Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's Luck Got to Do With It

I am a lucky person; here is my story.

Today I received my very first monthly paycheck and I was so excited. I said, "Yeah!" and pumped my fist at the heavens repeatedly, like some sort of hair band music video. Then I carefully endorsed the back of the check and wrote my account number and the words "For Deposit Only," folded it up tight, and stuck it in my jacket pocket.

I laughingly entertained the notion that the check would wriggle its way out of my pocket, so just in case, I kept fingering the paper, confirming its papery presence.

I skipped down 5 flights of stairs, climbed a couple of hills, put my hand in my pocket and ... nothing. No check. My debit card was there, my pen, my phone. No check.

Heart beating fast.

I spun on my heels and scanned the sidewalk, the gutter, the wind is kicking up, which direction, nooooo. I lightly jogged down the hill, from whence I came, saw lots of scrap paper, hadn't gone far when outside Mae Phim Thai -- a folded up piece of paper, signature up.

Heart is now hummingbird-wing fast.

Sunglasses low on my nose, I casually reach down in front of the 5-10 people waiting for their take-out meals, and scoop up my ENDORSED check for one month of my salary, 1/12 of my annual pay.

And that, my friend, THAT is what wins me the luckiest gal of the day award.

For the rest of the walk to the bank, I clutch the check in my sweaty hands, thanking the unseen and almighty forces of the universe for this monumental and unexpected kindness.

The end.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Time for Ice Cream

I'll just say this quickly -- like ripping out a tooth -- festivals are expensive. I got home to a letter from one of the festivals asking about my insurance. Ah, crap. It's on my list of things to do, but since it's optional I was holding off. So I got online quickly and found an insurer recommended by the art show group I lurk on. I filled out the application and emailed it and approved a very large charge to my credit card -- no way it will be completed in the 3 days notice I have. Bah.

I managed to confirm it won't affect my acceptance to the festival. It's not actually required for my category, but it wasn't all that easy to tell from the letter I received. The letter that had a huge deadline written on it.

In much much lighter news, tomorrow is my 8 year anniversary with Jer. 27% of my life I've spent with that guy. We must be doing something right.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday is Fun Day

I decided to make an adventure out of checking on my friends' cat this morning, so I rewarded myself with a trip to Alki Bakery. I had a tasty cranberry orange muffin and a large mocha, no whip.

It's been ages since I had a muffin. I contemplated getting a fruit cup instead, but muffins are much more adventurous than fruit cups. It's a fact.

I wrote my morning pages and stared outside for awhile, tuning out the chatter and low-level background music. I miss silence. Everywhere I go is meaningless noise, machine hums and cell phone twittering. I don't know how anyone thinks about anything ever. Maybe that is what is missing. A quiet moment to be alone with my thoughts. Find a park or go for a hike.

Even right now I can hear so many things. Whirring of a computer server in our office mixed with its high-pitched whistle, a series of birds chirping, an airplane, cars driving past, me typing, a lawnmower, the fan on Jer's computer, sometimes sea lion barks but not right now, a person talking as they walk by.

And I'm alone in a quiet room. With the window cracked. Do I even know what silence is anymore?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Zombie Flu Spell Check

Colors are brighter today than yesterday and it's easier to breathe. For one, I'm not hungover. For two, it's Friday. In only 2 hours I get to see an awake Jer for the first time in 5 days. I get to go out to dinner. I get to sleep in tomorrow.

My other (and final) 401(k) rollover seems to be progressing. I was able to order my folding cart, booth weights, and extra pole bag. When I went outside earlier, the sky was blue and it was almost warm enough to take off my jacket! The water taxi starts on Sunday, an excellent development. Truly, good things abound.

And I made it through another week. Only 5 days until I get paid now. I'm excited to see my first real paycheck.

This week has been low on the chipper scale, but I am making a concentrated effort to reverse that trend. I found myself on the couch last night, after a very nice dinner at the Celtic Swell with friends, staring off into space. I just wanted to escape inside myself and tune it all out. But slowly, deliberately, I reached out and turned off the television. I pulled myself down the hallway and forced myself to don pajamas. I laid in the dark for awhile, thinking how much better it'd feel to have a keyboard under my fingers and how I wasn't at all sleepy and wouldn't it be better to work?... when I fell asleep.

