Baby steps to courage

Throughout a series of seemingly unrelated conversations and experiences last week, I had the realization that the Universe was trying to tell me something. Of course, last week I started to get daily e-mails from the Universe so that could be a big part of it.

(Aside: a colleague of mine, someone whom I hold in the highest and most respected regard, we'll call her Coach A, let me in on the most wonderful thing. I hate that I'm calling it a thing, but I really can't think of a noun that would encompass all that it is. If you're intrigued, go here for more info and sign up to receive daily messages from the Universe. Check it out and you'll be pleasantly surprised...)

One of my big, bold, I'm-scared-senseless-to-honestly-consider-this-as-a-possibility dreams in life is to move to Ireland. Not necessarily permanently, but to actually give living and working there a whirl. The fact that I even typed that for the Internet to know is a little bit daunting for me. In my mind, I keep thinking that maybe I could do that when I have more money saved--essentially putting it off to the infinite tomorrow. But last Friday, my note from the Universe called me out (being the girl that I am, the one that loves to take notes, it's rather hard for me to ignore this one, especially since it's coming from THE UNIVERSE):

"The funny thing, Little Ms. Notetaker, is that once you know you're actually "good to financially coast" for the rest of your days, as if on one very long vacation, coasting and vacationing become the last things you'd ever want to do.

And ironically, of all the new things you'd get busy doing with your new found abundance, there's not a one of them you can't at least begin or prepare to begin, right now.

Whoohooo - The Universe"

Dang you, Universe. You are right. So what could I do to prepare for some of the big bold dreams I have in life? I wasn't 100% sure, and thought that I could put figuring that out off a little while longer too. However, while I was running errands on Saturday, I went into my favorite kitschy little boutique. For as long as I can remember, they have had jewelry designed by a local artist hanging by the cash register that incorporate city maps (usually local Seattle neighborhoods) and I've often admired them but never purchased one. But Saturday, as I was paying for my other purchases, one particular necklace stood out.

Note to self: When the Universe calls, you should pick up. Apparently screening your calls is not an option. Man the Universe is persistent. I purchased that necklace as preparation (or at least a reminder) to live boldly; think of it as the first step toward turning dreams into reality.


Hoping Carmen's teeth aren't sharp

I'm overly paranoid. It's a fact. Another fact is that I tend to over-analyze things. So when I posted my old fridge on craigslist and started to get responses my immediate response was not that I was going to sell my old fridge. Duh. It was that I was going to be robbed of all my possessions and maybe even worse by serial craigslist scammers.

Okay, so my imagination may be getting the best of me. But as I've filtered through the responses, I'm going with my gut. And going with my gut doesn't necessarily mean that it's first come, first served. And in my "everything in the universe should be fair" sort of mentality, I'm having some severe guilt about that decision. I just can't seem to buy into the fact that it's my fridge and my house, I'm the boss of it and I can do what I want and sell it or not sell it to whomever I please.

I called my parents to seek their sage advice. When I asked my mom if karma was going to bite me in the arse for following my gut and potentially selling the fridge to the person who didn't contact me first, she responded, "No Carmen's not going to bite you in the butt."

My dad also offered his two cents. Note to self (via dad): "Go out and buy a can of mace. In fact you should already have one living where you live and coming home in the dark. Get a can of mace and be sure you have it in your pocket when anyone comes over to look at the fridge. If the situation gets bad, you'll at least have something to protect yourself."

In the event you don't hear from me after this weekend, Carmen took a big bite or the can of mace in my pocket just wasn't enough.

(And don't worry too much, I have people lined up to be here at the house with me... maybe I need two cans of mace).


She won't leave this one under the pillow

The Vera Wang fairy visited me today. And yes, she left me a dress. And no, I didn't buy a dress in preparation for my fake wedding to my fake husband. It's a bridesmaid dress and it's beautiful.

Come May, I'm a bridesmaid in my dear friend's wedding, and we get to wear Vera Wang. In all honesty, this is one bridesmaid dress that I will wear again, it's my new little black dress (although the picture is in white). I get to be a classy cocktail princess.

