Friday, January 28, 2005

white-bark trees and a picnic

Magnificent daydream material . . .

This picture is lovely. I found it in the stock photography from the Adobe Creative Suite and swooned. The contrast of the white bark with the leaves and the darkness of the forest behind. The clouds and the bright blue sky. Marvelous.

If I had my way, I'd extend the picture downward. I'd include a picnic blanket and basket filled with a good bottle of wine, cheese, and fruit. Add hubby, me and nothing to do. Who needs a tropical vacation?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I crashed my stationary bike.

Yesterday, while exercising in the community fitness center, I crashed into my reclining bike. In a fit of madness brought on by the itchy sensation in my back from my shirt rubbing against my skin with each revolution, I attempted to shift my weight and succeeded in giving myself a goose-egg. I use that term because I hit it right smack dab on the patella, so it bruised like your head bruises. I also use it because, not unlike an egg, it will soon look like a mean, horrible person painted it for Easter. My skin is practically transparent. I don't have a prayer that the bruise will be. "Erica: Now in Amazing Technicolor!"

Hmmm, what else is going on in my life? Well, I'm liking this thing. I love Sabrina (the 1990s version of the movie) and the protagonist has a quote I find apropos here. "I think I've been taking pictures long before I had a camara." I feel like I've been running thoughts like these through my head for a long time, and now I have some place to channel them. Not earth-shattering stuff, but it's amusing and therapeutic, in a way. Yes, I will have a bruise on my knee for a few weeks to come, but at least I had a little fun with it.

Aside from klutzy threats to my physical well-being, I've been doing alright. The biggest challenge in my life right now is a work project. Now, I discovered a few years ago that I love publishing/graphic design work, but I have been a complete amateur since then. A couple of weeks ago, my boss realized she was not going to have the time/energy to do the yearly company catalog and she decided to delegate the job. It is the single largest marketing tool the company uses since homeschoolers like hard-copy catalogs and they like LOTS of information in them. So her design consultant came up with the front/back cover and a sample of a coordinating interior spread and then she handed me a 34-page assignment to do over three weeks.

And you're rolling your eyes over there. Honestly, it's a lot harder than it sounds. I had to keep the same number of pages as the previous year's catalog but add several new products. I had to include all the previous years information plus additonal pictures and text. I had to design all the pages from the sample spread but adapt it for pages in which it didn't work with the flow of information. I had to create good design and yet curb my revolutionary tendencies. It is, after all, stressed-out parents reading the catalog, not people who want to appreciate good design and maybe make a decision about which chisles to use to shape their child's mind. I was overwhelmed, but I told myself just to START.

Just now I got a couple of emails from boss. I sent her an almost-final PDF version of the document and she replied saying that she was glancing over it, but she needed a break from her non-stop day and she was going to tackle critiquing/proofing later. The second email was sent close on the heels of the first. The subject said: "this can't wait" and the inside simply said "I love, love, LOVE what you've done to the order form!!"

It's perhaps the least flexible page of the entire catalog. It's a form! You can't have a lot of fun with it or no one will be able to understand it, much less fill it out. But she loved the little touches - the fonts, the placement of the text, the way I tried to make the design show you what was important about the form and what was auxiliary. Probably she also liked the kick-butt gradient effect I created with the company name and logo. That simple praise from her (someone who is very sweet but also honest with her praise) made all the difference. Almost Final #14.pdf ? BRING IT!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

old mother hubbard, that's me.

We're eating the last of our frozen meat tonight. Great! I have to go grocery shopping! If we were living at our old place, I'd just run out and do it quickly, but "quick" and "grocery shopping" won't be going together around for a while. Whenever I go to a new store, I have to spend a huge amount of time figuring out the logic of the place. "If I were this Safeway store, where would I hide the rice?" Grocery shopping becomes a four-hour-deduction marathon to make my college Logic professor proud! Or not proud, most likely. Oh, and asking for help can only get you a couple of things. If I whip out my eight-page spreadsheet and start running down the list, even the most seasoned and competent stock boy will turn pale and "remember" a spill that needs his attention in the back. So instead I have to march to and fro down the aisles like I'm an addict of some new aerobics exercise fad - "Take eight steps forward and twelve steps back. Now reach for the bread. Now put it back cause you see the English Muffins at the other end of the aisle. Good work, ladies! Okay, let's all kick-step to the dairy section!"

Frankly, the mere notion of grocery shopping around here makes me tired.

Just to clear things up, though, I don't have a spreadsheet for a grocery list. Nor is my list ever eight pages long. Don't look at me like that. How much of a nerd do you think I am? Um, don't answer that.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Goodbye, old apartment!

Yesterday K and I braved the weather (ha! it was sunny and all the roads were clean as whistles. Whistles, I say!) and made one final trip to VA. K packed up the rest of our belongings in the car while I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom . We turned in our keys, and that was that! It's odd to be living through the days you know you'll chronicle later to your children. "When your father and I were first married, we lived in this little apartment and we had no furniture at all, but we were happy there." It sounds so much like the things my mother used to say to me as a child, except it was often followed by something like " . . . so appreciate your furniture and stop running into it every time you enter the room." *sniff* I was a klutzy child.