There's still something wrong I can't identify. And if I can't identify it, I can't fix it. So maybe all this tuning out is my subconscious working overtime on the problem of me. Or maybe I just caught that horrible zombie flu that's going around.

It would explain my sudden predilection for BRRRAAAAAAIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNSSSSS.

Spell check wants you know that there's no such word as BRRRAAAAAAIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNSSSSS.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

words for sale

It wasn't the best day ever, but it wasn't the worst. I was turned down for a big festival -- which I'd considered a long shot anyway -- but I was also invited back to submit to a play festival I entered last year. So now I just have to write 30-60 pages of play in a month. No big deal.

i miss my husband and i am tired.

there are many hours between now and friday

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Artist's Way

I've been slowly making my way through The Complete Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's a weekly program meant to break down your creative blocks by appealing to a higher power both within and without. I'm on week 6.

Every morning I write 3 pages. I alluded to this in a previous entry about my morning ritual. I take an early bus, go to the bakery, buy a cup of coffee, and fill in my pages. Then I read the Wall Street Journal until it's time for work.

It's an interesting process that forces you to ask all sorts of questions about how you function and what you do and how you allow yourself to play. I don't know if it's a good program for everyone -- it takes some faith -- but it's been good for me. Somewhere along the line I quit paying attention to details. I quit going through the strange door and seeing what was on the other side. I did the superficial things -- like change jobs -- but I grew comfortable with my rut. I didn't watch people on the bus. I allowed my eyes to glaze over. I didn't go to a new restaurant because I was alone and people would look at me. So? I lost out on so much fun trying to fit into my mold of a "grown-up."

Granted I still go to bed at 9pm most nights. I still break into a cold sweat if there's a chance I'll be late to something. But now I've given myself permission to have a little fun. Life is what you perceive it anyway, and this program is helping me perceive it a little lighter.

I can't wait to see what the rest of the program brings out.

Funny thing. When my boss "let me go" two days into my two weeks' notice, I walked directly to Borders, bought this book, and started the program the very next day. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Lucky for me, it turned out to be a good thing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Faster Goes the Clock

A recurring daydream I have involves not reporting daily to an office. Not being tethered to an 8-5, day in and out, for 35 more years. When I examine the dream in more detail however, it occurs to me that there's no clear picture of what I'd prefer to do instead. Like a child in the middle of a tantrum, I JUST DON'T WANNA, but I am clueless about alternate realistic realities.

When you get right down to it, work gives me a purpose. I know why I get up in the morning, I know why I do the laundry. It also gives me excuses for why I can't do other things. No, I don't have time to write a short story, I have to go to work. No, I can't sleep in late and go to the gym when I feel like it, I need health insurance and a steady paycheck.

Is that compromising? Or is that just life?

I've made my peace by squeezing the meat of what I want into my off hours. And I jealously guard those hours, from all distractions except the siren song of happy hour. But there's always more to do in less time to do it.

I'm convinced the older I get, the faster goes the clock.

Every moment is a choice. A fork. Not a spoon. And I keep revisiting this daydream and thinking: but what? What would you do instead? There's only so many hours you can sleep, so many episodes of the Golden Girls to watch. You'd get bored; you'd get lonely. You need the structure and purpose a day job provides.

This is to say, I don't have an answer. But maybe it's not about aspiring to leave the day job -- because I like what I do -- but to strike a balance between all the different pieces. And never use work as an excuse not to do what needs to be done.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vanguard rocks and bookmarks

It's an odd thing to be utterly broke and at the same time make investment decisions on 2 years worth of retirement contributions. Money I can't use for 30 years doesn't seem real, which makes the process a bit more fun.

My first rollover went through, and I was finally able to put my money where my research is:

  • 28% into Vanguard Total Stock Mkt Idx (VTSMX)
  • 22% into Vanguard Total Intl Stock Index (VGTSX)
  • 22% into Vanguard REIT Index (VGSIX)
  • 7% into a stock
  • 21% to be determined
(I'm sharing for the sake of interest, I'm not advocating you do the same thing. Situations differ. Do research.)

