Overcoming the Dinosaur Brain

The workshop ended at noon, and after another hour lazing by the Atlantic, i wandered into the poolside restaurant for a late lunch.  Ordered a Mediterranean tapas plate, glass of pinot grigot and settled in with my book at a table with an ocean view.

Slow, late lunch crowd.  Other than an older couple at the bar and a chatty pair of women across the restaurant, the place was virtually deserted.  Sitting alone in a restaurant doesn’t bother me much, so i returned to my book.

They wandered in, looking a little lost.  Him?  Late 20’s, dark, frothy hair, smart-boy glasses and a chin that was inexplicably recessed and strong, with a cleft covered in 24 hours worth of stubble.  Just a shade short of handsome, he looked pretty average. 

Her?  Natural blond, porcelain complexion and a perpetual scowl on her face.  Fine features, high cheekbones – she’d be almost beautiful, except for the slight ‘pan-face’ structure.

Attractive enough couple that i’d watch their amateur porn videos for free, but probably wouldn’t pay for it…

Seating themselves at a table near mine, they snuggled over the menu and placed an order with the barkeep.  Having chatted up this barkeep previously about varieties of Puerto Rican rum, he stopped by to bring me a fresh glass of wine for free.  Nice buzz developing…

One of five restaurants in an extensive resort hotel complex, the service hasn’t been particularly swift.  i returned to my book.  Out of the corner of my eye, i noticed that she had sprawled out on the long bench seat, resting her head in his lap.

He draped his right arm over her neck, reaching back with his hand, gently stroked her blond hair.  Cradling her head in his lap, he picked up his book in his left hand – a 3 inch thick Tom Clancy brick* – and began to read.  He continued to stroke her hair in an absent minded manner. 

Like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky, there it was.  An alien thought appeared in my brain – so striking in its abnormality that it flashed brightly, demanding my attention like a high definition billboard.

“i want my head cradled like that.”

What?  Where the fuck did that come from?  Me?  Her Royal Highness, The Ice Queen?  She Who Doesn’t Cuddle?  Ms. Independent “Boy Toy Collector”?

i was startled enough to almost drop my book.  Yep.  That very thought appeared in my head.  Couldn’t deny it.  Trying to get my head back in my book, that pesky little thought nugget wouldn’t let go…

At the moment, i have no interest in being half of a couple.  i like flying solo, have sufficient companionship to keep me entertained – and non-cranky.  Life really is good.  But, despite rumors, and my own violent protestations, i have to admit it:  i am, in fact, a human animal.

Biology is a powerful motherfucking force.  We are driven to couple – despite the fact that my eggs are on the verge of becoming dust particles, the limbic system still says “MATE, MATE, MATE”. 

Thankfully, the bartender delivered a plate of olives, hard cheeses, bread, prosciutto and tomatoes – along with another glass of wine.  Dinosaur brain is no match for copious amounts of alcohol…

* Had to look it up.  Executive Orders.  1376 pages, 1.2 pounds, dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 2 inches.  Not quite 3 inches thick, but close enough…

Sand Witch

It’s quite pleasant here… a technical workshop in the Caribbean.  Lots of time for “break out” sessions.  That means “break out your swimsuit, folks, ’cause we’re done working for the day”. 

Definitely my kind of meeting…

This afternoon, i grabbed a book, my blackberry* and some sunscreen and headed toward the private beach.  i had spotted some lovely hammocks, tied to a small collection of giant palm trees.  They were screaming my name…

Settled in for a restful afternoon, thinking deep technical thoughts, of course.  The surf was crashing and the sun grazed my skin through the shade of the palm fronds above as a stiff wind blew off the ocean.

As i put the book down, giving myself over to “eyelid gravity syndrome”, i heard someone poking around the hammock nearest mine.  Quick glance over… 30-something dude in a polo shirt, water sandals and cargo shorts.  Baseball cap with some university logo… He climbed into his hammock.

i returned to my deep technical thoughts.  He decided this was a lovely time to make some phone calls to the office…

Douchey McBusinessdick had very important business to attend to.  First, he called Diane at the home office to explain why he was going to have to have a talk with Rhonda.  “I’ve let this go too long, and she’s just not working out.  Seriously, I gotta do something or we’re fucked”.  On and on and on…

i threw some particularly evil glares over my shoulder.  They were ignored**.  This very important and loud man showed no signs of shutting up.

