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My baby’s having a baby


It’s true! My sweet girl is pregnant with our first grandchild, a baby boy they have named Charles Conrad. Michael and I are over the moon with happiness! I already love Charlie so much and daily envision what Charlie will be like, how beautiful he already is, and how hard I will work to do my part in making him happy.

Even more prevalent these days are my memories of being pregnant with my own two children. I was very emotional when I was pregnant, and every song, every poem, just everything had a completely different meaning than ever before. I saw everything with new eyes. My world had changed infinitely for the better because I was bringing a wonderful child into the world. A good human being who would bring big sacks full of infinite goodness under each arm. I once overheard a conversation in which someone was encouraging a couple to have a child. The reason the couple had doubts about adding to the population? “There are so many rotten people in the world.” And the wise person asked them, “Well, don’t you want to make some good people?” I never forgot that. From the time I knew they existed, I knew my kids would be the good guys, and they really are.

My emotional pregnant days made me so sentimental. When I was pregnant with my daughter, the first Gulf War broke out. I remember that during those breezy summer months in cool-enough-to-wear-a-sweater San Francisco,  I would listen to two particular songs over and over again. The first is Apron Strings by Everything But The Girl,

and the other is Nayib’s song by Gloria Estefan.

They’re just songs, 3 minutes of rhyming words set to a tune. They weren’t even in the top 40. But for ragingly hormonal pregnant me at that time, these songs were anthems about my love for my unborn children. I recently sent the links for these videos to my daughter. I thought she might like to listen to the music, but I now realize I searched for them because the pending arrival of my new, first ever grandson is making me sappy and emotional again.

Everyone who knows me knows how much I adore children, all children. I find children amazing, and in each one I see a promise that the world will continue and that there is always a chance to raise good people in this awful world. No, I dug up those links on Youtube because I needed to remind myself that there are good people in this world, that my own unborn children gave me great hope, and that my beautiful daughter and the love of her life are about to add one more amazingly good person to the world population. What a wonderful thing!

Despite what the headlines read, everything is going to be just fine.

Educational consumerism


With the extremely high cost of higher education and the financial uncertainty of the modern job market, it seems only fair to me that college classes should be rated for their content in relation to how well the class was taught and how effectively students are able to put their acquired knowledge to use. As a consumer, I would personally like to get a refund on several college classes for which I paid dearly. I returned to school in 2005 to learn to be a technical writer. I did not finish my degree plan (I have 6 classes left to complete to earn my degree) because I started getting hired for technical writing jobs before I finished my degree.

It was a difficult decision to forgo degree completion for the sake of gaining job experience, but I felt it was necessary. While working on my degree, I was watching my fellow students graduate and unsuccessfully pursue careers in their chosen field. They were dismayed to discover that potential employers expected them to have job experience in addition to a sheepskin. In the case of one of my fellow students who shared my major of technical communication, she had put herself through school by working as a maid at a local hotel. The fact that she spent four years in that hotel maid position actually hurt her chances of obtaining a job as a technical writer. Now, six years later, she has never held a job as a technical writer. She is an administrative assistant at a photography studio. Nor has she attained the salary she hoped to earn. Her situation is not unique. After watching this happen to several of my fellow students, I decided to post my resume on the internet in hopes of getting my feet wet in the technical writing field. It backfired, pleasantly so. With the exception of a brief stint as an administrative assistant for a doctor, I have been working steadily in the technical writing field since 2008. I have delayed finishing my degree due to the demands of my technical writing career, family, and financial commitments.

I am now having serious doubts about returning to finish my degree at all. I am still paying down my student loans and am loathe to incur more university tuition debt. I am also loathe to pay to further a degree plan that didn’t prepare me for the current overly competitive job market. The technical and professional writing courses that I took in college did NOT in any way prepare me to do my present job. I have learned the skills necessary to succeed in my field by good old fashioned OJT, professional networking, and self-study. Another reason I may not finish my degree is that I am at this time learning to be a software developer, and I am not paying one thin dime for my training.

There’s a dirty little secret that the higher education establishment does not want the average student consumer to know. Knowledge is now free. With the exception of certain careers such as medicine, law, etc., all a student needs to learn the skills necessary to succeed in a chosen field is a reliable internet connection. Some very reputable universities now offer entire semesters worth of video classes at no cost. All the self-motivated student needs is self-discipline, the ability to network in their chosen field,  time to dedicate to self-study, and GANAS.