I mailed the paperwork for another (my last) rollover yesterday, so I have a few more decisions to make. I ended up not converting any to Roth because in light of not having a 401(k) anymore, if I start mucking around with conversions I'm worried we'll have too much taxable income and bad things will happen like our tax bracket will change. (Although of all possible problems in the world, I would be ecstatic if that's the worst life throws at us this year.)

We used our government coupon to buy a TV Converter Box at Best Buy yesterday. Interestingly, the coupon was $25 shy of the box price, but we're one of those households that doesn't have a digital cable box so we didn't want to take any chances. And the coupon was better than nothing.

This weekend has been all about making bookmarks. Jer and I parked ourselves on the couch Friday night and worked for about 4 hours and then another 4 hours last night, stickering, sleeving, and tasseling approximately 500 bookmarks. The second season of Torchwood and an abundance of hail kept us entertained while we worked -- though now I peek through the blinds and see blue skies and sun.

I've inventoried 95 prints so far -- which means I've matted, labeled, sealed, and entered them in the database -- and I still have another "finished" stack to enter. Then I should make more product with what I have. No more buying supplies -- except for emergencies -- until the credit card billing period ends in a few days since I've already paid it off this month.

The last couple of days have been great getting to spend time with Jer; it can be tough going so many days between sightings. I accomplished a lot this month with the business. And now we're in the home stretch. First show is May 17 and 18 in the University District. If you make it out there, stop by and say hi. I won't bite.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On credit cards and turkey sandwiches

My application for a merchant account was accepted today so I'll be receiving my wireless terminal soon. I'm very excited to be able to accept credit cards -- Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AND American Express. w00t. I also received my vinyl banner in the mail and I think it looks pretty snazzy. You just can't stand too close or the letters are too large.

It was arm night with the trainer and I can already tell tomorrow is going to hurt because it hurts now. That's never good. I just finished watching the Biggest Loser finale and I won't give spoilers, but I was happy with the outcome. It was an odd season that felt overly manipulated, but I enjoyed watching real people work hard and achieve their goals, however unrealistic the time and energy expended would have been for the average person. But that's just it. The human body is capable of extraordinary things when exposed to extreme circumstances, and these contestants remind us of that. The idealist in me is a fan.

I haven't been all that strong in maintaining my diet and exercise, however I haven't gained any weight and I can tell my body is still changing. I wear a pair of sweat pants from college as pajamas that used to be snug and now they practically fall off my ass. I would retire them but it's too good for the ego.

Speaking of my ass, for lunch I ate at the infamous Bakeman's Restaurant in Pioneer Square. I had the "white on dark, mayo and cranberry" turkey sandwich. It was pretty good, a little greasy with the mayo and I would've added some more salt, but nice sized chunks of actual meat and at only $4.65 it's a great deal for a lot of food. I didn't get harassed by our resident Soup Nazi; I did my research and didn't take any chances. Next time maybe I'll branch out and try the meatloaf sandwich. But I'm going to have to work up to that.

Maybe if I wear my droopy sweat pants I'll have enough confidence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Today was a bureaucratic triple threat. My 401(k) rollover finally went through, yay. I got my parking ticket papers in order. And I filled out my health insurance, proof of prior coverage. Phew.

I just wanted you to know that; it's like my gold star for the day.

In the morning I go to a big open place with brick walls and large art that smells like pastries and I buy a small cup of black coffee and I sit there for a half hour. Sometimes I read the paper, sometimes I write in my notebook. It's very quiet. Not a lot of people seem to know about it. I found it by accident, on the walk to work one morning, but sometimes you have to go through that strange door and see what's on the other side.

One morning the sun came through the windows so bright it hurt my eyes. But most mornings a fire burns in a niche in the wall. I sit away from it at a table, so I can spread my stuff out. There is lots of room.

When my coffee is almost gone and my paper is read, I get up and walk a couple of blocks to work. I pass the steam factory with its big dull chimney and broken brick and the art gallery with the hanging oversized prints. I ride the elevator to my floor -- it's slow and steel. I flash my key fob and go inside.

