Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorry to call so late...

The Message:

"Sorry to call so late, but I was wondering if you were available to babysit. My husband and I are going out to celebrate our eight year anniversary tonight. It was really two days ago but he was out of town. He bumped his flight back a half a day and got in at 11:00 that night so that we could still see each other on the actual day, but that didn't leave us any time for dinner. And last night, well, he was still on Central time so we barbecued with the kids at 4:00. So that brings us to tonight. So I was hoping, if you don't have anything going on, I'd really appreciate it if the kids could come over for a bit. The restaurant is just around the corner from your house and we'll bring some dessert... Call me back."

The Return Call:

"Aren't you guys still separated?"

Yeah... I get that a lot.

While my husband and I are still separated, we are dating. And because we are married, there's no guilt in having sex. (I'm a recovering Catholic, what can I say?) Aside from not falling for bullshit lies that get told when you're dating, the other big bonus is that he really really likes my kids! There are some important things that need to be ironed out before we can make any big changes towards a full reconciliation, if that's even the way this will all play out. But hey...

one day at a time.


Happy Anniversary, Fly Boy. I love you.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Goodbye, Mr. Last Lecture

I'm late to this news only because I've been cleaning and catching up on life and otherwise living under a rock after a weekend away. I had no idea that Mr. Randy Pausch had passed away. (Chicago Tribune Story) While it saddens me that this world has become just a little less beautiful because of our loss, I am thankful for his energy in telling the world the amazing message of living life to the fullest no matter what. We all have an expiration date... what random collection of time and space that is, we don't exactly know. It's an artificial moment in time compared to the time we are living right now and the space we are occupying right here. Some of us struggle with physical ailments. Others of us struggle with emotional scars. But through it all, we are here. We are alive. We are now.

What are you going to do with this one and only life?

God Bless you Mr. Pausch for the last lecture that grew and spread in the ways that only a message of truly inspired love could have. You showed us how a man facing the reality of death took his one and only life...

and lived it.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Still foggy in here...

It's been a week since Day One at BlogHer and I am finally back into reality mode. Not an easy thing, let me tell you.

I'm feeling a lot of feelings right now. And since all of my therapy money went to my trip to San Francisco for BlogHer, I'm just laying it all here. You lucky reader, you...

I really wish I would have stayed at the St. Francis. Not because it's such a beautiful hotel or because I wanted to be able to just walk downstairs to the sessions. I wish I wouldn't have spent nearly as much time with my sister as I had... and it was pretty limited time. It was awkward. I realize now that I just can't be around her. It hurts too much. I'm upset that she's the only other kid that lived through life with me and doesn't have any desire to talk about it without being hurtful and sarcastic. I'm also upset with her for her snarky jabs and then getting all exasperated like I'm the one that did something wrong when I finally had to jab her back. Sorry, but stupid questions and being talked down to kinda do that to me! I had to summon all of my decency in order to just give her one of those two-pat-man-hugs at the airport. I couldn't walk away fast enough. Well, I was late for my flight, so I had to walk fast... but you get what I mean, don't you?

While I was up there, my kids were all here. All of them. Even the one that doesn't talk to me. I invited her, but I have a feeling, that was all being planned before my gracious invitation. I'm still trying to get all the stories straight about how my hand-blown glass humingbird feeder met its demise or why my furniture looks like it's sitting on a slant. I also reached for a mug only to find it missing. I already said what I needed to say. I think my words were heard. I'm not sure how they were processed on the other end, but that's not my deal. What happened was that I let them all know that I was disappointed. The reactions were that they didn't think I should be upset. Apparently, the mere fact that they were helping me out means that anything that was broken or missing or misspoken would be forgiven.

Ummm... no.

If I'm watching your cat and it dies because it jumped out a three story window because I let him play there and then I said Ooops, sorry, but don't be mad, cause I was watching your cat for you... is that okay? No. Or how is it that you can wash all of YOUR mugs without breaking them, but come over to my house and all of the sudden you have some crazy, mysterious hand problem that prevents you from holding MY mug without letting it drop? Huh, Mom? Or if you are going to partake in my home and all the amenities, have the decency to respond to an email that asks if you had a nice time and that I hope you were comfortable here... even though you won't visit when I AM here.

