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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State Of The Union - Fearlessly Commentating!

The Boyfriend™ and I are in bed, watching the state of the union address. I'm having a hard time paying attention to it because Obama is throwing out a whole bunch of politi-speak and I'd rather play "guess the inner monologue", where I alternatively narrate the expressions of the people in attendance at the speech.

But because I'm all about political commentary LIVE WHILE IT'S HAPPENING, I'm gonna give you a to the minute update as the speech goes on

Creepy Old Guy: ayuhyuhyuhyuh... Hehehehehe....ayuhyuhyuhyuh.... I can see down that girl's shirt. I'm gonna keep clapping and watch her boobies wiggle.

Average American Lady: ohmigodthepresidentjustmentionedmeinbisspeechandimsittingnextothefirstlady!!! OhandihaveCRAZYeyes!!

Speaker of the House: I wonder if I can fit in a tanning session tonight? Do you think that Obama would notice if I gave him a wedgie? Oh wait! I need to pay attention. GTL Y'ALL!

Laurene Jobs: Seriously? Steve is DEAD. Can we let if GO already! (eye roll.. No seriously, she rolled her eyes)

Transvestite: .... (yeah, there was a cross dresser there)

Joe Biden is looking less and less pleased the more Obama speaks. I think he's trying to figure out how he can donkey punch Obama without the secret service taking him out.

Bryan Ritterby...another average citizen... Can't keep up with the conversation. I think he played "Sloth" in "The Goonies"

OH! Just spotted! Mr. Burns!! Eeexcellent!

(I wonder if Obama is farting right now. I'd hate to be Biden or the Speaker if he was)

I thought Andy Rooney was dead, but it turns out he's just been hanging out in Congress.. So. It's LIKE he was dead.

Timothy Geithner, The Treasury Secretary looks he sucked lemons AND forgot to use his hemorrhoid cream.

Joe Biden is now catching up on his Words with Friends games....

Obama made a joke about spilled milk and Michelle looked REALLY embarrassed. You know that Barack wrote that one himself.

Richard Cordray does NOT look thrilled with his job description.... Protecting the consumers from deceptive loan practices.

The House Majority Leader appears to be a ferret. It's hard to tell under all of that "Just For Men" Black no 2

Obama is talking about shared responsibility, about billionaires paying at LEAST the same tax rate as their secretaries, congressional bipartisanship and evening the playing field and delivering on the promises of the WWII generation and reducing the federal government. Since I'm currently watching this on Fox [not] news, you know Obama is going to be labeled a socialist.

And as great as this campaign speech is....cuz that's all it is... I'm still wondering what the state of the union is.

(Wow.... Hilary looks OLD... And what's with the grudge clapping. Geez, Lady!)

Lieberman couldn't be here tonight, so he sent his Muppet lookalike to sit in for him.

And there ya go! The state of the union!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why yes. Yes, I Can Work in This Mess

My studio before I buckled down an cleaned it. I'm working on illustrations for my book - which is involving a ton of experimenting and rethinking concepts.

Friday, January 13, 2012

So Here's the Thing

I am pretty reserved. Believe it or not, there's a ton of stuff that I would love to do but just don't have the balls to try, or say, or post. It took a phenomenal amount of conquering my inner critic just to set up my etsy shop, that's how reserved I am. It wasn't until I started being able to say that I'm an artist that the muse hung around for any length of time. It appears that she'll only honor those that honor the talents she gave them.

I admire the shit out of people who can get up in front of people and proudly proclaim themselves an artist, a singer, a scientist. They grab hold of their talent and go balls out, daring someone to tell them otherwise. And the haters? Fuck 'em, right?

Way back in the day - we're talking high school here - I considered becoming an actress. The acting bug bit me early and held on strong for years. I loved pretending I was someone else, feeling someone else's thoughts, saying someone else's words. It didn't hurt that I was born with a flair for the dramatic, and a hankering for the spotlight, into a family that loved music truly, madly, deeply.