My desk is small and shielded by cubicle walls. I switch on my two small lights and laptop, set the last of my coffee down, and get to work.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Load of laundry in the dryer. Merchant account application sent off (finally.) Just received word I've been wait-listed on a show in July. The e-mail says I'm #1 on the wait list, so we'll see.

It's okay. This is the first show I've been wait-listed for, after getting into 5, so that's pretty good.

I spent most of yesterday setting up my CanoScan N1240U flatbed scanner on the laptop. There were so many problems I don't know what got it working exactly, but the solution was a combination of installing and reinstalling various drivers (from the Canon site, the CD, and, switching USB ports, deleting a file called twain.mtx, and adding the twain drivers' location to the Path environment variable in Advanced System settings. Bah. At least it works now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tulips, La Conner, and the Eels

Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley on Saturday. It was eighty degrees, beautiful blue skies, a nice breeze, and tulips/daffodils for as far as the eye could see. Also, a parking ticket but that comes later.

I'm not a huge fan of flowers on their own, but my camera loves them. And it was an incredible day for a walk. Lots of traffic to drive the 60 miles to the farms -- seems like it's always stop and go through Everett. We arrived late in the day, around 3:30pm and followed the Internet map I'd printed, then followed the herd and parked on the side of a road to wander through a field of tulips - red and purple - and then acres of alarmingly bright yellow daffodils.

Unfortunately where we parked was a no parking stretch of dirt, which was "clearly" marked along each end, but we were in the middle and the scene was a madhouse of cars and lookie loos. Great idea, by the way. Don't provide any parking and then hand out tickets. GREAT public relations right there. Seriously though, if we'd seen the signs we wouldn't have parked there. How about exerting some effort on traffic control instead of parking enforcement? I haven't gotten a ticket in years...

Anywho. I took some great shots which will make their way into the photo blog over the coming weeks. With luck one of those shots will pay off the ticket.

After the ticket discovery, we drove to La Conner and ate dinner at La Conner Brewing. We immediately grabbed two seats at the bar and ordered a couple of drinks and huge glasses of water. Jer and I both had pizza. The crust was excellent. Definitely worth a visit. It was crazy because we hadn't been there very long when someone Jer knew sat behind us. Small world.

After dinner, the sun was making pretty gold light all along the already picturesque town, so I whipped out my camera and snapped some more. When we arrived in La Conner, I hadn't realized it was on a stretch of water (river) and I was surprised to see boats docked and seagulls. (I really should look at a map sometime) So we had the added benefit of going from farms to cute water-side town in minutes.

The ride back was mostly uneventful -- still traffic but less of it. We ended the evening with a couple of episodes of Torchwood.

Friday night was fun and busy as well. It was time to see the Eels!

Jer met me downtown after work and we ate dinner in Pioneer Square at DeNunzio's Trattoria. Excellent. It's in the basement, or Seattle Underground, rich red walls, green table cloths, brick walls and archways, and strands of white lights for ambiance. Beautiful atmosphere. Also, we were the only ones there (I blame the beautiful summery weather) but it didn't feel weird. The level of service was perfect.

We sat down and the server handed us menus and then took them away to improvise. He served us an incredible multi-course meal with a tasty bottle of Chianti -- Caesar salad, Insalata Caprese, garlic bread, a gnocchi dish, spaghetti with spinach leaves, roasted potatoes, and maybe the best flank steak I've EVER had with Gorgonzola and roasted peppers on top. I personally thought it rivalled or exceeded anything I've had at Jak's Grill, which is saying a lot.

For dessert we split a slice of spiced pumpkin cheesecake and each had a coffee drink that "involved a bit of show." The server dipped the rim of the glass in sugar then caramelized it with a blowtorch. Then he set some rum on fire and we had that and peppermint schnapps and coffee. My stomach nearly exploded. It was a legitimate concern.

We walked from Pioneer Square up to Pike Place Market and watched the sun set from Steinbrueck Park, where the crackheads were on their best behavior.

