8.27.2008

Me write for pretty swimmer



I usually couldn't care less about the folks or organizations for whom I must write letters at work, but today a most interesting request came across my desk. The charge was to write letters to all the Olympic athletes from North Carolina who competed and/or won medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

There are 11 names on the list - 3 of which were medal-winners, 2 of which were GOLD medal winners.

Again, because I've written probably close to 1,000 letters for various events and things since I've been here, not much excites me or makes me CARE all that much when composing said letters. But...ME? I get to write congratulatory letters for OLYMPIC ATHLETES? Fuuuuuuuuuun.

I looked the medal winners up on ole trusty Google and.....realized. one. swam. the. 4x200m Freestyle Relay - THE relay. The relay which caused the abs of 4 of the best swimmers in the world to show themselves silly. The recipient of my letter is to the left of Phelps in the picture above (the one whose face you can actually see).  I shouldn't be excited to write the letter, but I am. No claim to fame, but because it's just little ole me who gets the chance to send my writing to an Olympic Champion on behalf of our state's Governor.  While it's not technically "my" letter - my cute little initials DO appear on the page and everyone knows that when you see MFE/kwm that really kwm wrote that dang stuff.

The other gold medal winner receiving a letter participated in the Women's Eight event in Rowing, and one bronze medal winner in the Men's 400M hurdles. I don't usually get too thrilled over work letters, but I'll take excitement when I can get it and this is pretty fun.

8.25.2008

Mini-vacay

No one could be more surprised than me on how wonderful our weekend in Blowing Rock/Boone/Damascus turned out.  I love to travel, but have realized as I've become an adult that it's almost more fun to plan and dream about the trip than to actually go on the trip. I think I'm mostly to blame for that - me and my pesky perfectionist-riddled-with-anxiety streak. I tend to romanticize about how great a place will be and all the fun we'll have, and being the picture perfect tourists, but usually that all goes to poop when we arrive. That was not the case this past weekend.

We left work around 1pm on Thursday and were able get on the road by 3pm-ish. We were in a caravan of 3 - Skye driving the sexy blue Neon, Seth and I in the CR-V, and the remaining McFarlands in the yummy vanilla Cruiser.  We got to our lovely inn in Blowing Rock around 6pm and upon stepping out of our cars we realized how magnificent the weather was at that moment (and would remain our entire weekend). I think we all took big sighs of relief and relaxation. For me, it was like slipping into a warm tub at the end of a long day. It was that perfect cool, but not cold, and no hint of humidity or uncomfortable heat kind of night.  It was 75 degrees with still a bit of daylight left. It was wonderful. We went out for dinner and then sat around in the inn's gazebo for a little while after we got back. The only black cloud of the weekend was me not being able to sleep on night #1. I have no idea what my deal was, but just couldn't sleep - perhaps still winding down from any trip anxieties. Turns out Skye didn't sleep well either, but we managed to make it through Friday grouchiness-free.

Friday morning, we ate breakfast at Knight's before heading to ASU to move Skye in to her dorm. There was a bit of a wait in traffic before we could actually move Skye's stuff in, but nothing unbearable and it was a short move-in with all the help from ASU staff.  After Skye got her stuff unpacked and put away, we went over to the bookstore, bought some poser shirts and stuff and walked around.  It was a nice day and I had never really seen ASU so it was fun to walk around on a nice, pretty campus brimming with eager freshman and returning students. I totally realized how very NOT envious I was of all those students. I remember my time in college very fondly and how much fun it was to discover my independence, but at the same time, I remember the work, the classes, the tests and I realized I'm happy to be 30 and grown-up.

We later returned to Blowing Rock and tricked ourselves into thinking we had the energy to walk around town. About 4 stores into our trek, we realized our extreme tiredness and headed back to the inn after hitting up several stores and getting ice cream for dinner. YUM. We all kept to our rooms for the night and watched Olympics, read books, and napped. We were wiped out.

