Welcome to the fam-damily

Not pregnant, in case that is what you were thinking. No, but I would like to announce the arrival of my new friend, Henry the Hernia, not to be confused with Hermie the Hemorr--but that's another story.

Henry is a fun little friend that I bore into this world about a month ago. I was playing in a volleyball tournament and I did something that caused a strain in my abs. I thought maybe I had just pulled a muscle and didn't really think anything else of it. Until the next day, at work, I was talking with a colleague and as I was standing there I felt like something was weird with my belly button. Have you ever realized how much little thought you actually give your bellybutton? I mean unless you are pregnant and you are waiting for it to turn into an outie, you probably don't ever really think about it. Poor neglected belly button. And because I have a relatively close relationship with that colleague, it wasn't at all strange for me to be playing with my belly button in front of her--at least I didn't find it strange.

I started to put two and two together and thought that the volleyball ab strain might be connected to my belly button issue. Well, for someone who's never really thought about her belly button, I've been thinking about mine a lot lately. Especially since Henry has taken up residence there. And especially since I'm playing in a week-long volleyball tournament. For the most part, Henry is a decent tenant, but every so often, he'll act up, or well, out. But I can put him back in his place, almost literally. It's all quite strange, and apparently there is not much you can really do about it.

So, I'm trying to make nice with him, but that's hard to do when my new favorite game is to go up to my teammates, take their finger, put it on my belly button and say, "hey, push on this."


Speaking of 'hood geeks...

This post is brought to you by my brand new phone. That's right, Internets, I caved. This won't be a long post, mainly because I've only typed in two lines and my thumbs are already tired. Also because I have a feeling that the formatting is going to be wonky.

I got the phone to be able to check my schedule without firing up my laptop. Interestingly, the phone connects way faster to the Internets than my laptop. And also, I have yet to [pause, thumb cramp] figure out the calendar function, but blogging? Check.


Gangster 2.0

The neighborhood in which I live is, what you would say, transitional. It is a far cry from the suburbs of my childhood--far cry. But nonetheless, I love making my little house home, and as several of my friends have noted, when you get inside the house, you don't even realize you're in the 'hood. "Oasis in the Jhetto" (because a soft "j" is much more pleasing), is what I lovingly call her.

Yesterday, I was beautifying the Oasis, working on one of my new little flower beds out front when I had a unique neighborhood experience. I heard some music coming my direction from down the street and looked up to see three people moseying my way. If you grew up in the 80s, you probably would have expected the music was coming from a boom box on one of the person's shoulders, but hello, Internets? It's 2009, get with it. The dude was walking down the street blasting his music from an open laptop. I'm not even kidding.

Ah, technology. Making even the toughest gangster geeky.


Not a bird or a plane

When I was but a little Little Ms. Notetaker, I was obsessed with superheroes and was absolutely convinced that I was most definitely one of them. It started with Wonder Woman. I would spin and spin and spin in my basement, just hoping it would make me magically transform into a beautiful buxom Amazon woman from the Bermuda Triangle. Oh, to have a lasso of truth, bullet proof wrist guards, boomerang headband, gold lame bustier, and an invisible plane. Instead I had to settle for a jump rope, sweat bands, underoos, and a big wheel. But that didn't stop me from believing and spinning. Sadly, I have yet to receive a call from the Justice League informing me of their unanimous decision to welcome me into the inner-circle, but that hasn't stopped me from trying, and I think I've finally found my niche.

Yes, Internets, I'm going to come clean with my true superhero strength: I have the uncanny ability to win raffle drawings. True, conditions must be just right (i.e., I need to be in the room where the drawing is occurring, and I need to have absolute focus), but when they are, what I am capable of is nothing short of astonishing.

I remember the first time my powers were actualized. It was a 4-H event, and I won this incredible little mouse figurine made out of rocks, hot-glue gunned together and painted with craft paint. The sad thing is, I really wanted to win another prize in that drawing, and I've been winning random junk ever since then. Here's something you should know about super powers, you have to go with what you get--my powers are winning raffle drawings and unfortunately they have no bearing on what prize that will be won. Just be grateful you won something, okay? And stop looking a raffle-prized horse in the mouth, would ya?

It is here that I would like to add that I use my powers for good; I don't hoard all the prizes, but share the wealth by helping my friends win, too. In my old job, we had a giant all-staff holiday event, the highlight of which was a raffle. One year, I helped three of the people at my table win. Others thought it was rigged, but oh, did I know better.