This wedding just happens to fall on the same weekend as one of my cousin's weddings out in California. My parents are invited to both weddings and my mom has told some of her sisters that she won't be able to make it to the family event because she needs to stay and support me. Yes, me, the bridesmaid. Apparently I need a cheering section. Granted this friend is like family, so of course my parents will be there, but when I tried on the dress today, I couldn't help but laugh thinking that the reason my mom wants to be there is because this may be the only time she sees me walk down the aisle in Vera Wang.

UPDATED: So the link to the dress doesn't take you to the picture of the dress. In the event you want to see the dress and you follow the link to the dress (I'm just trying to say "dress" as many times as possible), scroll to the dress that is 20M11. Oh, that Vera, she's sneaky.


Announcing the birth...

...of my second blog. What the heck am I doing?

Note to self: Maintaining two blogs may be an absolutely ridiculous thing to do.

Why a second blog? Well, I didn't want to burden my first-born with all of my home improvement details. So the second blog is more for me to point the family, friends, and strangers, that want to see my--major meltdowns created by undertaking a project that quite possibly may be out of my league--progress on my kitchen remodel. Expect weekly updates with before and after photos and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears.

Of course, any notes I take in the process of making a kitchen you will find right here. Expect plenty of cross-posting. And don't tell the other blog, but of course this one is my favorite.

Longshot for a Pulitzer

Last night I read a new book cover to cover. This is a wonder to me as I've been s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g through Under the Banner of Heaven since November. Seriously, I read maybe one or two pages a night and suddenly I'm just too tired to continue with life.

But last night I got my read on. And read... wait for it... Complete Trimwork & Carpentry. Written by Stanley. Not some person named Stanley, but you know, Stanley. Like your screwdriver or hammer. But I don't care, I think I'm in love with Stanley. Stanley's work is a gripping, step-by-step account of hanging moulding, installing trim, and even framing walls. All the talk of wainscoting, coping saws, biscuit joinery, and countersinking got me all worked up. You should see what Stanley can do with shims--it's enough to make a grown woman blush. Note to self: This ridiculous crush on Stanley is ONLY permitted until the kitchen remodel is complete. Then you must banish any notions of marrying carpentry tools that ghost write home improvement books.

Sorry, Brigham and Moroni, but I'm currently more excited about crown moulding and baseboards than the crazy history of Mormon fundamentalism. I may have opened up a whole different can of crazy.


Life imitating refrigerators... again

As I get all of my kitchen remodeling ducks in a row, I found myself spending today embroiled in the "Great Fridge Swap '08" (this is what happens when you are single and your family lives a thousand miles away on Easter).

As I transferred all of my food from the old fridge to the brand spanking new one, with stainless steel handles, sigh, it got me thinking about how my fridge continues to imitate my life. I do have to admit I was more than a little proud of myself that there were ZERO marinara jars to transfer. It's been 10 months, and I think that time has finally cured me of my not-so-healthy-or-productive habit of collecting them.
However, I was smacked in the face with humility when I opened up my freezer and found seven pints of Ben and Jerry's ice creams. Turns out my habit of clearing myself of clutter isn't exclusive to pasta sauces. And if the marinara was symbolic of my ex, then the ice cream (interestingly, most of them bought for my ex while we were together) is symbolic of the personal emotional clutter I have in my life that I've been neglecting. I've shoved them to the back of the freezer and when one gets covered in frost, a new flavor comes along and tempts me, but then it too will find it's way to the back of the freezer, "Mint Oreo, meet Half-Baked, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, and S'mores. Charmed, I'm sure."
Were I to whip out my mad English major skillz on this one, I could completely analyze how I'm getting my life together with my new fridge, a fridge I picked out for myself, a fridge that is shiny and new and "professional." Oh yes, I could go down that road, and how when I cleaned out the old fridge today and better yet when I unplugged it, I was starting a new chapter in my life or something. But I'll spare you that.
Suffice it to say, I cleared out some clutter and took good steps toward the kitchen remodel and banished the freezer burn that has been building in my mind.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Um, does anyone know why when you insert pictures in blogger, formatting goes haywire? I've tried to space out the paragraphs above four times. Ugh. Sorry for the ginormous paragraph that really four... and also sorry if you subscribe and you received multiple updates with the same info.