Saturday was a big day for us. We went to Damascus, VA to ride the Creeper Trail - 17 miles of mostly downhill adventuresome fun. I was pretty nervous about the event seeing as how I'm not exactly the athletic or outdoor type. I enjoy doing things like that and definitely have a desire to do it more often, but since I don't actually do them often, I automatically assume I'm not going to do well or last long at anything requiring energy or endurance.

We loaded our bikes onto the 15-passenger van that took us to the top of the mountain. This was a CONSIDERABLE point of stress for me since I'm not a fan of curvy, twisty mountain roads nor 15 passenger vans driven by strangers. I got stuck on the second row all alone and not thrilled. The driver said it was a 45 minute trip to the top and it took all I had to make it there. The driver started an annoying game with everyone in the shuttle and for me, talking is the last thing I want to do when I'm trying to keep my eyes on the road to avoid car sickness. Somehow they got the hint and skipped me in the game. WE MADE IT and I didn't get sick. WHEW. I won't pretend I didn't think of bailing about 5 times on the way up, but I pushed through and am glad I did.

When we got to the top, it was top-of-the-mountain kind of chilly, but we were prepared with long sleeves so we all set off on our ride. I think we all had a blast! The scenery was great, the weather was amazing, and since you're 3,000+ above sea level, the majority of the trail is downhill so it was quite easy. The last 3-5 miles were flat and required pedaling, but nothing strenuous and was super-enjoyable and relaxing.  I was so proud of myself when we got to the bottom! Nothing gives me more confidence than to challenge myself and succeed. It's just SO hard to actually go for the challenge (Seth and I originally were not going to go on the Creeper at all, but I changed my mind and I'm SO glad we joined in!)



Seth and I opted to spend an extra night in town after we rode the Creeper so we headed back to Blowing Rock and took Skye and her friend Gabe out to eat at Mellow Mushroom in Blowing Rock. We sat outside and had a fun dinner. We took them back to ASU, said goodbye to Skye, and headed back up the mountain for a relaxing last night in the inn. Usually, travels come with arguments and stress, but I'm so thankful this one went smoothly and was actually enjoyable! I haven't taken a vacation for the purpose of relaxing in a long time and I wouldn't put this trip in that category, but somehow, even though we stayed busy the whole time, I truly felt relaxed and like I had gotten to rejuvenate from the stress of work and other things.

There's talk of riding the Creeper sometime again this fall - I'm sure it'd be gorgeous when the leaves turn. All in all - great trip - and we're looking forward to going up to visit Skye and having a good reason to hit up the mountains several times during the next 2 years before she graduates. We hope to take our precious Three with us next time!

8.22.2008

Mountaineering

We've been moving Skye in at Appalachian State today. The weather is to die for at a breezy and sunny 74 degrees. We've just hit up the campus bookstore and will probably head back to Blowing Rock with our spoils soon in order to obtain more mountain-y type spoils.



(posted from my iPhone)

8.19.2008

moment of change

I had my first appointment with a psychologist this morning. I was very nervous about going and a bit upset just before bed last night, but all went well.

I was having trouble putting a finger on the exact emotion I was feeling, but a little bit of it was dread and fear like the kind you have before you get a flu shot. You know it's coming and you know it's not going to feel good, but you also know that it only lasts for a second and then you'll be protected for the year. However, you can't help but think that it's going to hurt worse than it really does so you dread the tiny prick up until the moment it pricks you, then you're so relieved that it didn't hurt nearly as bad as you anticipated it would.

My appointment was at 9am. I met my doctor and she seemed very nice and welcoming and warm. I told her I didn't really know where to start so she asked me why I thought I needed to see her - and then the flood gates opened. It's somewhat frustrating at first because I have this desire to lay it all out for her on the first day so she'll know what's she's working with. Like opening a brand new puzzle you want to spread all those pieces out, collect the edge pieces and fit those together, then fill in with the hard part. I wanted to give her a clear picture of everything I'm dealing with and then in the following sessions fill in with the icky stuff. I think, for the most part, I was able to do that.

