Thursday, March 29, 2012

A tale of two shoe styles...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

An epic beginning to a wonderful novel.

But also a pretty schizophrenic statement.

Kind of the like the one I made this week with my shoe purchases.

On the one hand, I got a yen to use up my LLBean coupon dollars and I bought, along with a couple of pairs of hiking shorts and a windbreaker, a pair of cream-colored, flat, incredibly sensible shoes that just scream "I'm on a boat in New England and fashion is the furthest thing from my mind."  I love them; I put them on today and felt what is used to feel like at home. 

However, I have SERIOUS sandal envy of all the fashion-savvy women at my office. So yesterday, I bought two pairs of sandals with pretty wedge heels; one pair even had pink and purple straps.   They should arrive tomorrow and I can't wait, because I love when I finally convince myself to buy something girly and pretty and that yes, Jodi, even big girls can wear cute sandals.

Is this contrast in styles a Yankee vs. Southern thing?  Conservative vs. liberal ideals playing out in my closet?  An epic battle between frumpy and trendy?  Comedy vs. tragedy? Can LLBean deck shoes and wedge sandals exist in the same wardrobe without fashion Armageddon befalling us all?

Which look will triumph? We may never know, because as much as I want to look cute and fresh like an Arkansas gal, I also still love my boring New England comfort clothes.  I guess, in the end all I can do is promise NOT to wear the pink/purple sandals with my new hiking shorts, or the silk espadrilles with the windbreaker.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Giving thanks for a spring evening

Thank heaven for spring, and it's wonder of blooming colors and changing nature.  This past Saturday, as I lay on my couch enjoying some March Madness, with my window wide open, it seemed that I could see the world getting greener by the hour. 

We've had two solid days of rain this week, which has only made me congratulate myself more on mowing my lawn on Sunday. 

And I've had three solid days of controlled chaos at work.  You know how it is; half the office goes AWOL on spring break and the marketing team remains behind doggedly selling the shows and wading through all the crap that must go on even when (what feels like) everyone else is off the grid.  I was down when I got home today.  Grumpy and unhappy.

And then, I looked up and realized that the sun was out.  It was magic hour, and wouldn't you know it, I had a sweet, loving dog at my side just begging to be taken on a walk.  So off we went. 

As has become my habit, I tucked my IPhone into my pocket, and over the course of our mile-long trek through my suburban 'hood, I snapped a few photos.  Here's one:

And here's another:

Thanks to the marvel of modern camera phones, these aren't half bad shots.  But what I love the most about them is what they represent.

I live in a subdivision.  All of the houses look the same, and every time I take a walk through the 'hood, I think of the Truman Show, except that our houses are not nearly as nice.  No, these are houses that were built pretty quickly from a few generic ground plans.  There's not much character to them, at least from the outside.  Long term residents try their best to supply some through their landscaping, or maybe a creatively colored garage door, but the truth is, I live in "Anysuburbia, America" at it's blandest. 

But all three of the pretty little moments I captured in these photos were taken in my 'hood.  The glowing flower above is literally two houses west of me, part of a big flowering tree that hasn't been trimmed in a while, and hangs onto the sidewalk.  The blue flowers line a messy, unkempt lawn about 1/4 of a mile from my house; the willow tree, above, is the only one in the entire subdivision (how in the world did it get there?) and by the end of the spring, will hang so low that even my dog will have to duck under the branches to get through.  Four houses down is a beautiful cherry tree planted by a friend's grandfather at least 10 years ago; it's huge and lovely and makes me smile every time I walk by it.

So, as schmaltzy as it seems, I take a lot of comfort in these little moments of pretty.  In this world where mediocrity is nearly a four-letter word, it helps to stop and literally smell the roses, or snap a photo of something beautiful.   Often I begin my day by reading the opinion page in the newspaper (talk about depressing) and spend a good portion of the rest of the day dealing with unhappy people.  I wish I could give them all a bit of the happy I get from my mini-photo-safari adventures through my bland little subdivision.  We'd all end the day in a much better collective mood.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The importance of being plugged in...or not...

It's rather flippant for us tech-tethered folks to blithely toss the term "addicted" around when it comes to our IPhones and email.  Addiction is a serious business, as anyone who's ever had a drug or alcohol addict in their life can attest, and us whiners need to remember that. 

Still, I can't help but marvel at what days like today reveal to me.  Today I was physically unable to check my work email, for the simple reason that our passwords change (every two weeks, it feels like) from time to time, and when you don't change it manually, the system blocks you out of the server.  Thus, no email.  Cue the shaking and  See my previous paragraph. 

I was chatting with a colleague last night and pontificating about how important it is for us to unplug sometimes, how it helps us set boundaries and keep our rapidly dwindling sanity from escaping our overwhelmed brains.  It probably sounded pompous at the time (it does now), but after today, I've got to at least admit there's some truth to it.  At least 3 times today, I pondered if I should drive into the office just so I could change my password and get email access back up again.  Each time, I had to mentally smack myself upside the head and punish myself by mopping the floor or doing laundry (my house is spic and span, now - nice bonus).  I mean, seriously.  What could possibly be so vital in my job that I can't wait to get to it tomorrow, you know, when I'm actually working?  What is wrong with all of us that we think we are so darn important that we must respond immediately (or demand response) to any stimulus?

The last time I unplugged from email for more than a day was probably when I went to Colorado this past summer, where the only reason I wasn't plugged in was because, well, I was in the frickin' Rocky Mountains and, thank god, there were no satellites nearby.   I felt, coming home, like I do now: rested, peaceful, calm, skinny, pretty. Not angry.  Not discontent.  Not anxious about how I look or what I ate. myself, a content version of myself.

Tonight's great insight that is that we make it a lot harder to be happy than it should be.  It should not take a server block to get me to not open my work email for a day.  We all should be a lot happier about our lot in life; most of us have food, shelter, family and some people even have the love of their lives to share it with.   So why are we so angry all the time (and I'm not just talking about pundits on TV.  Think how many times in the last week you've posted something on social media about how frustrated/angry/grumpy/pissed you were.  Or, if you're not on social media, written a letter to the editor expressing anger about something.  I read the papers every morning.  I read those letters.  They are just like social media, only printed.)?  Could it be because we think that our IPhones, TV's, computers and our incessant need to be connected (and heard), somehow should make us more important, and thus happier? 

I've got news for us.  I couldn't have felt less important today.  To be honest, no one in the world really cared that I was doing whatever I was doing today.  And it felt great. 

And tomorrow, I plug back in.  I'll be honest, I'm dreading it.  Not because of the work; I love my work.  But I happen to know that I will probably have 40-50 emails that came in today alone, and I'll receive 100+ more over the course of the day.

What a vicious cycle.  Maybe someday we'll snap out of it.  In any case, happy Daylight Savings, y'all.  If you're one of those people, enjoy the earlier mornings.  If you're a 9-5er, enjoy the longer days that mean you can actually have 1-2 hours of sunlight after your day is over.  Either way, it's time to greet a new week.  IPhones in hand, we march on.