Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Farewell, 33.

You didn't have much to recommend you, honestly.  You were a year of tepid highs and frustration-laden lows. 

I'm ready for change in year 34.  Bring it on.

Friday, March 26, 2010

There and back again: 24 hours in Chicago

Sometimes, my job is pure frustration.  Other days, I get to jet off to the Windy City to see a show and call it work.  It's so much more fun to dwell on the latter.

10:21am flight = Perfect.  Not too early, not too late.  I swung by to pick one of my travel companions, "Perkins", and then crossed town to the get the other, "Bif".  Funny moment when Perkins and I pulled into Bif's driveway, realized we were 20 minutes early, then promptly backed out and went in search of caffeine.  The search, of course, made us 5 minutes late, but we had plenty of time and all was well. "Mahoney" met us a the airport and we were off!

We arrived in Chicago and were picked up by Perkins' friend, who is a member of the improv troupe Just The Tip.   She was super-great, providing us with tour guide chatter on the way into the city, waiting at the curb for us to check in, and introducing us to a spectacular Indian-Latin American fusion restaurant called Vermilion. Just one word: YUM. Mahoney had never experienced Indian flavors like that, and she did great!

Chicago was remarkably cold/windy, so we cabbed over to the Art Institute for a few hours.  I spent most of my time on a conference call for work, but I did get to see Georgia O'Keefe's
Sky Above Clouds IV, the Matisse exhibit and an amazing photography exhibit by William Eggleston.

Then we hoofed it back to the hotel (Side note: we stayed at The Wit, which was a very cool hotel.  Even the piped-in birdsong in the hallway couldn't diminish it's coolness.), changed, and headed to our first party of the evening.  So commenced that awkward early networking phase where everyone hasn't had enough alcohol to loosen up enough to truly enjoy the chit-chat.  Then we were off to the Cadillac Palace Theater (sorry for the boring link) to see Beauty & The Beast.  Since this is my personal blog, not a work blog, I'll save the review for later.  But the show was good enough that even the supremely annoying family behind us who chomped on gum and popcorn throughout the show didn't completely ruin the evening. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't like having food in the theater during a theatrical show. But that's a rant for another time.

Anyway, then it was back to the hotel for a rooftop party, this one much more raucous and fun.  The cast was there, which meant that Perkins was in her element with the gays. :) Marketing meetings in the morning, and then we took to the streets for a little retail therapy.  Speaking of taking to the streets, I am officially in awe of Bif's ability to trek through the city on super-high heels.  Incredible. We all did our bit to stimulate the economy, grabbed some lunch, and then Bif, Mahoney and I headed back to the airport. No trip to the big city is complete without a harrowing cab ride, and this one was no exception. An uneventful flight brought us back to NWA in time to see the sun set and the moon rise. 

It was a quick trip, but like all travel outside of normal boundaries, enlightening.  It's always a mix of fun and nerves for me when I travel with my staff, because I want them to learn AND have fun, and the latter is a little tougher when their boss is around.  But I thought they did really well - Perkins showed spunk and confidence that was great to see, Bif got some props from the marketing folks for her South Pacific blogging contest (along with a really great purse), and Mahoney was networking like a champ and taking it all in. 

It was my 2nd trip to Chicago in the last year, and it didn't disappoint.  Can't wait to go back!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just so I remember where I was...

It's hard to know if the health care reform bill that just passed is as historic as everyone is saying it is.  I'd like to think so.  And just in case, I thought it would be appropriate to have a blog entry tonight, so I can remember where I was and what I was doing when it happened.

I was in my apartment in Arkansas, glued to my computer. I'd turned off C-SPAN because the posturing of the speakers on both sides of the aisle was irritating me, and I found the online conversations of my peers to be much more interesting.   I talked through both facebook and twitter with friends in Arkansas, California, Illinois and Wisconsin.  That's just...well...neat.

I'm happy reform passed.  I don't buy Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh's prophecies of doom.  I also don't totally buy the President's proclamations, but I'm glad to have a President to whom I can listen and not want to hide in embarrassment.  In particular, I liked this line from his speech in the East Room: "We did not fear our future.  We shaped it."

I would like very much to believe that hope will win out over fear in today's world.  We shall see.

Other things that have made this a pretty good weekend:

Dinner with friends on Friday:  Love them.  There is always good food, good conversation and their kids are little wonders.  This time, there was also good tequila.  Bonus.