I pretty much talked the whole time. I think before I go next time, I'll make a list of any and everything I can think of that I've ever wanted to tell anyone. I've told my mom a lot of this stuff, but I guess there are always things that I'd feel more willing to tell a stranger than I would be to tell my mom. When I realized I'd need to make a list, I felt like Earl Hickey. I laughed to myself as I left the office picturing me with my "list" on yellow legal paper, crossing off each item as I shared it with my doctor.

I was able to tell her about my dad, my job, my middle school trauma, my second-guessing, my panic and anxiety, and the lack of any close friends other than Seth.  She compared my physical and emotional responses to my work environment to that of PTSD! HA! I told her I'd considered that before.

I'm anxious to get several sessions under my belt, relax more with her, get into more details about each and every nutty thing I think or feel and hopefully see some progress. But, that's just like me to want to hurry up and get to the good stuff. I hope I can be patient. It helps more than anything just to talk and get some feedback. I feel pretty alone in this but I'll continue to update on each visit. Maybe there's a stranger out there reading who can relate. You never know who's lurking around on your blog!

8.15.2008

Parallels

I don't partake in the popular American morning ritual of a cup of coffee and the morning paper. Never have, probably never will - especially with our nation's newspapers going slowly down the tubes. I do, however, have a ritual for each morning I arrive at work. There are a small number of blogs that I look forward to checking in on to see what the latest news and happenings are, or just to check in on the life of a stranger.

This morning I had a huge AH-HA moment! I was reading an article on mamapop.com and was SO THRILLED to find an awesomely perfect parallel to my job. The article is about a new bestselling book out called Waiter Rant.  I've never waited on tables and intend on keeping it that way, but I can totally relate to the following from the review on mamapop.com:
The world seems to be split into two populations. Those who have waited on people and those who haven't and those who haven't...just don't get it. What's the big deal? How hard could it be?

It's so hard. So, SO tough. It's physically exhausting, it's emotionally draining, ....

And then...there are customers. Most of the time, waiting tables passes without incidents or with minor irritations at most. And then there are people who are just downright sociopaths and IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT THAT THEIR NICOISE IS LOOKING AT THEM FUNNY. And, you know, you can laugh about it years later, but at the time it f**** with your livelihood and, for most people, just makes you want to sink into a little puddle on the floor and die.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Thank you kdiddy whom I do not know, but thank so very, very much for putting that out there so scrumptiously well.  I've read that last paragraph over and over and it's just the most brilliant parallel to working in an environment and having to take calls from random citizens. Maybe next time I eat out, I'll leave a bigger tip - not that I leave small ones, usually 20%! everywhere! - but maybe an extra large tip - because I FEEL THEIR PAIN.

8.13.2008

Non-toxic goodness

I am stupidly excited about receiving a color fan deck from Mythic Paint.

Unfortunately, the paint doesn't seem to be available anywhere nearby so I have to order it online. This line of paints is 0% toxic to you, your family, pets, and the environment. It comes in more than 1,200 colors and shipping is FREE! That's right - FREE! At first I assumed shipping would ruin it cost-wise since paint tends to be quite heavy, but since it's free then it'll be just like buying it at a local home improvement store.

I'm not a hardcore green freak just yet, but am very interested in green products that are also stunningly beautiful or just plain obvious with their greatness. With such a huge color variety and wonderful benefits, I see no reason not to use Mythic Paint. I hope to see it come to a dealer in the Triangle some time soon...then I won't have to wait the time it takes to ship the paint. (This is all assuming I'm going to get over my fear of committing to a paint color in our new house. I've got severe painter's block or something!).

