Sunday, February 18, 2007

Night Owl

When I am worried about something, sleep is the first thing to suffer. I am so torn about this opportunity to move to New York City for a year for Chad's work. A year ago, when we lived in the condo and were faced with our landlord selling the place out from under us, I would have jumped at this year in NYC. Now, I just want to stay put and live in this house we've worked so hard to personalize. I am still recovering from the marathon summer of house work, the loss of my dad and this helpless sense of not knowing what I want to do now that I'm a grownup.

Chad is a very driven person. He has worked hard and achieved amazing success with his design career. I envy him, because as an adult, I lack direction. I have a semi-paralyzing fear of failure. When I was a kid, I was tagged as "gifted." I LOVED school! I was great at it. If someone clearly defines the expectations and sets me in the right direction, I'm golden. Every time I turned around, someone was giving me a gold star, an A+, or citing my school work as a shining example. As a born people-pleaser, receiving all that praise was similar to the kind of high that a drug user feels, and that praise was just as addictive. As an adult working at jobs, there is rarely anything like a syllabus or clearly explained expectations. Companies value self-starters, and the praise is not lavished nearly so generously as it was in school. Also as an adult, I've run into amoral business practices that don't mesh with my personal values. I've experienced harassment on the job and toxic employer relationships. In the past, I've taken jobs where I know I can succeed, then burn myself out trying to get some positive feedback, that precious praise that I crave. I know that I should find something personally fulfilling and quit seeking that external approval, but it's much easier said than done.

So I'm awake tonight (as I was last night) because, I don't want to tell Chad that I don't want to move to New York City if it means that I'll diminish his career opportunities or general happiness in any way. But I also don't want to say yes just to make him happy, or because it's what I think I should say. No doubt, moving again (after just moving into this house in June and after just completing the major house projects in mid-November) will be a HUGE deal. On top of this, I was in the midst of researching further education here in Austin -- you know, to try and have my own career someday, instead of just another dead-end job that leaves me feeling burnt-out.

This morning I got a reminder email from one of the shopping websites I like that my late dad's birthday is in 14 days. Ugh. I miss him still. Losing him so suddenly has made the grieving process kind of grueling. I've worked through all of the stages, but sometimes I get a little jolt where I suddenly remember that he died, and it just knocks me out again. Tied up in this loss are so many reflections on my own mortality and the limits of our time on this earth. It's like a one-two sucker punch that leaves me dizzy with the wind knocked out of me, but also raring to deliver my own blow. I am both exhausted and restless.

I think this lack of sleep and this very unsettled feeling is prolonging my cold. I still feel congested, wheezy, sneezy and head- achy.

Chad and I are getting on a jet Wednesday for five days in New York City. I know I'll have a more definite idea of whether or not I want to move there once I've spent a little time there again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


What would you do if you had the opportunity to move to New York City for one year? Would you go knowing that you could probably return to your hometown at the end of a year if you wanted to?

The offer came today to move to New York City for about a year for Chad's work. There are so many questions and uncertainties. I don't know where to begin.

I love our house. I am so proud of all of the hard work that Chad and I have put into making it our home, but I shouldn't get hung up on material possessions and miss out on an amazing adventure, right? Or should I keep in mind all that I've been through in the past year and just enjoy the fruits of so much hard labor put into this house?

We haven't even been here in our house a full year yet. I get a little verklimt when I think of a new owner repainting these freshly painted walls. Chad and I put blood, sweat and tears (the tears were mostly from me when I thought it would NEVER be finished) into this home. I don't think I could bear to rent the house out for a year, because it would be weird to move all of our stuff out to storage, and then have to move back into our own home after strangers left their imprint on the place. What if the renters cooked meaty stew every week and then our house reeked forevermore? Gag!