From there we walked over to the bar at the concert venue, the Green Room, and had a beer. The huge benefit of drinking at the Green Room, is if you're going to the show, they let you in earlier than the crowd waiting outside. So we were able to sit and enjoy a beverage instead of stand for an hour. We finally got inside the Showbox and I bought E's book, "Things the Grandchildren Should Know." Then we saw folding chairs set up in front of a big white sheet and chose a seat in the first row, about 5 feet from the stage.

At showtime, a movie played about E's father, Hugh Everett, who created the multiple worlds theory and was a rock star of quantum mechanics. The film ran for about an hour, and then shortly after they began to play. And it was awesome. We were roughly 10 feet from E and the Chet all night long -- and since the audience had all been lulled into obedience by physics and beer, everyone stayed seated and we were able to watch the show completely unobstructed, from the first row.

Later I collapsed into a heap and slept until I had to go to the gym to work off some of that delicious Italian food.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Bookmarks

I went out with friends and had a late night so today I wasn't 100% but I forgive myself. Also I was distracted because I was supposed to hear about a festival but that hasn't happened yet. And I just put in an order for more bookmarks, so there's that. Is 5,000 too many? On second thought, don't answer that.

I opened the Wall Street Journal this morning and saw a huge article about inside. That was wild. Took me a moment after looking at a blown-up photo of her face to realize, hey, I recognize that blogger. Well, not personally, but Internetally.

This was supposed to be the night I got stuff done, but I am mostly failing at that. I think I will sleep instead. Or maybe attach a few tassels to some bookmark sleeves. Yeah, baby, yeah.

Oh but I did do something neat between eating dinner and now. I upgraded my photo store to the most recent version, which required me to use shell access and untar a file. I had to put an ioncube loader in a directory so the site will have better security or something. Man, it's been ages since I've busted out the unix skills. Go me.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Only 5 Weeks Until the First Show!

I've been falling behind on all my blogs -- really tempted to say "my stories." I've managed not to use my feed reader at my new job yet and that's a monumental achievement. We'll see how long that lasts...

So today I finally spoke with the merchant account people and they sent me an application. Once I get the checks for my business checking account I can send it all back in and then it'll take another 7-10 days or so. I can't wait for that all to be over with.

On the way home to the bus I treated myself to Panang Chicken with brown rice at Mae Phim Thai. It was mighty fine. I also ordered Thai Iced Coffee and that was awesome too. With the exception of my first meal there -- and that doesn't really count because it was part of a larger office delivery and who knows how long it took to get to me -- every meal has been hot, perfectly seasoned, inexpensive, and very tasty.

It was another rushed evening. I created another few possible bookmarks, but I'm going to sleep on the decision before I order again. I ran a load of laundry and ordered a bunch of prints, like I'd been meaning to do. Then I entered all of my receipts for the last couple of weeks into QuickBooks. I've been avoiding that like you wouldn't believe. Also I finished reading that chapter in the book I mentioned yesterday.

Although it was a productive evening, there's nothing tangible to show for it -- except non-smelly clothes. I have happy hour plans tomorrow night and on Friday Jer and I are seeing the Eels play, so it looks like Thursday is my night to mat prints and/or make note cards.

Monday, April 07, 2008

No deal

The day was short and I'm negotiating with time who is not at all impressed. Won't even meet me half-way, the stinker.

Work work work. Mad dash to the gym to get punished by my trainer. Raced for the bus, found two boxes of bookmarks at the mailbox, put a frozen tray of enchiladas in the oven, assembled a bookmark, liked it but decided I need labels for the back-side, found a printing place online, whipped up a template, ordered a proof, and ate a big plate of enchiladas.

Earlier today I ordered a vinyl banner for my booth. Man I hope these things turn out. It's been ages since I worked with a printer.

Oh and yesterday I developed the product info sheet that will go out with each matted print. It's got a lot of words on it. (Buy a print and you'll see.) Entered 56 prints into my new inventory system (what I set up in MS Access) and now they're ready to sell. Still need to order more prints. And do laundry. I hope I have clean pants. I've found that dirty pants aren't a good enough reason to stay home.