What changed my mind? It was a lot of things which I will enumerate in this post. I’ll start with Eddie, a software developer who earns a six figure salary. We went through our company’s week-long employee orientation together. He shared with me that he had been incurring tremendous debt for education and living expenses when he was a student at the University of California at San Francisco. He chose to put what he learned in his beginning computer science and programming classe to use when he got tired of working as a waiter. He didn’t have any practical experience in writing code, but he was quickly developing a passion for it. More and more, he was putting in all-nighters to practice his code writing skills. Eddie had the chutzpah to get on the internet and find entry-level programming contract positions. It didn’t take long for him to gain the experience he needed to command an ever increasingly competitive salary. It also didn’t take long for him to decide that the traditional education he was pursuing was no longer necessary, nor was it a cost efficient way to spend his time. He was more successful at self-study and networking. I asked him if he planned to return to finish his degree. He answered a flat and emphatic NO. To quote Eddie, “What for? I’m earning a great living doing what I love, and I’m actually more fulfilled knowing that I taught myself. Granted, UCSF provided me with a start, but it wasn’t a free start. It was an expensive start, so no, I will not finish my degree.” Way to go Eddie.

TO BE CONTINUED….

College Open Textbooks

Fearless Failure


I truly believe that failure (the knowledge and fortitude gained from it) is more beneficial than planning for flawless success.

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See what I mean? So….

“Fail fearlessly.
Fail often.
Fail fast.
Learn from it.
Retain it.
Grow from it.
Move forward.
Pass it on.”
– Rosie Contreras

I focus on my strengths and work around my weaknesses


Life is too short to continue focusing on tasks that do not make me happy and that I am not good at. Life is also too short to keep wasting energy on things that I don’t have a natural inclination for. I have learned it is best to focus on my strengths and find creative ways to work around my weaknesses.

After all these years I am honest with myself enough to admit that I despise housework and prefer not to do what I do not like to do. I do, however, love working at my job and earning a fantastic paycheck. It is such a rush to excel at my work, and earning a paycheck gives me a feeling of immense satisfaction and accomplishment. That said, I prefer to earn a nice living and pay someone to do my housework.

happy

Andy Rooney and 60 Minutes – Memories and Lots of Words


“I’d be more willing to accept religion, even though I don’t believe in it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other, but I don’t think it does.” — Andy Rooney

Nobody likes the word “religious.” People prefer to say they are “spiritual,” or some other euphemism. In my personal experience from my years as an Evangelical Christian, some people like to say they do not care about religion, that they just care about accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and believe only what is in the bible. I am a Catholic Christian. Yes, Catholicism IS a Christian religion despite what some might say. I used to be what is called an Evangelical or a “born again” Christian. I believe differently now, so I don’t go by that title. I follow the tenets of my Catholic faith the best I can, though I am sorely lacking in this area most days. I do the best I can. If that qualifies me as “religious” then I am fine with that. I’ve been called worse and will be again. If anything, I am more flawed these days than I’ve ever been before, and I’ve got a LONG way to go in knowing how to love unconditionally. If there is a 1 to 10 scale of human defects, I’m off the chart and I’m not sure I can ever be fixed.

Being “religious” has never made me nicer. In fact, I was more judgmental when I followed hardcore religious principles. Gradually I started seeing that sometimes this Christian thing is more about judging others and making decisions about right and wrong for other people instead of correcting my own defects.

It is so easy to take the bible and bend it to our own ideas. When I started disagreeing with what preachers and teachers were saying, my friends said “But these people know the bible!” My opinion is that the phrase “know the bible” is open to interpretation, as is the bible. Lots of flawed people in history knew the bible. In the worst case scenario department, David Koresh and Jim Jones knew the bible better than they knew the back of their hands, book, chapter, and verse. They could rattle it all off in their sleep. They knew it well enough to take it and turn it in to weapons and vehicles of hate. Knowing the bible doesn’t mean one knows how to love, anymore than being non-religious makes us more loving and accepting of others.

Nobody wants to say they are religious nowadays. “Religious” and “religion” have become dirty words. Call it what you will. Spiritual, religious, Jesus-only Christian, Bible Believing Christian, agnostic, liberal, etc., I have found in my experience that being these things, any of them – just take your pick – does not make one necessarily a nicer person. It can, however, give one the supposed entitlement of judging those who are different from them. Nobody really knows what it is to “love like Jesus loves,” but those who consider it important keep trying to learn, but I digress.

