked the back gate so I could transport recyclables from my garage to the recycle bin in the backyard. I had made three or four trips to the backyard, when upon my return to the garage, I was greeted by a complete surprise. A most unusual visitor. An incredulous creature, the likes of which I have never seen around here in my 20+ years of residence.

A huge turtle was sitting in front of my garage opening as if he/she had come to call. When I say “huge,” I mean about 10 inches long and 7 inches wide. It gave me a start! Where could it have come from? I’m guessing that someone’s pet has escaped? I went next door to get my neighbor to attest to the fact that I was not hallucinating.

But what am I to do? I don’t want it to come to harm. We agreed that I should call Animal Control. Upon which the turtle crawled on over the threshold of my garage and under my car.

I’m thinking this was the smartest move on the part of the Turtle. I had no plans to go out again tonight, so the fact that it stopped squarely under the path of my tires is not an issue to me. Indeed, it was a brilliant move by my new friend, the Turtle, who by now is confident in my intentions toward him, my desire to shield him from harm, but just in case, this “check” move eliminates any revision of my travel plans for the evening.

I waited on hold to speak with Fort Worth Animal Control for some time after placing the call. In the interim, I was able to check on my friend to see if he had perhaps changed course. Nope, I was happy to see that he was still sitting in the same safe spot under my car. When someone finally answered, she shared my amazement at the probability of my Thursday Turtle Tourist visit. As she wrote up a dispatch order for Animal Control, I asked whether I should close my garage door so as to keep Turtle from venturing out from the safety of my intentions. She agreed that I should, because she was reporting that I had the animal “contained.”

I am now not only a shelter in the storm, a friend in time of need, a chosen refuge from whatever Turtle came from, but also I am an officer responsible for the legal protection and restraint of wildlife!

For how long, I did not know. Good thing that “I came home with little intention for this evening.”

When my phone rang, I also saw the Code Compliance truck in front of my house. First, I opened the kitchen door into the garage to check on my captive. In the meantime, he had moved and was practically sitting on the doorstep to enter my house! While this startled me yet again, I was gratified that he still seemed to trust and seek my intentions for his care.

I yelled to the Code Compliance officer that I would open the garage door where he could easily find and apprehend the Turtle. The officer was able to walk right in and pick up my friend, upon which he noticed blood on one of his front legs. My Thursday Turtle had been injured!

Now I know why Turtle sought me out, right? Its Turtle-tuition led him to me at a rare moment when I would find him, and find compassion on him.

So that’s my Thursday Turtle Story. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog post here somewhere, but I need your help to make sense of it… or not.

 

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