I'd be fine with selling my car for a year in the big city. Truthfully, I have a twinge of buyer's remorse about buying another BMW back in October. I chose it chiefly because BMWs are the safest cars on the road, and because a slightly used BMW was cheaper than a new VW or a new Honda.
** Side rant: I hate that some people see the BMW badge and assume that I'm a high-maintenance snob. My own mother calls me materialistic based largely on this car purchase. I look in the mirror everyday and see the scar on my forehead where I violently collided with the dashboard of my dad's old Mustang when I was a kid in Louisiana. I still have a very vivid, visual memory of an EMT in a white uniform pulling me out of that orange muscle-car and putting me in the back of an ambulance. I remember the smell of iodine burning my eyes, and the sickening feeling of getting stitches sewn into my forehead. Thus, I'm a big fan of any car engineered to help a driver avoid accidents, but also fitted with generous crumple-zones, front and side curtain airbags, and steel beams down the sides, just in case. That said, I'll let those people assume where they can stick their assumptions about my car choice!**
I'd trade the safe BMW, and other people's assumptions about that car choice, for a year of walking, subways and taxi rides.

I would not move to New York City indefinitely. However, there's some sense of safety in knowing that there is an exit strategy if I / we hate it. ( As mentioned above, I like safety.) As long as I have Chad and my three sweet kitties with me, I think that a year in New York City would be like an extended travel adventure! Am I being manic?

I'm so, so torn. I'm planning the move to New York City in my head and alternately thinking about native, low-water plants for the yard in Austin. We haven't even done anything to the yard yet! ( You say to-may-toe, I say to-mah-to. You say dirt, I say yard.)

In other news, after five days of couch and bed rest, I'm finally starting to feel better. That was one energy-draining, lung-rattling cold! I'm coughing less and went through far less tissues today than the past few days. I might venture outside tomorrow!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


It would have been a very relaxing day spent staring blankly at magazines and watching British shows on DVD, except that I can't breathe, my head feels like it might explode and I keep coughing. I also feel kind of nauseous, but am 99.9% sure that it's NOT morning sickness -- sorry, Kate & Mom & Chrissy. The cats like it because I'm pretty much immobilized and they can drape across my neck and tummy for their naps. My cats are sweet and do not suck out my breath.

Chad was extra-nice today and cleaned out the gutters, did laundry and made a grocery run. He also scooped the litter boxes which he hates doing. I'm glad that I have a nice husband.

I was supposed to go see a friend's band, Jon Faber in Fairchild, perform tonight at one of my old college hangouts. Chad is going to represent for us and cheer. Then he'll come home to make more tea for me and pry kitties off of my neck and tummy.

Tomorrow I have rehearsal for the Valentine's Day mystery-dinner show. Thank goodness for Dayquil!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Technology and I are Fickle Friends

I have a love-hate relationship with gadgets, technology and machinery. When stuff works, it's like magic. I love it. I really appreciate it. When stuff doesn't work, I get huffy and impatient, and maybe mutter a few curses under my breath, or mutter a few curses out loud if there are no tender / young ears around.

If you've spent much time with me, you've probably seen my beloved Sidekick 3. It's a phone, camera, email getter, email sender, internet connector, music player and day planner all in one. I begged / bugged Chad to get this cute gadget as an anniversary gift for me this year, while expressly forbidding any jewelry purchases. (No blood diamonds for me, thanks all the same. I like some nice lab-grown sparkly rocks, but I digress.) My favorite television character, Veronica Mars, has the same device. I love my Sidekick 3... when it's working.

My Sidekick 3 won't charge, and thus won't function. I took it to the T-Mobile store where the friendly staff helped me order a new battery. That didn't fix it. The friendly T-Mobile staff then sold me a new charger cord. That didn't fix it. I took the memory card out of my pretty Sidekick 3 and stuck it in my old phone. The old phone works if I want to, you know, make or receive a phone call, but that's all the old phone does. No more emails, internet, camera or day planner for a while. I'm going to call T-Mobile tomorrow and see if they'll replace / repair the Sidekick 3. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

UPDATE: The very friendly customer service people at T-Mobile arranged for me to drop off the broken sidekick at a UPS Store, where UPS packed and shipped the sidekick back to T-Mobile at no cost to me. I had a new, fully-functional sidekick in about six days! I'm very happy with the customer service from T-Mobile.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day

My kitties were cozy cuddled on the couch today, which has no official bearing on whether we'll have six more weeks of winter or not, but they're sweet when they sleep.

Here's the official word:

Punxsutawney Phil Says Spring is Right Around the Corner!

Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/07 at 7:28 a.m. at Gobbler's Knob:

El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.

Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.

On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?

On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.


Groundhog Day just happens to be one of my favorite silly movies. I wasn't allowed to see movies that were rated PG or higher until I was about 15 years old. As a compromise, my dad would make video copies of movies and edit out the parts he found offensive. When I was in college, he sent me a copy of Groundhog Day. Little did I know that he had edited it to protect my tender 19 year old sensibilities. It was only years later when I caught the movie on cable that I realized he had cut a few of the repeated days out of the movie due to their naughty subject matter or curse words.

I hope that your Groundhog Day is great however you choose to commemorate / celebrate it! Just no cursing or dirty jokes, okay?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brand Loyalty

I performed Max Langert's play "Brand Loyalty" at the annual FronteraFest theatre festival last night. I loved the feeling of being on a team with people who have their own unique styles -- actors that I can learn from, that make me laugh and that give me a new perspective on the script. With Chad traveling so much, it's also nice to have some company at the rehearsals. (When I work with Murder Mystery Players, there isn't much rehearsing. We usually get in, do the show, get our paycheck and get out.) I want to give a big shout-out and thanks to:

Tyler Ball who has a background in musical theater, recently moved to Austin from Chicago and works as a computer programmer. He has a 9 month old son, Keaton, and a lovely wife, Jenny, who were very kind to let him spend time rehearsing for the show. He's very excited about the Super Bowl this year featuring the Chicago Bears, and had to make sure that FronteraFest would in no way conflict with the big game before agreeing to be in the show.

Teresa Diaz who has worked across this great land as a librarian, currently lives in San Antonio, recently got rear-ended in her cute Prius (car) and is great with kids. She had to drive a lot to come to rehearsals in Austin. She talked to me about UT's Information Studies program and is a great source of information and inspiration. Teresa also has a keen fashion sense, and I covet the shoes she wore in the show.

Travis Holmes writes, acts and is starting grad school this month. He knows a lot about knots (eagle scout!) which came in handy when he had to tie up Kara as part of the show. He has a cute baby too, who is named Henry, and a nice wife named Ashley who kindly let him spend time rehearsing. He often mutters funny quotes from animated series, and is probably tired of me constantly asking, "What's that from?"

Kara Juarez-Jones is, was and will be an actor for life, works as a renowned make-up artist and is pretty much a local super star (but you knew that already.) She was also in Max's show "Fugue for Five Waiters" with me back in 2001, and I LOVED working with her again. It's so fun to whisper catty comments to each other. She gives me valuable make-up tips too.

Max Langert (our leader / author / director) rides his bike a lot, reads slowly and is probably going to do this again next year. He also work peripherally in market research, which maybe explains why this year's show centers on a market research focus group study gone awry.

I wish I had a picture to post, but forgot to force any photo-opps. If we get to perform again for "Best of" I'll get some photos. Even if we don't get chosen as a "Best of", I had a great time!

Last year, I performed a monologue for FronteraFest. It was nerve-wracking because the responsibility for a good or bad show lay squarely on my shoulders. If I forgot a line, there was no one to rescue me or help me cover my flub. I felt like the caretaker of Max Langert's witty writing. In 2001 and 2002, when I performed Max's plays with groups of people, we were awarded "Best of Fest" both times. Last year, while I was happy with my performance and loved Max's script, Max & I did NOT even get "Best of Week", much less "Best of Fest." I admit, I had grown a little smug. I told my husband he didn't have to come to the show because he was traveling for work and could not easily rearrange his schedule to be in Austin. I figured he could come when I performed again at "Best of Week." Whoops. In his defense, Chad sent flowers, and it was only in retrospect that my feelings got a little hurt that he couldn't attend. Lest you think I'm totally spoiled, I don't ask Chad to come to my dinner mystery shows, because they are expensive to attend, very silly and something that I do more for the good company of my fellow-actors and the paycheck than to hone my craft.

For this year's FronteraFest, I totally nagged Chad to attend, reminding him often of the performance date. I really, really wanted him there, because this is the one acting gig every year that I'm proud to show people. I owe him a huge thank you for indulging me and showing up, so THANK YOU, Chad!