Monday, January 31, 2011

Dearest January,

Where the heck did you go? Did I do something to scare you away? A moment ago you were bringing me visits from Amy Gail, time with my family, and meaningful and much needed conversations with loved ones. But now you are gone, and I didn't even get to say Thank You!

So...thanks. I really needed all of those things.
Love,
ArchaeologyAsh

February...
I had a lot of fun with January. There is always room for improvement (no offense, January), but you have some big shoes to fill and only 28 days to do it in. Luckily you have two really big and exciting trips stuck in the middle of you, so I am giving you hand....but I'm warning you. I don't want any of that mushy gushy "I'm the Month of Luuuuv" bologna. Right now is not the time to convince me to sit around and eat bon bons, watching sappy romance movies, and day dreaming about more bon bons and sappy romantic situations. On top of Valentine's Day already counting against you, you are the last of the months where Seasonal Affective Disorder can cloud my already tenuous grasp on normalcy. So let's put our heads together. Come up with a strategy that works for all of us, and go from there. Alright?

Go team.
Sincerely,
ArchaeologyAsh

Friday, January 28, 2011

I have hobbies.

Waaaaay back in the early 90's, when the regular family started getting "home computers" and signing up for "electronic mail," the most constructive form of communication for the newly teched-out Generation Y was: the Email Quiz.

That's right. You remember them. "Answer these questions honestly! Send it to all your friends!" I loved email quizzes because you could only answer the questions asked in one sentence or less. And as I have a propensity for one-lined sarcasm, I felt these surveys really conveyed my sense of humor. They likely did not because everyone that I forwarded the message to was probably too busy coming up with their own answers to the questions to pay attention to mine....just like I had done with theirs.

I suspect that this form of communicating with your peer group is not really a thing of the past but rather a product of teenage attempts at relationship building. I am sure all the kids are still doing them these days. Via text message, of course. And yes, if you send me one, I will probably still fill it out, even if I should be beyond that.

Anyway, the point of this bit of nostalgia is that one of the most obnoxious and difficult questions to answer on those damn surveys was the inevitable hobby-related query. "What do you like to do?" "Name your favorite pastimes." "If stranded on a desert island, I would need these five things...." "On my weekends I like to..."

And despite my strong desire to say something unfunny, I usually answered these inquiries with some sort of variation of "I like to read. I need books."

Because, honestly, I do. The written word makes me happy. Keeps my brain active. My imagination alive. I'm one of those people who will almost always read the book before it becomes a movie...except in the case of Gone With the Wind, which I couldn't really help since the movie came out in 1939 (I still remember the first day I watched it at Babe and Papaw's house - not in 1939). I love bookstores and libraries and even the little kiosks at the supermarket with trade paperback versions of the New York Times Bestsellers. I'd like to say that I am not picky with my genres, but I usually avoid the Fabio-covered novels that involve heaving bosoms and stable boys. Most of the time. I will probably read it if you recommend it, even if it takes me while to get to it. Depending on the book, I can usually read one or more a week. And I usually read more than one book at a time. I love to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning reading a good book. I love to read books at the coffee shop. On my couch. At my sister's house with her sitting on the other side of the couch. On camping trips. On planes. But not in the car because I get car sick.

Except that lately...this has happened.
No, this is not merely the stacking of books on my bedside table. It is the stacking of partly read, UNFINISHED books on my bedside table.

I recognize that there are some books you just cannot get through for some reason. The plot is bad. The characters are poorly developed. The bosoms are heaving too much and the stable boys are too hipster or metrosexual for your taste. This has happened before, but not on this level.

Actual Stable Boy (see the horse?):
Actual metrosexual/hipster (see the ironic scarf and purse?)


I have literally hit a wall in my reading abilities. In the last four months, I have completed from cover to cover a grand FREAKING total of 5 books. FIVE! CINCO!!! CINQ!!! 5!!!!!
And here they are:
Black Sun by Edward Abbey
The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield
Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
The Worst Hard Time by Tim Egan
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I've tried everything. I've spent hours in the book store perusing for authors I know, looking for titles that might break down this wall. I've considered revisiting the books I've already read and loved, though I usually give those away to people because I loved them too much to let them languish on my shelves. I've tried books on tape, just so I can knit or otherwise occupy my time because I know I can concentrate on both the book and the knitting better that way. But nope. Nothing.