I'm also still heaving out the last of the fog trapped in my lungs. I get this weird temporary asthma whenever I breathe in moist air, which is usually daily living so close to the coast. That was part of the reason I moved further inland when the pilot and I sold our house and separated. I need dry, people! DRY! I'm thinking I'm going to take a trip out to the Grand Canyon. It's so beautiful there... so big... so amazing... we went there for lunch last year. Yep. Just for lunch. The life of a pilot's wife is kinda weird like that.

Am I still a pilot's wife? hmmm...

We are "celebrating" our Eight Year Anniversary next week. He'll be in Texas on the actual day. That's another thing I've become accustomed to. Before you feel sorry for me, I have to say that I understand that it's only a date. Some random numbers on a calendar. I'd much rather have our lives be sane and joyful than to celebrate artificially on a specific date. Does that make sense? So, I'm picking him up from the airport two days later. We're going to dinner from there. Downtown San Diego is always a lot of fun, so it should be nice. I'm really looking forward to some time alone with him. But from there, what? We've been talking about moving back in together, but I think we're both a little scared. I know I am. This Texas thing is nice. He's been away for ten days. I've had some fun in The City. But now, we go back to real life.

And it's all still just a little foggy to me...


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coming Out of the Fog: BlogHer 2008, San Francisco

There is so much to tell I can hardly get my brain around it all. But here goes anyway...

I have tons of notes about syndication and search engine optimization, as well as great video blogging recommendations made by Amber of Capessa and Cathy from seesmic. Plus I got some invaluable tips on tags from a girl named Esther whose My Space page tracking her weight loss was so popular that she was hired by Weight Watchers as some sort of internet guru!

The parties were fantastic! The newbie party on Thursday night was great getting to meet other first time attendees. I guess we accounted for something like 56% of the group. I got to meet Mocha Momma and yes, I did make an ass out of myself by pointing and running over all the while repeating oh-my-God-that's-Mocha-Momma! The whole time I was hopping over to her, her eyes were getting wider and wider going "oh crap, who is this and how can I hide?" (Way to be cool, Shoog... way to be cool...) I told her I was Sugar and she remembered my posts on her site. She seemed relieved that I wasn't some crazy stalker freak... or maybe she still thought I was, but either way, she graciously invited me over to her table where I met the funniest prego at all of BlogHer, Mel the Stay at Aum Mom. I also met Bossy and Average Jane that night. It was pretty surreal, I must say. You might have heard that the People's Party was fun, but really really loud. It WAS! There was a funny little bucket for your extra drink tickets. I say funny because it just sat there all night, kind of empty. Not many people giving up the drink tickets... haha!

But my favorite was definitely Friday night at Ruby Skye, hosted by TNT, more specifically for The Closer and Saving Grace. FYI: TNT gives great swag. I was greeted at that party with a rousing SHOOOGGAAAHHH by Kristy Sammis, the kick-assiest Event Manager in all creation. If you ever meet her, ask her about her pants. The atmosphere inside was hoppin' swanky, but not so much that you wouldn't over hear the best line of the night: "Oklahoma's the new black, Bitch!" (Would the funniest blogger in OK please get in touch with me?!)

It was a good night to laugh after the heaviness of that afternoon.

The first ever Community Keynote on Friday before the party was a group of twenty bloggers whose posts were voted on to be read on stage by their authors. Two of the ladies really hit close to home for me. One would do anything to avoid being anything like her mother, even at the risk of her own sanity. The other who had such severe depression during her pregnancy that... well, you can read her story yourself . Another lovely woman wrote a letter to her face that was so poignant. Very touching. All of these stories made me cry, but also made my heart soar to see and hear the beauty of the human spirit.(searching links... check back soon...)

Saturday was a continuation of great information and education, kicked off by a great roundtable hosted by MSN about SEO. Each of us left with a new handy dandy web cam! Thanks Ani the Excel Diva and Sarah (a kick butt coder for Findable Blogs) for all that great info! But I think the highlight that morning was definitely the Kumbaya room, otherwise known as the Beutiful Blogging session hosted by Kyran Pittman. Let me just say that I did NOT want to leave that room! I was amazed at the awesome things women were doing to propogate goodness in the world through this medium. Many of their ideas that started in the blogoshpere have manifested into the physical world affecting positive change in such great ways. I seriously felt like I had gone to church. I could NOT stop crying... Check these people out, please: Square Girl with Hope Revolution, Lucrecer with Art Slam, Alysa with Just Cause It, and Jen at One Plus Two. Plus another woman who was in the room in spirit, Jen Lemen. I was lucky enough to meet her later that afternoon while she was doing some video for PBS. By the way... Thanks PBS for my kids stack o'swag. They love their stuff!