Drop what you are doing...

... and run out and see Mamma Mia!, RIGHT NOW! (Sorry for yelling, BUT I REALLY MEAN IT!)

If it's not playing in your neck of the woods, either hop on a plane or stalk this website, or this one, or call your congressman, or do something to find out when it's coming to YourTown, U.S.A.

Note to self: Upload ABBA GOLD to the iPod posthaste!


Oh no, he didn't!

When I moved out to the pacific northwest, almost everything was new to me. Picking up and moving to a new place, with new people, new routes to work, new grocery stores, new everything can be somewhat daunting. I found myself desperately looking for something or someone familiar. For me that something or someone was Tom Shane.

Yes. Tom Shane from the Shane Company located on Peoria Street, one half a mile east of I-25. Open every day, Monday through Friday till 8, Saturday and Sunday till 5. Only, Tom Shane is different out here, there is no I-25 or Peoria Street (or if there is one, he's not located on it). It wasn't until I moved that I learned that it's not just a Colorado thing, in fact any reader from around the country can probably recite their own version of the Shane Company commercials by heart--when you hear it enough it involuntarily gets committed to memory, I bet you can even do it with the announcer's same tone and inflection too. It's a reflex.

It's been a long time since I've listened to commercial radio, so maybe everyone else has already heard this one, but it was new to me tonight and it had me flabbergasted. As I drove home today, I actually heard Tom Shane say that shopping at the Shane Company is "totally chill" and that nobody will be "all up in your grill." Wha?

Suddenly something that was fondly familiar became hysterically odd. Oh, Tom.


Livin' on the edge

You know it's time for the week to end when your ridiculously-focused-on-hyper-productivity brain takes over during your commute. I hit an all-time multi-tasking low this afternoon, my friends.

Driving home from work I was more than impatient with the traffic, so I put myself to good use and paid some bills. And when I say pay bills, I'm not talking about busting out a smart phone and putting newfangled technology like the Internet to use. Nope. I'm talking about paying bills the old fashioned way, by hand writing cheques (it's so old fashioned I have to use old-timey spelling for the word).

Note to self: Join the 21st century and sign-up to pay your bills online.

I derive some strange satisfaction from writing checks, licking the envelopes, and sticking the bills in the mail. Kids, Little Ms. Notetaker does not endorse this sort of behavior whilst driving, but it was stop and go traffic, and I was really only writing the checks when I was stopped, or only a little bit going. And I have to admit, it was a complete adrenaline rush. The type of adrenaline rush I get when I'm--nerd alert--reading. Yes, reading. I don't get all charged up about knowledge (well, not always), but I have this thing I do when I'm reading (and I know I have a sympathetic audience on this one, at least one of you): I like to hold time trials on page racing. The bar I consistently use is one minute per page--if I do it faster, I'm a champion, but if I do it slower, then I mentally beat myself up about it. That's right, I make reading an Olympic sport. Just imagine the training I had to do in college as an English major. Reading Norton Anthologies with their bible thin pages and sub 8-point font really pushed me to the pinnacle of my reading career.

I made new Olympic sports today. While I was paying bills. And driving. One thing you may not know about me, and heck I didn't even know about myself until this afternoon, I'm quite adept at stamping an envelope while making a left hand turn. I'm not so sure that's a good thing.


Behind the music

When I was handing out daily doses a few weeks ago, I was playing shy and should have included a link to this blog. I'm constantly visiting Heather's site for fun artistic inspiration or just happy little things. Note to self: If I ever get married, and if that wedding is in Seattle, I am so enlisting her amazing photography skills. Check out her photography at OneLovePhoto.

When I visited today, a fun little post was up. At my good friends' gorgeous wedding over the summer I played the role of the "art director." Heather's pictures and story capture it beautifully, but what it doesn't tell you is my not-so-pretty back story. Note to self: If you ever find yourself the art director at a wedding, keep your eye on the kids...