I have a feeling I know what the problem is, but it is very difficult to articulate. It may have something to do with my current situation. When one is sad, feeling a little down from the events of Life, such as divorce - a simple, uncomplicated book is the logical choice. The genre of "Chick Lit"falls into this category. As defined by Wikipedia:

"Chick lit is genre fiction within women's fiction which addresses issues of modern women often humorously and lightheartedly.The genre sells well, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit. Although sometimes it includes romantic elements, women's fiction (including chick lit) is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because in chick lit the heroine's relationship with her family or friends may be just as important as her romantic relationships."

Except that every "Chick Lit" novel I have picked up lately involves one of these elements: 1). Girl Meets Boy. 2). Girl Loves Boy. 3). Relationship ends badly. 4). Everyone drinks cosmopolitans and has a lot of money. Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. 5). Everyone makes out with their soul mate. And everyone has babies. The End.

See how this could be bad for the perpetually 29 year old divorcee?

So in response to this, I have looked to the other end of the spectrum. The serious, intense, critically reviewed novel that "speaks to the human soul and the dark side of the moon."

Except that every Serious and Intense novel I have picked up in retaliation for the "Chick Lit" novel I just threw down in disgust involves one of these elements: 1). Someone is sad. 2). Someone has just gotten: divorced/a rare incurable disease/diagnosed with death. 3). A violent act occurs. 4). Kittens are drowned in buckets of tears. Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. 5). Everyone dies. And the puppies are left alone to starve. The End.

I am not really sure what the solution to this problem is, obviously. But I do know that I would like to get back to listing "reading" as one of my favorite "hobbies or pastimes" that I would do on a desert island....even if I was stranded there with a stable boy who is actually my soul mate and I have lots of money and there are cosmopolitans. And especially if the desert island was actually a mountain top and he was more like a mountain man and we wouldn't really need any money since we can live off the land or walk to the store...but there are still cosmopolitans if we want them.

At the moment, all I can really say is that my hobby is "Collecting books."


Oh, and Dad....This is a cosmopolitan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

California Take Me In

When at first I learned to speak.
I used all my words to fight.
With him and her and you and me.
Ahh, but it's just a waste of time.
Yeah it’s such a waste of time.




Dumbed down and numbed by time and age.
You’re dreams that catch the world the cage.
The highway sets the travelers stage.
All exits look the same.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Hump Day.


Its been a long week so far. Almost done.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The simple steps for a fun weekend.

Step Sub 1: Sleep in a little and drink delicious coffee.

Step 1: Make a new friend who invites you to go outside. Especially one with sweet dogs who don't mind Ellie.
Step 2: Have gear explosion somewhere outside so you have no choice but to stay in the same location. Put on gear.
Step 3: Take pictures of the scenery. Admire the landscape and geologic formations.


Step 4: Commence recreation. Watch friend climb up to the top of the rock.

Step 5: Allow Ellie to celebrate the safe return of friend to the ground surface by bringing her large sticks.

Step 6: Follow friend's path up the rock. Chalk up and make funny faces while trying to remember how to do this without falling....



Step 7: After a good night's rest, load up lunch and drive to see some rock alignments.
Step 8: Crash on couch and wonder why Monday is not part of the weekend.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kaboom.

My closet o' gear exploded this morning....


All for the rekindling of a love lost, but not forgotten.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Take a bow!

My friend, Ryan Browning, has been working on making a go of his music career. He's quite talented and I am glad I've gotten to see him perform before he starts headlining at the Hollywood Bowl or South by Southwest and doesn't remember the little people.

Have a listen!






Great job, Ryan!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blue Monday...

I saw on one of my favorite blogs today that, in addition to being Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Day, this is supposedly Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. I had to look it up courtesy of Wikipedia, which gave me this interesting equation:

\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}

where weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our new year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na). I think the D is supposed to be ability to repay debt.

Interestingly, it also says that next Monday, January 24th, is actually the most depressing day of the year. Further Googling led me to this website about how to Beat Blue Monday...next Monday.

As I have had a very good, sunny, productive, and encouraging week (albeit another week of an irritating cold), topped off by an extra day off of work spent reading, talking to a very dear and very missed friend, napping, and eating chocolate and licorice from Trader Joe's, I was getting a little worried about missing the boat of depression today.