After explaining “the situation” to Diane, he decided to call Barbara, while telling Diane to give Denise a call to tip her off to the coming shitstorm.  “She never fucking shows up!  She’s got a job to do, but if she’s not there, she’s not doing her job!”

Seeing as the glares aren’t working, and i didn’t have a cell phone jammer (or a large wooden baseball bat), i decided to talk to him directly to see if he even noticed he was bothering me…

“Jeesus H. Krispies!  If i worked for a douchenozzle like you?  i wouldn’t show up for work either!”

Nope.  No reaction.  Guy was truly oblivious…  It’s funny, but i had no problem listening to the noise of the children playing on the beach, or couples in quiet conversation a few hammocks over, but the prattle of this self-important ass-jacket was really getting on my tits…

i finally gave up trying to snooze, and decided to pack it in for the day.  As i swung out of the hammock, i dropped one of my towels.  If i had been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have appeared over my head – and i quickly dropped my other towel in the sand as i collected my gear to return to my room.

After energetically stomping both towels into the sand, i bent to pick them up – time to return them to the service desk! Seeing as i was located upwind of Douchey – it looked a bit like a Sahara sandstorm as i shook them out…  Poor guy.  Got a face full of sand, he did. 

Oops.

*My feeble attempt to stay connected to the office.  It’s not like they’re going to call me with a ‘research emergency’, but guilt does funny things to the mind…

** My KINGDOM for a cell phone jammer.  Just like Captain Jammer, i should have zapped this motherfucker into next week… this may have been the deciding moment – i must buy one of my own….

Where in the World – Part II

From the sunshine, i headed northeast.  And landed somewhere amazing…

Winter break continues.  Now?  With snow-covered, sheer vertical drops of many thousand feet.

Have i mentioned that i am devoting this particular phase of my life to fucking off?

But there’s booze in the blender, and soon it will render…

Functional Strength

It’s not about losing weight.  It isn’t really about how i look.  In general, i say “i am working to be as healthy and fit as i possibly can, to allow me to enjoy life and blah fucking blah diddley blahblahblah…”  But that’s kinda like… ummm…. bullshit.

Met with a fitness coach earlier this week.  She asked my goals.  i explained that little encounter with the cancer thing, and my choice to skip the hormonal chemo – better approach in my case was to reduce body fat.  We talked about my fitness habits, types of exercise i enjoy, and the types i despise..

A fast-talker from New York, she and i covered a lot of turf in a very short period of time.  Through the discussion, we finally converged on what it really is for me. 

i have made a choice to live on my own.  For now?  Forever?  Who knows.  But i’m flying solo.  There is also this pesky penchant for independence.  As in never asking for help – although a sincere offer of assistance is often accepted, i never want to count on it. 

Given that my live-in companion is a large, smelly hound?  Someone has to haul those 50 pound bags of dog chow from the car.  And that someone will be me. 

This part of the conversation with the fitness coach is when it all came together for her.  “Functional strength.  That’s what you need.”  She then prescribed a workout plan (with some suggestions on my approach to nutrition*).   We’ll follow up in a few months and see how it’s going.  i like her.  She cut through the bullshit fairly quickly.

Build the muscles you need to live your life.  Can’t think of a better reason to do it**.

                 

* Diet Coke and SweeTarts are NOT breakfast.  Muscle is not built on simple or complex carbs – drop the popcorn, add fish and eggs.  Gotcha…

** Except for winning bar bets.  When that pic was taken (Christmas), i could drop and give you 45 push ups – on my toes – without stopping.  Working back up to that.  And a few more…

The Killing Fields

Eleventh row, window seat, of an Air Tran 737 out of Atlanta last month.  Startled from deep sleep – and the darkest memory – it was about the last place i expected to wake up…

The dream was vivid.  Not really a dream, but a flashback.  Memories of a single morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia* in October, 2006.  No idea what triggered the recollection.  Maybe lurking work frustrations and exhaustion teamed up to rattle my subconscious and put my petty worries into perspective. 