In true Virgo fashion, I was running a tight ship on the project. That is until it was time for dinner. Whilst all the guests were eating, a few guests of the kid persuasion decided to try their hands--literally--at painting. It only took a few minutes, but they certainly made their mark on the unmanned canvas.

Admittedly, I'm a little on the anal retentive side and I had a minor meltdown when I found out what happened. And when I say minor meltdown, I mean I let everyone know I was fine in the most passive aggressive fashion possible. Fortunately, my friends roll with punches much more easily than I do and what I saw as smears of random colors, they saw as memories of family and friends. There are silver linings out there. And after another glass of wine, I even saw the silver lining too.

Because I had a plane to catch

Hello, friends! I was away for the weekend, away from home, away from the daily grind of life, and away from the blog... but that doesn't mean I wasn't taking notes.

My trip to the airport was overwhelmingly eventful. In a previous travel-related post, I made mention of my propensity toward taking public transportation and I also made note to maybe not use public transportation on the busiest travel days. But I figure it's fine and dandy on non-busy travel days. So, my trip to California wine country last weekend started with a hop on my local bus to catch the airport express downtown.

It started out as an average ride, with your average personas: the older Asian couple heading to the market in the International District, people commuting downtown to work, college-aged students, and the typical transit rider wearing headphones and talking loudly to himself. Seriously, not a big deal and a common occurrence. But on that day, our average person talking to himself decided talking to himself just wasn't enough and he began to yell. I couldn't tell you what he was yelling about, it was mostly nonsense; for the most part, it appeared that everyone on the bus had tuned him out--you just learn to do that riding public transportation. But the bus driver, doing his part to keep the ride civil, turned around and shhhushed the man.

The driver probably could have asked the man to not yell in a different way and probably would have achieved a different result, or maybe not, but his approach angered the man, so he yelled more. And the driver shhhushed more. More yelling, more shhhushing.

At this point the driver pulled over to the side of the road and asked the man to please, get off of the bus.

A couple of passengers approached the man telling him that all he had to do was not keep talking out loud and we'd be able to go. But he would have none of that. He blindly yelled back that the only person he was going to talk to was the bus driver. The bus driver told him that the time for talking was over and that he needed to leave the bus, or he was going to call the authorities. This is when the man started yelling incoherencies a little more coherently. He did not want to leave the bus and did yell something to the effect that if he had a gun he could shoot the driver.

Certainly, unsettling to hear that. But never at any point during this ride (or during the moments sitting there, or after I left the bus) did I feel this man had a gun. I didn't fear for my safety with him around--I just wanted the bus to get downtown so I could catch my flight.

After more yelling, and the driver getting on and off the bus, vacillating between his duty to drive the bus and to protect himself (I have to add that for the most part the two dozen other passengers and I just sat there, calm and collected, staring straight ahead like we were mannequins in this display window of pure urban crazy), the driver eventually calls the transit authority and the cops. He reports the threat, and we all sit and wait for the cavalry to arrive. The man is finally fed up and exits the bus. He wanders down the street, crosses in the midst of swerving traffic, and ends up wandering back up toward the bus on the other side of the street.

The driver is on his radio giving a play-by-play to the dispatch, and the man starts yelling back at the bus, he reaches in his pocket--which causes the driver to panic. At some point during his time on the bus I noticed his headphones were attached to a CD player in his pocket--so I blurt out, it's a Walkman, it's a Walkman! In a matter of seconds cop cars descend upon the scene. The first to stop jumps out and draws his handgun and starts negotiating with the man.

All I can think is, it's just a Walkman, it's only a Walkman, please don't shoot him. The next car to arrive has two more cops, guns drawn, and then a third pulls up next to the bus and the cop that gets out immediately draws his assault rifle (with a scope and everything). It is at this point that I lose it.

This is a horrible scene. All of us mannequins on the bus now have our hearts on our sleeves. My eyes well up with tears just hoping the man will stop yelling and do what the guns tell him to do. Fortunately, he does. He complies with everything and they make the arrest.

