Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out of the Bullseye

At long last, I have dusted off the blog. For most people 2009 was a bust and no one was happier to see it depart than I. Rather than run the risk of turning the blog into a complaint outlet, I decided to hold off until something positive broke and go from there.

Well, last weekend, something broke and now I feel much more inspired to get back to writing. While the valleys in our lives can make for excellent material, sometimes it is best to get out of the woods first and then reflect on those dark and stormy times.

As most blog readers know, I lost my job last Spring. Having and holding down a good and steady job is important to me. I struggled all through school academically and as a result, the workforce was my chance to start fresh and prove myself to be a capable and driven person. Pitfalls in the professional realm are to be expected but I don't take them well. I won't get into the psycho-babble but the bottom line is, when my professional world doesn't pan out I stumble and fall. Hard. After this most recent hiccup, I was determined to amass whatever collection of jobs I could and stay afloat. That effort was strongly supported by my family as well as my friends and I firmly believe that is why I was able to make it.

Over the next few posts, I will share anecdotes of the past nine months. Life is full of material and my stints in the retail world have not disappointed. My last retail adventure, working at Target Optical, has given me some SPECtacular material and I look forward to sharing it.

In the mean time, I am taking a few days to catch my breath, clean my apartment, and relish the feeling of being offered a new job. I am relieved to be finished with the slings and arrows of unemployment and the general public who permeate the retail world. In short, I am glad to be out of the bullseye.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where's the Integrity?

I rarely, if ever, use the blog as a soapbox. This is mainly a creative outlet for me to write about things that I find interesting, comical, or just fun. By no means is the C&SL an issue based piece of prose.

That said, with the release of a new White House tell-all book this week, I feel the need to take my reaction to the blog. And let me say, this reaction has less to do with my political leanings and more to do with my overall feelings of serving in an administration...ANY administration.

As most of you know, I served in the Bush administration during the first term. During my time there I was basically a catfish staffer...I was low-level without any access or authority. Serving there was, nevertheless, an amazing opportunity and one that will undoubtedly continue to impact my life in ways I don't even know yet. The 2000 campaign was a long road to get there and that made victory so much sweeter.

It was announced earlier this week that yet another former Bush White House staffer is scheduled to release a less than flattering account of the goings on at the 18 acres. This isn't the first of its kind...and I think that is what bothers me.

I have sat by and watched as one staffer after another has come forward to reveal how inept, corrupt, and crooked the Bush White House was. The one common thread that continues to unnerve me is that all of these "insiders" waited until they were no longer AT the White House to make these revelations. It's interesting to me how the very people who found life at the White House under President Bush so hard to stomach had NO issue with their seats aboard Air Force One, their access to the White House Mess, or the mere fact that they were able to work at 1600. In a few instances, these folks had posh offices in the West Wing and coveted Commissions. While employed at the White House, none of these staffers let on that their integrity was being compromised...maybe because they didn't have any.

It would be a pipe dream to hope that there would be an honor code or even a confidentiality agreement for staffers to sign just before they get their badge. Even if such measures DID exist, it wouldn't be an assurance of integrity.

I don't take issue with former staffers disagreeing with the President. I take issue with staffers who serve at the pleasure of the President using that opportunity to not only air dirty laundry but to do it at the expense of someone else. I'd have far more respect for any of these "authors" if during their time of service they voluntarily departed the White House citing the very reasons that are now landing them book deals when they don't have the White House to fall back on anymore.

I pity those who spent so much time clamoring to get inside the gates of the White House and even more time and energy posing as loyalists once they made it in only to have their true colors revealed the minute the show stopped. I pity them because what they are writing says far more about what kind of employee they are than what kind of President they were fortunate enough to serve.

I guess in my idyllic opinion, when you go to work for an administration you should have some shred of integrity; one that makes you accountable for your decision to serve and one that acts as a safeguard against the temptation to make a buck and get 15 minutes of fame at any cost. I am not advocating blind loyalty but I think there is something to be said for maintaining decorum. After all, is nothing sacred?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homeward Bound

Maybe it's the 104 degree temperatures or maybe it's the busy travel/social calendar of late, but whatever it is, I am completely in hibernation mode. This is rare for me in the Summer. Expecting mothers call it "nesting". My friend, Stacey, calls it "cocooning". I call it being a

In the wake of being a homebody, I like to curl up with a good book. I am reading The Pulitzer Prize winning number, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I'm roughly half way through and so far, I like it. The writer's style is not what I expected, but it's certainly not a disappointment. It's billed as a novel, but I don't know that I agree with that classification. It seems like more of a combo of a novel and short story series, emphasis on the latter. Check it out if you're in between reads, trying to switch genres, or just in the market for a good book.

You may recall that an important element of being cozy is having a stocked kitchen. Having a freezer full of food is a nice option if you don't want to cook. I have grown very fond of Amy's Kitchen - Natural and Organic Foods. Their items, which are mainly frozen but also include soups, chili, and jars of pasta sauce, are excellent. I am a full blown carnivore and while Amy's food contains no meat, I don't find myself noticing the discrepancy much less missing it. The selections are vast, the flavor is great, and they are good for you. Amy isn't giving her eats away, but this isn't highway robbery, either. Compared to the other "healthy" frozen foods out there, I'd say Amy is a worthwhile purchase. You can learn more about Amy's at http://www.amys.com/.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yo Soy Cozy

For those of you looking for a good cozy scent perfect for the hot temps of summer, look no further than right here:
My good friend, Claudia, is always giving me amazing candles and soaps and such. She recently gave me this one, Mrs. Meyers Lavender Soy Candle and I am HOOKED. The scent is refreshing and light and perfect for summer, when cozy can be a bit more difficult to achieve. An added bonus is that when you're done burning the candle, you can reuse the glass jar as a juice glass. I think that's such a nifty and appealing idea.