[caption id="attachment_140" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Oh Mythic, save me from mah funk!"]Oh Mythic, save me from mah funk![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_139" align="alignleft" width="245" caption="Ed Begley, Jr.'s kitchen counter tops"]Ed Begley, Jr.'s kitchen counter tops[/caption]

Another of my favorite green products that I'm dying to use (but probably won't get to for a long time) are Vetrazzo counter tops.  They are made from recycled glass and are just gorgeous. You may have seen them on "Living with Ed" on HGTV. Before we bought our house, I had dreams of installing these counter tops if we found a home that needed some updating or renovations. We've got granite, but I suppose we could always install them in our bathrooms :) Then again, part of being green is not wasting materials - our current stuff is not ready for the landfill!

According to FedEx tracking, my fan deck should be arriving tomorrow. Maybe this will be the inspiration and the motivation to commit to colors for the house and get me started. Should be fun to paint knowing I'm not putting anything toxic into the air or into my home. Guess that means Three could eat the stuff and be just fine.  We shant test that theory.

Cheese and Whine

I'm back! From the most glorious and shameful few days of giving the best silent treatments and cold shoulders I could muster.  Of course, I'm being facetious.  The truth is, I was probably being the biggest jerk on the planet and I'm quite sure my husband hated me.

Clearly, I have some issues. It's been too easy for me to put off trying to find a therapist because my life and emotions are on such a rollercoaster. The peaks and valleys are spaced out just far enough that it makes calling someone too easy to brush off.  The downward spiral that started on Sunday was probably one of the worst to date. I can't even pinpoint what made me fall into the black hole of crappiness that I did, but it wasn't fun for me and certainly couldn't have been fun for my family.

For some reason, I was in a bad mood on Sunday after church. Not sure why. We went to Lowe's with the intention of getting paint for our master bathroom. I had a paint sample from Restoration Hardware and was going to find the closest match. I couldn't find a great match and then started doubting the color I was even looking for. So...we left. No paint in hand.

After that I just couldn't snap out of whatever put me in a funk. Maybe it was something as trivial as the paint that sent me down the slide, which tells you how on the edge I am in general. Unfortunately, we were heading out to dinner for my sister-in-law's birthday that night so we went home and I tried to rest and relax hoping to shake off the bad mood. I don't know if that ever happened because then I started feeling icky and did NOT want Italian food (which we were having for dinner). My stomach wasn't in the mood, but it wasn't my birthday and I wasn't going to NOT eat. I got the least stomach-churning dish I could find and it was very good, but still, I was not feeling great. Plus, when we got to the table I began feeling worse and felt a panic attack coming on. Stupidly, I picked the seat that made me feel the most trapped and then I felt like I was going to freak out. The restaurant was dark and it was the first time I'd been there so I was miserable.  I tried to deal with it quietly and without alarming anyone except Seth kept asking me what I was going to order. I didn't want to talk - talking makes the freak out worse sometimes. So...I snapped at him. I tried to do it as nice as I could but it didn't work. And then the marathon of silence began.

I think a West sibling trait is to get into a funk and it be almost impossible to pull out of it. I just couldn't bounce back. I had cake, looked at my brother's photos from England, and listened to conversation, but I didn't talk. I hope I didn't ruin the party, but I'm at a point where I just don't care. I don't care if I look weird because I'm not engaged in conversation, I don't care if no one is talking to me (in fact, I prefer it), and I don't care about what anyone else is talking about. In fact, if I do care about the conversation, I find myself being so critical and hateful of what they are saying in my head.  I much prefer being in an environment where I can just be with myself or with people I'm completely relaxed around and don't have to talk to. I realize how sad and pathetic that sounds, but it's where I'm at right now and I makes me really mad to realize that.

I didn't talk to Seth all day Monday. Not on IM, not on the phone, not in person. I only told him when I was ready to go home from work but after that - nothingness. My mom finally called me around 9:30pm Monday night to see how I was doing.  She clearly noticed my funk the night before and said she was hurting for me. We ended up talking for over an hour. Mostly I got to release all these thoughts and feelings that I don't chose to share very often.  It's hard to find someone to share these things with that either understands or knows what to say in response.  You'd think I could tell Seth, if anyone, but it really doesn't work that way. I can understand how someone who doesn't know what it's like to deal with things I'm dealing with would have no idea what to say in response, but from where I sit, it sucks to lay out your feelings only to be met with crickets when you're done. It comes across as if he wasn't even listening and to brush it off and move on to the next subject comes across as if he doesn't care. (EDITED: He does care, don't get me wrong!) So...I shut up for 2 days.