And, as I have seen it fit to let Mr. McMichael know about my junior high code for menstruation, and the fact that I delight in sleeping on a bed with no sheets, it is also fair that he should know about my superhero tendency. On Saturday night we unknowingly walked into a raffle opportunity. When it was time for the first round of drawings, he said, "I've never won anything." I dismissed him with a quick little, "I always win, and I'll win you something in a second, but right now I need to seriously focus." I did my thing and wouldn't you know it, mine was the next number called. That's right, I won myself a t-shirt and a pint glass.

After I got that first one out of the way, I turned my attention to Mr. McMichael and told him to prepare himself because it was about to be his lucky day. Mr. "I've never won anything" walked out of there with his own t-shirt and not one, but two pint glasses (okay, one of those pint glasses had nothing to do with my raffle super powers, but everything to do with the fact that I'm so damn cute that the raffle master just couldn't resist adding to our loot).

Note to self: You may not ever become a buxom Amazon beauty, but that's not because you don't have special powers, that's just genetics. Maybe you aren't supposed to have a truth-telling lasso or an invisible plane, maybe you are supposed to have cupboards full of brewery swag. Anyone who tells you that is less cool is just a jealous loser. Tell them I said that. Oh, and give them the shirt; you're never going to wear it anyway.


In honour of the Dr. Kevorkian of goldfish

Mr. McMichael and I went out to brunch this morning at a kitschy little place in one of my favourite Seattle neighbourhoods. We wound our way to the back dining area where there happens to be a random floor-to-ceiling fish tank in the middle of the room. As we sat there eating, we wondered about what life in a fish tank would be like, which then got us talking about childhood pet fish.

He talked about the one and only goldfish he ever had. He won it at a school carnival type thing, like we all have done, for doing something extraordinary like throwing a ping pong ball into a bowl, or picking up a rubber duckie with the lucky number on it. I pictured him walking home with his little goldfish in a plastic baggie, only to have it die a week later, like carnival goldfish are wont to do.

Then I told him about the first pet I ever had, pretty much the only pet I ever had, Skipper. (Okay, in total, we had 4 goldfish throughout my childhood and adolescence. And that's it. Those are the only pets I have ever had in my life--my whole entire life. We got them in pairs, Skipper and Pee Wee were first, and Ritchie and Donna came 5 or 6 years later. Yes, Ritchie and Donna, inspired by the movie, La Bamba). Skipper was a good fish, and I loved him. Like Mr. McMichael's pet fish, he was a carnival prize, but was of especially hearty stock. He lived for two years, which in carnival goldfish years has to be like a thousand.

As Skipper reached the end of his time here on Earth, he must have thought to himself that he had seen two (or a thousand) good years from that bowl, and wanted to go out with dignity. Either that, or he had become so mind-numbingly bored of floating around that same bowl for one-freaking-thousand years, that he just. Couldn't. Take. It. Anymore. Whatever his reason, he flopped himself right out of the bowl one night and the following morning, my mom was in kitchen in the dark when something squished beneath her foot. Yes, Skipper. In the event he was suffering for air as he lay there on the cold brown linoleum, she put him out of his misery. I remember being sad. And then I probably went and played with my Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

Sitting at brunch, sipping a bloody mary, this is how I remembered Mom today. Happy Mother's Day. I know you didn't mean to step on Skipper, and I love you.


Little Ms. Notetaker and the Case of the Mysterious Key

Where are the Singing Detectives when you need them?

I remember reading Nancy Drew mysteries in elementary school and thinking, "Gee whiz [come on, it was elementary school and all], that Nancy Drew is sooooooo cool!" Driving around in her blue convertible with her friends Bess and George, always eating crisp garden salads, not to mention the solving mysteries part. I wanted to be her so badly.

My favorite story was always The Hidden Staircase. To this day, I can remember the old 1960s cover that graced the copy from our elementary school. And how it started out with her running in from outside to answer the ringing phone, peeling off her gardening gloves. I think a couple of pages later she was off in her convertible after lunching on a crisp garden salad. Sigh. When I peel off my gardening gloves, none of that happens, I usually stuff my face full of whatever I find in my cupboard and then go take a nap.

I've always nurtured a little bit of Nancy inside of me, and she sparked to life this afternoon. I've been desperately searching for the iPod I use for running and can't seem to find it anywhere. Sitting in my car, which is not a blue convertible, I thought maybe I had shoved it in my glove box at some point. It's not in there, but what is in there is a key to a Volvo.

I have no idea how that key got there, or from whence it came. My family used to have Dee, the most fabulous 1980s Volvo station wagon ever, but we sold her off well before I got my current car, plus this is a key to a newer Volvo. I have one set of friends that drive a Volvo and I'm checking if it's theirs, but they haven't been in my car for over a year.