Mrs. Meyers also makes cleaning products. Her line is pretty basic and I can find her cleaning items at my grocery store, however, the candles seem harder to locate. I went to the Mrs. Meyers website and found that you can order them there: http://www.mrsmeyers.com/. They retail for far less than most candles and have approximately 36 hours of burning time.
If you're burning the midnight oil or burning the candle from both ends, let Mrs. Meyers and her soy candles assist!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm in Heat

Note: This post was actually written en route NYC on Friday, July 10th, 2009.

Up until recently, I thought the hottest place I had been ever in my life had been Qatar. We arrived there at night and I recall vividly wearing a suit and heels and disembarking the blue and white military plane from the stairs and wondering why in the world the Air Force pilot would have left the engine running while we got off the plane. It wasn’t until I hit the tarmac that I realized the incendiary blast was not from the engine of a 747. It was the temperature in the place we had arrived. It was so hot that I distinctly remember walking out of the Ritz Carlton again in full on business attire to wait to board the motorcade and thinking, “there is no way I can wait outside, I will have to stand in the lobby until it’s time to go”. With equal distinction, I remember the soles of the USSS agents’ shoes melting on the tarmac as they awaited our arrival at the airport, more importantly, our departure from the region.

I grew up in a miserably humid climate and have lived in a few others so this statement that Qatar was the hottest I had ever been was pretty bold. Hot summers are not lost on me so this posting should tell you something. I’m not some pansy who grew up in Puget Sound and is whining because the mercury broke 80 today.

I think it’s time for me to revise my thinking. Summer, 2009 is headed to be the hottest on record in Texas. Think about that. That’s the equivalent of saying, “that’s hot for Texas…WHICH IS ALWAYS HOT”. The difference between this experience and my Middle East one is the duration of the heat. Maybe if I spent a summer in Qatar we wouldn’t be having this “discussion”. But I’m spending the summer in Austin and the endless streak of triple digit temps is enough to make you cry…if for no other reason than because the feeling of tears streaming down your face is somewhat refreshing. The fact that I am comparing the summer in Texas to the climate in the MIDDLE EAST is a bit absurd. I actually think those Middle Eastern inhabitants are cooler because of that whole robe thing they have going on. I’m telling you, they are onto something with those robes; all that ventilation. Texans are still trying to prove a point by wearing Wranglers and boots in the middle of this nightmare. Talk about a hot mess. I’m having to adjust my ac vent above my airplane seat as I write this. Phew.

August and even mid-July are expected to feel like Dante’s 7th Level of Hell. You know that as a Texan your summers are going to be hot. Your grass is going to be brown and you are going to have to adhere to very strict city/county ordinances which dictate when you can water your lawn based on your zip code. If your zip code ends in an even number, you can water your lawn on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 6:30 pm and 8 pm. No, seriously…that’s about how it goes.

But this year is different. It’s different because the blast of exhaust started in early June and is showing no signs of giving up. My car, Joan Jetta, has not gone unscathed. Lucifer had his way with her battery two weeks ago thereby costing her owner a whopping 162 bucks to get her running again. Not only is this heat brutal, it’s expensive.

Then there is the age old, “but it’s a dry heat” debate. Spare me. My oven is a dry heat and I use it cook a 10 pound turkey at Thanksgiving and a dense lasagna. It’s by no means cool in there simply because it is devoid of moisture. There is only ONE exception to the, “but it’s a dry heat” theory and that is if, and only if, the dry heat dissipates in the evening and you are graced with a cool night, complete with breezes a la Phoenix in October. Then a dry heat makes its point. In Austin, two nights ago, it was 106 at 8:30 pm. Dry or humid, I don’t care. That simply ain’t right. I agree that humidity is much more oppressive in a lot of ways but that argument is moot when the temperature hits 108. No one is getting the better end of the deal at that point. 100% humidity. 108 degrees in a “dry heat”. Everyone is sweating through shirts, suits, and is sticking to their car.

I’m winging my way to the East Coast for a nice weekend with friends and family and I am thrilled that the temps are in the 70s and 80s. I do believe I packed a jacket. The East Coast is no stranger to sweltering heat. They have to check on their elderly neighbors like the rest of us and a few years back, an electrical grid of some sort blew due to extreme heat thereby leaving 8 million or so New Yorkers stranded and walking in said oppression. For now, they are enjoying almost fall-like temperatures and I cannot wait to enjoy a little bit of it in New York City. Things are looking pretty cool…cool city, cool people, and yes, cool temps. Bring it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Drawn to Scale

This is a random post, but I was going through my pictures and found one that jumped out at me for some reason.

Air Force One is easily in the top five when it comes to mammoth structures I have seen. I don't know that its true size can be captured unless you've seen it in person and even then you've got to be pretty dang close to appreciate its girth. To give some idea of how large it is, take a gander at the photo below; paying no attention to the phantom ghost-like Casper individual handing out schedules under the wing. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have been any whiter had I rolled around in talcum, flour, and zinc oxide. Had Air Force One landed at night, I could have been the beacon that brought her down and directed her to chalk on the T, though now that I think about it, it would have been a challenge for Col. Tillman to discern between me and the chalk.

Thank GOD for my friend, Rachael seen just to my right, for supplying the contrast of mandatory White House dark suit and Jon Hart dark luggage. Otherwise, I could have been mistaken for a landing stripe. You know it's bad when you fade in the presence of chrome. Please note: The notion of wearing white to look tan only applies if you have PIGMENT IN YOUR SKIN.

Note: Thank you to Donny Jones, Belton, TX, for supplying this footage.