And while I'm sitting here I realize I'm pretty sleepy. Been relying too much on coffee as fuel, but two stints on the Quad Mill and squats with the 30 pound barbell has left me running empty. I need to finish the chapter I'm reading in my book -- been aiming for 1 per week; they're long chapters. Need to call the guy back from merchant services and give them all my money for a wireless terminal -- but they're closed now so I'm off the hook for today. And I need to quit thinking about my stocks. (Christy, you can't afford any new ones and it'd be stupid to sell the ones you have so LET IT GO.)

Also, the end of the month is awfully far away. It's going to take some getting used to again, this getting paid once-a-month thing.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Accepted to Bite of Seattle!

I was THRILLED to receive an acceptance packet to Bite of Seattle yesterday. It'll be my first show at Seattle Center, which means I will probably need to make more product!

Here are the details:
July 18, 19 and 20, 2008
LOCATION: Seattle Center
FESTIVAL HOURS: Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Also yesterday, on the way back to the car from the gym, I stopped at Aaron Brothers and bought a few frames. Later I took photos of the framed prints to submit to a juried show. It'd be awesome to be included but I've never done anything like this before so I don't know what to expect. Fingers crossed.

Then I went to Costco and upgraded my membership to Executive (Business) status. All that means is I pay more money annually, get a 2% rebate on purchases, a 25% rebate on ShareBuilder automatic transfer fees, and have a reseller number. Primarily I plan to use the membership for their merchant account perk though.

Seems like no matter how much I get done, there is always more to do. I'm concerned I don't have enough 8x10 prints -- I'll put in an order today. Bookmarks should arrive tomorrow and I need to assemble them, but that shouldn't be hard. I need to call about the merchant account -- wanted to wait until I had the business checking and exec membership settled. And I still need a chair, a cash box or cash storage method, more frames, to submit to another juried gallery for practice, order more tassels... and create the info sheet for the back of all the prints. I have made headway there by creating a database of print info and a few basic queries for reporting. But I need to do some more data entry to make it useful.

So those are all of my secrets. Now you too can go out and be a craft vendor. What's that? You'd rather have a weekend?

Weekends are overrated.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

West Seattle Summer Fest: Accepted!

Yesterday I found out I was accepted to be a craft vendor at West Seattle Summer Fest. I'll be there as On Focus Photo selling matted prints, note cards, and bookmarks.

The dates of the festival are Friday, July 11–Sunday, July 13. I happened upon it last year when my parents were visiting and it was a lot of fun.

Other festivals I've been accepted to so far:

Only waiting to hear from 5 more now. I hope you can make it out to one of these and say hi!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pie in the Sky

Jer and I went to Pegasus Pizza for dinner and it was very very crowded. It didn't help that our seats were invisible from the higher tier where the servers were based and, although she was nice, our waitress didn't actually come 'round all that often. The table of 5 grown men across from us (who were seated about 10 minutes after us) had their order taken and received their 3-4 pizzas about 20 minutes before we did, due to having a different server. (Not that I was keeping track.) And my diced tomatoes still had the tough end on some of them. Oh, the horror.

Anyway. Not so much a successful evening. The whole experience was an hour and fifteeen minutes, which in the grand scheme might be excusable, except for the being ignored part.

I'm getting a little frazzled about accepting credit cards at the art fairs. I just can't get over how expensive it is. I need to figure something out soon.

I received my bookmark sleeves and tassels in the mail today, along with the plastic bags I'll be using at the fairs. I'm supposed to get the actual bookmarks next Monday. I'm excited to see how they turned out. Hopefully, awesome.

I also got my new passport in the mail today -- less than 2 weeks after I mailed in the application! My photo is very sad; I look like emo Christy.

Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Kind of PSA

Marcus' Martini Heaven on Yesler is very good and you should go.

Especially on a Tuesday. It is cozily underground, down a dark staircase, and surrounded by brick and fish tanks. I enjoyed a dirty martini and a contrary mary with dmitri's seasoning -- the bartender's choice.

Hours later, my ears got cold, walking from the Luna Park Cafe to my complex. But between then and now, if you find yourself adrift in Pioneer Square, I encourage you to head beneath the street, and order a drink.

By the by, their chocolate cake martini actually tastes like chocolate cake, if you're into that sort of thing.