Really. How did this key get in my car? Do you think the Volvo is blue and a convertible? How am I ever going to solve this caper--I think I'll go eat a crisp garden salad and see where that gets me.


Truth in advertising

Note to self: Don't ever sign up for a modeling gig in which the photos of you become generic "stock photos."
Remember that Friends episode, when Joey's stock photo is selected for a venereal disease prevention campaign? Well, this isn't quite as bad--and it isn't me--but trolling around Facebook, this advertisement popped up on my page:

After reading that, does anyone else think, "Oh, dear god. I hope he's not the 'who' they are talking about." What the what is going on with this dude and his magenta bob and fringe? I will admit that this advertisement, while creepy is not half as bad as the other Facebook ad in which they give a baby three eyes and multiple sets of lips to try and convince me that I'm Mensa material if I can count the extra features. That one is just wrong, and it makes me think, "Now why'd you have to go and ruin a perfectly good baby?"


She who walks among giants

So I work for this giant company. GIANT company. And sometimes, I meet strangers who are so impressed that I work for this GIANT company, that they don't realize I am but a speck of dust. By no means am I belittling who I am, the work I do, or the impact I have--I'm a speck of gold dust among several others, but no matter how you look at it, it's still dust. Let's just say, if you pulled out an organization chart of this GIANT company, you'd need to use a magnifying glass to find me. And it is quite fascinating the number of people that are so starstruck by my GIANT employer that they grossly misjudge the power I actually wield.

Case in point: I'm a member of a professional association for leadership development geeks, and whenever I go to the annual conference and people find out where I work, they are suddenly all, "Oh? Oooooh!" And I try to explain the speck of dust thing, but I lose them at GIANT.

A couple of weeks ago, a staff member at the head office for that association wrote me with a request. He was drafting an article for an upcoming newsletter about the benefits of membership, so I gave him a couple of my deepest thoughts and called it good. On Monday, I received a copy of the article and nearly peed my pants when I opened it up.

The article closed with four quotes from the following people:
1. A Pulitzer-prize winning author, well-known scholar, essentially one of the gods of Leadership Studies. Yes, he even has a school at the University of Maryland named after him.
2. A former Prime Minister of Canada.
3. A senior leader at Unilever. A person in a role that's more giant than mine for a company that's also more giant.
And yes, number four...
4. Little Ms. Notetaker, Assistant Speck of Dust, GIANT corporation.

Seriously? A Pulitzer-prize winning author? The former Canadian Prime Minister? I would really love to be flattered, but I know this has n-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with me and everything to do with GIANTS. But can I really help it if this file finds its way into my annual review?


Travel Ticks

I'm on a quick little business trip, and as I sit here in the hotel vegging out in a food coma watching back-to-back episodes of syndicated sit-coms, I've realized there are a few things I only do--or always do--when I'm travelling.
  1. Renew my membership in the "light packers" club--When I was playing volleyball in college each road trip was a gathering of the few, the proud, the light packers. It got to the point where we, the initiates, would only pack changes of underwear, socks, and sports bras. Leaving us with very small bags, as well as wardrobes limited to our uniforms and warm-ups. To this day, I still worry about having my membership revoked were I to do the unthinkable and check luggage.
  2. Iron--I am the master of hiding the fact that I never ever iron. Or maybe I'm the master of fooling myself that I am the master of hiding the fact that I never ever iron. But when I'm in a hotel, it doesn't seem like such a horribly taxing chore.
  3. Watch episodes of "Reba"--Um. Yeah. Enough said.


Better than Prozac

For the first time in a long time, I'm genuinely happy. Things are good; life is good; work is good; I've taken stock of the things I'm doing, and the things I've accomplished, and I feel really good about them all, finally.

That's not to say I've been really unhappy for a long time. No, I think there have been bursts of happiness--or at least good things that I've liked and that offered temporary satisfaction. But there's always seemed to be some emptiness, an emptiness that often causes me to dive into a new project to try and fill it. And it's also not to say I'm without project right now, because I'm throwing myself into a few things, but it really feels like I'm doing those things because I want to, not because I'm filling a void.

Last week I had happy hour with my favorite old work friends, FCA and Karate, and each of them commented on how I seemed happier, more at ease, and just plain comfortable. It wasn't until they pointed that out to me that I actually realized it, and really began to appreciate it. Instead of freaking out about what's next, or continually pressuring myself to take the next step, or at least position myself for the next big thing, I'm really just looking at the now and enjoying it for what it is. This is new to me; for an incredibly wound up and high-strung person, I'm really mellow these days and I like it.