The driver informed us that he needed to stay and make a statement, so I got up. I asked the bus driver if we all had to make statements or if we could leave. He said it was okay to leave and then apologized for everything. All I said in return was, "I have a plane to catch."

And as true as that statement was, it couldn't have been a bigger lie.

I just had to get off that bus. What I experienced in that one maybe two minutes caused such an emotional trigger for me; were I to stay sitting there I may have completely melted. So instead, I walked away crying. Crying for the man that the cops were shoving into their car; crying because he was essentially a twitchy finger away from being shot by an assault rifle; crying because he really needs help and throwing him in jail won't do anything; crying because I just sat there frozen while this all happened; crying because I didn't tell the bus driver he didn't have to apologize that he was doing what he thought was right. But mostly, I was crying because when it came down to it, my persona on the bus was of the girl unfazed by what just happened, the girl who was so put out that this whole thing was going to make her late and ruin her day. Poor me. On an average bus, with the average personas, I feel like I was below average.


I deserve a cookie

I've been a busy little beaver and I have to give myself a pat on the back. I'm making good progress on my list o'things to finish.

The biggest thing I did this weekend was hitting a giant appliance sale. Because I hadn't done what I would consider sufficient research on how appliances stack up, or what would amount to amazing deals, I only intended on getting a new microwave/hood combination. Relatively safe and simple purchase. Fortunately, one of my friends went really early--5:30 AM--and saved a place in line, his wife and I joined him at 7:45, right when they were letting the first 20 people in for 15 minutes of pre-shopping. We just happened to be the 20th people in line, hip-hip-hooray!

Note to self: It pays to be early--or pay someone to be early for you.

I absolutely detest shopping. There is a very brief window before I have a strong urge to poke my eyeballs out with a blunt object. The amazing thing with this sale was that there was no time to think, it was all about the brief window. I had 15 minutes before the world came barreling into the warehouse. I picked out my micro-hood just as the doors opened for those that were not in the top-20. Happy with my find, I dove into the crowd to try and find my friends. We found each other--I don't know how--and they showed me all the amazing appliances they scored. They had done their homework and found some screaming deals. Me on the other hand, if it was stainless and it looked good, and fit within my budget, it was mine. So when I saw a refrigerator that was stainless, pretty, and had a handle that matched the handle on my new micro-hood (a difficult feat to be sure), I gave it no thought and bought it. Holy crapola. I impulse shopped a non-returnable refrigerator. Gulp.

That was the sound of me committing to the kitchen.


As I was falling asleep last night, I had a minor freak out. Did I honestly admit to the world wide web that I secretly like to sleep in my bed without sheets. Um, yeah. I did, because I do. Note to self: Remember that being honest about your life means that people will get to know your life, honestly.

For a minute I thought about jumping out of bed and taking the post down, but it was really too cozy wrapped up in the comforter.



Ladies (and well-adjusted men), if you haven't already seen it, the extended trailer for Sex and the City is out. After watching the preview (admittedly three times in a row), I realized just how much I miss that show. It normalized so many things in life, relationships, being single, the need for close girlfriends. I didn't realize how much that show reassured me that I could be a strong, independent, successful, and single woman and really enjoy life. I blush a little when I say that, but it did, and I miss it.

Over the weekend, I watched a few episodes from the DVDs. One of them included a discussion of "SSB"--Secret Single Behavior. For those of you that don't have every episode committed to memory, like maybe I do, SSB is behavior that you wouldn't really want anyone else to know about, and that you have to give up when you co-habitate, for better or worse. It got me thinking about my own SSB, and right here and now, I'm going to claim my SSB: when I wash my bedding, I usually take two days to put it back on my bed. Not because I'm lazy (okay, not only because I'm lazy), but because there's something that I love about sleeping on my bed without sheets, huddled under my down comforter. I know it's bizarre, that's why it is, er, was a secret. And until I have to think about someone other than myself, I don't see this behavior changing. The funny thing is when I have sheets on it, I make my bed every single morning the second I hop out of it... this is just my little rebellious streak.

This little rebel is off to bed... just me and the down comforter.