I took some time to decompress and missed a session to walk around and go inside my head for a while. I got back to the hotel in time for my massage at the spa suite. Then it was off to the Shutter Sisters Photo Walk. In all the hussle and bussle, I forgot to change lenses. So where I would normally be using my macro lens, I was forced to look further away for interesting images with my 200mm. I think this is why I didn't even realize that the lady I was taking shoe pictures with was aka Little Purple Cow, one of my original photo blogging heroes. So, seriously, Stephanie... do those shoes make me look fat? haha... Only one thing I would add to that experience would be an "after party." As if we needed any more parties, right? But it would have been nice to talk longer with Tracy Clark, Karen from Chookooloonks and a cool chick named Nelly from New York. Did anyone else want to call her Nelly Furtado??

I was technically on my own this trip, but not alone. Anytime I wanted, I could look up and find another thirty something lady with a nose piercing and big spectactles carrying a camera and just strike up a conversation. I could look across just about any room I was in and find a familiar face from one of our awesome sessions. No, I was definitely NOT alone. Saturday night's party at Macy's was a blast, but under all the fun (along withe scaring Julio and talking Armen's ear off) I was already feeling a bit wistful knowing that I would be leaving the next day. I didn't want to leave that vibe. I wanted to hold on to the euphoria of finding common ground, I suppose. Not like I totally bonded with 999 other women, but you get what I mean don't you? Anyway, it was sad waking up Sunday morning knowing that I didn't have any reason to go back to the hotel. It was all over. I laid on my sister's couch and teared up wondering where I was going to ever really feel that sense of belonging again? And then I thought...

Duh, Sugar... in the blogs!


There is so much more, like meeting Rocco DiSpirito... sort of... I'm sure the memories will come back in fits and bursts as all the alcohol and pasta leave my system and as I unpack all the swag and free t-shirts. I will say definitely go if you can next year. It's well worth every last penny. And if the Reach tour goes anywhere near you, and I mean even a neighboring state, I'd highly recommend sucking up the gas prices and heading on over to it. I doubt you will in any way be let down.

Thanks again BlogHer for such an eventful event and such memorable memories!


Oh, and if you are wondering, I did NOT make an ass out of myself by getting carted away from Dooce's suite. A) she wasn't staying at the hotel, and B) I got a picture with her instead:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And you know what I love about blogging?

If you are reading this, I am on a plane with a cocktail in hand.

I feel like I don't even want to know what next week has in store for me... like when nobody was really planning to come back to work after New Year's 2000. This time, though, my life may really be completely altered (or not). (This is where my mom would start splashing holy water on me and I'd have to remind her that by something, I meant something positive.) I'm trying not to have these great expectations, but how can I not??? What with Discovery Channel throwing the Experience Project Party (thanks Kate and Julio!), and then the BlogHer Newbie Party being only one floor up from the People's Party so I'm only an elevator ride away, you can hardly help but dream about the hangover and lost voice that will arrive Friday morning. Oh gosh, did I forget the CheeseburgHer party that Suburban Turmoil and Alpha Mom are throwing? Um, no I didn't! HOLLER! Then of course the actual convention (oh yeah...)with all the break-outs about turning your blog into a book, content syndication, monetizing... all that jazz. Let's not forget the opportunity to hear my heroes speak or sign their books for me or the necklace that signifies snapping solidarity. Or the Photo Walk!

Holy Crap Batman!

But before all of the parties were planned, I fell in deep like with all the people I've met through the BlogoSphere. I am always talking about them as if they are my coffee house buddies or my neighbors. I feel like my day isn't complete without checking in with D'Arcy or HappyWife. And the deeply touching ruminations of a couple of boys from Madison... wow. (True story... I wanted to go to UWMadison because I had once visited there and remembered how nice and how cute the boys were. Gus... Robb... what might have been... hahaha.) Plus of course my touchstones, Daily Goddess and Rowena, the Warrior Girl. I have been privy to some amazing insights into their hearts.

But the thing that I love most about blogging?

I just did it. Did you see? I started a sentence with "but." I could also start one with "and" if I wanted to. And (haha) I could just avoid commas altogether. I could also leave a sentence hanging out there all alone. Not a statement... it could just end in a question mark. Or (haha again) I can use elipses... all... I ... want ... a'la Joyce Carol Oates... but without all the fame... hmmm... let me do that again...