So, my sophomore year of high school I decided to audition for the senior musical. This was the new English teacher's attempt at imbuing our rather culture-less town with a bit of Broadway (he was a New York trained actor). It didn't matter that it was just assumed all the choice roles were supposed to go to seniors, I wanted to be on that stage. So I picked a song and memorized a couple lines, stood in the spotlight and a couple days later, the cast list was posted and... I WAS THE LEAD! In a musical! Holy shit!! This Irish girl was going to be Rosie Alvarez in Bye Bye Birdie.

That was the beginning of my illustrious high school acting Career. That teacher, Mr. McGuire, saw something in me and brought it right out. He even got me audition at an acting college in New York City - which I never went to. I met The Ex and was head over heels in love... and The Fear had set in. Sure, I was a star in my small town, but in New York? No, it could never happen. And what about my relationship?

So I stopped acting. And I stopped singing except when I was in the car or really drunk. And I got more and more timid and The Fear took over more and more of my life until I became a shell of my former exuberant self.

All of this is back story to a promise I made to myself: this year I am going to sing again. In front of actual people. I am not going to worry if they like my voice or not. I am not going to care if I go a little off key. I can sing, dammit, and I will.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blogging from My iPad... Again...Wherein I Ramble About the Evils of Corporatizat

So I'm trying out a new-to-me blogging tool called Blogsy. It's slick, but not very intuitive. It took me about five tries just to figure out how to start writing in this thing. But I like the idea of the freedom to post from anywhere other than my desktop, so I'll suffer through the learning curve.

I'm going to discuss something that has been on my mind a great deal, for the last several weeks, but that I hesitated to post because it might get me fired. I decided that the necessity of speaking my mind freely, off the clock, was more important than censoring myself... Especially when I take great pains to keep things relatively anonymous here.

I may have mentioned that I have a fairly important job in Corporate America - one that eats up a large chunk of my time. I don't know if I mentioned that I also work for my parents. This presents a problem on a number of levels, both personally and professionally, and is unique only to families that work together. The more corporatized our organization becomes, the less close our family is. I understand the necessity of sacrificing some of the short term personal for a long term pay out. I understand that, in order for a business to thrive, it's sometimes necessary to sacrifice the personality and soul of a business. I understand that, because I've been with the company for as long as I have, some of this "necessary progress" isn't exactly palatable because I'm used to the old way of doing things. I understand all of this, yet I wholeheartedly disagree with it.

I'm going to digress for a moment by way of introducing my justification for disagreeing with progress by way of sterile corporatization.....

The Ex and I split up for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he was habitually unfaithful. Toward the end of our marriage, so was I. That has nothing to with anything, except that I'm trying to be perfectly candid here. Second only to his inability to keep his zipper up, his long hours at work and too short time at home was a huge factor in the demise of our union - not because it made it easier to be unfaithful, but because we were strangers to each other. Because he was so blinded by material things - wanting a bigger TV, a newer car, trips to Disney - that he thought providing those materials things was enough of a contribution to the overall health of our family. No matter how many times I begged, "I don't care if we live in a cardboard box, just be HERE for your family..." it never clicked. He didn't get that no amount of Mickey Mouse exposure was going to make up for the fact that he was practically a stranger to his children and his wife went to bed most nights feeling very alone.

...because, at the end of the day, you can't take the toys or the money with you. You can only hope that the life you lived was a good one, full of happy memories and traditions that you pass down to each generation after you.

So, I feel similarly about my relationship with my parents as I did toward the end of my marriage. My parents are simply incapable of shutting off work... Ever. Despite my mom's grousing that my step-dad never. stops. talking. about. work. EVER... Neither can she. It's almost as if she's developed Stockholm syndrome. Not that I mind TALKING about work off the clock, actually. I take a great deal of pride in what I do each day, and in the contribution Our work is making to society. But I do mind that my parents won't stop acting like my employers, no matter what time of day it is. So I avoid any non-obligatory function, to avoid playing family with my bosses.

