Sunday, July 29, 2007

In Keeping with Tradition

In my "baby book," where my mother keeps most of the embarrassing photos from my infancy and childhood, there are many pictures of Kalesy's birthday parties. And most of them have as their backdrop the dull, grey institutional paint covering our garage walls. There's even a newspaper clipping backing up the conclusion drawn - "It Always Rains on July 29".

So, this year, to celebrate my bon anniversaire, I decided to go for a bikeride. I was about 3 miles from home when the sky turned black. I looked up only to see a lightening spear connect with a tree not 200 yards from me. Fun.

But within 10 minutes the violence had blown over and blue skies had returned. So, back onto my bike and try again. Not 10 minutes later, the region had the highest level of flash flooding seen in this area in 10 years.

Good times.

There's a point at which you're so wet you can't get any wetter. I got to that point when I was still 15 miles from home.

Ah, tradition.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Met a new bunch of folks at a (new to me) book group tonight. I had a really good time. As is my usual wont and paranoia, I worried that I came across too loud, too proud for a first meeting. I can't help it. I love books - I love analyzing them, thinking about them, questioning them. And when I get in that place - inspired and motivated - I just get, well, loud. Still, Kalesy should remember that she is an acquired taste....

But I really liked a few of the gals I met tonight and I hope that I could at least possibly have introduced myself to one or two people who might, somehow, someway, become my friends. Because I am tired of being that cat lady.

Of course, the other great upside of being inspired and motivated is that I get all these great ideas to write about. And so I came home and fired up the computer. Alas, it is far too hot in my apartment - and I am far too tired - to get much done. But I did get the beginnings of a story down, so at least I shouldn't forget what I was going to say....

Still no decision as to how to spend the looming birthday weekend. Best decide soon. Keebs is mentioning the hang outage and I really (really) hate to dirt her. But I am truly, honestly, and cross-my-heart worried that if I don't make the drive out to Western MA, Mr. Zips will either hate me or leave me or both. And is my ever increasing level of complete emotional exhaustion (only magnified tenfold by Napolean's decision not to leave town tonight but rather tomorrow night (read, post 5 p.m. on a FRIDAY)) enough to merit a raincheck from a drive out to Western MA? Or, for that matter, is the exhaustion so high that I can't even put up with an argument/discussion so that I'll suck up and do the drive on my Bday just to avoid it because, yes folks, I am that wrung out?

It's not that I don't want to see Mr. ZIps this weekend. I want nothing more. I just don't want to spend my birthday stuck in traffic, behind the wheel of a car with no AC when I could spend it so very easily lying down, flat on my back. In bed or on the beach, either way, it's sleep.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Saved by The Universe

I believe I mentioned that Napolean was in town. This usually isn't good news. And, up until about 15 minutes before I left today, I thought it was a par for course as far as bossman.

But don't forget, The Universe acts in mysterious ways.

Napolean decided he wanted to change the semantics of one of our major descriptions of our product. No big deal - except of course that I had just signed off on our printed brochure. Like yesterday. I sighed, I protested, I made a big show of how much this would rain on my parade. He insisted.

So, I called the printer and cancelled the job. I emailed the designer and told her to "Stop the Presses - Call Me!" She did. We started to walk through the changes one at a time, hoping to make them on the fly and re-submit the files to the printer.

It was then that we realized that one of the two files had a huge chunk of text missing. Which, by the way, just happened to be one of the major competitive differentiators of our product.

Of course, I can now spin this that the changes Napolean requested threw us off our deliverables deadline. And no one is the wiser that I actually signed off on and submitted a HUGELY flawed file to press.

It doesn't seem like a big deal but, with a boss who is super duper anal retentive in his management of me and has mentioned ad naseum that I "don't pay attention to detail" this is the difference between a bigtime probationary period and a decent review.

Thank you, Oh Universe. I can only guess that somehow, someway, something I did karmically paid off. Isn't life grand?

A Royale with Cheese

This makes me sad. Even though McDonalds was my first employer, and even though a MickyD's chicken sandwich with BBQ sauce will be the first thing I eat if I ever fall of the veghead bandwagon, it truly saddens me that their profits are rising while a frighteningly large number of people don't know what my "Eat More Kale" bumper sticker means. (Hint: It's not dirty. It's a leafy grean, people, with lots of iron for us gals...)

I have a lot more to say on that topic, coupled with the passage of the recent Farm Bill (shame on you Dems!) and, of course, this article on why it's just not as simple as eating locally, shopping at a farmers' market, or belonging to a CSA. I have a lot more to say, but I won't bore you.

Not to mention, Napolean is in town and its only a matter of time before he sneaks up behind my cube and says, "Whacha doin?"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

No Rest for the, Um....

I love my neighborhood. It's a quiet community where (although Mr. Zips protests) I can leave my car doors unlocked with little fear and even occasionally have fallen asleep without closing my front door. (I don't recommend this, but I'm absent minded...) Everyone sits out on their porch on nice days and neighbors know each other's names -- and the names each other's dogs. It's a great place for families or child-free young adults who like quiet.