It worked. 

When The Girl and i saw the itinerary for our day in Phnom Penh, we agreed that it was about the strangest five hour travel session imaginable.  Not exactly “Art Museum, Shopping at Nordstrom, Down time at the Spa”…

0800-0930:  Choeung Ek, The Killing Field

0930-1100:  Genocide Museum (Tuol Sleng)

1100-1300:  Shopping/Lunch at the Russian Market

Students and parents were herded onto a bus, and we left the city.  The congestion, noise and traffic faded away, and soon we were dieseling our way through small villages, rudely splashing pedestrians and bicyclists with mud as they went about their business. 

The landscape changed again.  Green and lush, rolling hills. We arrived at Choeung Ek.  There was sparse signage, cattle grazing nearby and no other visitors at that hour of the morning.

Between 1975 and 1979**, the Khmer Rouge executed an estimated 2.2 – 2.5 million Cambodians – from a starting population of about 7 million.  First rounding up politicians, and opposition leaders, they soon after moved on to the educated classes:  doctors, engineers, teachers.  Families of doctors, engineers, teachers… and soon, simply anyone deemed unsympathetic.

After detention, torture and confession, prisoners were murdered at provincial dumping grounds – the killing fields.  So here we were, a tour bus of privileged students and their parents.  No formal tour, we were told to wander the fields.  Small placards were posted near partially excavated hollows in the ground.  “Mass grave of 166 victims”, “Mass grave of 90 victims”.  And on and on…

As we walked, the sun was rising higher in the sky, making the day inappropriately cheerful.  A gnarled, stately tree stood next to a large pit.  This was “the killing tree”.  Rather than waste bullets on the smallest victims, the babies and small children were held by the feet, their skulls smashed against the sturdy trunk, before they were thrown into the pit.  A faint stain is visible at the base of the tree.   “Mass grave of 450 victims”.  And on and on…

We walked along in stunned silence.  There was nothing to say.  Stopping along the path, turning to take it all in, i felt something under my foot.  i distractedly reached down to pick up the bright white stone, from the dirt path.  Not a stone.  A tooth.  A human molar…

Never in my life have i felt such anguish.  Almost 9,000 humans were brutally exterminated in this pastoral field.  i stepped on the tooth of a murdered man.  i sobbed uncontrollably.  Not really sure how long i was down, but The Girl startled me back to my senses with “I think we have to go now, Mom.  Are you ok?” 

No, i wasn’t.  Far from it… but we made our way back to the bus, and rode off in silence with the rest of the group.  And on to the next stop on the itinerary: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Security Prison S-21)   

As i lurched forward in my seat on the Air Tran jet, it was all there.  As if i’d just been to the killing fields the day before. 

Perspective.  Use it or lose it.

Photo by: Michael Darter

 photo from here:   i am apparently not the only one to have encountered teeth of the dead in the killing field…

* The Girl was spending a Semester at Sea, and i accepted the opportunity to meet up with her in Asia.  Her ship sailed into Saigon, Vietnam and we took a side trip to Cambodia.  One of the strangest sentences i ever read in an e-mail was “Hey, Ma.  Guess I’ll see you in Saigon.”

** Just after the Vietnam War.  And the years i spent in high school…

Love, American Motors Style

i love my jeep.  unconditionally and without reservation.

It’s a 1983, CJ-7.  Inline 6, bored out 0.30 over, with a high torque cam.  30″ tires.  T-5 tranny.  Fiberglass tub, impenetrable to the metallic skin cancer that afflicts most vehicles in this part of the world.  Frame off rebuild in 1996, she’s been mine and mine alone since the day she became roadworthy.