Conversely, they almost systematically shoot down any idea I have about innovations or changes to the business model (while we're at work) that I bring to the table - because I'm the daughter (though they never say that out loud. The fear of perceived nepotism is strong). "When you have your own business, you can run it anyway you want..." except that this IS my business, too. I was there at the very beginning - going without, making sacrifices, too, because all the money was sunk into the business - but my part of the history is consistently wiped out from the story. I find myself reverting to daughter mode... And not just daughter mode, but TEENAGED daughter mode, because I'm incredibly frustrated with the lack of value they place on my current role and past contributions. And maybe, just maybe, if they won't value my role as their employee, they'll respect my role as their daughter. But no. They use the daughter factor to justify not firing me for questioning them.

Here's the thing: I do an incredible amount of research about business, management, entreupreneurialship, innovations, Google, Apple, 21st century marketing, the psychology of business in the 21st century.... I could go on, but I won't. I do all of this research because I'm in the young side, because I don't have a college degree, and because I want to be smarter about the way we run the organization. I don't pull theories out of my ass because I want to be lazy, or justify special accommodations made specifically for me because I can't get my ass out of bed in the morning. I don't want to change our marketing strategy because I prefer modern art to Impressionism, or stop making so many cold calls because I feel bad for the sales reps. I want to make changes that will allow our organization to flourish and grow - despite the economic climate - and be an innovator across the board. I want our competitors to say they're "the (our company) of..."

I want our organization to operate in such a manner that the human element is the first factor - and not just the paycheck part of the human element, but the HUMAN side. The mental side. The "it takes a village" side. Google is successful because they didn't lose sight of the fact that human beings are what make or break a company. They demand a high caliber of work from their employees, but they also give a tremendous amount back to them. Steve Jobs was an asshole, but Apple gave back to its employees. Ditto for Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.

My point in all this is to say that I have no relationship with my parents anymore. I don't know if my mom is healthy right now. I don't know my step-dad's thoughts on the current GOP race. I don't know if they're getting along these days or how the new housekeeper is working out. They don't know that I'm writing a book or that I'm having one of my best creative runs ever. They don't know that their grandsons are going to Legoland - courtesy of The Boyfriend™'s boss.

While it's fairly common for adult children to not be particularly close with their parents, that was NEVER the rule for generations of my family. My parents' decision to cut the personal side out of the business has cost us our close relationship and, to a fairly large degree, our family. The things we took pride in before have been replaced by our race to be as corporate as possible. What makes it worse is that it's not even making us more successful... It's just making us more busy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Being productive is difficult when the TV is on all the time. Just sayin'

So... as part of our New Year plan, The Boyfriend™ and I decided that The Trolls needed more structure by way of a weekly chore list. A chore list can seem rather daunting to even the most clean-freakish of a child, when there's a pile of stuff getting in the way of the thing you need to clean.

Did I mention that The Boyfriend™ and I are packrats? He won't admit it, but he is.

So, part two of our grand plan involved busting butt this weekend and completely organizing the house from top to bottom -- putting away Christmas stuff, putting the baskets and basket and baskets of laundry away (doing some laundry) and other general organization. Especially in our bedroom, which is just a godawful mess. No, seriously. It's bad in there. I think I picked up this trait from The Nancarita, who uses her bedroom as a catchall for the stuff she doesn't want in the rest of her house.

As you can see, I'm not making it very far in the whole cleaning endeavor. Part of it is because I'm wicked tired and just want to be in bed, but the bulk of it is because I'm constantly being distracted by one of the four million TVs that are constantly on in the house.

Before The Trolls and I moved in with The Boyfriend™ we didn't have cable. I liked it that way. TV time was limited to one DVD (usually of the educational variety), which was usually on in the background, because we'd seen it so many times that we didn't want to watch it. Once we moved in with The Boyfriend™, we had cable again and, despite my best efforts NOT to, have become hugely addicted to it. The Boyfriend™ is still worse about it, though. Turns it on first thing in the morning, as soon as he wakes up, and it doesn't go off until I turn it off after he's fallen asleep.