Random snowstorm:  It dumped more than 8 inches on us and hopefully by tomorrow it'll all be gone, melted away in 70 degree weather.  (Side note: anyone who tells me the climate isn't changing hasn't lived in reality the last 30 years)  The storm meant a weekend holed up in my apartment, cleaning and reading and relaxing.  I needed it.

Talking to a friend I haven't talked to in forever:  I miss her.  I've got to be better about calling people.

Realizing that it's time for me to make a decision about the next 3-5 years of my life:  This is a big one. It's scary.  But it's also good to recognize that it's time.  This living in limbo isn't much fun.

Spending two hours plus cooking Irish Stew:  I never cook like that.  It felt good.  Peaceful and calming.  And the stew wasn't too bad, actually.

650 count sheets on my bed:  I found them on sale and they are, in a word, incredible.  My bed is now the place to be.  And yes, please take that as the double entendre it was meant to be. 

Good night, America.  Depending on which ideology you subscribe to, we're either headed for nirvana or armageddon.  I'll take somewhere in between, thanks.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A new skill

I recently finished watching the entire run of Alias on DVD.  Naturally, I now want to be Sydney Bristow, if only because Michael Vaughn is HOT. 

My dad used to say I should combine my love of acting and international relations and join the CIA.  I would laugh and tell him that there's a difference between acting on stage and acting for my life.  But I always wondered about the ability to shut off one part of your life and replace it with another.  In Alias, they called this "compartmentalizing."

Yes, I know Alias is not real.  But, according to Master Internet, "compartmentalizing" is a real skill that is taught to people with dangerous jobs; it allows them to set their emotions aside to focus on the task at hand.

My job is not dangerous.  I work in the arts.  We don't fight wars, make vaccines, feed people, or provide shelter.  And our work isn't rocket science; at least not in the "if I make a mistake I could blow someone up" kind of way.

My job is, however, fast-paced.  In the dictionary under "multi-tasking", there's a picture of anyone in my profession.  We tend to do a great many things, with our Modus Operendi consisting of hundreds of emails a day, lots of collaboration, committees and soul-searching, and the occasional burst of creative frenzy thrown in to keep things interesting.  

Recently, my job has been testing my mettle. But the last three days have reached a new level of intensity.  And in the middle of it, I suddenly stunned myself by choosing, quite calmly, to shut off the side of my brain that was incessantly churning over a problem I couldn't solve.  I realized that the problem would be there when I came back to it.  And I knew the next moment, the next conversation, was important.  So I just shut it off and moved on.  It was a completely liberating experience. 

I have no scientific idea why it happened.  A mental survival mechanism?  Perhaps. I'm not going to analyze why it happened, but choose to be glad it did.  And I'm going to hold fast to the belief that I can keep doing it, and be healthier and happier because of it. 

I'm not ready to go under deep cover in the East European mafia or anything, but I do have a sense that I might make it through the next few months with my sanity intact.  That's something.

Now if I could just score a really hot and sympathetic "handler" who whisks me off to distant lands and whispers into my earpiece while I'm in marketing meetings, life would be just about perfect.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The key to world peace

Today, the key to world peace was revealed to me. Pretty flattering, no?  I like to think so.

I know you're dying to know.  Here it is.

Sunshine after 3 months of gray skies.  For everyone.  All over the world, all the time.  

More specifically, sunshine that renders the air a perfect 67 degrees.  With a slight breeze and some clouds floating around for effect.

Now you see the dilemma.  Solar orbits and axis tilts and other cosmic influences aside, it's clear this would never be possible, and even if it were, we humans would probably find a way to complain.  After all, everyone skilled in ice and snow removal would be unemployed. 

But imagine if we could bottle the feelings that the past two days of gorgeous weather prompted in us, and drink them when the days get cold.  We'd smile more when we walk out our doors.  We'd walk out of those doors more.  We'd stop and chat with each other while our dogs romped together.  We'd drive with our windows down so people could laugh at us as we pull up to a stoplight singing at the top of our lungs.  We'd wash our cars. We'd work harder to leave work on time.  More laundry would be dried in the open air.

Did I mention we'd smile more?

Someone once said the reason there will never be peace in the Middle East is that it's just too damn hot.  I'm starting to think this is truer than we'd like to believe.