But back to talking to my mom. We talked about me trying to find a therapist and how I had tried to call someone that day, but even that simple task (that was to be a big step) turned into something I didn't want to deal with. I called a woman and left a message requesting an appointment. A man called me back which threw me off.  He asked me what sorts of problems I was having and I was quite brief, and then he tells me I'd probably see him rather than the woman. I lied and said I'd have to get back to him when I could look at my calendar.  I thought, ***WHAT?*** How dare you call me back - ask ME if I thought I needed just therapy or medication - YOU GUYS are supposed to tell ME that. And thanks for asking me whether I had a man or women preference!***  I was so put off and felt completely defeated. There's a reason why you can sort by "man/woman" preference on psychologytoday.com! I had a preference and felt just like I feel each and every time I call a doctor's office. I was met with the "What do you think is wrong with you?" vibe which makes me feel on the defensive immediately.  I've been avoiding his phone calls since and am going to try and find someone else.

We also talked about my dad. I have squashed talking about him for years now. This was my mother's spouse, so if anyone deserved to cry over their loss for the last 6 years, it's been her.  So I just ate it. I just covered it up and shared bits and pieces of my feelings with Seth, but I've kept my evil dark thoughts to myself...until Monday. Since my mom won her case, her feelings have shifted. She doesn't cry like she used to and she sees my dad much like I have all along. I lost my dad in 2002 and haven't viewed this man we've been left with as my dad since then. I can't - he's not the same and never will be. I find myself resenting families who have great fun together, who go on trips, who have normal adult conversation and laugh together. You have NO IDEA how great that is until it's gone from your life. They don't even understand the luxury of going grocery shopping alone as their husband stays home to rest or do yard work or something. I've got a dad who can't walk fast, who talks funny, who goes to adult day care 5 days a week while my mom is at work, who can't button up his own shirt and forgets to brush his teeth or shower if you don't remind him 10 times in the few minutes before he is to actually do these tasks, and who forgets to swallow when not talking and then drools when he tries to talk because all the saliva has built up in his mouth. YES, this is true. This is my family. My mother is trapped by this and it has broken my heart to what feels like beyond repair.

Mom and I talked about my fear of her dying before my dad does and what would happen. We talked about what she might do in the future because she can't live the rest of her life like this.  The life she's living now seems to have made her realize the value of traveling and doing things outside of a normal home life and I think she wants to do things without my dad. We talked about how we both wish he had just died. This might sound awful to anyone out there whose father has died, but trust me, you got lucky and I am envious. If your fathers had become like my dad and were still in your life, you'd wished he had died, too - not only for your selfish reasons, but because it's just not meant for humans to live like my dad lives.  For a while after this happened and we were waiting to see how much he'd recover, I felt like one day we'd see why God had chosen to keep my dad on this earth the way he is. Now that he's not going to get any better, I can NOT see any good reason to keep someone here on this earth living like this. There can be NO good to come of this, in fact, it's done nothing but wreak havoc on our lives for the past 6 years and the wreaking won't end until my dad dies in my opinion. I can't help but harbor seething anger that this happened to OUR family. WHY? It's like we're all being punished.

I hate to write such depressing stuff, but this is my life and I'm tired of covering it up. It's simple, really. I'm not happy. I've tried finding things that I thought would make me happy but none have solved my problem. Maybe they've distracted me temporarily, but when the dust settles I'm still here in my skin and as unhappy as before. I hope to be posting updates with stories of progress made once I'm able to find someone to talk to. I think one of my biggest losses is not having any friends in the area. REALLY! It's true. All my close college friends are no longer close (in proximity or in relationship). I have Seth and my mom and that feels like about all.  I think having girlfriends may have made a major difference, but I've got issues with girls. I don't care for most of them and it's been hard to find girlfriends who I could talk with unedited and trust. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to make friends again.