TV kills motivation. It kills intention. It kills thought and imagination. It kills attention. TV, in my opinion, is directly responsible for the demise of civilization. Some of the greatest innovations happened pre-TV... and we were certainly healthier before TV was part of our daily lives.

I'm starting an initiative here, at home, and I hope you'll join me -- less TV and more reality. I'm going to have to be subtle about it, because kicking an addiction is hard work, but it'll be worth it

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fearlessly Phobic Cooking -- Corn Chowder!

Better late than never, right? I promised this blog months ago -- and I do my best to never break a promise (I make no promises about keeping promise-ishes though).

This is my super yummy corn chowder -- which has been adapted a great deal from a recipe I found in "A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook"; enough so that I feel I can claim it as my own now. It's just hearty enough to be perfect on fall days, but light enough for spring or early summer. Truth be told, it's almost a veggie chowder... but I digress.

What you'll need:

A stick of butter
Celery
Carrots
Potatoes -- in this version, I used some weird fingerling-red potato hybrid. It was pretty tasty and gave the soup a nice color.
One medium onion
Lots and lots and LOTS of garlic (have I mentioned how much I love garlic)
2 cans of creamed corn
1/2 bag of frozen corn
black pepper
sea salt
milk

A non-reactive soup pot

Melt the stick of butter over medium heat.

Oh, that's GOOOOOD!

While the butter is getting nice and buttery, mince the onion and toss it into the pot. Throw in some garlic -- just for the heavenly aroma.

Not pictured -- garlic. Because I was too busy huffing it.


While all that's sauteing in the butter, dice your celery...

Blurry celery! It's art!

Potatoes...

Bite sized potato goodness!


And carrots. 

The carrots tend to cook slower than the potatoes and celery, so you want to slice these pretty thin.


Toss those in the pot, too. Give it a good stir and cover the whole mess up. Let it cook 'til all the vegetables are fork tender -- about ten to twelve minutes -- stirring occasionally to prevent the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Oooh! Pretty colors!


Now go ahead and toss in about a half bag of frozen corn and both cans of creamed corn. Add some more garlic. And now add a little more.

Pretend that's garlic -- that's how much you want to toss in there. OK, that's how much you want to toss in there if you're ME. But I'm garlic crazy.


Give the whole mess a good stir. Stir it a little bit more while you're sticking your face right over that delicious garlicky steam. Once you've gotten your fix, add about two cans worth of milk to the pot:

It's blurry, but you get the point.


Add some salt and pepper -- to taste -- and let that hang out on low heat for about fifteen minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Oh, yeah! That's GOOD!


Serve it up to your family (or yourself. I won't judge... it's THAT good) with some crusty bread:

Bon Apetit!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A sneak peak...

I'm introducing a new line of fun rings, bracelets, earrings and barretts to the etsy shop (not that I had an official line to begin with, but still)

I'm so excited!

These are the first batch of rings... Definitely steam. Definitely girly. A perfect cocktail ring or just something fun to dress up an otherwise drab corporate wardrobe (I plan on wearing one tomorrow).

Stay tuned for more updates!

Fearlessly Crafting

I have so, so many themes running through this blog. But you know what? That's OK. One of these days, I'll get it all organized and coherent, but then again. Maybe not. This blog is kind of like the physical manifestation of my brain -- a hodge podge of thoughts and ideas and plans. I dig it.

For Christmas this year, I put together a little "take care of yourself" Brion bag for all my girls. There was handmade organic vanilla sugar scrub; handmade organic peppermint lip balm. There were candles (less homemade) and a handmade soothing peppermint eye pillow/muscle relaxer.