That feels GOOD!

Why? Because I majored in English. These little personal "statements" are me being all crazy rebellious. In another time, it would likely have sent my high school English UA teachers into a tizzy. They are top of mind right now because my TWENTY year reunion (holy sh!+) is next month. Plus, it's just so hard to forget them. They were SO. AMAZINGLY. UPTIGHT. Mr. Reese used to require that we use blue, black, or blue/black ink. When that quirk was noted in the yearbook, he was really not amused. Strange, but I don't recall what he looked like with a smile on his face, either. And Ms. Oh-What-Was-Her-Name... well, we'll call her Miss Betsy Fussypants. Goes with the hair. She had this annoying habit of perching on one foot and cracking the other ankle over and over and over... She used to confuse the shit out of me when it came to commas. They would be so red-lining my work with all the broken grammatical rules. But breaking the rules is what it's all about sometimes...

God, I love blogging...


That's it for me until next week. I'll be keeping in touch through the tweets. They are likely to be the random babblings of a Good Time Girl named Sugar drunk with martinis who is being carted away by security from Dooce's suite, I'm sure... If you want to experience it all, you can follow me on Twitter. If you have better things to do than following me (like changing the toilet paper roll) we'll catch up next week. I plan to have many stories and accompanying photos.

And maybe that tattoo...



Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Dysfunctional Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a Sweet Little Girl who lived in a foreign land, trapped in a castle that was not hers. No matter how much she smiled or laughed, the King and Queen of that horrid land were rarely amused. They declared her a nuisance. How were they to be bothered with her needs with so many more pressing, more important issues to deal with. They had a daughter cursed to die and another cursed to cry about the people in infomercials about acne. "Go away!" they would say. The Sweet Little Girl learned early to keep to herself and especially...

not to bother anyone.

She spent time visiting with the Fairy Godmother that sometimes lived at the castle, depending on the state of her marriage. Some days, the Sweet Little Girl could find comfort in sitting with the Fairy Godmother, listening to her stories and learning her old ways. But other times, the Fairy Godmother's blood sugar would be too low and she'd zap her with the wand or emit nasty criticism and other harsh shreaking-eel type noises. This scared the Little Girl very much... almost as much as carnies... but not quite as much as circus clowns.

So she made up an invisible life all her own.

She made up stories. And people. And all kinds of grand adventures. She began talking to herself in the mirror, describing these wonderful tales. This odd behavior did not amuse the King and Queen. AT. ALL. So as not to be embarrassed, they locked her in the tower. But she was good with a paper clip and locks and soon escaped. Once she jumped to the ground (single level tower), she ran as fast as her Sweet Little Legs could take her. Unfortunately, during her escape through the Wicked Forest, she ran into lots of Lions and Tigers and Bears. No carnies, though, thank goodness. Escaping from the wicked animals of the Wicked Forest was pretty tricky, and sometimes, she got scars when she tripped and fell. Some of those scars were ugly... and deep... and embarrassing.

After what seemed like a lifetime (but really only the first few chapters), she came upon much nicer digs.

She found the New Land of the Wise and Caring King. She knew that he was the Real King (not the phony baloney ones that locked her in the tower). She longed to petition this benevolent Lord to rid her of the deep scars that she had been hiding. The ones that wouldn't go away. Even the really embarrassing ones. But she feared bothering Him with her insignificant needs. After all, He had more important things to do. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Solve our Universal Health Care issues...

Why would He want to help her?

Still, she wondered, "Could it be true what they say? Could He really take on my hurts and heal my scars??" She decided to step out in Faith. She asked if He could make the scars magically go away if she just volunteered enough. He said, "No, not a good idea." That wasn't at all the answer the Sweet Little Girl wanted to hear. He told her that she was forgiven. (Whew!) Next, she had to forgive others, after which she naturally replied, "You know... I kinda like these scars." But after a while, she thought, well that was stupid! So she began to forgive. The King and Queen that didn't know any better. The tempermental Fairy Godmother that didn't always take her meds. The Lions and Tigers and Bears.

And eventually, Herself.

And soon... the scars started to fade. Not completely. But you can barely see them anymore. Better than that, she began to live! She felt happier than she had ever felt before! She knew it wasn't always going to be a cake walk. But she also knew that whatever it was, she and the King could handle it... one hand tied behind her back, even!

The End. Oops! I mean...