So I was a bit surprised when the College Students from HELL moved in next door. It's not bad enough that there seem to be a hundred of them living in the apartment. Or that they drive motorcycles. Or that one of them has a yappy dog that whines incessently until one of the girls screeches "Shut up!" at it. But the icing on the cake came the other night as I headed into my bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready. What was that chanting I heard? Are they religious? I wondered. Calling on Bloody Mary? Looking out the window I saw the cause. They were doing keg stands.

It horrifies me that I have become that neighbor - standing there and shaking my head, tsk tsking their decibal levels. But, really. This ain't Brighton.

Yesterday, though, I glimpsed a respite from party central. After putting some dinner in the oven, I'd headed out to the porch to do some reading. There was a hubbub next door. They were packing cars. Loading cases of beer and pillows into back seats and shouting about CDs to bring. They were going on a trip! It would be quiet! I could sleep!

At 7 a.m. this morning, house painters showed up to get to work on the house. Ladders clanged up. Scraping ensued. Young men chattered in Spanish. Loudly.

Why, oh why, oh why, me?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Peeps joined me on the porch to bask in some July sun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Further Adventures on the Farm

Another farm day and another day to celebrate the joy, bounty, and beauty of the natural world. Spoken like a true tree hugger.

It was an animal day. Maybe the multi-legged creatures came out to comfort me, knowing that I had yet another run in with a cockroach. This time it was crawling on the wall behind me in a local restaurant. At least it wasn't making for the proverbial gold.

But for whatever reason, all the animals came out to play. On my way to pick my U-Picks (herbs this week. Fresh lemon balm and chamomile for tea - WAHOO!) I saw a beaver. Just hangin' out on the farm. And then I went for a walk and found the farm's animal rescue program, where they rehabilitate wild animals who are found sick or injured. I saw a red fox, a cottontail rabbit, a groundhog, and a skunk. It was pretty much one of the coolest afternoons ever.

And, when I got home, I had lots of cooking to do. I understand now how "primitive" peoples concentrated only on meeting their needs - shelter, food, pleasure. If you spend the whole day farming, then you have to spend the whole nite cooking and preparing those foods. I have so much chard it's coming out my ears.

What surprises me, though, is how worried people get about cooking and diets and such. I mean, I know I get anal about eating my kale every day, but there are so many people out there so stressed about what vitamins to take, how many servings of what kinds of grains to eat, etc. Here's my very scientific theory about eating healthy. Go to a farm and get lots of fresh vegetables. Cut them up. Eat them raw or stick them in a pan with oil. Add desired sauce. Serve over brown rice or whole wheat pasta or in a wrap or in a soup or whatever. Eat. Yum. Occasionally eat some tofu or peanut butter (preferably right out of the jar - mmmmm!) or some other protein type food. Wash everything down with lots of water. As my family says, "Easy Peasy Chucky Cheesey."

Course, that said, my whole night has been spent "slaving" over a hot stove. And I still have lots and lots and lots and lots of rainbow chard to use. Pretty, but boy! is that stuff prolific.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Losers Club Vindication - Sort Of

My best friend and I are presidents of our local chapters of Losers Club.

Losers Club was formed by those of us who have a tendency to embark on an initiative that, by all accounts seems reasonable or even intelligent. But something - somehow, some way, will go terribly wrong with that initiative and much ridiculous laughter ensues.

My most recent accomplishment as President of the New England Chapter of the Losers Club:

Before the July 4 holiday, I had a date to meet Mr. Zips and a friend of mine for dinner and margarita's in Harvard Square. I was excited since I hadn't seen this friend for a long time and she and I both love our margaritas. So in order to make the most of the night, I decided to not drive into work.

This made a lot of sense. I work only two "T" stops away from Harvard. Parking in Harvard is outrageously expensive. And, since I would likely have more than one margarita, this kept a drunken Kalesy off the road. Saved time, money, lives, and, of course, a teeny little piece of the environment. (We all know I suffer massive amounts of tree hugger guilt for driving into work every day).

So I packed all my things the night before, got up early, hopped on my bike and off I go! Except, oh yea, my tires were flat.

When I left the house, the tires were somewhat squishy. But by the time I got about 3 miles from the office, I was riding on the rims. Of course, with 3 miles still to go and it already being 7:30, I pretty much had to keep riding on the rims.

So, I saved $25 in parking. Cost me $250 for new rims, tires, and a tune up of my bike.

Losers Club Bikes to Work.

But, this a.m., I vindicated it all. Because I got back on the bike, so to speak.

It is a beautiful day, warm but not hot, and clear skies. It was really enjoyable to whizz through the early morning air, working my legs, working up a sweat, before I got to the office and settled in for a day of stress and anxiety. And I didn't add any fossil fuels to the air. Ha! all you Losers Club members.

Except, I forgot to pack underwear.