Anyhow, other than that, we've been watching a bit o' West Wing, unpacking here and there and staying inside for most of the weekend. This week we have some exciting times between doing some big stock-up shopping trips and some furniture shopping. Rock on with our bad selves!

It's back to work for me. Stay safe and warm out there!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My kingdom for a paper towel!

K and I have been steadily watching through every season of West Wing to date. The show has its moments, but I'm often surprised at it's quality. The humor is just the sort I like and the serious content is stimulating and often poignant. Anyway, enough plugging the show, on to its relevance to me dream life.

The day before we moved in we were up here getting prep work done and I saw this disgusting spider in the hallway. It was walking around in slow circles on the carpet. It was black. It was pretty large for a house spider. Okay, fine, it was like 1" square, but it was particularly creepy-looking. All I could do was stare in what a Victorian novelist might term "horrid fascination" as it gracefully tripped across the carpet fibers. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Blehh! K heroically killed it for me, but we had no paper towels there at the time, so he didn't dispose of the remains. Every day and night since we moved in then, there was this spider carcass in the hallway. I noticed it every time I walked by but I couldn't bring myself to pick it up. I don't care how many paper towels you put between me and a dead bug - it's not happening!

So a couple of nights ago I had a dream that I worked at the White House. I think I was a much shorter CJ Cregg. I had to go downstairs to see someone in the basement offices. As I rounded one of the bends in the hall, there was a big ole rattlesnake just hanging out. Of course at the sight of me, it drew itself into warning/attack posture and started that stupid tail whipping thing that has now become associated as much with it as with toys to distract crying babies (*irony alert*). I sprang back and high-tailed it upstairs and called White House Pest Control. They cleaned it up and it became one the comedic portions of the day (show?) and no one was hurt.

Well, what have we learned about Erica's subconscious today?
Self = highly-successful TV White House Press Secretary
spider carcass = rattlesnake
husband = pest control

"Okay, folks, that's a full lid."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

first snow

Today the skies opened and there was snow! It hadn't even sprinkled in VA yet (that I can remember) and now Maryland has graced us with a couple of inches. My body isn't used to the temperatures at all, so every time I step outside I feel as though some giant, cold hand makes a fist around me and conspires to freeze me solid where I stand. Yay for furnaces!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

did you say IKEA?

Sunday we discovered that we didn't have enough space for everything from the old place, and yesterday we drove down to pick up another carload. It was strange to look at our possessions torn from their reference points. A pot in the living room, the guitar by the front door, blankets in the bedroom in the middle of the floor. They looked rather lonely just sitting there, waiting to be chosen to go. (Great, now I'm thinking of Toy Story - THE CLAW! The claw chooses who will stay and who will go . . . )

After we had unpacked everything and thrown it into the madhouse that is our living room right now, we set off on a trip to (reverent gasp) I K E A. Now, I went to an IKEA once before in Germany, but I was 13 at the time. It inspired a lengthy phase of interior designer aspirations, but it didn't yield any furniture purchases since my allowance wasn't really flexible enough to fund overseas trips and retro-60's, Nordic-designed coffee tables with storage and style. Ah, simpler times.

Now that I might have enough money, and certainly have enough credit to buy some nice, new, sleek, shiny, modern, rockin', and cool things for our home, it's tougher to say no. We managed this time by telling ourselves we were just looking for next week, when K told me we can go back with measurements in hand to get some things and then plot our acquisitions for the future. Look out Tunhem Bookshelves! yeehaw!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

coming at you live, from our new location!

Well, it's mostly done. A couple of friends came over this morning, we packed up our cars and the UHaul trailer and off we went. We still have a couple of car loads, but we also have to clean the apartment before we leave it for good, so that works out just fine.

Tonight I will sleep the sleep of the just . . . and the bone-tired. Thanks for your brawn and your help, friends! Thanks for wanting to do absolutely nothing but vegetate for the rest of the night, Baby! Thanks for helping us find a smashing new apartment, Lord!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

She Who Would Be Gardener

I'll amend my last post to say that there can be at least some nice things about moving. For instance, our new apartment has a flowerbed. I hadn't seen one at any other apartment complex, but there it was when we walked into our new living room and looked out the sliding-glass door.

At first I was unhappy about the ground-floor apartment because "ground floor" is a bit of a misnomer. It's more like "partially underground floor." Our windows look out on cars. At eye level. But when I saw that patio and the flowerbed, I'll admit I got visions of myself in yellow gloves, green clogs, and a big straw hat, planting a conservatory's worth of prize-winning blooms. Nevermind that the bed itself is only 8' x 2' and that I've killed many a good plant in my time. Nevermind that I won't buy the clogs or the straw hat. I'm an idealist. Besides, I think buying a few plants and spending a little time with one flowerbed won't be too much. When I have my little plantlings in their new home, I'll take a cup of coffee and my book and spend my Saturday mornings reading and enjoying the colorful, fragrant Spring.

(sigh) Okay, I can move tomorrow.