My father loved 60 minutes, and the show was a staple of my childhood. Our whole huge family used to gather at my Grandma Nina’s every Sunday so the men could watch the Dallas Cowboys play (this was in the Cowboys’ heyday). 60 minutes always came on after the game was over. I learned a lot from this show as a kid. I learned about LSD and how our government once thought it’d make a very nice interrogation tool. It was on 60 Minutes where I first heard about cancer patients going to Mexico to get laetrile. The show also introduced me to the subjects of Laos during the Vietnam war, Agent Orange, the digitalis controversy, the effects of thalidomide on developing fetuses, and ohhhh so many more things. I remember the interview with Elvis Presley’s doctor, George Nichopoulos, who had freely prescribed large quantities of all the drugs Elvis was addicted to. Just minutes into the interview, Nichopoulos pulled off his mike and walked off the set. It made a deep impression on me. I still watch this show, and I guess it has had a part in keeping me informed about a lot of things.

Beginning in 1978, Andy Rooney was a staple of my Sunday night TV watching. I enjoyed hearing him rattle on humorously about the illogical way pharmaceutical companies put cotton in medicine bottles. I remember how Andy had several bottles of over-the-counter medications. He pulled out the cotton from each and compared the different amounts used by different companies. He thought it was a silly practice. I was touched when Andy did a piece on the death of his friend, Harry Reasoner (1923-1991), from lung cancer. He described going to visit Harry in the hospital, of watching Harry puff away on a cigarette despite having only one lung. Andy said “How is it that the smartest man I’ve known continued to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day? I’m sad but I’m also angry. Because Harry was so careless with the affection we had for him.” I felt bad for him and I kinda felt angry at Harry too.

I guess being less than a year away from 50 is making me a long-winded, verbose communicator. I have strayed from the subject I meant to touch on in this post, which is Andy Rooney’s quote at the top of my verbal meandering. In a nutshell, I think Andy was right, God rest his soul. He was a nice guy, if accounts from those who knew him are to be believed. He was not spiritual, religious, or a bible-believing, Jesus-only Christian, etc. He was just a regular, non-religious guy who had all the flaws that the rest of us do. He said those words above and I’m sure he received a lot of angry feedback from both religious and non-religious people. I’m sure he always got angry feedback when he mentioned those unmentionables of politics, religion, and sex. I agree with him, though, because I know religion has not made me a nicer person.

I continue to be Catholic, but it’s not my major motivator when I try to be nice. It would be too much pressure to attempt to live my life as a walking billboard for Catholicism. I think nice people become that way because the niceness is modeled for them by someone significant in their life. However, I also think that some people are nice because meanness and selfishness were qualities modeled to them by someone significant in their life and they remember the pain that it caused them. They were the victims of someone’s meanness and selfishness and it made them not want to be that way, and so they work hard to be what they wish someone had been to them. Some people are just born nice and stay that way. Some people are born nice and then their personalities warp into meanness and judgment and criticism by the circumstances in their life. Maybe they were abused, maybe they experienced poverty and hunger, maybe they took psychedelic drugs or became alcoholics, or experienced something tragic that made them bitter. There are a lot of reasons nice people become not nice. Religion might play a role in all of these situations, but then again, it might not. Andy Rooney didn’t delve into these accompanying issues because 60 Minutes and CBS gave him time constraints, but I’ll bet he thought about them all.

Because my father ruled the TV at our house (when he was home), his 60 Minutes habit became my own. At first I watched only because he had it on. Maybe I wasn’t even paying close attention, but you know how your ears and brain absorb things in your environment. I was very young, and in the beginning 60 Minutes was important to me only because it was important to my father, and then it became important because I like learning stuff.  My father worked a physically and mentally taxing job that he did not like. TV was his refuge and relaxation, third in line after his passion for playing guitar and reading books. He watched interesting programs like 60 Minutes, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Survival, the Jacque Cousteau specials, and any documentary he could find because he liked learning things. Learning and absorbing information were incredibly important to him.

I never told my father that he taught me more than 60 Minutes and Andy Rooney and all the schools and books ever have, but that’s okay because I don’t dwell on what I didn’t tell my father. Wow, I guess I do qualify as a somewhat religious person because I believe my father is in a better place, and I believe that he now knows all the things in my heart that I forgot to tell him.

I’m glad 60 Minutes is still on. I miss Andy Rooney. Most of all, I miss my father.