8.07.2008

Coming soon to a mall near you

Just when we think we've seen it all, along comes this delivery:

Easley-Obama Fist Bump

Yes, people. It's things like this that are rare but that keep us on toes - or in this case, on the floor laughing our asses off.

A homeless woman came by the office today to drop this off. Bless her heart, she is homeless (according to my boss she smelled reeeeeally bad), but she's decided to start making things like this to try and make some money.

Here's a close-up of the heads. Interesting to note, Obama is wearing part of the US flag as a scarf.  At first, we thought the "N" in the lower left was just a rogue letter, but we were later informed that it is to be read "Bump N Up for Obama" - we're just stupid, that's all.



I know you're all wishing you worked here, now, suckas! This kind of entertainment can only be come by in an elected official's office, I swear.

8.05.2008

And the point is?...

I've realized something just now. Just this very minute as I was stalking people on Facebook. I've just realized that the way I feel about my life right now is the same as how Seth feels when I tell him a story about something.

I enjoy telling the details of stories. Since I know how the stories end, I choose each detail specifically for how it relates to the conclusion of the story. Seth HATES this. He just wants to know how it ends. Anytime I tell a story that's more than, say, 3 sentences - he's itching to know the ending before I even get warmed up. It's quite annoying. He'll say, "Just tell me how it ends first and then go fill in the details." THE HECK? WHY would I do that? Telling the end at the beginning just allows him to tune me out when I go back and "fill in." So get settled, b/c you're listening...IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, bucko.

I digress.

At this moment, I have 5 solid and secure months (give or take) left in my current job. Such is the risk of working for an elected official. I'm sure I'll have the option to stay, but since I'm not a MASOCHIST, I will NOT be staying in the same position I hold currently. (OHGODHELPTHEPOORSOULWHOISNEXT). SO, once again, I find myself standing on a ledge...ready to jump on the next opportunity that looks like it could be my "forever" job/career move. However, I see no where to jump! I've got so many interests, so many things I think I could develop a great passion for and be really good at, but nothing to show as proof of my capabilities. I can't walk into an interview and be like "Truuuuuust me, dood. I'll rock this." It ain't happenin' - maybe on a referral I might come close, but not likely.

I am seriously struggling with my next move. Right now, I'm itching to write. I want to write things other than one page letters for someone else. Even though I can claim having been published, it's not me that gets the credit since it's not my name signed to those letters (although my tiny initials are in the bottom left corner!). STILL. I have been hunting for writing or copywright or editing jobs, but I haven't a clue where to look for or find them. I enjoy the solitude that comes with writing.  I do enjoy being around other people in a work place, but at the same time, I mostly enjoy working independently.

Waaaaaaaaahhhhh! Why don't things just fall into my lap? Why doesn't someone read this entry and send me an email or comment saying "OMG I've got a job for you!" Why does it seem like everyone else I know gets to stay at home and NOT work? Why do I have no direction at 30 years old? Why did I just spend a year in a paralegal program and feel like I have NO interest in doing that type of work? Why can't it be easier to get your own business off the ground? Why can't I find a good job that allows me to work from home? Will any of these feelings change? ARGH.

My mom says people with high IQs are never satisfied with doing one thing in life. (She implies I'm one of those people. pshhhhhh). Frankly, I'm tired of trying to figure out what my dream is and then trying to figure out how to make it happen. At this point, my "self" is so screwed up from the effects of my current job as well as whatever else in my life that's destroyed me, that it is THAT which is holding me back the most. Then I get angry at my life circumstances (and this is where the second guessing everything rears its ugly head).

I just want to know the end of the story already. I don't want all these details, I want the dessert. I want it with a big juicy bright red cherry on top of a mound of whipped cream, then I want a gigantic spoon with which to eat it.