Imagination, people! Use it! See past the bad picture and see the potential!

25 moves later . . .

Good morning, all! I usually prefer sleeping in or at least lounging in bed for another hour, but duty calls today. We're moving. Yes, indeedy. Our living room is covered in boxes, and we still haven't packed it all. K and I have a ton of work to do today and I am not looking forward to it. If I were gazing at the sunny side of the street, I might say I get bored with the same old lazy Saturdays and this is a change of pace. (chuckle) Riiiiiight.

I'm getting sick of the whole process since I've moved a lot in my day. My family moved 4 times in Argentina (maybe more, I was little, what did I know?), 1 big continental move to the US of A, 4 moves in Michigan, and then there's all the packing/unpacking quasi-moves of college. I also worked out of state for two summers in Indiana and those years I'd have to do that whole process 5 times in a year: move out of college, in to my parents, out to IN, back in to my parents and back to school. Ewwy. Oh, and there was the 3-part move to VA just 6 months ago.

I will admit that moving is a good impetus to get rid of stuff that just hangs around in your closets and cupboards. I always think of that folksy proverb about "your possessions owning you." I gotta say that sounds silly until I'm staring at 813 bottles of smelly lotion and I feel I need to have a really good excuse to trash some. This move I've decided there will be no stockholder's meeting to determine if I can be rid of one their own. I will be ruthless. It's not going as spectatularly as I planned. Maybe if they were someone else's lotions. Mine are giving me the stink-eye since I finally dumped my VS Enchanted Apple Body Lotion.

Yikes, I should run along and finish packing. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 14, 2005

I work from home

This morning I awakened briefly with the alarm, but it's set for my husband's wake-up, and I fell back asleep. Forty minutes later, he whispered to me that he already had the kettle on for my morning coffee and two slices of bread were waiting to be plunged into the crucible from which they would emerge as toast - cleansed of all moistness and soon to be smeared with butter and orange marmelade, my favorite.

And to think that I sometimes take this man for granted and get very, very angry with him. I must be chronically ungrateful. Or blind.

Be that as it may, usually when I get out of bed, I eat breakfast, talk awhile with him while we get ready for the day, and I kiss him good-bye as he wanders out the door to work. Then I sit down at my desk and I work. Sometimes I'm editing advertisement for the curriculum publisher for which I work. Sometimes I'm stripping documents of their graphics, converting them to html, and making them fit to teach youths about the marvels of biology in electronic-textbook form. Sometimes (on my favorite days) I'm working on the layout for a catalog or other printed media and choosing among fonts for this or that line of text. But every day I am alone.

I miss talking to people less than I assumed I would at first. Yes, I wish I had a coworkers office to pop into and blab about what I'm doing this weekend or whatever it is people blab about in offices. But I'm not as addicted to being social as I once thought. However, the silence is overwhelming. All I hear is the hum of my computer's cooling fan, the clacking of the keys I press, the clicking of the mouse, my refrigterator kicking on.

I must explain here.

I grew up in a house with two boisterous parents and two excitable brothers. My mother believes the following proverb to be absolute truth: "A boy is a loud noise with dirt on it." My brothers did their best to live up to that definition, and I'm rather loud, too, come to think of it. Silence has never been something I identified with my life in any way. I learned a lot about the value/perils of silence in college, but it's different now that it envelops me, hour after hour at my desk.

I listen to music in an attempt to negate it, and today that music is Classical. I just finished Rachmaninoff's Piano Concierto in C Minor, but iTUNES offered up nothing further after it finished and the silence crept in again. Battling the silence with song (of some kind) has become a part of every day of my career. Ironically, I've written and edited most of this post in that same silence. Is that somehow profound? My voice calling out in another medium, circumventing the silence even as it reigns supreme. Oh the melodrama! Save me Bach, save me!

a smidge of obsession

So my head's been a-whirlin' with the possibilities since I started this baby last night. I have a hyperactive focusing capacity. Remember Snood? A couple years ago, I would play it and be so fixated that when I stopped playing it, I would see Snood boards in waking life. Wandering around my college campus, talking to people at lunch - the entire time my brain would concoct Snood moves. The worst thing about all this is that I don't look like I do in the image below when I doing it. No, I'm staring straight at you, talking, listening, seeing Snood with the opacity turned down overlaying my life. Frightening, no?

FYI, this was all a shameless ploy to publish this photo, swipe the url, and put it in my profile. Told you I was obsessed!

Me, recently

Thursday, January 13, 2005

a beginning

Apparently a lot of people blog these days, according to I've been thinking that it might good for me - another of their marvelous ideas. Here I can ramble, relive, remark, and (everyone's favorites) rant & rave. My husband can listen to less of my blah-blah while you all can enjoy the fact that I'm sharing the wealth. Oh, and the title: I was a philosophy major in college and I can't turn it off. I'm no philosopher, but I'm told I have that mental bent, that way of looking at things. It's hopeless, as is my love of ecstatic moments usually built around some sensory experience, like admiring a flower. I think the title will serve as fair warning to find a little of both in these posts.