Actually, perhaps I should call it a "cruise ship of depression" since everyone is supposed to be on it together on the same day.

The blog I referenced above says that "happiness is a conscious choice." I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I wouldn't be where I am right now if I had not chosen happiness. Yes, some days are sad. And some days are lonely. And some days my motivation level is so low, getting out of bed is painful. But not every day. There is a bigger picture called Life that is coming in to focus more and more each day.

In this Year of Changes, I think I am going to go ahead and bow out of "Blue Monday" this time around, even if it is still a week away and I have time to change my mind. It seems that when you are already manning your own boat of depression - when you have finally gotten to the point that bailing out the boat doesn't have to happen every moment of every day - joining a collective pity party might be counterproductive.

Besides... while cruise ships can be fun, it is important to remember that they are expensive, cause sea sickness, horrific sunburns, and very bad hangovers.

Been there. Done that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's my age again, again?

They say that "Tuesday's Child is full of grace."

Unfortunately, I was born on a Monday.
This makes things like the simple act of walking - which I have been doing for 28ish years - extremely difficult for me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TJ!!!

I spent the day in a town further south and west of here attending a meeting and getting myself good and lost on the way to the meeting from a recommended coffee shop. No worries, Absentee Tour Guide. The Dirty Chai was worth the detour and I showed up right in time. Luckily the town is one of those fancy cities built on a grid system, unlike my hometown which looks kind of like spaghetti...


View Larger Map

and I sort of have a sense of direction. Admittedly the car had a compass...don't judge me.

Anyway, the meeting was very good and informative.... And was topped off by a trip to Trader Joe's!

Had I thought ahead, I would have brought a cooler and stocked up on lots of produce and fresh and frozen foods that I adore from Trader Joe's.

However, since I did not have one, and I was sort of overwhelmed by the excitement of being in a TRADER JOE'S....I bought a lot of candy and sauces.
See over there in the left hand corner...yep. Peanut sauce. Perhaps I'll try again that meal I botched horrifically last night. If it fails again, I have about $30 worth of dark chocolate and licorice to compensate.

Fingers crossed...but for which outcome, I am not entirely sure. ;-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When all else fails

Tonight was an adventure in my kitchen the likes of which I have not had in a while.

If I ever offer to cook you stir fry vegetables with soba noddles and peanut sauce...and then you hear me say the words "Hmm, the jar of peanut sauce is moldy, I bet I can just figure something else out...."go ahead and order a pizza. Feign illness. Play possum. Drink heavily.

I couldn't eat it.

Ellie really shouldn't eat it.

So forgive me, but I had to throw it all away.Luckily my new dinner is an "Excellent Source of Vitamin D!"

Yabba Dabba Doo!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Naranjas

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, which I blame on coworkers who have been coming to the office even when they are sick. I admire their dedication, however, when all 50 employees then catch the same cold, I think that dedication is ridiculous and rude.

To ensure this does not get too out of hand, I am going to go ahead and cover all of my bases with Vitamin C.
I think it should do the trick.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Put a lid on it.

If you have spent any time with me, at any point of time in my life....you probably know that I am a woman of few accessories. I wear a watch, but it disappears for months on end only to turn up in a random spot, like the couch or my sleeping bag. I like earrings, but they disappear only to turn up in parking lots or luggage that I used that one time for that one conference I went to a couple of years ago. I love scarves and I wear them often, but more as a functional item than a fashion statement. I wear the occasional necklace, a bracelet now and then, and when I wore a ring, I preferred less rock and more band, especially after losing the rock on a survey one day (I found it....because looking at the ground for shiny things is what I do). Shoes are admittedly my favorite accessory, as my closet of 70ish pairs can attest.

When I do accessorize, I would like to think that I do alright at it. I am not trying to make the cover of Vogue, or even the Penny Saver. Obviously.

Of all the things I can mostly pull off ...the one thing I want more than anything...my ONE fashion goal....is to be a hat person. That's right. A person who can put on a hat... a cloche, a tam, a beret, a sombrero, a bonnet, a beanie, a fascinator, a newsboy, a pillbox, a top hat, a kerchief, a visor, a fedora, a turban, a yarmulke, a Panama, a tricorn, a pith helmet, a toque, a fez, a cowboy (hat)....and look like a natural. Give me straw! Give me velvet! Give me feathers and netting! Give me ear flaps and pom poms! Let me channel Jackie O, Indiana Jones, Annie Oakley and all the great hat wearers of history and popular culture!

