Monday, December 24, 2007

I Still Don't Like the Holidays...

...and never really have since I was a little girl. Although I was brought up in a family with Christian beliefs, they never really transferred to me. I just don't believe.

I went through the religious and confirmation processes as a courtesy for my family. I went through more religious training so that my ex-husband could get married in the Catholic church. I celebrated the holidays when my son was younger--just for him--and along the way if I happened to be involved in a relationship with someone else during the season as a sign of respect for them, which means I have also celebrated Hannukah.

But I've always felt like a hypocrite, so in the last ten years or so, I just stopped celebrating--except for some events at work with former coworkers, again out of respect. I still don't believe. I don't believe that people should go crazy to fit all the events and material things into a short period of time. I'm more of a give-a-gift-when-I-feel-like-it and sometimes for-no-reason-other-than-I-care kind of person. Sometimes the gift will be in the food family, sometimes it will be a handmade item, and sometimes it will be something that I saw in a store that would be just right for a person. Or at least, that used to be how I worked. Now I'm pretty cynical, and don't give so freely...

A couple of years ago, a friend started inviting me to her family holiday celebrations, and I often go see them, but not always. It depends on whether I'm feeling social or antisocial, if the weather is good or crappy, and sometimes for no good reason other than today I just don't want to...

I am, however, quite tired of answering questions why I don't spend more time with my family during the holidays. My siblings and I are not a tightly-knit group. My mother and I have always seemed to be from somewhat different planets. My father died in 1999, and visits "home" for me have been non-existent since then. My relationship with my son is what is definitely classified as "estranged", and that's all of the family that is truly important to me. So I have a dog who actually seems to enjoy my company and doesn't want me to be someone that I'm not or better than the person that I am. The unconditional love of dogs is probably what has kept me from falling into long-term inconsolable depressive states throughout the roughest times of my life. There is something undeniably therapeutic about unconditional love and needing to do something for another being that helps pull one back from a variety of dangerous brinks.

I really don't think I'm all that bad a person, but I'm basing that on comparisons to the other people I know and have been close to in relationships. I do the best I can and try to do better when I learn other approaches. I don't always succeed: I try to not let me feel like a failure, but sometimes these personal demons DO get to me. Especially when I'm feeling ill or overly tired. At least I don't fight against insomnia like I used to, so that even if I'm getting really down on myself, a good night's sleep helps put things back into perspective.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Guess What? More Snow...


Yes, officially it's still fall, but the snow continues to accumulate. A few inches fell last night--it's great to get a refreshing white layer on top. Just ask my dog, Crash. The snow tastes great AND is less filling! We definitely like taking our evening walks in the snow, even with the few icy spots that hide underneath the latest flakes. I'm always amazed at how quickly folks become home-bound once the snow hits, and as the temperature becomes even less inviting outside, folks tend to walk less. But that's okay by me, because then Crash and I wind up sharing the most peaceful and quiet walks that we can have.
I find the walks with Crash to be very rejuvenating, even when I'm exhausted. I know some people have suggested that I swap out to a morning walk for Crash, but that's just not going to happen. Nope, mornings are for the fenced back yard. With only a few rare exceptions, I go out with Crash and walk around the yard in the mornings too. Can't have him mistakenly thinking that the yard is all his, you know? Plus it's part of our connection. On the days where the tennis balls don't get buried in the snow, we're out there playing every morning, and sometimes move the tennis ball game indoors to the long hallway between the living room and the bedrooms. Okay, it's not that long, but it's long enough for him to run a little bit, slide to a stop, grab the ball, and come back for more--without crashing into anything other than the doorways and the walls.
As I've said before, Crash is turning into a find dog and companion. He still has moments where he needs to be strongly encouraged to reduce his enthusiasm a little bit and can be difficult to get his attention, but he's still in his late teenage years...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snow again...every other day!


Add 4-6 inches here and 4-6 inches there...jump the drifts in the back yard...keep those shovels close at hand! Fortunately there are some good Samaritans around driving little Bobcats...if only I could get my neighbors to park somewhere on the street other than just about directly in front of my mailbox. The sun just came out a little while ago, so the snow is still glistening, and with temps well enough below freezing, it's not going anywhere soon, and is likely to be added on sometime on Saturday or Sunday of this week.

I landed a new technical writing contract that begins Monday of next week...this is exciting...and represents excellent timing! I had been going out on some lower-paying temp jobs just to help cover the costs of living. This gig will run out until April-ish of 2008 at one of the companies here in Madison's version of Research Park (not to be confused with Research Triangle Park in NC, but definitely a technology incubator wannabe). Of course, I'm NOT from Madison...or a UW-Madison graduate...so that means the world revolves around its own axis, not south-central Wisconsin. It's an interesting alumni-rich community around here. I can't imaging hanging out at Skibo (the closest Carnegie-Mellon had to a Student Union at the time) 25 years after graduating, but for UW-Madison, graduation seems to NOT be much of a rite of passage, but rather just another strong tie to being a Badger for life...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Snow Day...


...today in Wisconsin (and Minnesota, and Iowa, and apparently a bunch of other places). It started out as the tiny pellet snow and continues to get icier as the day progresses. Now that the ice is turning the top layer into a crust, walking (and driving I suppose) is becoming more and more hazardous. Crash and I have been back from our evening walk and are warmed up again nicely. It will, however, take some time for the boots to dry off. Thank goodness I have more than one pair of boots!

I love when snow is on the ground--especially for the evening doggie walks. The illumination provided by the snow is a special bonus for us...it certainly improves my "iffy" night vision...and I would assume also improves the theoretical grayscale vision of dogs. Of course, I prefer the soft fluffy snow, but I've never been in control of the weather.

The "Girls Night Out" event mentioned a couple of days ago in this post went well. Again, the sticky note packs were quite popular (I'm glad I created more). I'm hoping that these will take off as a saleable item on Etsy, too, and with a couple of initial orders already, that might be the case. I'm promoting them like crazy on their online forums. Of course, "promoting like crazy" is a relative term...I'm looking for discussion threads that are actually relevant. These would make great stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers. Heck, even some teenagers might find them to be a fun addition to their backpack. And, yes, business folks who bring work home with them might like to add a pack or two to their briefcase. I now have 17 designs listed in the Sticky Note Pack section over on Etsy.
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