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Yesterday was a bad day. For a hint about exactly how bad it was, I'll tell you this - I cried in public. Not little baby tears, welling up in the corners of my eyes. Big, full-body sobs accompanied by a full-fledged lip scrunch.

But, I knew it would all be OK. Because yesterday was a farm day.

I know it's an old story, but there truly is a peace I get when I'm out hanging around with nature, especially fresh vegetables, picked by hand. When I'm chopping, dicing, stiring, and mixing said vegetables.

With that said, read this interesting Op-Ed on your local "organic grocer." And this even more interesting insight into Corporate America.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Customer is Always Right?

I spend a lot of time bitching about my job. But to be fair and balanced, it's really not all that bad. I have a pretty high level of autonomy, people in the company seem to like and respect me, I genuinely get on with most of my office mates (especially when they all brush their teeth!) and Napolean works remotely so (even though he wished it weren't so) he can't really control my comings and goings.

There is a down side, though.

We're a pretty lean organization, so we work with a lot of vendors. The theory is that vendors are easy to negotiate into lower costs and they're easier to fire. Tell that to a graphic design firm who is entrenched in your corporate design program.

To elaborate: We've contracted with one graphic design firm to develop the overall look and feel of our collateral (which is marketing-speak for brochures). Then, we've contracted with another design firm to actually layout those brochures since they charge about $100 an hour LESS than firm #1.

Firm #1 takes three and half days to make five minor edits to a brochure. They get all pissy and give me attitude when I ask for updates on where my stuff is.

Firm #2 doesn't make changes I indicate (I'm sorry, for a second there I thought that I was the subject matter expert), saves the same data sheet under a bunch of different names, makes huge quality control errors and won't call me back at all.

I'm supposed to deliver 11 data sheets and one 8-page brochure by the end of the week. Firing these firms now is not an option. Pissing them off isn't really an option either, since they'll only stall on my projects and get me fired.

So, I sit here, at my keyboard, impotent and muttering scathing epithets under my breath.

I can't wait until this portion of the program is completed. Pink slip city, baby!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Musings on America

Well, it's been a wonderful few days with Mr. Zips. After all my emotional BS last night, we wound up going to see Ocean's 13 and had a great time. How could you not - Eddie is in it!

After, we came back home, had a late dinner and turned on the fireworks. It looked like it was a great show and I'm partially sad that we didn't suck it up and get out there. But only partially.

After the fireworks, the TV was left on while we were ... otherwise engaged. I caught part of one of those annoying local TV news "OpEd" pieces and was literally so turned off I had to switch the TV off before, well, before I gagged.

Jon Keller, on WBZ Channel 4 waxes philosophic on four things Americans should be thankful for on the Fourth. And I quote:

3. The Good Life. A third thing to be thankful for: the incredibly good life that most Americans enjoy, by material measures, at least. From eye-popping supermarkets to high-tech superstores, we're a land of plenty, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

So, here, I wonder, who, exactly, does he mean by "most Americans." The middle class, who is increasingly getting further and further away from the "American dream" as the government favors the increasingly rich and the earnings gap widens? Maybe he means the people who can't find work as we increasingly lose jobs to overseas outsourcing and corporations remain immune to regulation or penalization for employing illegal labor. Or does he mean the majority of people who are anti-Iraq war right now, even as we lose another local serviceman?

And then, despite the initial gut reaction that, yea, material things are good, I wonder if he really knows what he's saying. Are we really celebrating the fact that: Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world's population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world's energy. Are we celebrating how we have packed supermarkets but farmers that are folding and losing the farm by the dozens? Or how about the fact that we have all these high tech toys like iPhones and Smackberries, but we're losing our bees?

I just think that, instead of trotting out all these feel-good, sentimental, heartstringpulling platitudes every July 4, we should take a good, hard, look at the country we live in. It was founded on a fabulous, revolutionary set of ideals. But those founding principles were developed by people who weren't afraid to look at what was wrong with what was going on and, more importantly, what they could do to change it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Indy Day

It's a day off from work and I should be thrilled. Instead, I kind of feel like crap.

Mr. Zips and I went hiking today and that made me happy. It was a beautiful morning, we got a nice workout in, and the landscape was beautiful. And we only almost stepped in horse poop a handful of times.

But then I just started feeling exhausted and headachey and generally achey. I wanted to take a nap, but we had CSA pick up to do. All the way out there and all the way back and all I have to show for it is a daikon, some scapes, a couple extra scallions, and basil. I got to take my nap, but I only managed to sleep 30 minutes. My legs twitched about 90 times in the process. I wonder what that means? So, now, I am up, for the rest of the day. I am dying to make pesto or go out and get some BBQ fixins, but now it looks like we're gonna sit on the couch and alternate between "Flip this House" and "Mythbusters."

It's not a big holiday to me and I shouldn't care about not doing anything really to celebrate or having anything planned. I mean, it kind of snuck up on me and I didn't do any real planning either. But, once in awhile, I just wish I was informed that something special was about to happen and I should put on some nice clothes and get ready to go.

You know what I mean?