I want to put on a big brim hat the likes of which the Kentucky Derby has never seen and go out in the big world and have people say to each other..."Wow, that is a big hat, but that gal is a HAT person. Look at how well that hat works for her."

I have tried. I really have. Remember all the hats I used to buy at the gift shops in Disneyland, parents? How about all those hats I bought at the shops under the London Bridge where I worked? All the times I tried on every hat at the department stores in the mall, staring in the mirror, adjusting the angles so that it just might work if I hold my head this way all the time...and then thinking too much about how many people put on that hat before me and-oh-my-god-now-my-head-itches-do-you-think-I-have-lice? Have you seen the love in my eyes when I see stocking hats with fair isle patternwork or those amazing warmie hats from Peru that everyone who has one looks fantastic in? Forgetting fashion, do you have any idea how many cowboy hats I have tried on and longed for in the Western shop so I can wear them in the field? Do you know how many I have bought, only to have someone tell me how ridiculous I look and then-oh-my-god-do-I-look-like-Hoss-from-Bonanza? And don't even get me started on baseball caps....

What? You don't believe me? Let me show you.

I realize that perhaps my aspirations are too high. That the giant brims really do only belong at horse tracks and on supermodels in very small bikinis on beaches in the French Rivera. But can't they love me just as much as I love them? What more do I have to do?!

The point of this tirade is that as much as I want to wear hats for fashion and function (because I do wear them in the field to prevent too much sun-soaking...), I can never seem to quite get it right.

Even if I forgo the purchase of a hat and make my own.

This evening's rant is brought to you by this damn thing.
Fashion? Not so much. Function? Perhaps if my eyeballs get cold or if I want to be this guy for Halloween....


Frank Sinatra said: "Cock your hat. Angles are attitude."

In this case, I haven't got much of a choice.

Sigh. Maybe someday...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Vacation, Day 10 and 11

This post should really be called "In Which Amy Gail Comes to Visit and I Reflect on a Year That Was Not So Great." But that is a very long title and suggests that I have much more to say than I actually want to this evening.

Amy Gail and her mama Lizzie (who, by the way, looks amazing for a woman who just gave birth 6 months ago) came to Mom and Dad's for New Years Eve.

I could tell you all about how we played dominoes, ate lots of yummy pork products, Skyped with Amy Gail's daddy (Rob), had some champagne, and hugged each other at midnight...and then how the next day Lizzie, Amy Gail, and I went to the bookstore, drank coffee, and talked about Everything That Needed to Be Talked About, played more dominoes, watched a funny movie, and helped a fussy Amy Gail get to sleep. I could tell you all about those things, but instead, I am going to post as many pictures of the weekend as possible.

Well, at least the ones that are not blurry. Babies are hard to photograph when they are wiggly.



And then the next day....
Why yes, that is a snot bubble!



I got home to RC late Sunday afternoon to a snowstorm. A bit of surprise since I thought one of the bonuses of moving away from Montana would be the lack of snow....except of course when I want to go out in it on purpose.
As far as the reflections of 2010 go...it goes without saying that I am glad it is over. There were some good parts - like the arrival of Amy Gail and some much needed time with family and friends. There were some really bad parts - like the end of my marriage. But as many wise people have told me, and as I have reminded myself every day: This too shall pass. 2011 is a new year. Tomorrow is a new day. Every step forward feels a little stronger, a little less like a stumble.

I wish this song hadn't been on a commercial because it is actually really good. A New Day by the British band Scouting for Girls....

My favorite verse in the song says:

It's a feeling, it's a blue sky
It's the ocean, it's the sunshine
At the seaside, on the mountain
At the park bench, on the fountains
At the night club, on the playground
It's a new world, it's a new sound
It's your moment, it's a picture
We can make this, I'm coming with you
It's a new world, it's a new way
Make a fresh start, it's a new day


Kind of hokey maybe. But a good song to be stuck in my head this first week back to work and the first week of a year that will be better - much, much better - than the last.