After rehearsals on Thursday nights, my adorable young cast mate, AU, and i have developed the habit of wandering across the street from the theater to a hole-in-the-wall biker bar.  Thursday night is “Dollar Night” and you can get Bud Light in a can for a buck.  Or a few beers for a few bucks. 

Tonight was a complete run through of the show, which opens 18 September, and she and i are both realizing that the show will be good.  But not great.  High hopes dashed, we wandered down to the tavern for a quick beer.  Sipping our cold cans, smoking a few butts, and commiserating over the bitch slap realization that we’re staring down the barrel of seven weeks effort for the ultimate outcome of “Meh…”. 

Heading out and calling it an early night, we were stunned to leave the bar and find torrential rains, lightning and winds blowing horizontal water.  Oh.  Shit.  Well.  Since i drove the jeep, and she never wears a top in the summer, we decided to wait out the storm and kill another beer. 

Texting a friend for a weather radar update, he suggested that things would clear after another beer.  So we chilled for another half hour… And found even worse weather after killing round two.  So we went back to the bar.  The bartender, learning of our plight, plopped the TV over to the local news, and we figured it was about one more beers worth of storm.

Wandering back to the theater, i snagged a trusty towel from the console, placed it on the seat, and hopped in my baby.  The accelerator was under water.  Hmmm.  Grabbing a waterlogged pen from the console, i unplugged the drain holes in the floor.  Yes.  Drain holes.  You see, my baby likes the rain, and this wasn’t the first time we’d been caught unawares by a summer thunderstorm.  i drilled the holes several years ago, but they have a tendency to plug up with dirt, sticks and other road shrapnel that tends to collect in a naked tub.

Lightning still decorating the sky, but no rain.  Deciding not to wait for the water to drain, i just hit the road.  With every incline, every corner, gallons of water were sloshing over my feet.  Made me laugh like a complete moonbat as i squished my way homeward.  Delighted – as always – to find that even soaked in standing water the dimmer switch on the floor still popped on the high beams with no trouble.

She’s in the driveway at the moment.  i’m letting the water drain a little bit before i put her back in the garage tonight.  Reliable.  Rugged.  Steadfast.  Strong.  Sexy.  She’ll be pretty dry by morning.

Sometimes i truly wonder if i’m capable of love.  i’m pretty dead inside, having built fortresses around the brick enclosures that protect my kevlar encrusted heart.  But it is without reservation that i can say i love my jeep.

Feedback time

Once again, an opportunity to hear from the management on how i’m doing on the job.  i look forward to these moments just as i would look forward to putting cigarettes out in my eyeballs, as there are opportunities to learn and improve with every insightful nugget. 

In addition to my regular mid-term feedback session with my boss in a couple weeks, we did a rather extensive “360 degree review“.  A highly structured opportunity to receive an assessment on your performance from above, below and from the side – and this is then compared with a self-assessment.

Prior to the session with the boss, we were asked to get our results from the organizational development specialist.  i met with her on Friday.  She went over the process, and discussed the opportunity to identify both hidden strengths as well as blind spots.  Then we dove into my results.

Throughout the survey, i rated myself lower than all others.  i was quite proud of the fact that i rated myself a “2” (on a scale of 1-5) for “dresses professionally”.  She noted that others had me rated around at an average of  “4”.  She used this as an extreme example of me being my own worst critic.

Organizational Development Lady (ODL):  You are clearly very hard on yourself.

daisyfae: [giggling and trying not to say “hur, hur, hur… you said ‘hard on’…”] No one can accuse me of a lack of self-awareness.

ODL:  But do you really think you dress unprofessionally?  i’ve seen you give seminars and presentations and you always dress appropriately…

daisyfae [wearing jeans, a low cut tank top, and a baggy, belted sweater that has seen better days]:  ummm…. right…. (pointing at partially exposed tits)

Then it was time to review the comments from the reviewers.  Of the eight responses from folks who took the time to write a few strengths and weaknesses down, there was a fairly consistent thread.  Six of the eight responses included the words “Burnt Out”.  One nicely suggested a sabbatical…

My favorite weakness, however, was the following:  “daisyfae doesn’t respond well to ‘idiots’…”. 