The Beginning.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Invisible Sugar

You wouldn't know it, but when I was little, I was terribly shy. Seriously. Stop laughing! No, I mean it. I wished that nobody could see me. I wished, especially, that nobody would look at my eyes. I was famous for them. Not too many Mexicans with sky blue eyes. I didn't care about that anomaly. I just didn't want to engage. I wanted to just fade away... into the trees, or the walls, or wherever I could hide.

I wanted to be invisible.

I used to turn beet red whenever anyone even asked me my name. I know what color I was turning because it was making this glowing aura thingy all around my face. And I was feeling like I did when I had a fever and needed a cold wash cloth on my forehead. I always tried to hide behind my moms legs at parties. Either that, or I would find the coat room and hide in there. If there were any teens making out (happened more than once), then I would look for a walk in closet to hide in. I walked hunched over just in case anyone wanted to actually have eye contact with me. I didn't want to hear about my pretty eyes. I didn't want to hear about anything. I rarely spoke except to people that were familiar... safe... I was always just so scared.

I'm not quite sure what happened, but I think sometime around fourth grade, I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. It was when I began attending St. Dominic Savio. It wasn't Catholicism that brought me out of my shell. Heavens no! The thing with Catholic schools is that you are in a class based on your grade and you do pretty much everything with that class. The only time you really ever know any kids from another grade is because they happen to be your younger or older sibling. At least that's how it was at Savio. This environment felt safe. Stable. Consistent. Things that were seriously lacking at home. It wasn't really anybody's fault. I don't know that too many adults would have done any better than the ones that happened to be our parents. They had a lot of shit thrown at their already f*d up selves.

See, the year before we entered Catholic school, my little sister died.

Claudia, or Yaya as I used to call her, was born with severe Cerebral Palsy. From the time she was born, we were told that she would not live to be ten. I was always aware of that fact. That she would die. That I would never see her walk. That we would never ride bikes together. That she would never be Auntie to my future children. But I loved her anyway.

I loved God, too.

I think I should have been angry at Him. But I couldn't be. He was really all I had. Except for Yaya. There were times I prayed to him, not to make her better, but to ask Him why this had to happen. Why would her little lungs never grow? Why couldn't she tell us what she needed? Why did she have to writhe in pain? I don't think I ever got mad at God. I was just very sad that this had happened to her... to us. I remember watching the ball drop on New Year's that year. I remember being so sad that we had left her behind. And I prayed to God that she was with him. And walking.

And that she was without pain.

They say that your personality is formed by the time you are seven. My sister was born when I was two and died when I was eight. I wonder now how loving a dying person almost all my life must have affected me; this young sweet child. I wonder how much of my fears about living and loving are based on that experience. Besides going to school, I only remember those years as the years that I loved, cared for, laughed with, and mourned my little Yaya. I think I was playing shy, (cause I'm not) because if I ever looked up long enough from my humble stance, I might have just started crying... and I don't know that I would have been able to stop.

No wonder I'm in therapy.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stupid Human Tricks

A long time ago in a very safe and beige land called Irvine, I worked in a hotel by an airport with a girl named Melissa.

Melissa was my desk buddy and the most anal retentive person I have ever known. I have NEVER known anyone so...hmmm... precise. But boy could that girl down some tequila! (What happens on a cruise ship STAYS on a cruise ship!) We grew to be good friends who appreciated some levity in our long days at our desks. Sometimes when she would walk out of the office, just to break up the days (and to mess with her), I would move her stapler or raise her chair an inch, shuffle some papers or turn her screen a smidge ... just little things... just to see if she'd notice. She always would, of course. I can still see her head tweaking to the side as she tried to figure out what had happened. As she moved things back exactly into their perfect place, I'd just start giggling. It was funny to see someone wound so tight.

Every week, we had to suffer through meetings run by fresh-out-of-college managers in really cheap suits who spoke a little too confidently about things that they could never really explain in detail... at least not without their handy little admins. In one particular meeting, I randomly looked up at Mel to see her balancing a pencil on her upper lip. She had finally cracked! The managers gave me these annoyed mom-and-dad looks as I stifled my laughter. The teacher's pet was finally letting go and having a little fun. Albeit at my expense, but whatever.

So now, whenever I'm sitting here getting too full of my thoughts and too far into my own head... when I am too concerned about the order of my files or the location of my tape dispenser... those moments that I'm trying to control my environment when my life is starting to slip into a little chaos... I reach for a pencil and pucker. And then I just start laughing at my Melissaness.

And I remember not to take it all so seriously.