My Own Personal Snow Globe


A couple of Christmases ago my brother was discussing the issue of soul mates and how one goes about finding one. Ever since that conversation I have thought about the term “soul mate” off and on when my mind wanders. To be logical and pragmatic, the term does not exist in any holy book that I know of, and I think it might be a term of fairly recent origin. As far as I can tell in my research on the matter, the term “soul mate” is a purely literary creation. It has been used to describe a romantic bond between two people that goes beyond the usual earthly limits. I am very much a romantic at heart, and I don’t use the term very often, if at all. Still, if I want to wax poetic, I will admit I believe my husband to be my soul mate. I see our connection as going way beyond the mere 32 years we’ve known each other.

We grew up within the same general vicinity. Our parents frequented the same grocery stores (Bud’s Foodliner), the same drive-in theaters (the Varsity on Culebra Rd.), the same churches (Holy Family and Holy Rosary). Our family had the same taste in fast foods, e.g., Church’s Fried Chicken (hands down over KFC), Whopper Burger (later called Burger Boy), and neither of us were ever taken to Shakey’s Pizza in its heyday in San Antonio. Given these facts, I have assumed that our paths probably crossed once in a while when we were children. The poetic side of me imagines us as two little kids running around our mothers as they shopped in the same grocery store. The fact is, I think we were a part of each others’ lives before we were actually in each other’s lives.

The pragmatic part of me, however, knows that any successful relationship takes a lot of work and investment of time, talent, treasure, running persiflage, and the occasional ability to self deprecate. Soul mates are more the result of taking what you have and working to make it better, rather than a hunting for and finally finding a ready-made, out-the-door work of existing perfection.

I’m feeling awful due to postoperative pain and discomfort at the moment. I look my worst for now. My husband is working a whole lot, and because of my current commitment to eating healthy and giving up the booze, we stay home for meals at the moment. We are homebodies for the most part. Partying and opportunities for inebriation are not at the top of our priority list for now. It’s a busy and productive time for us both. It sounds dull, I’m sure, to those with more exciting expectations of life, but I love my life. I love my life with my husband. I love my life inside my house. I am happier than a clam. If I could freeze my life exactly like it is right now and lock it away in a snow globe, I would shake it and stare at it a lot.

My soul mate is in the other room working like a banshee, my postoperative nose is inflamed, my little old man of a dog, Hobby, is not very interested in the food he usually loves. My living room needs vacuuming, my plants need watering. The breakfast and lunch dishes are waiting in the sink for some attention. The pork roast with excessive amounts of garlic stuck into it is roasting in the oven and should be ready at dinnertime. I am missing my job like crazy and can’t wait to get back to my stand-up desk inside the crazy mall-turned castle I work at. My son is settling into a new semester in his last year of college, while also preparing to go to Spain for a summer session of classes. My daughter is using her smarts and figuring things out as she goes along, and I know she has amazing things in store for her. I met some very nice people in the last few weeks. I have a wonderful fellowship of supportive people who have my back and who I can count on whenever I need them. I could go on and on and on, but the gist of it is that my life is nothing spectacular and yet it IS SPECTACULAR. What I have and who I have in my life is more precious to me than anything I ever imagined. I feel blessed. I AM blessed. I have everything. I need for nothing. I am the richest woman in the world.

So what’s next? Only some very mundane things. I will finish recuperating from sinus surgery. I will be an active part of my beautiful fellowship. I will return to work next week ready to be wonderfully busy and feel wonderfully useful. I will meet my writing buddies next Monday for another awesome evening of Starbucks and inspiration. I will write and write and write some more. I will not care if anything I write ever gets read. I only care that I can continue to write.

Onto a whole other plane of existence. What am I creating at the moment? I am finishing up Alicia’s Triple Play Infinity scarf. The picture here shows it in red, but Alicia likes green-blue (turqoise, teal?).

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I am planning to add a few more motifs to my ongoing big project, the Queen Anne’s Lace tablecloth:

I finished a set of six Rosy Coasters.

I am now trying to decide if I will keep them separate as six items, or will I join them into a larger table topper? Truth be told, I had not planned to actually use them as coasters. I had planned to frame them individually and give them away as gifts. It’s just now that they’re all done, I am coveting them for myself. I rarely make items for myself. I give away 90% of everything I make. I don’t have to decide what to do with the Rosy coasters just this minute.

End of my babble-on.