Since when is that a weakness?

i have patterned my professional career after the teachings at despair.com

i have patterned my professional career after the teachings at despair.com

Geek Chic

i easily fit the category of “expert traveler”.  Logging at least 100,000 miles (mostly domestic) and spending at least 90 nights a year in a rent-a-bed, it isn’t often that a travel experience knocks me over with unexpected goodness.

The recent trip to Seattle?  Woo-hoo!  It was a geek fest, held at the Hotel1000 – a fun, boutique hotel.  The amenities at this place had me alternately giggling and snorting – and feeling like a rock star.

decadence... including pics of nekkid people on the wall!

Even had sketches of nekkid people on the wall!

For starters? The room itself was delicious.  The bed/desk/minibar were fairly typical, but it was the bathroom that had me just awash* in silliness!  It took me a full five minutes to locate the toilet – which was hidden behind a clever frosted glass door next to the shower.

party tub

party tub

The bath? Ridiculously decadent!  Gigantic free-standing tub – orgy-sized!  i rooted around upon arrival, thinking that it might be a jacuzzi tub – but alas, it was just a 4-person modern marvel. Best of all?  The faucet was in the fucking ceiling!

spigot. in. the. fucking. ceiling.

spigot. in. the. fucking. ceiling.

This kept me amused for no less than an hour. After cleansing* my toilet-related curiousity, i checked out the rest of the room – and discovered that the HDTV on the wall was playing a serene movie – boats, waterfalls, beaches… Farting around a bit with the remote, i learned that there were about 10 different choices – essentially allowing me to customize the wall art in the room!  Did i say “WOO HOO!”?

Geek chic boutique...

Geek chic boutique...

Scrumptious bathrobe, in-room french press coffee maker, ubiquitous Starbucks fresh ground coffee available in massive quantities.  The bed?  The only thing that could have improved it would have been an in-room cabana boy… A tall, blonde Swedish masseur, named Sven, with no vocal cords, perhaps…

But my favorite moment of the week involved the hotel catering services.  Typically at any workshop or meeting, refreshments are provided – maybe fruit and bagels in the morning, with brownies or cookies for an afternoon snack.  The Hotel1000 set a new standard, in my opinion, with the afternoon break refreshments on the second day of the meeting.

Cupcakes.  Beautifully decorated cupcakes.  Gleaming pink frosting, with raspberries.  Neon green frosting, with shaved chocolate.  Sumptuous ivory cream frosting, with chopped almonds.

i returned from my extended lunch adventure with silverstar to find a beautiful spread of cupcakes outside the meeting room!  As we reconvened following the break, i was delighted to sit in the meeting room, and watch some of the worlds best scientific minds debate the nuances of transformational optics – while enthusiastically licking brightly colored frosting from their cupcakes!

Oh, if we’d only been allowed to pull out mats and have a communal afternoon nap on the floor…

cupcakes-rock

* yes.  I DID just do that….

Special Edition T-Shirt Friday

With a meeting in Seattle this week, i have had an opportunity to hang out with the coolest powerchair-babe on the internet!  Ms. Silverstar has been a fabulous host/tour guide, showing me the sights of the Seattle waterfront for lunch yesterday!

Since the lights in the blogosphere are still dimmed, with nursemyra off the grid due to a house-move, silverstar suggested a T-Shirt swap Friday!  She got me a great Seattle T — carefully selected to be Mr. Pickles Brown!  And with her anti-establishment bent?  i thought “Alcatraz” might be a good fit!

Hangin' with Silverstar

Hangin' with Silverstar

From there?  Lunch at Ivar’s!  Despite a short battle with a misdirected hunk of bread, we had a lovely lunch on the waterfront where i got to indulge my scallop-lust.  No.  Not like that…  Making a quick visit to the waterfront arcade, i also got to indulge a little carousel-lust!

Pretty pony - jewels, amazing mane...

Pretty pony - jewels, amazing mane...

In a race?  My money's on Silverstar and The Scarlet Pimp!