This tute is quick. Making these little eye pillows is super easy breezy and so totally worth it! They can be used as-is for a soothing rest-for-the-eyes or warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave for a little relax pack on a sore neck or back.

Added bonus: no measuring tape required! (I'm so bad with measuring)

Let's begin!

Step one: Find an adorable kitten who thinks she's way more helpful than she actually is. Removing her from your sewing table (repeat as necessary):

Meow can helpz sew?

Step 2: Gather your materials. For the project you'll need a sewing machine. Liner material (I used a material that's like a windbreaker. Don't ask me what it's actually called) and outer material (I used a soft flannel). You'll also need rice and an essential oil of your choosing.



Step 3: Cut the fabric and liner material into a rectangle. Make sure that it'll be wide enough for you to turn right side out a couple of times.

Step 4: Using a zigzag stitch, sew the liner to the back side of the fabric by sewing three sides together. Leave one of the short ends open:



Step 5: Trip off the excess above the seams. It'll make a smoother finish when you turn the pouch right side out:


Step 6: Turn the pouch right side out:


Step 7: Fold the pouch in half, right sides facing together (your liner material should be on the outside) and, starting from the raw end side, sew three sides together, leaving one short end open to turn the tube right side out:


Step 8: Turn the tube right side out:


Step 9: Top stitch the closed end for that little decorative flair (added bonus, it acts as an extra closure so there's no rice leakage):


Step 10: Fill it with rice to desired stiffness. If you want a looser feel to the pillow, use less rice. About half-way through filling the tube with rice, add a few drops of your essential oil. When you're done filling the rice, sort of shake the tube around to spread out the essential oil more evenly:


Step 11: Top stitch the open end (probably best to do it a couple of times, just to make sure there's no rice leakage) and Voila! You have an eye pillow!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

If you're Mayan, you're probably counting down the minutes to doomsday. Of course, I have my thoughts about the end of the world -- mainly, that they have the date wrong (it's really hard to peg the right date when the type of calendar we use has changed so much in the last few hundred years). Being an avid student of history really kills the whole "the world is going to end" buzz for me. It's kind of a bummer, really.

Though... part of me wishes that the world -- at least the materialistic, consumeristic, Jersey Shore worshiping part of it -- would come to end. I would love nothing more than a return to simplicity. Less TV and more talking. Fewer hours in front of an X-box and more time in front of campfires. My wishes are grandiose in their simplicity.

So, it's the beginning of the year -- traditionally when people make a whole bunch of resolutions. I always say I'm not going to make any resolutions (because I'm horrible at follow through), but then I do anyway. Usually right at the top of the list is "actually follow through on my resolutions", which I never do. Have I mentioned that follow through is not my strong suit? So I decided to change it up. This year, I'm going to focus on a theme. Yeah, I'm totally having a theme party kind of year.

My theme: fearlessness.

In case it wasn't obvious, I'm actually kind of neurotic. Usually about stuff that centers around anything having to do with being embarrassed or making mistakes. I'd say I was borderline phobic about making mistakes (it's the oldest child syndrome I'm rocking. Damn birth orders). So this year, I'm going to take more chances. I'm going to be bold and say "yes" more. I'm going to wear neon pink tutus and horizontal stripes (suffice it to say, this rubenesque girl doesn't do horizontal stripes). I'm going to be silly and foolish and truly enjoy life.

That isn't to say that I don't truly enjoy my life -- because I do. Oh, lords above! How I love my life! I love my trolls and The Boyfriend™ and our family. I love the life we've created and are creating. I love that The Boyfriend™ can talk me into staying in bed all day -- and The Trolls are totally down with it. I love my new green kitchen and I love cooking for my boys in it. I mean, there is just so much I love -- and am immensely grateful for -- and I want to get down and dirty and revel in it!

And not care if I'm acting a fool. As inspiration (and gentle kick in the ass) I am going to read, every day, Neil Gaiman's New Year post:

"My New Year Wish"

..."I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or live.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing. Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever."

Hear! Hear! Neil.