In a race? My money's on Silverstar and The Scarlet Pimp! Heigh-ho, Scarlet Pimp - Awaaaaaay!

And for even more fun, i got to meet Ms. Friday, the wonder pup!  She is the most well-behaved diva ever! 

Adorable working-pup!  Hear that, Mr. P?  This dog has a JOB!

Adorable working-pup! Hear that, Mr. Pickles? This dog has a JOB!

Speaking of Divas?  i was hanging with the traveling nerd herd in the lobby of our hipster-cool boutique hotel for happy hour, and was a bit surprised to see none other than Miss Britney Spears being escorted across the lobby.  Being good Trailer Park Rabble, i whipped it out – the camera, you perverts – and snapped a few pics!  Only random thought?  She’s tiny.  Teeny-tiny…

Loves me some hangover sunglasses...

Loves me some hangover sunglasses...

Despite the unexpected celebrity sighting, the highlight of my week – in fact, the highlight of all my recent roadtrips – was a chance to meet silverstar in person!  She’s delightful!  And i really can’t wait for another day of extended lunch-hour hookey!  Today?  She’s taking me to Pikes Place Market and i’m going to do everything i can to get hit in the head with a fish!

“Do you like movies about gladiators?”

When i was a kid, we watched “Big Time Wrestling“.  We knew it was fake, and we didn’t care… The current incarnation of this form of entertainment is the Ultimate Fighting Championships, UFC.  The Boy and his friends enjoy this, and i enjoy tormenting them about the obvious homo-eroticism of this particular style of “fighting”.

A quick google image search provides much supporting evidence. 

Nope.  Nothing homoerotic going on here...

Exhibit A: Nope. Nothing homo-erotic going on here...

Nothing but manly men pounding each other silly here...

Exhibit B: Nothing but manly men pounding each other silly here...

But this one?  i’m thinking there’s something a little different going on here…  unfortunately i don’t have the whiteboard handy to diagram this to figure out what that something might be…

Insert Tab A into Slot B.  Repeat as necessary...

Exhibit C: Insert Tab A into Slot B. Repeat as necessary...

Which brings us to a conversation i had with The Boy last night… Due to a temporary malfunction of my home theater/audio system, i am down to one incoming cable TV signal.  So whatever is playing on the tv tube in the theater room, is on the tv tube in my bedroom.  And vice versa.  This has led to some fun between the kids and i – after i accidentally left the channel on a “Born Again Revival” one Sunday morning while The Boy was attempting to sleep in, it’s become a game. 

The Boy was watching a UFC event in the theater room with a friend.  i was preparing to go to bed, and told him i’d be changing the channel shortly… He explained that the match was almost over, so i agreed to tough it out a few minutes.  Couldn’t resist jabbing him, though.  i helpfully pointed out to them both that there was, indeed, an overtly homoerotic tone to this particular “sport”.  Much like the movie “Gladiator” and of course “300“…. This got a visceral response, with both young men saying “Hey, hey, hey there lady – don’t trash talk “300”… That’s an AMAZING movie”.  At which point i simply smiled and said “i rest my case…”

Off they went.  As i’m tucked into bed, i’m watching this moronic ass-grabbing.  The following text-session transpired shortly therafter…

daisyfae:  U.F.C. = G.A.Y.

The Boy:   Tell Frank Shamrock* that…

daisyfae:  The name “Shamrock” is pretty girlie… i tell you, these guys are going to go play the meat trumpet in the locker room…

The Boy:  “Shamrock” sounds Irish to me.  Are all Irishmen** gay?

daisyfae:  Believe that if you want.  Especially if it saves me the cost of therapy…

The Boy:  Yeah.  I knew as I hit send that I didn’t really want the answer to that.

_________________________

* Frank Shamrock, undefeated champ of the UFC “Bootlicker” weight class, was getting an atomic wedgie at that moment…

** daisyfae is dating a gentleman from Ireland… and both children are still getting used to mom being “out there” again.  Many “hands over the ears” moments as i explore new ways to mess with their little heads…